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culinary bear

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  1. culinary bear

    Stock Question

    Not in the initial simmering, just a mirepoix of carrots, leek white, celery and onion. The stock was reduced to half volume, and a second mirepix made, with well-caramelised tomato paste, red wine, port, madeira and brandy and the same vegetables as above, plus a bouquet garni. Simmered for another hour, then passed and burnt down to jus consistency.
  2. I think understanding is central here; it's what I try and instil into people who work under me... if you can get them to realise : 1) what consequences their mistakes have in the finished product 2) what consequences a second-rate product has as regards the business, your livelihood, and their job. and 3) how these mistakes can be avoided then it's a lot easier. Some people, especially young ones or those without much of a snse of professional pride, can't really grasp these realities, and if so its time to take stock of how useful these people are going to be as your business (hopefully) grows. To a first approximation, technique can always be taught, and indeed it's alomst inevitable that even a skilled experienced chef (especially patissier) will need to be shown what's expected of them as regards the "house style"... but character can''t really be taught beyond your own encouragement.
  3. culinary bear

    Stock Question

    aidensnd - I agree with you there re: timings ot stocks I did a stage in a starred kitchen where the head chef insisted his chicken stocks were made with white bones, no roasting, and simmered for one hour only after the stock came to the boil. After reduction the resulting jus was fresh tsting but so concentrated; really astonishing flavour.
  4. culinary bear


    I'm not sure deep-frying is the best method to make good calamari in the first place; it tends to taste of "not a hell of a lot". We used to take a whole squid tube, slit up the side to open it out into a rough triangle, score the flesh with a table knife, marinate in ginger, chilli and soy. It was slapped on the chargrill for about 30s each side, and came off beatifully tender and full of flavour. Squid is really one of those things you want to cook for a minute or an hour, never in between.
  5. most stews benefit from being made the day before, sometimes even two days before, to give the flavours time to coalesceinto a divine whole, as well as giving you opportunity to skim off the fat. Iyou could also turn the pieces of meat into quite fabulous rillettes for potted beef, or braise the hell out of the meat (preferably with a pressure cooker), using the lean meat shreds for something else and using the dripping, which would be ricly flavoured and very tasty.
  6. One of the dishes I have on at work is a starter of chargrilled asparagus with maldon salt, gruyere hollandaise and a soft-boiled egg. The executive chef decided we were going to soft-boil eggs to order. If you work in a preofessional kitchen doing 100+ covers, you'll know that this is more easily thought of than achieved. The need here is to cook the white of the egg to a stage where the egg has enough structural rigidity to be shelled and stored, without overcooking the yolk, so when reheated you have a perfect soft-boiled egg. After much trial and error, I've arrived at what is a pretty foolproof method of soft-boiling eggs ahead of time, to be reheated later. I'd appreciate feedback. I'm going to try and explain the reasoning behind the method too, as I find it helps. equpiment : one pan of boiling salted water, approximately 2 litres, on a high-heat burner one timer one scalpel or sharp needle one ice bath (container with about 2 litres of heavily iced water) eight ~fresh~ eggs, at refrigerator temperature (this is important) a holed spoon or skimmer with which to lift the eggs out of the boiling water into the ice bath. 1) set your timer to four minutes. it's important that the eggs are at fridge temperature, as this affects timing, and means that the yolks are more protected against overcookng as the white sets. Eggs should be UK size 3. 2) on the rounded end of each egg, use the scalpel or needle to puncture a very small hole in the shell, to a depth of about 5mm (1/4 inch). This is to puncture the air sac inside the shell. Early attempts didn't include this, and I found that the air sac was insulating the bottom part of the egg from the heat, leading to a weak point in the cooked white. Pricking the sac like this also makes the egg fill the shell out as it cookes giving a complete egg shape instead of one with a hollow at the base. It also means that the egg has somewhere to expand into, leading to fewer eggs cracking as the egg expands in the shell during cooking. 3) Put all the eggs in a dish - this is so you can put all the eggs in at once. If you take 20 seconds to put all the eggs in it means that some eggs will be more cooked than others. 3) Get the water to a rolling boil and slide the eggs in together. The water will then go off the boil due to the chilling effect of the eggs. You will see bubbles coming out of the holes you made in the eggs. 4) When the water comes to a full boil again (don't confuse the eggs bubbling with this) start your timer. 5) Hum an appropriate tune, preferably of four minutes or less. 6) When the timer goes off, immediately take the eggs out as fast as you can, and put them into the ice bath. 7) Wait five minutes, until the eggs are cool(ish) 8) Taking one egg out of the ice bath at a time, tap the egg with the back of a teaspoon at the bottom (where you pierced it). Put back into the bath when you'v done this. This makes the shell easier to come off (for reasons I don;t fully understand, but perhaps capillary action allows the water to seep into the space between the cooked egg and the shell) 9) wait until aggs completely cold - another 15 minutes or so. 10) shell the eggs, in this way : starting from the rounded side (pointing upwards), peel down and around in a spiral pattern, as if you were peeling an apple with a peeler. As you work down and around the egg, sup the egg in your non-dominant hand, because as the egg is divested of its shell it becomes liable to split it you're rough with it. When you get to the pointed end, carefully turn the egg so that the pointed end points upward (still cupping it carefully). Gently nip away at the shell until only the very top remains, and then lever the top off ~gently~... if you rush it, you'll take away a chunk of egg white and the smooth surface will be spoiled. Place back in the ice bath and repeat. The eggs can now be stored in slightly salted iced water in the refrigerator for a maximum of 72 hours. To reheat, place in a ladle and lower into a chauffon (a pan of boiling water used tfor reheating things). wait 50 seconds - any less and your egg will be cold, any more and you'll start cooking the yolk. eat!
  7. culinary bear

    Smoked Garlic

    yes, but you'll be reducing the smoke exposure - it would be better to put them on a grille of some sort.
  8. 15psi raises the boiling point to 121C, which is *engages brain* *burning noise* 249.8F good guess. :) of course blanching won't kill sporulating anerobes, but we're talking safe practise here, not an industrial-quality risk assessent. I realise it's an important poersonal thing in your experience but the risks themselves are very low in this scenario. Besides, we're getting away from the point of the original question, which we both agree on, so no argument exists. :)
  9. culinary bear

    Smoked Garlic

    would I lop off the heads? personally no... but that's because I wouldn't want too much of the garlicky goodness to seep out of the cloves as you smoke them... I'd leave the skins on the cloves intact, but remove all the other paper. If it's new season's fresh garlic, you might get away with smoking them untouched, but in my experience all that gives is non-smoked gsrlic inside smoky garlic skin. what I tend to do is bash the heads into cloves, keeping the skins on, and then thread the individual cloves along a (soaked) bamboo skewer until you have a head's worth on a skewer, before smoking them in the normal way... much better smoke penetration.
  10. culinary bear

    Smoked Garlic

    I usually hot smoke sinlge cloves over a wok using black tea as the smoking medium... For heads I'd recommend removing all the extra papery stuff from around the head so as to give the smoke a much better go at penetrating the garlic as much as possible; you might even go so far as to just leave the individual cloves attached to the base but remove the central stalk and all the associated paper. soaking the de-papered heads for a few minutes in cold water will also give you some protection against scorching.
  11. As long as the herbs are blanched thoroughly in boiling water (as they should be to fix the colour for a herb oil) then the risk of C. botulinum should be very low; lower at least than using the same herb raw on your salad, as long as common sense prevails and the oil is handled sensibly, not left hanging around too long at ambient temperature,etc. I agrew with you, in that I should think that C. botulinum would proliferate far more readily in a refrigerator, which is where most people would tend to store their herb oils (or god forbid, at room temperature) than in a freezer. Basil ice cream does go very well with strawberries, I find, although unintentional basil ice-cream does not, as you say, constitute a thing of joy. :)
  12. Yes... in my experience I've had no problems whatseoever freezing herb oils. The salient point is that the more solid matter you reomve from the oil, the better it will keep. In an ideal world (one which I don't myself inhabit) herb oils should be made daily or every two days; this is achievable in the restaurant but not at home. Freezing is a better long-term option if you want to keep beyond 5-7days (which is how long it would normaly last in the refrigerator). As to cheese... cheese suffers badly from being frozen, as the water strata which run through a cheese freeze (and expand) and thaw, they force apart the grains of the cheese, leading to crumbly fractured cheese. Try freezing an ounce cube of cream cheese for an extreme and obvious example of this. Although harder cheese with a lower water content would suffer less from being frozen, I still wouldn't recommend it (which is why most pesto recipes ask you to abstain from putting in the parmesan if you're planning to freeze it). Chlorophyll itself is not structurally altered by the freezing process. I was a biochemist before I was a chef, to take my word on that. :) Good luck with the freezing - probably the biggest help would be to ~very~ finely strain the oill so as to minimise solids content as much as possible.
  13. I've had excellent almonds in spain, but being in the UK, where almonds are about as understood as the game of baseball, we're very limited in choice... what would you recommend, were I able to get a hold of them?
  14. when expensive stuff matters : hiring a good saucier
  15. damn... too late to recommend a really good romesco sauce with grilled swordfish (marlin works too)... :)
  16. culinary bear


    Tamarind concentrate is usually made by reduction of juice, and all the ones I've ever tasted have a caramelised taste from which you can never quite escape. Concentrate tends to be more flavoured, paste tends to be sourer, and I don't substitute the two. If you can, use fresh pods; they keep for quite a while in a ziploc in the fridge, and you just pour on boiling water and rub through a seive... the extra flavours you get are well worth the slight hassle of preparation.
  17. a £2.50 special offer fish-hook sharpener.. a plastic frame, about 2" x 2.75", that holds two thin ceramic rods at an angle. Phenomenal for keeping a good edge on your knives... then a few light brushes on a Wusthof ceramic steel (£35!) and you could split atoms.
  18. culinary bear


    Food is transient, though the memory lives on... unless, of course, you're cooking in an old folks' home. Equipment is made to last, or at least should be; It's not the end of the world if some young commis throws my cheap Victorinox parer (£3) out with the potato peelings, but coming into the kitchen to find a new KP punching air holes in the top of a 5 gallon can of vegetable oil with my brand new Global (£60+) did not endear him to me. Chefs are capricious creatures, of course, and in the same vein of MY section, MY kitchen, MY mise-en-place, MY knife, we all like things to be familiar... I nearly cried when I dropped my oldest knife (a beaten up old college model) and broke the tip, but that was due to the emotional attachment, not the value.
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