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Everything posted by takomabaker

  1. Hi Rebo, I'm a former Sarasotan who lives in DC now as well. I grew up there, actually. I graduated from Cardinal Mooney in.... well, a WHILE ago! My high school French class had a field trip to C'est la Vie, so I have a very fond memory of that place. I remember we had a choice of croissants filled with ham and cheese, or with ratatouille. I think I was the only one in the class that chose ratatouille . It was very exotic for Sarasota in the 80's (oops, I slipped) and it turned me into a ratatouille fan for life. When I go home I stick close to my parents' home so I don't eat out very often in Sarasota anymore (except Cosimos, just because it is the best thing when shopping at Southgate). But there used to be a restaurant called Turtles on Siesta Key that I used to go to with my old friends from high school and from Burdine's (where I worked part-time in high school and college) when I came home for a visit. I think Turtles is still there, and it was a nice place. Not really fancy, but a great atmosphere and view of the bay. There is also a great restaurant in Gulf Gate called Going Bistro. It's quite excellent, and I'd give it a plug even if the owner and chef was not the little brother of my best friend from high school.
  2. Over twenty years later, I still have my plastic Rosie O'Grady's nickel beer night mug from my high school years in the 80's. (Yes, we drank there underaged.)
  3. takomabaker

    Confit Duck

    I have a question for those who confit, and I've scanned this topic and haven't found the answer but if I've missed it I apologize for the repeat.... I'm not making duck confit, but I am about to try a recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques that requires copious amounts of duck fat and I was wondering if it was a one-use-only deal. Can you strain and re-use rendered duck fat? If so, for how long? Can you freeze it after you have used it? Thanks for the help!
  4. Dorie Greenspan has a rum soaked vanilla poundcake in her book. I haven't made it yet (although I have every intention of doing so), but the recipe is discussed in the topic about her new book.
  5. Try Nancy Silverton's from Breads from La Brea Bakery. amazon link I have NOT tried her rye starter breads yet (still working my way through the white and whole wheat starter recipes) but I have amazing success with her other breads and her proofing method sound perfect for you.
  6. I think it's the same thing....
  7. I worked in the creative department of an advertising agency for most of my professional life, and I use the same acetate sheets for chocolate work that we used in the studio -- from Plaza Artist Supply in NY. They come in pads up to 25" x 40" and, as I did when I worked in advertising, I just cut them to size with an Xacto.
  8. Gosh, I just stared exploring other areas of Egullet (I usually hang out in pastry) and I really like this. I have three Ikea shelves full of cookbooks, and my guess is that I'm an amateur collector by some standards. I have a really nostalgic connection to cookbooks. When I was in college, I used to go to a local book fair that sold overstocks and seconds. I went for class books (I was an English and theater major so I saved a LOT of money buying paperback seconds rather than buying them from my college bookstore). I was living in a dorm with a shared and completely useless (except for microwave popcorn) kitchen, but I used to buy cookbooks and keep them under my bed and make up dinner menus for after graduation. I still have a lot of those books, even though I don't use them, but I could never give them up. My 21-year-old signature is still in them on the first page. I have Piret's, New Carry Out Cuisine, and other obscure but pretty decent old 80's classics. I bought a book on Christmas feasts throughout history, and we were studying Roman festival theater at the time, and the theater department put on a Saturnalia feast complete with a phallus on a pole and I provided the "authentic" food. After graduation, I worked for a theater that rented space for its costume shop next to a used bookstore. I bought both Silver Palate cookbooks. I shared a house with all vegetarian company members. The first "dinner party" I had was the Quattro Formmagi and chocolate mousse from the first Silver Palate. And on a visit home, I got my mother's dog-eared Vegetarian Epicure. My sister, who still lived at home, was so mad at me for taking it that I had to buy another copy and send it to her just to shut her up. And I kind of segued from theater into advertising, and I was working in the creative department of a large ad agency that was on the same street as a little French cooking school. I used to pick up their catalogue and circle classes I wanted to take, but I was working 75 - 80 hours a week and had no way of actually taking them. And I never cooked a meal for myself. I was the stereotypical person who had moldy carry-out and water in her fridge. ALL of my meals were take-out, usually consumed at my desk. But I still collected cookbooks, and still read them like bibles. But after working in advertising for 12 years, the agency I worked for closed and I started working a normal workday in the marketing department of a non-profit, and I started taking classes at that school at night in their recreational division, and after a few years I bit the bullet and enrolled in their professional evening pastry program. And so now, all I wanted for Christmas was Patisserie by Pierre Herme and Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse. And my mother gave me my grandmother's very old and falling apart Joy of Cooking after my grandmother passed away. It has an inscription from her older sister that instructs, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Gone are those days of being able to get excited about the cookbook I bought for two bucks on an overstock table. Every once in a while, I drop off a few boxes of cookbooks that turned out to be duds to my local charity used bookstore. But I still have many of the books that I have bought throughout my life. Let's face it, cookbooks are a lot more than just pages filled with recipes. Every book on my shelf brings me back to a certain place in my life.
  9. I have read somewhere that you can buy a cake round (or cut it to the appropriate size for your pan), cover it with foil, and use it as a "substitute" bottom that can be given away with the tart. I have not tried this myself, but it sounds like it might work.
  10. My KA is pretty consistent. I've tried a bunch of different KA flours, just to experiment. I've tried artisan, European artisan, French milled, Italian, etc. and I really do enjoy experimentation. But honestly, most of the time I just reach for KA unbleached AP and I'm pretty darned happy. In school, with the exception of the occasional use of cake flour, we used KA unbleached for everything from croissants to brioche. I've found it to be a consistently decent flour.
  11. That's very helpful, Jackal, because one of my biggest issues is "dumping" starter. Which is necessary, I know, but it still bothers me. I get kind of attached to it. I do neglect my starter sometimes (once to a point that I was surprised it was not completely gone), but for the most part I try to treat it nicely. I usually do keep it in the fridge and let it go dormant. I take it out about 3 days before I use it and feed it regularly to get it going. I've been baking a LOT lately. I'm going to be supplying bread and desserts for a local restaurant that is opening so I've been doing some experimentation. Do you ever freeze starter?
  12. I do agree with you about the fact that if you have a good starter that makes a great product, then it doesn't matter where the cultures originated. I have been tempted to order some cultures from websites that sell "authentic" cultures from France, Italy, etc. for as much as $20. I'm just wondering if it is worth it, considering the fact that (as you stated) a good starter is a good starter no matter where it is from; and even if there is a discernible difference between a mail order Italian starter and the starter sitting on my counter right now, if there will still be a difference three months from now.
  13. Double thanks from me! This thread started right when I was trying to get some education on this subject. Edited to ask (after reading your post again)... I'm kind of drawing the conclusion, and I don't know if this is correct, that regular maintenance and care will preserve the integrity of the culture. This makes me assume that neglect would cause the cultures to "morph" -- whether for better or for worse is subjective. I am only asking because I have been known to neglect my starter, and resurrect it, and have been doing so for a few years. I make really nice bread with it, but who knows how much it has changed from its origins. So, for example, if you brought back an Italian culture that you picked up from a friend in Naples, and took very good care of it, it would remain an Italian culture (most likely) indefinitely. But put it in the back of your fridge and forget about it for a few months, then freak out and feed it and pray over it to bring it back to life, and you may very well have lost your original Italian culture but still have something that is very nice and makes great bread. So, I guess I'm asking if I am correct in assuming that in order to preserve the consistency of the original culture, you really need to make a commitment to take proper care of it. Is that right?
  14. I made some Halloween chocolates that I gave away to friends. Just some simple ones that I made using a Halloween themed transfer sheet in a magnetic mold. But one of my friends told me in December that she was hoarding them and hiding them from her family. Like you, I almost died. I told her I would make her more for Christmas, but she really needed to discard the ones she had been hoarding. You're right. People don't realize....
  15. I only have the perspective of a former student (I've never done chocolates professionally, only in a classroom and a little dabbling at home), I was taught that the "secret" is to minimize the amount of air between the filling and the chocolate shell. I was taught that proper enrobing (whether molded or dipped) keeps the filling in an anaerobic environment, and no air makes for an inhospitable environment for nasties. Obviously, this is not going to preserve the chocolate for more than the few weeks that is the usual shelf life for most artisan chocolates, but what I was taught (and have used as a rule of thumb) was that less air equals longer shelf life. As I said, I'm by no means an expert and I would love to know if someone has a different experience. I have never refrigerated my finished chocolates for fear of knocking them out of temper.
  16. I truly hope he does not mind my posting this here, but I just e-mailed Ed Wood, the author of Classic Sourdoughs, yesterday with the same question. I was thinking about purchasing some of his Italian culture from his site, and before I did so I was interested in whether it would be an "Italian" culture for more than a few months in my kitchen. Here is the reply he sent to me (he had a prepared document because he said this question is asked of him so much): His website is http://sourdo.com/culture.htm LOCAL ORGANISMS/BALANCE I am frequently asked if local organisms will replace the organisms from a culture moved from another area such as San Francisco, for example. I have long believed that San Francisco bakers were responsible for that myth to persuade the public that to get an authentic sourdough bread, one must go to San Francisco. I think that stills plays a part in keeping the myth alive, but there is something else involved. It is well established that the organisms of a sourdough culture function in a delicate balance. When a culture becomes too acidic from the metabolism of the lactobacilli, the wild yeast are the first to be inhibited. When the acidity increases even more, the bacteria are also adversely affected. In either case the culture is out of balance. Simple things including prolonged refrigeration with long dormancy can trigger such an imbalance. Over dilution of a culture can do the same thing. Even using a very large container can produce an overly acidic culture following multiple feedings. Each new feeding causes a small increment of increased acidity which in time inhibits the culture. A quart jar which requires discarding some of the culture after two feedings offers just enough dilution to prevent this. These imbalances often cause of loss of sourness or failure to leaven properly. However, they are almost always blamed on some local organisms displacing those of the culture. It doesn’t happen. It is a myth! One of the best ways to cure the imbalance of a culture is to get it fully active then develop (proof) it for 8 hours at 80oF.
  17. I've actually been experimenting with slow-rise sourdough over the past few weekends. I have been using the same starter for several years, and I take it out of the freezer and feed it twice daily for about three days prior to baking. I've been doing the first rise for 12 hours at room temp. Then I shape and do another 8-12 hour rise in the refrigerator. Then I let the dough come to room temp for about 2 hours before I bake (500 degree oven on a stone). This weekend, I was out for longer than I anticipated and after the first rise I was too tired to shape when I got home, so I just "punched" it down (I actually just gently fold it onto itself to deflate), I put it in the fridge for a second 12 hour rise, and the next morning I shaped it and let it proof at room temp for 2 hours. I still had really good results. I was doing Nancy Silverton's Italian Ring bread, btw.
  18. It couldn't be as bad as Maryland. I have a friend who wants me to make some pies, pastries, and cookies for his restaurant. It is mostly a pub, so he doesn't want anything fancy, but he currently doesn't serve any desserts and wants to have a few things. We worked out a deal where I would provide some pies, cakes, and cookies a couple times a week. Maryland will not, under any circumstances, license a private kitchen for commercial food preparation. I have two kitchens in my home. I have a basement apartment that I no longer rent out, and I wanted to license it specifically to bake for my friend's restaurant. But I need to either rent out space from a commercial bakery, or work around my friend's restaurant's regular hours to use his (pitifully small) kitchen. I can't believe that they are so rigid!
  19. Nancy Silverton has a great recipe for Lemon Turnovers in her Pastries from La Brea Bakery book. She uses a sour cream pastry, but it is closer to quick puff or Beatrice Ojakangas' danish pastry in that the butter is incorporated in the detrempe rather than folded in, but the dough is still turned. She also has a recipe in the same book for "sunshine buns" that uses danish pastry in which she uses meyer lemons or tangerines in the filling. I have made the Lemon Turnovers successfully, but have not made the sunshine buns. I saw Beatrice Ojakangas on a Baking with Julia rerun for the first time last weekend (I don't watch much television), and I have the cookbook. Her method for danish pastry was interesting. I haven't made a lot of danish, but the way I was taught in class was the traditional detrempe and beurrage method which is also the way Nancy Silverton makes it in "La Brea". Considering the fact that I am not all that crazy about danish, I would rather spend the time folding and turning croissant dough if I am going to make laminated dough. But I do think I will try her method. Maybe it will resurrect my interest in danish. And yes, that first commenter on her website is a complete and utter moron.
  20. I'm originally from Florida, and my mother sends me key limes, meyer lemons, tangerines, etc. from the trees in her yard a few times over the winter. However, when I was home for Christmas last month the pickings were slim. Her usually overflowing meyer lemon tree had very few lemons. My mother told me that there has been a drought in Florida and it had badly affected the citrus. Although the impact of this probably wouldn't have been too awful in and of itself, combined with the California freeze I'm not optimistic about baking with a lot of citrus this year.
  21. I have an Italian desserts cookbook at home that has a recipe that I use very often (and love) that is a molded semolina cake. It has rum soaked raisins in it, citron, and pistachios. I bake it in a heart-shaped Le Creuset pot, and it is very pretty and really good. It can be made well in advance, and is very portable. It is baked, but it is more the consistency of a baked pudding than a cake. It's similar to (although not exactly like) this: Lemon Semolina Cake or this Budino di Semolino
  22. I was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia when I was in my early 20's (and then went to pastry school -- go figure). Basically, I naturally produce huge quantities of cholesterol even without any dietary contribution. My doctor at the time sent me to a class led by a dietitian on how to eat with high cholesterol. She brought some prepared snacks with her, which included fat-free Entenmans cookies and Snackwells and other such things that were all LOADED with trans fats and she pointed them out as a good alternative to butter-based baked products. I remember eating one and thinking I would rather have one real butter cookie a year than an unlimited supply of that processed crap. And, with much guilt, I continued to use real butter. And, of course, now the tables have turned and the people who were snide while slathering their morning toast with Promise spread while raising an eyebrow at me for using the evil butter have taken a position closer to that which I assume most people here have never abandoned. Basically, just about everything I was taught in that class has been negated over the past 15 years. And my guess is that there will be some NEW study in a few years that will demonize some other food product and everyone will panic and then THAT study will be negated and everyone will argue which study was right. I'm not a scientist. I have a liberal arts degree and a pastry certificate on my wall -- so I would never engage in an argument over which study is factual and which was flawed. But I work on Capitol Hill and let me tell you, it ain't Harvard up here, and I'm not going to put my life and health in the hands of these people. I very, very rarely indulge in two of my favorite foods as a Southerner, fried chicken and drop biscuits. And I use Crisco for both. And I really don't want my dinner becoming an argument on Capitol Hill. As a woman and a lesbian, my personal liberties are bantered about enough as political fodder. Leave my fried chicken alone, dammit! I'm a die-hard Democrat, and I hate quoting Reagan, but he said it best: "The most terrifying words in the English langauge are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
  23. I actually did salvage the truffles after your encouragement. My "trash" remark wasn't literal. I had a few shells left in the tray and I was not going to throw out the melted ones until I used the last ones (for obvious reasons if you utilize these shells). So, I redipped the sad little nuggets in some tempered chocolate and coated them in some praline that I made from the burnt nougatine (not too burnt to made some good praline). So, you inspired me to make a silk purse out a sow's ear. Thanks. Make DUKKAH I've used all sorts of nuts and all sorts of spices............dip your bread in olive oil and then the dukkah, or coat chicken, fish etc before baking. Great stuff ! ← maybe with some lamb? I mean, they've got cinammon on them too. If they didn't have that and allspice, I'd try some sort of dense fish. Great Idea, Dockhl. I'll try some sprinkled on a moussaka! Takomabaker..How much do you figure that bit of nasty karma cost you? At least some of my screw ups were salvageable. I'd have been tempted to try to save that carmel/chocolate meltdown somehow. I am scared to death to try to make something like that, just for that reason. I was thinking of reheating my caramel, pouring it out thin, then cutting it to fit around the marshmallows when cool. right now I have to strech pieces around to fit, and it's not looking too pretty. The 'ugly' ones will have to be covered in chocolate...poor dears! ←
  24. Gosh, Dulles is so far out in the middle of Virginia that the fact they call it a DC airport amazes me (think Newark in relation to NY). And with all of the security craziness and the really heavy traffic out there, I'd be afraid to leave and come back with just a 5-hour layover. But someone else may have a different viewpoint and advice.
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