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Everything posted by chefpeon

  1. Yeah, b-b-b-but what about the whipped cream!? (Annie's favorite part).
  2. There are already a couple of companies that sort of do this: Cookies by Design and Cookies in Bloom
  3. I make these every day at work. I can do them in my sleep. You don't really need a "recipe" for it....... Princess cake consists of: *pastry cream (any pastry cream-your fav!) *genoise layers or sponge (I use chiffon, myself....I HATE genoise!) *raspberry jam or preserves *whipped cream *marzipan (colored a pastel color) Hint: marzipan is a little easier to work with if you knead just a bit of fondant in to it. *simple syrup (flavored if you want...I use triple sec in mine) For those who want full-on instructions, there's a good "recipe" here. Another hint: Once I fill the cake and dome the whipped cream on top, I stick it in the freezer for a bit to firm up......makes it easier to drape the marzipan on without "denting" your dome.
  4. Uh, make your cookies more expensive? Seriously though. Thanks to the price of oil, shipping is going to be high. Are your cookies that perishable that they need to be shipped that quickly? I think the only way to save on shipping costs will be to use the slower method (ground) for FedEx, or if you use USPS Priority, package your cookies in such a way that they will remain as fresh as possible for that supposed extra day they are in transit. I have found that with Priority, they SAY 2-3 days but the packages usually get to their destination within 1-2 days. Have you considered baking the cookies, freezing them right away, then vacuum sealing them? Maybe you could ship the cookies in styrofoam container boxes with cold gel paks to protect from heat? That way you can go with the slower shipping methods. Actually, styrofoam is such good insulation that you may not even need the cold gel paks. Also be upfront with your clients and tell them shipping has spiked considerably. Give them the shipping options......if they want to pay for overnight, that's their choice.
  5. I don't doubt that. We don't want to give culinary students a negative attitude so early in their careers. That'll come later. If you're teaching for the sake of teaching and don't have to worry about "getting the food out", well, I think I'd have fun with that for sure. But when you've got a green apprentice that you have to train and get the food out too, well, that's another thing altogether.
  6. Well, that's the only burnout I know. Wow, I've never met one of those people. Usually the incompetent people I've worked with really hated their jobs. I've never met someone that has said, "Boy I really suck at this, but I sure am passionate about it!" Maybe I don't get what you're saying. I actually don't think any chef in burnout mode would be the best teacher for a culinary student/apprentice. Ok I'll rephrase. I know I would not be the best choice for a green, shiny faced student with a lot of enthusiasm but little experience. In burnout mode, one has little patience. I'd also be saying stuff like, "You want to be a chef? What's the matter with you? You want to work like a dog for peanuts for the rest of your life? Welcome to hell!" People in burnout mode tend to be somewhat.....uh......negative. Not that I know about that or anything.
  7. Since all my friends had read it and pretty much raved about it, I had to buy myself a copy too. I had high hopes but found it a really hard read. I got about a third of the way through, and have never picked it up again. What someone said upthread about it being disjointed is really true. I had trouble keeping track of the characters and kept having to flip back to find out who he was talking about.
  8. Yowza! Peter! What did the company offer you in regard to the fly-laden garlic powder? My husband wrote to Swanson when he got just a hunk of batter in his Hungry Man Fried Chicken Dinner instead of batter-covered chicken, and he got a coupon for a couple of future frozen dinners. I think if you word your letter concisely, and calmly, and include facts and photos, you'll get a great response. As opposed to a letter espousing your mental anguish and that you plan to sue for a few million dollars.
  9. Well, we've certainly done all that and more......... after this weekend, I can definitely say that sales are down down down. I mean, I can't blame the consumer, since I'm one too. I tried extra hard this year to entice people into those last minute sales, but it just didn't happen. I can understand.....but I'm still disappointed.........
  10. There's a bit of a difference here, and a little problem with your analogy. To be a doctor or a lawyer, you have to have the documented education and pass rigorous testing, and be licensed. This is not so in the culinary field. One is completely able to be competitive with a culinary school grad just by having experience and perhaps raw talent. Unlike the professions of doctor and lawyer which require knowledge of specific important laws and facts, culinary arts is just that.....an art form. There are certain basics of cooking that all chefs should know, but what makes a chef great is how they apply the basics to the art of cooking. Creativity is what separates the mediocre from the great. No one can make a blanket statement about who is better.....those who have attended culinary school vs. those who have not. But is IS completely possible for those who have never attended school and have only had experience working in the field to be more than successful. Attending culinary school is NOT a guarantee of success. It is what you make of your education and experience that determines that. In the culinary field, what will separate you from the crowd is drive, passion, and creativity. No school can teach you that.
  11. Yeah, uh.........burnout? Been there! Doing that! I actually think all chefs go through many burnouts in their careers......but we who are in it for the love of it keep coming back........because: A) we're f*&ckin' nuts, and; B) passion is passion......end of story. A cubicle person I will NEVER be. I am only comfortable, and in my element in the kitchen. Even when it's the most stressful.
  12. I'm a person that has worked with a LOT of white chocolate. I mean a LOT. Probably more than most pastry chefs, because I use it so much for decorating purposes. I use it to make modeling chocolate, I use it to dip things, I use it for piping and for creating flat chocolate art pieces. I also use it to make white chocolate mousse, etc. Amazingly, the chocolate I like best, is Guittard's White Satin Ribbon. It tastes great. It melts great. It makes great modeling chocolate. It's great for piping. I think the stuff is magical. If they ever stop making it, I will surely freak out. It comes in 50 lb cases of "ribbon" (chunks), and where I live, it isn't that easy to come by. Luckily, my supplier, Puratos, carries it. The bar that Guittard makes that is also called "White Satin" is NOT the same thing so be warned. It IS a bit viscous, so when I melt it to pipe or dip, I add a bit of canola oil to it and it's all good. I've used other brands in my various jobs (Callebaut, El Rey, Felchlin, Valrhona), but I've always come back to Guittard's White Satin Ribbon.....I love the stuff. I know I probably sound like shill, but I'm not. I tend not to be brand loyal......but for this stuff, I definitely am.
  13. At my last job I worked with Duke convections......I liked them a lot......seemed dependable, and I liked the fact that I could choose between a high and low fan. In my current job, I have two Blodgetts. Maybe they are older models, but my only choice is HIGH fan. Man I hate that. Not only is it a HIGH fan, but it's a super-juiced-turbo-charged HIGH fan. Whatever convection oven you get, make sure you get a low fan feature!!!!
  14. You know what's always gotten to me about brides? She is so focused on HER wedding......it's MY dress...MY flowers.....MY food....MY cake......MY day....that they totally forget that things at the reception (the cake, the food, the music) are mostly for the GUESTS to enjoy. I mean, it's bad enough that they have to give up a perfectly lovely Saturday or Sunday afternoon to attend her nuptials......and make the effort to go shopping for a wedding gift. If there weren't receptions complete with food and cake, who but the family would really make the effort to show up? Not many I'd imagine. I'd always gently remind brides that the cake isn't only for her......mostly it's for her guests. So she likes Publix "buttercream"......what about her guests? I'm betting money they probably won't enjoy it as much as she does. I used to have couples come in and tell me they wanted a (gluten free, vegan, diabetic, dairy free, etc) cake because one or both had special dietary needs. I'd always ask them, "And your guests have these same dietary issues too?" "Well......no.", they'd say. So I'd always suggest that they have the top tier be "their" cake and the rest of the cake be something that everyone else could eat. Most agreed that would be a good idea. What kills me is that thought never occurred to them in the first place.......... ok.....I'm done ranting now. On the subject of Publix "buttercream", I bet it's something like Rich's Bettercreme.....I know people that just LOVE that stuff, and although we don't have the Publix chain out here in the West, I know a lot of grocery stores use Rich's because it's shelf-stable.
  15. I'm only saying this cause you know me Jeanne! I'd tell the bride if she wants a f$#ck'n Publix cake she can go to f$#ck'n Publix!!!!
  16. Would these do? Sicilian pistachios: SOS Chefs, New York Buon Italia Although Buon Italia doesn't have them listed on their site, I hear they carry them.....you just have to call.
  17. So what is happening exactly? Are these royal icing decorations simply piped on the surface of the cake and are "melting" to the point of actually dripping off the sides? Or are they piped and hardened decorations that you are placing on the cake and they are softening and drooping? What is the purpose for using royal icing? For the sake of using something pure white, or the fact that you can pipe them out in advance and let them dry then place on the cake as needed? Depending on what you're doing, you may not even need to use royal icing in the first place. In my experience, the royal icing I pipe onto the top and sides of a cake never actually melts in the fridge....it just stays soft....similar to buttercream. I imagine your "melting" problem is significantly worse? Tell me what it is you're doing and why.....there's a solution to your problem I'm sure.
  18. Thanks for that info K8! I don't quite buy this though. Especially considering that my cakes, both large and small, all come from the same batch of batter, and they're all fine. The only thing you gotta remember is that the smaller cakes come out of the oven first, because they take less time to bake. The only adjustment I make in regard to larger cakes is I lower the oven temp so the edges aren't completely dried out before the center bakes. Anyway, I know I'm off topic. Back to uh, cookies........
  19. I think what Eileen was saying was that when you quadruple (double, triple, etc) a cookie recipe, all ingredients are increased equally. In other words, yes, quadruple everything. There are some who adjust the leavening and salt in cake recipes in a different ratio to the rest of the ingredients when they increase or decrease the yield of the recipe. As to exactly why, I don't know. I've never done this, or felt a need to. If I quadruple a cake recipe, I also quadruple the leavening and salt. I've never had my cakes turn out differently or negatively because I keep the ratios the same. Anyone care to explain why salt and leavening are "adjusted" when increasing or decreasing the yield of a cake formula?
  20. Our sales are WAY down from last year......the price of flour forced us to raise our wholesale bread prices, and we actually lost accounts because of it. People are now more reticent to buy artisan breads and because sales were down so low, our accounts dropped us. Our retail cafe is VERY slow. I will be very curious to see our numbers after this Mother's Day weekend. I made a lot of fancy cakes hoping for those last minute impulse sales. Got my fingers crossed.
  21. Is chocolate with oil still a ganache? I can see why you had the firmness problem now...... I just assumed you were using cream.......
  22. The way to fix that, is, next time add more cream. Because I go through so much ganache at work, and I have to keep cost in mind, I use chocolate chips exclusively to make ganache. Of course, they're Callebaut chips... I simply control the consistency of it by adding more or less cream. I don't have the time to chop up expensive bars, and for ganache it doesn't matter much if you are using a less expensive chocolate. I save my bars for things that really need that little extra quality (and temperability), like when I dip items, or make chocolate mousse or decadence....
  23. Your post confuses me too.....on many levels. First, I'm trying to figure out the math. If you ate 40,000 meals in restaurants, by my calculations, if you ate one meal a day in a food establishment, 365 days a year, it would take approximately 109 years for you to accomplish that. If you ate 3 meals day 365 days a year it would take you approximately 36 years. Wow. One could assume that: -you don't cook much -you have a lot of disposable income to spend on meals out -you're well past middle age -you'd be more than familiar with the way restaurants operate and what to expect. Given that, I'd say I'm surprised that as a seasoned restaurant veteran, you are just now surprised (and annoyed?) that the server is checking with you to see how your meal is. I've eaten significantly less meals at restaurants and I'd be surprised if they DIDN'T ask that. Good economy or bad, that's the server's job. As a food professional I can tell you that given the skinny profit margins that restaurants have in the first place, this recent turn in food prices, the price of oil, and the decline in consumer spending has us scrambling. Also consider that especially when it comes to produce, we have to pay more for product of a lower quality. Bad year for lettuce? The prices go up and the quality goes down. Could be that iceberg was the only decent lettuce they could get in that week. Or that the iceberg was the only lettuce they could get in that stayed within their pre-determined food cost. What would you expect a restaurant to do? We're faced with the fact that consumers don't have a lot of extra money to spend, so raising menu prices is the last thing we want to do, and since people will balk at that, and we lose business. To keep menu prices the same, we have to either/or reduce portion size or buy in cheaper quality food......this is the unfortunate truth. It's a quandary. Do you.......raise prices and risk losing belt tightening clientele, OR try to keep menu prices the same by cutting corners and hoping you don't offend or lose the discerning diner? It's a question many a restaurant manager is wrestling with. It's tough for a restaurant to stay in business.....especially now. I think they are reacting to the economy as best they can.
  24. If you look upthread, I posted the recipe I used....its great. Black and White Recipe
  25. If you dip your petit fours as opposed to pouring it over them, and the buttercream wasn't too warm, it would probably work ok, but I wouldn't do it simply because it would be fairly messy when the person eating it goes to pick it up and has buttercream all over their hands. At least fondant sets up to a fairly hard shell and gives one a chance to pick it up with little left over on their fingertips. It's important to remember when you melt down the buttercream, not to COMPLETELY melt it down.....rather than say "melt", it's probably better to say, "soften to a consistency where it JUST becomes pourable". I like that term "re-activate"! It sounds so science fiction-y. "Captain! We're under attack! Firing photon torpedoes and re-activating buttercream!" Sorry. Couldn't resist. Anyway, the melted-uh, er, softened buttercream is a bit less white, but still acceptable. It also depends on how white it is to start with......if you use all butter, it will be less white, and if it's a non-meringue buttercream it will be less white. One of the advantages of an all butter meringue buttercream as opposed to an all butter simple buttercream is that it's whiter. Alana......sometimes without realizing it, my posts originate from a business oriented point of view, rather than a baking point of view. Rising food costs, shelf life, and stability of product influence the decisions I make a lot of the time. If none of those reasons factored into the final picture, I probably would have posted differently. For me, meringue buttercream adds to food cost, takes more time to make (labor cost-ie, separating 128 eggs every other day, etc), and because it must be refrigerated, takes more time for me to soften and re-whip, as opposed to simple buttercream which I can whip once and use it right out of my giant BC Bucket-no refrigeration necessary.
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