Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finger vs douille cannelee

So every day I make mignardises, which are bite-sized desserts, sometimes referred to as petits-fours. Our mignardises are choux pastries cut in half and topped off. We make two varieties of these pastries. Creamy ones topped with chocolate decor, and chantilly ones topped with a fruit puree gelee sphere. We make three flavors of each type: caramel, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, violette, and pistachio. Usually we make about 25 of each, totaling 150 choux to cut and fill. You keeping up? Today we had about 185 of each. Yes. That's well over 1100 little pieces of crap to assemble. And a lot of piping.

I'm generally in charge of piping all the chantilly cream for the mignardises, since I've been there the longest and probably make the best looking rosaces (or swirls of chantilly) in the least amount of time. What do we use to make them? Piping bag and a douille cannelee. Whats this fancy sounding thing you ask? Nothing more than a star pastry tip. Yeah I know it doesn't look very dangerous unless you jab it into someones eye.

Well today, in my mad harried state to finish all of the mignardises, I quickly used my finger to pierce the piping bag to pull out the douille. End result? A normal piece of pastry equipment quickly turned into a chinese finger trap. My poor index finger was jammed so far into the pastry tip that i couldn't pull it out without getting jabbed by the pointy teeth. I tried to get a new stagiaire to help me, but she had no idea what to do. The pastry tip was stuck, and hurt like a @#$%! when I pulled at it. A coworker tried to help by saying "okay you're going to scream".. thinking I'd let him rip it off my finger. I don't think he realized it had pierced my skin. Luckily enough for me, today I worked with the nicest chef-de-partie, and he got a knife to bend back the pastry tip teeth to release my finger. Not one of my smartest moves at work.

On a positive note, my finger is still intact, and tomorrow we only have about 500 mignardises to do.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer BBQ

I've yet to go to a BBQ in Paris. I imagine it's quite hard for people to grill outdoors since most live in apartments without terraces. The BBQ's I've seen in my local bricolage aka do-it-yourself store hardly hold a charbroiled flame to our Webers back home. However I have seen disposable BBQs like this. Tempting.

Well summer is here, and I've been craving BBQ, so I did the next best thing to firing up a grill. I slow cooked some pork shoulder, shredded it, and added some BBQ sauce. Perusing the grocery store, I was also able to find coleslaw (kind of shocking isn't it?), and "American Burger Sauce", which upon further inspection looked like thousand island. With a bag of chips, and a salad, these pulled pork sammies made for a perfect summer meal.

For dessert I quickly threw together some banana streusel muffins.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Manifestation and the kid I wanted to kill

On my days off, I like to take the bus around town. It's a nice change from traveling underground all week long. However, today there was a 'manifestation' over by Bastille. What does that mean? To me it meant that all the buses going in that general direction were either canceled or detoured. A normally 30 minute metro ride, or 45 minute bus ride took over 45 minutes 2 buses, a metro ride, and a lot of walking. I did a Google search for what might be going on in the neighborhood, which was useless. I checked the twitter posts of one of my favorite food bloggers and it turns out there's some demonstration going on. A lot of angry people.

Speaking of angry (a perfect segue into my next blog topic), I usually don't get very angry at work. Exhausted, burned, and hungry. Sure. Angry? Not really. I usually don't talk too much about the people I work with either.  This is an exception. Last week marked the return of this 15 year old piece of sh*t stagiaire who came to work with us for a week, about a couple months ago. I'm not sure if he's young, or a bit slow, or just has no respect for anyone. It could be all three. Half the time if he wasn't messing up a recipe he had already attempted twice, he was ignoring his duties and wandering around the lab asking others what they were doing. Also, when cleaning time came around, he'd conveniently disappear or say that he needed to go home.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why fondant blows

Last week in preparation for my CAP exams, I decided to make some pate a choux. I knew they'd be on the exam and would likely take the form of eclairs. Whenever I think of eclairs or pain au chocolat, I always think of one of my former classmates and friend who is slightly eponymous and loves writing about her pastry shenanigans as much as I do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

J'ai fini!

Which means "I'm done"! Though I could say je suis fini, though the literal translation in french is "I'm finished" or rather "I'm dead". Surprising how many people make that mistake. I'm not quite dead, but je suis vraiment claque. Which means "I'm really beat."

Enough with the French lessons. This morning started at 6:30 AM, even though I didn't work. But I still worked in a lab at school taking my CAP practical exam. From around 8:00AM until 3:00 PM (with a 30 minute pause for me to stuff my face so I didn't pass out), I had to make croissants, chocolate croissants, chocolate eclairs, an apricot tart with pistachio almond cream, and a charlotte cake layered with biscuit cuillere, vanilla bavarois, pears, and a marzipan topping. The cake had to have a Valentines Day theme, so I just threw together some marzipan roses and cut out some hearts. It was tiring. We had a proctor who helped us along to work faster. Actually now that I think back to it, he mostly yelled at us... telling us to not fall asleep and to hurry up. Best part were the Ferrandi kids who washed our dishes.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to post of the goodies I made today; photographs were strictly prohibited. The proctors and 'jury members' seemed to be amused by an American taking an exam that most French kids have to take. They were pretty nice about the fact that I couldn't quite say something, but could describe it enough to get my point across. The proctor asked me why I was taking the CAP. My response? Because I can.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Holy moly mogador

Whats the heck is a mogador? Good question. Sounds like maybe something from Lord of the Rings? A quick google search says its either a cafe in the East Village of NYC, or an island off of Morocco that France tried to capture several times. Since it's also the name of a cake in my Fench school cookbook, I'm betting it  has more to do with the latter. However, the island's major exports are molasses and sugar, all I can really think of is that maybe this cake is super sweet? How about super deathly rich.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Having a heart to heart with tarts

One of the things I might be tested on during my CAP practical is tarts. I haven't made them since school, since they're not really Plaza Athénée worthy I suppose. So since I had some lemons sitting around, I figured I'd make a lemon meringue tart. Easy enough. To be honest, I was feeling a bit lazy and bought some pre-made tart dough from Picard. I mean everything seems to work out at Picard right people? Wrong.