This was a fun week of cooking.
Baking lab was cookie week. Our recipes were biscotti, sugar cookies, and butter cookies. Since they sell our stuff in the pantry and do not want to have hundreds of the same type of item to sell, anything that could have a different variation has set days when to do it. For my Wednesday lab, our biscotti varitation had white chocolate, cranberries, almonds, and lemon zest. As for the other two recipes, they were identical but each pair of students were only required to hand in one box of cookies.
So to begin we mixed the sugar cookie dough, then rolled it out and placed it in the fridge to chill. Next was the butter cookies. This was also quite similar to the sugar cookies and were just a matter of mixing. With those done, my partner filled a pipping bag with the butter cookie dough and I started to assemble the biscotti.
When the biscotti was finished we divided the dough ball into four and rolled logs out the width of the baking sheets and popped them into the oven.
As those began to bake for the needed half hour, I started piping out my butter cookies. We had already done this recipe in my first year, though that time was just rose buds. This semester we were to do rosettes and shells. The rosettes were quite simple, but the shells were actually more difficult than expected.
As you can see my shell has a bit of a wavy looked to it. Chef said that this was because my hand was shaking just a little which is enough to make that effect. I suppose it will take practice to perfect this technique, and since my family enjoyed these treats I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try. Maybe I can even dip half of it in chocolate!
Once those were done and in the oven we pulled out the biscotti which had a nice creamy colour but was still just a very long baked log. So while we waited for it to cool down we pulled out the chilled sugar dough and began pressing out some interesting shapes. We did four of the traditional gingerbread man shaped cookies, eight butterflies, and my most favourite, eight piggies. Yup, little piggy shaped cookies. I loved them.
By then cookies were piling up everywhere. The biscotti cooling, the butter cookies crowding the corner of our table, and sugar cookies slowly making their way into the ovens. When things were finally a little organized, my partner cleaned up and I began mixing the icing. Again, not difficult. Throw it in the mixer and let it do all the work.
Finally the biscotti was cool and the sugar cookies were finished. Now I learned that day that biscotti actually means twice baked. So to finish them off we began cutting them into wedges that could stand and put them back in the oven to bake out the rest of their moisture.
With the biscotti baking we began to separate the icing into little dishes and give them different colours. Our assignment was to make the piggies pink, to colour the butterflies anyway we wanted, and if we had time to decorate the men to look like ourselves. It was difficult but fun. I learned how to roll parchment paper into icing tips and to create a white wall of icing around the cookie so when you’re filling it in with colour it acts as a floodgate.
Mine came out alright. Nothing I would say is sell worthy, but good practice.
So with the sugar cookies drying, the butter cookies packed in boxes, we finally pulled out the biscotti and they looked pretty nice. I’ve never had biscotti before so they were quite different from what I am used to for a cookie, but the flavour was nice and had a nice lemony sweetness to it.
Next was our terrine lab. I must admit, none of us were really looking forward to it.
There was three terrines to be made. I started gathering vegetables for one of the recipes and just ended up making it, while the other two in my group each took on a recipe themselves.
For the vegetable terrine I was required to blanch leek, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, okra, green beans, and shiitake mushrooms. After cutting everything up into their required shapes, like itty-bitty florets for the broccoli and cauliflower, I proceeded with blanching and getting the stock ready. That was really quite easy. I simmered a litre of water with the scraps from the vegetables the three of us had and added herbs. Anyways, once blanching and shocking was over I proceeded to line the terrine mold with leek.
Now it wasn’t just strips of leek. What we were to do is peel them apart and use our parrying knife to scrape out the membrane so the colour would be dulled and the piece wouldn’t be as thick. So after lining the mold I was to decoratively begin filling it with the vegetables we had. Since whole okra has a decorative centre I decided to place these more in the centre of the terrine while lining the bottom green and filling the inner edges with more brighter colours, like the carrots.
After this was done, the stock was mixed with agar agar and gently poured in so everything was coated. I then pressed down on the top to compress everything and placed it in the fridge to begin the gelling process.
Now for my partners, they made the other two terrines that made us a little wary. One was ground rabbit with the centre filled with rabbit tenderloin and the outside wrapped with back fat. The other was ground pork mixed with pink peppercorns, rosemary, and pistachios while wrapped in bacon.
I dunno. None of those actually sounded appealing to my group and the others I chatted with. Perhaps it was the fact one was wrapped in back fat. Anyways, once they came out they all looked well made. The vegetable terrine I prepared looked decorative with the way I had placed the colouring, and the other two looked like cooked meat.
Our chef explained that terrines were actually a dying art. People don’t prepare them as much anymore because of how they are. One third pork fat, one third ground pork, and one third of another type of meat. Perhaps because of how people are looking at food these days they don’t like something that is jam packed with fat.
I wonder if people are modernizing the terrine so they are more appealing to a new age consumer. Perhaps instead of using so much fat they could look at using something else.
Anyways, that was my cooking labs. I’m really looking forward to baking the next few weeks since we’re working more with chocolate and taking on a gingerbread house challenge.