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KevinS

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  1. KevinS

    Cooking In Season

    http://www.nrdc.org/health/foodmiles/fullyear.asp?state=1 Just pick your state and hit enter =D
  2. Hey guys, I've been assigned with a task by the head chef at my job to compile a list of seasonal fish from the gulf coast. I have a very rough idea, but I'd like to get as specific as possible. I did find a rather nice chart for key west seasonal fishing (http://www.fishtripletime.com/key_west/fishing/calendar.html), and was wondering if anyone had a link to something of the like for the gulf coast. Specifically the destin/san destin area. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!
  3. I think I have the worst one of them all. I can't stand eggs. Boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, whatever, it's nasty to me. I DO like them if they are in little pieces in something, such as in fried rice, or in any other form other than pure egg (creme brulee, mousses, etc...). But I am so worried this is going to cost me a job in the future, because since I really just don't like them, I haven't spent my entire life cooking them like a lot of people. I can imagine having one of those "make me an omelet" interviews one day down the road. The ironic part is that an egg is probably one of my favorite ingredients. They can do damn near anything! I just can't eat them by themselves. My old boss hated the taste of garlic, basil, and one other thing that was crucial to Italian cuisine that I can't really remember. That made work quite interesting...
  4. Awsome, thanks for the informative post! Can I ask you how long it took you until you could keep up with the rest of the sushi line cooks? I'm actually doing sushi training right now and I have to say it's F'n hard! I can do it, but I'm too slow. Just spreading rice on the seaweed for Maki will take me 20 seconds if I'm lucky. It takes "Pablo" about 6 seconds to do that. I've only been at it for about 5 days, but I'm already impatient and wondering when the heck I'll be able to do it as good as Pablo. ← I've been at it 2-3 shifts a week (back and forth between the kitchen) for about 9 months now. My speed has probably doubled or tripled but if we ever get REALLY in the weeds my boss "puts it into 6'th gear" and becomes stupid fast. The hardest part for me (speed wise) is still putting the rice on the nori. Yeah I can do it, and it looks good, but somehow the two other guys I work with have like a rice mind control ray that makes it lay on the seaweed in about 5 seconds. My boss can do 2 at a time also... Sushi takes time. A lot of time. It seems so deceptively simple, and it is simple to do a basic roll, but learning the small nuances about it are what make it a true art. I finally figured out that I was putting TOO MUCH tuna in my inside out tuna maki rolls. The ratio of tuna to rice just gave it a flavor that flat out wasn't as good as a standard tekka maki. It's little things like that. Also, doing perfect cuts for sashimi and nigiri, every time, while plating it thoughtfully, and creating discourse with customers, while also banging out the maki rolls is a true skill that takes years upon years to do well. All in all if you want a time frame I'd say use the old 10,000 hours addage. "There's one figure that everyone takes away from Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers: 10,000 hours. That, he says, is the difference between success and non-success, genius and mediocrity. Anyone from the Beatles to Bill Gates who has succeeded has done so on the back of at least 10,000 hours of practice."
  5. It's your lucky day. I have actually done exactly what you are trying to do, but it was pure luck. I was/am a line cook at a place in Tuscaloosa Alabama that also does sushi. I worked my ass off in that kitchen and the head sushi guy noticed. One day he just came up to me and said "Kevin, Chris is leaving in 6 months, we will need a replacement. Are you interested?" And the rest is history. As far as difficulty. Rice IS easy. Any moron can make the rice good. What's hard is perfect rice. The first thing you will do is learn how to make the rice, and my instructions were, 'wash it till the water runs clear, put it in the steamers, and fill the water to the number 18 line, wait 40 minutes, put it in the hungiri (sp?) add 1.25 cups of our vinegar/sugar mix per steamer, make sure it's mixed very well, wait 10 minutes, flip the rice, wait 10 more, put it in the rice containers for service.' No, our rice is not perfect, but it is good. Some days it's really good. It really just depends on who makes it that day and if they actually take the time to taste the rice they made to see if it needs more or less vinegar. And also if they realized that one steamer is slightly wider than the other so it needs a little more water due to evaporation. Sheesh I didn't mean to write that much about just the rice. Our fish comes in half frozen, half fresh. It depends on the fish. But we are generally considered the best sushi in town hands down just because the fish we order is of higher quality. It does not come in blocks, it comes in giant sides which we have to trim down ourselves. When we get mackerel in it comes in whole and we'll come in on an off day and fillet all of them and debone them and then pickle them, and after that's all done we will freeze them until needed and I honestly can't taste the difference of the frozen ones and the first ones we use which don't get frozen. It's only really noticeable if you refreeze it, which causes ice crystals to form. Actually rolling the sushi and forming the nigiri is not too terribly hard. The hard part is doing it fast while making it look good. My boss is literally 3-4 times as fast as I am if he really goes all out and it all still comes out looking great, but he can't only go that fast for so long because it really tires him out. Like anything, speed comes with time. I am finally able to go reasonably fast while having everything look good. It's all about knowing exactly what your hands are going to do 8-10 steps before you actually do it. Probably the hardest part and the part which takes the most finesse is sashimi. I am still not allowed to make a plate of sashimi that is more than one fish, and for basic tuna sashimi plates my boss will still look at me every time I make one to make sure I am doing it correctly. To me, good sashimi presentation is the hardest thing to learn. One important thing you have to learn which you really may never think of is how to interact with people. You never really have to deal with customers as a line cook but as a sushi chef I really have to be a waiter also. It really teaches you how to force conversations and such. Hope this helps and isn't too wordy.
  6. Long time no post I know, but I finally had my first real night on sauté. It was the end of rush for all the sorority girls in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which means they are all allowed to go out for a night, and of course they all come to the place I work at. Side note: I work at the best and busiest restaurant in town hands down. We did not expect it to be nearly as busy as it was and ran out of almost everything (read: 86 filet mignon...seriously????), but we got through it somehow. At the end of the night we did 330 covers and I can honestly say I didn't burn any of my dishes or myself once. I think it was my first real test and I passed. Though this coming Friday is our real test, as it's the day before our first home football game, and if anyone is familiar with the SEC, Tuscaloosa has a rather large football following.
  7. This topic is actually relevant to cooking. I was reading another topic on here and just wondered...when you guys moved to a country (or heck, even learning spanish in american kitchens) where another language was required in the kitchen, how long did it take you to become confident in the language? Just curious Edit: I was really just interested in how long it took you guys to learn a foreign language in general, and what helped you do it. I was a German major in college (just got my BS, woo), and am still nowhere near fluent, even after living with a German family for a month in Munich last Summer (when my Germany was already good). In fact, I would say my German skill actually went down then because their dialect was so harsh. So I guess that is what this topic is about, stories or what have you on your journey to learn a foreign language, and tips you may have. Also, how do you guys deal with different dialects? Because last Summer I could hardly understand anyone while in Munich, but in Berlin I could understand and be understood very very easily. Hope this helps!
  8. Ok so I can finally make a real reply to this. Friday night My boss informs me "Kevin, you're on sauté tomorrow," which kind of sucked because I had to come in 4 hours early to make bread (baker is on vacation for 2 weeks), but was awesome to finally get my chance, on a Saturday nonetheless. Everything went rather smoothly. I only burned one thing, which made me realize how easy it was to get out of sync, because before the burn I was doing 6-8 things at once and had a good rhythm, but like 3 minutes of forgetfulness cost me. Things are rather slow during the Summer though (big college town), so I still haven't experienced a real rush yet. We only did 200 covers, when during the school year we are used to 300-400 on a Saturday, and much more on game days (University of Alabama - huuuuge football school). Oh and I only burned myself once. I like to think of it as my battle scar. Is it sad that I kind of hope it doesn't go away for a while so I can look at it and have that memory???
  9. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    Oh bother. That last recipe looks great, except now it made me realize that there is a difference between high gluten flour and bread flour. I asked the current 'baker' at work that and he said he uses them interchangeably!
  10. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    Well my roommates are raving over it. I did ... 2 pounds bread flour 1 tbs salt 1 tsp olive oil (only thing I had on hand) 1 egg 1 packet (1/4 ounce) yeast, activated in 1/2 cup warm water 3 additional cups of water. 7 oz (1 pack from the store) sharp cheddar I think I went a little overboard on the water. It was just a little too sticky. I added everything except the cheese to the mixer. And I'll be honest, I just moved so I seem to have lost my 'junky spring scale' (by junky I mean it only weighs up to like 6 ounces...so yeah, was junk) so I had to go by wikipedia saying that 1 pound is around 3.75 cups (yes I'll weight it when I have a scale, PROMISE!). Anywho I added everything except the cheese, one by one, until everything was nice and mixed. I let it rest for about 20 minutes until it got big, then I took the dough out of the bowl and put it on a plastic cutting board and added the cheese and folded it in, taking into consideration the comment about how sharp cheeses can mess with gluten structures early on. Then I let it sit again under a damn towel. Then I formed into rolls, let it sit again (no proofer at home, didn't know what else to do, so I let it sit under a damp towel). Scored, and baked. I baked it on a pizza stone (not really sure why, it just seemed to fit for some reason) at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. I think the temp was too low. It was definitely better than the stuff we currently make at the place I work, but still not quite what I'm looking for. But right now I think the problem is in my technique for forming the rolls. Anyone have any advice for that? Or a good link perhaps? Also feel free to comment on my recipe I posted above. I'm sure it can still be made better.
  11. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    AH HA! This is something we did not think about before! Very interesting point.
  12. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    I can probably get by with omitting the sesame seeds. I do need to talk to the guy about the seeds though, because I'm not too crazy about them either, and honestly 1 cup of them in a batch that makes 75 rolls is kind of pointless, especially when he doesn't toast them first to get the oils flowing. Oh and we do add 3/4 of the cheese at the end. The beginning addition is to chop it all up and really work it into the dough, the end is so there are still big bits in there. As I said before, we aren't bakers and are only making the bread because we're being told to by management. I will try a new mini batch tonight and see how things turn out.
  13. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    Yeah I know one of the big problems is that we don't weigh the flour so it's not possible to be consistent every time. I've been meaning to pick up a good digital scale (my current one is a junky spring loaded thing), so it seems like today is the perfect day to do it.
  14. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    There are a few ways to tenderize the dough. You can take a portion of the water and replace it with milk or add more oil. If we were talking about 2-3 loaves, then I'd be quick to suggest specific measurements and tweaks. Would you be able to take the baker's percentages to scale down the recipe and make smaller test batches? ← Well I have the recipe in front of me and it's my birthday so I have the day off of work. So, I see no reason why I can't do a small home test batch to start my dinner off tonight. Note: This is just me being excited and in no way related to the topic, but my FL cookbook finally came in today, and I'm most definitely treating myself to this tonight http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/2008/...-confit-of.html to go with the bread =D
  15. KevinS

    Cheese Bread troubleshooting

    Yay tips! I shall keep these in mind and definitely try them out next time when cooking. I should have posted that after we mix we proof, then size out and roll, proof again, then bake. We do not score these as we want them to be more like rolls, though I may score a few of them in the next batch to see what kind of different it would make. Any ideas as to the correct measurements (or better ones) for the yeast, salt, oil, and water?
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