Steve Klc

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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About Steve Klc

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    http://www.pastryarts.com

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    Washington, DC mostly

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  1. Using a Pacojet

    Some people with both a Paco and a batch freezer still do their sorbets in the batch freezer, me included. If you haven't seen it yet, there's a very nice section in Torreblanca's book on doing ice creams and sorbets in the PacoJet, about 20 recipes or so. I think the main thing working against you getting a "tight" sorbet in a Paco, after you adjust the sugars, is whether you can reliably freeze the beakers deeply enough--if you can, you should be fine getting the texture/firmness you want.
  2. Almond Flour/Almond Meal?

    This might be a little misleading, Sharon. No matter what care or method you employ at home or in a pro setting--even with a Sumeet--you can't produce a nut flour at all comparable to the commercial product. You can grind it up and get varying degrees of fineness--but there's no way to press the oil out to get nut "flour." What you get still has all the oil in it--what you get is some form of "meal" not flour. Flour has 80-90% of the oil pressed out of it--and hence its value in certain applications, a la macaroons and other things you'll find recipes for in the best pastry books. If you try to substitute some home-made, home ground alternative into a dessert or application which calls for a nut flour, you'll usually end up with something leaden or sunken, rather than light. It's the oil which tends to screw with texture, not necessarily the grind or fineness. The take home message is this--use flour when your application requires it; use ground almonds, even something you grind at home, when your application doesn't require it. ATLAF--if you're not sure--do a side by side test of small batches--and see for yourself whether it makes a difference. If you have flour, and want something even finer--you can pulse true nut flour in a Cuisinart with the metal blade (just like you can pulse granulated sugar to make it even finer.) (Some of this meal/flour confusion may stem from labelling issues between countries and manufacturers and dumbing things down, but most "almond meals" I have used are simply ground nuts and tend to be much oilier than "almond flour" and I never substitute or swap the two. I tend to stay away from things labelled "almond meal flour." Hope that helps.)
  3. in case anyone is wondering about the designers and pastry chefs who actually collaborated on those dresses pictured above, the first was by Austin Scarlett and Robert Twardzik, the vampire M&M number was by Diana Kane and Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, the wedding dress with white chocolate (I believe) was Celestina Agostino for La Châtelaine & François Pralus, the Egyptian themed one was by Martin Howard, of course, and worn by Martin during the runway show, who was accompanied by a quartet of servants, fanning him with chocolate palm fronds. Some savvy veterans I know time their visit around pastry chef demos in the theaters--keep their seats for two or three in a row--that's a great way to get dessert. Pop out for a bite to eat--like to that great little Japanese chicken wing place on 19th or walk down to 10th to Cookshop--which Andrea Strong is 100% correct about--then come back for more chocolate. Also, Friday early evening, if you can get there, is much nicer than anytime Saturday or Sunday. That picture of the cocoa pod is too dry and dessicated to appreciate, it's probably been schlepped around for years. A real fresh one is white, vibrant, juicy and slimy. If you bought a fresh one, you're really lucky, because they can't easily be imported. Wholesale florists, that's it, I've heard.
  4. baking custards

    half to two-thirds should get you off to a good start, it'll extend baking time, and don't forget it will continue to cook and set once it's removed from the oven and allowed to cool.
  5. baking custards

    yeah, the container is irrelevant--just something you can seal effectively. I know people who bake these both in a water bath and not, in radiant and convection, covered and not, and every possible combination--everyone has a personal way of doing these. I lean toward convection, water bath, covered with plastic but that's not always practical in a restaurant setting.
  6. baking custards

    Marlene--the "theory" behind using a convection oven for custards is that the fans ensure better air circulation, keeping the oven at the same temp all over, and hence less need for a water bath--whose real function is to help coddle the custards while they are cooking and to prevent them from over-heating or heating too quickly, as they might in a radiant heat oven where the focus of the heat is coming from the bottom of the oven. But that water bath can help baking and setting, too--if at the start of baking you pour very hot water in as the bath. so convection can be really good for creme brulees--what's not necessarily so good is if you have powerful fans blowing the air around, which disturbs the surface. another trick to try is putting the ramekins in a hotel pan--with or without water bath--and covering the pan with plastic wrap--and then baking. you'll know if whatever you're doing is not working because the custard will tell you once you unmold it or eat it--you'll see little microbubbles in the custard--on top, on the sides--and that'll tell you where you went wrong. 200 for an hour seems too short and too cool--try starting at a higher temp like 250-275 also make sure you verify what your oven temp actually is.
  7. Fat Guy Lays it on the Table

    Much the same thing could be said about certain restaurant reviewers, professional, anonymous or otherwise.
  8. Using a Pacojet

    Right, and for most things to work right in the Paco, Wendy, you have to use a freezer that gets really cold, at least -5, and hold beakers for 24 hours at that temp before you spin. That means if you fill beakers at 7PM, set them in the freezer overnight, and then try to spin them for service next day at 10 or 11AM--they haven't been frozen long enough. One reason there's such...inconsistency...with the Pacojet is some freezers are shared use, doors opened and closed, defrost cycles go on and off automatically, etc. Most mixtures have to be really cold to stand up to the shaving action like Ted explained, it generates heat as it spins down and makes the end result soupy or soft if it was too warm to begin with (kind of like how you have to be careful adding really cold butter, pulsing quickly when you're making a dough in a Cuisinart. You use the cold/frozen butter cubes to balance the extra heat generated by the quickly spinning blades.)
  9. Using a Pacojet

    It broke because it had too much fat--I do mine in the Paco with a 0% fromage blanc, learned that tip from Philippe Conticini, works well. Use anything else with even a small percentage of fat, the Paco will break it or you have to reduce the amount of olive oil and then you lose its taste. CTB--in general--owning a Paco is like a little club, and it's an exclusive club requiring you to put in your own work, go through your own learning curve, before you feel like a member. Sorry, but that's the way it is--it'll be better to ask more specific questions, like what else do I need to know before buying a Paco, will I need to buy special freezers, how many beakers should I buy, and all of that will depend on your size and situation. Then once you get it, and have tried things, ask what you could be doing better. Begin by reducing sugar % like devin suggests--that's the starting point. Everything I do is like 3 degrees Brix less than what I might do in a batch freezer. No stabilizers needed. You can approach the Paco just like you approach a batch freezer--you can be as measured and scientific with the Paco as you can be with a batch freezer or you can be as cavalier and unscientific with it, just as some pastry chefs are with a batch freezer. It's just the science of the Paco is a slightly different science than the batch freezer--there's a lot of sloppy work and handling in each system--and the science changes when you decide not to spin a la minute and instead spin ahead for volume and then "hold" beakers already spun and scoop from them--you need two freezers to do that. We get ours serviced by that same place, and get next day turnaround, I think they're the only folks who do Paco repair. Once a year servicing may or may not be enough, depending on how many times you spin, how many hours you put on the motor daily/weekly/monthly. The book that came with the Paco a few years ago was clueless--anyone know if they are shipping a new one with valid recipes and valid science specifically for the Paco? With the dollar the way it is, not too many folks I know are buying new ones--we got a few when they had that great deal "for two" a few years ago and I love them--then you could get two plus a ton of beakers plus factor in yearly service expense and still come in way under the cost of a Taylor or Coldelite. But, even in one place that I have a Paco and a batch freezer--I do some things in the paco and some things in the batch because they're better in one or the other. The most rewarding stuff is the stuff you experiment with and figure out yourself--another cool thing I picked up from Philippe Conticini (and Chris Broberg, who was working for Philippe at Petrossian at the time and who himself was one of the first pchefs in the US working with the Paco under Gray Kunz) was making concentrated flavor essences in the Paco to work more efficiently and flavorfully: an example, freeze lightly poached and candied orange rinds in a beaker and spin--and then use that pulverized powder in recipes for great flavor. No need to "infuse" no need to strain because it dissipates. You hear of something like that, then experiment on your own to find what works for you. It's very empowering to put the machine to work for you creatively rather than always be dictated "by" the machine or by tradition.
  10. 20-quart mixers

    no, it's best if you discuss particular equipment in separate threads--and do a search for previous discussion threads on the items you're interested in, mixers, ranges, etc and after reading them, maybe adding a post onto them. good luck with your purchases, begin with a Hobart.
  11. Michael Bras Chocolate Coulant

    Not that this is the best place to explain this, but since new members are continually joining and it comes up from time to time, I'll go over it again: joesan--your heart was in the right place, but thank you for not posting a lengthy recipe verbatim from a book--that's not considered to be "fair use" by eGullet, which holds to a very stringent standard protecting content creators. What you can do within reason, however, is put a recipe into your own words--using your language--especially if you work from it and are passing along your own comments based on your experiences. In this case, if you were familiar with it, you could have listed the exact amounts from this Bras recipe, said where you got it from, and then conveyed the instructions in your own words--adding things like "these steps seem really convoluted" or "I bake it for x minutes at y degrees instead," etc. It's a fine line to walk--but think of it this way--you can't quote pages and paragraphs from an article but you can quote selectively and break up the quotes you use with your own content, comment and opinion. Do the same with verbatim recipes and you will be fine. Does this take more time? Yes, but that's the cost of respect when you operate within a community. The difference between something in a book and the same recipe on a website is just that--in this case the copyright holder and/or the author has put the recipe on the site and is freely allowing links to it--that's why we usually advise "linking" to a recipe like Ted did or linking to a very long quote or the original article almost always as the most preferable course of action. Realize that if this recipe appeared verbatim on another website--but appeared there in violation of how we interpret copyright or fair use standards--we would not allow a link to it. That might sound tricky: an example--another less serious, less-well-run discussion forum allows their members to reprint entire articles from, say, the NY Times or LA Times willy nilly--which is a clear violation of commonly accepted media standards--and this Michel Bras recipe was in such an article that ran a year ago. Ted, trying to be helpful, Googles to try to find this recipe--and finds that the article was no longer freely available on the Times website anymore--but instead was now in their premium "paid" archive because too much time had passed--but he also finds that the whole article WAS cut and pasted onto this other less professional website. Could he link from eGullet to this other website? No--because eG respects the rights of the original author and publisher in terms of usage. If it were brought to our attention, we'd remove it. If it couldn't be posted here on eG, it usually can't be linked to elsewhere as an "end run" around our policies. Also, in general, eG pastry forum is not the place to publicly solicit for information (recipes, tips, etc) to then be sent privately--that way no one in the grander sense benefits. The idea behind everything we do here is we're all linked to a common goal: that of raising awareness, sharing and exchanging information publicly. Anything which isn't going to further that goal should be handled privately, and we even provide a mechanism for that--the pm system--but we'd much rather prefer our technology was used to help as many people as possible--by posting and answering and sharing publicly rather than behind the scenes. That way, in the long run, we show professional respect for everyone and we're all bound by weak, but nonetheless shared and respected community bonds. When you respect usage rights and content creation of others, you are respecting yourself. Any questions or concerns, just ask one of the "admins" of this forum via pm, who while volunteering to lead here are also working professional pastry chefs--content creators--and content interpreters--themselves. It's our responsibility to help guide and we're glad to help. So tell me, is anyone actually doing this coulant, this way, in the real world?
  12. Really well-organized mette, congratulations. Two thoughts to add for those trying at home: 1) sometimes the top rims break because they are molded too thin--even after filling with a second layer--it can help to leave the bowl to set inverted after you've tapped out a coat, propped up a bit to allow cool air to circulate; 2) on the two-color balloons, the warmer dark chocolate (higher temper point and working range) may have pulled the milk chocolate (lower temper point and cooler working range) out of temper as it was setting if it was trapped inside. same thing could happen with dark and white chocolate. that's why when molding, it can help if you apply the warmer (dark) effect first then mold or apply the white/milk layer after.
  13. everyone is going to have their own methods for this, which work for them and for their shape--and that variability is ok because what's really important is developing the "feel" for it. The great value of a hands-on class with top notch instructors is just this--there's someone there to make sure you "feel" what you're supposed to feel, to say that's too warm or not warm enough, etc. With more complicated curves and rods that bend into 2D and 3D spheres, I do score the entire length and I score deeply, to within maybe 1/32 of an inch of the sugar--so I can just peel the plastic tubing apart gently with my hands. I also unpeel most rods before they get cold--the sugar is less brittle and the tubes are more flexible and don't require being warmed up with a warming gun, as they might the next day. I'd rather have a tiny x-acto knife nick where I may have pressed too deeply into the tubing (and which I can cover with decor anyway) than have a tube crack or the knife chip the surface the next day. If you do it a few times you'll find the way that works for you--and you'll see how it nicks and chips differently depending on the temperatures. Isomalt is more brittle, and you'll have to adjust depending on your work environment and what you plan to do with the unmolded piece, as well. As you do it more, you'll also understand that shapes cool differently--at different rates--which makes how (which side of the curve) and when you score the tube more difficult (and also prompts you to develop little tricks to cool them down more evenly.) Very revealing narrative, Lee, thanks for the depth of your commitment so far.
  14. Badly if you don't take precautions. Merely sliding a saucepan across Corian will "scratch" it but depending on the color you choose you might not even see the scratch unless you bend down to just the right angle and shine a light on it just so. Of course, anything that really bothers you you can buff or rub out--but if you choose a good color (mine is Glacier white) you won't see any scratches anyway. If you are that kind of person who'll fret any mark, perceived or not, get Zodiaq/Silestone, not Corian. I'd make sure your vice/clamp has good rubber feet and you may want to let your installer know where you're planning to clamp down--he might be able to build up underneath with a little extra plywood and give you a little more support than is typical. I haven't ever clamped anything to my Corian, and wouldn't, so I can't speak from experience--I clamp to granite and stainless.
  15. creative or just silly?

    It all comes down to having an open mind as a diner, having trust in your chef, and having the ability to tell when something "tastes good." Most diners don't possess all three. Good comment, Doc. And anzu, thanks for that mention of tavuk gogsu--the more reading anyone does, the deeper you dig, I think you'll find that much of what can be perceived as nouvelle cuisine or avant-garde in any given time period has culinary historical precedents. I helped open a modern Greek and Turkish-influenced restaurant a few years ago with Jose Andres, and I remember when he came back from spending a few weeks travelling the region--the "dessert" he talked about most when he returned was this ground chicken dish. We could never do it in the restaurant, and though we did push a lot of barriers and my desserts there were not traditional at all--something very "traditional" like this and authentic (though I hate that word) was way too avant-garde. As Doc said, appropriate in the context. Everyone should realize, though, that bacon and egg ice cream had been done as a dessert concept not by one chef, but two chefs, way before most people had ever heard of Heston Blumenthal: the Adrias of course did it and Thomas Keller/Stephen Durfee also did it at the French Laundry. My guess was each version was impeccably appropriate in their contexts.