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Everything posted by melmck

  1. Thanks for posting the pix, they look fabulous! What kind of camera is it, anyway? I need one for extreme close-ups. Savory bread puddings, lordy I've done a million. Yes it's bread pudding, although I frequently use older croissants for savory and older bear claws for sweet. Strata, which is layered slices, hence 'strata' =layer. But yeah, same principle. I make a big ole batch of plain custard, divide it into half for sweet bread puddings, half for savory to which I add fresh nutmeg, paprika, pepper and a lil Tabasco. Fresh herbs, usually some caramelized onions too. Whatever cheese you like, goat, swiss, cheddar, Manchego, bleu. Ham or bacon. Butternut squash, wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes -the list is endless!
  2. oooohhhhh I hope you guys liked everything! Holy crap, another insanely busy day, stuff flying off the shelves as fast as we can produce! One couple said they were driving from Boise to the coast, and made a trip through Portland to come to the bakery! That's very sweet. Another woman from Portland said her Dad in ST Louis told her about my bakery and to come here. So what's hot? Quiche Savory bread puddings Danish & croissants Rhubarb cream cheese coffeecakes Raspberry shortbread bars, hmmmm Tart cherry financiers Mexican mocha scones Ham & cheese croissants, may be the #1 seller , tied with cinnamon rolls Chocolate buttermilk cake Pistachio eclairs
  3. I've never had the holy problem, but I always do them in a convection oven. Are your financiers just beaten- in- egg whites or folded- in- whipped- whites? I just do beaten in. The texture is fab, and they stay moist forever & ever, Amen. By the way David, you wouldn't beleive how many Chocolate Orbit Cakes I have made since scoring the first book! oh and Ginger Cake, by the thousands! It's my favorite--insanely gingery, the way it ought to be!
  4. melmck


    well that's good to hear...I suppose I am trying to aim higher, once I had some at Brasserie Jo (it was a burger, ground in house, with BLeu D'Auvergne and mustard aioli.) that I went back the next day and ordered it again! the burger on brioche was outstanding. and it was soft, even the crust, lightly yeasty and almost had the texture of a back-East egg bun.
  5. Your stuff looks awesome, Wendy! Thanks for posting all the photos as you go on these various threads.
  6. love the happy dance... yes I will put danish in, specially marked for Anne! ahhh now you can judge for yourselves...too bad I can't meet you in the top pool at Olympic Hot Springs... which reminds me, when I lived in Seattle, we always used to stop in Port T. at the only bakery I know of, is that you??? get good and sugared/espresso'd up before the hike up the mountain. random comments I've been meaning to throw in---at Artisanal in NYC, the pastry chef there has to work with a 2 burner hotplate as well! And that's for a cranking insanely busy restaurant...(I have worked in the kitchen there, for a James Beard deal.) My sheeter is bumming me out, it's at least 1,000 years old, and as soon as I am able- I am going to upgrade bigtime. It's a dumb design even for 1,000 years ago. If anyone has any favorite types, feel free to enlighten me. duuuuhhh can't remember the rest due to pastry boot camp, still in effect...
  7. melmck


    So we have been on a quest for the best white cake, chocolate cake, coconut cake etc. I think we should all keep going with the Best Of in all categories! Doughs, fillings, etc. Now we all have our personal style, taste and opinion, but doing the comparison thing is the best way to narrow it down. I personally want to improve on my Brioche (I want it tender!!) and also Puff Pastry. I've got Danish and Criossant nailed, they are turning out stupendously with amazing layers, loft, flavor, buttery crispness. Even a pate sucre thread would be good, I have 2 that I use for different applications. But if one of you has a better recipe, I am all over it. Whaddaya think?
  8. I sell a lot of financiers! I spray mine, and I use Sysco pan spray, which is my favorite. The flexi pans are Lekue brand quince, tart cherries, rhubarb financiers-yumyumyum!
  9. We are doing our own payroll. By we, I mean my husband Steve. We had our accountant (who is awesome) set us up with Quickbooks, which I bought at Costco. Once it's set up it's pretty easy to do, just have to remember to do quarterly Federal taxes and monthly State taxes. TAXES BLOW! I am surprised there isn't a 'breathing in local air' tax! So we print our own checks, including those to vendors. I also print all my own menus. I got an all-in-one printer (also from Costco) copy/fax/scan etc. We have the accountant come in maybe once a month to make sure we are on track and completely reconciled. I go to Office Depot regularly as well as Cash-n-Carry (a.k.a. United Grocers) Why? Because I don't necessarily need a whole case of some things which is how they are available through big suppliers like Sysco. We had a good weekend again, and my new hire started Sunday which was tremendously helpful. And now I'm getting Maurius--THANK YOU! A few days a week until he gets his biz going. He worked at Payard for a looooong time, and since he managed to stick it out there it means he's fast and he's tough. Plus talented and makes killer product. Hilarious question of the weekend: "Is it OK to grab a chair and sit down while I zest these 8 lemons?" I swear, I'm not making this stuff up.
  10. woooooooo- hooooooo!! I hired an employee today! She is experienced, good and totally willing to work 3AM.
  11. I had a nose picker the other week.......eeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwww
  12. Love the freezer, may need more. right now I have a 8X6 walk-in freezer and 2 each 2 door freezers. They are packed, but I am working on re-organizing the big one with a better rack system. Here's the latest in the finding some employees dept.- Tuesday, a woman who said it's so hard to find work in this town, didn't show up for her trial day. Wednesday, a woman said she'll think about it and get back to me. I have another interview for Friday. Maybe I should start daring people-- I double-dog dare you to come and work at my bakery!
  13. my hands and wrists are killing me right now, yee-ouch. I have 9 employees- one FT dishwasher, 1 PT dishwasher. 1 FT lunch cook, 1 PT lunch cook. 2 FT counter people, 2 PT. Then there's me, my sole survivor in the kitchen, Patty, and my husband who does the afternoon bread thing. The freezers are empty because I sell the stuff as fast as it can be made, especially on the weekend. I have done high volume production before so I know a thing , maybe two. All my items such as cinn rolls, brioche, danish & croissant are shaped and frozen. Choux also.In the AM we proof/fill/glaze etc. I have cake batter weighed into pans already so I just have to pull 'em & bake 'em. There are some cakes, like sponge, which I bake-n-freeze. But not assembled unless it is a mousse cake that can hold up well. I make big-ass batches of bar cookies, doughs are pre-scooped& frozen, pulled the night before baked fresh each AM, or throughout the day if the day demands. Have glazes, fillings, and all that jazz ready to go, still takes time to produce of course. Blow through about 5-6 Gal container of pastry cream a week. probably 30# ganache. (by the way the newbie who coudn't cut to save her life was cutting quiche, not cake. Noooo way on that one! haven't gone quite 'round the bend...) you are all absolutely welcome to share opinions, hey if we find out something cool from each other then that makes this whole thing work. a good idea is a good idea.like a trick that I just love, to use a big 9 " ring mold to act as walls when shaping scones, plop 3# dough in, press it out to a perfect shape, stays in perfect form, score with whatever method, and cut. freeze. love that. also the multi-wheel cutter for perfect bars...rulers, yardsticks, for precision work. anyway debates about whatever issue, regardless of whether we agree or not are still healthy, (usually) and the cool part of freedom of expression. we have the right to disagree! at least for now.....be a lot cooler if we were debating while drinking beers, or cocktails.....
  14. I've thought of the graveyard thing many times. Doing the laminates when it's nice and freezing in the kitchen would be ideal. Right now, my best front person is coming in at 3AM with me to learn bread. Not for any other reason than that she wants to learn it, and her mom was a baker, but she died when she was 4 years old, so all she knows is that it runs through her blood. She picked up in two days what takes most new kids weeks. Another case of one of my fabulous employees! It is so helpful to me, because I can multi-task my butt off between 3 -6. Which I have to go do now.....
  15. now that's just fucking funny... I would sing that to you too. I've got a song for everyone. Mine happens to be the best and prettiest, Sweet Melissa by the Allman Brothers. My sister got a raw deal, her name is Mandy and she's got Barry Manilow!!! haw hawwww I get personal messages from people all the time, as well as walk in customers, that read this puppy and love it for it's raw, let-it-bleed style. Ever read Jim Carroll? Now that is RAW.makes me look like June Cleaver. Hopefully I can share ups, and not just downs.
  16. some of you need to stop being so sensitive and overly analytical about comments I make. we are all entitled to our opinion, are we not? if my blog pisses you off so much, why read it? if you don't like me, why even bother posting? Here is a topic completely relevant to my current situation- SCRUTINY. Right now I feel like everyone in the entire world expects me to be perfect at all times. Be the perfect wife, be the perfect boss/business owner. Make perfect product. Say just the right thing. Act in just the right way. Be the perfect friend. Hire perfect people. Pay my damn bills perfectly on time. Make everyone perfectly happy in all aspects of life. hmmmmm, can I do it? I do not have a shitty attitude about people. I am very optimistic and truly beleive anyone can do this if they want to. I do not hate people, that is just unfair. You are going to judge me based on a couple of lines of text? You don't even know me. To question whether I am mentoring perfectly, hiring perfectly, doing everything 100% efficiently, give me a break people, do you recall that I am new business owner? Ya think it all magically happens in just the right way? is that how you all do it? everyone's got a piece of advice to give, do you take your own? Gee, hiring GOOD people, why didn't I think of that ??*smacks forehead* DUH! If there are good people to hire, I will. I pay above what most people make in this town. Beleive it or not. What do you think I am trying to do? hire the wrong people on purpose? hire inexperienced people on purpose? no, I just need some people, any people, until I find that great superstar, who I will pay as well as I can. Ted: "Don't you think that the main thing that keeps bringing this blog back to this subject of "what morons people are' who work in the food business is this attitude of disdain for most people?" dude, only some people are morons, or are you just lucky to have never, ever met any? if so, WOW! because I have met a few. disdain for most people? give me a break. a few here and there who bug me, is NOT disdain for most people. like I said a looong way back, I am not going to sugar coat it. do you want me to say that everyone, and everything, is all peaches and cream, and never say one single negative thing? that all who cross my path are brilliant? as far as 'investing money' into someone, where, pray tell is this money going to come from ? some magical bank account? yeah, things are getting better in sales. but that also means more expenses. and until YOU are in control of the actual money, not other people's money, or investors money, which always seems magical, tell me- where is the money? you think I have a bad attitude? I still love it. I am positive and optimistic, always. ask my old man, he thinks it's not realistic. I am trying to make it through each day, laugh a few times. Make some good stuff that makes people happy. hopefully make a buck someday. never once have I said 'I can't do this" it's too hard etc. now that's a bad attitude... I have to get back to work now.
  17. can't seem to say a damn thing without setting off some sort of contoversy, so maybe I'll just say: it rained today business was good my employee killed my 15 year old sourdough starter, I simply laughed it off ha ha no didn't bother me a bit made some cookies
  18. for crying out loud people, don't lose your sense of humor. sometimes things just strike you a certain way. "Whenever I have a question to ask, I always try to phrase it such that it's at least somewhat apparent that I'm asking because I want to do things the way the person I'm working with wants them done, not because I don't know how. I might have my own methodology, but they might have discovered some trick of production that I don't know (being new to production) or have a specific way they want something done." EXACTLY. It's all in the phrasing. and yes, when you work 120 hours a week, see how it strikes you. I have had a lot of auditions this weekend, a chance to see who might shine. who's got the hustle, who talks too much, who LISTENS. who listens and absorbs the information for more than 2 minutes. Here's a challenge for you all, since everyone seems to have exactly the right, perfect advice for every situation. I am sure everone maintains composure under all high stress situations, too.(although Some of you may have thrown reach-in doors that fall off the fridge during service across the room) One of the auditions this weekend- I asked the person to cut something into 8 pieces. I showed how to hold the knife, how to put it in the hot water and wipe it on the rag, and exactly where to make the cuts. Blank stare. I do it again. She cuts, and there isn't one straight line. I show again. I said, ok, let me see that knife I'll do it one more time. Blank stare, I rephrase - can I have the knife please? blank stare. give me the knife, please. blank stare. GIMME THE GODDAMNED KNIFE!!!!! so should I have said : a) GET OUT! b) no, sweetie, let me hold your hand while you make the cut, we'll get through this - together...somehow... There were a lot of people who helped make the weekend much smoother for me. THANK YOU! Some, not so much. It was a tough situation and I needed all the help I could get. It was a perfect chance to see who has 'It'. I loved the people who ask a million questions. They have the detail orientation factor. The perfect person for the job isn't always out there though. I have some amazing employees, and there are always diamonds in the rough. My current dishwasher is making near perfect items for me, and we don't even speak the same language. I worked with a woman who dumped cases of whole eggs in a mixer w/ a paddle, then strained the shells out. How gross is that? Helllooo, salmonella..... if of course you have a problem with salmonella in your region of the country.
  19. THIS JUST IN: The latest stupid comment by a prospective employee trumps "What do I stir my coffee with?" "How do I crack an egg?"
  20. Thanks! oh man I am TIRED , and how I miss my Frenchman...
  21. close up photos are simply pornographic!! I am filled with lust... I am using 82%fat butter, which is the same as Plugra, I believe. I use it for everything except buttercream, as it is a touch too yellow, I get cheaper/higher moisture butter for that.
  22. Thanks chromedome... Sundays are my 2nd busiest day, sometimes busier than Saturday! Booo -yah!
  23. Thanks, everybody. I was working away at 100 mph when someone came and showed me the article, I didn't even know it was out yet. It is so pretty, and th e paragraph just nailed it, a whole fricken page, I can't beleive it! I am so excited I could barf. Today has been sheer hell day actually, the day when exhaustion and stress are catching up- and I do feel overwhelmed, which is very atypical for me. But today's the day! Ah, let me bitch and moan WHY today--- my strongest front counter person couldn't make it in, on our busiest weekend, and could find no replacement-- I had to drag my bro-in-law in here who's never worked a cash reg a day in his life, sorry dude!! Scrambling to get all the special orders out on time.Then my lunch cook shows up 1 1/2 hours late. So I had to fire her, this was the final of many offenses. Looooooong story. So I was upset, because it always blows firing people, especially ones you are close with. Kicked off Mel's tears which rarely surface , ya know I haven't had a good bakery 'cry', suprisingly. Damn my British blood! Except when I had to fire people that I didn't want to. Being tired as hell, stressed out to da max, kicked off the near breakdown you all have been alluding to. yeah, well, shit! bound to happen sooner or later. but there were so many orders to wrap up- special cakes and cookie platters, so I pulled my ass up and got to frosting. scraped up whatever machismo was left in my carcass. The paragraph in F&W said 'a candid and emotional blog', and today proved to be just that. If you cry into the macaroons, you don't need to add salt.... Just think. it is exactly THIS blog that got the mention! So all of you helped to put me in the magazine. By supporting me, sharing our stories whether we like them or not. My fridges/freezers are EMPTY !! Very scary.
  24. Machismo?.....maybe. Medieval?.....maybe. I'm so bummed I had this huge paragraph I've been workin on...and lost it. I BROKE EVEN for MARCH !!!! Hooooollllllyyyyyy shit! Ya know, the machismo is convincing ourselves that we can keep pushin' on. And when you grow up the only woman in the kitchen with a bunch of rough boys, you gotta trump their asses or go down crying. Once in a very nasty naughty kitchen line, slamming out dinners, the Sous Chef said to me, "Hey Mel, did you have wild animal sex with your man last night?" and I had to turn to him and say, "No, as a matter of fact it was with your wife!" totally deadpanned.HA HA HA he shut up fast. Now I'll shut up , if I don't make quiche ASAP there's going to be a revolution... don't worry about apologies, I just want to make sure I am coming across clearly and concisely. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.............
  25. All I am saying here is what is happening in the day to day . Do I do everything right? Do I make managerial mistakes, character judgment mistakes? Do I wish I could do things differently? Wish I had tons of money backing me up? Wish I could afford to pay people to do this shit? uhhhhh yep. It is very easy for folks (in my area and here in cyberland) to tell me all the things I should do and shouldn't do. It's like being a new parent. I figure out what works best for this business everyday. In expressing what my day to day fires to put out are, I'm sharing a slice of life. Working this hard isn't something new to me. I am not going to break. I have been working massive hours and two jobs for 20 years already, and honestly I am doing very well. I am very accustomed to long hours, and I worked like this everywhere I work. Sure, I'd like a commemorative plaque. A statue would be even better. Basically I am doing what has to be done, within the financial constraints I have. I certainly don't think saying what my reality is is bragging. It's just the way it is.You bet yer ass as soon as I am in a position to do so I am hopping a jet to Hawaii (where the in-laws live) and have Mom-in-law cook me up some Aku tuna just caught that morning.. Lay on the beach and eat shave ice all day while I make up stories about different people in their bikinis. I can tell you that I pay my people well. I do not overwork them because I cannot afford the overtime. I am well aware that everyone has a 'life'. And this is a 'job'. I don't know how old anyone here is, doesn't matter. I am not judging who does what or why, I am just telling my side of what is going on in the running of this new business. Things have really picked up and I'm super busy, but next month might be dead. Who knows? Go with the flow. If my business goes under I'll spend a year on the couch chilling out, like I did when I was on unemployment. I took naps everyday. It was awesome.I love naps! Whatever will be will be. I am proud of what I do, what I make, what I have accomplished. My happy customers are the reward. The fact that I almost broke even this month is my reward. Whether it is personally rewarding, on some levels it already is. On others I might be fucked for life! It all rounds out my experience in life and I have learned more doing this than anything else. Owning a business is the education of a life time. I am not trying to prove anything except that I make great stuff. It's just food. I'm not saving lives or anything, just making it more delicious. I hope. I am not trying to be hyper-defensive either, just explain my position. But consider this-- what if I slack off, sleep in, take weekends off, take 'me time' 'do something for myself'? Business falters, fails. Instantly. Lose house. Lose marriage. Declare bankruptcy. Take all the me time in the world. What does anything really mean in the end? Unless you end world hunger or cure diseases or discover life on other planets, hmm--- maybe as pastry chefs we just end momentary hunger, cure cravings and discover that the butter/heavy cream food group is highly neglected! It is you know.....
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