Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pastries has my mind spinning

I thought I would always characterize myself as a hot foods chef. I like to eat pastries, sure, but I generally don't crave them. 

This class has me reconsidering. There's something about the combination of mathematical formulas and the delicate artistry of it that excites me.  It soothes my OCD. 

A quickly taken, blurry shot of the captain, Chef Joseph Decker, and his station. Check out his website at

Panorama of the freezer which is so cold it only takes 10 seconds for your nostrils to freeze from the inside out! According to Chef, the freezer is a baker's best friend. Second is very hot water for cleaning fat off of cooking utensils and surfaces.

Friuit strips, baked pear frangipane and fresh fruit, both with a base of classic puff pastry 

Jake's tart tatin. Rocked it. Straight up.

Unfilled pate a choux. Eclairs, profiteroles, and the Paris Brest.

Key lime tart with Chantilly, a close second to the previous post's macaron topped tarts.

Jaconde sponge: for the edge of our Bavarian cream tart. The red lines are made of a thick batter called stencil paste, and frozen before jaconde batter is poured and spread on top. Will post final product tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pastries: week 2

Today In Pastries class with master pastry Chef Joseph Decker, we gilded the Lily, quite literally.
Our master chef is always searching on the World Wide Web for inspiration.  He recently found a muse on the History of Sugar Facebook page. 

Instead of one one dessert--why not combine two? And this creation followed a dynamic lecture about the importance of being able to prepare nutritional desserts. We soon diverted from the discussion of dietetic specialties to create a whopper.

We began by creating a base:
Yellow short dough crust (in this case we used a gluten free dough), brushed with a Meyer lemon marmalade (not visible), lemon curd and a citrus vanilla glaze.

Chef Decker's  demonstration of piping macaron:

Beautiful-with feet and all!

Filled with passion fruit ganache 

Finally we towered Macarons on top of the tart resting on a pyramid of chantilly cream, decorated with gold leaf. Gilded. 

Friday, November 07, 2014

Pastries: week 1. Caramel & apple pie

If ever you make an apple pie and it's, well, not the prettiest pie on the block, try this trick. 

Make a caramel sauce. Start with wet caramel method. When light brown, add butter, cream, & chocolate. Let cool briefly. Add whole mixed nuts and while still pourable, flip pie over on a platter and pour on this luscious sauce.  Cool before serving.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Birthday dinner: belated October 6

My daughter didn't know what she wanted for her birthday dinner.  "I like to eat everything!" It's a hard problem that I associate with.  So I looked to the fridge and found a head of cauliflower.
Roast a whole head of cauliflower.  Just do it. In this case, I drizzled it with curry oil and salt.

My son pitched in with a comment, "I one time had this really great pistachio crusted tofu at that place in... where was that?".  So it started to come together. 

It finally came together: on a bed of spinach with roasted teacup tomatoes, brown rice, and drizzled with an indian pickle viniagrette.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baking week 3: laminated doughs

It always amazes me how croissants start out as a lump of dough like any old bread and then with a little finesse turn into this.

Chocolate croissants before final proof

Plain croissants after final proof


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Want to come over for lunch?

Grilled multigrain bread from Detroit's Avalon bakery 
with Brie and sliced Michigan peaches,
and a few drops of balsamic vinegar - the real stuff. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Argus Farm Stop

Argus Farm Stop was worth the wait.  With the clear mission of selling goods of local farmers, they knocked it out of the park!  The vibe is fun.  The service friendly.   The merchandise selection is very wide, with heirloom and specialty items that chefs might be looking for. 

Check it out at Argus Farm Stop or stop by 325 West Liberty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Dropped in Biercamp today for a sausage craving, and stumbled upon this new-to-me goodie, a house made pancake mix.  The ingredients were just as if I would have made it myself, flour, leavening, sugar & salt. But convenient because it's all portioned out. It's really quite genius for a sausage store to throw in a bag of pancake mix.
I turned it into a fantastic waffle foundation by following the recipe on the back- except for two changes. I separated the eggs, whisking the whites to semi soft peaks to fold in at the end while combining the yolks with the buttermilk. I also added two Michigan zucchini, grated and squeezed to rid extra liquid, and a little bit of ground cumin, chili and black pepper.
Topped with some green zebra jam (see earlier post), paired with a caprese salad and of course a mouth watering Biercamp sausage.  Let's just say there were no leftovers.