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MmePatissiere's Profile

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Punching down dough - why?

I agree with smtucker that "punch down" is a really unfortunate phrase--the dough needs a gentle de-gassing to eliminate large CO2 pockets that can delay fermentation, and folding instead of punching stretches, realigns, and strengthens the gluten, to create a strong rise and oven spring (Hamelman). Reinhardt's letter fold works beautifully for focaccia and ciabatta (ever try punching down ciabatta dough? hehehehe), and also for sturdier, less hydrated doughs. Cowboyardee, I'd vote for folding, not punching. See what your results are....

Mar 11, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

Horseradish sauce for beef

Ditto!

Mar 09, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

Liquor in the pantry

Sherry, marsala (sweet and dry), Triple Sec, creme de cacao, Tia Maria, and (don't laugh) Southern Comfort.

Mar 09, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

Imported canned tomatoes ... worth it vs. nonimported? (Mesmerized by Whole Foods' tomato can aisle)

The Italian brands I've tried are less acidic than the domestic brands, with a bit of a rounder flavor. If the tomatoes are the star of the show, or it's a mega-special meal you're planning, it might be worth it...but up to you....

Mar 09, 2011
MmePatissiere in General Topics

my sourdough starter isnt souring...

Relizabeth, I'm wondering about the proportions of your day 2 feeding; any starter I've made and formula I've tried uses only a portion of the previous day's mix to feed with flour and water, not the whole thing. If you begin again, you might try halving the day 1 mixture (throw the rest out or give it away to another bread baker), and then adding another cup of rye flour and another cup of water. Also, the type of rye you're using will affect the starter--whole or medium rye has the right nutrients, but white rye is really, really weak in supplying what the hungry yeasts need.
Will you use this starter for rye breads exclusively?

Mar 09, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What Food Trend are You So Sick Of?

Absolutely agree; factory-made bread, sweet, spongy, chemically fermented so it finishes the job off in the gut--a nightmare, and a disgrace.

Another thing that sends me screaming into the night is popcorn used as a garnish, whether in the cuisine or the pastry kitchen. What on earth is that all about???

Mar 07, 2011
MmePatissiere in General Topics

Shall we talk about brownies again? Your favorite recipes and why they are favorites?

The finest brownies I've ever made are from two recipes: Grand Marnier Brownies from the Godiva Chocolate website recipe files, http://www.godiva.com/recipes/recipe...., and the Polka Dot Cake Studio's "Better than Brad Pitt Brownies". They're both ultra fudgy--actually, I tweak the BTBP brownies by baking them 5 minutes longer than the recipe requests, but they're still phenomenal--and with a chocolate/butter/golden syrup glaze, either of the recipes is my standard go-to, with Godiva having the edge (I adore chocolate and orange). Somehow the Godiva recipe turns out a brownie with both a perfect texture and grown-up chocolate flavor without being overly sweet, even with the glaze. 72% chocolate, however, is imperative here, for both recipes.

I've made the Supernatural Brownies, and they are also superb; they're my third recipe choice. While I know it's a character flaw on my part, they don't quite shoot to the top for me, as the other recipes do--but they're still one of the only three brownies I'll ever bake again.

Mar 07, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

Pastry schools in France! HELP!

Check their website. They've got the 24-week professional program which, like Cordon Bleu where I did my training, is progressive. I've also heard very good things about the French Culinary Institute's Pastry and Baking Arts program.

Having said that, if Jacky Pfeiffer got his MOF...my goodness, you couldn't go wrong with either him or Jacques Torres heading up your program.

Feb 14, 2011
MmePatissiere in France

Pastry schools in France! HELP!

The French Pastry School in Chicago, www.frenchpastryschool.com. Worked with a grad from there--a Ph.D in political science, no less--who loved it and was very, very good.

Feb 14, 2011
MmePatissiere in France

I'm neurotic about ... (true confessions)

Deveining raw shrimps. Gotta do it.

Feb 14, 2011
MmePatissiere in Not About Food

Provencal bean soup with chicken?

It sounds like a classic vegetable soup, similar to the one recorded in Jacques Medecin's "Cuisine Nicoise", to which chicken has been added. The basic recipe is roughly thus:
"Soak dried white beans, then boil before putting into the soup. Dice carrot, turnip, zucchini, and potato. Slice chard tops, leeks, garlic, and onions. Peel, seed, and chop tomatoes, and leave them to drain. Saute the onions in olive oil, then add leeks, garlic, and tomatoes and reduce. Add the rest of the fresh vegetables, the white beans, and parsley, sage, and basil. Add 3 quarts of hot water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 25 minutes. Then add rice or macaroni, correct seasoning, and add more hot water if necessary. Cook another 20 minutes and serve with grated Parmesan." Does this sound about right, except for the addition of chicken and using chicken stock instead of plain water?

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What's For Dinner? Part 73 [old]

It's getting beautifully warm here--was about 75F this afternoon, so it's time for Pear & Blue Cheese Quiche with boiled new potatoes and a salad with mustard vinaigrette. Unbelievably, I just received my first-ever copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking 2-volume set....I think I'll try using her Galettes au Roquefort dough for the pastry case and just the pears and royale mix inside, and see what happens.

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What's your "secret ingredient?"

Hazelnut oil -- risotto, sauces, baked goods
Pistachio oil -- salad dressing
Black cocoa in place of regular cocoa (or half and half) -- in any recipe, sweet or savory

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

The 5 best EVER dessert cookbooks?

Go for it!

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

The 5 best EVER dessert cookbooks?

LOVE it!! :-) What else does he grow?

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

The 5 best EVER dessert cookbooks?

Hi, Karykat--the Banana Brulee does look scrummy, doesn't it?! I haven't made that one, so cannot comment on it. But starting from the front--the ladyfingers WORK!!! So do the Chocolate Souffles; her technique is impeccable. Love Chocolate Hot-and-Cold, though I skip the caramelization step as I feel it's gilding the lily. The fresh raspberries work just fine. The London chapter I love as I spent 15 years in the UK. I'd argue with the Devonshire Cream that it doesn't need sugar--real clotted cream is not sweet--but that's just me. Twix Cookies (aka Millionaire's Shortbread in the UK) recipe makes wonderful treats, and please make the effort to find the Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup, as it's worth it. The scone recipe is SPOT ON, and makes true English scones. The Trifle and Treacle Tart are not exactly traditional, but so what? Her idea of using creme baumaniere is absolutely sound--I use that now in my own trifles. The Campton Shortcuts I haven't tried, but it's on the hit list with the Nectarine Cobbler. The Cheesecake Flan is unbelievable. Sacher Torte--her cake is now the basis for my version of ST and other gateaux traditionally calling for genoise. Ditto Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake--again, SPOT ON. Lemon Tart = Simple, Unadorned Magic--I don't bother with the confectioner's sugar dusting, but that's personal choice. The entire Special Events chapter is on the hit list too. Her Basics chapter is also solid--Creamy Caramel Sauce sets beautifully and is trustworthy as a cake filling. Ganache is correct. If there were only one recipe I could save from the book, though, it's the Ring of Saturn Peach Doughnuts. Serve an uncomplicated salad as a main course, then this dessert. You will be worshiped.

Ms. Yard shows such talent and professional integrity in DBtY, that I'm sure the Secrets of Baking is equally superb.

Ok, end of rhapsody!

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

The 5 best EVER dessert cookbooks?

Just checked Amazon, and my jaw dropped at the price also....jeez!! Yes, sorry, "Finest Desserts" appears to be the American edition of the same book called "Desserts" in the UK. In my first pastry job, the chapter on creams, mousses, & bavarois and the one on ice creams & sorbets were my particular life savers (I vaguely recall carrying that book in my work backpack for a solid year), and were the building blocks to the desserts my exec asked me to come up with. That, in my experience, is what makes the book great: the building blocks and ideas you can borrow and use to make your own creations. The photo of all the layers of different bavarois flavors always intrigued me; there's a dessert there waiting to be developed, like three layers of tropical fruit bavarois on...a macadamia nut tuile or nougatine base? Macadamia sbricciolona, maybe? Wait a minute, a layer of mango bav, one of ginger, one of lime, each separated by a macadamia nut tuile?.......anyway, see what I mean about the ideas it inspires? There's a gratin with redcurrants which is absolutely delicious--also, caraway ice cream paired with pecan pie is a revelation. So it's not so much the set recipes, though they're worth making for sure, as the key recipes that build them and increase your own inventive repertoire that I would recommend.

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? Part XIV/14 2/1/11 - the first anniversary edition! [old]

French tarte au citron, or a lemon pudding cake. What a wonderful "problem" to have, EC!

Feb 13, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? Part XIV/14 2/1/11 - the first anniversary edition! [old]

Way too many green olives in the fridge has resulted in:

Green olive focaccia, slathered with olive oil, herbes de Provence, and coarse sea salt before baking. Cut into palm-sized squares and split, it makes amazing turkey, roasted red pepper, and fresh basil sandwiches (with a light scraping of mayo on one slice).

Olive and asiago cheese bread; I wanted something similar to the French olive and ham loaf hors-d'oeuvre, but yeast-raised instead of baking powder-raised. I used a Sally Lunn recipe as the base, but got cold feet and put in too much flour...came out more like challah. Needs tweaking, but tastes promising!

Feb 12, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What are the steps to becoming a good dessert home cook?

Hank, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come across as all snooty and know-it-all, far from it!
A thing or two, maybe....but I'm still learning a thing or three or four... :-)

Feb 12, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

The 5 best EVER dessert cookbooks?

1) Sherry Yard's "Desserts by the Yard". A personal, autobiographical collection, one could say--but interesting recipes, that in my experience, all work.

2) Francois Payard's "Chocolate Epiphany". Challenging, French, and irresistible.

3) Michel Roux's "Desserts", photography by Martin Brigdale. Out-of-print, but if you find a copy from Amazon Marketplace or in a used book store, grab it!

Feb 12, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

What are the steps to becoming a good dessert home cook?

Hank, I'd suggest four things, even for a home pastry cook:
1) Weigh everything.
2) Learn to sense the different stages of whipped egg whites, i.e. soft peak, stiff peak, dry.
3) Ditto whipped heavy/double cream (quite a number of desserts depend on developing this particular skill).
4) Get comfortable working with boiling sugar, and aim to discern soft ball stage by eye: pate a bombe is the secret weapon in so many recipes, and it's a snap once you're through the ice-water-test stage for soft ball syrup.
Have fun!

Feb 12, 2011
MmePatissiere in Home Cooking

Pistachio Paste

Unfortunately, Sur La Table no longer carries pistachio paste; you might try AJ's, but it's a long shot. I ended up ordering some through King Arthur Flour in Vermont.

Feb 12, 2011
MmePatissiere in Phoenix