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Posts posted by logicalmind

  1. I have to ask.....What kind of reactions do you get when you take these (I assume flash) photos in the restaurant. The night I was there I wanted to take pictures but the tables around me were filled with people who gave us an unhappy look when we had our waiter take a picture of my wife and I. After those looks I felt it was best not to take anymore photos. I guess I chickened out.

    No flash . . . ever.


    Ditto. The trick is to use a high ISO and have lens stabilization. If the lighting is really low, it can be adjusted on the computer. Sometimes that can result in a grainy photo, but the only thing that absolutely doesn't work is a blurry shot.

    As much as I love taking pictures in restaurants -- especially Alinea -- I'd hate to be the source of anyone's discomfort, via the use of flash. Given the choice between using flash or taking no pictures, the camera would just stay in the bag.


    Agreed. While I have used a flash in restaurants including Alinea in the past it has been awhile since I have done so and I no longer do unless circumstances make it reasonable and necessary. I actually prefer the results without flash other than in extremely low light situations. Generally the lighting at Alinea is good enough that it is rarely a problem.

    I guess I need a better camera. My camera needs a flash in daylight :wink:

  2. I have to ask.....What kind of reactions do you get when you take these (I assume flash) photos in the restaurant. The night I was there I wanted to take pictures but the tables around me were filled with people who gave us an unhappy look when we had our waiter take a picture of my wife and I. After those looks I felt it was best not to take anymore photos. I guess I chickened out.

  3. I have had a similar experience to you with japanese knives. I had used victorinox chef's knives for a long time and had them sent out to be sharpened. But when I finally broke down to buy a japanese knife (a MAC btw) I also decided to buy sharpening stones and learn to do the sharpening myself(with help from the korin dvd). Luckily I was able to initially practice on my victorinox knives, which need much more frequent sharpenings. I'm really glad I took the plunge and got a japanese knive and learned to sharpen it myself.

  4. I'm thinking of going completely unorthodox this year. The other day I made chicken breasts using sous vide for the first time and the results were outstanding. So I'm going to try two sous vide methods of cooking my turkey this year.

    First, I am going to cut the turkey up and separate the breasts, wings, thighs, and legs. I am going to use the rest of the carcass to make turkey stock that I will reduce. Then I will take the skin render it to (hopefully) get some turkey fat. Then I will confit the dark meat with the turkey fat sous vide(180F for 8 hours). Up to this point can be done the day before. On the day of thanksgiving I plan to cook the breasts with the reduced turkey stock sous vide(141F for about 1.5 hours, depending on thickness).

    Has anyone tried to render turkey fat from the skin and had any luck? Does it taste good? It sounds good in theory, I hope it works. Otherwise I have duck fat I can use.

  5. When you cook a product containing mostly water (meat), in a water bath, the water is able to transfer alot of energy to the meat, and heat it up to a specific temperature rather quickly.  However when you cook meat in an air environment, the differences in specific heat capacity means that the air temperature has to be much higher to provide the same amount of thermal energy to the meat.

    I believe the part I highlighted above is the point of contention. You are obviously saying that you are cooking with temperatures much higher than the desired final temperature. For example, if you have a 2 inch thick steak and throw it into a 130F sous vide bath for a while you'll get a 130F steak. If you take that steak and instead throw it into a 500F oven, how do you get the center to 130F without the layers outside of the center being at a much higher temperature?

    If you have a non-sous vide technique for doing such a thing with a steak I would surely like to hear how you do it. Because I don't know any way to do it.

  6. First, I'd like thank everyone who has put together information in this thread and also those who have shared their experiences. I finally got around to picking up a vacuum sealer and trying out sous vide. I took 3 chicken breasts and did one with thyme and olive oil, one with a curry paste, and one with truffle oil. I cooked them at 141F for 1.5 hours based on their thickness using nathans chart. The results were spectacular. I fed these to my family who had no idea I had used sous vide(or what sous vide is) and the praise was very high. Everyone wanted to know where I got my chicken. Thinking it was the chicken that gave it such great flavor.

    [Moderator note: This topic continues in Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 3)]

  7. Having discussed this all at length at on ruhlman's blog, I will simply add my own opinion. The problem I had with ruhlman being a judge was not only the personal relationship he had with symon, but that symon's success meant personal success for himself.

    That's a good point, although it's worth noting what Ruhlman said about his personal relationship to Symon in this Cleveland Magazine piece:

    Before heading to the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York to write a book about learning to cook, I needed some basic information, and knew that Symon had been a 1989 graduate of the school.

    He let me hang out in his kitchen, where he and one other cook put out 180 plates in two hours, standing in approximately five square feet of space, one and a half plates a minute from a kitchen crammed with sideways servers picking up food. That’s a lot of plates fast, and not hash either — they were hottest-food-in-the-city plates.

    By the time I’d written my book on learning to cook at the CIA, Symon had opened Lola in Tremont with his partner and now wife, Liz Shanahan, and had earned a share of the national spotlight as one of Food & Wine’s 10 best new chefs.

    I was writing another book on chefs, asked if I could hang out at Lola for a while to see what this Cleveland boy was doing that merited national ranking, and I featured him in the book, “The Soul of a Chef.”

    We’ve become friends and I no longer write about him.

    I took this mean that Ruhlman no longer writers about Symon because they are friends.

    Don't you find it interesting that since they are friends he feels he can no longer write about him. Yet, he has no problem judging him in this competition?

  8. In his blog entry today Ruhlman admits that he was ultimately biased in favor of Symon:
    While I think that my being from Cleveland and knowing Symon well was, if anything, a detriment during the competition, can I say that it was a detriment here?  No, clearly it was not.  In an even contest—and I can’t imagine two chefs who are more evenly matched in technical skill and culinary imagination—if they had been even in every single respect, I’d then have given my vote to Symon.  I would have no other choice.  As it happened, I chose the person I thought would make the best iron chef given what I saw and tasted throughout the entire competition.

    I think this really shows why Ruhlman shouldn't have judged this competition. It's hard to believe that a competition like this can truly produce a tie, because it's so subjective. He should be telling himself that he must choose a winner, and not that as long as he can convince himself it's a tie then it's ok to vote for his friend.

    In the end, though, I think bringing in the Iron Chefs as judges mitigates any bias in the ultimate round. It's hard to argue with a clean sweep of the Iron Chefs (I do wish, though, that they'd scored the dishes). Having eaten at the restaurants of both finalists, it's hard to argue with either one of them walking away with the win. They're both great chefs.

    Having discussed this all at length at on ruhlman's blog, I will simply add my own opinion. The problem I had with ruhlman being a judge was not only the personal relationship he had with symon, but that symon's success meant personal success for himself. Let me explain, ruhlman is first and foremost an author. He writes and sells books to make money. There is only one book (soul of a chef) that is a biographical work about chef symon. Anyone who wants to learn more about symon is likely to buy ruhlman's book. Addtionally, both symon and ruhlman are from cleveland. It is no secret that ruhlman heavily promotes cleveland. What better way to promote cleveland than to have a cleveland chef a new iron chef?

    With that said, do I think symon deserves to be iron chef? Yes I do. Do I think ruhlman was a fair judge? For the most part. Do I think ruhlman should have let himself judge symon and be on iron chef? Absolutely not.

  9. I am certainly going to get my hands on this one....

    It's times like these that I find USPS especially infuriating... "Carrier notified to pick up package" for days on end! I want my book!! :angry: I pre-ordered the thing months ago... shoulda just bought it at a local store...

    I pre-ordered it through amazon and it arrived yesterday. I read through the first part of the book which is a bit of a description of some of the important fundamentals (stock making, properly seasoning, etc). The rest of the book is like a large glossary of terms.

  10. Most of you don't remember, but my original title for this thread before it was merged was "Ruhlman to judge FN reality show, will Bourdain finally stop ripping the network?"

    Well folks, we have the answer here.  In a true shocker,  Tony loves the show.  What were the odds, huh?


    Count me in with the folks who think the show feels rushed and a bit boring. Top Chef Lite.

    See my comment on ruhlman's blog. I said exactly the same thing. He not only loves the show, he says it is "impeccable". We all know tony has a secret desire to return to food network.

  11. The goal here is not to filter a puree but rather a broth, hence the straining of the puree.  It would call it less of a "puree" than a thick broth.  You're trying to remove as much of the solid as possible before the syneresis.

    As an aside, I've used up to 2% powdered gelatin with decent results.  The yield is lower, however.

    Logical mind or anyone who has more experience with this technique can set me straight, however.

    Yep. I basically wanted steps starting with raw vegetables going through a puree and then through a very fine seive into basically liquid, or a broth you can call it. The pre-gelatin phase should be pure liquid to the human eye.

    I can't say I have more experience than anyone, I've only done this once. Just wanted to make the steps available to anyone who wanted to try it.

  12. Thanks, Logicalmind, for the detailed instructions. Does it matter what the consistency (viscosity) of the puree is before freezing? Does the puree of whatever we're trying to clarify need to be very thin (i.e. watery), or not?

    You want the consistency to be very liquid. Basically I first push the puree through a standard seive, then I push it through a chinois. The result is what I used to add the gelatin and freeze.

  13. OK...so 2 cups strained fresh carrot juice addded to .05% gelatine.....freeze...thaw in fridge w/ coffee filter will yield a clear carrot juice??

      So .05% gelatine.... is by weight of the carrot juice?

    I'm the one who posted those steps on ideasinfood regarding the carrot juice. I'll reproduce them here since this did work. I'll add any notes to make it very specific:

    1. Cook diced carrots, once soft, puree with enough liquid.

    2. Strain through fine sieve (or cheesecloth, I used a chinois and the result is an orange carrot juice).

    3. Remove one cup of liquid and cool to room temp( I cooled this quickly by setting the container in cold water).

    4. To the room temp cup of liquid, add .5% of gelatin by weight of the total amount of liquid.

    5. Stir and let cup of liquid stand for 5 minutes.

    6. Return to the rest of hot liquid and stir throughly.

    7. Cool to room temp and then place in freezer to freeze.

    8. Remove now frozen liquid and place in fine seive(or cheesecloth) over bowl and allow to thaw in refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

    As I said, this worked. The result was a clear liquid with a slight orange tint that tasted very much of carrot. It was very sweet as well. I have to admit that I was impatient and after getting minimal amount of liquid after 24 hours in the fridge I put it on the counter for about 4 hours and it went much quicker. Considering this was in my home and not in some restaurant, and considering this was vegetables and not meat-based I figured it was safe. I then brought the clear liquid to a boil and added some salt. It did not become cloudy. I now have the rest frozen in the freezer. I was considering making calcic/alginate ravioli's with it.

    The ratio I used was .5% of powdered gelatin by weight. So if you have 1000g of carrot juice you would add(.005 * 1000) = 5g of powdered gelatin. I actually added a little more just in case.

  14. I love hearing about all these kinds of tomatoes. There are so many I haven't tried yet. Last year I tried growing cherries and beefsteaks in an earthbox. I had good results with the cherries but horrible results(blossom end rot) in the beefsteaks.

    This year I made a real in-ground garden and continued to do the earthbox as well. I started my plants from seeds. I did cherries again and roma tomatoes. And again the roma's in the earthbox have blossom end rot. The cherries are fine. My in-ground tomatoes are growing like crazy. I get about a pint a day of cherries. I've picked about 5 or 6 roma's so far. I haven't really been happy with the roma's thus far. They're a bit mealy and mushy for my taste. Next year I'll have to mix it up more.

  15. I wanted to personally report that I have been very recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the mouth.  I have consulted several prominent physicians and will likely begin aggressive treatment within the next few weeks.  I remain, and will remain, actively and optimistically engaged in operations at Alinea to the largest extent possible.  Alinea will continue to perform at the level people have come to expect from us -- I insist on that.  I have received amazing support from friends, family, and everyone who has thus far been told of the disease, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free, recovery.

    I am very sorry to hear this. I wish you the best in your recovery.

  16. For those of you who live out in the chicago suburbs who have a difficult time getting down into the city farmers markets, there is another option. A place called natural direct provides a weekly selection by email which you can pick items from and they deliver that week.


    I am in no way affiliated with them, I have been a customer of their service for a number of years. The delivery area used to be very limited, but this season they have dramatically expanded. Opening this option to many new people.

  17. You should go ahead and email the all-clad customer service rep, they will tell you the truth. At least they did with me. They specifically told me that the MC2 line outperforms the stainless line. Maybe I was in contact with an unusually honest customer service rep though.

    The customer service rep also told me that I should look into buying seconds rather than brand new pans.

  18. Here is my honey experiment. All of the products I used were from Will Powder. First I took 200g of water and blended it with 2.0g of sodium alginate. I blended it on high for about a minute or so. I then poured this mixture into a cup with 50g of honey. Just basic honey, nothing fancy. Here is what it looked like(notice I didn't let it rest to get the bubbles out, though it didn't particularly matter for this experiment):


    I then filled my syringe and started making drops into a bath of 2.5g of calcium chloride and 500g of water:


    Next I poured them through a strainer into another bowel. I find this easier than trying to rescue them out of one single bowl:


    Next I rinse them under cold water and here is what we have:


    Here they are on a spoon:


    And here they are in a bowl:


    The taste of these was just OK. I used my wife for a second opinion. The skin was nicely thin but the interior was quite gummy. I tasted the sodium alginate and honey solution and it had a little sweetness, but nothing like the honey I was after. So I added another 50g of honey to the existing mixture and tried again. This time the honey taste was more perceptible, but still not quite what I hoped. The color was still more white than honey color. So I added another 50g of honey to the mix. This version was nearly perfect. Nearly complete honey taste with a very thin skin. My wife really liked them. For the heck of it I threw another 50g of honey into the mix, and believe it or not it still held. The balls were very squishy so I had to leave them in the bath a bit longer. But they tasted fine. My wife didn't like the texture and said they were too squishy. Here is a side view of the various versions. The further the bowl is away from you in the picture, the more honey they contained. You can kinda see how they become more golden:


    My conclusions are this. I went into it thinking I would have to be pinpoint precise down the tenths of grams. But in reality I was winging it. I think the mixtures and tastes of your caviar are going to be highly dependent on what your base flavor is. In the case of honey it was very stable and easy to do. I had previously tried this experience with a cantelope puree and I didn't really like it. If I had just played around some more I probably could have arrived at a better outcome.

    Also, for the fun of it, I put one bowl in the fridge. One bowl in the freezer. And am leaving one bowel on the counter. I plan to taste them again tomorrow and see what happens to them....

  19. I am putting together an easter dinner menu and I plan to do a ham. As I was thinking about ways to incorporate some MG into this feast I came to the idea that I could do honey caviar to serve over the slices of ham.

    I have yet to attempt this, but the first problem that strikes me is the viscosity of honey will make it difficult to incorporate the alginate into it. One way would be to use a bit of heat. Another way could be to dilute the honey. I'm tossing these ideas around in my mind. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas before I give this a shot? I'll post my results, and hopefully pictures.


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