Monday, October 25, 2010

Charlotte Russe

What is a Charlotte Russe? And I'm not talking about the Forever21-ish tween clothing store. I've always thought Charlottes were those desserts where ladyfingers were crammed into a Charlotte mold with other stuff crammed in there too, later to be inverted onto a plate. Well I guess they are too, but molded Charlottes bear no resemblance to those I made in school. Apparently, the entremets we made in school are Charlotte Russes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

S'mores cupcake and mini-mogador

After living and studying in Paris, its a bit hard to appreciate the cupcake craze that's still going on in the US. What is it about cupcakes? They're not that particularly good, nor complicated, and sometimes they're just covered in so much sugary-sweet frosting goop that they really aren't worth the calories. Maybe it's just a reflection of American consumerism? Really, what kid doesn't want their very own individual cupcake? These pastries pretty much negate the whole concept of 'sharing is caring'.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The day I actually had a conversation with CM

The other day I decided to stop by Plaza Athénée to say hello to my former coworkers. After landing in CDG at 6AM and taking a 4 hour nap, I took the metro down to the all-too-familiar Avenue Montaigne. With gifts in tow, I passed through security and made my way down into the pastry lab.

When I was thinking of things to bring back as gifts, I figured I'd bring back some See's Candies Toffee-ettes (though I'm not sure how to say that in French), and some macarons from Paulette Macarons, which un-coincidentally enough partnered with Christophe Michalak to open up a boutique in Beverly Hills and one in San Francisco. I figured it was a good way to score some points and maybe ask for some of the recipes in the lab.

CM came over and began dissecting all of the macarons, commenting on how they were a bit dry. I did explain that they had just endured a trans-Atlantic flight and how I'd just gotten off the plane that morning. After sampling the macarons (note, he did not try the toffee-ettes that everyone said were "super-bon"), he then asked if I was planning to do a stage at the hotel. Why am I not surprised. The sous-chef jumped in and explained that I had been a stagiaire with them for 6 months and recently went back to California to visit. Blasphemy. I think CM then felt a little bad or embarrassed, because he gave me a signed copy of his new book.

My French must be a bit rusty, as I heard the sous-chefs say, "Did you see the new book?" Apparently he meant, "Did you see your picture in the new book?" I flipped through to the end of the book and lo and behold there's a picture of me standing next to another employee and CM. It's not a flattering picture as I'm in my uniform and toque, but hey not many people can say they've got two autographed books by CM and a picture in one!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cream puffs and Gougères

Looking back at all my baking done in California lately, its obvious that choux pastry is my 'go to' when someone asks me to make something. They're relatively easy, fail-proof, and impressive. Plus who doesn't like cream puffs? I think I like cream puffs better than eclairs (though they're essentially the same thing) just because they're bite-sized and cute. Plus, I really don't have a good relationship with fondant.