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Everything posted by Reefpimp

  1. Spoon biscuits (Cook's Illustrated recipe), sausage gravy, cured ham and scrambled eggs; hash browns cooked in duck fat with a little cracked pepper, washed down with a cup of French-pressed city-roast Kenya AA. Now I got to get back out on deck and build barge tow in the rain But a good tugboat breakfast goes a long way toward making it bearable.
  2. I never used to use them but I recently bought a couple and I am a total convert. If nothing else, they keep your knives from poking holes in your knife roll.
  3. Maybe not in your world. On the topic at hand, my vote for sheer uselessness would have to go to those rubbery sleeve-ey garlic peeler thingies.
  4. I think a compound butter would be your best bet; or a simple pan gravy. Nothin' wrong with that, is there?
  5. Thanks for the thread, karen. Long ago, (in a motorcycling magazine IIRC) I found the definition of 'artist' that resounded most poignantly with me: "He who presents the familiar in a new light." Controversy over technique aside, Adria does do that: One certainly doesn't think of codfish as being foamy. Beyond that, he's honest about it. No food is better than another; all ingredients are weighted equally aesthetically. Everything is judged on its own merits and brought to the table tasting like itself. I'd never refer to myself as a 'chef' so maybe I'm not qualified to even have an opinion on this; but although I agree with Chef Bourdain that cooking is not an art (it's a craft), sometimes ya gotta give credit where credit is due. Carpentry isn't an art, it's a craft: but James Krenov and Garret Hack do amazing things in cocobolo and walnut. Can we apply the same pardigm to Blumenthal, Aschatz and Adria? How can we not?
  6. I liked it just a ton. I'm an animation fan from waaaaaaaay back (cartoons and a fun-log, anyone?) and this one just does a stellar job of stretching the bounds of what's possible. It presents the familiar in a new light, much like a good chef can do. Kudos to Disney/Pixar for letting the final plating just be what it it is, without a lot of garnish.
  7. The world is full of people who are ferociously intelligent without having had that reflected in their GPAs. I'm not sure how I would define intelligence other than as "a deep-seated curiousity about the world" and the ability to solve problems on the fly. I'm a member of MENSA, but I learned at conventions that asking fellow MENSANs, "So, what do you do for a living?" is what we call a BIG NO-NO. Lots and lots of social skill deficiencies in that group of people. So. That said, I'm not sure one can cook effectively on a line without having at least a marginally-above-average IQ, measured by whatever test one chooses to administer (please disregard furor over effectiveness of same, TYVM). It takes, beyond a certain personality trait, an ability to think on the fly; to hold a bunch of stuff straight and in order inside one's head, and dump it off when no longer needed for service but be able to recall salient points for recipe development later. My brother-in-law with the 12-pound brain is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met, and he'd make a good line cook if he weren't on research faculty at the University of Wisconsin doing positron emission tomography. His specialty is into Parkinson's research, but is considering writing a grant proposal to study memory development. I told him he ought to take a look at the brains of line cooks and sous-chefs and how, having tasted something once, we can come pretty close to re-creating it later: how some things in our lives bypass short-term memory and go straight into deep storage, and how with a little practice, we can use this for other things as well. How our memories work in funky, funky ways. If for no other reason than then we could say, "See, I told you!! Our brains are different!!"
  8. Star anise, fennel, pineapple and jalapeno chutney: Cut a bunch of everything up (proportionately), sweat gently in what you think is probably too much butter, add a big splash of fruit juice. Reduce for a while and thicken slightly with cornstarch slurry.
  9. You're talking a pretty strong half-cup to 3/4 cup of liquids there, you could easily marinate the biggest flank steak the market has to offer in a Ziploc with that much liquid.
  10. Reefpimp

    Razor Clams

    Remember they're called razor clams for a reason: the shells can cut you quite badly. My mom, a Seattle native until she was 26 or so (she's 74 now), can still point to scars on her hands from razor clam shell cuts.
  11. Hells bells, I run all my knives through a dishwasher from time to time to sanitize them; I reckon it's not that big a deal, and I time it so I do it when they're ready to go back on a stone again to re-establish the bevel. I'm obsessive about germs but also practical, with the raw/cook sequence in mind; but if if I'm cutting apart raw red meat (as opposed to commercial chicken, which I somehow feel merits its own HAZMAT containment field) I don't think it's out of line that I might cut up a couple more stalks of celery (say) for a mirepoix that looks skimpy in that regard. Salmonella dies at 165*F, that's it and that's all and anything else is just squeamishness. My sister, though... my sister. Lord, my sister. Mind you, she's a Thai curry guru. She's a *huge* fan of the ethic put forth in Omnivore's Dilemma and would sooner strangle her children in their sleep than feed them substandard food. Watching her put out a meal (Always delicious, always nutritious, always with ingredients that have a provenance and a pedigree so Bristol-fashion that I wonder if I'm eating food or distilled history) is something that makes me grit my teeth and cram my hands into my pockets so I don't grab the knife out of her hands; mind you, my brother-in-law is as as anal-retentive about it as I am, and any knife in their house is sharp enough for surgery at any time; grab that knife, and make things happen. I console myself that she's not on my time clock and I don't do her evaluations. Uneven slices, at odd angles, because she broke her arm skiing years ago and it didn't heal right. Splatters on the stove from a month ago. Pots--not in the sink, but out on the drainboard-- filled with something that might make a PETA activist start turning the protest turbine, because even though it's vegetarian, it's wearing a pelt. Only two kids, and be warned I would kill for my niece and my nephew; only two kids but the psychic real estate those two charmers take up at mealtime is acres across. Underfoot? Undermind, more like. Let's not talk about the cats and the dog (I love that dog, he's one of my very best friends in the whole world, Smoky and I get along famously but he's a little needy) seeing just what they can get away with at mealtime. I love my sister. I love to eat her food. She knows that I cook for a living and can do most of it better than she can, and is by-God determined to show me that she can do it without my help. I am happy to let her, because her kitchen makes me want to throw my hands in the air and lurch and gibber until it all goes away.
  12. Don't quote me or place a bet on it, but I'm pretty sure what you had was a Langoustine. Wikipedia entry for the critter. Interestingly, "langoustine" is French for "Prawn." Funny how the language evolves, huh? *edit* And so Qwerty robs me of my chance to be a know-it-all by just keeping it simple. Bravo, I say. Bravo! *end-edit*
  13. Concur. Has anybody noticed that all restaurants share some of the Platonic ideal of Restaurant? That what's in common is much stronger than what's different? The Cook With The Drug Problem; The Very Affectionate (ahem) Waitress; The Screaming Sous-Chef and The Mellow Sous-Chef; The Funny Guy (usually a cook but sometimes a waitron); The Silent And Angry Dish Dog. Maybe it's what makes moving from job to job that much easier, knowing that no matter where you're going, it's not that different from where you just were.
  14. 21 Euro for a cheeseburger?!? My God, does it come with a gift certificate to the red Light District and a box of Cuban cigars?? Has anyone ever witnessed some of the discussion on what constitutes the real, true, "authentic" Maryland Crab Cake? I have seen people almost come to blows over the ratio of cornmeal to onion! Literally! Voices raised at table, forks brandished like little spears, people walking off in raised dudgeon.... Having grown up in the Upper Midwest, I have no strong opinions either way. I have never met a crab cake I didn't like. But I'm pretty fanatical about my tavernburgers. I once quit a job and drove 300 miles on the rumor of The Ultimate Burger.
  15. Host's Note: Given the interest in American cooking spurred by Felice's review of Hidden Kitchen and existing places like La Cave Gourmand and Spring I thought these replies on American food deserved their own topic. One of the things I love about American cuisine is, even though it's still being defined, written, and codified, we can still have 'classics' like the BLT and the crab cake and Root Beer Float. And for the Parisians who sneer at Le Ahmboorgerr? Obviously never tried the Classic Midwest Tavern Burger in all its onion-draped goodness. More pity to them. Maybe it ain't a lobe of Grade A foie; but sometimes what you really want is a burger, fries and a beer.
  16. Duck fat is now the only permissable pan lube for omelettes in my kitchen (Until goose season. Let me just tell you about wild Canada goose foie, if you shoot 'em off grain elevators way up North before they start their migration...).
  17. Just speaking as an unpaid member of the now-defunct Food Service Liberation Front, why don't you think about tipping the cooks instead? Sommeliers generally get paid a higher wage than the line pigs and make tips besides.
  18. Send me some money and I'll make sure you never have to wait for a table!!!
  19. Buy a small ship, like in the 180-200 foot range. Pull the engines so I don't have to employ a watchstanding crew full time. Net over the maindeck with mosquito mesh and put a couple dozen tables out there. Fantail/stern would be the lounge, with the best collection of Carribean and African rum I could put together (maybe some cigars for sale, too, when the wind is right). Dogfish Head 60 IPA on tap, that's for sure! Perhaps a banquete on the bridge seating 6 for VIP occasions. Call it Vessel and put a lot of thought into making the Ladies' washroom a comfortable place. Menu... Mediterranean fusion, changing to reflect the seasons and whatever produce is good right now. Scallops on linguine with hummus alfredo, duck tagine, maybe a nice Eggs Benedict with prosciutto di Parma and organic eggs on little foccacia rounds with Sauce Maltaise, because who doesn't like breakfast for supper now and again? Music? Morphine, Brubeck, the Specials--Crom have mercy, anything but Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley. Good live jazz combos if available in whatever mythical city will grant a permit for this enterprise.
  20. Some of you may know that I work as a cook on a cruise ship. It's been an interesting job, made more so recently when I was transferred a month ago to the Special Orders crew and told that I would be making meals for our guests with special dietary requests. My biggest challenge came this week when we had a group of 30 passengers who were all Jain. My word, what a difficult challenge this was for me!! The dietary restrictions alone made getting any sort of flavor into their meals quite diffcult--strict vegetarian, no onions, no garlic, no ginger, no potatoes--nothing that grows beneath the ground. Add to that, that I'm not all that familiar with the food of the Subcontinent, and one has a ready recipe for disaster. Then I remembered eGullet!! And what a resource your little corner of the Internet has turned out to be. I bought a couple of cookbooks (Lord Krishna's Cuisine; The Dance of Spices) but mostly I just opened this page and worked my way through posts in this sub-forum with a notebook handy and every day have been able to put together a multi-course meal complete with raitas and pickles. My crowning achievment came yesterday when two tables sent back for second helpings of my pumpkin "Rogan Josh"-style main course. Waitstaff have been asked what part of India I am from ("The part that's in Minnesota," quipped one waitress.)--who would have thought?!? I couldn't have done it without you good people. Thank you very much.
  21. I blame the fact that it's a rare restaurant GM or Ass't GM who has in-depth culinary experience. Generally speaking, most chains (and indie places too, sadly) don't look to the back of the house when it comes time to expand FOH management. It kind of makes sense, because running FOH is what FOH staff does. But FOH generally speaking (and I know of several notable exceptions to this admittedly broad-brush statement) doesn't have the knowlege or passion to just let the kitchen do its thing, or be involved with BOH in the right ways instead of micromanaging the wrong areas; or hire cooks who really care at wages that won't cripple the bidneth every two weeks. It's a downward spiral that ends up with "fancy cooking" being the opening of two bags and not just one--all the while never seeing that if they'd just plan ahead, they could make from scratch better and cheaper. Crying shame.
  22. I will say that I have never worked witha *shallow* cook. Mind you, some have been dumb as a bag of hammers, and either more or less violent (as the case may be). But all of the cooks I've worked with were involved, aware, present. I can't say that about all the bartenders I've worked with.
  23. My 5-year-plan has me owning a restaurant at the end of it. Pay--and levelling out the disparity therewith--has been much on my mind lately. What I'd like to do is have waitstaff tip out barstaff 20% of their bar sales, tip out BOH 20% of their food sales, and keep the rest. IN RETURN, if a customer is disgruntled and stiffs, then the B/T and BOH pick up the tip for that table; 20%. Which is fair. I'd also like to make sure that everybody workds BOH and everybody works FOH. No, I don't expect the dish dog to sell $1200 a night; but it would be very useful to get some of the waitstaff used to the idea of how a medium-rare steak is cooked, and how much work is actually involved in chiffonading the scallions they strew so liberally all over their service station (They're not magic; they don't make themselves!). It would be very useful to have the sautee guy understand how difficult some of the customers can be, even on slow nights. I guess that's what slow nights should be used for, ideally; cross-training. I've worked in too many places where waitstaff are hired more for their looks than their skills, and few things make my fists itch faster than prima-donna attitudes. I used to work at a restaurant where the waitstaff would sit at the bar long after close and drink for free; kitchen staff, OTOH, had to exit the premises immediately after clocking out. Another place had the bartenders in supervisory roles over the kitchen--when we were done cleaning, the senior bartender would come make sure we'd "closed correctly." Maybe I'm a little bitter.
  24. #79: "Hannibal" as played by Sir Anthony Hopkins and starring Julianne (oh yes she will be mine) Moore. #70: I can't remember the name of the movie, but was it the one with Laura Linney (?) and Bob Dreyfuss about the fire bombers? About the only time you'll see a B-26 Marauder in flight in color these days?
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