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Posts posted by devinf

  1. I've got fritters on the menu right now and they've been quite successful, making me think I'll keep some sort of beignet/donut thing for awhile. I don't have a fryer I can use so just have a pot going on the stove.

    My problem is the taylor thermometer I use is all but shot. After a couple of weeks, I can barely read the temp. This thing is in 370 oil for 5-6 hours a night and is just shot to hell. Rather than having to buy new every couple of weeks, can anyone recommend a good, heavy usage thermometer? Maybe a probe type?


  2. Damn colds. Thank God for heavy doses of Day/Nyquil.

    I wasn't feeling that crappy and I couldn't say no to a lunch at Bouchon yesterday. Went with Frank, his fiance Desiree, and his 50% employee discount (hooray!). The folks there hooked us up quite well and it was a 3 hour eating experience.

    They started us with complimentary glasses of Schramsberg Brut Rose and plopped a massive platter of clams, oysters, lobster and mussels in front of us. We slurped and sucked our way to seafood nirvana. After cleaning our hands with lemon wedges and warm towels we got on with the first courses.

    We ordered the salmon rillette which was fabulously decadant. It had a thin layer of clarified butter and was served with warm crostini. Also had a serving of the pate which was good but took a backseat to its companions. We also tried the duck confit served with lentils and cherries. We ordered a bottle of Viognier for the table, but while we were eating, the server (Jerry) came by with a tasting of a pinot noir that he said matched perfectly with the duck. We each took turns taking a bite of the confit and a cherry then sipping the wine. Flavor bombs erupted. Perfect! The pinot was super fruity and at first I thought it was a zinfandel.

    We ordered our mains. I had the boudin blanc (white sausage with mashed potatoes and braised prunes). The prunes were to die for. They held their form long enough to give some resistance, then they just melted away. The sausage was excellent, but the prunes were the standout. I had this with a glass of a recommended reisling. Frank ordered a skirt steak that wasn't on the menu but he took a chance they still had some left over from the special they ran the night before. I can't for the life of me remember what Desiree had, but by then we were all getting warm and fuzzy.

    We moved to dessert and split a wedge of their citrus tart and an order of profiteroles which we asked to be filled with pumpkin ice cream rather than the normal vanilla. The profiteroles were good, but what was even better? Taking the chocolate sauce of the profiteroles and using that with the lemon tart. Dee-lish! Our server recommended a Spanish dessert wine - 1971 Don Pedro Ximenez. I think it was a type of sherry? but the spanish labels are difficult to figure out. It was thick and sweet but not overly so. A wonderful ending to a long, luxurious lunch.

    We floated out of the restaurant in a haze. Our wallets survived intact (under $100 for my part) and we drove on towards St. Helena to do some shopping, meet some friends and enjoy the rest of the day.

    Life is good up here, folks.

  3. Just my two cents...

    Like others have said, melt the chocolate to 120F. I've gone overtemp with no problems, but just not too hot. This melts all the crystals in the chocolate.

    Add a seed of about 1/3 the total weight of your melted chocolate (or use the table methos). Bring to 87-91F, but you should get used to not having to rely on thermometers/equipment. Get a good feel for your chocolate.

    Always test your temper! Tear off a little strip of parchment and dip it into the chocolate. If it sets up within a minute or two with no streaks then you are good to go. I'm sure this could decend into some horribly long conversation on the ins and outs of chocolate tempering, but I think all the basics have been covered.


  4. For service our spot is that same place in NJ. Luckily we have two, because one of ours is currently busted and waiting for me to pack it up and ship it...

    As far as things to do, yes just throw in chunks of fruit, simple syrup and go to town. I still prefer to puree my fruit first so I can tweak with flavor before freezing/spinning. Just the other day we had some extra grapes so I made up a grape verjus sorbet. Had some left over citrus segments, tasted awesome with a touch of black pepper. Melons work great so do berries. I had done an olive oil sorbet, but it was a one time deal - I spun it the next day and it broke.

    I find that spinning the canisters twice will give you a very nice, smooth texture. Some mixtures will also need a bit of time to set up, others you can do to order. Seriously, just dump stuff into the canister, freeze and then try it out. Play! The only thing to worry about is too much sugar, then the stuff just won't stay frozen.


  5. The pacojet changes the rules when it comes to ice creams and sorbets. I still spin my ice creams in a traditional machine (Taylor 100B), but do some crazy stuff with my pacojet. Since you can spin to order it's great! I've noticed some concotions can "break" in a pacojet - so you can't spin them too many times - but most things that you can freeze you can turn into sorbet/ice cream.

    Have fun with it :)


  6. OK... I found the pics, now I just need to take some time to get them posted here. Maybe over morning coffee tomorrow. I'm coming off a long work week and don't want to think about anything just about now.. :P

    For the bonbons... he gave out 6 samples to everyone in the audience. His attitude was that chocolate could be matched with anything/any flavor. The poprocks were inside the candies! You got the chocolate love, then all of a sudden your mouth exploded - too cool! Definitely a highlight. The saffron chocolates were also interesting. It was unfortunate that someone in the audience bagan asking how much money he made. It really killed the mood and they wouldn't let it go. Mr. Balaguer did his best to diplomatically avoid the question through his interpreter, but...

    There was also a great nougat demo by a German gent whose name escapes me. He torched the hell out of the kitchenaid bowl while trying to dry out his mix. He was very worried that the American appliances couldn't handle making a proper nougat. I tried a piece later in the day and it was tasty, but nothing screamed excellence.

    Pate choux. He seemed to not cook his paste all that long. It almost seemed like something he just had to do as part of the process, nothing to integral. Once it started leaving some marks on the bottom of the pan, off the heat it went and into the mixer. He was very exact on his baking. We baked them in both a convection and a deck oven for comparison. The deck oven choux wasn't so hot. He stressed the fact that you shouldn't disturb the choux while it was baking and you only needed one temp (I was taught to use a higher temp at first then switch to a lower temp oven to finish baking). He was a very visual baker so it's hard to describe his methods without showing them. I'd have to dig through mounds of paper to find his recipes. His praline paste was a straight 50/50 mix and he preferred to use the serrated blade on the robotcoupe because it gave a finer texture in the finished product - nothing near the smoothness of commercial stuff, but damn good.

    Now I wish I had taken better notes, but for me this was more of a meet and greet event than a learning opportunity. It was a fun time, but nothing compared to the savory Worlds of Flavor conference.


  7. I suppose if being a kitchen slave counts, then yes, I did attend the conference.

    I assisted Gilles Renusson in his St. Honore/pate choux demonstration and got more information than I could handle about choux paste. I also tried to attend anything Oriol Balaguer. His demo on bonbons was awesome and I can still remember the taste of poprocks! He also did a few dessert presentations that were simple, but gorgeous.

    Overall I remember the abundance of olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar in quite a few dishes/presentations. I have photos of plate presentations and the conference somewhere on my hard drive. If I can gather them and post them I will in the next couple of days (today is Friday!)


  8. Try this recipe... I guess it's more of a sorbet than an ice cream but it has a great flavor and just a hint of lemon on the backend. I've used it time and again at the restaurant...

    500g mascarpone

    650g simple syrup

    30g lemon juice

    That's it. Mix well, pass it through a china cap and spin away.


  9. Cherries are basically over for the year. There are still some giant-sized bings coming from Washington, but that's about it.

    Figs had their first quick stretch, but it will be a month or two before they really hit their stride. Meyer lemons are over as well. Berries, melons and stone fruits are in their peak right about now. Dunno about quinces...


  10. They are awesome peaches. I'm lucky to get a couple of cases a week to work with. I do my heaviest snacking when cutting those things up. Saute them up with some butter, brown sugar and brandy add vanilla ice cream on top of all that. So good!

    I had never heard of them before this season started, but they're stuck in my head now.

  11. I recently did a blueberry dish that I used a late harvest zinfandel.

    Butter, sugar, blueberries and the zin, then let it simmer away until nice and saucy. Put it over a puff pastry round, sabayon and mascarpone sorbet. Absolutely killer.

  12. Here's a recipe I have used with success. Tasty stuff!

    2 lb. sugar

    4 oz. corn syrup

    4 oz. milk

    12 oz. cream

    1 oz. butter

    1/2 oz. vanilla extract

    3 oz. peanut butter

    Combine cream and milk, then take out 8 oz.

    Combine sugar, corn syrup and 8 oz. cream/milk. Cook to 230F

    Add the butter and slowly add rest of milk/cream. Cook to 236F

    Pour onto marble and put peanut butter onto fudge, do not stir. let it cool to 120F

    Mix the fudge and peanut butter (I "table" it) until it thickens, then pour into a frame or container before portioning.

  13. The gin and tonic sorbet was a recipe we were given at school. When I first did it we served it with watermelon and sea salt. I think the owner has been pretty cool with me playing around. As long as I don't mess with his two standards I'm good. I've been fortunate that the stuff I've been experimenting on has also been selling.

    I've always cooked and baked at home since I was a kid. I wanted to be a chef so after high school I went to a local JC culinary program but never finished. I worked as a dishwasher/prep/line cook in a couple of different local joints for about 2 years and then ended up in corporate cubicle hell for the better part of the last decade. Got sick of the layoffs and BS. Went back to what I love - cooking. Decided to go the pastry route, finished school and here I am.

    The papayas are now cleaned and halved and sitting in about 10 full size hotel pans in deep freeze :) The hot side guys have been playing around with some things and I'm going to make myself a hefty reserve of puree. Immediate plans include a papaya cheesecake with a coconut sherbet and some sort of tropical fruit garnish. I also have been told I need to use up a case of buttermilk that was ordered. Buttermilk honey sorbet and some sort of panna cotta will probably be in the future. Maybe a bavarian cake of some sort? Papaya issue first :)

  14. Not that I could tell. A small dice would hold up well and still have a good texture to it when finally presented. I'd do it mostly with fingerling potatoes and pumpkin (pumpkin ended up in a risotto dish). Maybe those types of starchy veggies just hold up better? Not sure of the science of it, but a few minutes in the oven seemed to do the trick. Most everything else gets parboiled or cooked to order.


  15. It's different. I need to get on the owner about that.

    The creme brulee and chocolate bombe are the standards that I can't touch. I've had some struggles with their brulee (no ramekins - ring molds) but have it down fairly well now. The bombe is alright, very chocolate. Dome of chocolate mousse with a ganache coating, raspberry sauce and chocolate ice cream.

    The fruit crisp sucked. We had an apple cobbler thing for a bit but now we've seemed to hit it with a strawberry shortcake. I use an almond paste based cake and a heavy hand of lemon zest in the strawberries, a swirl of strawberry cream and creme fraiche ice cream. Still a bit early for the berries, but tasty anyway.

    The sorbet terrine looked awful. Instead I do a standard ice cream/sorbet assortment served in honey tuile cups. I try to spin the sorbets daily if I can, but since I'm the only person sometimes it's hard. I've put out mascarpone, raspberry, passion fruit, lemon, strawberry, apple cider sorbets. I also made up a quinine sorbet that was awesome. Tasted like a gin and tonic. One of the waitstaff took a scoop and poured some gin over it and said it was fabulous, so I might find a way to make a nice gin-y dish for the warmer weather.

    I've been trying to do specials as often as possible. Basically they're my experiments that turn out well. Today, I put out a poached apple served on a oatmeal raisin cookie with cinnamon ice cream and a caramel apple sauce. I have some challenges as well - the owner found a bargain on papaya and showed up with 30 cases of the stuff :raz: Papaya cheesecake, sorbet, tarts anyone?

    I'm excited about it (as you can tell - sorry for the kinda hijacked thread). It's only been a couple of weeks and I'm a newbie to pastries but I am motivated to do well and put out a good product. I'm playing around quite a bit as time permits and really trying to test the waters. I just hope people like it! :unsure:

    If you do head down, please let me know what you think. I think it may have been shaky there in the past but we're getting a good, albeit young, crew together in the kitchen. We are all very earnest in our desire to do good things. Any sort of feedback is welcome.


  16. Chef Jimmy Corwall is going to take over at Greystone. He's a CMC and instructor now - it will be nice to have a CMC in the restaurant.

    And I dunno if it means anything, but I'm the new pastry guy at Bayleaf in Napa. Actually, I'm the only pastry staff so it makes me the boss, right? :) I'm trying to have some fun with it and play around.


  17. I've always just parboiled stuff individually and throw it all together at service. Oil, butter, stock... it all depends on the application. I've also thrown veggies into the oven (particularly root veggies) - and get them slightly roasted and then finish it all off in a pan.


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