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  1. paulraphael

    End grain chopping boards

    I love my end-grain maple board (made by the Boardsmith in US, so probably impractical for the OP). I've been using it happily every day for over ten years, but have to report that it doesn't completely live up to its promise of being gentle on edges. It's gentler than edge-grain and face-grain boards, and gentler than those terrible bamboo boards, and of course gentler than all the boards made out of stuff that boards should never be made from. But my sharpest and most fragile Japanese knives have much better edge retention when I use crappy poly boards. I don't enjoy cutting on these boards. But in practice they let me hold onto that fresh-off-the-stones feeling for about twice as long. I don't have much experience with hard rubber boards, like sani-tuff. I suspect these may be the overall best for performance, although they're kind of ugly and don't smell great.
  2. Eggs are also a stabilizer Most of the problems people are describing here are from too much stabilizer. These gums work in tiny quantities. Also keep in mind that ingredients like polysorbate 80 and mono/diglycerides are emulsifiers which serve quite different purposes. If you're using even 1 yolk per liter, you don't need those (although they're generally included in commercial stabilizers, and you may like the effect). I usually use 0.15% stabilizer by weight. If your blend includes emulsifiers, you may need more. 0.5% is lots. Unless you're using a commercial blend that includes neutral ingredients like dextrose or maltodextrin. They sometimes include these to help disperse the gums or to add bulk to make weighing easier. If you're making a recipe with a whole henhouse full of eggs (looking at you, Jo!) you'll need less stabilizer than with a low- or no-egg recipe. Here's my stabilizer article. And on one emulsifiers.
  3. paulraphael

    New Underbelly Site

    We've relaunched our site and blog at under-belly.org. It's got all the old content and comments, with a clean new design and a more accessible format (no ads, no account needed to post a comment or question). Emphasis of late has been artisanal ice cream and sous-vide techniques. More is on the way on both topics, as well as a in-depth series on modern saucemaking. Responding to demand, we've also started a consultancy. We advise culinary professionals around the world on ice cream recipe development, and are also available to consult on other areas of expertise. And we're building a recipe archive ... we hope to have it online in the next couple of months. Come by and have a look!
  4. I'm consulting an ice cream shop in Kuwait City. One challenge is that they haven't found a local dairy company that sells fresh cream. They've been forced to use packaged UHT cream from France, which is less than ideal. Any thoughts on how they could get fresh cream in wholesale quantities? Possibly direct from a farm? Or from Abu Dhabi, Doha, or Riyadh? Thank you for any ideas!
  5. What you call snide I call generous. I'm offering lighthearted mockery rather than my unfiltered response to the presumption that readers would have the choice to buy a new house when they don't like their counters.
  6. Yeah, just get a different house. How about one in the South of France? Or Catalonia. Or both. Each with lots and lots of BTUs. And a wood-burning oven and a view of the sea. And horses. Treasured advice.
  7. It seems to be up to the whims of the local Whole Foods manager whether or not to put more specific labels on the chocolate. The ones where I've shopped usually let you know the cocoa%, which gives enough of a clue as to which Callebaut product it is. Sometimes it just says "bittersweet" or something similar, in which case it could be anything. I like most of the 70%+ callebaut chocolates I've bought there. They aren't special ... just solid workhorse chocolates for making cakes and things. The prices are excellent. Quality-wise they're a step below Valrhona and few steps below Cluizel and some of the other smaller production SO chocolates you can get these days. People still love the stuff in baked goods.
  8. The idea is that your workspace is adaptable to whatever you need. If you need to cook something, grab a hob. If you don't get it out of the way. As the article says, this is how they've done it at Alinea since the beginning, and it works brilliantly for them. I'm not sold 100% substitute for a home range, for a few reasons. I use a range enough for it to justify some permanent real estate. And those hobs aren't going to be very powerful. Pretty sure at Alinea they'd be using 220v models that can equal the real world heating power of a commercial range. These aren't those. But as additional burners, that can be put anywhere or stowed, I'm down with the idea. Maybe not this exact product (I don't care about hanging on the wall ... sticking it on a shelf is fine) but the portable hob concept is great. I can see this reducing the temptation to buy a big 6+ burner range.
  9. paulraphael

    Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )

    The differences are significant, but complex. Most of the research on this seems to be behind closed doors at companies like Haagen Dazs. I think that unless you've found some particular insights on how to work with these proteins separately, and have a strategy in mind, you'd make your life much simpler just by using dry milk powder.
  10. paulraphael

    Restoring this Knife ? Help

    If you want it to look like new (which I wouldn't ... I like the age showing) I'd check with Dave Martell at Japanese Knife Sharpening and see if he'd like to take it on. If you want to keep the battle scars but make it useful, it probably won't be too much work. I'm guessing it's carbon steel, and not terribly hard, so it should be pretty easy to sharpen and work on. If you already have a full set of water stones you're pretty much ready to go. The first step would be removing the active rust (anything red or brown) with Barkeeper's Friend and a scouring pad. This will take off all the patina, too, but it will come back. And don't forget to take care of the wood with some conditioner, like the beeswax / mineral oil blends used for cutting boards. After that it's just going to be about repairing edge damage with your coarsest stone, putting on a new edge with a medium stone, and then polishing with finer stones, if you like. None of us can tell you how fine a grit to sharpen to. That's going to depend on what you like, and on what the steel will take. If it's a soft or coarse-grained steel, going much beyond 2000 grit will be pointless. Depending on how you use the knife, and how you like to cut, you may not want to go past a toothy 1000 grit. FWIW I go to 1000 with my German chef's knife and anything I use for butchering, boning, or ripping open packages. My gyuto and slicing knife I take to 6000–10000. This gives a polished edge similar to a straight razor, but doesn't really make sense for a butchering knife like this. I believe one traditional use of scimitars is butchering meat that's hanging from the ceiling. The curved blade makes it useful when cutting overhead. Another use is slaying your enemies when they're on foot and you're on a horse.
  11. paulraphael

    Hot chocolate--hot cocoa what's the best?

    I've experimented a bunch with hot chocolate over the years. There's a spectrum from intense chocolate flavor to high richness, and you need to find the sweet spot. So to speak. Tastes will vary. The most intense hot chocolates I've had are dairy-free, and are closer to the way cocoa was originally drunk. It sounds like a ripoff ... just chocolate and water. But the chocolate intensity is bonkers. I find it a bit too much, for anything more than a demitasse-sized chocolate dessert. But it's worth trying. I use it as a starting point, and add a bit of whole milk to mellow it out. But I generally like the water / milk blend more than pure milk. If you prefer richness to chocolate intensity, you can go all the way in the other direction and use ganache. This is a handy formula for restaurants, because the ganache is basically an instant hot cocoa mix. Just stir it into hot milk or hot water. Overall I prefer bittersweet chocolate to cocoa powder. Not because it's inherently better, but because in practice it's better. Very few companies make cocoa powder that's as good or as interesting as their chocolates. With a handful of exceptions, it's a byproduct. There are some signs that this is changing. For the time being I use a blend of both. Chocolate for the interesting flavors, cocoa for added intensity with less added fat. Here's a version I've enjoyed: 360g / 1-1/2 cups water 60g / 1/3 cup sugar 120g / 4-1/4 oz Bittersweet chocolate 24g /1/4 cup dutch cocoa 1g / 1/8 tsp salt 240g / 1 cup whole milk -Heat sugar in a saucepan. -boil the water separately -when sugar starts to caramelize, stir vigorously until amber -pour water on sugar, and keep stirring and heating until clumps liquefy -whisk in cocoa -stir in chocolate, continuing to stir until melted -stir in milk -keep on heat until the first bubble pops on the surface -remove from heat and whip (with a whisk or a stick blender) until slightly frothy notes: -you can make it with all milk, if you want less chocolate intensity. -you can make it without the cocoa, if you want to mellow the chocolate flavor. if so, reduce sugar to 1/4 cup. -you can dispense with the caramelization (if you don't caramelize, it will be a bit sweeter).
  12. The moisture content of roasted coffee is so low that I doubt frozen beans are especially tough. They're also not immune to changing. Freezing and vacuum packing slow down the changes but don't stop them. There's a new trend at the super high-end ... freezing green coffee beans in sealed bags, for storage and shipping to the roaster. Some are arguing that this will preserve more flavor. I have no doubt they're going to charge us for it!
  13. paulraphael

    Help with Xanthan Gum

    A few thoughts ... -Probably the chef pre-hydrates the xanthan not because it's hard to hydrate the stuff, but because it takes a while for it to fully hydrate. A blender or homogenizer will disperse it in a hurry, but it can still take a couple of hours to fully hydrate. This means that you can easily overshoot with the concentration. Pre-hydrating would take the guess work and the timing out of the picture. -I'm not convinced he told you the full story. Anything thickened to that consistency with pure xanthan gum would be disgusting. It would basically have the consistency and mouth feel of snot. My guess is that that stuff (whatever it is) was naturally thick, based on whatever was pureed, or else it had some other ingredient that acted as a hydrocolloid. The xanthan could then be used to add a bit of viscosity, cling, and stability. -If you have to get a thin liquid to that viscosity, a couple of suggestions: -a 3:1ratio of lambda carrageenan and xanthan. Use at a concentration 0.4% to 0.6%. Doesn't have to be cooked, but should be dispersed with a blender to prevent clumping. -a 10:1 ratio of arrowroot starch and xanthan. Use at a concentration of 0.5% to 1%. Needs to be cooked to hydrate. But pretty easy to disperse just by making a slurry and whisking. -Maybe the green is chlorophyl. Or maybe it's a Shamrock Shake™®©
  14. Yup. Freshly roasted beans are so full of CO2 they make terrible coffee. Some of it goes into solution, forming carbonic acid, which adds metallic bitter and sour notes. The rapid off-gassing when the hot water strikes also interferes with espresso extraction. Exactly how long the beans should rest (and the maximum time they should be allowed to rest) is quite variable. Generally speaking, if you're making espresso you should rest longer than if you're making brewed coffee. And with lighter roasts you should rest longer than with darker roasts. My favorite coffee shop generally aims for 7 - 14 days off roast, in keeping with what Mitch says. They specialize in espresso, and roast on the light side.
  15. paulraphael

    Stir Frying in Stainless Steel

    Likewise ... having a roast. A stew. A braise.