Sunday, March 8, 2009

I can almost make a souffle and other things

So I'm working on a novel called Sweet Dreams. Main character works in her dad's bakery/pastry shop. And the book's about all sorts of things, including a really rocking love triangle with two really adorable guys, both of whom have numerous redeeming factors, thus making it hard to choose between them, which of course, is absolutely the point. It's my first foray into what former agent Michelle calls "frothy fun." A girl book. A commercial project that Ms. Muse has fluttered into my brain as a little Scooby snack of pleasure after two much more literary projects in a row. But I digress. Well sort of.

Back to the point, main character KC has trouble mastering the art of a chocolate souffle. She has trouble with lots of things, but souffles are one of them. Only, I'd never really made a souffle. I've read recipes; I've heard it was hard; I know souffles seem to fall at the drop of a hat or whatever. (which, btw, is a phrase I've never gotten - do hats fall all the time in other people's worlds or something? Cause in mine, not so much)

Anyway, yesterday, I drove to the River Oaks Sur La Table for Classic French Dessert class. Two and a half hours during which we learned: Grand Marnier Souffle, Tart Tatin, Clafoutis with cherries (the actual title has the French word for cherry in it, but I'm too lazy to run downstairs right now to get the recipe, and in case you care, Clafoutis (Klafootie) is a custard thing), and Begneits. (yeah, like those ones you eat at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans only not quite as amazing).

We worked in teams. Mine included a guy who is training to be a pastry chef at the local community college and who spent the entire two and a half hours complaining that Chef John, our teacher, was moving too fast. Chef John was a pretty good sport and repeated things as needed. Additionally, besides me, there was another lady who'd come by herself and seemed personable enough, and two couples. Couple A took copious notes and loved the Food Network. The husband of couple B managed to cut his thumb while paring an apple for the Tart Tatin and then DIDN'T say a word. So there we are, piling peeled apples up on our tray and other lady by herself to my right says, "Look at this apple. Is that blood?" At which point I actually pick up the apple and poke at the red spot because it NEVER occurs to me that it could be blood. It was. "Who bled on this apple?" I say. Knowing full well it has to be either chef in training guy or husband of couple of B. They are the only two who volunteered to pare an apple with a paring knife. Finally, husband B confesses. The fact that he was actively bleeding into a paper towel at that point made it difficult to hide. We all washed our hands and contained the damage. The Tart Tartin became the dessert I chose not to taste.

But back to the souffle. It is not that hard. Just don't slam the oven door. That will cause those suckers to fall like the Berlin Wall. Only quicker.
Til next time...

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