Plaisir

At long last we had Chef Deguignet for demo. He teaches mainly the superior classes and if you’re lucky, you may catch him subbing in for a basic or intermediate class every now and then.

Plaisir

Watch how quickly and effortlessly he makes these beautiful chocolate ‘fans’. He makes everything look so simple!

Pierre Hermé

Last time in Paris, I made it a goal to sample as many different flavors and brands of macarons I could. This time around, I haven’t been so diligent. I blame it on the colder weather and earlier sunset (yes, mother nature), both of which make it more difficult to walk around the walkable city as much as I did in the summertime. Anyhoo, I made up for lost time today by paying Pierre Hermé a visit, namely the location at 72 Rue Bonaparte.

Macs

Coing (Quince) , Marron et Thé Vert (Chestnut and Green Tea), Chocolat et Gingembre Confit (Chocolate and Candied Ginger). The ginger confit packed a nice spice to pair with the dark chocolate. The others were neither memorable nor texturally pleasing.

Truffe Blanche

I liked this savory macaron and this is coming from a non-lover of truffle oil, having lived, eaten and breathed truffle oil every day for a year at O Ya. Oui, c’est possible to be all truffled-out.

Mille Feuille de Praliné

Every since we made the douceur last week, I’ve been craving praliné and feuilletine. Despite the sweetness of praliné, I can’t get enough of the nutty richness! I love the crunch so much I even bought a bag of feuilletine to bring home 🙂

Heavenly Chocolate

The Douceur Chocolat, also known as ‘Heavenly Chocolate’ was one of my favorite tasting cakes thus far in intermediate pâtisserie. The components were quite simple: hazelnut dacquoise (which we learned in basic), milk chocolate mousse (a mixture of cream and milk chocolate), crispy praline and the more challenging part, tempered milk chocolate. We have been tempering chocolate all week so we should be experts by now, right? Eh…no. We have observed several demonstrations on tempering chocolate and the chefs always make it look so simple, but how many hundreds of times have they done it? Well we worked with milk chocolate once and dark chocolate once so third time’s the charm! I was determined to get it brillant this time around. Plus, I’m tired of Chef Tranchant saying our chocolats are for the supermarché! 😦

Douceur Chocolat

Please excuse the horrible fluorescent glare and hideous marble of LCB’s P3…voilà! My best chocolate [tempering] work yet. Since the other components were familiar and required little time to prepare, I took it upon myself to temper the milk chocolate twice for extra practice and to challenge myself. After all, that’s what spare time during a LCB practical is for. If you note the curved pieces of chocolat, this is where I curled my second sheet of tempered chocolate on to a rolling pin and let it solidify in to a curvy square. I’d seen Chef Cotte do it during a practical in basic pâtisserie so I figured, bien sûr pourquoi pas? Yay, my risk-taking was rewarded with somewhat successful curvy squares. Although I would have preferred them to be more even in thickness...jusqu’à la prochaine fois...

It takes a bit of practice, patience and understanding to convince myself that the chefs are indeed correct, that chocolate tempering is not so difficult. Have faith.

Chocolate Week

This week has been a very decadent week. Beaucoup de chocolat. Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to:

I wish I had added a bit more glaze for a shinier sheen. I chose a simple design that in the end reminded me of an awkward starfish. Oops!

Bavarois

Here is a picture of my friend Neha’s Bavarois. Magnifique, mademoiselle!

Neha’s Bavarois

The cakes we’ve been making lately (Fraisier, Bavarois, etc.) have incorporated a few new techniques such as making Bavarian cream. But for the most part, it seems like a review of basic pâtisserie. Just as we thought we could get comfortable…we had to temper chocolate.

Chocolat Café et Truffes

The first day of chocolate tempering was the hardest: milk chocolate. It was a novice’s work so I won’t even bother posting our hideous, not-so-delicious Praliné et Muscadines. Even the dark chocolates featured above are not sufficient with chef’s standard of brillant. They can always be shinier.

Well I suppose if I keep working with chocolate and practice, practice, practice, perhaps one day I can be like Chef Daniel Walter and know just from looking, whether the chocolate needs to be heated or cooled a few more degrees. We call him Monsieur Chocolat for a reason.

Done with chocolate [tempering] for the week and of course like any other day at Le Cordon Bleu, I’m craving salty [Spanish] jamón…

LCB Graduation

Ah, the bittersweet beginning of the end. Today we had LCB graduation. Thank you to the wonderful chefs and friends I have met in Paris. Keep in touch and keep on baking!

What better way to precede graduation than with a fish spa pedicure?

Rufa Fish Spa

Oh so tingly:

Yum

Sam

Mes Amis
Chef Daniel Water a.k.a “Chef Grandpa”

The sweetest French chef I’ve known. Doesn’t he look like Michael Douglas?

Chef Xavier a.k.a. “Chef Crazy” y el Trio

Of course some post-celebratory Belgium beer seemed appropriate (both the day before and the day of graduation, bien sur!):

Nayma et Bier

Catherine et Bier

Sam et Bier


Last week at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

This is the last week of class at Le Cordon Bleu so between spending time in class and with friends, I haven’t left much time for blogging! Fear not, here are some pictures to catch you up to speed:

Pithiviers

Also known as “Three Kings Cake”, this was one of my favorite “pretty feuilletage” to make. Glossy, flaky, golden goodness…I had to post two pics:

Pithiviers [Deux]

I wish I had taken a better picture, but here it is:

Mogador

Making marzipan roses in class is like therapy after spending an hour rushing to whisk, fold, bake and clean. It also makes me realize I should look at more roses if I want to make my marzipan ones more realistic, versus copying the Chefs since all their roses look different.

Bûche Pistache-Chocolat

I have to learn to trick myself in to liking projects, even if they aren’t tasty in demo or have ugly names like “pistachio log.” The hulk green was a big turn-off as well, despite the many times I repeated the mantra, “pretend it’s a chocolate matcha cake, Trac” in my head.

Sunday Night Dinners

I’ve mentioned before that the majority of Paris is closed on Sundays, with the [recent] exception of stores open during the soldes, or the occasional neighborhood grocer or Picard that is open for a few hours pour le matin. Donc, Sundays are reserved for family time, roller-skating or picnicking. This past Sunday, friends gathered at Chez La Molly for another cooking soiree. Erin [chocolat] spent the morning shopping at her neighborhood outdoor market and found some nice produce for us to whip up the delectable meal. I was more than happy to make pasta sauce in a pitcher with a hand-mixer again, as long as it didn’t overheat on me. Woohoo for ghetto [equipment] improvisation. Like a Top Chef challenge, no?

Giuseppe

Unfortunately we got so tied up with cooking (/Shelly and I may have had three cuppas each at La Caféotèque and been too giddy to remember) that we didn’t take many pictures. However, I did manage to get a shot of Giuseppe before we left. Tsingtao in Paris? Bien sûr!

I can’t think of a better picture to kick-off the start of Giuseppe’s portfolio for his theatre/law career.

Rue de Seine

One of my favorite streets thus far in my foodie adventures in Paris is Rue de Seine in the Saint Germain des Prés area in the 6th arrondissement.

It is home to my favorite Spanish restaurant/shop/café, Da Rosa, where one can enjoy a glass of wine and melt-in-your-mouth Jamon Bellota, or take some [cher mais delicieux] canned moules a emporter. Just across the street is Grom, the italian gelato chain where the speedy English-speaking scooper handed me my tangy, thirst-quenching sorbet au citron. Perhaps I’ve been in the [pastry] kitchen too long but I love the movement in this shape. Doesn’t it remind you of George Washington’s wig?

Citron

The street, and neighboring streets as well, is lined with patio dining, art galleries, boulangeries, wine bars and cute boutiques. It is also a stone’s throw from Gérard Mulot and Ladurée. Wandered too far? Just follow your nose and you’ll find yourself in front of the huge skewers of roast chicken next door to Grom.

Mangue et Pêche

Picard. We also call it “the morgue.” Why? Don’t let the cute little snowflake emblem throw you. Oui, the chain store sells frozen foods, and that’s all it sells, but it looks like a morgue! Large freezers, bright lights, pristine white non-décor–it screams creepy [morgue].

My friends claim the frozen prepared foods here are decent and better than T.V. dinners back home. I’ve learned when you find a good thing, you stick to it. Or, in this case, it sticks to me!

Mangue et Pêche

Brioche et Pain au Raisin

Today we finished making brioche and pain au raisin with the détrempe dough we made last class. My right hand was still out of order from the burn earlier this week and so again, I wore the glove of shame and worked harder with my left hand. Thank goodness I had learned some of the dough-balling technique in a Shanghai pastry class a few summers back.

This was easier than showering with one arm:

Baby Brioche

Loaf

The pain au raisin were more delicious than I’d anticipated. They also baked up nicely. I couldn’t “fit” them all on my small piece of cardboard a emporter (I guess I conveniently left my tupperware at home) so I snuck one, still warm out of the oven. Yum yum pass the rhum!

Pain au Raisin

I think there is a direct relationship between enjoying what I’m going to make and the actual outcome of what I make. Brioche–bien. Croissants–bien, aussi. Chaussons aux Pommes? Pas de bien! How do I trick myself in to liking things that don’t tickle my fancy [or my tongue]?