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Everything posted by Mikeb19

  1. Potato starch - just what I'm used to using, and it works well. It's also readily available around here.
  2. Just my personal thoughts on this and sauces in general (not what we did at the restaurant). I personally like rich meat broths, to thicken into a sauce just a little bit of potato starch and butter. Glace does get too sticky. I'm also not too fond of gelatin's mouthfeel in general, about the only thing I use it for is some foams. About the oxtail jus - you basically get as much sauce as liquid that goes into the bag, and you use enough liquid to cover the contents of the bag. I never really measured
  3. Yeah, the method in the other thread for chicken stock is similar to what we were doing, instead of making stock though, we were adding a little to the bag to add flavour to the chicken, and then using it for the jus afterwards (just a quick reduction, a little butter, and it was good to go). Haven't tried cooking steaks sous-vide (that's not what you're asking, is it?) - the cuts we were getting at the restaurant were so well marbled and so tender, that they really wouldn't have benefitted much from being cooked sous-vide (as opposed to say pork or chicken, which definitely are better sous-vide). For sauces though, we did an oxtail jus sous-vide (I mentioned it upthread, but never in much detail), so here goes. It's really simple. We roasted the oxtail in a pan in some brown butter, then roasted the vegetables (carrot, celery root, onion). Let it cool down slightly, and put everything in the sous-vide bag. Add some aromatics (bay leaf, thyme), add veal stock to the bag, and seal. Cook at 80 degrees Celcius for 10 hours or so, strain the contents, and you have your jus. When you're ready to serve, saute some shallots, deglaze your pan with alcohol, then with the jus, mount with fat, and there you go. Honestly, this is probably my favourite way to do sauces. It's nice and simple, doesn't require much, if any reduction, all it requires is a sous-vide bag, water bath, and lots of time (or just good time planning - which I don't have when I'm at home). Vegetable purees also turn out very nice sous-vide. Put vegetables in bag with stock, milk, butter, whatever you want - cook for a few hours at 80 degrees (until they're very tender), remove from bag and puree. Flavour is definitely more intense than cooking in a sauce pot. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that we did add some tomato to our veal stock. Not much though, maybe 10 small-ish fresh tomatoes for a whole batch. We didn't want our sauces tasting like tomato at all though, just added for their natural glutamate content Anyhow, I did once (briefly) work at a restaurant that made Escoffier's traditional sauces pretty religiously. They weren't terrible (they were good, not great), but certainly not as good as the sauces we were doing at the more modern places. I'll take a simple pan sauce, jus, glace, etc..., anyday over the old sauces.
  4. I was thinking mostly of the 'New Nordic Cuisine' as well as what chefs like Marc Veyrat or Michel Bras are doing when I wrote it , but I'm also quite interested in modern German cuisine (and unfortunately am just starting to learn about the 'New German Cuisine'). The trend in many parts of europe is now to create a new cuisine based on the terroir of the surrounding land, creating more 'natural' flavours - the flavour of the land itself. Many chefs are also going back to their own roots or the roots of the land for inspiration, foraging for herbs and vegetables in their own backyards. The end result is, rather than 'classic' dishes, creating dishes with flavours that go back in time, are more 'pure', yet are very modern at the same time. When I write sometimes I think one thing and write another, sorry if I caused much confusion.
  5. Anyhow, for the stock we'd use roasted veal knuckles, some carrot, celery ROOT (we never used celery stalks for any stocks or sauces), and onions, as well as thyme and bay leaf. We'd let our brown stock go for about 8 hours. We'd do a case of veal knuckles (50 pounds) which would give us about 35 litres of stock. For the jus, it depended alot on how many scrappings we had on hand at the time, we'd take the chain from the tenderloin for this, as well as all the scraps from butchering (cleaned of fat of course) - no bones at this stage. We did other meat glaces too (lamb mostly - for the chicken we'd use the cooking juices from the sous-vide bag). For the yields, it's hard to say, but probably 10 pounds of scrap required 10 litres of stock in total, and produced maybe a litre or two of glace. This is going from memory, could be off a little (that was a year and a half ago, since then I've been a full-time pastry chef). Anyhow, the ingredients in the glace were beef tenderloin, carrot, celery root, onion (all roasted in brown butter in a pan - although for the amounts we were doing it would take many pans...), a little honey or a piece of sugar, bay leaf, thyme - we deglazed with water - no alcohol was added since we'd do that a la minute, that way we could also control and modify the final product if we wanted to (different alcohols and flavour profiles for a la carte, tastings, special tables, etc...). The time factor was based on how long it took the sauce to aquire the flavour and reduce to the proper consistency - at first we just added the whole amount of stock then reduced, a year later we changed our method - we'd add the stock little by little, topping it up as it reduced. Total time, 4-6 hours. Our method was quite similar to Alain Ducasse's method, which is the method I think was discussed on the board a while back. If some of my amounts and times are off a little I apologize, it was awhile back, since then I've been doing more or less exclusively pastries.
  6. Yeah, to me, reduced stock is, reduced stock. I've given a few chefs a hard time about it. When I do take a shortcut (usually at home) I'll proceed the same way I make a jus in a restaurant, but I wet the meat with water. Still works well, not quite as gelatinous, so I'll add a touch of potato starch. Anyhow, yeah, there are alot of very old cooking techniques making their way back into cooking, (albeit with a modern touch) such as thickening sauces with bread (although rather than being there for the thickening power it's done for a certain flavour), cooking in wood fired ovens and on rotisseries, thickening sauces with blood or ground up innards (strained after of course), etc.... I've also seen plenty of chefs going back to more natural styles of cooking, and foregoing 'classical' cooking altogether, instead creating rustic, old style flavours based on the terroir with modern techniques. This includes the use of alot of 'forgotten' vegetables and herbs, lots of game, and foraged foods. Personally, I'm very interested in whats going on in German and Nordic cuisines nowadays.
  7. I usually make instant oatmeal with water, top with brown sugar, nuts and fruit.
  8. yeah, yeah. i'd really like to see a blind test with a good sample size of tasters. in my own un-blind tests ... about a year of experimenting with tart shells ... the results were pretty clear. there will never again be any shortening in my kitchen. you could well prove me wrong, but at the moment i'm convinced shortening is a cheap shortcut. it's truly easier, and significantly cheaper, to get good texture with it. but it's flavorless, and it's incapable of the luscious, melt-in-your mouth texture of butter. it's on my ever lengthening list of 'why f'ing bother' ingredients. i don't bake professionally, but if i did, my response to people demanding vegan pastry would be the same as when I made ice cream professionally and customers asked for fat-free, sugar-free frogurt: Release the hounds! ← Butter is definitely the way to go. I never did any professional baking on a large scale though, only in restaurants. But I definitely prefer butter to any kind of shortening in pastries.
  9. yeah, the reason is expense. most contemporary chefs have never even tasted a sauce made in the manner of escoffier or careme, so they're really in no position to judge them. i happen to think that outside of world-class restaurants, what passes for glace is typically a shortcut on a shortcut on a shortcut, and is not even in the same league as the classics from which they devolved. as far as escoffier's recipe goes, it's possible that it won't actually be what the o.p. is looking for. the high ratio of veal to chicken suggests that it's really just a slightly more chickeny variation on a neutral white stock. the huge quantities of meat and bones will add savor and general deliciousness, but i doubt the overall effect will be an intensity of chicken flavor. if extreme chicken is what you're after, check out the thread on making stock in a sealed bag. i haven't tried it, but it looks like a promising idea. ← Well, I'm not sure what passes for glace at most places, the chefs I worked under in fine dining were both world class... What we did was anything but cheap. Anyhow, checking my Escoffier book, all he does for glace is reduce stock. Demi-glace is half espagnole sauce, half stock, reduced with sherry added. When we make glace, we roast scraps from prime cuts of meat (as well as vegetables, aromatics, sometimes a piece of sugar), and wet it with stock. Let it cook, reduce, constantly topping it with more stock (rather than taking a large pot and simply reducing it, we'd wet it little by little, adding more hot stock as the sauce reduces). When we served the piece of meat, we'd toss shallots and aromats into the roasting pan, deglaze with liquor, then some glace, then we'd mount it with either fois gras, butter or creme fraiche. We also made an oxtail jus sous-vide - we'd roast the oxtail with vegetables, then seal the oxtail and vegetables with aromats and veal stock in a sous-vide bag, then cook it at 80 degrees for 10 hours or so... Very little reduction required since you use alot less liquid to begin with. Just curious, but have you ever worked in a professional kitchen, especially at a high level? The fact is, the old sauces are outdated. Not because of cost, because new techniques are better. Even Escoffier himself in his book talks about how in the near future cooks will use pure starches instead of roux as thickening agents, producing a far superior product (hint - it's in the roux section). Clinging on to the old sauce repetoire is pointless.
  10. Modern sauces are much better than the old ones, theres a reason no top restaurants use the old sauce repetoire anymore... The key to a flavourful jus, is to start with a flavourful bird. Most grocery store chickens are sorely lacking in flavour, so find a free range bird, then proceed from there.
  11. Mikeb19

    Chicken Velvet

    You cut chicken breast into cubes. Mix up some egg whites with corn starch, and coat the chicken in it. Deep fry at low temperature for a minute or so, then finish the cooking in a sauce or stir fry. 'Velveting' refers to the technique of coating in starch and egg whites, then deep frying at low temperature. You don't want to completely cook the pieces in the oil, you cook it just enough to 'set' the outer part.
  12. Canadian PRIME beef is the top 0.7% of beef... At the restaurant I used to work at, all our beef was Canadian certified PRIME, and it was incredible. Best steak I ever had was a blue rare filet at that restaurant (end of the night snack ) Who needs sous vide anyway, those steaks were incredibly tender, anymore so and they would have fell apart... Not to mention flavourful.
  13. Don't get me started on Canada's trade system, especially when it comes to cooking. All I'll say is that it's a complete @#$%ing joke, and not worth a second of anyone's time...
  14. It's funny, my co-workers used to always give me shit for calling lobsters the 'cockroach of the sea'.... It's true though, shellfish are basically aquatic bugs. And bivalves are water filtration devices.
  15. If I need money while unemployed usually I'll just do some part time work for friends under the table... However I always like to have at least several months pay saved up in my bank account, so that I'm never desperate for money. But totally agree that you cannot show ANY signs of desperation in an interview, and that you need to negotiate from a position of power. The problem with looking for a job while having one is that you look disloyal - like a job-hopper. The new employer will think that if you already have a job yet are looking, that you might do that to him as well. He'll question your motives. I know if I had a cook looking for a job behind my back, I'd fire him on the spot. On the other hand if he told me or put in his notice in a professional manner, I'd support him. However if you tell them you left your previous job because you needed a change or whatever, and you'll thouroughly yet carefully looking for the right fit while taking a little time off, it makes you look better and more professional. Not to mention you'll be able to do a couple trial shifts and show them what you really can do, without worrying about scheduling around your current job.
  16. To add to this - passion, willingness to learn are key. If you want it enough, are willing to put time in, you'll make it. I used to come in to work on my days off to do pastries (I started off on the line doing savoury foods), and would always watch what the other cooks were doing. If you do decide to go to school, pay attention, ask plenty of questions, and practice at home. And when you finally do get into the workplace, don't assume you know anything. There are many different ways to cook, and learning all of them is valuable experience. Whether you think that restaurant is using good technique or not learn it, if only to learn that it doesn't work... And finally, what my old chef told me on my first day on the job in a fine dining restaurant: Everyone makes mistakes, the key is to learn from them, and never repeat the same mistake twice.
  17. Why is that a concern? Restaurants are a business, not a charity. If employees aren't getting paid enough, they leave. Prestige, working for a good chef - this stuff doesn't mean shit when you can't pay your bills... I for one don't feel the least bit sorry for a restaurant that can't provide a decent work environment. I think both of your scenarios will happen. Higher wages, less employees, and simpler food. The days of having a huge brigade are over, restaurants will have to have a small core of professional, well paid cooks, and figure out a way to still turn out great food (ie. simplicity). It's always interesting to look through the job advertisements and see who's hiring. Restaurants that 4 years ago had stacks of resumes to burn through, now are taking out ads for help. Restaurants that 4 years ago paid minimum wage, now are paying 18 dollars an hour...
  18. Obviously different people have different experiences... I started out as a kid off the street, living in the housing projects, getting into trouble with the law, etc... I was looking for a job, and I accidently walked into the top restaurant in the city (not knowing where I was) - the hostess wanted to kick me out but the executive chef wanted to talk to me. He hired me, and within 3 months I was a Chef de Partie at that restaurant. 2 years after that (at age 21), and I was the first cook (as well as pastry cook) in a restaurant that was considered one of the best in the country. Later that year I was offered my own kitchen (which I turned down, still too young), and instead took a position as a pastry chef. Anyhow, if you're willing to learn, put in time, you can rise through the ranks quickly - school or no school. I'm glad you had a positive experience at school. Unfortunately my experience with culinary school grads has been less than positive...(I could go on for hours) The ones who were decent had experience far beyond school... The chefs who taught me, none of them went to school. They came from 2/3 Michelin star restaurants in France and Switzerland...
  19. Definitely try working in a kitchen before you spend on school. And to answer your questions on culinary education - it's not important, and it won't get you any further ahead than starting as an apprentice. Every place I worked, the culinary school grads started out peeling vegetables, sorting through lettuce greens, scrubbing oysters, etc...
  20. I've always found it easier to look for a job while not working... Makes scheduling interviews and whatnot easier, not to mention the industry is tough, and it's nice to have a break in between jobs... Not to mention it always gives me time to visit friends in the industry that I don't see often enough.
  21. Well, that name makes more sense for a movie-cafe type thing than it does for a proper restaurant. You know, I've always wondered about the French names some restaurants choose - sometimes it seems they pick a name just because it's French and sounds 'fancy'...
  22. Personally I like it. A little retro, clean looking. And yeah, I think it would look good on a T-shirt.
  23. Mikeb19

    Chef Attire

    Speaking of ill-fitting attire, it's not as if men have it easy either. Most chef jackets I've worn are way too tight in the shoulders, making it very difficult to reach anything up high. I'm not a particularly big guy (6'1" 190 pounds), but I need to wear an XL jacket just to have that shoulder room (and of course the rest of the jacket is just huge). I do agree however, that chef attire does seem rather potato-shaped...
  24. Mikeb19

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    My 'recipe' (more like a technique), that I've used with great success in restaurants. Bake potatoes on a bed of salt. Rice potatoes (you've got to work quick while they're hot). Sprinkle flour all over (and season with a little salt), then mix with your hands until it gets 'crumbly' - the drier the potatoes, the less flour needed. Add an egg yolk or two (for most home sized batches, 1 egg yolk should be enough), and mix until it is *just* combined (mix too much, it gets gluey). Roll into 'ropes' (make sure theres plenty of flour on your work surface), cut, and boil (or freeze). Making gnocchi is more about technique than it is recipes. It's a very hands on, manual operation.
  25. Well, I guess I should have said that bread isn't too difficult for a high calibre restaurant to make well. The breads I've tasted from 'artisan' bakeries don't compare to the breads made at most of the restaurants I worked. Then again, there aren't many great bakeries around here. I suspect restaurants buying bread has alot to do with a lack of qualified staff, not to mention space is limited in a restaurant, and there are never enough ovens in a restaurant... I'm not Italian so I can't comment on gelato (never had it, don't know what it's supposed to taste like), but I'll comment on iced cream and sorbets. The stuff I've made in restaurants (as well as doing hotline, savoury foods, I'm also a pastry chef) is much better than what I've ever had out of a container. Could just be my experience (I haven't tasted a ton of retail products), but I do think doing it yourself is better. Iced cream at a dedicated stand is another thing, but that kind of experience doesn't necessarily travel well... (the temperature you serve iced cream at is a huge factor in how it tastes, as is the amount of air in it) If a restaurant isn't doing bread or iced creams/sorbets, it is more than likely is because their staff aren't skilled in those areas... (I've known executive chefs who couldn't bake bread or make iced cream...)
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