Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer desserts

Given my love for pastries and sweets, my own capabilities to create them in the kitchen is tragically limited. My plan was to take some pastry courses in August, but that was before I realized the whole the city literally shuts down for the month. Lenotre Pastry School will have to wait until the fall. But on Friday, I got a little warm up at L’Atelier des Sens, a very low-key, friendly place for amateurs like me to learn a few tricks.

One of my favorite things was actually the space. You walk through the main door, into this magical courtyard where many studios and creative offices were located.

And then there were the two bright, airy kitchens, either one of which I’d kill to have.

The course was Summer Desserts—Desserts d’Été—which consisted of two short hours and three recipes: Lavender and roasted peach trifle, pistachio sabayon with mixed berries, and a rhubarb-raspberry crème brulée.

I learned how to peel rhubarb, which, I never realized was so similar to celery. After peeling the fibers off and cutting the stalks, we cooked this with fresh vanilla and butter. The smell of the vanilla and rhubarb was otherworldly.

I didn’t do a whole lot else. Once again, I was limited by my comprehension, but I got to watch the weighing, mixing, cooking and plating techniques. It was definitely a casual environment. There were six women in the kitchen, creating three recipes simultaneously. The instructor was just winging the recipes, adding copious amounts of sugar here and there (I was sort of shocked, actually, by how much sugar went in the rhubarb-raspberry mixture and how he would casually ad lib ingredients to any given bowl).

The results were mixed.

I thought the lavender and roasted peach trifle would be my favorite but the lavender was too fragrant and overpowered the whole dessert.

The sabayon—a light, mousse-like dessert that ordinarily calls for whisking eggs, sugar and white wine together, but our recipe combined eggs, sugar, milk, cream, corn flour and pistachio paste—was odd but good. Our version had too much sugar and wasn’t cooked properly, but certainly I ate it.

The best was the rhubarb-raspberry crème brulée. Again, the crème brulée custard wasn’t cooked well enough, but the rhubarb and raspberry combination was divine.

So, a lot to learn: in addition to the subjunctif and demonstrative pronouns, add French pastry-making to the list.

1 comment:

  1. Those kitchens, the beautiful food (the torch!). Ooooohhh....I am dyin' ova heer (said in best NY accent).