"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."
-Julia Child


Getting creative with Focaccia, some Banana Bread, and the Classic Marble Cake with a twist


Dipped into a little olive oil with garlic and parsley... aaah

Banana Bread with walnuts

Classic Marble Cake with  a touch of zested orange to enhance the chocolate flavors


The English vs The French

The Scone. A traditional British quick bread eaten at "tea time."

Our head pastry chef, Chef Ian, is away for a bit so the new head chef is this wonderful french woman who no speak so much English.... Chef Simone.
This is where the dispute all began- Chef Jeff (originally from Manchester) saw the scones we had prepared. First came the look on his face, his eyes wide open, and then... "Those are not scones." and then "My mum would be ashamed."

He expected these British treats to be quite tall, perfect to cut in half with a little jam, and create a little sandwich.
Chef Simone was not into that. "How could you eat so much?" "In France we would never serve such a large item!"

I decided to go with Chef Simone for the smaller look. What do I know of scones? Other than the dunkin donuts ones with the large sugar crystals on top... And well these are much easier to eat and that's what really matters...

Golden Raisin and Walnut Scones

The Buttermilk Biscuit

Three Soups. All made with vegetable stock.

1. Vichyssoise aka a simple white leek and potato soup
2. Butternut squash soup with sauteed cilantro stems for a flavor I WISH YOU WERE IN THE KITCHEN TO SMELL creamed with a dash of coconut milk
3. Lentil soup


An attempt at Croissants

I am not a fan of measurements.
Before entering culinary school my attitude has always been "add a little this a little that"
Thank G-d I can still do that in the cooking side of the kitchen, but the pastry kitchen has become a place of science. Measuring cups everywhere, ready to be used scales situated at every table.
But I have trained myself in the pastry kitchen. Trained myself so well that when our head pastry chef explains the differences of the atmospheric conditions and that our recipes won't always work exactly and we may need to add a little this and a little that, I am bound for disaster.
Okay, maybe not full out disaster, but definitely not getting what I intended...
Turns out this time, my entire class didn't get what they intended so I didn't feel too bad.

We followed the recipe. Having to add a lot more milk then it actually called for. The dough felt great. Everything was going great.

Until it was time for the oven. The French would be ashamed. The end result wasn't the airy croissant we were going for. More like a cookie that's just shaped like a croissant. A funny looking scone. 
So it wasn't my best job. They taste great with a little jam though...
There's always next time! Just gotta keep telling myself that. But I do promise, I will attempt these again. And it will work.

I could have lied and told you they were meant to look like this...


Puff Pastry... The layered dough. 517 layers.

After rolling out our dough and folding it over again and again and again...
We made different fillings.
Here is just one- a frangipane aka a sweet almond filling

We placed the frangipane, jam, sauteed apples, sauteed mushrooms and onions, and savory cheese with sumac and black pepper in the dough 

and all that layering and range of fillings created this... The finished product. Yum.

Vegetable Stock

Stocks week has begun...
The Vegetable Stock, preparing my mirepoix and bouquet garni 


The last of bread week.

The week of bread is finally over!!!!! As much as I love bread I'm psyched to move on.
And here's the last of it...

Given a recipe for prosciuotto and provolone bread and told to make it kosher, we came up with sun dried tomatoes and cheese rolls. Replaced the prosciotto for sun dried tomatoes and the provolone with an Israeli version of grated american cheese.

Some real culinary institute challah with measured ingredients and following a real recipe... I like my homemade version better... Challah can't have measurements! It's a holy bread. I prefer the personal feel with a never the same outcome over a systematic uniform version.Don't tell my patisserie teacher!

But if playing around with ingredients isn't your thing and the whole homogeneous situation is your type- here's a great recipe for the classic challah.

840 grams of FLOUR
440 ml of WARM WATER
40 grams of SUGAR
2 teaspoons of SALT
3 EGGS (If you're like me and opt for no eggs in your challah- the one pictured below has- than just replace the eggs with more water)
125 ml of OIL

In a small bowl add yeast and 220 ml of your water. That's half. If you're wild and don't need to see your yeast bubble than just mix the yeast straight away with the flour, but if it's your first time then lets return to the first step of mixing the yeast and water.

I know everyone says to wait minutes staring at the yeast waiting for the entire bowl to be covered in bubbles of the live yeast. No need. Just one small bubble to know you're yeast will work is all you need. Some say to add a pinch of sugar to help the yeast; you can also add a pinch of flour.

While your yeast is going, mix flour and sugar. Add the yeast water mixture and your oil. Mix. Add salt. Don't add the salt before the yeast even though we're taught to mix all dry ingredients first. The salt is no help to the active yeast so wait till your yeast is mixed with the flour.

Now, I know you have 220 ml of water left, but because my kitchen and your kitchen are different, because I'm in Israel sweating it up and you may be in the US experiencing a heat wave or somewhere in the southern hemisphere in winter (oh how I wish right now) the doughs will soak up the moisture differently. So slowly add your water. Half by half by half. At each half of what's left in your bowl mix. Then add another half of water in your bowl. I have yet to use up all the water the recipes have called for since I'm here. You may. Let me know.

Mix with your hands. Dough should be tacky, not sticky.

Don't overwork your dough.

Take your dough and cover it with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. This process is called autlyse and lets the gluten in your dough relax. After the 10 minutes you'll be able to see the difference in your dough.

Unwrap and let the kneading begin!

Don't pull it, don't stretch, don't rip it apart and put back together, all of this is not kneading.

Push your dough with the palm of your hand and bring back towards you with your fingers. Do this process for 8-10 minutes. You'll be able to feel the difference by the end plus it's a great workout.

Now lightly oil a bowl, leave your dough, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow your dough to ferment or rise for an hour. If you're in a rush you can turn your oven on low and leave the dough there for half the time to speed up the process. The dough may rise this way, but you won't get the real tasty workings of the yeast.

After the dough has risen. Braid it. Egg wash. And garnish the way you like, I chose black sesame seeds here. Place in the oven. 350 F. I'm gonna say about a half hour, but all ovens are different. So watch it and take it out to your liking. Remember that much of the baking process still continues once you take out your bread from the oven and let it sit on the hot pan.

Enjoy! And Shabbat Shalom!

Keep in mind that the french chefs who created the culinary institute cookbook aka our textbooks don't  know real good mom challah. So if you've never tried then go for this, but if you have better recipes... Send em over!


Two totally different breads...

The lean dough gone flavor
A basil, coconut milk, orange zested loaf great for summer...

The enriched dough
Sweet enriched rolls made with butter and milk garnished with black sesame seeds...


The first day in the kitchen...

No nail polish, no bracelets, no rings- everything’s gotta come off for fear of bacteria. Bare. Prepared to encounter the kitchen for the first time in the course.
The day is split into two. The first half from pastry and then cooking: a full day straight from 9 to 4 or 16:00 as they use here. I have thrown away the US system and welcomed the metric system. No more inches no more pounds. I feel like a weight watchers ad.
Lean dough aka a wonder bread sort of feel- only consists of water, flour, salt, and yeast. “Zehu”. No accidental olive oil usage instead of regular oil here!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to bread making, either you add flour to the water or water to the flour and we attempted both. It’s almost like I’ve crossed over. I’m accustomed to the first and today it’s like a whole new world has opened with the latter.
Later in the day we worked on our knifing skills, the most basic yet most important aspect in a kitchen. All of cooking begins with a knife.
I hope to get a picture in to better explain, but we were taught a new way of crushing garlic to help get the skin off. Chef Jeff was taught this quick and easy way by an old Iraqi woman…
Instead of the classic push down of the Chef’s knife onto the garlic with the possibility of an occasional  slip in the hand which could go horribly wrong; hold the garlic clove in between the thumb and the index finger and squeeze (if you’re very strong you may be able to crush it, but in no way do I have the strength for that and truthfully I’d rather not lose all my energy on that one clove when there are a bunch left sitting at my mise en place. So I take my right hand and allow it help my left hand squeeze the garlic. The strength of both of my hands make it easy with no fear of slipping up with any sharp knives.)


Shabbat Shalom

I can't count how many times I have made Challah. My mom had given me her secret recipe, throw a little this, a little that... perfect every time. It's become so natural to me that I can definitely say it's one of my  favorite things to make. The variations are endless- sweet, water, egg, whole wheat, whole grain, etc. And the toppings! Sesame, poppy seeds, sugar crumbs, zaatar... The list goes on forever.
My first time making it in Israel was a total flop. I couldn't understand the yeast, the dough didn't rise, in the end they came out looking like bricks which had happened to be perfect for the parsha at the time, Shemot or Exodus. The Jews slaving away under Pharaoh...
This week, I expected to be a pro now that I'm in culinary school ;-) (We haven't entered the kitchen yet.) I go to the supermarket and in my perfect Hebrew I buy flour. I get back to the apartment whip out my sifter, pour the flour in and what do you know I didn't buy a normal flour. To be honest, I still now have absolutely no idea what it was. My hebrew-english translator couldn't figure it out either.
So I make my way back to the supermarket for the real stuff and then back to the apartment only to discover the only oil in the pantry was olive.
Two lessons came about from all this, the first to check all ingredients before beginning and the second to just go with it. I decided to go with the latter.
This Challah is made with olive oil. Usually I would have a heart attack before pouring olive oil into my shabbat dough, but I did it and here it is.