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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Week 14 at San Francisco Cooking School

I've made it to week 14 with all my fingers, and no burns.  I'm considering myself super lucky to have not injured myself horribly during this experience.

Sacha Lauren, from Winters Cheese Company, visited our class and taught us how to make Ricotta, Mozzarella and Burrata cheese!  We started off with Ricotta because it's really straight forward and super easy to make.  Mozzarella on the other hand requires exact temperatures and pulling.  You have to stretch the cheese curds to make the mozzarella smooth but you can't stretch it too much or it will become tough.  Burrata is really thinly pulled mozzarella with a cheese and cream filling, you want to stretch the mozzarella so thin that you can't even tell it's a separate cheese.  We enjoyed the fruits of our labor with a caprese salad for lunch. YUM!

 Cheese, we made that!

We learned about tuiles this week.  Excuse my language but tuiles are a bitch to make.  They're really thin crispy wafer things that you can mold.  The trick is that you have to mold them while they're still hot.  Many fingers were slightly singed and many a tuile was tossed out.  I am not a fan of the tuile.

Lace cookie, tuiles.

But don't worry because we also made Brioche!  Apparently brioche is in my wheel house.  The dough is super sticky and you have to throw it down on the table to knead it.  Nic, my partner this week, managed to throw his down on the table with such force that some of it ended up on the front of me.  We made brioche loafs, knots and various other delicious bites.  We saved some of the brioche dough to make flamiche, which is like a quiche but with brioche dough.  I was quite pleased when I asked Chef Plue (SF Cooking's resident - and super awesome - pastry chef instructor) if "on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being awesome and 1 be the most horrible thing she'd ever seen, how she'd rate our brioche knots," and she said, "3." I'm pleased because it wasn't a 1!

 Brioche knots!

 Ham and cheese flamiche!

And then, the day I'd been waiting for all through this course came, the day Bill Corbett, from the Absinthe Group, came to visit!  He makes some of the most amazingly delicious desserts I've ever eaten.  He is a pastry God as far as I'm concerned.  First we took a little field trip over to the "commissary" where all the prep for the desserts happens before being sent out to the various Absinthe Group restaurants.  They have a steam convection oven!  It was such a great kitchen, and the set up was great.  I'd love to be able to work in a kitchen like that.  After the tour of the commissary Bill came back to school with us and we made a whole bunch of different dessert components.  After everything had been prepared we got to play with playing and combining flavors.  It was such a great day.

 Plating creations! (None of mine are shown as I ate them all.)

To celebrate the end of the week we made cheese burgers and finally used the deep fryer for fries!  Sadly there are no pictures of this marvelous event as we all shoved everything in our mouths so fast.

Next week we plan for restaurant week!


Week 13 at San Francisco Cooking School

I still have all my fingers!

The end of week 12 (yes this is the week 13 post) saw us making pastry doughs.  The last dough we made was puff pastry dough, or "Pâte Feuilletée."  This is the fancy pastry dough that is used to make croissants and other delicious breakfast pastries.  The pastry is rolled and folded, or "turned," so many times that there are 729 layers to it.  If you're interested in trying to make your own puff pastry I've found this excellent site with pictures and great descriptions on hot to put it all together.  The point is, we rolled out our puff pastry dough at the end of week 12, but didn't get to do anything with it until this week.

We made Napoleons, Jalousie, and Pear Feuilletées and they were all superbly delicious.

Pear Feuilletée!

Juliana Uruburu, from The Pasta Shop, came in for a cheese tasting!  Man oh man do I love to eat cheese.  We talked about how different animals milk can effect the taste of the cheese, as well as the animal's diet, the season, and where the animal lives.

 Cheese Tasting Deliciousness!

We were super lucky to have Chef Nicole Plue of the SFCS, teach us about chocolate tempering, and give us a chocolate tasting.  We tasted over 15 different kinds of chocolate.  At the end of the lesson we tempered our own chocolate and made little chocolate drops that we flavored with various items from all over the kitchen.  I think the best chocolates were topped with salt.

Sharon Ardiana, of Ragazza, came in for a special pizza making class.  I aboslutely love Ragazza so this was an exceptionally fun time.  We made really thin pizza and learned how to properly put it in the burn-you-face-off-hot oven.  I still have some pizza dough in my fridge waiting to be used up for a delicious dinner.  Sharon was definitely one of the best guest instructors we've had in class.  She very obviously loves what she does and she was an engaging speaker.  I think she's my chef crush.

I think I ate a pizza and a half all by myself, sooooo good!

We finished up the week with a field trip to Oakhill Farm.  We had a nice leisurely guided tour of the farm and everything that's grown.  We tasted some wild plants, as well as some purposely planted plants.  Chive flowers are delicious, and really cute, I'm going to have to look into growing them in my backyard. 

Chive Flowers

Freshly picked carrots! We dusted them off and ate them.

And then, as if we hadn't had enough food we had a little potluck that Saturday night!  Needless to say, it was all delicious!  Jen was awesome enough to host the party and we all had a wonderful time.

Party Time!

Stay tuned, we're nearing the end!