I probably should have titled my last post Culinary Arts Day 1, but I’m too lazy to go back and change it. In actuality, I’m taking four classes this semester. Why? Because I’m an idiot and thought I could easily jump back into the college thing taking one class less than I took last time I was in college. Little did my brain realize that I now have a full time job and a wife to occupy my time. Next semester I think I’ll limit myself to three classes. Luckily one of my classes only runs for 4 weeks (my Certificate in Sanitation class) I guess it takes that long to explain how to wash your hands, keep your workspace clean, keep food out of the temperature danger zone, and prevent cross contamination. I’m sure its a little more involved than that, but probably not too much. The scary thing is, the people who cook at fast food and some casual dining restaurants didn’t have to take that class to get their job.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. After the first lesson, I realized that I’m really going to like my baking and pastry class. My instructor is really cool and laid back. He is a self-professed lazy chef. He knows a ton of shortcuts and is going to teach us a whole lot of them. There are certain things we are expected to know for the exam, including weighing using the balance scale, but during the class when we’re actually cooking, we can take shortcuts, like using digital scales. He is changing the order of the lessons because he didn’t agree with how they were laid out. Rather than make pie crust on the second week and freeze it for use weeks later, we are waiting until the week before we use the pie crust to make it, and refrigerate it. That way there will be no ice crystal formation in the butter, which would lead to a less flaky crust. We are also not only allowed, but encouraged, to put our own personal spin on the recipes we use in class. In a real commercial kitchen, we won’t be allowed to experiment and make mistakes, but in the college kitchen, we can experiment as much as we want, and we will be the only ones to see our mistakes. For example, next week we are making focaccia. He will be providing basic recipes for us to follow, but we can bring in ideas for our own variations. I have decided on a fig and gorgonzola focaccia with prosciutto. I saw the recipe on Epicurious and decided to give it a try. The original recipe didn’t call for prosciutto, but one of the comments suggested that the saltiness might help balance the sweetness of the figs. So, I have decided to try it. In addition, I am considering adding red pepper flakes to bring a little heat to the party as well.
There are lots of great flavor combinations that work well together. Sweet and Salty go great together (its hard to resist a chocolate covered pretzel). Sweet and Hot work very well together too. There is a reason that Jalapeno jelly exists. One thing that I have seen pictures of and really would love to try are red chili peppers dipped in chocolate. They look so beautiful, so inviting, but you know that they’re vicious and can’t wait to burn your mouth. I’m sure it is an exquisite mixture of pleasure and pain. Like S&M for your mouth. Wait, that’s probably not a great way to put it. But, it fits. I just had a great idea. A candy coated chocolate candy with a bit of super hot pepper inside. I’ll call them S&Ms, like M&Ms but with a kick. This blog is protected by a copyright, so don’t even try to steal my intellectual property. Bastards!
So that was basically how my first Baking and Pastry class went. I’ll let you know how the focaccia turns out next week.