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Lesa D.

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Everything posted by Lesa D.

  1. Gosh, I don't know where to begin with all of this advice which goes back and forth. The only thing I can tell you is that I do have a passion for this stuff, and I'm really getting into the chocolatiering aspects as well. I also spent a lot of money a couple of years ago attending Nick Lodge's sugar arts school where I learned from( in my opinion) the very best on how do do gumpaste/fondant work. Worth every penny, and I'm good at it. My husband is a professor at Georgia Tech, and while we don't have gobs of money, his salary supports us, so my earnings would be the cherry on top. No pun intended. Now are you ready for this?: Yesterday, I got a call from the financial aid dept. at Le Cordon, and Sally May has reconsidered, and decided to give me a new signature loan, which covers the remainder of the tuition that the gov't loan doesn't cover, AND I can choose between a 15 or 30 year pay back option. Sounds reasonable to me. I believe it is a 7.5% interest loan. I'm going tomorrow to fill out the paper work, and I'm starting in July, as long as there are no unforseen glitches. I hear what everyone is telling me, but I really want to do this, so I am. Thanks for your help, and I'll keep you posted for sure.
  2. Hey, fellow foodies, just thought I'd give you some good and bad news. I am so ready to take my home-schooling out of my home kitchen and get a really good education; I'm not getting any younger. So, on Thursday last, I spent about five hours at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts school here in Atlanta dealing with admissions, extensive interviewing, etc. They told me as soon as I sat down, that just because I was there, or had cash money on the spot to attend, that there was no guarantee that I would be accepted. They are very picky about whom the admit, which is understandable. What an amazing and beautiful school! I want to attend the next day program (baking/patisserie) which starts in July. The next day program after that will start in January. The best part of the whole day was meeting and speaking with two of the chefs there. While I was being given the tour, I was introduced to Chef Amos while she was out of her classroom. For ten minutes, I aksed her lots of food questions, especially about pate de fruit, which I've unsuccessfully made about six times. Well, guess what? Just across the hall at Chef Richard DiFonzo's class, they had made the pate just that morning, and she went and pulled him out of the class! He went into class, and brought out to me a small plate of samples (three of each) of passion fruit and cassis pate de fruit. I liked the cassis one better. Then, we went into the "student/master zone," and for 45 minutes(!), no joke, he spent time away from his class to answer questions and give me mini tutorials. We talked about his method for tempering chocolate, & pate de fruit. He took me INTO THE CLASSROOM, gave me a white choc/raspberry candy tasting, showed me the chocolate storage room (kept at 68o, of course), tore a piece off of a cardboard box of trasfer sheets so that I could get the address of the company where he gets his, then gave me his card and said to email him for the pate de fruit recipe that they use at the school. How cool was that? I felt so honored that he would take so much of his precious time with me when I wasn't even a student yet! The poor tour guide had to just leave us there because she had another tour to give, and couldn't wait for us to finish up. I had to finish the tour with a grad student. About 30 minutes after I got home, the admissions director called and interviewed me for about another hour. He said that he didn't normally do this, but he approved me on the spot! Again, how cool is that? He also said that because of my twenty years' baking experience (home business), and because of my age (45), that he felt that I could take a leadership role in the class, and that's what they really look for in their students. For the first time, being 45 finally counted for something! Here's the rub: Financial aid called the next day, and here's how it works: They get you a government loan, which covers only a small part of tuition. Then, they try to get you the Pell grant. If you get the Pell grant, you still have to give them around $9000.00, and if you don't, you have to give them about $12,000.00 This $9-12,000.00 has to be gotten from a private lending company. While on the phone, the company they use hooked up with me, did an instant credit check, and neither I, nor my co-signer were approved. So, now my chances for getting into the July class are slim~the class is already half full, but maybe I can go in January. Either way, I need money, and I was hoping that someone out there might know of anyone who gives loans or grants to culinary students. This is Le Cordon Bleu, after all, and hopefully I wouldn't have a hard time finding a good job, and could pay back the money in a timely fashion. Any ideas? HELP!!! Thanks, Lesa
  3. Do you temper the chocolates separately and then mix them together?
  4. I just received Peter Greweling's new book-what a super and beautiful book, especially for beginners like me. I couldn't find any info on how to mix different couvetures and/or how they are tempered. Is this even advisable, since different chocolates require different tempering temperatures? For example, if I wanted to mix a little Valrhona bittersweet with a Callebut milk to achieve a specific flavor profile based on my filling, can I do this successfully? My very first box of Easter bon bons (as you recall), didn't turn out well because I didn't temper them properly~fat and moisture/sugar bloom galore. I also mixed different chocolates to get different flavors as I mentioned above. Peter Greweling's recipes have you dipping them in different, separate chocolates for the same piece of chocolate: say, dip first in milk choc., then finish with dark choc. dip. Is the reason because different chocolates contain different fat or coco butter pecentages, and therefore, need different tempering temperatures for successs? If you mix the two (or three in my case sometimes), how would you know what temperature to stay at to get a proper temper? As I said, my first batch didn't turn out well because I haven't mastered tempering, but could my having mixed the chocolates as well contributed to this failure? Any Ideas? Thanks! Lesa
  5. Hey, everyone~Just an update: First of all thanks to John Paula and Trishiad for their excellent demos. I especially appreciate the demo ,Trishiad, that you showed using the heating pad method, as I can't afford a real tempering machine yet. I did, however, purchase a Taylor digital insta-read thermometer and a 5lb. capacity Salter digital gr/oz scales. Per another thread on transfer sheets and everyone's info, I was able to get six individual transfer sheets for 3-5.00$ a piece. After reading the thread on Peter Greweling's new book, I ordered that as well. Can't wait to get started! I have a few weeks to practice my techniques before I have to deliver the goods that were ordered, so I feel that I have a little wiggle room to get more than a few things corrected. Thanks, again to all for your generosity and sympathy for a newbie chocolatier.
  6. I've just been reading the thread on chocolates from several years ago, being especially interested in getting a thinner shell coating of chocolate in my molds. Since I am a really real beginner at chocolate making-I bake and sell cakes-I don't even have tempering or instant-read thermometer yet. I've been experimenting, and from what I've read, the chocolate temperature for tempering seems by feel to be just barely warm. or slightly below body temperature. At any rate, when it is at this temperature-or the temp I'm guessing at- the chocolate is fairly thick, and I have been painting the chocolate shells to be filled with some filling or other with a paint brush. Of course, the shell is too thick, and I barely have enough room to fill it and then close up the bottom with the rest of the chocolate. I've seen demos on t.v. where they fill the molds with chocolate, turn them upside down to get the excess out, and then fill, etc. Thier chocolate seems to just flow out of the molds like water. I am using real couveture chocolate-Valrhona, Callebut, Lindt, etc. On the show room finish thread, Trishiad (are you there?) mentions spinning the molds upside down over a piece of parchment to spin out the excess. I am stumped, even though I haven't tried it yet. How do you actually spin it? With it in the air, or flat on the counter? How do you get enough centrifugal force to do this? Any time I've tried turning my molds upside down, the chocolate just sits there. Help a fledgling, please. Some good friends have tasted my chocolates, and as beginner as I know they really are, they would like for me to make a sampler box for their son's birthday, who is flying in from California the third week in May. My fiilings aren't half bad, it's the finish that's truly lacking (luster dust can hide a multitude of sins). Still working on tempering, and I will have a good thermometer before then. Thanks, y'all!
  7. Oh, yes, I forgot to add that if the recipe I submitted makes more than you need, just wrap in plasic wrap, wrap in foil, an place inside a good freezer bag. It freezes well.
  8. I don't use shortening in anything (although I experimented with it in tart shells for quite a while). In the end it's going to come down to what flavor and texture you like most. Personally, even when I follow the conventional steps for a crumbly pate brisee crust, I end up with a fair amount of flakiness that I like quite a bit. If I wanted super flaky, I'd just go get some puff pastry and see what I could do with that. !00% flaky, and 100% buttery goodness. Here's an intetersting article by Melissa Clark of the NY times on her quest for the perfect pie crust. Good insight on alternative fats: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/dining/1...serland&emc=rss ← In order to get a tender AND flaky crust, you really have to use butter and shortening. I believe it's the shortening that makes it tender and the butter that makes it flaky, because the moisture/water content in butter steams the layers of flour and fat to fluff them up, so to speak. Alton Brown on "GOOD EATS" devotes an entire show to this debate, and based on my experience, he's right. I am from the southeastern U.S., and we love our pies. I have used my mother's recipe all of my life for sweet and savory recipes, and it rivals any french pastry I've ever tasted. There's also a myth-busting technique that is used to get the desired results. I know that I'm not stealing a copywritten recipe. so I'll share in the forum: MAMA'S PASTRY CRUST 3 cups All-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt FOR SWEET CRUST ONLY ADD 1 TABLESPOON SUGAR 1 cup chilled shortening 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons chilled but not refrigerator-cold unsalted butter 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup cold water- add a little at a time Mix flour and salt and/or sugar in bowl. Add shortening a tablespoon at a time and coat with flour. Add butter a tablespoon at a time and coat with flour. HERE'S THE MYTH-BUSTING PART: We've always been told not to handle pasrty crust because we will make to dough tough. True enough, unless you use this method: After the fats are in the bowl, use a fork to mix until the balls of fat are half the size you started with. Then lay down your fork, and scoop up with one hand a handful of the mixture. Using your thumb, gently mash and then rub the pieces of fat across your other four fingers. Do this until the pieces of fat are pea-sized. What this does is erobe the fat in flour, creating hundreds of layers that produces the flakiness we all want. Then add the water at little at a time until well-mixed, but not too wet. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Roll out as usual. Fill and bake at 450o until crust starts to turn a little dark- say 25 minutes, then reduce to 375o until done. I promise you will have great results with this recipe, and people will rave.
  9. I knew before I even took the test that I am a super taster and a super smeller, which makes sense that they would go together. It isn't much fun at times not being able to enjoy certain foods, especially when everyone is getting into a dish-even though I am picky, I'm highly sociable. Because I love to cook for others, I cook things that I sometimes have hard time smelling and/or eating. I do like coffee, but ONLY with cream and sugar, and I don't LOVE coffee-I drink maybe two cups in the morning. No b.spouts for me, either. I really like broccoli, but I can't eat left-over steamed broccoli the next day. It acquires a metallic taste to me, kind of like a chrome bumper might taste(!) Is it the sulfur that's in all or most of the cruscifers that I'm tasting? The biggest offender to me is cilantro-even the smell. I once worked in a restaurant where we made our own salsa with a lot of fresh cilantro. On the days when it fell to me to make it, I would trade doing dishes for other cooks if they would chop the bunches of cilantro for me. The one time in my life when I would say that it was a really good thing that I am sensative to smell, was when there was a gas leak at my son's day care. I was the only one who could smell it. When the gas company was called to inspect, they found a big leak in the gas stove in the kitchen.
  10. Can you tell that I have Obsessive Compulsive disorder? No, really, I do... I need to remeber what Nick logde always told us in our gum paste classes: "IT'S ONLY SUGAR!!!!" Check him out as a judge on food network competions. He's reserved on camera, but in real life, he's a sweetheart. He and Scott treat his students like royalty. Speaking of royalty, he made one of Lady Di's wedding cakes.
  11. I am so sorry for the false calculations! When my husband John recounted the candy melts, he got 241 pieces for a 1lb. bag, and he's right! Let me make amends: one ounce is really 15.06 pieces. So, for 7 oz. for the modeling paste recipe, you would need 105.42 pieces-let's say 106, and for eight ounces it's 120.50, or 120 and 1/2 pieces. Shew! Sorry guys. I'll be more careful next time
  12. Ohmygod! My husband just recounted, and I have to amend everything I just said! Hold on while I recalculate! This is important stuff for us candy melts users.
  13. Hey, guys, I am about to make roses out of (pink) white chocolate modeling paste to decorate a real strawberry cake that doesn't use the jello word anywhere in the in the ingredient list. The modeling paste recipe calls for 7oz. of white chocolate, but in this case, I'm using CK candy melts because I know in this case, , chances are, no one is going to eat them. ( CK candy melts are okay, but, let's face it, they don't really taste like white chocolate ). I have counted 221 dics in a 1lb. bag, so you may as well say 220 with one left over, or eat it, or give it to your beagle as I did. If you divide 220 pieces by 16 0z., it equals 13.75, or 13 3/4 pieces per ounce. I was tempted to just use 14 pieces per ounce, but times seven it adds up. For just one ounce I would have used just 14 pieces. Anyway, for 7oz. you get 96.25, or 96 1/4 pieces. For reference, if you want eight ounces, it's right at 110 pieces. I'm going to use 96 pieces and forget the 1/4 piece. Any questions? Pop quiz on wednesday!
  14. Beautiful and poetic, G.G. Sweet words to start the day with here in Atlanta.
  15. I guess this applies to baking: I am from the south, and as most of you know, sweet potatoes are a staple here. My husband John is from Scotland, and had never before tasted sweet potatoes. In Scotland, white potatoes are the staple, and he would eat them at every meal and does when I don't cook. Anyway, a few years ago, I brought home some sweet potatoes to bake for him-just simple and plain with butter was my plan. When I came in from wherever I'd been, he had decided to stuff them the way you do white potatoes. He was concocting a stuffing of butter, sour cream, broccoli and, yes, even green onions and bacon bits on top. on top. I gently tried to warn him that this would end badly, but he was happy with his plan, and dug in. At first bite, he seemed to think everything was okay. After that, I swear I think I saw him turn green. He actually gagged down the whole monstosity because his Celtic pride dictated that he must. I tease him about it occasionally when I serve him sweet potatoes, and to this day, he can't see the humor in it.
  16. Lesa D.

    Cake Fondant

    This is my first posting on this wonderful site. I have been browsing for several weeks on myriad topics, and I have decided to join. I have been reading a lot about fondant topics, especially concerning the topic of taste. While I agree that while fondant tastes like poo, it is a necessary evil for most of us. That being said, I want to share a recipe that I found that actually tastes pretty good, especially if you flavor it with quality flavors. It is also vegetarian/vegan, I believe. I'm a 30-year vegetarian, and I swear I can taste the gelatin in the usual home made recipe. This is a moderately stiff fondant, and doesn't tear easily. I've had great success with it. I have only used tylose, so I can't tell you how the other gums work. And, of course, you can make as many pounds as you wish by multipying the basic recipe. I use my Kitchen aid stand mixer. (Makes 2 1/2 pounds) * 2 lbs. SIFTED confectioner's sugar * 1/2 TABLESPOON CMC, Tylose, or gum tragacanth * 1/2 cup glucose * 1 TABLESPOON shortening * Start with 6 TABLESPOONS very hot water (note: I have used up to a full cup of water depending on humidity, so use your own judgent, but add water a little at a time.) Microwave glucose and shortening together for a few seconds, just enough to liquify, then mix well. In another bowl, mix well with PADDLE ATTACHMENT the sugar and gum of your choice. Add glucose and shortening mixture along with water a TABLESPOON AT A TIME. Add more water in the same manner until you get "the usual" consistancy of fondant YOU normally use. Knead well with a little shortening on your hands and/or surface the way you would normally until smooth. I don't refrigerate fondant, but that's hot topic found elsewhere on this site. I am really excited about being part of this great society. I'd like to send photos of some of my cakes when I have more time. Also, I would like to have employment with someone or team up with someone in the Atlanta area. My main forte is gumpaste anything. I have taken classes with the awe- inspiring Nick Lodge, and I love this medium. I have done a lot on my own, but I am a people person, and I love being with other like-minded cake artists creating sugar masterpieces. It's more fun that way, and you get a chance to learn from others, share, and support each other in a creative environment. I believe in delivering the highest quality you can deliver- gastronmically and aesthetically. But it's hard sometimes when you're all by yourself and you're under the stress of a deadline, to give yourself the support you need to get through-especially when something goes wrong or doesn't turn out as you'd liked. Also, you need many skills in cake decorating and it's rare that one person can be the best at everything. Until next time, ciao~
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