Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day of Doughs

Good evening!

Today we had our first "real" cooking demonstration class. During the lesson, the Chef Instructor prepares a number of recipes in front of us, and we watch, ask questions, take notes, and taste test when he is done! On a side note, the Chef made a point to tell us that the taste testing is not just an opportunity for free food. It is not "snack-time." Just like in my wines class at Cornell, the taste testing is important because by tasting the food, you can note how salty or sweet it is, whether it is flaky or not, whether it is soft or crunchy, etc. This way when we prepare the recipes ourselves, we'll know what they are supposed to taste like. Anyway, tomorrow we have our first practical during which we will be expected to prepare the recipes the Chef did in the demonstration. We are only allowed to take our notes into the practical with us - so they have to be good! We are also allowed to take pictures during the demonstration, so that we can remember what everything looked like.

Here is what the Chef made today:

-Pate brisee (short crust dough)
-Pate sablee (shortcake dough)
-Pate sucree (sweet dough)
-Pate a foncer (pie dough)
-Damier (chocolate and vanilla "checkerboard" shortcake cookies)
-Petits sables Nontais (small shortbread cookies)

So tomorrow, in practical, we'll have three hours to produce each of these dishes. We don't have to "plate" the doughs, but we do have to plate the cookies (we can be creative with this!) and present them to the Chef. The Chef will taste our cookies, note the look and texture of our doughs, and evaluate us on our presentation and everything. It sounds like a lot, and it definitely sounds like a cooking show lol but I'm actually looking forward to it! After watching all this cooking, I'm ready to get into the kitchen myself!

Oh, but there is a catch: we are not allowed to use any electronic tools in the kitchen. This means no beaters, mixers, food processors, or anything. Our tools are our hands. So when we incorporate the eggs into the flour, for instance, we must use our hands to do so. And we don't use bowls either! We do everything right on the counter, making a well with the sugar and adding the wet ingredients inside. I think that's actually what I'm most looking forward to - getting to touch everything with my hands!

Here is something else that is interesting: when baking something, the Chef said that he will never give us any instructions about how much time it will take to bake. He "doesn't know" how long something will take to bake, he said. Ovens are all different and ingredients are different, so we have to just learn how to use our eyes and noses to see and smell when something is finished cooking. We cook until the dish is G.B.D., he said, which means "Golden, Brown, and Delicious!" lol

Here are some pictures I took from demonstration today:

Chef showing us how to assemble our countertop "well." See the mirror above him? That is there so that we can get a bird's eye view of his workspace. There are also TV monitors so you can see if you are sitting in the back.

Butter in the sugar well!

Mixing it together with his hands!

Using a mixing technique to make the dough "sabler" or sandy

The checkerboard cookies!

Final Presentation of the cookies (from left to right its the damiers, the petits sables nantais, and then some marble ones he made from extra scraps of dough - he said he never wastes dough) :D

Up close shot - see the pretty designs he did on the petis sables nantais? He just used a fork! Hopefully mine will look ok when I make them tomorrow!

The doughs or "pates"

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