Friday, June 17, 2011

P.M. Pastry Cook Needed!

 As stated in my last post, Suzie is leaving us for the bright lights of Chicago, after spending a year here at the farm.  We will miss her horribly, but that's part of this industry.  People come and go, especially at the beginning of their careers.
  I mentioned to the staffing coordinator that a lot of people had gone to my blog by googling "Help Wanted: Baker," since my post on that subject, and she asked me to do it for this position.  Here's the low down:

 P.M. Pastry Cook position:  Culinary school diploma necessary; must work nights, weekends and holidays; responsible for preparing and plating dinner desserts, mignardises, pre-desserts and ice creams; must be able to lift 50 pounds and stand for over 8 hours per night; ability to read, follow and write recipes a must; supervised by Pastry Chef, Sous Chefs and Executive Chef; position requires occasional mornings, but is primarily evenings.
 Apply on the website if you're qualified and interested.  You'll see the kind of desserts we do here.  The P.M. pastry cook is required to develop two new desserts every six months, including recipes and plating designs.  I need to stress the fact that we are a hotel, and everyone, everyone works nights, weekends and holidays.  We never close, so it's all the best, all the time.  It's a chance to be a part of an amazing team, in an amazing place.  Blackberry Farm is a wonderful place to work.  The work is hard, the hours are long, but we are part of a team that makes people's dreams come true.  We create lifelong memories for people, by providing the best quality food possible.
  The hotel is in Walland, TN, a little tiny blip on only the most detailed map.  Most of us live in Maryville or Knoxville, and there's really only one place to work in this area, if you want to work in fine dining.  Most of us are here just to work at Blackberry Farm, and most of us come from all over the country.
Okay!  There you go, Cindy!   Everyone have a love day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Southern Feast

Last night was the Spring meeting of GULP, a wonderful group of friends who cook for each other every three to four months.  The theme was Southern cooking, and with a beginning reading by the esteemed thespian, Bob Mashburn about what it means to be a Southerner, fifteen of us ate ourselves into a stupor.  Fortunately, we are all talented cooks, and all appreciative of each others' talents.
  I wish I had photos of the wonderful food, but somehow, I always forget my camera in the onslaught of courses.  There was cold melon soup by JudyAnn and Sue, followed by a version of Waldorf salad by John and RJ, including ham cured by Alan Benton.  There was an amazing cup of shrimp and cheese grits by our hostess, Ginna.  Then, we all bellied up to the buffet of fried chicken from Cindy's talented skillet; green and yellow beans from JudyAnn and Sue; cornbread and biscuits by Pat and Dan; Jeff's award-winning macaroni and cheese; Susan made a beautiful peach & tomato salad; Dennis brought potato salad and congealed salad.  Now there's something I definitely should have photographed!  It was a lovely pale shade of green, and much more delicious than promised.  And then plates were cleared for dessert.  I had promised strawberry ice box pie, but South Carolina strawberries have succumbed to the heat, and the peaches haven't achieved even goodness yet, let alone greatness.  I did find some North Carolina blueberries, though, and they became blueberry ice box pie.  They slid a little off-center in transit, but they were pretty yummy.  They're on graham crackers--yes, homemade!--and were served with some blueberry puree.  John provided a sprinkling of lavender, which harmonized lovely with the blueberries.
  And now we spend today recovering!  I have a house to clean and animals to hang out with before I go back to the sweet grind of work.  Sadly, Suzy gave notice this week, to move to Chicago.  I don't want her to leave, but I know that it's the right thing for her career at this point.  That's how we chefs build our resumes, moving every year or two to work with different people, learning and growing.  I'm a teeny bit jealous, because Chicago was one of those places I'd have enjoyed working in.  But I'm happy here, in my pastry home!
  Suzy got hold of the cotton candy machine last week, and has been developing sugar recipes to make for the treats our guests get at the end of dinner.  Here she is, making blueberry cotton candy:

 Playing with our food!  We get paid to do it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Fruit!

 Ah, summer!  It might technically be two weeks away, but don't tell the fruit!  South Carolina peaches are finally here, but not quite ready for prime time.  They need a lot of coaxing, roasting, spicing and poaching to get much flavor out of them.  And so, I roasted them with vanilla bean and Jack Daniels' to get the mousse peachy.  I roasted more with just vanilla bean and browned butter for the puree, and the peach balls were sous vide cooked with lemon zest, raw sugar and more vanilla bean.  And voila!  Peach Ice Box Pie!  It's sitting on gingersnaps made with fresh ginger, and the whipped cream is slightly gelatinized to be able to cut it into the box shape.
  I love desserts lined up, and have to share this with you:
Lots of little boxy peachy pies!
Another fruit that's ready to go is cherries.  The only cherries that I've found locally are mean little sour cherries that are adorable but, in my opinion, inedible.  So, I cheat and buy Washington's best.  I simply can't stand the thought of letting cherries go by, just because they can't grow here!  And so, here is Cherry Clafouti on an almond crust with red wine caramel and almond milk sherbet.  Most of the time, I can't print recipes because they're in, or are going to be in, our cookbooks.   This almond milk sherbet is an experiment gone very, very well, and I want to share it with you.

Toast until golden brown:
  1 lb. sliced almonds
Pour over almonds while still hot:
  4 cups whole milk
Let steep for at least one hour.  Puree in a blender, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard almonds and add to liquid:
  2 cups simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil then cooled)
  1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions.
This is so yummy, and so simple, I hope you try it!  When blueberries and blackberries come in, around the 4th of July, this would go really well with them, too.  Hurray for summer!