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Everything posted by rickster

  1. Sort of a tempering question: I have some Valrhona Caraibe and Manjari pistoles that are probably 2-3 years old. Some are in a plastic canister that was kept in a freezer and some kept in a pantry in a bag that was rolled shut, but not sealed. Can these still be successfully tempered, or do they go "off" for this purpose? Would it be better to use them for a ganache?
  2. Per the point about how many challahs can you sell, it's unclear to me how this business works if you are operating out of the synagogue's kitchen. How would you market your product without a storefront? Would it just be word of mouth to the local community associated with the synagogue and are their enough of them to for you to earn a decent wage? Seems to me that using the facilities for a catering business makes more sense.
  3. rickster

    Ancho chillies

    I make them into a paste. Basically, you split them open and de-seed/de-stem them. You then heat them in a dry frying pan just until wisps of smoke appear. Then put the anchos in a bowl of hot water for about half an hour/ 45 min. until softened. Meanwhile add a couple of garlic cloves still in their skins to the frying pan and toast until the skin is blackened. De-skin the garlic. Put the softened chiles, garlic, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of ground cloves, some dried oregano, salt into a food processor or blender with enough chicken stock or water to allow it to blend, and blend to a puree. Pass the puree through a sieve to get rid of some odd bits of skin. The recipe is from one of Rick Bayless' Mexican Cookbooks. The paste can then be used in meat or vegetarian chilis.
  4. You also have to keep in mind that most "Top Chefs" are employed and unwilling to quit their jobs or unable to take a leave to compete on the show. I think Richard and Stephanie last season were both "between projects".
  5. I had lived my whole life in the NYC metro area until I came to Chicago a few years ago. One of the most amazing things to me here is to see these vast supermarkets with tiny meat sections. Once you get beyond chicken, pork chops and ground beef, the variety is pretty poor in the big chains.
  6. Alas, your average eGullet member does not exactly fit into this category: it's not surprising that no one here is particularly intimidated by that list. But I bet if I polled my neighbors not one of them would consider buying ANYTHING on it. ← In a similar but slightly different vein, I live just north of Chicago. Everything on the list is available here, but it takes a lot of riding around and a good knowledge of gourmet and ethnic grocery stores. If I were the average suburban shopper who just hits the Jewel or Dominicks (our 2 big supermarket chains) every week, I would have a real problem with some of this, even if I was intrigued by the recipes.
  7. I bought the Lee Bros. book recently and have only flipped through it. It is a comprehensive survery of Southern, as opposed to Creole cooking. While there are some Creole recipes in it, I'm not sure it's the best choice for some seeking only Creole recipes.
  8. Yeah, but I don't think anyone could be really adept at pairing food with wine without deep experience. The range of flavor possibilities is too vast. ← Yes oakapple that's what I was trying to say, but you nailed it far more succinctly than I could. Again, taking into consideration my very limited understanding of wine, I would assume that wine appreciation/pairings is an ongoing learning experience the subtleties of which would be quite difficult for someone to master even if they used to drink wine. I just remember Carla saying quite definitively "I don't drink" and seemed to exclude doing so even in social settings. ← Carla runs a catering company so I would guess the need to have a lot of experience matching wine would not be so important. Or else one can use a wine expert/sommelier to assist.
  9. I went back to look at a Pierre Herme book I have, and he mixes it with chocolate and either hazelnut praline or almond praline and uses it as a layer in cakes
  10. There was a baking competition on the Food Network last night and someone used it as one of the layers in an entremet, but they didn't explain what it was mixed with - it looked like just a crispy layer I would have pronounced it pie - et fay uh teen. The first syllable is somewhere between pay and pie and Feuille is between fay and foy
  11. rickster


    More negative than positive? I seriously doubt that. ← I think that last paragraph says that there are a higher proportion of negative experiences at Babbo than at Gramercy Tavern, not that the negative experiences at Babbo are higher than the positive ones.
  12. That's the question of the week. No word yet. ← Not sure why this is such a mystery. As I mentioned yesterday, per Fabio's blog on Bravo:
  13. I guess I would point out the obvious that a lot of this discussion and one's perspective depends on where one lives. Where I have lived in the US and Canada, croissants are pretty common and even a pain au chocolate sign would not be that unusual. When I was thinking about perfect pastries, I was thining about some of the ultra high end Pierre Herme entremet types of things (although you used to be able to buy some of his stuff in Wegman's supermarkets in NJ)
  14. While I thought last night was a good show, I thought one of the drawbacks was the requirement to produce a specific dish that the judges wanted, and it seemed like creativity was not rewarded (or maybe it was just poorly done) - ie Pepin's comment that this was not a Provencal tomato.
  15. Supposedly on the Bravo blogs it says he slipped and fell. I was surprised they ran Stefan's explanation that Marcus Samuelsson was Egyptian but grew up in Sweden when he is Ethiopian.
  16. I'm not so sure that it's "art" as that the consumer associates rustic/imperfect with homemade and that triggers something almost subconcious in positive associations. Something too perfect can give off an image of artificiality/fakeness, therefore there's no way that could taste good.
  17. A little bit off topic, but I saw a copy of a new food magazine in a bookstore this past weekend, called "Food" of all things. Mario is on the cover and is the subject of an article inside. Quite a few photos and he seems to have lost a huge amount of weight vs. the way he looked in the Spain show, where he looked like he was about to explode.
  18. Pre-mixed. I don't recall the brand (I'm at work). It's not from Chef Rubber. It's canned air. I'm using the Badger 250 airbrush which seemed to be used successfully by a lot of people earlier in this thread.
  19. Thanks for all the advice. Gave it another shot tonight with equally poor results. The only thing I can think is happening is that the cocoa butter is clogging the tip almost immediately when the cold air hits it.
  20. I don't know... I was there for lunch in late December while visiting friends and we had no service issues at all - cutting the waiter a little slack on his knowledge of the menu as it was his first week . A group of us split a margherita pizza as an appetizer. The crust was excellent but the topping a bit insipid but probably reflective of what they could do in the winter. I had the parsnip and pancetta pasta which was excellent but maybe a shade salty. My companions all went for an orata special with fennel and blood oranges. They all loved it. I did point out to the waiter that the oranges were not blood oranges in the dish and he thought the fennel was cooked in blood orange juice. We agreed to disagree. For dessert we had the chocolate cake with pistachio gelato, which was also excellent and the lemon ricotta cheesecake with lemon curd gelato whic I thought was ho hum. We sat on the second floor which was about 2/3 full and not at all noisy. We would all definitely go back.
  21. Could be, but I thought one of the blogs on the Bravo site fessed up that the compressors broke down after the fridge was loaded with too hot food - this was one of those catering challenges where they were making the food the night before. The editing led one to believe that one of the contestants accidentally left the door open.
  22. Zingerman's in Michigan does have a huge mailorder business, but they have an established gourmet reputation they trade off of. In all honesty, I think it is a lot harder to make a go of it in artisan bread baking than cakes/pastry. I think the key is probably building a restaurant supply business on the side. since the retail consumer demand for artisan bread is pretty low.
  23. As someone pointed out somewhere, the equipment that failed was at the catering location, not the Top Chef kitchen, so no idea if it was the same make that he won. ....of course the Top Chef refrigerators did fail earlier in the season and they tried to blame it on a contestant leaving the door open.
  24. Thanks, but the cocoa butter was very liquid and I hit the nozzle and the jar of butter with a hair dryer on high a couple of times.
  25. So I made an attempt this weekend at using an airbrush to spray colored cocoa butter into some molds. I've nver used an airbrush before. It was a complete failure. After an initial thin spray, the butter stopped coming out altogether. The nozzle did not seem clogged an I cleaned it several times with a pin anyway. This was one fo the cheap Badger airbrushes referenced ealrier in the thread. Is there anything obvious I am doing wrong?
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