Friday, July 22, 2011


This is an experiment. I used the same brine and canning techniques as the pickled beans. I'm not sure how they will turn out, but I do have high hopes. They look so pretty and delicious. I can't wait to try them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Jams to Drool Over

I made Strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry jams the other day. I had to do something with the berries sitting on my counter before they started to rot. With this heat we're having, fruit and vegetables tend to go bad as soon as I buy them from the farmer's market. It's a shame, really. So the solution is to freeze them or can them! I'm trying to build up a nice pantry for the winter and these are a good addition for sure.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grannie's Secret Recipe Pickled Green Beans

Sorry, I can't give out the recipe. It's a guarded family secret. But you can feast your eyes on these lovely photos I took last night. I wish the beans stayed that vibrant green color after processing them in a hot water bath. Oh well.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

School has only been out for less than a week and I'm totally missing it. So I woke up this morning and decided to make something - ANYTHING - to keep me busy. I bought a bunch of rhubarb at the farmer's market and I had about a pound of strawberries in the freezer, so I thought "hey! let's make some jam!"

The recipe is super easy. Here it is if there's any interest. 

2 cups rhubarb that has been thinly sliced

2 cups of fresh strawberries also sliced

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 cups of sugar
1 package of fruit pectin

In large pot, combine all ingredients except the sugar. Cook over high heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Add sugar and keep stirring. Be sure sugar dissolves into the mixture. Return to boil and boil for one minute. Don't forget to keep stirring to avoid sticking and lumps, etc. Remove from the burner and skim off the foam with a spoon.
Spoon the hot jam into hot (preferably half-pint) canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids. Place the jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes - remember that time begins when the water begins to boil. Remove the jars from canner and cool on racks.
This should make about 6 half-pint jars.

*I used about 3 1/2 cups sugar and it seems to be just enough sweetness

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spring Quarter: DONE!

I'm done with spring quarter. I can't believe it went so fast. I had so much fun in both my classes, but I think I liked my Artisan Breads class a little more. And to think: I went into it thinking I was going to hate every moment! But it worked out well and I have a new appreciation for making home made bread.

For my final project I had to create a movie scene using dead dough. Dead dough is bread dough without yeast added (so it's not "living"). It has the consistency and texture of playdoh, but smells a lot better. It's pretty easy to work with, but it takes forever to dry.

I did the wood chipper scene from Fargo. If you're not familiar with the movie, you really need to see it. It's my favorite movie of all time. I was so happy I got permission from my chef to do this scene. I thought for sure he'd say "no" or that it was too gory or unethical or whatever. But, yeah...I did it and I'm super happy and proud. It's currently in the window of the Gourmet Gallery on 9th St, so if you're in Minneapolis, stop by and take a look.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wedding Cake

Here's the wedding cake I completed for my final in my Advanced Patisserie and Display Cakes class. I'm not too thrilled with it. I like the colors (they are, after all, my favorite), but I'm not a fan of flowers, so I didn't cover the cake with them. This was a mistake as my Chef said there needed to be more flowers. Oh well. Live and learn.

My favorite part of the cake is the button detail. I dusted them with silver luster dust. I think that makes them look even prettier.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mario Groom's Cake

I'm neglected this blog yet again. I'm a terrible person. I've been putting all my energy into my Artisan Breads class as well as my Advanced Patisserie & Display Cakes class. It's been super intense. When I'm not in school, I'm working on homework. When I'm not working on homework, I'm sleeping. Thankfully, I have three weeks left before a two week break. I'm looking forward to it.

Last week we had 10 hours (two class days) to make a groom's cake. It had to feed 30 people and have a carved element to it. The choices were 1) fishing 2) golf 3) poker 4) darth vader or 5) think of something else that fits the "groom's cake" theme. So I chose an old school Nintendo. My chef said I had to add other 3-D elements to it in order to make it more interesting. So I made a Mario out of fondant and other Mario Brothers elements to put around the cake. Here's how it turned out:

There are a lot of mistakes and parts that do not look so great. I know I need to get over it. I mean, I only had 10 hours to do this 4-layer cake. In the real world, something like this can take up to a week to complete. So I shouldn't get down on myself, right?

If you want to see it in person, it's in the window on 9th Street in the windows of the Gourmet Gallery at the Art Institutes. Stop by and take a look.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weeks 1 & 2 Complete

Two weeks ago I started my Advanced Patisserie class as well as my Artisan Breads class. I swear I thought my breads class was going to be the worst. Not only did I think I hated making bread, but the class is held on Friday and Saturday nights until 10:30. There goes my weekend.

But surprisingly, I'm loving my Artisan Breads class. It's my Patisserie class that I'm having a hard time with. It's because I'm in a group with two other people that act like the do not want to be there. My first two plated desserts turned out OK, but they could have been so much better if my team mates had worked with me as a team. There's not much I can do about it now, but I hope that my chef recognizes that I'm a hard worker and want to do well. Here are the two plated desserts I completed. My chef really liked the first one (mocha cheesecake), but the second one was lacking in both sauces and garnish. That's because one guy didn't show up for class and the remaining team mate left before everything was completed.

My Artisan Breads class is actually my favorite, which is surprising. I had such a horrible experience in my Intro to Baking class that I never wanted to see another lump of rising dough again in my life.

But surprisingly, my Chef is super awesome and knows what he's doing. We've made some really tasty breads in class. I think my two favorites have been Focaccia and Cuban. I also made  white bread in class on Saturday that gained me the highest grade in the class. I really thought it was over-baked and I wouldn't pass. But my Chef loved it and said I did an awesome job. So, yeah...I guess I've got a knack for bread making.

I have had the best time in my breads class, so I hope it continues. Next week we make sourdough.

Both my chefs are pretty amazing. I love my classes and can't believe that I'm in the third week. I just hope I'm able to keep my high GPA average throughout my time at the Art Institutes. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

I'm sorry, readers...

I've been terrible with the upkeep of this blog.

I promise to do better. I really do.

I decided to quit my full time job in IT so I can follow my dreams. My last day was Wednesday, March 30. It's really the best decision I've ever made. I have been working in IT since 2000 and even though I was good at my job, I was completely burned out. There are other factors that lead to my resignation, but I'll keep them to myself at t his point. I'm just happy to not have to go into an office and sit in a cube for 9 hours a day and THEN go to school for five more hours every day. Especially when all I do is daydream about baked goods instead of doing actual IT work.

I just spent four days in Omaha, NE with my very good friend Dave. We ate great food (and I baked him two quiches) and got to spend some good quality time together. The highlight of my trip was seeing Queens of the Stone Age at the Sokol Auditorium. It was the best show I've ever seen (and I've been to a lot of rock shows) and now holds the number one spot for most memorable shows.

And of course, I got my Josh Homme fix. I think I'm good for another year or so ;)

Now that I don't have a full time job to attend, I will have more time to devote to this blog. Please stick with me, dear reader. I will try not to let you down again.

Oh, if you're wondering, I got an "A" in both Baking and Pastry. My official GPA is a 3.70. Hooray!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


This week we spent time making custards like creme brulee, flan, panna cotta, bread pudding, and cheesecake. We had a mishap with our cheesecake since the girl who was the mixer put 20% more sugar in the mix. We thought about throwing it away and starting over, but that would have set us back at least 40 minutes. We couldn't afford that.

I decided to try and off-set the sweetness from the sugar with a dark chocolate swirl. I mixed cayenne, cinnamon,and ginger into the chocolate and swirled it into the cheesecake.

It turned out amazing. The cayenne was not too overpowering. The chocolate added a crunchy texture. The cinnamon and ginger added some extra depth of flavor. And just look at how beautiful it turned out.

I'm pretty proud of this and I was happy that my Chef also enjoyed it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Two Weeks Left

I am so behind on this blog and it makes me sad. I've been so stressed out with work and so busy with school that I haven't had a free moment to myself. My employer did a round of layoffs three weeks ago. I was spared, which is a blessing and a curse. My school nights have been so packed full of production that I hardly remember what I've made at the end of the night.

I can tell you that my favorite week so far was Torte Week. It was totally intense, but I learned so much. We made at least 9 tortes, and my group made a Sachertorte and a Fraisier torte. They were so labor intensive and tasted delicious. Feast your eyes:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Procrastination: I Haz It

My goal was to write a post every day. I'm already a week behind.

I've completed my first week of Pastry where we made pie, tarts, and quiche for three days. It was awesome.

Stay tuned for the details...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two Days of Practical Exams DONE!

Tuesday was a rough day for me. I didn't do well on my first round. I made up all my dough and baked cookies and biscuits. The cookies and biscuits did not turn out well at all. I was really disappointed and frustrated and I'm sure my Chef could see it. Not to mention that my croissant dough also did not turn out right. I had to throw the entire thing out on Wednesday and start over.

Wednesday was a much better day. I made up my croissant dough right away and let it ferment. I baked off my sweet rolls, baguettes, and banana bread. My baguette did not bake long enough, so I didn't get great marks on that. My sweet rolls and banana bread were awesome, so I was happy with that. But my croissants did not turn out well. It's because they weren't in the proofer long enough and didn't have a chance to double in size. But I presented them anyway. They looked awesome on the outside, but in the inside they were still doughy.

I learned a lot during these past 5 weeks, but I'm ready to move on to Pastry class for the next 6. We'll be doing more creative things, which is right up my alley.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Written Exam - DONE!

Well, I finished the first test. Only missed 7 questions, so, yeah....I'm doing ok.

Tomorrow is part one of the practical exam. I've decided to work on the enriched and laminated doughs first, as they are the most labor and time intensive.


Tomorrow I will make the dough for the baguettes, croissants, and sticky buns. Hopefully they will ferment in time and I'll be able to make up, proof, and bake at least the baguettes. I am hoping to bake off the sticky buns, too, but that might be pushing it.

I just can't wait til Wednesday at 10:30pm and this will all be over. Of course, I go right back next week and start six weeks of pastry. I gripe, but I'm totally looking forward to it.

I can finally go to bed at a decent time on a Monday. Hooray for me!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Two Days Til Finals

I can't believe how fast 5 weeks went.

On Monday I take my written exam. I'm pretty confident that I will do well. I studied a little this afternoon and will study more tomorrow.

I practiced and made Spiced Banana Bread this morning. It turned out great.

For my practical exam Tuesday and Wednesday, I have to make Biscuits, Banana Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Poolish Baguettes, Croissants, and Sticky Buns.

I'm so nervous.

The trick is figuring out how to plan and budget my time. Do I go in full force and start with the quickbreads? Or do I make up all the dough for the baguettes, croissants, and buns on day one, making sure to get them out of the way?

What if I don't have enough time? What if my dough does not double and I have to start all over? What if the temperature in the proofer is all off and they overproof? What if someone steals/damages/throws out the dough once I put it in the retarder over night?

I know I'm not going to sleep much after Monday. But I'll have to stay positive and just do my best. I have learned a lot these past five weeks, and that's really what's important. If I don't get an "A" in this class, I won't be devastated or anything. But I really do hope I get an "A".

Here are some doughnuts I made on Tuesday. They were pretty delicious.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

It's Laminated Bread Week!

Tonight we bake up our brioche, croissants, danish, sticky buns, and finally make donuts!

I did not eat anything for lunch except 4 bagel bites so my blood sugar will be OK to consume all the above goodness.

Yesterday was a pretty low-key day as all we did was mix up the dough, let it ferment, and then put it in the retarder until tonight.

I can't hardly wait to get there! One hour of work to go.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Officially Hate Bread

After this week's intense bread making classes I officially hate bread.

I don't want to see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, or have it anywhere near me. The smell of yeast in beer even makes me gag. I went to lunch with my good friend Jim today and I could not eat the pasta or the cheesy bread that came with it. Heck, I couldn't even ask for croutons for my salad.

I know I will get over it in about a week, but I still have more bread baking to go before my finals in two weeks.

I'm really, really, really looking forward to the six weeks of pastry classes after this baking class. I feel like I'm in bread hell.

But with that said, we did produce some good looking bread. And I made a delicious pizza:

Over the last three days, our group produced the following:

Kaiser and Vienna Bread
Sauerkraut Rye Bread
French bread
Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls
Poolish Baguettes
Trad. French Baguettes (olive bread)
White Sandwich Bread
Whole Wheat bread
Apple Pecan Bread
Potato Herb Rolls (w/cheddar cheese)

That's a LOT of work! Here are the results:

The focaccia was my favorite.