Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Culinary Weekend

This past weekend I took a one day class at The Culinary Institute Of America. Do I even need to say what the class was.....Baking At Home - The Desserts. We started in a classroom on the 3rd floor of the beautiful Greystone building at 9:30am sharp. After a short introduction we were split into teams and assigned the desserts we would be making. Team 1: Sour Cream Streusel (sour cream, gross), Team 2: Chocolate Souffle Cake (two words chocolate and cake, perfect), Team 3: Warm Lemon Pudding Cake (sounds mushy, I will pass), Team 4: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (you know how I feel about strawberries, and I don't like yogurt either), Team 5: Turtles and Rustic Fruit Galette, which all teams would make as well.(turtles I like, fruit galette rustic or not sounds a little too healthy). So can you guess which one I got? Or the better question, which one I didn't get? I didn't get the Chocolate Souffle Cake (originally), I got the double whammy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

We went into the enormous kitchen, all the way to the back, past all the poor souls in the other "real food" classes, and found our table. In my group was a semi-local couple with a limited amount of baking experience, but hard workers and really nice too. We were told at the beginning our frozen yogurt probably wouldn't be finished in time because of its preparation time, so our team got to work immediately. We work really well together, reading the directions and multi tasking between all three dishes. Since I had more experience (TOOT TOOT, tooting my own horn) I tried to help more verbally and let my other two teammates be more hands on.

We had our galette dough made and in the refrigerator in no time, and moved on to our more time consuming Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. After my teammates hulled and sliced the strawberries, we let them soak in the lemon and sugar solution and moved on to the turtles. We toasted our pecans, made our caramel and our turtles started to come together. I do believe the exact quote by our instructor was "you guys are awesome":) While the Turtles were cooling we went back to working on our Fruit Galette, rolling out our dough, preparing the apples, and then finally putting it together. Our galette turned out beautiful, even becoming a sample for the other students.(TOOT TOOT) :)

We worked so hard and so fast we were able to choose another dish to make. Thankfully we were all on the same page and wanted to make the chocolate souffle. While working on the souffle, we finished making our Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, even though it wasn't expected to be done. We did it, we finished all three of our assigned items and had our "extra credit" in the oven just in time for our lunch break.

Lunch was pretty impressive. All of the classes displayed their food at the tables in the center of the kitchen for everyone to try. There were soups, rice, vegetables, big chunks of meat, something that had veal in it, and tons of other things that I wouldn't eat. I did try our Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, and I have to say it was really REALLY good. (Then I got a seed and was over it.) The galette looked so good it tricked me into trying it, not so good. Apples are bad enough raw, then you make them mushy by cooking them, no thanks. Then there was the Chocolate Souffle Cake, another trick on me. I have never tried souffle before, it's always sounded suspect, and I was right. Even with the words Chocolate and Cake in the title it was beyond gross. I can't even describe the funky texture, but at least I have now tried souffle, and I don't have to do it again. The best thing we made were the Turtles, chocolate, caramel, and pecans, you really can't go wrong. (Unless you added fruit)

After everyone finished lunch, we went back to the classroom to wrap up. We talked about measuring in oz/gr compared to cups, now I have seen the light. Yes, I knew using a scale gave you more precise measurements, but it has always seemed like such a pain. Somehow in that moment it just made since, a cup of flour on Monday might have more or less flour than a cup on Tuesday. (Kind of like my jeans, always the same size but some days they fit different than others.) Maybe if I had used a scale when making my chocolate chip cookies so long ago, I would still be getting the same results. The instructor's real passion was more bread than desserts and it really rubbed off on me. I am not going to stop making desserts any time soon, but he really got me thinking about how wonderful bread is. I hope you are ready to see some bread recipes in the future.
When the class was over I took home some of our Turtles, Fruit Galette, and the Chocolate Souffle cake, a Baking at Home cookbook, and a C.I.A apron. I had such a good time, I am thinking about going back for more....maybe the Chocolate Class.

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