Friday, October 26, 2007

Photo of the Week

Hmm....apparently this whole idea of blogging my experience of being in culinary school is....not so much happening. Oh, I mean, I'm experiencing all right. I'm experiencing all kinds of crazy, bizarre, blog-worthy happenings. But somehow, the part where it actually gets, you know, posted to my blog? Hmm, not happening. Or at least not happening quite as frequently as I oh-so enthusiastically imagined back when I still did things like go to bed before midnight and had pass-times other than cooking. Funny, huh? (For purposes of full disclosure, this fantasy of having all sorts of time for blogging was usually followed by a day dream of being 'found' by someone begging me to write a witty-yet-touching book about my harrowing adventures in culinary school.)

Anywho, I might not be writing very much, but I'm certainly taking tons of photos. Yup, a whole backlog of awesome food s
hots and chefs-in-training and things on fire (oh yeah!). So I'm thinking that I'm going to start posting a weekly photo or three, just to keep y'all in the loop. I'll let you know when the talent agent starts begging me to be the next Super Star Food Photo Journalist, kay?

And so, without further ado, here is your photo of the day: Gateaux St. Honore. It's a pretty shmancy little number. The base is pate sucre (a.k.a. sweet pie crust). On top of the pie crust is a hollow ring of puff pastry, with several cream puffs strategically perched for an extra dose of decadence. The center of the ring and the cream puffs are filled with pastry cream--in this particular case, a pistachio pastry cream that was so wonderfully creamy and so
astoundingly pistachio-y that I could have brushed my teeth with it every day, to hell with cavities. The ring is glued to the pie crust with caramelized sugar and then the puffs are glued to the ring the same way. We used the excess sugar to make the cage in the center of the cake and the decorations for the cream puffs.

The cage and decorations are one of those oh la la! things that are actually super easy to make (shhhh....don't tell!) For the cage, we sprayed the und
erside of a soup ladle with non-stick cooking spray, then dipped a spoon in the sugar, and gently shook thin ribbons of the sugar over the ladle. You let the ladle cool and then gently ease off the cage. For the decorations, we shook designs onto parchment paper. When the sugar cools and hardens, you can unpeel the parchment paper and...oh la la! shmancy decorations! Easy peasy!

The key in all of this is working with the sugar when it's still warm, but not too hot and not too cool. If you dip a spoon into the pot and shake ribbons over the sugar, the ribbons should hold for just a second before melting back into the sugar. If you don't get ribbons at all, it's too hot. If the ribbons hold for too long, your sugar is probably almost too cool to work with. Once the sugar cools, it hardens into a big mass of teeth-cracking caramel that doesn't re-heat very well.

Ok, just one more picture:
Oh, pistachio pastry cream. I do love you. [drool drool drool]

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