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Everything posted by chromedome

  1. Back in Nova Scotia, it's common to use a beaten egg with a bit of sugar in it to bind up the excess juice. I've taken that a step further and used pastry cream with the rhubarb, and rather liked the combination. Then my wife and kids, looking to extend the whole tart-rhubarb/sweet-filling theme, suggested a rhubarb pie with butter tart filling poured over. That's been their biggest favourite so far, though personally I prefer the pastry cream version. Either way, the rhubarb needs to be partially pre-cooked and cooled before going into the shell.
  2. Me, too...but I don't go overboard with it.... <ducks and runs>
  3. chromedome

    Glace de Viande

    Depending on how rich your stock was to begin with, you'll probably be okay reducing it to 1/12 or 1/16 (1/12 if good, rich stock; 1/16 if just average). Starting with a remi ("remouillage", or re-boiling, is the second stock made from a given set of bones; it tends to be lighter and thinner), you might even go a bit more than that. As McDuff says, your mouth should tell you when your glace is done. It should have a nice, rich mouthfeel and lots of flavour; it should coat the back of a spoon nicely. In your mouth, though, it should not be thick and sticky like library paste. Although very rich and viscous, it should dissolve readily in your mouth. A tablespoon of glace, then, should be the equivalent of roughly 16 tablespoons of good stock; which would be all the flavour of 200ml of stock in concentrated form. Glace is great for making quick sauces a la minute; deglaze your pan with some wine, cook out the alcohol, stir in a spoonful of glace, finish it with a little butter and some aromatics, and you're there! Of course, like consomme, the quality of your glace depends entirely on the quality of your stock. If your stock is bland, your glace will be relatively inocuous as well.
  4. Awwww, geez, guys... Just want you to know I feel your pain. Gets me right...here!
  5. Hello, Chef Hill! I'm a recent cooking-school graduate (40-year-old career changer) with just one year in a high-end restaurant on the Canadian prairies. Although I'd thought of myself as an adventurous home cook with a wide range, I've discovered this last couple of years that I've only begun to scratch the surface. Almost every day I'm tripping over a new ingredient or technique or combination that that surprises and delights me. So I have to wonder, as a chef who's been at or near the top of the profession for decades, what excites you these days? What things have given you a "wow moment" of late?
  6. Interesting thread, Soba! I've got a wife and two kids, and am in the process of changing from "school-and-a-job" to "no-school-and-two-jobs." I am the proverbial "chief cook and bottle washer," whenever I am not working. 1) When I'm here, I cook. Sometimes it's an elaborate meal, sometimes it's whatever I can throw together without thought in an advanced state of fatigue. I bake bread 2-4 times a week, depending on consumption vs. work schedule; I make stocks when I can; and I generally cook for leftovers (which is advance prep of a sort). 2) <sigh> I'll eat just about anything, but of course I have some constraints. I'm the only one in the house who eats offal. My wife will occasionally get a craving for liver and onions, but I can't cook it at home because she won't have the smell of it in the house. Ditto fish; though now that barbecue season is almost here I can look forward to cooking it outdoors. Wife is allergic to spinach, and generally won't eat cabbage except in borscht, owing to the intestinal distress it causes. It'll still have that effect in borscht, but she eats it anyway 'cause that's soul food for a Mennonite. Son is good with a lot of stuff, but nothing spicy-hot. Also, anything in the line of fat, bones or gristle repulses him to the extent that he won't finish his meal. This is appalling to me, a confirmed gnawer of fat, bones and gristle. Daughter is okay with a degree of pepper heat, and loves garlic passionately. She is allergic to apples, and consequently is stubborn in refusing to eat any fruit. Lately, we've gotten her hooked on those Del Monte Gold pineapples, which I'm hoping will be the thin edge of the wedge. She's okay with juices and jams, thankfully. So yes, I keep all of this in mind when I'm planning meals. If my daughter has a sleepover, for example, I'll make a barley risotto...the rest of us love it, but my daughter has a pathological hatred of barley. If my son's away, I'll cook a little bit spicier, just 'cause I can. If the wife's away for at least a day, I'll cook fish and air the house out afterwards (and wash the walls). If we are having guests, I am usually at some pains to find out in advance about any allergies/aversions/preferences and work around them. 3) I have a handful of basics, of course, as most people do. We eat WAAAAYYYY more rice than most Caucasians, and I always have several kinds on hand. We also eat a lot of pasta, frequently homemade if I have the energy. My wife has damaged wrists as a result of too-long-untreated Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, so peeling potatoes and other veg is something she attempts only rarely in my absence. I do like to be adventurous, though, and I cook a lot of Indian- and MidEast- influenced foods, also a lot of stirfries and such. We make our own wontons occasionally for soup. As with rice, I go through more fresh ginger than any Caucasian I know (present company excepted, I'm sure). Having had several friends and in-laws from Central and Eastern Europe, I cook a lot of foods from those traditions as well. As for shopping, I tend to buy staples on a periodic basis and impulse items, well...on impulse. I do clip coupons occasionally, but seldom remember to have one with me when I go to buy said item. 4) We'll talk about anything at the dinner table (we eat together at every mealtime that my schedule allows). The only things that are "restricted subject matter" are discussions of certain bodily functions; or anything else that might tend to put one off one's feed... Mealtimes tend to be fairly rollicking, goofy, fun times. My kids are both natural clowns and mimics, especially my son. In class recently he fractured his classmates and teachers with a timely impression: asked for a summary of the effects of pollution on marshes and wetlands, he conjured up his best Gollum and hissed, "It ruinssss them!" 5) Dinner is when I've finished making it. Our/my schedule is too wonky for things to be otherwise. We are relatively new here in our neighbourhood as of yet, so we don't have people over as often as we have in the past (we've frequently been an informal youth drop-in, and have also taken in troubled teens at times...that's Motrin pain). We like to have company, though I can't recall that we've ever had a formal "dinner party." If you ask for a roll, it's likely to be tossed at you. We've had as many as 16 around our table, and I reckon that if we had skinny enough chairs we could probably sit 20 with the leaf in. 6) At my son's junior high, one of his electives is "International Foods." On the first day, the teacher said she wanted to expose them to foods they probably hadn't tried before. "Good luck with that!" commented my wiseacre son (they made baklava, today). They try new things whenever I feel like making something different. They may not like them, they may not finish them, but the rule is that they have to at least try. Pappadums, for example, were a recent hit. 7) At present, I can't think of anything not previously discussed. If I do, I'll come back with it.
  7. The Don Cherry she refers to is not the jazz player, but the former coach of the Boston Bruins in their Orr-era heyday. The Archie Bunker of hockey, he holds forth during the between-period intermissions of Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. It is perhaps a telling commentary on the Canadian character that his face is more widely recognized than that of our Prime Minister. Then again, our current Prime Minister is one of those grey, soulless corporate types, so perhaps it's not surprising. This is not entirely OT, btw, as Cherry owns a chain of sports bar/restaurants.
  8. You obviously have a sick, evil sense of humour. I like that.
  9. I'm a relative newbie to Indian food as well, Richie (loved it for years, but just recently started to get serious about cooking it at home) and it's a real voyage of discovery. You'll find, as you go, that the many spices have distinctly different characters according to how you use them...hence Jaffrey's use of cumin in three different forms, all in one recipe. Coriander is another spice that's widely used in Indian and middle eastern cooking (I'm referring here to the seed, not cilantro). Try grinding some raw and cooking with it, then toasting some and grinding it. The flavours are very different. Or, toast some seeds and then use them whole in a simmered dish, like a stew or a dhal. You'll find that the seeds grow rather soft over time, and that the slow simmering will bring the spice's citrusy note to the fore. Methi (fenugreek) seed is another one that's fun to play around with, and the various forms of mustard seeds, and, well...most of them, actually. Son of a gun, now I've got a hankering. I'm going to have to cook myself some dhal tomorrow. It's a hard life...
  10. Hear, hear. It's all good, at least until my own mouth tells me otherwise.
  11. I always have a few litres of egg whites in my freezer, and usually another in my fridge, since I get as many as I want from work (we use *WAAAYYYYY* more yolks than whites, even with dacquoises on the dessert menu). They are interchangeable with fresh in anything I've used them for. And they keep a whole lot better.
  12. My hometown of Halifax, NS, boasts a few offbeat names... Lawrence of Oregano Alfredo, Weinstein, and Ho (what, doesn't every town have an Italian/Jewish/Chinese joint...with a magician on staff to entertain during dinner?) The Tickle Trunk (the Canadian equivalents to Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo were The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup...and Mr. Dressup's "dress up" stuff came out of what he called his "Tickle Trunk") Your Father's Moustache But my favourite east-coast eatery name was a roadside diner near the small Newfoundland town of Pinchgut, called (inevitably) Pinchgut Diner.
  13. Generally neat, as with almost any spirits I drink. My reasoning is that, if it's worth drinking, it's worth drinking neat. And if it's not worth drinking...I'll probably drink it anyway, so as not to be an inconsiderate guest. But I detest soft drinks, so if put to it by necessity I'll usually mix with whatever fruit juice comes to hand. Aside from that, as a Maritimer, I do love my hot rum drinks. Try a hot buttered rum sometime, made with dark, sticky palm sugar (jaggery/gur). Mmmmmmmmm.....
  14. The great thing about being a woman is they're metaphorical, so you don't need a wheelbarrow to carry 'em around. <====Chromedome, husband of seriously ballsy woman
  15. I have one, but (thanks to Mother's Day, etc) won't be able to excavate it until late tomorrow, or Monday. If nobody else has turned one up for you by then, I'll post it up.
  16. When I was a kid, liver was right up there. Not chicken livers, but beef and pork. Detested cauliflower, parsnips, and brussels sprouts as well. Aside from that I didn't have much to worry about, since there were only about six or seven vegetables known to Nova Scotian stores in the early 70's. Today, liver is one of my very favourite things...the best part of most critters (old-timers like flipper pie, but I say the liver is the best part of a seal hands-down). Same with other offal...mmmmmmmmm. I like brussels sprouts too, though generally I'll avoid them unless I've cooked them myself. Cauliflower could still disappear from the face of the earth, as far as I'm concerned, and I'll cheerfully carry its luggage to the rocket ship. Same with parsnips. Not too many other foods I dislike intrinsically, though. Just cauliflower and parsnips, with (dis-) honourable mention to avocadoes. Of course, in the case of purely wrong-headed preparation, count me out on most foodstuffs. One of my aunts considers meat underdone if you can't take it in your hands and *break* it. Ugh.
  17. On the one hand, I'm dying for my "Mel fix." On the other hand, I'm glad that you're getting some sleep, instead. (You are remembering to sleep occasionally, right?)
  18. When I was a computer salesman, my co-workers used to laugh at me for using the exact same phrases - every freakin' time - with every customer. Not that I gave them a canned "spiel", you understand...I always found out what they wanted/needed/knew before I proceeded...but if I explained a given system to a customer, it was *always* in the same words. Then would come the inevitable day when a customer would return to the store, saying "But he told me...[fill in the blank]" and my manager would be able to look them in the eye and say, "No he didn't." Because he knew what I told them. Every freakin' time. My point? I plan on doing some freelance catering and cake work over the summer, now that I've graduated (Yippee!) from school. You can bet that EVERYTHING I do for a customer will be spelled out in black and white, and bear their signature. Yeah, I know, I'll still get grief. But I'll at least be able to eliminate the "honest mistake" from the repertoire.
  19. Different establishments have different situations, for sure, but I think making some sort of provision for a good staff meal is a huge positive. One of the first things I was told, when I started at my job, was that I was *expected* to sample the things I was preparing. Cutting up pears for the grilled-pear salad? Have a wedge. Making up cheese plates? Taste one or two of them. This made immediate sense to me, not only from the cooking-school perspective (taste everything, how else you gonna know you did it right?); but from the quality assurance perspective. It's much better to have a staffer spitting and shouting WTF? than to have a customer tugging on a server's sleeve and saying "Excuse me...?" The meal itself will vary. Sometimes we'll have extras of an entree item that didn't sell as well as usual that week. Other times we'll accumulate a stock of leftovers or trim pieces, and do something with those. Sometimes somebody (might be the boss, might be the dishwasher) feels like doing some "home cookin'", and we'll have perhaps a pork roast with sauerkraut; or perhaps a multi-course Vietnamese extravaganza. Sometimes we just order in, on the boss' dime. One thing I'll guarantee you...every dollar you put into feeding your staff properly, is a dollar you won't lose to pilferage.
  20. Ah, customers. Can't live with 'em... In the course of my one-year-this-weekend working at a high-end restaurant on the Canadian prairies, I've seen: The customer who wanted the seafood medley (lobster, shrimp, scallops, served on a lobster tail stuffed with risotto) without shellfish, 'cause of an allergy... The customer who wanted the spinach salad, but with lettuce instead of spinach 'cause of an allergy... The customer who ordered a steak medium rare, then sent it back to be butterflied and broiled to a crisp... The customer who wanted our signature toasted-pecans-and-caramel-in-phyllo dessert done nut-free for him... The customer who wanted all the onions strained out of his onion soup... and many, many, more. Some odd requests we'll accomodate, if it won't utterly ruin the dish, but usually the server goes back to the table with a tart (or downright heated) refusal from my boss. When I was newly in retail, back in my early twenties, my manager took me aside once after a particularly frustrating encounter with an irate customer. "You're forgetting one of the fundamental laws of retailing," he told me. "You can't reason with an unreasonable person."
  21. Oh my, where to begin... I'm fairly talented at cutting myself on odd things. I haven't cut myself with a knife for a year or so (jinxed myself by saying that, mind you), but in recent months I've drawn blood with my tongs, a piping-bag tip, and a counter I was wiping down. I have a bad habit of absent-mindedly reaching for things on the rear burner without heeding the proximity of the front burner, leading to frequent bare patches on my otherwise-hairy forearms. I am also prone to picking up pots and pans with my bare hand, even though some other portion of my brain (which has presumably sloped off for a coffee or something) knows that it's just come off the burner. That split-second of loud sizzling is always high comedy. And then there are those random unnoticed burns, the ones that I don't even notice until I wash my hands or juice a lemon or something. My first week in pastry shop afforded me a moment of kitchen-klutz glory. I'd been speaking with my boss the night before about how I was looking forward to doing sugar work. She said she avoided sugar, since it involved an unnecessarily high risk of blisters. The next day I was re-heating a ball of sugar and went to tip it from one silpat to the other with (wait for it) my bare hand, which of course broke through the thin crust of congealed sugar and into the lava beneath. I broke all known records for crossing the lab to the nearest sink. My classmates said the only way it could have been better is if I'd trampled a small child or elderly woman on my way through. They're sick puppies, every one (gonna miss 'em after I graduate). In the lack of attention category I've frequently left a bowl of bread dough to rise on the stovetop and subsequently forgotten about it for hours (overnight, once). Dried-on bread dough is lovely stuff to get out of the burners. In the colder months I've also put bread dough in the oven to rise by the gentle warmth of the oven light, and then forgotten it was there. On one occasion I at least stayed with the program well enough to remember when it was time to pre-heat the oven...unfortunately I forgot that the dough was still in there. That took a while to clean up, too. Then there was my developmentally-challenged classmate last year, who had the disconcerting habit of silently taking up a post just immediately behind my right shoulder, the better to see what I was doing. I couldn't count how many times I ran him over (and scattered two hours' work all over the kitchen floor) as I turned to put something on/take something from the stove/oven/whatever. I know that last is a whole different category, but in my mental file of memorable kitchen moments it fits right in with the rest. (Current tally, for the morbidly curious, is two nearly-healed burns of less than an inch in length; no blisters or cuts worth mentioning; and only one bare patch above my wrist from today's rosti potato-making)
  22. I've made yeasted pancakes several times, with good results, but I don't really have a recipe to give you. I ran out of baking powder one night, and decided on impulse to prep the batter the night before and use yeast instead. They came out really, really, well; so I've made them off and on ever since. I'll see about making them again, this weekend (if I'm over this *#&^#^ infection) and I'll record the quantities I use. Should get you close enough to fine-tune for your own taste.
  23. It loaded for me just now in both IE and Mozilla.
  24. Pet peeve. I bake bread a couple of times a week, most weeks, and I'd rather anticipated that my KA would ease the process. What a pain in the ass. A lot of the time I wind up just dumping the dough out onto the table and finishing it the old-fashioned way. Don't get me wrong, I love my KA, but it just doesn't do bread very well. Unwinding the dough from around the head unit is a standard part of making bread at my place, these days. Grrr.
  25. My student loan brought me Escoffier and a Larousse (okay, I know, but it *does* contain lots of recipes). And my wife returned from visiting family with a 30-year-old copy of the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes. It's not all Mennonite food, mind you...when I opened it at random, I found myself looking at a recipe for gefilte fish. So that's three more.
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