Today we made nasty cookies. They were super dry and flavorless. I think the problem might be that they called for melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder. Every recipe I’ve ever made with melted chocolate has had issues. We also made meringues. The thing to remember about meringues is that if you don’t get them to stiff peaks they’ll melt or collapse when you bake them off. No good. It’s important to have patience when you whip them.
So today was pretty cool because my group got to cater for the Sons of Utah Pioneers. We got to help create the menu, which was exciting. I spent like three hours picking caterpillars out of brussel sprouts, which was less exciting. One thing I learned is the prep is such a huge part of catering. Obviously it saves you copious amounts of time on the day of the event, but it also allows you to identify and solve problems, like missing ingredients or needing to adjust recipes. I had so much fun helping prepare this!
Today we made hollandaise, and I learned a lot because it took me three attempts to get it right!
- Use a thermometer if you are a hollandaise nube. Your eggs will cook if they get too hot, and you aren’t trying to make lemon flavored scrambled eggs.
- Whisk like your life depends on it. Don’t be lazy and sit there checking your phone while your stir occasionally. You will end up with scrambled eggs or a broken sauce.
- According to the textbook we reference, lemon juice helps stop the cooking process, so that is just an interesting little tidbit.
So news flash, biscotti is friggin’ delicious! Especially when you add lots of orange zest and hazelnuts. One problem I learned to avoid with this crunchy cookie is getting them too dark. It is important to make sure that your biscotti cooks enough in the first bake or it will get super dark during it’s second bake. You also have to be very careful when cutting the biscotti, to make sure they are all the same size.
We also made some cream cheese brownies and I learned (I actually found this out at work rather than school) that if you don’t want your cream cheese to get to dark, you should put a pan on the rack above your brownies when you bake them. The more you know!
Today we learned how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie (or try to at least). The thing that was hard about it was trying to be opened minded. I’ve made CC cookies dozens of times. However, baking at home versus at school is different, and I had to accept new techniques in order to succeed. One of the problems I ran into was my cookies turned out super flat. I think this might be because I didn’t put enough baking powder in them.
We also made shortbread cookies, which kind of reminded me of biscuits, because it uses the same method. I learned that you have to develop the gluten enough by mixing, or else they will spread too much during the baking process. Another thing to remember is that if the dough isn’t rolled out evenly the cookies will bake at different times because they are not the same thickness.
Today we prepped for the scholarship ball as well as another catering. I was in charge of salads. I learned how to make couscous which was fun, it is different than any other grain I have ever cooked. I had to substitute a lot of veggies because we were out of traditional ones (cucumber for zucchini, red onion for onion). Luckily they were raw so I didn’t have to worry about cooking the substitutions.
What is it about deep fat frying that is such a novelty? Is it the crunchy, fatty, greasy food that it produces? Could it be that fact that you can deep fry almost any food and it will taste good? Who knows? Does anyone?
Today we made cordon bleu, chicken legs and drumsticks, onion rings, and potato croquettes. I learned that with frying you have to make sure the oil is the right temperature. If it is too cold then it will make the food soggy. If it is too hot then it’ll leave the food under cooked on the inside and burnt on the outside. The only problem I ran into today is forgetting to season anything. That was a dumb move on my part.
And that fire is why you don’t mix water and hot oil!
Today was insane! I went in to class expecting to make two pies and came out making 4, not to mention the caramel sauce, pastry cream, and 6 fruit tarts! The deal was that if we could get everything done that we needed to today as well as tomorrow, we could cancel class the next day (woohoo!!!!!) So my friend and I divided and conquered (which is the only reason we were part of the six people who got to skip class). One thing I learned today is that when you make caramel, you can cook the sugar first before adding any other ingredients and it will be a MUCH shorter process than if you have to wait for everything to get up to temp/color. The only problem with doing that is you have a higher probability of crystallizing the whole thing. I also caramelized white chocolate for the first time, which was interesting. It took about an hour and a half, but it made the white chocolate taste soo much better. I definitely recommend giving this a try! I put in in my vanilla cream pie with raspberries and caramel sauce. Unfortunately, I dropped to whole thing on the ground outside. That was sad.
Oh cooking midterm how you tease me. Something I should be getting done in an hour or two is taking me three-four because you make me shaky and nervous. Today we have to julienne, roast, fabricate, saute, etc. I started with my pilaf because I knew that would take the longest. It turned out really well and I was proud of it. Then I started cutting my vegetables, which I cut too short. Then I made an omelet, which took me three tries because I forgot the proper was to do them (hehe). After struggling so bad with the baking midterm it was so nice to get better marks today. Especially because this is the class I have a hard time with.
Oh. My. Gourd.
Fall is here and pumpkin is hot hot hot. You can’t go anywhere without seeing restaurants advertise it as a starring ingredient. I’ve seen pumpkin shake, pumpkin mac and cheese, and of course the good ol’ pumpkin latte. But how can you blame them for taking advantage of the earthy, rich flavor?
In this dish you’ll find that earthiness paired with spicy Italian sausage, tangy Parmesan, and fragrant sage. It’s so good you might just skip the seasoning because your salty tears of joy will be enough (;
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sausage
Serves 4 Time: 60 min
1 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup potato puree
2 cups flour
½ tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter
10-15 sage leaves
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups parmesan
- Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl to form a sticky dough
- On a floured countertop roll the dough to a ½ or ¼”thickness, depending on how thick you want the gnocchi
- Using a pizza cutter, cut 1”x1” squares of dough and place them on a cookie sheet
- Once all the dough has been cut, bring the cookie sheet to a large pot of boiling water and put them in (you might want to do this in batches, but I was fine just throwing them in quickly).
- While the gnocchi cooks (it should only take about 2-4 minutes), heat a large pan with the butter and sage on low.
- When the gnocchi raises to the surface of the water, scoop them out and put them in to the pan with the heated butter. Turn the heat to medium and cook them for 5 minutes.
- Remove cooked gnocchi into a bowl and set aside. In the same pan, cook and scramble the sausage on medium heat until no pink is showing.
- Throw the gnocchi back in and season to your preference. Turn off the heat and coat the top of the dish with cheese. Cover with a lid until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.