Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yule Tide Cheer

When I graduated from college, and made my departure from the Golden Mushroom, I took a pastry chef position near my home - so close, I could run there. In many ways, this was a perfect place for me to work - and at that time, the best job I had ever gotten for several reasons: I was compensated nicely, my commute had been reduced from a 45 minute hellish treck via 696 east to The Mushroom, I had my own pastry shop, complete with operational equipment,all in the basement of a beautiful old building in downtown Milford. I enjoyed complete autonomy, and, as I said, I could run there when weather permitted.

I was hired by a gentleman who had gone to the CIA in New York, and had become a pretty successful restauranteur. He owned several restaurants, as well as a catering company. He was full of life and had lots of personality. What I liked about him was that he was straightforward and pretty hands-off. He treated me well, always with respect, and made a sincere effort to make me feel a part of the family. Not just the family of restaurant employees, but his family as well.

Around the holidays, he stopped by my bakeshop and talked to me while I made scones and creme brulee, and listened to Spartan basketball. He was really excited about the holidays and he wanted us to build a gingerbread house and make a Yule Log for his annual holiday party. We drew up the templates and he enthusiastically showed me the best way to get everything "just right" so that my gingerbread house would be sturdy enough to withstand the jostling of 100 people crammed in his house, laughing, drinking and reminicing about the highlights of the year gone by.

He also invited me over so that we could decorate additional gingerbread houses with his wife (who was a tremendously classy and kind woman; I admired her greatly), and kids. Though I was a culinary school graduate, I had never learned to make a gingerbread house, and I was grateful for the lesson, and more grateful to be treated so nicely.

To this day, Yule Logs & Gingerbread Houses are a part of the holiday season that I enjoy, and actually believe are worth the effort, and sometimes, aggrivation. For that reason, I offered a class at Mirepoix called, "Show Stopping Holiday Desserts". To my absolute delight, two of my students had traveled all the way from Bay City to take our class! Talk about effort! We had a wonderful time and their Yule Logs were beautiful.

Making a Yule Log is not difficult, however, it is time-consuming. Today, we made our sponge cake, then our chocolate & praline buttercream. No Yule Log would be complete without the whimsical meringue mushrooms, dusted lightly with cocoa powder! Our students did a fabulous job, using a pastry bag to make the mushroom caps and stems. To really add definition, texture and interest to our logs, we rolled out chocolate fondant, cut it into circles, and used tempered chocolate to make rings for the "exposed" trunk and branches.

If you would like to make your own Yule Log for this holiday season, take advantage of our Make & Take Yule Log class on December 22 from 11 am - 3:30 pm. You'll receive instruction from our chefs, all of the recipes, and, your own Yule Log to take home to share with your family and friends.

To view photos of the Yule Logs prepared in today's class, "Like" us on Facebook.

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