tarte meringuée aux poires caramélisées

bonjour à tous!

nearing the end of week 4 at le cordon bleu, i am quite happy with the amount of french i have been able to pick up! even though i still freeze up when trying to make conversation with the chefs (especially the grumpy pastry ones), i am starting to understand them quite well during demos and practicals. i have started to attempt to jot down my recipes in french, and force myself to ask the chef questions in french also. i have decided to take learning the language very seriously as i am set on landing an internship at a restaurant or patisserie (or both!) after the attainment of my grand diplome! so yes. down to busi-nazz.

"bien observer! bien regarder!" chef nicolas jordan stresses, as he told us the story how he spent the first year of his apprenticeship not touching one grain of flour.. he just watched his teacher work. he lined two tart rings so effortlessly with fragile pate sucree without saying a word, accusingly looking up from time to time to make sure we did not blink at all. the third and fourth time he explained every single stroke he made with the rolling pin, every single turn of whisk and cut of knife that the whole class was reduced to a whimper of collective panic. 

later on at the practical, we learnt the hard way that the chef was dead serious when he says that the pate sucree has to be BIEN FROID when you work with it, or it becomes a living sticky-oily-cracky hell of a mess. so that means your every move with the rolling pin has to be swift, filled with conviction, yet precise, so you touch the dough AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE with your clammy warm hands. the whole class got there in the end, but man. who knew so much stress goes into a foodstuff that looks so sweet and unassuming. 

so without further ado.. we present to you:

la tarte meringuée aux poires caramélisées!

this tart has three main components:

1) buttery biscuit base (sorry i couldn't resist)
2) caramelized pear and sultana filling
3) piped meringue/almonds top

spot the difference..

the bright side of learning pastry..

no matter how turbulent or stressful the practicals get..




sweet almond dacquoise

the dacquoise is not a regular cake. 
the sponge is mostly made out of egg whites and almond powder. 

the resulting texture is light and airy and not too sweet..
coupled with sweet praline buttercream..
this cake is irresistible.. 

we also got to make roses out of marzipan..
the chef made it look waaay to easy..
but after three goes.. 
i got there in the end :)

this cake.. is so simple in composition..
utilizes very very few ingredients..
yet probably one of the tastiest things you'd ever eat.

as soon as i got home, i inhaled a couple of slices without even realizing!
but i don't feel guilty because we had to whip up the egg whites and buttercream

so i think i deserved it.



the best way to learn is from the stomach and you can quote me on that

it's kind of crazy to realize that i've been in paris for almost a month now.. as if just watching the news everyday about the rugby world cup at home is not making me homesick already, martin finishes editing the video he took at my macaron class with so many friendly faces all the way through it..

amidst headaches with the dodgy oven, and silly talks about "toble-robes" and "roblerones" we managed pipe, bake and garnish several batches of these macarons to enjoy at the end of the night.

thank you to the wonderful chelesea for hosting all of us at her lovely flat.

thank you to the hunky martin paris for filming and editing the video. 
like the backing track? it's "magic song" from my band teacups' album forest fiction.

and thank you to all who attended the cooking class, hope you guys had fun and learnt a lot!



ps. you can visit mytoblerone.com for more yums :)


soft light

morning coffee and pastries at home.. 
so delightful..

at school, we've been studying many of the different forms that puff pastry can take.
palmiers are puff pastry that is folded in sugar and baked to spread as opposed to rise.
they are so simple and elegant, like the white shirt of pastry.
and you know how i feel about shirts.

i also spotted this guy lost in my apartment:

i later got him to climb on top of a piece of paper and walked him outside.
hope he got home ok.



oui chef!

it has been a hectic week at le cordon bleu.. i wish i could complain about all the early morning starts and evening finishes we've been having all this week.. but how could i? i am having a wonderful time! the FOOD.... the people.. the talented yet humble and hilarious chefs.. i mean come on! of course i happily jump out of bed even before the sun comes up, looking forward to get into my kitchen whites.

so, today was a good good day! we watched Chef Xavier Cotte effortlessly bake and decorate the traditional French choux pastry and chantilly cream cake "Saint Honore".

at the end of the presentation, the chef allows us to take pictures of his products.

then we get to go away to the kitchen in our groups and try to recreate the goodies..

here's mine!

i am very proud of it :)
we had Chef Nicolas Jordan at our practical class..

he said my cake and piping was "tres jolie!"
"merci chef" i breathed, with a sigh of relief..

fyi... the vanilla bean chantilly cream is out.of.this.world.

with all these amazing food that we get to cook, it's hard to believe we hardly get any breaks to have proper meals during the day! grand diplome students at lcb pretty much live on the small plates we get to taste during demonstrations. i mean.. i only got home at 9.30pm tonight, and made a ham sandwich dinner lol. cooking school is.. not.. that.. glamourous.. huh.. but we were told that the 10-12 hour days we have at school is NOTHING compared to what the real world as a chef is like. the chefs tell us of the 16-18 hour days they use to endure to climb up the ranks in the kitchen. 16-18 hours. and they're not exaggerating. you really gotta have passion to be in this profession. that's why i have to pinch myself each time i am in the presence of these amazing chefs. their amazing work ethic and strife for excellence, coupled with their personality, humour and humility is truly inspirational. i am so glad and grateful to be able to learn from them. 

tomorrow we're making Quiche Lorraine! so excited! (yes i have school on saturdays).. i better get some sleep as it's 8.30am start again tomorrow! 

bonne nuit.. x


sunday roast at my new flat

there can be no better way to celebrate moving into a new place than a good old roast. a quick trip down the road to the local boulangerie where 90 cents got me a warm baguette, and to the market across the road for a fresh whole chicken and some aromatic vegies, i was good to go. and i gotta say.. it really was a good feeling to be able to devour a roast chicken here in humid, warm paris, with the sun still out at dinnertime.

(check out my le cordon bleu bread knife. it's super sharp and super awesome)
(i cut myself once at school already)
(but it's ok because the attending chef was good looking and 
he helped to put a plaster on my throbbing hand)
(anyway.. back to the chicken)

i decided to try out a new technique i saw on alton brown's "good eats" tv show, where instead of trussing the chicken, you butterfly it. to do this, you cut the backbone out with some kitchen shears and press the breast down so the chicken lies flat which ensures even heat exposure from the grill.

this method also cuts down the cooking time by half! 
beautiful, evenly cooked roast chicken only in half an hour :)

this was delicious.
too bad it was only for one.