Pigs & Menus

“Alright class, let’s go. We’re butchering half a pig!”

Um, yeah. So that happened. We didn’t actually butcher the pig ourselves (thank god) because we aren’t in a lab class, but my instructor was scheduled to show another class how you butcher pigs for an event they’re putting on so he had us watch to for costing purposes. Basically the gist of it was that you want to garner as much viable meat as possible from the animal, pig or otherwise. Watching this didn’t make me want to become a butcher. I think I’ll stick with baking; no animal corpses required.

My instructor did manage to slice his finger open during the butchering process and it didn’t matter how many band-aids, gloves and other protective gear he put on to cover it, the bleeding just wouldn’t stop. He had to stop butchering so he could get the bleeding under control and eat something because he’d lost that much blood. It wasn’t pretty.

{He probably wouldn’t have wanted me to tell you all that, but I’m thinking he won’t ever see this and I didn’t use his name, so…we’ll just keep it our little secret ;)}

Anyway, once that was under control and we were done watching our class went back to our room and raced through the powerpoint we had planned for the day. It was a lot of talk about picking your suppliers and relationships with them.

In my other class this week, we continued going over menus, and which type of menus are appropriate for certain restaurants/institutions and which aren’t. It’s pretty similar to what I did in class last term, so I’m just kind of waiting for something new to pop up. We did critique some menus from local restaurants, but other than that it was a lot of powerpoint information. I’m hoping this class will be more exciting next week.

In other news, I had a check-up with my surgeon this week and he’s “cautiously optimistic” that things are going well. With my history of knee problems he says we can’t be too sure, but for now most things seem to be pretty good. I have two months to get it all better because I have lab classes again next term and I’ll need to be able to do lots of standing. Keep your fingers crossed that things keep going well!

I’ll have a new recipe up for you all soon. I’m just trying to decide what culinary magic to surprise you with 🙂

Chocolate Macarons with Caramelized White Chocolate Filling

Apologies for the delay between posts!

I only had one class last week due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and it wasn’t really exciting enough to talk about. My class went on a field trip around the school looking for menus while I sat in class with a big ol’ bag of ice on my knee. We did, however, have a brief discussion about caramelized white chocolate (I didn’t even know that was a thing!).

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Coincidentally, our Friday Night Dinner theme for the week was “caramelized”, so I decided to do something with caramelized white chocolate. I looked up a recipe for it when I got home and one of the recipes I found suggested using it as the filling for macarons. I don’t think there is a dessert/treat more adorable than a macaron, so that’s what I did and I have to share the recipe with you!

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They were so easy to make and so, so delicious. We ate them while listening to quite possibly the best, most adorable love story ever. I was smiling so much in response to the story that my cheeks actually started hurting. Yeah.

I have a full week of class this week. Well, full-ish. I’m only taking two classes so it isn’t actually full, but hopefully I will have some culinary school stories to tell you all then. In the meantime, enjoy this recipe!

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Chocolate Macarons with Caramelized White Chocolate Filling:

Via and Via

Ingredients:

Macarons: 

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces sliced almonds, pulverized)
  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 5 tbsp. granulated sugar

Filling: 

  • 12 oz. good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter solids)
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt

Directions:

Macarons: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip ready.
  3. Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
  4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
  5. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
  6. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
  7. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten themacarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Filling: 

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. If the white chocolate is in a block, chop it into coarse pieces.
  3. Distribute the white chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for ten minutes.
  4. Remove it from the oven and spread it with a clean, dry spatula.
  5. Continue to cook for and additional 30-60 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals. At some points it may look lumpy and chalky (and even unpleasant), but keep stirring and it will smooth out and caramelize.
  6. Cook until the white chocolate is deep-golden brown, and caramelized. Stir in a good pinch of sea salt. (If it’s lumpy, scrape it into a bowl and smooth it out with an immersion blender, or in a food processor).
  7. Sandwich filling between two macarons.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Have leftover candy canes or crushed peppermint from the holiday season just sitting in one of your kitchen cabinets? Well then I have the perfect recipe for you: white chocolate peppermint cookies.

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These cookies are so easy to make and really tasty. I made these for a couple of Friday Night Dinners, sent them in care packages to my brother and sister, packed some up for a ‘going away’ party for one of my mum’s coworkers, and gave them to a few people as Christmas gifts. Such a versatile little cookie!

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If you like mint, this is the cookie for you. It’s not overwhelmingly minty (it doesn’t taste like you’re eating toothpaste), but the subtle hints of mint combined with the white chocolate is too good to pass up.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Makes 48 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 cup Andes peppermint crunch bits (or crushed candy canes/peppermint bits)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and peppermint extract. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt and cream of tartar. Stir in flour, peppermint crunch bits, and white chocolate chips.
  3. Drop tablespoon size balls onto lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are nicely browned.

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