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Everything posted by fiftydollars

  1. How low does the heat have to be?
  2. One of my main concerns with a service fee arrangement is that, at least according to California law, unless it is a gratuity the restaurant management can choose what to do with it (and even keep it). While under state law gratuities belong to the servers and do not have to be shared with anyone not providing direct table service, a service charge has no such restrictions. The distinction between a gratuity and a service charge comes down to customer discretion. If the customer has any discretion over how much they leave, it is not a service charge. Imposing a service charge can, and does, lead to servers receiving little to no added compensation for their service. Most customers, after paying an 18%-20% service charge, are not likely to tip on top of that. Here in San Francisco I know of at least two restaurants where the servers report that management takes a considerable portion of what it calls a service charge. Although the servers do get a portion, the management takes the largest cut. I realize some restaurants can use this service charge to pay the kitchen staff extra, or provide benefits (like Thomas Keller is said to do), or pay for employee pony rides, but in some cases the owner just keeps it. While I'm sure the management at most restaurants is beyond ethical reproach, I offer this concern of mine for your further consideration.
  3. I should also point out that the damage isn't just limited to the dungeness. All species in the affected areas are off-limits for human consumption... including the various things that inhabit this area that we don't tend to eat.
  4. The start of California's crab season is being delayed due to some 58,000 gallons of "bunker fuel" that were spilled during an unfortunate run-in with the Bay Bridge... Sure I'm angry--I only got a couple of crab so far this year before The Big Fuck Up, which is not nearly enough for my way of seeing things--but this bunker fuel doesn't go well with garlic noodles.
  5. Is it the self-rising kind? If so, it might complicate other recipes, but it would still work for recipes the require a chemical leavener. If it is the non-self-rising kind, you can use it as you would any AP flour.
  6. I use the Kitchen Aid attachment and it works ok. Not awesome... and actually, I killed the mixer once trying to grind rice into flour and it cost me about $100 in repairs... so I guess I can't really recommend it. It does, however, work great for cracking grain for beer brewing.
  7. I think I want Symon to win. Not for much more of a reason than I'd like to see him laugh maniacally on TV on a regular basis. He strikes me as somewhat of an awkward cross between Caesar Romero, Telly Savalas, and Tom Colicchio.
  8. In California it is actually illegal to share gratuities with owners/management and/or anyone that does not provide direct table service. However, as Fat Guy pointed out above, some restaurants, perhaps most famously The French Laundry, have a service charge and that can be used by management in any way they like. Also, as Fat Guy pointed out, the difference between a service charge and a gratuity is an important distinction. The service charge must be required and the customer must have no discretion in whether or not they pay it in full otherwise it is a gratuity and sharing it with anyone not providing direct table service is a violation of CA law. Some shadier restaurant owners here in San Francisco use this distinction as a means of keeping what some ill-informed customers think will be going to the serving staff. Not only can a service charge be used to provide enhanced benefits to the FOH staff and some added compensation to the BOH, like I assume The French Laundry to do, but it can also be used to bolster the owner's income and keep servers from earning any gratuity at all.
  9. Whenever I have too much cream in the fridge that might not be used for anything anytime soon, I make butter. You can add the creme to it and that should give it a nice cultured tang (when making butter I usually start by making a creme-type product by adding a little buttermilk to the cream and leaving it at room temperature for 8 or so hours to thicken). Just toss the cold dairy product in a food processor and let it go for about 5 minutes or until the whey separates from the solids. Then just squeeze out the excess moisture by kneading it with forks and pack it into small ramekins. If you're feeling especially ambitious or fancy, wash it a few times in icy water and then knead in some fleur de sal.
  10. I try to get my green tea from Asakichi Antiques on the ground floor of the Kinokuniya building in San Francisco's Japan Town whenever I can. It's quite a walk for me, so sometimes I've settled and have regretted it. If you go, try the Kabuse-cha Takamado, which is a brilliant, almost fluorescent, green tea that is the best I have tried. For black, or jasmine, or any other tea besides green, I usually go to Ten Ren in Chinatown. In addition to having lots and lots of tea, they also have these awesome Jinxuan tea tomatoes for which I have developed an almost alarming fondness. I usually go in for the tomatoes feeling only vaguely that I need tea and might as well while I'm in there. Then I start talking to the salesperson behind the counter, one tin leads to another, and eventually I end up buying more tea than I can safely drink. I've also been to Lupicia at the Westfield and, while I like their selection and, for the most part, the quality, I'm not so happy that it is a tea shop that only sells pre-packaged tea. Their extensive selection is represented by small containers of stale samples from which you're supposed to decide what tea you're going to buy. Once you actually open the small sealed package of tea (50 grams), it's pretty good, at least the black tea I tried (the jasmine tea was not so good). But buying tea there you miss out on the experience of putting your nose near a large tin of fresh tea and taking a fat sniff of goodness straight to the dome.
  11. The rabbit compote (rabbit rillettes, uh, with prunes) has become a necessary part of the holidays. Everybody likes it and the novelty of being served rabbit never quite wears off.
  12. Could I maybe be ordained instead? Appointment suddenly feels so cheap and common...
  13. I'm not a super big fan of crock pots. I own one and use it only rarely because, for some reason, everything cooked in a crock pot tastes exactly the same. It seems that regardless of what ingredients are added, through the magic of it's handy dandy patented slow cookery, the crock pot always delivers a remarkably similar product to whatever you have cooked in it before or will ever cook in it afterward. I speak mainly of meat dishes, but the magic of the crock pot's patented slow-cookery technology seems to magically impart a certain characteristic blandness to any of your favorite flavors. I do use my crock pot to pasteurize vinegar and make onion confit and it performs these tasks very capably. It works great for both of these things. Aside from that, every time I make a pot roast or any kind of meat stew, I get less than spectacular results. The result is usually overcooked, the flavor seems stunted, or just severely diluted, and all of the flavors blend together... and this not in a good way. When I mean it makes everything taste the same, I mean that not only will today's pot roast taste a lot like yesterday's chicken stew, but for some, almost undoubtedly patented reason, within each dish, any one vegetable will taste a lot like the protein and/or any other vegetable. Not to mention the bizarre way in which vegetables that have been cooked for many, many hours (8-12) can emerge from the crock pot undercooked...a lot undercooked... It's creepy. Now I'm not saying that your tomato sauce will be able to pass for chicken stew, but yes, they will both share the same uncanny qualities. It is not difficult to see how vastly inferior either of these things are when made in the crock pot as compared to a dutch oven. I've long suspected that the reason may have to do with the slow-cooker's ability to retain moisture, which I suppose is a requirement if you are going to leave food in it for long periods, unattended. But as a result, because little moisture evaporates, the slow cooker does not concentrate flavors very much, so when meat is braised over a long period of time, for example, instead of having flavor concentrate and glaze the meat like a good braise should, the meat just boils along in a somewhat dilute liquid that denatures its proteins beyond recognition without leaving anything behind. But this is just a wild and very poorly educated guess. I don't really know why it cooks like it cooks, but I am just not a big fan of crock pots. But if you are going to buy one, when you get one make onion confit. It's good!
  14. fiftydollars

    I'm a fraud

    I put a dollop or so of Better than Bouillon (the beef flavor) into my braises and pot roasts. Then whenever I share my recipes for said braises I never include mention of the secret additive. I actually feel so much shame about even having this product in my possession that I keep the bloody jar hidden and would probably sooner admit to possession of crack cocaine than own up to using the salty gooey-ness that is Better than Bouillon.
  15. My recipe varies all the time but this is what I use as a rough guide: Sambal about 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped dried whole chiles. Plump in a little water, or I steam them till soft. Remove seeds and any stem, fibrous ribs, etc., then chop. I use a combination of several chiles and it varies depending on what I have on hand. I like the inclusion of anchos, though not traditional and of course the hot chiles. 4 to 6 large garlic cloves 1 small onion, or half a larger one, cut in quarters and roasted in a little oil with the garlic 1/4 cup palm (wet) sugar 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or fresh galangal about 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (coconut or palm vinegar if you have it) up to 1 tablespoon tamarind paste, use more if you like the flavor 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice powder coconut or palm oil - 1 tablespoon or so. I steam the chiles before trying to seed and stem them, then chop them into manageable pieces. I like to bash them in a mortar while the garlic and onion is roasting, adding the sugar, salt and ginger or galangal. When the garlic and onion are roasted (similar to confit) I add that and the vinegar and bash and blend everything into a paste. I scrape this into a skillet into which I have placed a dollop of oil, about a tablespoon or so, and fry it over low heat, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Add the tamarind paste and the 5-spice powder. You can substitute any spices you like, this is not carved in stone. Continue cooking until it is evenly “browned” to a deep caramel color. There are some great recipes at Asia Recipe.com I don't use the shrimp paste or other seafood ingredients because I am allergic to shrimp. ← Thanks, Andie!
  16. Hello Andie, Would you mind sharing your basic sambal recipe? I have a lot of peppers in my garden right now and I am hoping they will be good for making a chile paste. Thank you!
  17. You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out... ← Actually you can't (at least the turkey roasting bags)... ← Have you actually tried it? I have.
  18. I got some about a year ago; it was about the same as Perfect Addition: Better than Swanson canned (or in a box), but no better than what I do at home. ← I agree that it was not better than home made. It seemed to be along the lines of what you get when you make the chicken stock recipe in the FL Cookbook; a light, "clean-flavored" chicken stock, and if I remember correctly, with no salt. The flavorings were consistent with what is in the recipe and I found it to be a good store-bought chicken stock. Aside from being the only unsalted chicken stock I've found, it also had a good amount of body to it. I haven't found a lot of canned, boxed, or other commercial stock that didn't lack considerably in the gelatin department. The FL stock, though fairly light in color, was meaty. The unsalted stock could also be reduced far beyond the point at which other stocks would be rendered unusable. The one I remember buying was in a blue plastic tub, used the FL name along with the clothespin logo, and it was sold in the frozen section at Andronico's.
  19. I like Stonehouse. It has good olive flavor, but very smooth. It's great for salads, cooking, sipping... pesonal lubrication. I also like Bariani, but I only buy it once in a while at the Farmer's Market and can go months without it. The Bariani has a lot more particulate (less so, it seems, nowadays than it used to) and I usually don't cook with it for this reason.
  20. He used to sell some frozen chicken stock that was very good, but only sporadically available. I haven't seen it in a few years, but I'd love to buy it again.
  21. Popeyes, of course. I agree that Church's seems to have better sides than Popeyes, but Popeyes has better chicken. Church's will occasionally serve up a piece where a large quantity of fryer fat is left trapped between the meat and the skin resulting in a fat hit of oft-reused fryer grease straight to the dome. It's kind of like biting into a soup-filled wonton, but super nasty, yet somehow not entirely bad (go figure?). Anyway, the Church's I usually go to is in a part of town (in the Biggety, Biggety) that I have, at least for now, stopped frequenting after one-too-many daylight by-stander shootings (yeah, I know... call me picky).
  22. You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out...
  23. ...I'm still trying to figure out if I have the guts to run chicken stock through a still... ← Do it, man!! Do it!!
  24. Oh, well... Luckily, I can always get my share of rude service at Turtle Tower and with a big bowl of pretty good Pho to go with it.
  25. No, but I plan to visit him as soon as I get a chance.
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