baking week 3

week 3 was a day shorter because of labor day. it was the first week of service. our class makes the breads and desserts for ka’ikena, the school’s fine dining restaurant. chef did a lot of demos and showed us to how to plate the desserts for the cart. the week started with demos of choux paste (for cream puffs), pastry cream, and the apple filling for the apple pie. christine and i made our yellow chiffon cake. they rose nicely in the oven.

chef demoed covering the brownies with chocolate ganache.

then going over it with an icing comb to give it a simple design. later it gets topped with a ganache rosette and chocolate shavings.

he also demoed making filigrees, which were for the fruit tarts.

he’s making some chocolate shavings on the marble table.

he iced two of the strawberry chiffon cakes.

on the day of service, they’re finished with some fresh strawberries dipped in glaze and toasted almonds.

we also worked on making the chocolate cream pie filling with the pre-baked flaky pie shells brushed with chocolate.

after chilling, they are topped with whipped cream. we used an icing comb to create that texture on the top.

pipe a nice border.

finish with some chocolate shavings on the sides and in the middle. a sprig of mint gives it some nice color.

apple pies are baked and topped with some powdered sugar.

the tarts and cream puffs are filled with diplomat (pastry cream mixed with an equal amount of whipped cream) and topped with fruits.

here they are ready for the dessert cart.

this week chef also demoed sweet dough and three ways to use it. here’s some sweet bread twists filled with a chocolate cake filling.

here are some cinnamon rolls ready to go in the oven.

sticky buns!

topping the cinnamon rolls with icing after they come out of the oven. delicious.

baking week 2

week 2 was another fun week. we learned to roll out pie shells and sugar dough. the sugar dough later got put into small tart pans, to be used for the fruit tarts for service.

here are some scones christine and i made. YUM i love scones.

we baked off some our biscuits from last week. i like to add a lot of cheese. nice flaky layers.

we also tried some popovers. pretty neat how they kick up just from the high heat and steam.

this week we spent a while working on our puff pastry folds. we let the dough rest after each fold to keep it cool and let the gluten relax. i’m looking forward to using the dough and seeing how it tastes.

afterward we ran it through the dough sheeter.

pineapple upside down cake demo.

on friday chef made some hawaiian sweet bread for us to buy and take home. here it is after proofing.

look how much it puffs up in the oven!

deliciously light and fluffy. would make an excellent bread pillow. smells really nice too.

baking week 1

last week was the first week of fundamentals of baking with chef wetter. week 1 of baking was more lecture heavy. we learned about the different roles of ingredients and how they influence the final product. it was quite interesting. besides that, we worked on quick breads (biscuits, banana muffins, scones) and we learned to roll baguettes. next week i should take more pictures…

here’s the french bread dough proofing. they look like nice little pillows.

after shaping them, they get to go in little beds to proof some more.

here’s the one i shaped and got to take home (later on when we make them we gotta pay for them).

chef demonstrates the biscuit method. the dough is quite rough and wet initially.

then he folds it 3-4 times to develop the gluten a little bit. it’s pretty fun folding that giant piece of dough

we rolled the dough into a sheet pan, then froze it. later we took it out to cut it. ours had some cheese in the dough. yum. looking forward to trying those when we bake them later.

banana muffins that christine and i made. chef said it tastes best with fermented bananas.

chef wetter’s fruit and cream cheese scones. they were delicious. some lemon glaze and powdered sugar on top.

summer

it’s been a busy summer. first there was the move. moving all our stuff by the bagful every night for a few weeks, slowly transferring all our stuff to the house. then organizing things and shifting stuff around so we could buy furniture. it was a lot of work, but now we can enjoy our new home, especially my nice new kitchen :) nice to be out of that tiny apartment kitchen that had only one drawer and hardly any counter space.

also i started working at shokudo this summer. i wasn’t planning on working full-time, but then it was like, well, i guess this isn’t too bad, i’ll just do it. so i haven’t had any days off since i have to work my other job on my two days off. sometimes it’s pretty tiring, but overall it’s been a good experience. i started at the fry/jet station, which is a two person station. that station preps most of the sauces and dressings that are used in the restaurant plus things that we cook at that station, like the mochi gratin, sushi pizza, quesadilla, etc. during service i think it’s the busiest station – most of the lunch bentos, katsu, karaage, pork chop, calamari, mochi, quesadilla, sushi pizza, teri chicken/salmon, dynamite roll/lobster, char siu, etc. it gets pretty crazy during lunch sometimes, but it’s pretty fun getting into that lunch time rhythm. the two people i worked with at fry/jet both have been working the station for two years, so they always backed me up and helped me get the hang of things.

after that i moved to the salad station. salad has a ton of prep – mixing the karaage chicken, boiling and portioning the calamari, butterflying chicken for teri chicken and katsu, prepping the katsu, cutting/frying wonton strips, frying the onions, cutting the thin kalbi for beef sushi, making the pickles for the chicken wings, cutting tempura veggies, plus prepping stuff for the station. during service salad makes most of the salads (spinach, teri chicken, tuna, tofu), doles out the fresh tofu, and makes tempura (shrimp, assorted, tempura bowl, bento). usually it’s not too bad, but sometimes you get like four tempura bowls at once and you want to cry. hahaha it’s a little stressful, but you get through it. the fryer’s not that big, so you can only fry so much at a time. salad has been more challenging since it’s a one person station. if other people have time, they might help you, but ultimately you have to cover the station and prep everything yourself. on the weekends we go through ridiculous amounts of chicken, so i’ve been really working to get all my prep done. i’m starting to get faster at everything, but i’ve definitely been pushed to get faster and more efficient.

overall, it’s been cool just to see what it’s like to work in a restaurant, and also proving that i could work full-time and hold my own. i’ve definitely learned a lot and improved on a lot of kitchen skills. everyone in the kitchen has taught me different things, and i’m really thankful they were all willing to help me. and i’m glad the managers at shokudo gave me this opportunity even though i didn’t have any experience when i applied for the job. it’s been a lot of fun working with all the boh lunch kitchen shift people. it’s been pretty tiring working 60+ hours every week, so i’m ready for my vacation in two weeks! :) after that i might possibly work one day a week and/or during breaks… dunno, we’ll see.

i thought that maybe working in the kitchen full-time would mean i wouldn’t want to cook as much at home, but actually the opposite has been true. well probably having my dream kitchen has helped too. it’s actually easier to come home and start cooking dinner after working eight hours at the restaurant. i guess it’s like well, what’s another hour of cooking? i think i’ve gotten a lot faster too. so i’ve been cooking a lot and we’ve had a few dinner parties too. i just haven’t had time to update my blog. maybe when i go on vacation i can get back to that. this semester i’m taking fundamentals of baking, so i’m really looking forward to that. ready to level up my baking skillz.

home-style bean curd 家常豆腐

this is a recipe from fuschia dunlop’s book revolutionary chinese cookbook. one of our favorites :) this is a hunanese version of this dish so it’s a little spicy.

home-style-bean curd

2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1.25 lb. firm bean curd, drained
3 oz boneless lean pork, cut into fine slivers
1 t shaoxing wine
1 T chili bean paste
1 T chopped salted chiles (we didn’t have this)
1 T finely chopped garlic
1 t dried chili flakes (optional)
1 cup stock
1/4 t dark soy sauce
1/4 t potato flour mixed with 1 T cold water
3 scallions, green parts only, cut into bit-size lengths
1 t sesame oil
1/3 cup peanut oil or lard

1. prep: soak the mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. drain, squeeze, cut off the stems, and slice thinly. cut the bean curd into large squares, then cut them in half across the diagonal to form triangles. the thickness should be about 1/2″. use a paper towel or a kitchen towel to soak up some of the excess moisture in the tofu. put the pork in a bowl with the wine. get the other ingredients ready as well.

1_prep

2. heat your wok or pan over high heat. when hot, add some oil and swirl it around the pan (fuschia says about 3 T). make sure it’s nice and hot. you’ll want to fry the tofu in batches. carefully lay in the first batch of tofu away from you and fry on one side. shake the pan from time to time to prevent sticking.

2_tofu

once that side is golden, turn the tofu pieces over and fry on the other side until golden.

3_tofu

remove the tofu once it’s done frying and place on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. repeat with the other batches of tofu. clean out the pan in between if necessary.

4_tofu

3. clean the pan if necessary. reheat the pan until the oil smokes. if necessary, add in a little more oil to coat the pan. add the pork and stir-fry until the slivers separate.

5_pork

add the chili bean paste and salted chiles and stir-fry until fragrant.

6_pork

add in the garlic and mushrooms and continue to stir-fry until fragrant.

7_pork

add the chili flakes if you are using them. stir-fry for a few seconds, then pour in the stock

8_sauce

4. add the bean curd back to the pan and pour in the dark soy sauce.

9_sauce

allow the mixture to come to a boil, then let it simmer until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. it tastes better with a thicker sauce. also, the tofu will soak up more of the sauce flavor the longer it simmers.

9a_simmer

5. stir the potato flour mixture and slowly add it while stirring the sauce. taste and season the sauce as necessary. the chili bean paste i used was pretty salty, so i didn’t need to add any more salt.

corn_starch_mixture

toss in the scallions. off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

9b_finish_up

time to eat!

bowl