Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Too Cold and No Kittens

I was feeling all morose and angry that it was, once again, a cold day. What a surprise. It's been very cold here for quite a while, and I want spring to come sooner. It's times like these when I wish I could be back in Napa Valley (not in the kitchen, though...maybe some day I'll get up the courage to tell that story), where it was constantly 80-90 degrees and I wore flip flops every day. Grrrr.

Luckily a friend called just then and asked if I needed anything at Target, since they were going. Nothing at Target, but I sure needed to escape the school for a couple hours. We shopped at Target, wandered the mall briefly, looked for kittens at Petco (and upon finding none, lamented the fact that there isn't a K-Mart/Kitten-Mart closer to Hyde Park). We looked for an ice cream maker (and couldn't find any under $50). Yes, we want to make ice cream in January in New York. Especially tangerine. It's just what culinary students do.

Using the blitz puff dough from yesterday, I made tarte tatin in class today. Sugar and butter are melted in a pan (preferably cast iron, but we didn't have any in the bake shop), then apple halves (peeled and the core scooped out) are packed into the pan. They cook over medium heat for quite a while, until the sugar caramelizes and the apples start to slump down and become one with the sticky, buttery goodness below. A round of puff pastry is placed over the top of the apples, and the whole thing goes into the oven. The pastry puffs and becomes golden brown, the apples completely tender. The tarte is then flipped over (apples on top now) - and this is very important - eaten warm with gobs of whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Today's pretzel dough tasted exactly the same as yesterday's, so it seems like the butter is purely optional. But today's were far better anyway, because they were stuffed. Some we crammed with sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese, others went the sweet route with rum soaked raisins and cream cheese and a glaze of butter and cinnamon sugar. Both vanished within 15 minutes.

I didn't really eat lunch, so I had to make do with a couple hot stuffed pretzels and a slice of tarte tatin with more whipped sour cream than anyone else in class was brave enough to slap on their piece. The fools!

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