Every Day Scoop

The Pastry School Diaries: Rising to the Occasion

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


I was excited to start our bread unit for various reasons: for the variety (sweet! savory! croissants! pizza!), the experience (I’ve never made bread before) and of course, for that amazing aroma of a freshly baked loaf. We’re only two days in, but my expectations have already been exceeded. We’ve baked four different types of bread in seven different shapes, I’ve learned about different yeast and rising methods and I’ve taken home more bread than I know what to do with. The cherry on top? I’m learning from the best of the best, Chef Sim Cass, dean of the bread baking program at ICE and founding baker of Balthazar Bakery.


On our first day, we made a one-step bread, which means you don’t need to let the yeast ferment overnight. You simply add it to warm water, add your flours and salt, mix it, knead it, let it rise and bake it. The end product is a light, fluffy and super flavorful French loaf.


Whole wheated French rolls


We also made a starter, which is a a fermented mix of flour, water and yeast that you add to the dough you’re making. This causes the dough to ferment, and fermentation equals flavor! Some bakers have had the same starter for years (Balthazar’s has had theirs for 38!). Our starter was only a day old but it still imparted tons of flavor into the finished product. Imagine what a few more decades could do!


Whole wheated farmhouse bread with pecans and raisins


A sliced walnut loaf to share with the office


It’s a good time to be one of my co-workers! Check back next week for more bread goodness.

Pizza Dough Do’s and Don’ts

Store-bought dough makes pizza night as easy as pie, but creating a great crust takes a little TLC. Here’s how to make restaurant-quality pizza at home every time.




Let the dough sit at room temp for 20 minutes so it can soften and roll more easily.

Roll it out with a rolling pin, working from the center to outside of the crust the edges. Or make a free-form pie by stretching the dough into shape.

Before you bake the pizza, brush the outside of the crust (the part that won’t get toppings) lightly with olive oil for a darker, crispy edge.



Resist rolling out the dough if it starts to spring back. Let it rest a few minutes and soften up so it stretches easily.

Don’t place the dough directly on the baking sheet. Instead, line the sheet with parchment or dust it with flour.

Be careful not to pile on too many ingredients or else you’ll end up with a soggy crust.



Now get to it! Click here for some of our most popular pizza recipes of all time.

The Pastry School Diaries: Life Outside the Classroom

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


One of the reasons I chose to attend ICE over other culinary schools in the city was because of their externship requirement after classes ended. For nine months, I’m learning, executing, studying and creating in the comfort of my classroom, but when my 100th lesson (yep, 100!) comes to an end, I’ll be expected to work in a bakery, restaurant or specialty shop for 210 hours–either on the weekends, before or after work at the magazine–to demonstrate all that I’ve learned.


It was a short week this week due to Rosh Hashanah, and our only class on Tuesday was dedicated to learning about the externship process from our career advisor. She explained that before we choose an externship site, we are expected to trail, or interview, at a few locations. We will visit various bakeries and restaurants, work an entire shift and decide if the environment is a good fit. She asked us to start thinking about the type of place we’d like to work: a large restaurant kitchen, a small independent bakery, a bread shop, a cake shop–the list goes on. While I’m still not quite sure where I want to focus and hone my skills, I’m leaning more towards a specialty shop, like an ice cream shop or small bread bakery. What I do know is that by the time I have to choose, I’ll have enough experience in the kitchen to really understand where my skills and passions lie.


Where would you want to extern as a pastry student?


Doughn’t forget to check back next week for an update on our bread unit (see what I did there!).



DIY Chile Powder

Make your own chile powder for unbeatable, super-fresh flavor, using the chiles of your choice to get a heat level that’s right for you. Start with dried mild ancho chiles, medium chipotles, red-hot chiles de arbol–or a combination–then follow these three easy steps. Stir the powder into stews or salsas, rub it on meat before cooking or use it as a base for hcili (add ground cumin, garlic, cayenne and salt).


Elmo’s Famous Chili, from our September 2015 issue


1. Chop

Halve your dried chiles lengthwise, then remove the stems, ribs and seeds. Chop the chiles into small pieces


2. Toast

In a dry skillet, toast the chiles over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes per side.


3. Grind

Blend in a spice grinder to a powder. Store in a jar in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

The Pastry School Diaries: Bake It ‘Til You Make It

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


As if recovering from Labor Day weekend wasn’t a feat of its own, I was promptly greeted Tuesday night by my first of four pastry school final exams. Luckily, I spent the long weekend practicing my creme anglaise and souffle skills, prepared to (hopefully) nail the recipes when put to the test.
This is the first time I’ve had to study for a test since college, and although that was only two and a half years ago, I knew my study skills were a little rusty. I’ll spare you the details of the written exam itself and skip right to the final result: an A! I am not usually one who performs well under pressure, and admittedly, I didn’t perform my best– the creme anglaise was slightly undercooked and my souffles looked less than perfect. But being put to the test for the first time by myself (we always work in teams of 2 during class) showed me the importance of having confidence in the kitchen. I kept doubting myself, and it was apparent in my work. Luckily, my souffles were perfectly cooked and still tasted delicious, so I was only penalized for presentation. For anyone interested in trying their hand at souffle at home, here are my personal tips to making it successfully:
1. Find a recipe that calls for as little liquid as possible. The more liquid, the harder it is to keep the souffle light and fluffy.

2. Gently fold in your egg whites just until they are incorporated. Over mixing the batter is a surefire way result in a cracked souffle.

3. Fill your ramekins alllllll the way to the tippy top. This way, your souffle can begin to rise above the ramekin, and you won’t have to worry about the vessel interfering with the batter.

4. Try not to open the oven to check on your souffles. Doing so interrupts the heat distribution and lets cold air in.

5. When all else fails, it’ll still taste good. Like my exam proved, even though they didn’t look the prettiest, I still received a good grade for the taste and degree of doneness.


Before I mentally prepare for Module 2, which includes breads and pastry doughs, I’ll share some of my favorite lessons and recipes from Module 1:


One of the first things we ever made, blueberry muffins


The most delicious apple crumbles


Dacquoise, layers of almond cookies and meringue frosting


And a class field trip to Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co., which included a sampling of every flavor on the menu and this cornbread sundae. Yum-O!

Check back next week for another dessert adventure!

Fun Ways to Sneak Fruit Into Your Dinner

If you thought getting your family to eat their veggies was hard, adding fruit to the mix may sound even harder– until now. We’ve got some fun, delicious and family-friendly dinner recipes that use fruit in a seamless way. These dishes are nutrient-packed and super colorful. A party on your plate!

Chicken Francese with Grapefruit-Tarragon Sauce


Baby Porchetta with Balsamic Berries and Arugula


Beef & Mango Tostadas


Peachy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


Pork Chops with Grapes

Microwave to the Max!

These days, microwaves are better than ever: They can bake like an oven and cook like a stovetop—in a fraction of the time. So why are you using yours just for nuking leftovers? Turn your machine into the multitasker it was meant to be. Ready? Hit start!  



Lovin’ Your Little Oven

Step away from the stove! Microwaves don’t cook like regular ovens, which radiate heat. Instead, they fire blasts of energy that activate molecules in food, so they’re often way faster. Make these four foods in a snap—with a zap.


Fish Fillets

Get tender, evenly cooked fish by micro- steaming: Place a fillet on a large piece of parchment and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice; top with fresh herbs. Fold paper over; crimp to seal. Microwave on high until fish is flaky, 1 to 3 minutes.



Poached Eggs

Want foolproof runny yolks every time? Pour 1 cup water into a 2-cup glass or ceramic bowl; crack in 2 eggs. Cover with parchment; microwave on high until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 11⁄2 to 2 minutes.




For perfectly crisp- tender asparagus, place 1 lb. trimmed asparagus spears in an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Add 1⁄4 cup water (add some lemon zest if you like); top with parchment and microwave on high until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes.




Get sizzling bacon with easy cleanup at the press of a button! On a paper towel–lined plate, arrange 8 oz. bacon slices; top with more paper towels. Microwave on high, rotating the plate halfway through, until crispy, 7 to 8 minutes.


Microwave Mythbusters


Standing in front of it is dangerous. The word “radiation” is scary, but microwaves use a pretty harmless form of it that’s the same as what’s emitted by your TV or radio. Whew!

It kills nutrients in food. Nutrient loss occurs any time food gets heated. But since cook times are shorter, microwaving may retain more nutrients than other cooking methods do.

It cooks from the inside out. Nope, microwaves actually heat food from the outside in. But since they heat water molecules, if the food has more moisture in the center than on the surface (like a potato), the inside will cook faster.


Making Waves


With the right recipes, you can use the microwave to make every meal you eat, a fact that inspired the nonprofit Children’s Health Fund to create Microwave Chef to help homeless families whose only way to cook might be a microwave oven in a shelter kitchen. The cookbook offers 62 dishes (like the frittata below) that make it a breeze for anyone to cook a meal quickly, so download it (for free) yourself at childrenshealthfund.org—and if the site (or the book!) inspires you, consider supporting this worthy cause.


Cheese and Vegetable Frittata

Adapted from Microwave Chef

Serves 4


1 medium zucchini, cut into rounds

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk


1. In a 9-inch pie dish, arrange zucchini in an even layer; season with salt and pepper. Microwave on high until just softened, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions.

2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk; pour over zucchini mixture. Microwave on high until the edges begin to set, about 2 minutes. Gently stir the edges toward the center, then microwave on high until the center is just set, about 5 to 7 minutes longer. Let stand 2 minutes before cutting into wedges.



Feel Like a Kid Again with These Five Back-to-School Weeknight Meals

Getting in the back-to-school groove can be tough, especially when it comes to getting dinner on the table. You want something quick and easy that will satisfy any picky eater but also keep the adults full. Luckily, Rach has dreamed up some delicious dinners that are kid- and grown-up-approved. Plus, they’ll be on your table in just 30 minutes! That’s what we’d call an A+ meal.

Monday, September 7th

Zucchini and Corn Chili

Read more

The Pastry School Diaries: A Choux In!

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


I was 16 the first time I ever made pate a choux, the dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs. I remember so vividly standing over the stove, boiling milk, butter and sugar, adding flour and vigorously stirring the pot until a cohesive dough formed, and then ruining all of my hard work by cracking eggs directly into the hot pot and scrambling them into the dough. My mom compared the consistency to that of matzoh balls, gave me her typical “I told you so” spiel about impatiently ignoring the directions and told me to start over.


When I found out we were going to make pate a choux in class, I was excited to have another chance to work on my technique. The procedure we were taught was exactly the same–except for one crucial detail, a word that gets used almost every day in the pastry kitchen: tempering. To temper something means to either increase or decrease the temperature of it, which is quite easy given the proper ingredients and instruction. T0 temper choux dough, slowly pour beaten eggs into the pot where your butter-milk-flour mixture has cooked and stir it continuously until the mixture is cool enough (it feels warm to the touch but not scalding) to dump the remaining eggs in. Scrambling the eggs in my dough could have been easily avoided had I just tempered it first. Lesson learned.



In class I wound up with a beautifully soft and smooth choux dough, ready to be piped, baked, filled and eaten. I couldn’t wait to share photos of my successful desserts with my mom: cream puffs stuffed with homemade ice cream, also known as profiteroles (pictured above), and one of my proudest accomplishments, croquembouche, a tower of cream puffs filled with pastry cream and held together by caramel sauce (pictured below).



You can see I’ve come a long way from my matzoh ball-like choux days– this was one sweet feat!


Check back next Friday for another delicious adventure!

Quick & Fun Recipes to Celebrate Chicken Month

Happy September! In the height of back-to-school season, we’re so happy it’s National Chicken Month. You know how versatile and delicious chicken can be, but the fact that it can cook up in no time gives this bird even more weeknight street cred. Check out some of our favorite ways to get everyone’s favorite protein on the table–fast!

Sweet & Spicy Chicken 


Tingly Chicken & Greens Noodle Bowls


Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

Stuffed Chicken Pinwheels with Roasted Green Beans


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