Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Decorating

So as I write this, I'm catching up on some Top Chef.  This particular episode has been pretty cool because they've talked about stuff I've learned in school (Escoffier, mother sauces, roux, genoise...) AND they're using a Cordon Bleu campus as their home base. :) 

I didn't think we'd get to decorate for Christmas, since we left our Christmas bin back in Kent, but we did! 

Now I gotta review for my final! :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving, School & Portland

Stick your butt out!
It was supposed to be a touch football game...

We got to spend Thanksgiving with both families.  It was good to see them! 

This picture is of us and a few of our cousins.  This wasn't even the silliest thing we ended up doing on Thanksgiving. 

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we got some friends together to play some football.  The weather held out for us and it turned out to be a good day for it. 


School Stuff

We got to grind our own wheat and made our own sourdough bread starter.  My teacher referred to our starter as our "babies" because we had to feed it every few hours.  One night I had to get up at 2am to feed the thing!  There are a couple cool things about sourdough starter: 1) the starter can live forever as long as you take care of it and 2) the sourdough bread you make from it totally depends on where you live (sourdough starter made in OR can taste one way, but once you move it somewhere else it will taste differently over time because of the wild yeast found in the air in the new place)

We made donuts in class.  They were delicious!  We also had to come up with our own original bread formula.  I decided to do an orange cranberry cardamom boule.  It turned out pretty well! 

We started our vienoiserie portion of class.  It has been really interested learning about how puff pastries are made.  All of the products below were made with puff pastry. 
Cheese straws
Palmiers ("palm tree" - they are supposed to look like palm fronds)

Cream horns (without the cream)

Pithivier (puff pastry with almond cream filling)
I need to work on the shaping; don't worry, I get to try this again for my next practical.

Vol Au Vent (loosely translated "Flying in the Wind")
Bouchee ("of the mouth" - small puff pastry cups filled with pastry cream and fruit)

a traditional Napoleon

Life in Portland

Portland has been pretty good.  We're both keeping busy with work and school.  Thanksgiving time was pretty busy at Finales (the bakery I work at).  I have never seen so much pie dough, pie shells, pie filling and completed pies in my life.  I got to practice fluting pies...a lot of them, good thing I like doing it. :) 

Eric has been doing pretty well.  He has stayed healthy even though I had a cold for about a week and a half. He's even found some time to golf!

We recently went down to the Milwaukie area of Portland to see Jo Koy (a comedian) at the Aladdin Theater.  The show was HILARIOUS!  We would totally recommend seeing him if you have a chance. 

We're continuing to explore the city and getting comfortable with our new stomping grounds.  It has been a fun adventure for us so far!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If only we could live on bread alone...

Eric and I would live FOREVER! 

I started my Baking Principles and Vienoiserie (pronounce vee-en-wahz-ree) class 2 weeks ago and have taken home so much bread since starting.  We started with baguettes which were delicious and have worked our way up to ciabatta and challah. 

These are baguettes, a white pan loaf and two white rolls.  I liked making the rolls.  I was planning on going to the grocery store after class to pick up some bread...needless to say, we haven't bought bread since I've started this class.  We made a weeks worth of PB&J sandwiches with our pan loaf. 

These are milk rolls with different seeds on top.  Since we don't use preservatives these went stale before we could eat half of them.

 We have also made pizza dough.  We partnered up for this project.  My partner liked thick crust and tomatoes... :(
 Here is a baguette in an epi shape.  It's supposed to resemble a stalk of wheat.  I think I need to practice.  We also made tortillas.  I also need to practice these. 
 These are pitas!  They were really fun to watch bake in the oven because they puff up like little bread pillows and then deflate when you take them out.  They are also a lot softer than store-bought pitas and the pockets are real pockets. :)
 Ok, I know my pretzels look lame, but trust me, they looked good before I left them in the walk-in refrigerator the night before.  I'm thinking someone had taken my sheet pan and saw it wasn't theirs and then absentmindedly slammed it back on the speed rack and smashed my pretzels.  This was my attempt to make them pretzel-ly again.  These were tasty too, a few students even made cheese sauce to go with them.
 This is focaccia.  I'm wondering if "focaccia" is Italian for "bread deliciously soaked in olive oil"  This has probably been my favorite bread so far. Eric and made some pretty tasty grilled sandwiches with this bread. 
 These are Lavosh crackers. Once I realized I forgot my pastry wheel I kinda lost interest and I got too impatient to make these uniform.  They could've been cuter.  Maybe next time. 
This is whole wheat bread with cracked wheat in two shapes.  The round one is called a boule and the longer one is called a batard.  Batard is French for "bastard'.  This shape is called a batard because it's a cross between the boule and baguette shape.
 More epis, but this was done with a different baguette formula. 

Challah and ciabatta.  Eric made some delicious French toast with the challah.  

Aside from school, work has been good.  I've gotten to spend more time in the kitchen.  Learned how to use a sheeter.  It's a machine that rolls out dough for you!  If I had a sheeter I'd make more pie.

I think that's all I got for now. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baking and Beaverton


Week 5: I can't believe it, I'm about half way through my Patisserie and Baking program at Le Cordon Bleu! It has gone by really fast and I have loved every day of it!

I made this miniature pumpkin with marzipan.  (a lesson on miniature things)

Here is an angel food cake with lemon-lime flat icing.  I really like making angel food cake...actually I just really like eating it.
Our class had to work in teams of two to make the baklava.  I'm not a huge fan because it's SOOOO incredibly sweet! 
We also made apple strudel with our puff pastry.  The presentation is a bit messy because I had just pulled them out of the oven.  Also half of the apple strudel is missing because I had already eaten it before taking a picture. :)


While Eric was gone for the weekend I found my way to the last day of the Farmers Market in the Milkwaukie neighborhood.  My teacher was there selling her ice cream so I thought I'd check it out.  Along with the ice cream, I bought the apples from a cute elderly couple (all of those apples were only a $1!) and I bought the mushrooms from a sweet elderly Vietnamese woman.  Here's a picture of the things I purchased.
Lemon Goat Cheese and Cranberry Buttermilk Ice Cream, Spartan Apples, Chanterelle Mushrooms


 Week 6 is finals week.  For our final we had to take a written test and a final practical.  For our final practical we had to make Straussburger Cookies, Eclairs and Fruit Tartlets (all of which have multiple components).  It felt like I was on a reality show/cooking competition because I felt like I was racing the clock.  I shouldn't have worried because I still had 6 minutes left. :) 



Eric and I spent a lot of time in Beaverton this past weekend.  We got to visit a Ryan Rallanka S.J., a friend of mine from Seattle U.   Ryan teaches at Jesuit High School in Portland.  Jesuit HS's campus is AMAZING!  (thanks to Nike and some other huge donors)

Here he is pretending to be teaching his Theology class (sans the clerical clothing).

On our way home from visiting with Ryan we saw

and had to go in!

When we walked in Eric said it was like being at his grandparents' house. 
We walked out with

The next day we went back to Beaverton to have breakfast at Biscuits on Baseline in Beaverton (look at all of those B's!) with more friends from Seattle U. We had a fun time at breakfast and went back to Abby and Mike's place for some card games.  (I didn't get a picture of Fisch and Abby.)

Also, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with another friend from SU, Julia Crain.  Julia and I spent a lot of time together at SU since we were in the same major.  She's actually doing what she went to school for!  Go Julia! (nor did I get a picture of Julia)

It's been a wonderful blessing being able to see friends while we've been down here!!  Life in Portland has been pretty great so far.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Eric here, updating all the inquiring minds about the goings on down here in Portland, OR. Let me hit on some topics one by one:

  • First, last week I had the pleasure of going up to Seattle for a night and attending the Seahawks game. Saw pretty much all the guys and had a blast. The one ugly mark on the weekend was when I went face first into a concrete wall while playing football during tailgating. Fortunately I didn't chip my tooth but I did get a black eye, some cuts, and a headache that lasted a few days. Worth it though, given the fun I had with the fellas. Also, the Hawks got smoked 34-12 or something like that.
  • Carla continues to pound thru her schooling, she recently finished her second (of six) 6-week session and is still right on course for finishing August 2012. Also, she is starting to get more hours in the actual kitchen baking at her job instead of working the counter at the dessert shop. This is what she prefers so good news.
  • For Thanksgiving, we were planning on staying down here but now it appears (with Carla's Uncle having to work) we are Auburn bound for Turkey Day. I really like the Filipino Thanksgiving meal as you get both the Turkey, Potatoes, and what not combined with about 8-10 other dishes (and of course lumpia). I love all the different meats I get to eat and the amazing sleep I get afterwards!
  • I went to the driving range a couple times last weekend while Carla was working. As most of you know, this summer I had about a month long scare where I couldn't hit the ball straight. However, after my rounds this fall, and my recent driving range trips, I am happy to report that my ball striking has returned to a satisfactory condition and I plan on practicing a lot this winter and coming in to 2012 strong. My teammate Twan and I owe the Petes (Graves and Cacallori) more than a couple beat downs on the G course as we regress back to the mean. During my last round I was eyeing 30 footers like I was going to make them!
 That is all I have for now. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Day 2011 (another "Outside of Portland Adventure")

(Two blog entries in one week?!  Who's an overachiever?!)

I love Pumpkin Day!  This year we had Pumpkin Day on Oct 22.  The weather wasn't looking very promising, but Pumpkin Day 2011 was going to happen!!  Despite the weather being kinda crummy, we still had a great time.
All of us at the pumpkin patch
We all picked our pumpkins and took them back to my mom's house to carve them.  Usually, we gut and carve our pumpkins outside, but because it was so wet out we did it all inside.  We put tarp all over the house to make clean up easier. 
Hard at work
I think everyone's pumpkins turned out really well!  I tried to freestyle mine...I think I need to stick with a pattern. (Mine is the puzzle piece one and Eric's is the green/orange one with the ghosts) 
Our beautiful creations
We carved our pumpkins, ate a ton of food, played some games and ate some more food! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.  I can't wait till Pumpkin Day 2012!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mr. Hopper, Puerto Rico and Baking!

Eric mentioned it in his last blog...but yeah, I got a job!  I work at a bakery called Finales Desserts Northwest.  I usually work at the cafe and serve delicious desserts, but I have gotten the opportunity to work in the kitchen!  It has been a great experience so far!

My other roommate Mark came to visit his family here in Portland and was nice enough to make time to see me!  He even came to check out where I worked.  We also visited a church (upon his recommendation), had brunch and played Puerto Rico.  It was good to see him!

This is Mark with Mr. Hopper and Baby Hopper.  It looks like he's wringing their necks.

I've also been learning some cool stuff in school.  Here's what we've been doing.

Banana Bread

Coffee Cake

Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Caramel Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Tartlets
Fruit Tart

(before)Caramel Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust
 (after) (The bites taken out are from my teacher's eval)

Failed Genoise (gen-waz)

Successful Genoise

My first two genoises collapsed...kind of put a damper on my day at school.  I tried again yesterday and it worked out.  Apparently I was being too gentle!