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  1. I was offered a large cross-sectional slice of black cherry tree. I understand cherry has a reputation for splitting. Is there anyway to turn this priceless piece into a cutting board? I haven't seen too many fruit wood cutting boards out there. Any thoughts as to why that is?
  2. Fresh cheese doesn't keep, period. Eat it fast and discard at the first sign of mold. Soft ripened cheeses, both bloomy and washed rinds very much have living rinds and need to breathe. Parchment paper and a ziplock with lots of air will provided it with sufficient oxygen while protecting the cheese and the fridge from odour transfer. Keep the original wrapper and the box if if available; the French have spent a lot of money developing the perfect wrap; they work! If a washed rind becomes gritty from drying, simply wrap it in a damp cloth for 10-15 minutes, unless you like the sandiness, which I kind of do. Firm and hard cheeses may or may not have living rinds. If they do, cling film against the cut surface and parchment paper will protect it. Otherwise, cling film changed daily will suffice and protect against mould and the accumulation of lactate haze. Blue cheese needs plastic or foil. In all of the above cases, you simply cannot expect your cheeses to do well if you don't give them regular tlc and inspection. Change the wrap daily, turn your cheeses regularly, particularly the softer ones, and don't let your blues choke to death: the bluing will become green and bitter. A half hour of air exposure can fix this problem. The refrigerator is mandatory. You are not an affineur, nor are most retail shops for that matter and as such must keep your cheeses at or below 4'C. Do not purchase cheeses that sits on a counter all day; it has been dying a slow death, and yes, that goes from Parmigiano Reg as well. Ripening conditions that occur during curing cannot be replicated at a cheese shop or at home. Never vacuum seal or freeze a cheese. If it's an industrial grade cheese made from modified milk ingredients, then knock yourself out.... These are the guidelines that I teach my students. I hope this helps.
  3. What a great thread; thank you! I'm still going through it but so far I find that it's mostly about experiments based on the book. I guess I would like to hear more about the old school way, and from members who have been making sausage in their families for generations. Thanks again for the invaluable resource.
  4. My friend's father, a lovely Southern Italian gentleman has agreed to share his family tradition with me, as sausage making is not really part of my culture. I have fallen in love with all things charcuterie since having dry cured sausage in Auvergne, hanging illegally from the village-butcher's garage, served by his toothless wife, a cigarette butt dangling from her lips. Pork, salt, and whatever natural flora lingered in the air at this country home were the sole ingredients. And the result was near-miraculous. Well, that was a few years ago. We'll see if we can recapture some of that magic with good old Canadian pork, peppered with some Italian sensibility. But I have some concerns. The product , no doubt, of having access to too much information and not enough experience (My current bedtime book: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn, and Thomas Keller). Chico (our king sausagemaker) recommended we get three shoulders and one hip - too much meat for us. Upon the butcher's recommendation, we got two shoulders and 6 lbs of back eye. Then another relative wanted to pitch in, so we added a additional shoulder and a hip. Total, 3 shoulders, one ham and 6 lbs of back eye. Chico does not concern himself with Insta-Cure or the use of time-released nitrites to ward off botulism. He doesn't add milk powder or dextrose to feed the Bactoferm, bacteria which will ferment the meat and lower the PH through lactic acid which will make the sausage an inhospitable environment for the bad stuff. He doesn't freeze the meat for 6-20 days to kill off any trichinosis. Chico grinds the meat, adds the salt, makes the sausage. Period. And nobody ever died. (that he knows of) Any thoughts on any stage of this? If you have experience in this very basic kind of sausage making, please share. I should also add that we have a cantina, just above the freezing point. It was about 1'C this morning. I'm also curious to know if I should keep the fat under the skin of the leg/ham to incorporate into the mix. It's not as good as back fat or jowl or kidney fat I suppose... Many thanks!
  5. I was recently invited to my friend's wedding which was held at Les Chèvres. While not your typical wedding venue, the setting was perfect for an intimate evening. The staff and owners were wonderful, and seem to know us all personally by the end of the night. Best of all, I really felt that they didn't skimp on food quality just because it was a banquet.. Prices were reasonable from what I was told, probably more so than at some of the more typical wedding-y places. I myself had my reception at Chez Queux several years ago. I can say this: in the end, intimacy and great food will get you better wedding memories than a great looking room with a pretentious staff.
  6. Aix


    So glad you chimed in Nicole! Your method is exactly what I suspected. Just curious though: What piping tip do you use?
  7. Aix


    By "feet" I mean the little ruffled rim that develops around the edge when baking. I didn't make up the term. If it were up to me I'd call it something else. Trust me! I don't want to have a cakey macaron like a financier. I think a macaron needs to be baked unobstructed in order to get a crispy exterior. I'm going to try piping it with a square mold. I'll have to make my own, and alter the square slightly to push the edges inward. I always let them sit for a good half hour before baking; hopefully that will be enough for it to keep its shape.
  8. Aix


    Thank you Sinclair. I don't believe they are baked or shaped in molds because the macarons wouldn't develop feet. I have a theory. I think they pipe out a square with extended corners (like a 4-pointed star). That way when they puff up in the oven, they just fill out the lines to a square. I tried experimenting a bit yesterday but my ratio was off and I tried to change the formula a bit to make them flatter. They didn't rise at all and the whole batch ended up in the garbage. I'll try again on Thursday.
  9. Aix


    Now that I've experimented a little with macarons, I'm curious about making the square macarons that were all the rage in Paris lately. How do you shape them? Also, I'm trying to make a special batch to be distributed as gifts at a wedding. Unfortunately the boxes have already been purchased and they are rather small. So I'm trying to make flatter macarons. How can I alter the recipe to limit how how much the puff up and out? BTW I'm using the following proportions: 1 almonds, 1 confect. sugar, 1 granulated sugar, 3/4 egg whites. TIA
  10. THANK YOU!! I never even thought of whole foods. I was going to try leaving the whites out for maybe a couple of days in the fridge and a day out. I remember reading something in a molecular gastronomy paper about Herme aging the eggs way beyond what we'd think is acceptable.. I'm going to try cooking a caramel with fleur de sel and cream. If it's stiff when it's cold, it'll probably be good for macarons..
  11. I have checked those pages Wendy. It seems the recipes that are most popular in these pages are those with dehydrated egg whites, which as I mentioned are not available to me. This is why I mention the larousse recipe, hoping for caveats or experiences. I made macarons many years ago with a recipe from a good pastry chef. He has since returned to France, and my pastry notebook got stolen. It's been an impossible task to rebuild it. My main interest here is about the filling. Another item which has not been addressed in these threads is the question of storage. How long ahead can macarons be prepared and stored unfilled? I've been asked to make some for a wedding; since I don't get any time off for this, I'd like to prepare as much as can a week ahead of time.
  12. I am a novice at macarons and I'm open to all suggestion. I've sifted through a lot of very useful info about Paris-type macarons on e-gullet and elsewhere, but have not really found the ideal recipe. So, I will use Hermé as a base recipe. I don't have access to powdered egg whites. I would appreciate a technique for making the caramel macarons. I've had them at Laduré and fell in love... Do all macarons fillings use the same base?
  13. Tuesday afternoons in cabbagetown in the park at the end of Winchester. There's an organic farmer's market there. I haven't been yet but plan to check it out soon.
  14. Quartier's chef did change and the arrogance you refered to left with the old chef. As for the Celestin bakery, one look and an unfortunate sniff at their pastry chef (standing at the opposite end of the room) turned me off completely. He may be brilliant with the cakes, but someone who has no concept of personal hygene will not get my business.
  15. Aix


    Just curious: how do you cut wakame for salad? In julienne or ribbons? Most seaweed salads I see in restaurants are shredded rather thin but with wakame it's a bit too slimy to get a true fine cut...
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