Quick Bites from Pender

Archive for the ‘Lessons From Cooking School’ Category

Sunday Lunch – Shrimp Bisque

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes, Sunday Lunch on May 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Classic bisques are thickened with rice, but all of my culinary instructors used roux to thicken their bisques.  Rice, no matter how finely you puree it, will always be grainy.

A roux is a combination of equal parts, by weight, of flour and fat that are cooked together to form a paste.  The cooking eliminates the raw flour taste, and the fat-coated starch particles are prevented from congregating together in lumps when added to liquid — making roux the front runner to thicken anything you want smooth and creamy — like a bisque.

Read the rest of this entry »


Lemon Drops

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on May 17, 2010 at 5:27 pm


This recipe draws upon techniques I learned at not 1, not 2, but 3 professional culinary schools.  That’s 6 1/2 months of instruction from professional chefs, bakers and pastry chefs — nine hundred and thirty-eight hours of training to be exact.

Better not dwell on that though.  Howard will inevitably begin to add up the tuition in his head — which would normally be ok on its own, but as you’re about to see, this recipe contains 7 egg yolks, almost a cup of butter, and a whole lot of sugar.

After the number of these little cutie pies we scarfed back, it’s best not to put any more stress on his heart.

Read the rest of this entry »

3 Pates in 1 Single Day – Sucree, Breton…& Foncer

In Kitchen Tips, Lessons From Cooking School on April 29, 2010 at 5:01 am


Friday may have been the last day of class, but there’s never any slacking off at the San Francisco Baking Institute.  (seriously.)

On the calendar for Day 5:  Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart, Quiche, Strawberry Breton Tart and Tarte Bourdaloue.

Yes, that’s 4 “tarts” from 3 doughs — no time for dilly-dallying.

Read the rest of this entry »

Puff Pastries at SFBI

In Lessons From Cooking School on April 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm


Day 4 at the San Francisco Baking Institute had us rolling out (or sheeting for those in the bakery biz) our puff pastry.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the big sheeting machine we used, so just imagine that I rolled out a 6 foot long, 3 mm thick layer of partially frozen dough using only the strength of my forearms.

Yeah, right. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 3 at SFBI

In Lessons From Cooking School on April 22, 2010 at 10:48 pm


What do you get when you fill a wheel-shaped choux with praline mousseline?

Something very, very tasty — known as a Paris-Brest to those in the know.

Read the rest of this entry »

Makin`Pie at SFBI

In Lessons From Cooking School on April 21, 2010 at 7:57 am

apple and blueberry pies

On Tuesday, everybody in class at the San Francisco Baking Institutemade 2 pies:  the classic American apple deep dish pie, and a beautiful lattice topped blueberry.  Then we took them “home.”

Two pies alone with me in a hotel room is simply not a good idea…

I hope the concierge liked the blueberry….that just leaves the apple to deal with!

Read the rest of this entry »

Choux Pastry at the San Francisco Baking Institute

In Kitchen Tips, Lessons From Cooking School on April 20, 2010 at 5:01 am


This little fella is a Paris-Brest, named after the predecessor to the Tour de France. It`s a pastry made from choux, a classic french dough used to make eclairs, gougeres, cream puffs, Parisian Gnocchi and another few dozen other good things…

Today was my first day in a week-long course at the San Francisco Baking Institute. A gift I planned long ago to soften the blow of a milestone birthday hitting me later this week. (I`ll let you guess the number.) Read the rest of this entry »

Tiramisu Cheesecake, Espresso Glaze

In Island Life, Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on April 10, 2010 at 7:35 am


Very few people will refuse a piece of cheesecake.  I have found this to be a universal truth — except when it’s not — like last week, when I hosted my first ever CHEESECAKE GIVEAWAY.

The long and short of it is that no one showed up.  And it was almost time for me to go home for the day — and I couldn’t take it with me.  No, no, no.  Howard and I had quite enough of this indulgent full-fat homemade mascarpone cheese filling, rum, ladyfinger crumb crust and coffee (espresso) extract glaze.

Next time, I won’t require the winner to tell me that “Island Vittles Rocks!”  I guess I found the limit of what Penderites will do for a free piece of cheesecake.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mayonnaise – Culinary School Method

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on April 4, 2010 at 11:45 am


We`ve made mayonnaise around here before — stinging nettle mayo.  But in my excitement to share the wonderful world of foraged nettles with all of you, I skipped over the basic hows and whys of mayonnaise — this is how we learned to make it in culinary school. Read the rest of this entry »

Nettle-Mint Lollipops

In Island Life, Kitchen Tips, Lessons From Cooking School on March 19, 2010 at 7:17 am


In my brain, it sounded like an inspired, natural way to colour candy green.  (The beets worked, after all.)

In practice, it results in Disgusto-Pops.


Stinging Nettles

One of the chef tips we learned at culinary school was how to use pureed spinach as a green colour enhancer.  You put some spinach in the blender with a little water, blend away, and eventually, you have a vibrant colourant that makes broccoli soup a little greener.


I got a green colourant out of the nettles, but it was more olive than vibrant.  And once the heat of the molten candy got it, it was so drabbed down that I had to use A LOT to turn the lollipops green — so much that the lollipops tasted strongly of nettles, and nothing of the peppermint extract I also used.


A lollipop that tastes of nettles is not A Good Thing.  You’re going to have to trust me on this.