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Everything posted by chefwoody

  1. chefwoody

    Top Chef

    Sorry SobaAddict, should have paid more attention to your post (and I don't mean to post twice in a row). That is what Lee is actually like - ALL THE TIME! I found him intolerable at school.
  2. chefwoody

    Top Chef

    Might as well throw in my 2 nickels as well... I didn't enjoy the show. It's one of many that, through skilled producers knowing how to put a group of people together that are going to butt heads at every turn, uses underhanded techniques like creative editing, the "firing squad" method of putting people not accustomed to the spotlight in front of their worst critics, and DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I think that in the end, it, like the many other "food related" shows out there, reflects poorly on a beautiful craft for which I have a lot of love and respect. PLUS: When I was in culinary school, Lee was one of my chef instructors! I think everyone in my class would agree that he was the worst (in regards to his temperament, lack of cooking ability, and huge, unsubstantiated ego) chef that we had through the entire program. I cracked up when I saw him for the first time on the preview.
  3. I would try to call in to KFI (AM 640) and try to get on the "Too Hot Tamales" show (with Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger). I know that they work with and support many small farmers, built their empire around the L.A. area, and have a considerable amount of celeb clout in the food industry. Plus, they have a great radio show that I know would get you plenty of exposure. Also, if you stumble across any information with which we, as egulleters could help you with - petitions, crowd presence, etc. - post it up!
  4. Correct. There is an exact ratio of how much water you need to add in which the chocolate will no longer sieze (I believe it is 1 tbsp. of water to 8 oz. of chocolate - if you are interested, let me know and I'll go look it up in my notes).
  5. Wait till you taste it! There's nothing watered down about it! It's great, because there's nothing muddling up the flavor of the chocolate, like cream for instance. Plus, as an added bonus, the water spreads the chocolate out on the palate FAR more (lower fat concentration), which makes you taste it faster and in a more intense manner. That's why I said you better use decent chocolate. If you don't, I'm certain your diners will bust you on it!
  6. Foolproof: Here's a chocolate sauce that you can store at room temp, doesn't really have to be heated to be workable, and doesn't turn into hard chocolate when it hits a cool plate (who likes eating little bits of cruncy chocolate writing?) Chopped bittersweet chocolate A little corn syrup (I use about 1 tsp. to 1 lb. of chocolate) - to taste Pinch of salt Hot water, to consistency. Melt the chocolate, corn syrup, and salt over low heat. Stir in the water a little bit at a time until you get the consistency you want (leave it on the runny side, as it will tighten slightly as it cools) You can make this days ahead of time, and since there is no dairy in it, can be stored at room temp, making it much easier to get to the desired temp when it comes time to plate. And, because of the water content in it, it zaps in the microwave very well. ESSENTIAL that you use decent chocolate with this, as it is the only thing you taste.
  7. I live in the San Diego area, and the dining scene is DESOLATE! I have, however, had a very good meal in La Jolla at a French bistro called Tapenade. If you want something nicer, The Marine Room is probably the only high-caliber restaurant in the area (I'm sure at least someone has tried to push Mille Fleur or A.R. Valentien on you - don't believe the hype! I staged at A.R. Valentien and ate at Mille Fleur - both of which were mediocre at best). We definitely have the best weather in the country right now, though!
  8. Seb, Your memory did you right. On the natralose site (tagatose.com), it said that it is a ketose which naturally occurs in some dairy products. It looks like very interesting stuff. I'm thinking that the ideal solution might lie in a combination of isomalt (making up the largest percentage), tagatose, and sucrose. The only thing that gives me pause about the tagatose is the fact that they say, in comparison to sugar, the end product (in reference to confection) will tend to be soft (I'm not sure if that's due to the hygroscopicity of it or some other property). Thanks for the links. I'm going to do some more reading. Anybody played with mannitol?
  9. Yes, I've used isomalt quite a bit, but never straight up. I have combined it with sugar and then caramelized the mixture, but of course that's the sugar talking. Plus, with the high concentration of sugar that you have to use in relation to the isomalt, the hygroscopicity of the isomalt is all but wasted. Can anyone offer any more information on tagatose? I'm assuming that this is not found in nature anywhere so how is it processed and made? And yes, to my experience, sugar will EASILY reach a state of carbon if cooked down, taking up a permanent residence on the bottom of the pan (and even loves to ignite if left on the heat for very long after that). As for your VERY interesting question about the amount of sugar decreasing as its compounds are undergoing their various reactions, I don't know. I'm sure someone here could make a much more informed conclusion about that. Now that you pose that question, I am dying to know the answer! I'm going to go dive into some reading to try to find out.
  10. Thanks for the polydextrose information. Not to be too far off topic, what other sugar substitutes/derivatives do you know of with very low hygroscopicity that can be caramelized (or at the very least cooked down and cooled to a hard-crack-like state)? I know very little about maltodextrin, but to the best of my knowledge, has a relatively low hygroscopicity in relation to sugar and has many of the properties that I am looking for, but I my interest was piqued hearing about polydextrose's low sweetening power. The goals - being able to achieve paper-thin croquants/sugar tuiles that don't immediately turn into a sticky mess in coastal, somewhat more humid environments.
  11. By caramelize, I mean to melt like sugar, and when it approaches 338F, start to darken and develop flavors, and when cooled, reharden. And my question about the stevia was more directed to the extraction method, rather than simply if it was a pure extract or not. Thanks
  12. Those who are in the know about stevia: Since it is a plant, do you find that the better stevia brands are using a superior extraction method than the lesser brands? i.e. is the extraction method in direct relation to the final taste/bitterness/astringency factor, or is this all in the final processing? If it is in the extraction, do you know which method is superior or which method produces superior results? Also, I know that it has been said that polydextrose can be caramelized, but I wanted to be clear that it can be cooked down to caramel straight. Is this true, or should it always be thinned with something (sucrose, glucose, invert sugars, etc.)? And, does anyone know what polydextrose's hygroscopicity is in relation to fondant? To regular sugar? What about in relation to a sorbet stabilizer like Cremodan? Thanks. Great thread!
  13. I think your points illustrate well why food VERY often does not fall under the "art" category (I tend to stay away from that categorization). I definitely think that things like "shock art" have their place in the art world, but when it comes to cuisine: food HAS to taste good, and I think that's one point both the old and new school - Troisgros to Adria, Ronald McDonald to Thomas Keller, Escoffier to Achatz - all agree on.
  14. Great posts, everyone. I, however, must in the same note agree and disagree with most of the points brought up here. In my opinion, these definitions of "ideal gastronomy" are getting very specific whereas describing an ideal in a field such as cuisine is a more broad concept. Simply put, I think that the ideal gastronomy (which has to be viewed and interpreted by each individual) is that which makes us smile. It is cuisine that interests the uninterested and excites the experienced diner. It makes us think about cuisine where we may not have before. Just my opinion; however, I think that this model can be applied to the best of all cuisine, from an awsome taco stand, to a street vendor that serves great ice cream, to the best Michelin restaurants.
  15. Very good point Tana. The hotmail address should be very temporary. My immediate goal was to get the site up and running before I figure out my hosting company's interface for administrating the site (like email addresses, database hookups: I hope to have my recipe, photo, and ingredient database that I am building hooked up to the website for all to see in the near future). Thanks for your generous comments.
  16. Can I stoop to shameless self-promotion and list my site here? Besides the horrible pictures (which I am in the process of replacing) and the lack of prices (we are very affordable and every menu is customized to the client - which makes listing prices almost useless), I think the structure and general feel of the site is pretty clean. http://www.kouboucatering.com I agree with all the kudos on Akelare's site. I have admired it for quite some time now, for its sharp, representative photography and its very spare, clean design. Tana, sounds like you really got the sweet end of the deal trading web development for food with Chef Kinch!
  17. chefwoody

    Oregon Pinot Noir

    WillaKenzie - there's a fantastic one that I was introduced to at Trio. Interesting flavor profile.
  18. Here's how I learned how to do it in a restaurant kitchen. You will need to have 2 silpats, and if you don't, they are great investments to use for all kinds of things. First, you will want to scrape off as much of the fat off the back of the skin as possible. A short dunk in seasoned boiling water will help soften it up and make it easier to remove. For scraping it off, I recommend a flexible plastic board scraper. This will take a little practice to get a feel for how much pressure to use, but you will quickly get the hang of it. After most of the fat has been removed, spread them out on one of the silpats on top of a sheet tray. If you don't have a second sheet tray that is small enough to fit inside of the first one, flip the first sheet tray over and lay the silpat on the bottom. Season them now, so that your seasoning is baked into the skin (Yum!) Lay the second silpat over the top and cover with the second sheet tray. Evenly weight the top with pans, cast irons, bricks, etc. Bake this at 400F - 425F until crispy (I would start out at 8 minutes, rotate them, and then give them another 8 minutes. Times will vary, especially depending on how much fat was removed). EAT!
  19. It's quite a pain in the arse. You have to contact the Spanish Trade Commission in New York. Plus, it took them around a month to get back to me. Here's the email address: elisabet.aguirre@mcx.es The name is Elisabet Aguirre. I don't know if anyone can get it, but I know that anyone in the food industry does.
  20. Spain Gourmetour. Best cooking magazine EVER!! And, it's free!
  21. I would second Philippe's for a REALLY good French dip sandwich. This place has been around since the 19 teen's, and still has 5 cent coffee. LANDMARK. For breakfast, Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles or Fred 62 (it's kinda hipster, but it's a diner - what're ya gonna do?). Fred 62 makes their own pop tarts (they call 'em punk tarts), has all kinds of other (all delicious) non-standard diner fare, and is open 24 hours. If you're in the mood to browse a HUGE cooking supply store, check out Surfa's in Culver City. Think giant wherehouse filled with pots, pans, gadgets, commercial appliances, knives, etc... and great prices. If you're an early riser, you might check out the farmer's market on the 3rd St. Promenade (I believe it's on Wednesday) in Santa Monica. Have fun! Good to see another non L.A. hater. Give it a chance!
  22. I ate at Zuzu about a month ago and loved it. I would highly recommend having lunch there.
  23. Sorry about the double post, but I agree with Malawry: don't worry at all about butchering it while you are deveining it. Foie is a lot like silly putty in that you can just mold it right back into its original shape when you are done. Just let it come up to temperature before you pull it apart so that it is more pliable. In addition, try to work quickly when you are doing this (even though it's a time-consuming process) and keep the foie sealed or wrapped up as much as possible, as it oxidizes.
  24. The best recipe for a torchon de foie gras I have experienced is in the French Laundry Cookbook. Damn tasty and very easy to do, particularly because you are tasting nothing but foie. The finished texture is slightly lighter than butter and very creamy. Check it out!
  25. If I were going to La Jolla, I would probably go to Tapenade. It's very French bistro, albeit the decor is a lot nicer than most bistros, but the food is rock solid. Anything but Bucca di Beppo!!!!
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