Cooking School Journal: Week Three, Still.

Last time I burdened you all with my Stepford woes. It’s so self-indulgent to pity myself, I know. Although writing long-winded e-mail updates about oneself is pretty self-indulgent, too. I hope I’m not annoying everybody. Although, I guess if I were, you wouldn’t be reading this. So who the hell am I talking to?

Some of you apparently are not annoyed because I’ve received a few inquiries asking:  How was Pastry?

Pastry, in fact, was really hard for me, not only because I had those two lovely glasses of wine before class, but also because pastry sucks.

“Pastry takes a lot of patience,”  Layla the TA told me.

I’ve learned some patience from my kids. Never before did I think it would take twenty minutes to get from the car to the front door. Never before did I think that I could handle that. But I do. Several times each day.

My dad is img_0602a great baker. He learned from my great-grandmother. He comes over to my house with the most beautiful and delicious pies I have ever seen or enjoyed. Watching him make them is just as wonderful as eating them. He cuts the butter into the flour with unknowingly perfect finesse. It’s an art. Truly.

My attempts at making pie crust have been disheartening. Either you have it or you don’t.  I don’t have it.

It’s really hard to roll out dough. It sticks to the rolling pin. The remedy is to coat the pin with flour, but purists will wag their finger: Don’t add too much flour. You’re tampering with the chemistry of the dough. But if you don’t add enough, the dough sticks and that makes me insane. I guess I actually have no patience.

We were going to make a  pear tart with creme au beurre noisette.

Beurre noisette ( buhr nwahz-et) is browned butter. It’s the sauce for Julia’s Sole Meuniere. Once, my best friend Sara and I noisette-d the beurre so well after two bottles of La Crema, that it took me two weeks to clean the kitchen.

So the tart will be pear halves baked in a pastry shell filled with a browned butter custard. Sounds good!

Chef did her demo on making the perfect custard and poured the results into ramekins that we all brought from home.  Little doggie bags are one of the best parts of cooking school. “Great!” she said, ” You all brought several ramekins. Jules? You only brought two? Well, okay.”

I looked at my notes: bring two ramekins.

The Chef made one last announcement before we split into groups. “There will be no class next week. It’s Spring Break.”

The latest newbie to our group is an Italian woman personal chef. She has no name that I know of and apparently speaks almost  no English.

It took Chef ten minutes to explain to her that we have no class next week.

“”Ohh? I no understand.”

“You will not come next week.”italian1


“Next week there is no class.”

“Umm, I come Wednesday?”

“No. There is no class next week.”

“I sorry. Ummm, next week there is class?”

“No. Next week there is no class.”

“Should I come next week?”


“So, maybe then I will come next week?”

“No. Next week there is no class.”

Like a divine intervention, Lance jumped up. He ripped the calendar from the back of his syllabus, lunged forward and said, “There is no class next week. See? (pointing to the calendar). Don’t come. Okay?”

“Oh. Okay.”

I decided to be in Lance’s group.