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Everything posted by aschbren

  1. Don't add sugar. Maybe it's part of my brewing philosophy, but I feel that the apple cider should be an expression of the apples they come from. When you chaptalize homemade cider, you're obscuring the apple-eyness of the cider. Also, don't be so concerned with final alcohol content. Allow it to ferment to the alcohol content corresponding to the amount of natural sugar in the apple cider. The objective of making an alcoholic beverage is to make it taste wonderful (while maintaining its integrity as a food product).
  2. I would say anything that the critical cooking step was done well ahead of service. That eliminates how busy the restaurant is, who you are, etc. Anything braised, stewed, baked, or preserved would seem to be a good choice. One's you've made your terrine for the night, it's not like you can make a new one...
  3. All of this talk about how to best preserve syrups by monkeying around with sugar and ethanol contents, periodic boiling, etc... Why bother? And besides... For me one of the rewarding things about making my own maraschino cherries/grenadine/etc is that it doesn't have preservatives in it. It takes like five minutes to make simple syrup if that. Seems easy enough for me. Then you don't have to worry about reformulating recipes to higher sugar-content syrups or changing around the alcoholic composition of a cocktail. If you have to store it, you can store it in the freezer (it probably won't freeze... at least it doesn't in mine). One nice touch I use is to caramelize sugar in a small amount of water before adding the rest of it to bring the temperature down and stop it where I want it. A nice caramelized syrup goes well with some rum-based cocktails...
  4. If you have some time on your hands, a freezer, and a willingness to flaunt the law, you could make true apricot brandy at home. Start with pure apricot juice, freeze it slowly to remove water and increase the sugar concentration. Then add a cider yeast starter (available from a home brew store) and/or wine yeast and allow it to ferment for 3-6 months. At this point you'll have apricot wine. Now proceed as if you were making applejack and just freeze it repeatedly, discarding any ice that forms until it stops forming. The final alcohol concentration will depend upon the temperature of your freezer. When you make applejack, most people can achieve 60 proof using the freezer. As I noted above, I wouldn't tell the ATF if you do this as fractional crystallization is considered a form of distillation (i.e. technically a felony as if you were operating an illegal still). If you're sure the feds aren't going to raid your home, you should be fine though...
  5. Being fond of Scandinavian foodstuffs (well, almost everything; I can't abide lutefiske) I tried to find Aase beer, but the store where I used to buy it in Racine no longer carries the stuff. Worth it for the name alone. The beer itself is only so-so. ← You do know that Aass is pronounced "orse," right? (At least that's what Garrett Oliver says in the Brewmaster's Table.)
  6. Don't overlook Harold McGee as one of Alton Brown's more significant sources... I think too much has been made of "Good Eats" inaccuracies within this thread. I find that his culinary technique is nearly always reasonable, although we can quibble about this-and-that ("he didn't toast those spices before adding them!", "he didn't truss that chicken!"). As for his scientific explanations, I consider them to be reasonable as well. I'm a practicing chemist and I find his science to be almost always correct. And that's fine with me... In graduate school you learn that everything you learned in high school chemistry was wrong, or at least not nearly as right as you thought. The thing with science is that eventually you have to start laying down equations, often ugly ones, or you're not going to communicate the concept with complete accuracy. Alton can't start talking about reaction mechanisms on Good Eats because he'd alienate >99% of his viewership. So go ahead and nit-pick if you want, but I think that often times you'll fine that he presents an idea in a certain way to make it understandable to the masses even if it's just the "cartoon" explanation to a scientist.
  7. aschbren

    The Slow Pour

    That doesn't make any sense. If anything, pouring slowly would lead to more carbonation in your glass. There's a certain amount of dissolved CO2 in a bottle of beer. When you open that bottle, the CO2 tries to escape to the atmosphere as a direct result of Henry's law. The more the beer is agitated and the warmer it is, the faster the CO2 will escape.
  8. Exactly what I was going to say... I despise milk in my coffee for the same reason that I dislike milk in my chocolate. Dark chocolate tastes of chocolate and, when well made, speaks volumes. Milk chocolate, even when well made, is going to taste muddled because the chocolate has been diluted. Don't get me wrong, though... I LOVE milk (I'm from Wisconsin.). But I don't like it in coffee. But when I serve coffee to others who like milk, I heat some whole milk before adding it to their cup. Takes care of the thermal issue...
  9. The beer market as a whole has been flat since the '80s because there's no room for it to grow. The craft beer sector has been growing within that flat market share. As a result, the big brewing companies are scared to hell because they have no where to go but down. This is also why they are (perhaps) insidiously buying out craft or otherwise independent breweries (i.e. Redhook, Leinenkugels, etc.).
  10. It's possible (I know from experience!) to break the glass with a metal spoon. ← Yes, definitely. I use a chopstick. ← You're kidding me... they don't make french presses out of borosilicate glass (i.e. pyrex)?
  11. aschbren

    The Perfect Burger

    I assume that by "Kobe beef" you meant wagyu beef? Unless it's from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, I'm sorry but it's not Kobe beef.
  12. That's one of the reasons why I took the job. I need to start cooking outside of my comfort zone, which is the highly rational order of classical French sauces. It's also a good excuse for me to finally really understand the subtleties of dough. We heated our home growing up with a wood furnace, and I always liked cooking hotdogs and making smores in it.
  13. There's a wood fired oven. I'm pretty sure they make the crust using sourdough, and the toppings are all pretty standard european-style pizzas (see the Cheeseboard... the options are very similar). I don't know that much about the restaurant yet, but I know the place has 30 seats in the dining room and 15 more at the bar. Pizza is served as the most popular main course there, as they also do the small plates thing more for apps.
  14. Next week I'm starting work in a new kitchen where they specialize in pizza. Based on my experience working on a traditional line, I'm having trouble understanding how the pizza program fits into the rest of the line. Basically for anyone out there, what should I expect when I walk in the door? What's different in a fine-dining restaurant that serves pizza versus a similar one that doesn't?
  15. aschbren


    Once you get a wort chiller, you'll never want to go back. http://www.northernbrewer.com/wort-chillers.html Just run cold water through it and you get storeable temperatures much, much faster than any other technique I've ever seen. I'm surprised they're as rare as they are in kitchens.
  16. aschbren

    Burger helper

    Well Hello everyone. I am still working on some of the fine details. I have chosen a name "Burger Joint No.9" I am still working on the blend...getting it just right. I am still thinking about fries. dont know which way to go. Fries are not something that keeps for very long. I was thinking about fresh chips. If I cook chips...the chips being hot is a plus...especally when properly salted, but if the chips are cold...well everyone is expecting chips to be cold. I am also working out logistics of scheduling, who needs to do what and when. Meanwhile...I am still hustling to make the money to open. Just wanted to give an update. Oh yeah...I am also building my website (NO flash) in which I want to mention this group because you all have helped me so much through this process. I will be checking in. Also...If anyone has any fund raising ideas I am more than happy to hear them... the more money I raise the faster I can open. ← After reading this thread in one night, I have two contributions to make. 1. If you live in a college town, experience says that the bar crowd market is enormous. Perhaps you should stay open until an hour or two after bar time? Or maybe you could set up your game day stand on the street on weekends to raise the money you need. 2. I grew up in the town of Marshfield, Wisconsin which has had a pretty dead restaurant scene. But a couple years ago, a Starbucks and a Coffee Cabin opened up literally side-by-side. What's a Coffee Cabin? It's a Fleet Farm-variety garden shed in an old parking lot. This guy operates a coffee drive-through from it and makes really decent coffee. The Starbucks went out of business. Let this be inspiration for you. (3. When you open, I'll drive all the way from Madison, Wisconsin to eat one of your burgers.)
  17. If you're going to be in Milwaukee on a Friday night, you need to have a fish fry. I know I'm just rehashing a recent Saveur, but honestly I do recommend the Turner Restaurant and the Lake Front Brewery for fish fry.
  18. Since I don't know what you're going for: breakfast - Lazy Jane's pizza - The Roman Candle bar/supperclub - The Weary Traveler (for anything) or Dotty Dumpling's Dowry (for burger) brewpub - The Great Dane (very english pub) asian - Morimoto fine dining - L'Etoile dessert - Cocoliquot (nine textures of chocolate) I'm all about the Old Fashioned. It has a great beer selection, and their food is great for the price. The Old Fashioned is co-owned by Tami Lax, who also owns Harvest. The Great Dane's beer is absolutely world class. And while their food is good, I have a bad feeling Sysco has a hand in their kitchen...
  19. Holy hell that Starbucks shouldn't be there. It would be like if there were a fast food joint in the middle of the Arlington National Cemetery.
  20. I had a Molson "ice" the other day. ugh ← "Ice!" I forgot the "Ice" fad. IIRC, it came from Canada (home of all frozen things <g>) and, well, it WAS based, however loosely, on the valid "Eisbock" technique of Germany. The part I liked about was when A-B came out with some, they added water BACK to the beers after the ice was removed, to bring the alcohol level back down. Huh? Never had the Miller and don't get the Leinkugel in NJ (yet- but it's coming- I see their Lemon flavored stuff now.) I'm not saying that all the "fad" styles were ONLY fads, with no redeeming value. One of my favorite fads (pre-micro era) was when Genesee Cream Ale took off in the Northeast and we started getting a number of out of the area Cream Ales (Blatz and Little Kings), some older ales were "reborn" -Utica Club, Red Cap, Neuweiler Cream Ale, Tiger Head Ale, McSorley's (Cream) Ale (which hadn't been bottled in many years at that point) and some other breweries dipped their feet into the hybrid waters (Falstaff had a Ballantine Cream Ale for a time, Schaefer came out with one, etc.). And the best part- many were a lot better than the inspiration (Genesee CA) at least for "ale" drinkers who wanted hops. ← It was my understanding from reading The Brewmaster's Table that megabrewed "ice beers" were just a marketing gimmick... Since macro ice beers don't have any more alcohol content than a normal macrobrew, I don't think they freeze the beer which is the critical step in making an eisbier.
  21. I don't agree with this 100% ... it's true if the reason you won't drink it is bad flavor, but in many cases wines that have general qualities that you don't care for make excellent wines for cooking. A wine that's boring and two dimensional can work very well, as long as it has the basic qualities called for in the dish (acid, or full body, for example) because the subtleties of flavor and aroma will be cooked off anyhow. Red wine in particular is transformed by cooking and by the presence (or absence) of proteins in the food. Red wines that I would normally consider too insipid to drink (like most cheap merlots) can work great in cooked dishes and sauces, provided they have enough body to hold up. ← All other things being equal, I agree with you. If you have two decent wines, one of them being incredibly nuanced and the other being pretty straight forward, they'll probably taste the same after being cooked. The nuance would be lost as volatiles. However, many wines have off-flavors that intensify through cooking. The most common off-flavor in wine that I use for cooking is, in my opinion, oak. If you reduce it even by a little, you drive off all the wine flavors and end up with something that tastes like a two by four.
  22. I'd be hesitant to freeze wine because of possible chemical degradations and repercussions (especially since the alcohol content will not react the same way as the water content and water/alcohol-soluble contents). ← You needn't worry about that. The water and ethanol are miscible, making only one solution. The flavor components are soluble in that solution. As the solution freezes, it remains homogeneous with respect to its chemical components. That said, I don't freeze wine either. I just drink whatever is left over from the cooking... which eliminates boxed wine as an option! Personally, while wine is not necessary to make risotto, I prefer to add it because I like the flavor it contributes. Of course, I only use wine if I am making the risotto with a white stock like chicken or veal. Otherwise, I think it would be out of place!
  23. aschbren

    Seared Butter

    Just brainstorming... How about freezing it? This would be relatively easy... melt some clarified butter and fill a spoon with it. Place it in a container of liquid nitrogen and fish it out and plate it. The outside should freeze almost instantly, providing a different encapsulation option.
  24. If you've ever listened to an interview with Tom Colicchio about Top Chef, you'd know that the producers are legally bound to keep the judges separated from the contestants practically all the time. Apparently, they don't want them developing a bias based on how much they like each contestant. I'm referring to his interview on the Restaurant Guys and on Chow.com.
  25. I'll take that and raise you "Homade".
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