Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sticky & Sweet Tour

My first night as a Level VI student and I find myself back in the pastry kitchen making new confections and sweet desserts. The entire L'Ecole menu has changed and that goes for desserts as well. Our newest creations include a tangerine cream cheese tart, chocolate brioche bread pudding, an individual Tarte Tatin and a toffee pudding. My group is responsible for the tangerine and chocolate brioche menu items.

The first day in the kitchen with a major menu change is always frenetic. Recipes change, plating varies with the whim of the Chef and some students look like deer caught in headlights. Chef Mimi was filling in for Chef Alain on this first night and she walked us through a priority list of "to-dos" so we could get organized and have a smooth evening. My team, Ashley and Spencer, and I knocked out the list and were done prepping everything by 8pm.

We share the kitchen with the new Level V students who looked as nervous as I was on my first day working in L'Ecole's kitchen. Everything did go smoothly that night, and we all worked well with each other. I really enjoyed making the maple vanilla ice cream that is served with our chocolate bread pudding. We start with a rich Crème Anglaise with the addition of a good quality maple syrup and cook the sauce until it is nappant (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).

The ice cream maker in the pastry kitchen is this incredible stainless steel behemoth compared to ice cream makers on the consumer market. The now chilled Crème Anglaise is carefully poured into the machine and with one flick of a switch the ice cream is ready in 10 minutes. As the machine freezes the mixture I check it at different intervals to see how it is forming. Once the consistency is similar to soft-serve ice cream than I know it is ready. Extruding the ice cream into super chilled hotel pans I take an off set spatula to smooth it out and pop the trays it into a small freezer called a blast chiller. The blast chiller continues to quick freeze the ice cream and hold it until service. I have to admit the ice cream we make is one of the best I've tasted, super creamy, slightly dense, and made with nothing but all natural ingredients - who wouldn't scream for that?

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