Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Abra

  1. The Yukon is indeed in, but super-expensive. I ended up with the CR, which was very good. I planked it on the grill, so it wasn't just the pure stuff, and I'd say that it wasn't as spectacular as it has been, but it was still very delicious. And for $7.99 a pound, beautifully filleted, my guests and I were very happy.
  2. Now that the Copper River frenzy is winding down (and I definitely enjoyed it while it lasted) and the Yukon frenzy is still ahead of us, I need to get salmon tomorrow to grill. For whole sockeye (my fave) I can get either the last of the CR, or Kodiak, or Bristol Bay. I've never heard of the latter two, and they're the same price. Anybody have experience with these fish?
  3. Abra

    Preserving Summer

    Thanks, trillium! I don't have roses (they don't grow well here in the salty cool air), and for some reason I'd assumed that the jam would use rose flower water. But now that I have the idea, I don't see why I can't just add a touch of rose water to some jam, or any other raspberry concoction. Or, my CSA farmer does grow roses, and maybe she can give me some delicious petals.
  4. Abra

    Preserving Summer

    Trillium, would you be so kind as to post the raspberry and rose recipe? We have a ton of raspberries right now, and I'm turning pink from eating them all myself. I love rose, and it sounds wonderful with raspberries.
  5. Abra


    I too want to report on my recent foray into carnitas heaven. I used Jaymes' marinade (chicken broth, tequila, lime and orange juice, onions, jalapenos, and spices) but did them entirely in the oven, using the method that someone upthread posted. I had to do this because I used 5 lbs of pork shoulder and didn't have the right pan(s) to do all that meat on the stovetop. After about 3 hours in the oven covered with foil I removed the foil and cranked up the heat a little. It took about another 2 hours for all the liquid to evaporate and the meat to really brown well, but it never got truly crisp. I think the oven method might need an additional step of spreading the meat on a sheet under the broiler, to really achieve crispness. However, and this is the key, the stuff was fabulous, crisp or not! The flavor was so mellow and complex that no one could stop eating it. The one thing I'd change next time is that I did add a little brown sugar and sorghum, a la Jaymes, to help with the caramelization, and I thought it was just a touch too sweet, necessitating an extra dose of lime juice at the very end. Next time I'll cut out the sugar and just go with the sorghum. And there will be a next time, many next times. Double yum!
  6. I've eaten a ton of them this spring, since we had both elephant garlic scapes available at the store, and regular scapes at the farmers' market. I roast them in a 425 degree oven, preferably with some nice fat asparagus. Spritz it all with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for 15-20 minutes, until sweet and tender. Sprinkle on a little fleur de sel, a dash of balsamic if you like, and yum!
  7. And I'd add that if a cookbook contains even one great recipe that I can add to my repertoire and use more than once, I count it as money well spent. But there are some books, however lovely, that I find I never cook from, and so, alas, they have to move on to their next incarnation. Reading cookbooks is endlessly enjoyable, and buying them is tax deductible for me, and so I do. However, giving them a permanent home in my limited bookcase space, well, they have to really earn that.
  8. andiesenji - assuming I don't want to pop for that gorgeous $150 garnishing set (and I don't, cuz I know I'd never master all the tricks before I get too old to hold a knife), can you tell me the info on that German gadget, enough to find it online? I can't see the details from the picture. A chef I know does a thing he calls "random internal garnish", where he makes a few beautiful veggie shapes, steams them, and then tosses them into a cooked dish before serving, so that in your bowl of beef stew you get a carrot wowie, like the one pictured above. I think that's a cool variation - hot garnishing. And I'll be the one to admit it - I eat the mint. I love mint, and it's a kind of mouth freshener, at the end of the meal, especially after coffee. Please don't kick me out of eGullet!
  9. Abra

    Making Vinegar

    I use what oreganought does, a large crock with a spigot near the bottom, called a vinaigrier, that I brought back from a trip to France. The thing is, you need a large container, not like a quart jar, because the mother will keep growing (as Balmagowry so vividly described) and you need to keep adding wine. Start out with your little baby mother and add 1/2 cup of wine. In a week or two, add another 1/2 cup. When you see that the mother is coming together and forming a mat over the top, be sure that as you add wine you do so gently, disturbing the mother as little as possible. That's why it helps to have a crock from which you can remove vinegar at the bottom and add wine at the top. Keep adding small amounts of wine over the first 6 months, or the mother will starve. You can also use the vinegar before 6 months, but I found when starting mine that it didn't really get a wonderful taste until then. After that, you remove and add in a continuous cycle. As far as I know, the mother is specific to the color of wine it lives in. I don't think you can take a red wine mother and convert it to making white wine vinegar. I do, however, add small amounts of white wine, and even sometimes a few drops of leftover dessert wines, with no trouble. The more kinds of wine that go into the pot, the richer and more complex will be the resulting vinegar.
  10. This looks really neat, and I hadn't heard of it before. I sent off an email to get on the list. I love the idea of the restaurant and the menu being matched to the author - who the heck has the nerve to tackle Thomas Keller?
  11. Oh, I wish he would come and tell us all about his rig, how much it cost initially, whatt he operating expenses are like, how the Health Dept. treats him, and all the juicy stuff!
  12. Abra

    Making Vinegar

    Right, that's the vinegar mother, although it's unusual to find any in a commercial product. Take it out and put in in a crock in a cool, dark place, covered with cheesecloth to keep bugs out. Start feeding it leftover red wine, just a half cup or so at a time at first. The mother will begin to grow, and over time it will grow uncontrollably. I have a French mother that I've been feeding for about 5 years, and once or twice a year I have to tear off parts of the mother and give it to friends, just to keep up. I haven't had to buy red wine vinegar once in all that time, and I'm always on the lookout for recipes that use lots of it. You'll be amazed at how delicious the vinegar is when you make it yourself, with a whole variety of wines. It takes about 6 months for the first batch to be ready, and then it's a continuous process of adding in wine and subtracting vinegar. Have fun with your goo!
  13. Well, I'm only on the main page for June - it's a monthly award, and I finally won it. I'm just a regular member all the rest of the time. Probably my husband wishes I looked like Susan Sarandon!
  14. andiesenji, my husband is alwaystelling me to get one of those catering trucks. Mostly he just wants it so he can call it the Rolling Bay Rolling Gourmet truck. But it would be way cool to be able to show up and cook just anywhere. Pickles - PCN is full of "refugees" from USPCA and APCA, all with the same complaints you have. You're not alone, and if you want to join a personal chef community that really works, I urge you to visit the PCN site and check us out. We're not perfect, but we're very good.
  15. Here in Washington it's the same as in CA, evidently. No food offered for sale may be prepared at home, period, the end, unless you have a certified kitchen in your home, and then it may not be the kitchen you use for your own meal preparation. In addition, I have a very substantial liability insurance policy that covers me whenever I cook for a client on site, but absolutely would not cover me if a client were to get a food borne illness and I had prepared the food at home. No marinating, no chopping veggies at home, no nada. I turn down a fair amount of business because the prospective client wants the food delivered after off-site preparation, and I don't have a certified kitchen available. There are several well-known caterers here who prepare food in their home kitchens, cats on the counter or whatever they have going, but I refuse to do that. I stake my whole business on my reputation for not only preparing dynamite food, but following all the rules and being well-insured. That said, sure, I take clients gifts of foods I prepare at home on occasion, but they're gifts. I do use herbs from my garden, and so far as I know there's no prohibition on this. The key thing is to know what's legal where you live, and to follow those rules.
  16. I'm a personal chef, and my experience is somewhat different from Pickles'. Yes, the schlepping is hard, and you do need to work out for that. I'm 53, and I think a younger person would have an easier time with this aspect of the job, but I try to make up for it in other ways. Harder is cooking in a different kitchen every day, but I've gotten amazingly good at that. There are, after all, only so many ways a kitchen can be laid out. Several of my clients have very well-equipped kitchens, and I don't have to carry a lot of equipment when I cook for them. And I'd NEVER take food home to cook it, even in an emergency, because the Health Dept. would shut me down in a heartbeat. But I have been cooking for some of my clients since I started my business over two years ago, and I know their tastes in food as well as I know my own family's. They're only strangers once. Sometimes they do change their minds, or want food that I think is weird. So what? They're paying me to make them happy, and even I don't always know what I want to eat when planning a menu several days in advance. I let my vehicle signs, Yellow Pages ad, and web site (www.rollingbaygourmet.com) do most of my marketing. Sure, I talk to people on the phone, and talk about my business when I'm out in public, but mostly, my cooking sells itself, and as andiesenji says, most clients come to me through word of mouth. You do have to be able to explain what you do, and people have to feel comfortable having you in their home, whether they're there or not. I didn't have to shell out the big bucks to learn, because I belong to Personal Chefs Network (the link andiesenji provided above.) The support and training I got from PCN when I was starting out was invaluable, and I still use it as a daily resource. Yes, you have to pay to join, but it's a minimal amount considering what you get for your money. And I do give my clients tips on cooking. Sometimes I prepare all of the food for a big party, or even for Thanksgiving dinner, in advance of the event, and leave the client very detailed instructions about how to finish each thing and pull the meal together. Sure, a few have pretended they cooked the food, but at least two that I know of got caught out and were embarrassed enough to tell me about it. More often they 'fess up, and their friends become a new source of clients. You do end up working alone almost all of the time, but you work at your own pace. You can earn more than you would cooking on the line, with a fraction of the stress and adrenaline. You can cook 9 different dishes a day ad infinitum, as long as you can keep coming up with new recipes - a huge bonus for me, since I want to cook new food every single day. And your clients will tell you a lot about how you are changing their lives, and eating habits. My clients eat more leafy greens than they ever imagined, and love it. All in all, it's very rewarding.
  17. One of the best clean-as-you-go techniques is simply to keep using the same bowl, pot, spoon, over and over again, for as many dishes a spossible. That way even if they're dirty at the end, it's just a limited number of dirty things. I think mise en place is essential at home whenever I have guests. I like to get the meal on the table with no visible effort and very little time spent in the kitchen, so I do ahead every single thing that won't suffer from being done in advance. I'd also add to the excellent advice you've already received the idea that in addition to prepping the chicken while the onions are sauteeing, you read your recipes for all the base elements and get them going first. If vegetables need to be roasted before going into a sauce, or rice/pasta needs to be cooked before making a salad, or veggies need to be blanched and shocked before a stir-fry, I get all that stuff going before I even touch the recipe itself. I might have 3-4 of those base things going in advance while I'm starting to read through the recipes with an eye to scheduling. I'm a personal chef, and I regularly cook 4 servings of 5 entrees and 4 side dishes, and often a dessert, in under 5 hours, from unpacking the groceries to sweeping the floor on the way out. It's the principles I've described, as well as what others have said above, that make that possible.
  18. Gig Harbor is a challenge. I live on Bainbridge, myself, and I like the distance from town, but we too have to plan a day of eating in Seattle. I echo the thoughts of other poosters - it really depends on what sort of lifestyle you want. We're married, want to be in a small, close, well-educated community but within easy reach of the amenities of a cool town, plus good health care, since my husband is a cancer patient. We love Bainbridge because it meets all of those qualifications, and the food here is decent. Mainly, though, I cook, and we go to Seattle for food adventures a couple of times a month.
  19. Owen, my husband Shel is a major coffee geek, and he has this to tell you: "If you want an out-of-Seattle experience, come see us over here on Bainbridge Island. Abra loves to cook, and does it well, and I've got an old La Marzocco you can play with when you get tired of watching her chop vegetables. It's easy to get to the ferry from downtown (I can supply exquisitely detailed instructions) and you get a very scenic ride over to the Island. Please make a spot in your schedule and come see us." Actually, I think he wants you to improve his barista technique. But he did rebuild that La M from parts, and is pretty proud of it.
  20. What a totally cool and fun idea! Did Armandino say how many visits the adoptee would require? At $20 a pop for the ferry, it might turn out to be a really big investment for me.
  21. I've been using the bulk organic Sicilian marzipan I can get locally, but I'd love to try making some. Where can we get bitter almonds?
  22. I have to say, they all sound good to me. Some sound better than others, but I'd feel really lucky if someone set a bite or two of each in front of me right this minute.
  23. Abra

    Escolar or "White" Tuna

    Escolar is usually available in my market here near Seattle, and I've cooked and eaten it many times. It's one of the most delicious fishes ever, but you need to exercise rigorous portion control. My understanding that the laxative effect (which I experienced once) results from eating more than a 6 oz portion. Since I learned that I've always made sure to eat, and serve, small portions. It's particularly effective in soups and stews, where just a few ounces in a large dice add a fantastic richness to the whole bowl.
  24. Abra

    Stuffed Mushrooms

    I do roast them first, and believe in it. I got this technique from a recipe on Epicurious, and I think it makes the best mushrooms ever. The texture is right where you want it when you do them this way: Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Toss mushrooms and 1/4 cup olive oil or bacon fat in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, rounded side down, in single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake mushrooms until centers fill with liquid, about 25 minutes. Turn mushrooms over and let liquid drain onto pan. Bake mushrooms until brown and liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes longer. Stuff and bake until stuffing is done through.
  25. I'm a working personal chef, so I cook professionally in homes, other peoples' homes, essentially a different home each time I walk out the door. I make a customized menu for each client, go shopping, usually prepare four servings of 9-10 dishes about 95% from scratch, package them all for freezing, clean up after myself, and get out of there in about 5 hours. Beside being a good cook, the main skill needed to do what I do is an extreme level of organization. I find that this carries over to my home cooking, allowing me to try more complicated and new dishes at one time that I would have dared to before. I now do a lot of mise, and as much advance prep as possible, when cooking at home. And I do come home from work and cook a nice dinner almost every day. Like someone else above, when I'm not actually cooking I'm often thinking about cooking, reading about cooking, or talking about food. I still choke on calling myself a food professional, since this is actually my third career and I have no training, or even restaurant experience. But finally, after 2 1/2 years in business, I realized "hey, people pay me to cook, a lot of people pay me to cook, so by gum I must be a professional."
  • Create New...