Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tuiles

Tuile, which is a French word meaning roof tile, is a very thin, crispy wafer cookie. These cookies are very flexible while still warm from the oven, so they can be molded into almost any shape desired. When cooled, they are a sweet, crispy cookie that elevates even the simplest dessert to a new level.

Makes approximately 14-16 tuiles depending on the size

2 large egg whites

½ cup superfine sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg whites and sugar on medium speed until foamy.
  3. On low speed, add the flour and blend well. Stop the machine and scrape the sides of the bowl down using a rubber spatula.
  4. Add the butter and cream to the flour mixture and blend until well combined. The batter can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
  5. Remove about 1 ½-2 tablespoons of batter and place it into a small bowl. Using a spoon, blend in the teaspoon of cocoa powder. This darker batter can be used to pipe onto the light batter to add some decorative detail to the tuiles before they are baked.

To Create Edible Bowls

  1. Place a silicone baking mat over the bottom of an overturned sheet pan of the same size. Place about 1 tablespoon of batter onto the mat over to one side. Using a small offset spatula, spread the batter to a 5-6 inch rough circle. Drop another tablespoon of batter onto the other side and spread it out to create another circle of the same size. You will only be able to bake 2 cookies at a time.
  2. Place the darker batter into a small pastry bag fitted with a small plain pastry tip.
  3. Pipe a dark line around the perimeter of each circle.
  4. Bake the circles at 350°F for 9-10 minutes rotating the pan every 3 or 4 minutes until they are light brown. Watch to make sure the tuiles do not become too brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and using a small ice cream or cereal bowl or even an overturned ramekin, gently and carefully place one of the warm tuiles upside down over the bowl or ramekin shaping it into a bowl shape. Keep it in place until the tuile cools and hardens. Repeat with the other circle over another ramekin. You should now have 2 edible bowls.
  6. Repeat making more circles with batter and decorating them with the darker batter. Bake them off and shape, repeating to get as many bowls as you need.
  7. Keep tuile bowls in an airtight, cool, dry container for up to three days.

To Create Other Tuile Shapes like Spoons, Flowers, Etc.

Tuile molds or stencils are easily purchased from baking suppliers online.

  1. Lay a silicone baking mat over an overturned sheet pan of the same size.
  2. Lay a tuile mold on top of the silicone mat. Pour some batter over the mold and keeping the mold in place spread the batter using a large offset spatula so that the batter thinly covers the mold completely.
  3. Gently peel the mold off the silicone mat.
  4. Using the darker batter outline each tuile piping decorations as you desire.
  5. Bake the tuile or tuiles at 350°F or 6-9 minutes rotating the sheet pan every 3 or 4 minutes until they are a very, light brown. Do not allow the tuiles to get too brown.
  6. Using a clean offset spatula, gently peel the tuile off the mat and shape it as you wish or place it onto a clean sheet pan covered with wax paper.

Note

Superfine sugar can be found in most grocery stores or online. It is just granulated sugar that is finely ground so that it dissolves more quickly.

Missing Julia Child

All those kitchen reality shows are driving me CRAZY! I get why they are so popular. People love to be entertained. They can’t get enough conflict, backstabbing and I am just going to say it– schadenfreude. People just love to watch other people feel miserable. Well, as long as it does not involve THEM!

They call them reality shows, when in fact, reality has nothing to do with it. No one will EVER ask a chef to combine bizarre ingredients together such as pigs’ intestines and chocolate, or in one episode of a show that I saw, rig it so that a few contestants could only use one hand to chop ingredients while the other hand had a glove shaped like a lobster claw. Oh, yeah, this situation is so like the real world– NOT!

I have worked in restaurants where the executive chef is screaming at everyone while the veins in his neck are sticking out and throbbing. Not a calm environment to work in to be sure. Perhaps that is why so many people have high blood pressure! A high stress work environment is not only difficult to work in, but it is hard to maintain. Again, my point being that these “real life “shows are anything but. I have also worked in restaurants where everyone works together as a team, and you leave at the end of the day knowing that the customers really appreciate your food.

In a real working kitchen, where all is well, everyone is usually doing their jobs with the occasional banter. Most chefs are focused and passionate about what they do. There is none of this “in your face” drama that is staged on TV. But, alas, quiet and calm does not create high ratings.

I can’t watch these shows. I think they take away from the true talents of these young chefs and force them to degrade themselves, all for their fifteen minutes of fame. I remember Julia Child and her wonderful way of teaching. I even wrote to her as a teenager AND she answered me. Her show wasn’t fraught with screaming and melodramatic episodes, just great teaching and a warm personality to match.

Where’s Julia when we need her?

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Makes approximately 1 quart

1 cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise

2 cups heavy cream

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

6 large egg yolks

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium high heat. Remove from the heat.
  2. On a cutting board, using a small sharp knife, scrape down both halves of the vanilla bean placing the black seeds into the hot milk. Add the pod halves to the milk as well. Allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the pod halves and discard.
  3. Add 1 cup of the heavy cream into the milk, and again bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and egg yolks for about 1 minute or until thickened and the color turns a pale yellow.
  5. Slowly whisk the hot milk and cream mixture into the sugar and yolks.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the same saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  7. Using a whisk, stir constantly until the custard thickens slightly.
  8. To allow the custard to cool quickly, pour the custard through a strainer set over a medium bowl which has been placed into a larger bowl of ice and water. Allow it to cool over the ice water bath for about 10 minutes.
  9. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.
  10. Cover the bowl and chill for several hours or overnight.
  11. Process the custard in an ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s directions.
  12. Pour the processed ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm.

Additions

After processing, pour soft ice cream into a bowl and quickly fold in one or more of the following:

  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts
  • 1 ½ cups chopped semisweet chocolate or mini chips
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, pitted cherries, halved
  • 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, cut into small chunks
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, pitted and peeled peaches, cut into small cubes
  • 1 ½ cups chopped halvah
  • 1 cup room temperature ganache
  • 1 ½ cups mini peanut butter cups or other small candies

Baking Boot Camp

I can’t believe that I am heading into the third week of my baking camp for kids already. The time has really flown by!! The first two weeks always start with middle schoolers and the last week is all about high schoolers.

This is my 16th summer running this baking course (or camp as I like to refer to it) and I think I have almost as much fun as the kids do.  I have had kids from all over the world this summer. It has been really WILD! I had two kids from China and some kids as far away as Massachusetts and New York City.

I have noticed a trend for the past couple of summers. Kids that come to visit their grandparents from a distance have been signing up for the course as well. Perhaps grandma and grandpa are having trouble entertaining the kids 24/7 and need a little break. It really is a win-win situation for everyone.

Another trend I am seeing– parents taking extreme exercise classes the weeks their kids are in my course. One mom, who shall remain nameless, confided in me that she is participating in an exercise boot camp to help burn off all the extra calories she may have put on while she tasted the baked goods her kids brought home from my camp. Sure, baked goods can put weight on, but eating in moderation certainly helps. Not to mention that all of the goodies that I send home with the kids can always be frozen!

The benefits certainly outweigh the cons. The kids in my camp learn so much! For example, they learn about measuring ingredients properly, lots of baking science that they will see again in science class during the school year, BUT most importantly, they learn how to work together as a team. The world is such a crazy place that I want to teach these kids how to get along, and that EVERYONE deserves respect and kindness.

Not all of the kids in this program want to be chefs when they grow up, but after taking this class they certainly know how to break a recipe down into steps and see it through from start to finish. They, also, become more aware of the role that certain ingredients play in the food they eat. Many of the kids remake the recipes that we made at camp over and over and they become family favorites for years to come!

I must admit that at the end of each week I am tired and need to recoup over the weekend. This is a high energy course not for the meek or the mild. After all, we are performing action verbs like: beating eggs, kneading and slapping yeast doughs, and creaming butter with sugar.

This camp really is like a baking boot camp, even for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

 

 

Leftover Bread– It’s Not Just For the Birds

Bread crumbs or French toast are the go to things to do with leftover bread. I get that, but whenever I have some leftover bread I love to make croutons out of it. Croutons are so easy to make and taste one hundred percent better than the store bought ones. There really is no comparison! Homemade croutons can really spice up any soup or salad or even a dessert.

Just cut up whatever bread you happen to have into small cubes about 1/2-3/4ths of an inch square. You can even rip the bread with your hands into small pieces if you don’t feel like cutting it up. Now the type of bread that you use is up to you. Nothing is off limits. Think of white, whole grain or rye breads. Even focaccia, ciabatta or challah bread work well. And my thrifty grandma is certainly smiling down on me from heaven for using up that unused, extra hotdog or hamburger roll that no one will ever eat. At times, I have even used a corn muffin and a few slices of date nut or pumpkin bread as well.

Toss any of the above bread cubes with a little olive oil and as many spices or herbs as you like. They can be with or without salt. My favorite combo is garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika with some coarsely ground black pepper. Spread the cubes on a large sheet pan and bake them at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cubes are nice and brown.  Be sure to mix them halfway through baking. They will crisp up even further as they cool.

You can also make crisps. I partially freeze a leftover bread and slice it very thin on a mandolin. Place the slices on a large sheet pan and brush with olive oil. Top with any of the above suggestions of herbs or spices. For a sweeter crisp, brush the bread slices with melted butter and then try apple pie spice or just plain old cinnamon sugar as a topping. Bake as you would for the croutons above.

So next time you have leftover bread make croutons or crisps and forget about making French toast or bread crumbs. That’s for the birds!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Camp Cheesecake and So Much More…

This is my favorite time of the year, and it is not just because school is out and the days are long and lazy. Soon it will be the start of my Baking Program for kids. It is really a camp for those who are serious enough to be knee high in dough for a week.  I have been teaching this program for about 16 years now.

I love meeting the new group of kids that come every week eager to learn to bake incredible baked goods like Danish pastry, yeast breads, pies, puff pastry and so much more. These kids are amazing and are VERY serious about the kitchen. They remind me of ME as a kid. I was the kid pouring over cookbooks as my friends were outside playing and riding their bikes. I did all of those activities too, but I baked and baked, experimenting with all sorts of recipes until my mother would yell at me to get out of the kitchen– as long as I cleaned up first.

The kitchen is a wonderful place to talk to kids and find out what they are really thinking. Cooking and baking are also a great way to explore measuring and food science which I teach on the college level during the year. There is real incidental learning going on and these kids are like sponges absorbing lots of great information that will serve them well in life. Even if they never grow up to become chefs, It is important to know how to prepare the food that we eat!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Looking at the Dark Side of Baking Pans

Did you ever wonder why dark clothing makes you feel warmer than lighter clothing? Dark colors do not radiate energy back. They absorb it instead.

Did you ever wonder why I am writing about clothing on a baking website??

Dark things, whether they are clothes or baking pans, behave the same. Baked goods that are baked in a dark aluminum pan, for example, will bake to a darker color than a baked good placed in a glass Pyrex pan.

You may not realize these pearls of wisdom now, but wait until you bake something. The advice comes in handy and can really make the difference between a dark almost burnt cake and a lightly browned cake that looks much more appealing.

If you bake in a dark pan don’t worry. Some of my favorite pans are dark metal. Just watch and make sure the baked good is not getting too overdone. There are times when a darker color is desirable. A pie crust will always become more golden brown in a darker pie pan. That can be desirable when making a pumpkin pie, for example, which can create a soggy bottom crust if it is not baked well enough.