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Everything posted by pnwradar

  1. I've found a lot of variety in cardamom strength and flavor, and the strength fades quickly as it ages. The seeds and pods I used in India were amazingly strong smelling and tasting -- I totally overpowered my chai, using the same amount as at home. It's one of the spices I now refresh every few months, throwing the old stuff away (or into the mulling spices bag).
  2. I've tried using several different fresh mints from my herb garden, and a package of fresh (ish) mint from the grocery. All of them were steeped at 100F for an hour, then leaves strained out. This gave a subtle, more "earthy" mint flavor than commercial green or pink mint ice cream -- I liked the earthiness, but was overruled by the critics, who preferred the batch made with bottled peppermint extract added to a cooling 4-egg custard. They also liked straciatella better than choc chips in the mint. Bartenders use a "muddler", or a wooden pestle, to lightly mash mint in a julep cup. "Bruising" the mint with a wooden spoon would be the same thing, the idea is to break the oil-rich cells on the leaf surface, without tearing or chopping the leaves and releasing the deeper, more "herbal" flavors. I agree that the best results will come from a light muddle and a long cold steep -- and not subsequently heating the infused dairy. You could also muddle & steep the mint in alcohol to get a more efficient oil extraction, then add that alcohol to the custard like a commercial extract. -jon-
  3. I had 1/4lb of leftover milk chocolate last week, after making pastries and ice cream while visiting family on vacation (having schlepped two big boxes of cooking tools, paella gear, and ice cream maker 800 miles). I poured a hot unflavored batch of DL's "Fleur de Lait" cornstarch ice cream over the chopped chocolate, whisking to melt & combine. I also made a normal unflavored batch as control, to see how the mouthfeel changed. It wasn't as strongly flavored and rich as DL's standard milk chocolate recipe (4-egg custard + 8oz milk chocolate), but had similar mouthfeel to the unflavored -- perhaps a little smoother, probably due to the cocoa butter. For this crowd, the regular milk chocolate ice cream was the big winner, better than the cornstarch and the other flavors I made. I would suggest (as does DL) that you use milk chocolate with a high cocoa solids content -- 30% or more -- and avoid milk chocolate sold as candy bars, as they are too sweet and have very low cocoa solids. I'm a big fan of Callebaut Select, sold commercially in 11lb blocks, but I've seen it broken down into smaller 8oz/$5 portions at upscale markets or co-op stores. They also sell chip form ("callets") in 5.5lb and 22lb bags, which I've seen available online repackaged into 1lb portions. -jon-
  4. I didn't find any notes anywhere about chocolate cornstarch ice cream, so you might be a pioneer! Adding fat as cocoa butter will change the mouthfeel -- might make it better, who knows. To keep the texture the same, use cocoa solids (powder) only. "Dutch Process" cocoa powder is less acidic than regular, and brings a milder flavor. First I'd try thoroughly whisking 4T (1/4c) quality dutch-process cocoa powder into the milk/sugar, then adding the cream/cornstarch as normal. Then a second batch melting 1/3c bittersweet or semi-sweet chips into the milk/sugar. A third batch with 3T chips and 2T cocoa powder. Compare the mouthfeel of the different products then play with the amount, type, and brand of cocoa to see how the product changes. I usually use less sugar/sweetener than I think I need, and "sneak up" on the final result. I'll melt, modify, and re-freeze the product until it's dialed in. My best chocolate desserts tend to be less sweet than commercial versions, letting the cocoa flavour be the star. -jon-
  5. Not baking, but ice cream. The low-priced ingredient matcha was preferred over good drinking matcha and really expensive ritual matcha. The recipe calls for 4tsp matcha for a quart of ice cream, which was suitable strong. As hot tea, the cheap matcha was unpalatable. -jon-
  6. After a similar discussion with friends last fall, I bought some *really* expensive matcha powder, some really cheap stuff, and the moderately expensive stuff I've always used. In ice cream, they all tasted nearly the same -- the cheaper stuff was a little better, having a stronger "green grass" flavor. In hot tea, totally the opposite -- the cheap stuff was unpalatable, the top-shelf stuff was tastiest. On a different note, the parallel saffron "experiment" showed higher quality saffron made way better ice cream, where quality didn't relate to price. The supermarket stuff was mediocre, and ridiculously overpriced. The saffron from Penzey's was much better, and the bulk saffron I bought online from an importer was amazing. -jon-
  7. For steeping vanilla or other flavors, I bring the soup to 120F and let it sit (covered) for an hour or two -- the whole time slightly concerned this is smack in the middle of the "danger zone" for food holding. Then I remove the vanilla pod, add egg yolks, and raise to custard temp (155-160F, 170F if I'm serving immune-compromised guests). I use a non-contact infrared thermometer ($35 at the local industrial supply shop) to measure stovetop liquids. I'm not sure what "less creamy" means. Less richness means less fat, by using lighter fat content cream or replacing some cream with milk. You can tweak "mouthfeel" by adjusting sugar content or adding alcohol to alter the freezing point of the product, which will affect the size of the ice crystals formed during freezing -- making sure your freezer bowl and product are both fully chilled before spinning will help greatly here, as faster freezing in the machine means smaller crystals and a smoother mouthfeel. The air content is determined by the machine physics (the dasher speed, angle of the blades, etc.), so running the batch for a shorter time will just yield less-chilled product. Home ice-cream machines typically incorporate the same air as the super-premium ice creams. In Europe, gelato tends to mean even less air and freshly made (that day, usually), but in America it's a marketing word to justify a larger pricetag. That said, there are countertop "gelato" machines from Italy which my local chef friends swear by. -jon-
  8. Try it with the salted nuts, it might suit your less-sweet taste. If not, the salt is nearly all on the surface, so a quick rinse under the tap should remove it. I don't remember whether the nuts I bought were salted or not -- just grabbed a bag from the grocer's shelf, and shelled them at home, trying to not nibble what I needed for the recipe. If your grocer has root beer extract (probably on the shelf near the vanilla), stir a teaspoon into your basic 1qt custard recipe. Tastes much like a root beer float. -jon-
  9. Some of the recipes are definitely sweeter, and some are almost savory. I've made nearly all the recipes in the book, with notes in the margins refining many of them to my taste. And I've found a lot of variety in folks' sweet tooths -- some really like the mouth puckering super-lemon, others really like the malted milk and cheesecake. My favorite is the black pepper ice cream, made with some bright tellicherri peppercorns. I use really good quality slow-pasteurized whole milk (4%) and heavy cream (36%) from a local dairy, and modified the basic custard to use 2c milk and 1c cream, as we found it too heavy with more cream. How did the Fleur de Lait and the Leche Merengada turn out for you? -jon-
  10. Actually, current NEC only requires countertop outlets in a residential kitchen to be GFCI protected. Commonly, the same circuit will service the dishwasher and garbage disposal, neither of which are countertop outlets, even if the control switch is countertop. A disposal was one of the first things I added to our new home -- knowing that this means more attention to the septic system and perhaps more frequent pumpouts. I've lived in several homes with disposal and septic, and never had any issue. But we don't put meats, fats, or anything unchewable through it. -jon-
  11. My local woodworking store sells 36" long 1-1/2" hardwood (oak, maple, cherry, walnut) dowels for $10. 2-1/2" diameter dowels are $25 for a 30" length. Any decent (non-warehouse) hardware store sells them. They'll probably cut it to the length you want, free. -jon-
  12. I also follow DL's recipe, but with 2c milk & 1c cream, and one less yolk -- we apparently like our dessert a little less rich than he does, where it's not coating the spoon with butterfat. After a lot of experimenting, I've settled on taking the custard to 160F (IR non-contact thermometer), strain, then rapidly cooling (soup chiller) before mixing into the chilled cream + flavoring. Might want to cook to a higher temp for serving to the infant and infirm, or use pasteurized egg whites. -jon-
  13. I thought blast chillers operated at a significantly lower temperature than reach-in freezers. Would adding fans to the inside of a reach-in cause things to freeze faster, assuming they could move enough air? I think I have some experiments to perform with my ice cream holding freezer. -jon-
  14. For that kinda budget, you could put a small reach-in in the kitchen and the den, then have walk-ins next to where the wife parks. It might be a little more costly to operate, but EnergyStar ratings probably aren't of high import for the higher-end shoppers. I'd certainly be more impressed with a walk-in than some shiny kitchen cooler.
  15. Several of us at work went in on a few ounces from them this winter, along with some packs of vanilla beans. Good product at a good price -- and I like having a pint jar of saffron in the cupboard for experimenting. (Saffron gelato? Sure!) A good friend, visiting for dinner, said she loves saffron rice, but the grocery store prices make her cringe. We sent her home with a little half-cup mason jar of threads -- along with a warning to use a gentle hand, it's much stronger than the tired stuff she might be used to. -jon-
  16. I like the Cam-Square bins for flour -- larger for AP and wheat, smaller for specialty flours. I found them at a local restaurant supply place, where I could see how much they'd hold. They all fit nicely into the pantry bookshelf, down from the cookbooks. -jon-
  17. If you're willing to cross the water, I like Alborz in downtown Redmond. -jon-
  18. pnwradar

    Coffee Art

    A coffee drink will always be less tasty in a paper cup than in a warmed china cup, and customers more concerned with convenience than optimizing their coffee flavor are likely to get what they value. That said, I've seen a few baristas make simple art served in a paper cup and hand it over uncovered. If your coffee shop has a drive-through window, or very limited seating, you're unlikely to get latte art (or good coffee, really). I'll warn you, though, once you taste really good coffee in china from a barista that cares, it might be difficult to go back to paper cups. Sure, the second half of the pour can have foam art that usually stays legible to the last sip -- I've gotten them with my name, initials, the pub's logo. Legend says that if a 4-leaf clover is drawn on top, they're asking for an IRA donation. -jon-
  19. Aw, c'mon. It's not as bad as that. -jon-
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