Chiffon Monday

I woke up early with only enough time to do Ab Ripper X. I chose to postpone the hour exercise video to the evening hours because I needed to study up for my in class written exam. I quickly review my notes, got ready for school and was out the door early. When I arrived to Lab 3, I was greeted with happy faces and the news that our exam was cancelled. Hooray! Chef added a new recipe for us to work on—a more challenging one. We made Lemon Chiffon. After watching the demonstration, we made for our stations and immediately started making the chiffon. It’s not that the recipe is difficult because it’s not. There are just many steps and timing is crucial to the perfect chiffon. We did not make the French meringue that the recipe called for and instead, made an Italian meringue (which is a fully cooked meringue that requires cooked sugar). I made five different chiffon pies and tried different piping designs using the meringue before torching them. Chef liked the pies and for the first time, he complimented my piping work.

On our way to Hilton campus for Food Safety and Sanitation, I grabbed a root beer with lemon (probably not a P90X friendly drink). Becky commented on the drink.

“You’re not supposed to drink that!”

“Probably not the best choice eh?”

“No, I mean, you’re Mormon. Mormons don’t drink soda.”

Ha! I let her know that “Mormons” do, in fact, drink soda and then we talked about Martinelli’s sparkling cider (my celebration beverage). Oh the funny things people hear and think about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After our lecture hour, Becky drove me home and I quickly photographed all of the Lemon Chiffon pies. With a little bit of free time, I decided to walk to the theater and catch a matinee before dinner. I decided to watch Toy Story 3. All I can say is, I’m going to pretend that I didn’t have moist cheeks during the film. I definitely was not expecting that. It was a very good film! I briskly walked home and when I arrived, Yolanda had prepared a delicious Penne Cardinale. We ate and then had Family Home Evening. I was dead tired, but Hunter and I needed to do our intense chest and back workout, so we did before crashing.

Lemon Chiffon (with sugared lemon zest)

Lemon Chiffon with Italian Meringue


More Allergies on Father's Day

Hunter’s Sunday meetings were cancelled in light of Father’s Day, so we slept in until 8:00am. Yes, that is sleeping in. We quickly got ready for church and arrived at the chapel with just enough time to settle into our pew. I found my set of scriptures which were in the lost and found—I accidentally left them a couple of weeks ago and have been lost without them. After the regular services we ended up staying for ward choir. The two boys were playing in the chapel as we practiced and they joined in on the warm ups singing more loudly than the entire choir combined. It was hilarious actually. Not as hilarious as Andre’s “going number two” session with loud grunting and hands clenched to the seat. Needless to say, it made ward choir just a little bit more interesting.

The rest of the afternoon I caught up with family and friends through Skype. After a few hours, I helped Yolanda finish making some homemade pizza. We ate and then polished off the Birthday/Father’s Day cupcakes Paulo helped me make the night before. That evening Hunter was in charge of our “Sunday Time.” We finished off the evening sharing stories from our missions. Ever since I left teaching at the MTC mid-April, I haven’t spoken about my mission in great detail; so the evening discussion was a tender one for me. Unfortunately, I had an allergic reaction to some dried cherries that were a part of a dried fruit medley on which we were snacking. Nice. Thankfully, my face didn’t blow up. I took a Benadryl and was out.


Another June Birthday

Today was Yolanda’s birthday. Hunter woke the kids and me up to sing “Happy Birthday” to Yolanda and present her with breakfast in bed—Belgian waffles, blueberries, and ice cream (yes, ice cream for breakfast). I stayed awake for about another hour before my bed lured me back into its sheets and I slept for an additional two hours. When I woke up, I played around with the kids and eventually I left the house to get a haircut before Yolanda and Hunter left for an evening out together. While they were gone, I watched a movie with the boys and prepared deep fried chicken nuggets for them (how horrid eh?). They were actually quite good. Paulo wanted to make cupcakes for his mom, so I helped him make French vanilla cupcakes and invented a new buttercream icing for decorating. We found some multi-colored star sprinkles which the boys enjoyed using to garnish the tops of the cupcakes.

Babysitting was rather successful. I did have to put Andre in time-out which I could only do for about 10 seconds before feeling like his lesson was learned. He also didn’t get a cupcake because he didn’t finish his dinner. When I was explaining to him why he didn’t get a cupcake his eyes started to water, but I held to my word and only rewarded Paulo with a cupcake since he did finish his meal. Is that terrible? I’m thinking no. I could have given the cupcake in response to the watery eyes and lost all integrity as a man of my word. I guess he’ll have one tomorrow. After reading stories and the scripture to the kids, I said nighttime prayers with each and put them straight to bed without any trouble.

When Yolanda and Hunter came home from their night in L.A., I was in the middle of my Kenpo X workout—basically punching and kicking while yelling out (a workout you would prefer to do alone. When I finished we all talked late into the night until I eventually crept up to my room and went to bed.


Too Sweet For Me

The morning began with a leg and back workout which would have been great had my ankle recovered already. I’m still waiting on it, but unfortunately, I cannot give it the break it probably needs. I am constantly on my feet.
During Chef’s demo, he showed us how to finish off our petit fours with poured fondant. I took my three layer petit four cake wrapped in marzipan and cut it into different shapes—triangles, circles, squares, and rectangles. In a bowel we softened fondant by boiling syrup and pouring it into the bowl with the fondant. We each had surgical gloves so we could mix it icing by hand. It was quite a messy job and I’m certain there is a better way. My gloves tore because of the heat of the syrup and I was scorching my fingertips trying to liquefy my fondant. When it was the correct consistency, I poured the fondant over the pre-cut petit fours. I used the remaining liquid fondant to pipe a design on top of the miniature cakes. We were required to use a different shade of color so I decided to tint my fondant purple. I picked up a red and a blue food color gel and put equal parts into my icing. I began to mix but instead of a beautiful purple, my fondant started to turn this horrific puke green color. I rechecked the bottles and realized that what I thought was red was actually orange. Great! After all of the hard work and time, I had to pipe my petit fours with puke green. I finished them off and then cut the Battenberg that I had previously wrapped in the leftover marzipan from the day before. I plated my work and presented to Chef.

“Wow, zat color eez ‘orible!”

“I agree Chef.”

Thankfully, the technique was clean enough that the minute problem with the coloring did not affect the final grade. It was a long and arduous day in the kitchen. And for what? I tasted the cakes and was disgusted! They look pretty but they are incredibly sweet. Too sweet. I was a little bit frustrated because I had planned to bring all of the day’s creations to a ward function that evening. I would have liked to make a great impression, but I was forced to bring these ever so attractive yet not so good tasting delectables.

After the afternoon photo shoot ritual, Yolanda, Hunter, and I spent a couple of hours preparing some Filipino food for a church activity. We made lumpia and lumpiung shanghai—absolutely delicious. We went to the Ngo family’s beautiful home and ate in the backyard around their pool. The food was incredible! There were about 20 adults and four children. Each family brought an incredible dish and I, the culinary student, had my disgusting (okay they really weren’t that bad) petit fours and Battenberg cake. It was so fun to be around people and to socialize—I was able to better acquaint myself with different people in the ward. Before it got too late, we changed into our bathing suits (swimming suits—for all of you Americans) and took to the hot tub. Yolanda, the boys, two young ladies from the ward, and I were the only ones to get in. When it was late enough for the kids to be in bed, we got out, packed up, and left. Fortunately, one of the ward members, Brother Young, was in love with the desserts I brought, so I placed the remainder of them on a “to go” plate for him to take home. Thank goodness. I’m sure there are so many details I am leaving out, but that will have to do, because I am incredibly tired! Oh, we worked out our abs before going to bed. Ha! It was a great day.

Petit Fours and Battenberg

Battenberg Cake

Petit Fours

Sliced Petit Four



Dear Readers,

I apologize that I have left all of you in the dark for almost a week now.  I did not mean to fall so behind.  I have a list for each of the days without enteries containing all of the events about which I had the intention to blog.  As I will have all the time in the world this weekend, I will catch up in the next two days with pictures and text.  Much love!

Jonathan (T.U.C.)

Smelly Yoga And A Culinary Trip Around The World

This morning started off with probably the most intense yoga workout I have ever known. Okay, it was the first yoga workout I have ever attempted. Before all of you start laughing at me I must say, this is P90X Yoga we’re talking about so don’t judge too harshly. I always imagined yoga to be relaxing and mainly based on balancing moves. Not P90X Yoga! I wasn’t just falling out of positions. I was crashing to the ground. Boom! Bang! Grunt! Yelp! I’m pretty sure I woke up the kids. Yolanda and Hunter surely met their laugh quotas for the day. It was difficult—but I’m oh so happy to have been able to get through the hour and a half, sweat-inducing challenge. I created a strawberry yogurt, blueberry, protein shake for breakfast which was surprisingly good. I paired the drink with a delicious omelet—definitely a protein-filled breakfast.

In class, we had another practical exam. We had to recreate our genoise mousseline cake from last week, yes the tasteless one. This cake’s perfect outcome is strictly contingent upon flawless technique. Since there is no baking soda or baking powder, you have to whip the eggs to a three-second ribbon (meaning drips of batter will disappear after three seconds—no more, no less). Do it correctly, great looking (not tasting) cake. Over-whip, it’ll taste like scrambled eggs. Under-whip, it’ll be a hockey puck. Mine turned out well but chef found a way to knock-off some points nevertheless.

“Euh, you cooked eet too long. I like eet a beet, euh, lighter.”

“Yes, Chef.”

We spent the remainder of our day making marzipan. We assembled our petit fours—three layers of almond cake. I sandwiched my layers with lemon curd, a fine substitute for the nasty jam we’ve well over-used thus far. We rolled out our marzipan and coated our petit fours. Becky and I started on the assembly process of our Battenberg cakes. This consisted of cutting the cake into ½ inch by ½ inch square rods which we assemble in a Battenberg pattern. We used nappage to glue, in essence, our pieces together. We ran out of time, so we wrapped our hard day’s work in plastic wrap and called it a day.

After class, I rested for only a moment before changing and driving with Yolanda and the kids to JPL. NASA held an international food tasting and entertainment festival. I was incredibly surprised and impressed by the event! There were 12 stations serving food from across the world. The plates were loaded with some of each country’s best or most popular entrees and desserts. I was trying to smother my new awareness of food time-temperature abuse as I saw all of the food sitting out in the warm Pasadena sun; but it was not hard to do once I noticed what was being served.  To name some of the things we tried:

Japan: Raw Snapper Fish, Avocado Sushi Roll
China: Spring Roll, Fried Shrimp, Chow Mein, Chow Sui Bow, and other questionables
Italy: Stuffed Ravioli, Meat Balls
Arab: Rice Roll, Humus, Spicy Humus, Pita Bread, and Parsley Olive Tomato Salad
Armenian: Chicken Kebab and Rice
Indian: Curry and Rice
Native American: Navajo Tacos (basically a taco but with a fried scone in place of the hard taco shell)
Austrian: Bratwurst, Grilled Meat, and Bread
American: Mini-hamburgers and Cobbler (which was actually a crisp*)
Celtic: Shepherd’s Pie

So yeah, it was incredible—but that’s not all! There was live entertainment. There were different performing groups including: international choirs, East Indian dancers, Native American dancers, and a Middle Eastern four-man band. I LOVED IT! Not only did this experience remind me of my love for many different cultures and travelling, it brought back some very tender memories from the past. I especially loved the Middle Eastern group because it reminded me of my time in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt back in 2007. During one of their numbers, an elderly woman from the audience stood up and started dancing—arms stretched out and slow moving—to what I assume is a traditional song. As I looked around, I noticed a group of people from that particular region of the world starting to become rather emotional. I wish I could have understood the particular meaning and its significance. As I watched each performance from the different areas of the world, I could not help but think of the love Heavenly Father has for the billions of people in this world. I could go on and on about this experience, but suffice it to say that I could not have asked for a more pleasant evening. On the flip side, I am now feeling a great eagerness to pick up and travel somewhere! Can one be addicted to travelling?

After allowing the kids to take to the dance floor and release all of their night-time energy, the adults packed them back in the car and we all drove back to the Bellevue home. What a day, and what an evening! Oh, I weighed myself before going to bed—I’ve gained 12 pounds since my arrival to Pasadena. WORD!


So Let Them *Make* Cake

After a not-so-challenging workout, I had my first protein shake (BLAH!) and hurried through the morning routine before leaving the house in a bit of a hurry. We are working on more technical cakes for the remainder of this week—the Battenberg cake and Petit Fours. We learned a new technique, since we are now working with a new medium—almond paste. When I opened the bucket of almond paste, this overwhelming smell of play-dough struck my senses. Disgusting! I’ve never really loved the taste of almond extract, but something tells me—despite the smell—that I will enjoy these cakes. The Petit Fours batter was spread thin in a half baking sheet and was ready in a quick 10 minutes.

We divided into groups of two for the Battenberg cake. One person was to make the yellow batter and the other, pink. The Battenberg cake was first created in the late 19th century to celebrate the union of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria (the granddaughter of Queen Victoria) through marriage. The colors represent each family. It tastes like an almond pound cake and one would think that would be tasty, but the colors transform the cake such that they look like pink and yellow sponges and something about the look makes it less appetizing. We had extra time, so Chef allowed us to make some lemon curd to use tomorrow in between the layers of our Petit Fours.

I napped immediately when I returned to the Bellevue home. Yolanda woke me up and asked me to run to the grocery store to pick up some French bread. After running some other errands, I returned home to a wonderful pork chop, fruit and veggie plate. I attempted to blog but I was distracted with a wedding cake project on which I am currently working. Before I knew it, the evening was spent and it was past my bedtime.


Fine, I'll Do It My Own Way


Devil's Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake (2)


I Think I'm Tarted Out!


Lemon Curd Tart with Swiss Meringue

Mini Lemon Curd Tarts with Swiss Meringue

Large Lemon Curd Tart with Swiss Meringue

One more view of the Lemon Curd Tarts

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Gold Leaf


Fruit Tarts and Cheesecake


Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart (2)

Fruit Tart (3)

New York Style Cheesecake 


A Monday Exam, Make That Two

Another exam day. I was able to wake up early enough that I could study and review all of the principles I needed to know from my textbook. As I walked to school, an elderly lady stopped and talked with me about culinary school.

“Do you love it? Do you really love it?”

She was adorable and I wish I had been able to talk to her more. In the classroom, stresses were high again. Two exams: written and practical. The written portion was actually quite challenging and the practical was broken in four parts—recreating chocolate chip muffins, making a half recipe of pastry cream, furnishing 10 water holding cornets, and piping. I was pretty tired, but I was able to pace myself keep quick on my feet. I presented my work at my station which I decorated with piped parchment. I didn’t want to just pipe the required text so I used my knife to decoratively cut my parchment. I used the extra piping gel to pipe a design on the shaped paper. I plated my products and called for Chef. I could spot a little smile in the corner of Chef’s mouth, but it quickly faded.

“Euh, I do not like zeez two biscuits!”

Chef pointed at two biscuits that looked rather similar to the rest of them. Caught off guard, I search for the right thing to say.

“Okay Chef.”

“Thaire eez some-sing about zem I do not like. I can’t figure eet out.”

I decided to keep silent.

“Very good Zonatan.”

As he checked my cornets—miniature piping bags made out of parchment paper, it placed water in each of the ten bags checking for flaws. If the homemade bag drizzled, minus one. If it dripped, minus one-half. If it did not leak at all, perfect score. Two of my bags leaked (sigh). It was funny to see Chef pouring water in the cornets and watching each student’s reaction to their very visible failure. Oh, that probably sounds quite awful. What I mean to say is that the situation was quite comical. I was probably the most fun to watch—I think I gasped rather loudly, twice.

I think Chef Knight has started a daily class tradition of picking on me—I think it all started with the Pringles. She always asks, “What are you eating?” I guess I should explain that although in traditional educational institutions eating during class is discouraged and can be disruptive; here, it’s encouraged! For example, Chef Knight walked over to my desk at the beginning of class.

“What are you eating over here?”

As she thumbed through my sack lunch (no joke), I let her know she could have whatever she wanted.

“Ooo, I’ll try that!”

Chef Knight has actually grown on me. We spent approximately 10 minutes talking about my reaction to the mysterious cucumber lemonade/foul shrimp episode. She then continued to make jokes regarding my face throughout the remainder of the period. She’s funny.

When I arrived at the home this afternoon, I quickly showered and made a very important phone call after which I helped Yolanda prepare some homemade pizza. Following dinner, I walked five doors down the sidewalk where Melanie McMullin (Carter), my dear friend from high school, lives with her husband. I spent a couple of hours there, which we used to catch up. It was nice to be with someone with whom I already feel quite close. By 11pm, my new curfew (ha), I made the 30-second walk back home and went to bed.


Sunday, Sunday

Surprisingly able to sleep the entire night after having slept a whole night and a day before, I got out of bed feeling well rested. Yolanda prepared breakfast in bed for Hunter’s birthday and the two of us, along with the boys, crept into the master bedroom to sing and wake up Hunter—a Wing family tradition. We all got ready for church and left early so Hunter could attend his meetings. The extra time gave me an opportunity to play the piano in the chapel. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to just sit and play at the piano—okay, so only four weeks, but I’ve missed it! Even though I desperately wanted to be more social at church, I secretly tried to avoid people because I was rather embarrassed of my frighteningly fat and still oh so swollen face.

Back at home, I would frequently catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror only to find myself wistfully waiting for my face to return to its normal visage. We had chicken salad for lunch and homemade enchiladas for dinner. Some of Hunter’s friends from the ward came over for some cake and ice cream; and after the guests left, Yolanda, Hunter, and I finished off the day with our Sunday night devotional. I spoke on the power of agency and some of the principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 121. Before going to bed, I checked my email. Michael, from class, sent a picture we had all taken in class with Chef.

Front row: Patty, Becky, Armine, Mashumeh, Becca
Back row: Me, Michael, Chef, and Howie


A Four Benadryl Day

I woke up this morning feeling a bit tingly in the face. I walked downstairs as soon as Yolanda saw me she said, “What’s wrong with your face?” I looked in the mirror, horrified by what I saw. My face was swollen! Extremely swollen. It looked as though someone had attacked my face with a Botox syringe. It was puffed to the maximum extent such that all the wrinkles on my face and my bags were completely eliminated. Either the nasty shrimp from the buffet or the cucumber lemonade they served completely transformed my face into a different person’s—it was quite strange. I took two Benadryl and went back to bed. I woke up around 8:00pm hungry and rather thirsty. Yolanda needed to run some errands for Hunter’s birthday festivities coming the next day, so I went with her. I mistakenly decided to buy some Burger King which only made me somewhat disturbed after all the lectures from Chef Knight. I downed the food and when I arrived back at home, I helped clean the house, took two more Benadryl, and crashed. What a day!


Custards Up The Whazoo!

I woke up with enough time to get all of my homework done and my uniform washed before class. Phew! When I showed up to class with my typed assignment, some of the students mocked me saying:

“Jonathan has to type his assignment. It isn’t enough that Jonathan speaks French! Teacher’s pet!”

In my defense, I thought we were supposed to type it, I’ve only ever said one word to Chef in French, and I highly doubt I’m teacher’s pet. Ha! I know they say these things all in good fun. Well, I hope. Chef made a comment in class about how he loves two things about American food—cheesecake and fried chicken. I could have died from laughter. Did I not just blog about fried chicken this week? I’m pretty sure that I did. Well, even though this may seem like a “brown-nose” statement, I full-heartedly agree with Chef. Cheesecake is delicious and fried chicken, wonderful!

We made New York style cheesecake. Apparently, this particular style of cheesecake involves cornstarch and heavy cream. I was able to fill two six-inch cake pans. Yes, cake pans. You see, in most bakeries where they are making several cheesecakes a day; they prefer to use cake pans which are dampened and lined with plastic wrap suitable for oven use. “It’s bettah dis way!” (High-five to the handful of you who know what I just quoted). As soon as our cheesecakes were in the oven, we removed our crème caramel and pot de crème out of the refrigerator and plated them for Chef.

“Your kahrahmel eez dahrk. Zee French love bittair kahrahmel like ziss, but zee Americans do not.”

So I guess he liked my bitter caramel. Honestly, I was just trying to match the burnt amber color he produced during the demo. He didn’t say much about the chocolate pot de crème.

“Good.” Silence.

The awkward silence usually indicates that he has finished his critique and I should leave his presence. Maybe not that harsh, but that’s what I do. With a simple, “Thanks Chef,” I make my way back to my station. Unfortunately, we were forced to keep our cheesecakes in the freezer so we can plate them on Monday. As sad as I was about not being able to bring them home or even taste them, I was sufficiently happy with my crème caramel and pot de crème.

My Creme Caramel as it was presented it to Chef

I stayed on campus to attend a workshop that will enable me to work different catering events for various companies that provide food at major events including events such as the Academy Awards. It takes many hands to feed that many people so chefs like Wolfgang Puck hire students from Le Cordon Bleu to work One Time Events (OTE) and gain real industry experience. In order to work these OTE’s you must attend a workshop and since today’s workshop was the only one I could attend this month, I decided to go in case I wanted to earn a little money on the side and work an event. The meeting wasn’t until 6 however, which left me stranded at school for additional three hours. I researched and caught up on emails. There was a buffet in Lab 2 (a buffet, as far as I understand, is when a class is working on table presentation skills and they prepare a table of different kinds of food and anyone who is at the school can come and snack on whatever they have prepared. Their theme was Audrey Heburn and their colors, light blue and silver. It was okay. The food looked incredible! It was all different kinds of seafood which I thought was odd of them to pair with Audrey Heburn. I wanted to try everything so I loaded my plate. It was a bit disappointing actually. I ate this kebab that had a shrimp on it that tasted off. Their drink of choice was cucumber lemonade. Yes, it was gross! Don’t let your curiosity fool you into thinking, “Oh, this could be good,” as mine did me. After the buffet and the meeting, I quickly returned home so I could take pictures of my food before the sun went down—we only use natural people.

After the photo shoot was done, the kids, Yolanda, Hunter, and I inhaled the crème caramel and the pot de crème. DELICIOUS! Not too much happened that evening. Since I am still without friends (I’m going to work on that, I promise), I decided to treat myself to a movie. I went to a night showing of “Robin Hood.” Euh, it’s a RedBox type of movie for sure. Oh, I forgot to mention that I received a massage from Paulo. I don’t know if I’ve blogged about this earlier. I taught Paulo, who is four, how to give massages. For those of you who are not aware, I am severely addicted to back massages. My poor brother Ben had to endure my whines or shaking of my shoulders beckoning him to give me a back massage practically every night when we were roommates last year. Often, he would refuse. However, Paulo, in his impressionable state, was eager to learn and now walks up and down my back (he doesn’t walk on my spine DAD so no need to explain that strange back condition that runs in our family—I can see you making the hand motions that visually explain what happens to the back—love you) in exchange for a little back massage of his own—which he loves. I walked back home, talked with Yolanda and Hunter until I started feeling this strange tingling sensation in my face. As it worsened, I figured I was having a slight allergic reaction, I decided to just go to bed. Should have taken medicine that night! Just wait until you hear what happened…

Pot de Creme & Creme Caramel (before releasing, plating, and garnishing)

Chocolate Pot de Creme

Spoon of Chocolate Pot de Creme

Creme Caramel (Flan)


Tap, Tap, Tap. Crack. Delicious!

Who knew something so divine could be created out of a simple combination of cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and fire?! We finished our crème brulée today and all I can say is that it was utterly to die for. Before torching our crème brulée, we made two recipes to help master the techniques necessary for perfect custards—crème caramel and pot de crème. The former, is your traditional flan, only French style (fewer eggs than your typical South American). This recipe involved caramelizing sugar and pouring the custard concoction overtop before placing it all in a bain-marie. We also made a chocolate pot de crème which is essentially a glorified version of chocolate pudding! You can imagine that I, the chocolate boy, was quite ecstatic about this recipe. This too, was cooked in a bain-marie. We had to save our crème caramel and pot de crème overnight so we could plate them and present them to chef tomorrow; however, chef’s pot de crème was finished and sufficiently cooled so were partook and were much pleased! Ha. It was incredible—velvety chocolate goodness.

During the latter part of lab, we finished our crème brulée. I coated the surface of my crème brulée with granulated sugar and waited for my turn with the torch. I watched as students burned their crème brulée tops. By the time I had the torch in hand, I learned that I need to be patient and take my time brulée-ing. Ha. It turned out rather nicely. Chef prefers two coats of sugar and demonstrated that way, so I followed suit. As I tried it (my first time ever having crème brulée surprisingly), I marveled at the taste of such a simple combination of familiar kitchen ingredients! It was delicious. The hard crystal-like sugar crush juxtaposed with the smooth creamy custard beneath was amazing. The only problem is that I could almost immediately feel cavities starting to form on my molars. Not really, but it was high enough in sugar that I felt compelled to thoroughly brush my teeth immediately upon my arrival at the Bellevue home.

Creme Brulee

My Spoon Full of Sugar (a.k.a. Creme Brulee)

I needed a shot of me eating it!  Mmm...

Hunter’s dad and step-mother were in town and brought with them four Dungeness crab and five Maryland crab (mini-blue ones) along with pounds of fresh shrimp and rib eye stake. Needless to say, we had a feast that night. I think the food put me out, because I don’t remember anything else that happened that evening.


Not Sweet Enough Chef!

Today we started studying custards. It began by learning to make crème brulée and traditional pastry cream to fill our éclair shells we baked yesterday. Chef broke out the REAL vanilla which he allowed us to use after giving a speech about respecting ingredients—especially the expensive ones. Did you know that real vanilla bean (not the extract people) is the second most expensive spice just after saffron? We slit them open and removed the seeds with the edge of our knives using approximately three inches of the pod. Instead of throwing away the unused portion, I the remainder of the vanilla in a small Tupperware I filled with granulated sugar—a trick that Chef suggested for more flavorful sugar. After preparing the custard base for the crème brulée, I set mine in a bain-marie and began on the éclair pastry cream. After refreshing the éclair shells in the oven, I made two hole on the top of each éclair to prepare them for filling. I was sad that we had to use a dipping chocolate to garnish the tops of our éclairs simply because it’s tasteless and I prefer the chocolate icing we typically find on our grocery store bought éclairs. I guess I’m just not refined (English accent). When I presented them to Chef I told him I did not like them.

“And why eez zat?”

"It's not sweet enough Chef."

I explained the chocolate issue and he said that he would teach me a good chocolate ganache substitute.  I think if there were buttercream rosebuds or something on them, I would have liked them all the much more.

Before my second class I bought a can of Pringle chips. BIG MISTAKE! My professor went off about how terrible they are for you. How can I explain the utter embarrassment that overcame me at that moment? To be surrounded by the culinary elite with my lowly, despicable, disease-Inducing Pringles—the thought, the audacity! It guess it didn’t help that I asked whether there were any microwaves available to the students so we can heat up our lunches. Response:

“There is only WUUUHN (1) microwave on campus and it is for melting butter, if the stove top method is not preferred.”

So unfortunately I can no longer eat Pringles in the presence of Chef Knight and bringing lunches to warm up in a microwave, out of the question.

When I arrived at home, I melted some the leftover Laura Secord white chocolate my cousin Noli sent me from “the true North strong and free” (that would be Canada folks). I drizzled it over a few of the éclairs to remedy the need for more sugar and to make a more appealing look for the photo shoot. They were only okay. That night I cooked because Yolanda, Hunter, and the boys were out shopping. Yoli told me to make the DINO-nuggets in the freezer. I could picture Chef Knight appearing at my shoulder.

“Do you know how terrible those are for you?!”

I made them anyway (for the kid’s sake of course—ahem). I actually made an avocado ranch dressing that I tossed with green leaf lettuce and diced fuji apples. I broke the shaped nuggets and sprinkled them on top of the salad for the adults all the while chuckling to myself because of its deceivingly high-class appearance. That night I started thinking about finding a job, since I am now quite aware of the available time I will be able to allot towards anything that will produce a steady influx of money. What to do, what to do. I decided to sleep on it.



Peach Cobbler, Apple Crisp, and Blueberry Lemonade, Oh My!

The morning rushed by as I ran through my morning routine and prepared for class. When I arrived at Le Cordon Bleu, we early-shower-uppers prepped the room and then started preparing for the day’s assignments. On today’s agenda (or menu, rather): Peach Cobbler, Apple Crisp, and Éclair Shells (to be filled and decorated tomorrow). I learned, during demo-time, that the cobbler people typically make is not authentic cobbler. Cobbler is called cobbler because it is supposed to be garnished by multiple circular biscuit-like toppings that look like cobblestones when cooked. Crumb topping (which is typically sprinkled over top in common, incorrect cobbler) makes a dessert called crisp. Today, as mentioned we made both so we could see the difference. For the apple crisp, we simply sprinkled the crumb topping after preparing the apples. For the peach cobbler, we mixed the remaining crumb topping with heavy cream and followed the same biscuit technique to furnish little one-inch biscuits that we placed on top of our prepared peaches. After throwing them in the convection oven, we made our éclair dough and piped it onto baking sheets. We presented our desserts and cater-wrapped our éclair shells for tomorrow’s use. Chef used some of the extra blueberries from our pies to make blueberry lemonade. It was delicious! It was a super fun day in the kitchen. Sanitation and food safety class? Same old.  (Picture: drinking my blueberry lemonade standing next to my éclair shells).

When I arrived home, I quickly set up for the daily photo shoot and did my best to place the cobbler and crisp on our dishes—a rather sticky task! Yolanda had the brilliant idea to slice up some apples to garnish the apple crisp which I thought looked like fried chicken in the first few shots I took.  Ha!  I love fried chicken.  Side note: I used to dream about fried chicken and I'd wake up and wake Penny up and tell her about sinking my teeth into crispy juicy dark meat chicken.  Oooo.  My mouth is watering.  Anyway, I spent a little bit of time with the kids before preparing spaghetti for the family. It was nice to be preparing something savory for a change! We ate a delicious meal and I ate well over my share of food, probably due to the fact that I forgot to pack a lunch for myself this morning, oops.

Peach Cobbler

Hunter snapped a shot of me preparing my Apple Crisp in my "studio"

Apple Crisp (turned out pretty good eh?)

After dinner, Hunter asked me whether I would like to get a library card at Pasadena’s Central Library. With extra time at my disposal, I decided to tag along. At first sight, the library seemed rather plain—the exterior surrounded by a large unadorned wall that only allows you to see the upper levels that peak over the wall’s edge. As we entered the front entrance we stepped into the courtyard that contains a strikingly different, more elaborate façade that I can only explain as some type of hybrid between Spanish and Neoclassical architectural elements. Through the front doors, we walked into the main hall of the library which extended about the length of a football field but in place of the green grass and white painted numbers lays dark wood paneled flooring. Dimly lit lamps decorate small study tables that run down the hall’s center—each playing a rather insignificant decorative role when considering the vastness of the cathedral-like hall. I liked it! I received my new Pasadena library card and explored the building for a little less than an hour, leaving with only two borrowed CDs.

Library Courtyard

Library Main Hall

Back at home, I’m now finishing the day by updating my blog and studying up for tomorrow. I don’t imagine anything blog-worthy will take place before the night is through. I’m out!