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Everything posted by naes

  1. Chopsticks are part of Thai cuisine, especially towards the north where there is more Chinese and less Indian/Malay influence. Chopsticks are used for noodle dishes while forks and spoons are used for rice-based dishes. At least, that was my experience when I traveled in Thailand for two months. Sean Edited to include a comment on Phad Thai All of the phad thai that I had from street cart vendors in Bangkok was horrible. Dry and flavorless. I'm sure there are street cart vendors that do it right, but there are plenty (at least the ones I tried) that do it wrong. The best phad thai I had was made in a cooking class that was given by a thai instructor.
  2. naes

    Cutting Boards

    I've used the Sani-Tuff cutting boards and they are quite heavy. However, you can get 1/2" boards, which cuts down on the weight a bit. They seem to be a good cutting board, better than the colored poly/plastic boards, which can get pretty cut up (and hide bacteria) after a while. As for bamboo, I have a small bamboo cheese board at home that was given to me as a gift. They are laminate boards, so don't try to put them through the dishwasher. I haven't done a lot of cutting on it, but it does seem very durable.
  3. You can pipe them into the cups and refrigerate them, but you definitely cannot pre-bake them. The souffle would rise and collapse and would not rise again when you reheated it. You'd end up with quite a different product that would be fairly dense.
  4. naes

    Onion Bread

    I have a rye loaf recipe that I sometimes add sauteed onions to. I let them get a little caramelized because I like the flavor it contributes. I agree with jackal10. I add the onions at the end of my kneading, before fermentation. If you add them after fermentation and before you shape and proof, then you're losing a lot of the gas you just developed and you're going to have a denser crumb.
  5. Are you trying to do a natural starter (just water and flour) or are you doing a yeast starter (water, yeast, and flour)? If you're doing a natural starter, then you should use organic flour and distilled water. The pesticide and fertilizer residues in regular flour and the chlorine in tap water can interfere with the ability of the natural yeast spores to take hold in your starter. You shoud also sterlize any implements (bowls, measuring cups, spoons, etc) before you use them. You can just boil the items to sterilize them. If you don't sterilize, then you run the risk of having a moldy starter. However, if you're doing a yeast starter, then you don't have to worry about any of that since you're introducing enough yeast to overcome all of those issues. Building a sourdough starter takes almost a week. If after four days of building the starter you don't see any activity (no bubbles, no yeasty/sour/alcohol smell, etc), then you need to throw it out and start over. If your book doesn't give you detailed instructions on how to properly begin a starter, then you need to look elsewhere. If you're bread came out flat, then it sounds like you didn't ferment the dough enough. Forget about the "ferment until doubled in size" guideline. In general, what you should look for is spongy surface with lots of trapped gas. Coat your finger in flour then stick it into the fermented dough at least halfway up your finger and pull it out. The indentation from our finger should remain in the dough and the area around the indentation should start to collapse. You don't want the entire surface of the dough to collapse, that means it is over-fermented. You just want the area about the size of silver dollar to collapse into the indentation. That's when you know it's fermented enough. Good luck!
  6. I don't do wholesale but I am currently in the Culinary Management program at ICE. We are taught is to look at something called Prime Cost. If you only look at Food Cost, you're missing half the picture. When you look at all of your costs of doing business, the two areas that take the biggest percentage of your sales are your Food (& Beverage) Cost and your Labor (& Benefits) Cost. They also happen to be the two areas that you have the most control over. Rents, utilities, etc. are fairly fixed costs. So it is your Food Cost and your Labor Cost together that you should track most closely. Taken together they are called your Prime Cost. To be successful, you're Prime Cost should be less than 65% of sales. However, the lower you can get that number, the more profit you'll have in the end. So let's say you estimate your Labor Cost to 35% of sales and you want a target Food Cost of 25%. Your Prime Cost would be 60% of sales. Now that you know your target Food Cost, you have a guideline for pricing your product. First, you need to cost out your recipe. This is accomplished by knowing how much each ingredient costs you and multiplying that cost (per ounce/gram) by the quantity. For example, let's just assume the following -- AP Flour costs $2.99 for a 5 pound bag 16 ounces in a pound 5 pounds x 16 ounces = 80 ounces $2.99 / 80 = $0.037 AP Flour costs $0.037 per ounce The recipe calls for 40 ounces of flour 40 x $0.037 = $1.48 You would do this for all of the other ingredients in the recipe. Let's say the total cost of the recipe is $3.50 and you're able to get 35 portions out of the recipe. That means your unit cost is $3.50 / 35 or $0.10 each. If you're target Food Cost is 25% then you take $0.10 / 25% which equals $0.40. So, you're selling price would be 40 cents in order for you to have a 25% Food Cost. Of course, you then should take into account what you can actually charge for the item. Maybe everyone else who is selling this is getting around 75 cents for it. Then you have to decide if you want to also sell it for 75 cents or if you want to undercut the competition and sell it for less. But then you get into the psychology of pricing - what would a potential customer think if they saw you selling this for 40 cents when everyone else has it for 75? They might think that it must be an inferior product because it's so inexpensive. If you do sell this item for 75 cents then it could possibly make up for some other product that you make that has a higher than target food cost but isn't marketable at a higher price. That's what is called "menu mix." There's a lot that should go in to your pricing strategy. You need to have a grip on your costs but you also need to have an eye to the marketplace and what it can bear. You need to have a balance of higher cost and lower cost items that ensure you hit your target food cost percentage. I hope this helps guide you in the right direction! Sean
  7. Last year I read an article about a guy in Puerto Rico who had bought some land and was planting SE Asian fruits, including mangosteens. I just now tried to find that article online but didn't have any luck. However, what I did find is his website at http://www.panoramicfruit.com/, so it looks like he's managed to start producing fruit. He also maintains http://www.mangosteen.com/ and according to this site you can get mangosteens from Hawaii as well. It does seem like the supply is pretty limited, though. Supposedly, there is also going to be some irradiated mangosteens coming from Thailand as well. The site does acknowledge that you can find illegal mangosteens in some Chinatown markets around the US. Looks like I need to dig a little deeper in Chinatown late summer or early fall.
  8. Are you serious? There are FRESH mangosteens available in the US? The FDA has banned the import of fresh mangosteens from SE Asia (due to pest concerns). If they're here and they're fresh, they're illegal, and I'd love to get my hands on them.
  9. There are 4 different molds - round, oval, square and rectangle. So, if you buy one of each, you're looking at $400. That does seem like a pretty hefty investment. Though, I do like the idea a lot!
  10. My wife and I travelled through SE Asia last year, including Malaysia and Indonesia. We just moved to NYC less than 2 months ago and have been on the hunt for good Indonesian and Malaysian food. We had heard good things about Fatty Crab and decided to give it a try. After an hour wait and watching lots of good looking dishes coming out of the kitchen, we finally got a table. We ordered short ribs rendang, skate penggang, and a side of kang kong blachan (and two ice cold PBRs). Everything was wonderful! It all took us straight back to SE Asia. The skate was our favorite but the rendang was very close behind. I'm excited to go back and try some more items off the menu. Eat Well Sean
  11. A quick google search led me here - http://www.baking911.com/decorating/cakes_...am.htm#meringue
  12. naes

    Creme Brulee

    People often confuse what "brulee" really means. Brulee is the method of heating/melting sugars with a flame. You can coat a slice of fruit in sugar, put a torch to it, and you end up with fruit brulee. Creme brulee is just the application of this method on top of a cream-based custard. I think it's a bit of stretch to call the dessert you had a creme brulee. I read about Sam Mason's take on creme brulee in which he spherified the custard and then laid a thin piece of caramel on top of the pearls of custard. Now technically that didn't employ the brulee method but I think it's close enough that he can still call it a creme brulee. My 2 cents. Mileage may vary. Sean
  13. The ratio my instructor gave me is 2:1 sugar to whites, which in your example of 12 oz of whites would mean 24 oz of sugar. She never mentioned that the sugar to whites ratio could be adjusted. As for the butter to sugar ration, the minimum amount is 1:1 with a maximum of 3:1. So in our example that would a minimum of 24 oz of butter with a maximum of 72 oz of butter. Your recipe has a 1.4:1 ratio of sugar to whites and a 2.3:1 ratio of butter to sugar. Maybe I'll make up a batch of each and do a comparison of the two. Thanks! Sean
  14. I'm in culinary school for pastry & baking and we're covering buttercreams right now. We were told that the ratios for buttercream are 2:1 sugar to egg whites and a minimum of 1:1 butter to sugar with a maximum of 2:1 for swiss and 3:1 for italian. You're saying that you could go less than the 2:1 ratio of sugar to whites. Do you know the minimum amount that you can use and still maintain a stable foam?
  15. naes

    Grub Street

    Why don't they offer an RSS feed of Grub Street? If anyone from nymag is reading this, could you check with your tech guys about adding an rss feed? Thanks!
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