Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Days in the Kitchen

Yes, I know how to bake. So why would I sign up to take a two-day baking class at Sur la Table? It sounded like fun and my son Michael expressed an interest in learning more about baking. I signed us both up for the class since I've wanted to learn how to make the always-intimidating puff pastry and brioche and he doesn't drive, so getting to the Farmer's Market would be tricky, even if it wasn't the same weekend as AIDS Walk LA, and streets were blocked all around the Farmer's Market on Sunday.
We had a blast and learned a lot.  Michael now knows how to make pastry cream, butter cream frosting, and chocolate meringues. I can make brioche bouchees, palmiers, galettes, and sorbet. That's him piping meringues in the photo above (making meringues is not recommended on a weekend as rainy and humid as the one in October when we did this.)  He also made the butter cream frosting and the pastry cream filling for the genoise in the photo below.

The class was taught by Vanessa diStefano (photo below.)  I didn't realize she was teaching until we got there. I know Vanessa through her screenwriter beau and we first met at a dinner with Harlan Ellison three years ago.  She worked as a pastry chef at Mesa Grill after graduating from culinary school and before coming out to California.

Here are the finished desserts, starting with Apple Galettes.
Chocolate Meringues with Strawberry Sorbet followed by Ham and Cheese Bouchees, Lemon Tart with Pignoli Crust and Raspberries, and Palmiers.
    Vanessa will be teaching the same workshop again at the end of January at the Farmer's Market Sur la Table in Los Angeles near Fairfax and Third Street.  Here's a link to register at Sur la Table classes. I recommend it.  It is a hands-on class and you are bound to meet interesting people and have a great time.  Vanessa will be teaching a number of other classes, including other types of baking classes in the coming months.  She's knowledgeable and a good instructor.

Note: As of June 2, 2011, I've change the link to the Sur la Table classes because they've updated their website. Check the schedule for the Farmer's Market location to see when Vanessa will again offer this class.  She does it several times a year.

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