A piece of cake

Passion and professionalism.  Can the two be combined?   I am very fortunate to have employment that embodies my love of teaching, food and the culinary industry. Of the many classes that I instruct, the Introduction to Cakes course can be one of the most challenging.   Many students come to culinary school with industry experience, however for many others this may be their first time in a professional kitchen.  When faced with icing a cake, this may be a stressful event for some students.  On the last day of class, the students are asked to assemble and decorate a cake in less than ten minutes.  Here’s a video of my demonstration for the class.

 

Passion and professionalism.  The goal? Put your emotional energy into trying to do something well, not into your reaction if it doesn’t go as planned.  In other words, try not to cry if a cake disaster strikes!  Does this mean I have no passion for cakes?  No, I just try to put the whole process in proper perspective.  Really, it’s a piece of cake!

Another great cartoon by JWU student Rebecca Ramey

Another great cartoon by JWU student Rebecca Ramey

How do you feel about cake, cake decorating, and the emotions that go along with this skill?

 

 

The Start of a Day

My parents raised us with the mantra: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (woman) healthy, wealthy and wise.”    Well, I try to get to bed early.  Yes, I’m definitely up early.  Healthy?  Yes, I have been blessed.  Wealthy?  I am thankful everyday for the amazing good fortune of wonderful family, great friends, excellent work and a pretty decent outlook on life.  Wise? No, I’m not finished yet……there’s still plenty to learn!

I love mornings!  How does your day begin?
Here’s a fun look at the start of my day.

 

 

Let’s make Marshmallows!

Marshmallows……this homemade recipe is simple to make and so delicious!  They taste like “sweet little clouds.”

Check out my instructional video on these fun treats.

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

Ingredients:

3 (1/4 oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

MOP (Method of Preparation):

Pour 3/4 cup cold water into bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle gelatin over water (bloom).  Attach bowl to mixer and fit with whisk attachment.

In a 3-quart saucepan, boil together granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup water over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, making sure that the  tip of the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pan.  Without stirring the sugar mixture, allow it to reach 235*F.   With mixer on low-speed, pour hot sugar mixture into gelatin in a slow steady stream.

Add vanilla to sugar/gelatin mixture.  Carefully increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Line a 13 x 9″ pan with foil.  Sift  2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar over bottom of pan.  Pour marshmallow mixture into prepared pan.  Dust top with more confectioners’ sugar. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

Lift mixture out of the pan, and turn out onto a cutting board.  Remove foil from underside of the marshmallow slab.  Cut marshmallow piece into 3/4″ slices, roll slices in confectioners’ sugar.  Cut strips into 3/4″ cubes.  Roll cubes in more confectioners’ sugar to coat, and separate them to prevent sticking. Shake marshmallows in a strainer to remove excess sugar.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Marshmallows, ingredients and equipment
Marshmallows, ingredients and equipment
Finished marshmallows, ready to eat!
Finished marshmallows, ready to eat!

Marshmallow recipe from Rebecca Rather in “Fine Cooking Cakes and Cupcakes” (Tauton Press, 2014)

I love cookbooks!

I love cookbooks, all kinds.  For me though, the components of a great cookbook include more than just recipes.  I want to know about the life of the author, the origin of the recipes and of course, the book needs to include plenty of quality photos!  I’m very excited to present a post by my guest blogger and colleague, Jean Moats.  As one of our Johnson & Wales University  librarians,  Jean is a great asset to the education of our students and our chefs.  I love it when Jean says ” I just got in the newest book by…….., you’ve got to take a look!”  So, I asked her to share with us the latest additions to our JWU library.

Fine French Desserts by Hubert Delorme

Fine French Desserts by Hubert Delorme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fine French Desserts by Hubert Delorme: This book could be considered a textbook for a cook wanting to learn how to make beautiful French desserts. The first part of the book goes over basic techniques and recipes for making the different parts of the desserts. The next section is a practical guide featuring all of the needed tools. The final section, written by French pastry chefs, includes the recipes to make these stunning creations.

 

Jenny McCoy's Desserts

Jenny McCoy’s Desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny McCoy’s Desserts by Jenny McCoy: Most dessert books are divided up by different types of desserts such as pies, cakes, cookies and candy.  Jenny McCoy used a fresh approach with book in organizing the recipes by seasons. If you need a spring dessert for your next party, then turn to the spring section for a lovely Blueberry-Almond Cream Tart. The recipes are easy to follow with clear instructions. McCoy includes not only desserts but also seasonally themed drinks.

 

Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by Rick Mast and Michael Mast: Winner of the IACP in the Single Subject Category.  Rick and Michael Mast started  craft chocolate factory in Brooklyn  in order to produce handcrafted chocolate.  They seek to make the chocolate using best ingredients from small producers. This book includes the story of their journey along with delicious recipes.

 

Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino

Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino: Desserts in Italy are more than just cannoli and gelato.  Rosetta Costantino brings us the desserts of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily, all regions in southern Italy.  Rich delicious desserts fill the pages of this book. Costantino explains the regional history, symbolism and lore behind these desserts.

The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer with Martha Rose Shulman

The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer with Martha Rose Shulman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer with Martha Rose Shulman: Winner of the IACP in the Baking Category.  Jacquy Pfeiffer covers the fundamentals of pastry, beginning with his life working in his father’s bakery.  The book continues with recipes for classic French pastries.  Pfeiffer includes a sidebar in the many recipes where he gives more information about a particular ingredient that is used. It is an excellent book for anyone wanting to learn the fundamentals of French pastries.

NOTE:  All of these editions are available from your favorite online book retailer OR, better yet, take a closer look at these great books in the library!

 

Jean Moats, Librarian, M L.S. from University of North Carolina at Greensboro; B.A. in Home Economics and Business from Otterbein College, M. Div. in Pastoral Ministry from Duke Divinity School; Prior to the library degree, Jean worked as a pastry chef in several local catering companies while earning a degree in Culinary Arts and Hotel/Restaurant Management from Central Piedmont Community College. She worked at Queens University of Charlotte in Technical Services Department while earning her degree in library science from UNC at Greensboro. Jean joined the library staff of Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte in August 2004. She is a liaison for the College of Culinary Arts. Other responsibilities include cataloging materials, staffing the reference desk, and teaching information literacy sessions.

Thank you Jean, for your dedication and your reviews of these fantastic books!

 

 

Food for thought

We commonly use food metaphors without even thinking that we are talking about……food!

“You are the apple of my eye.”

You are the apple of my eye.

You are the apple of my eye.  I credit my daughter with this idea.  Great job Tink!

“A piece of cake.”

It's a piece of cake.

It’s a piece of cake….or a whole carrot cake.  Yum!

 

“Mind your P’s and Q’s.”

Mind your P's and Q's.

Mind your P’s and Q’s.  Preserve the harvest: take care of your pints and quarts. Thanks Nanny!

“That’s a real pickle.”

That's a pickle of a problem.

That’s a pickle of a problem.  “Oh, pickles!”

“Keep your eyes peeled.”

Keep your eyes peeled.

Keep your eyes peeled.  Potatoes have eyes…..are they watching you?

 

“That’s a recipe for disaster.”

A recipe for disaster.

A recipe for disaster.  Honestly, some of my test recipes ARE disasters!

“You are nuts!”

You are nuts!

You are nuts!  Thank you.  I love nuts!

“That’s as easy as pie.”

That's as easy as pie.

That’s as easy as pie.  Really, not so easy, but so worth the work!

 

What is the origin of these phrases?  Why do we use food as metaphors for what we really want to say?  Food has always been and will always be such an integral part of our lives.  Of course we depend on food for sustenance, but it has become so much more.  Around the globe, we celebrate with food, compete with food, and show love for each other with food.  Just in our country alone, we have  everything from pig-pickings to oyster roasts, fish fry’s to apple bobbing, watermelon seed spitting tournaments to blueberry festivals, and don’t forget the ever-present “Bake Sale.”  Those examples are just some of the tame food related activities we enjoy.  Of course, there are more food events everywhere, but now we have plenty of television shows to fulfill every inkling of food curiosity we may have.  Food is everywhere.  So it makes sense for us to use food in our spoken language as well.

What is your favorite food phrase?  Do you every want to eat your words?

 

Marshmallows!

Marshmallows……this homemade recipe is simple to make and so delicious!  They taste like “sweet little clouds.”

Check out my instructional video on these fun treats.

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

Ingredients:

3 (1/4 oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

MOP (Method of Preparation):

Pour 3/4 cup cold water into bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle gelatin over water (bloom).  Attach bowl to mixer and fit with whisk attachment.

In a 3-quart saucepan, boil together granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup water over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, making sure that the  tip of the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pan.  Without stirring the sugar mixture, allow it to reach 235*F.   With mixer on low-speed, pour hot sugar mixture into gelatin in a slow steady stream.

Add vanilla to sugar/gelatin mixture.  Carefully increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Line a 13 x 9″ pan with foil.  Sift  2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar over bottom of pan.  Pour marshmallow mixture into prepared pan.  Dust top with more confectioners’ sugar. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

Lift mixture out of the pan, and turn out onto a cutting board.  Remove foil from underside of the marshmallow slab.  Cut marshmallow piece into 3/4″ slices, roll slices in confectioners’ sugar.  Cut strips into 3/4″ cubes.  Roll cubes in more confectioners’ sugar to coat, and separate them to prevent sticking. Shake marshmallows in a strainer to remove excess sugar.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Marshmallows, ingredients and equipment

Marshmallows, ingredients and equipment

Finished marshmallows, ready to eat!

Finished marshmallows, ready to eat!

Marshmallow recipe from Rebecca Rather in “Fine Cooking Cakes and Cupcakes” (Tauton Press, 2014)

Gelatin ……what is it?

This image comes from a blog called The Daily Postcard.  Check it out!

This image comes from a blog called The Daily Postcard. Check it out!

What is gelatin…..that ubiquitous substance that turns colored water and sugar into JELL-O!?!  Mixed with canned fruit, it serves as a staple on cafeteria buffets.  That may be the vision that most of us have, but unflavored gelatin is also used as a stabilizer in cream-based desserts (like mousse), a thickener in salad dressings and even the structure building agent in marshmallows!  (Look for a marshmallow “how-to” on my Learn page soon.)

So  really, where does gelatin come from?  The Pastry Chef’s Companion  defines gelatin as a substance derived from the bones and connective tissues of animals.  Ewwww! Really?  Yes, but don’t worry.  Gelatin is heated, filtered, purified and sterilized to make it nearly flavorless.

In the bakeshop, we use two different forms of gelatin:  powdered gelatin and sheet gelatin.  With either form, there are two crucial steps to working with gelatin:  bloom and dissolve.  First, gelatin must be bloomed in water to hydrate it.

Here are photos of the first step of working with gelatin powder and gelatin sheets: bloom.

Gelatin powder

Gelatin powder

Bloomed gelatin powder

/ Bloomed gelatin powder

For gelatin powder, add four to five times the amount of cold water to the amount of gelatin.  Let sit for about three minutes until the water is fully absorbed.

Gelatin sheets

Gelatin sheets

Bloomed gelatin sheets

Bloomed gelatin sheets

For gelatin sheets, submerge the sheets in cold water (no need to measure) for about three minutes until the sheets are very pliable.

For both types of gelatin, the next step would be to heat the bloomed gelatin to a working temperature of about 110*F.   Once the gelatin is melted (in the microwave, over a double boiler, or in a warm ingredient of your recipe), then it is ready to incorporate into your recipe.  Once mixed with the other ingredients and cooled, then the gelatin will create its web-like formation that gives the mixture the desired thickness or structure.

Of course, there are plenty more details about gelatin and working with this interesting substance.  Please refer to your recipe for specific instructions.

This reminds me of my childhood.

This reminds me of my childhood.

NOTE:  Jello-O contains color, flavor, sugar (or an artificial sweetener) and instant gelatin, a product that has been processed a bit differently, so it only needs boiling water to dissolve and activate its structure building properties.

For more information on gelatin, check out this site:  http://www.recipes.howstuffworks.com/j-ello.htm