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Everything posted by NeroW

  1. NeroW

    Vegan Desserts

    Excellent, thanks to all. A few questions: Raxelita, I had not thought of nut butters but I have heard a lot of conflicting opinions on flaxseed, like it's hard to "blend" in correctly and can cause textural issues. What do you use it in? Pissaladiere (great screen name BTW), thanks for that recipe. One question: in what form is the 1/2 c. coconut? Merstar, useful links. There's a peach-amaretto upside-down cake on the veganconnection.com that looks do-able. I love that flavor. It's interesting--the little research I've done into vegan baking, there are a lot of similar ingredients used. For instance, vinegar makes an appearance in almost every recipe I've seen, and coconut seems to be a big one too. I wonder what it is about vinegar that makes it necessary for this kind of baking? Eggs just provide so many things in baking. There MUST be a sacrifice of quality when you use an egg replacer, and I say that with no snobbery whatsoever.
  2. Hello everyone, I had forgotten how addictive the Pastry & Baking Forum of eGullet is. To make a long story short, the owner of the restaurant where I work is frustrated with/ready to dump his vegan baked goods supplier, for the simple reason that she is extremely flaky (yet free of butter--hah!) and that her desserts really aren't that good. But what a shelf life they have . . . I am underutilized there (working as a barista, not cooking), and he suggested that I take over the vegan baking. This is a place that is "known" for being vegan-friendly but it is not a dedicated vegan restaurant. I like to bake and consider myself OK at it, and I have done it on a large-ish scale at a few country clubs I used to work at. However, I was classically trained and know next-to-nothing about vegan ingredients, the dreaded "substitutes," etc. Here is what they offer now in the way of vegan desserts: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie (atrocious, flaccid, misshapen, and I can't even stand to sell it to people) Vegan Carrot Cake (covered with suspicious white frosting that catches the overhead lighting like semi-gloss paint) Vegan German Chocolate Cake ( ) Vegan Brownies (the least offensive, yet not appealing texture-wise). I also sell an assortment of vegan smoothies and shakes made with soy chocolate ice cream, a product of Chicago Soydairy, that isn't too bad. Thanks to the already-existing vegan baking threads in this forum, I've lifted a (Cooks Illustrated) Vegan Chocolate Cake with "Creamy" Chocolate Frosting recipe which I will test shortly and present to the owner. I would like to offer at least two cakes total and an assortment of two or three different cookies/brownies for my vegan customers. I was toying with a nice fat gingersnap sandwich cookie, the "sandwich" part being a coconut-milk pastry cream . . . then my mind blanked at how I would make pastry cream without eggs or that last beautiful glop of butter I would love a nice coffee cake recipe, since I *am* a barista It's a hard life for a vegan and harder for the vegan baker, non? So I need your help, great sages of eGullet. I was thinking that once this thing gets rolling, in the next few weeks, I could sort of blog my efforts at making palatable vegan baked goods, and maybe that would be educational for us all. ANY help, ANY advice you can give me--ANY recipes or substitutions you have had success with would be awesome since this place does not have the resources for extensive recipe-tweaking. But please, no vegan-bashing. I don't give a crap what people eat or don't eat, I just don't want to put my name on something as disgusting as that Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie we've got right now. You should see it! Oh well. There's always banana bread.
  3. I love those How to Cook a Wolfe pieces.
  4. Well, it's about a year later, but happy to say I finally tried the burgers at the Northside. Good burger, and great fries with a touch of vinegar. I love a place that will put vinegar on the fries without asking.
  5. Hey all, My friend and I are tossing around ideas for a Sunday evening meal in Chicago . . . Hema's came up. I love the Western & Devon location. What's the deal with Lincoln Park? Same quality? Same prices? Mama Hema walking around spreading her benediction over the food? BYO? Anyone out there in the next few hours, let me know. Thanks Also, if anyone knows of a nice sloppy and delicious rib joint, that'd work too. We haven't quite narrowed down our genre yet
  6. One of Each Soup It's very fresh-tasting in the wintertime. It's an old family recipe. Maggiethecat reported on this recipe on the mega Soup thread. 1 Idaho potato, peeled 1 white onion 1 celery heart (with its leaves) 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled 1 ripe banana 1 pt chicken stock 1 c heavy cream 1 T butter 1 tsp curry powder (generous tsp) salt pepper fresh chives Rough-chop all fruits and vegetables and simmer in the broth, covered, until tender. Stir in the cream, butter, and curry. Season. Heat to the simmer but don't boil. Puree soup. Thin if desired, and snip some fresh chives over. ( RG1191 )
  7. One of Each Soup It's very fresh-tasting in the wintertime. It's an old family recipe. Maggiethecat reported on this recipe on the mega Soup thread. 1 Idaho potato, peeled 1 white onion 1 celery heart (with its leaves) 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled 1 ripe banana 1 pt chicken stock 1 c heavy cream 1 T butter 1 tsp curry powder (generous tsp) salt pepper fresh chives Rough-chop all fruits and vegetables and simmer in the broth, covered, until tender. Stir in the cream, butter, and curry. Season. Heat to the simmer but don't boil. Puree soup. Thin if desired, and snip some fresh chives over. ( RG1191 )
  8. Craigslist Chicago has a job listing for FOH at Alinea (Lincoln Park). Like backwaiters and bussers and shit. Training starts in late April, job starts in May. If you get the job, bring me a doggie bag. And one of Chef Achatz's sweaty socks.
  9. Hi Maggie! Try this one: One of Each Soup 1 Idaho potato, peeled 1 white onion 1 celery heart (with its leaves) 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled 1 ripe banana 1 pt. chicken stock 1 c. heavy cream 1 Tbsp. butter 1 big teaspoon curry powder salt, pepper, fresh chives Rough-chop all fruits and vegetables and simmer in the broth, covered, until tender. Stir in the cream, butter, and curry. Season. Heat to the simmer but don't boil. Puree soup. Thin if desired, and snip some fresh chives over. It's very fresh-tasting in the wintertime. It's an old family recipe. Miss you! PS Can you PM me the recipe for Chimay-braised pork? I can't get it off my mind!
  10. Of course somebody had to say it.
  11. NeroW

    Dinner! 2005

    Lovebenton, that food is looking great . . . you must have a nice broiler because you always get really crunchity browning on your foods. Check the roasted cauliflower!
  12. My friend at work is a CIA extern right now and he is going to Chicago on Monday to try out. I will let you know what happens.
  13. I like KoolWhip and flat Coke! But not at the same time.
  14. My croque turned out nice. It was a monster, about 4 feet tall and a foot across at the base. I used almost 800 puffs. My Chef decorated it like a real tree. He only had me make one, because it was so huge, and since it was the centerpiece he didn't think anyone would eat it. So it was him who had to try and patch it up in between seatings on Christmas Eve. Sinclair, I used chocolate like you do. What a great idea! That allowed me to do it in advance and I think it was a lot easier to eat. I ended up making my own mold out of styrofoam.
  15. I finally ate at The Common Grill (in Chelsea, not A2 proper) on Wednesday of last week. My friend lives in Grass Lake and is about a 15-minute drive on the back roads to The Common Grill. She just loves the restaurant and she eats there quite often. The place was packed for a Wednesday night. The room was extraordinarily loud. Every table was full and every seat at the bar was full. Out of curiousity, I asked the bartender how many tables were in the place, and he didn't know (neither did our server ). We had a half-hour wait for a table, so we stood in the vicinity of the bar, naturally, and had a few glasses of white wine (house Chardonnay for my friend, house Chenin Blanc for my sister and I). Having heard much about the place, I spent the time looking around the room. Other than the loudness factor, and the fact that everyone in the place was white, middle-aged, and obviously well-off, I was favorably impressed. It looks like a cute restaurant for a 2nd or 3rd date (after you have figured out that your date is someone you don't mind spending some money on, or them spending some money on you). We stepped outside for a smoke and I looked around Chelsea a bit--never been there, reminds me of South Haven or Saugatuck or Plainwell or any number of small Michigan towns! We were seated with our backs to the kitchen, which is fine with me, as I don't much like staring at my job when I am on vacation. My friend insisted that we order the baked Brie appetizer (I would have preferred something else, and my sister wanted the oysters). The Brie came in its round with a terrific apple chutney--perfect balance of sweet and puckery--and grilled herbed naan bread. The naan was nice, chewy and holey, although I prefer other types of flatbread. The bread they give you when you are seated is absolutely delicious. Soft, herb-y, salty rolls, warm and gooey, with whipped butter--I would have been satisfied making a meal of that. Our server was prompt and knowledgable, never glancing at the Specials Board as she recited them. I liked the server's uniform--button down shirts and khakis, no "flair" or anything of that ridiculous sort. My entree was the goat cheese ravioli with shrimps, lobster, pancetta, and basil in a Roma-garlic beurre blanc. My sister ordered the bouillabaisse with grilled bread, and my friend had one of the specials--sauteed sea scallops in another Roma sauce with crimini mushrooms and spinach on capellini. Before we received our entrees, we each had the Tuscan pear salad. It was your typical pear-Bleu salad in vinaigrette, nothing interesting about the plating. The sauce my rav came in was extremely full-flavored, the pancetta adding the perfect crunch and saltiness to cut the richness of the goat cheese and the beurre blanc. The shrimps were butterflied and sauteed perfectly, and I was pleased with the generous hunks of lobster hiding under my ravioli. I would be surprised to learn that the ravioli were not homemade--their shapes were slightly irregular and there were different amounts of filling in each one. I usually do not like chiffonade of anything sprinkled over the top of my food, but this basil was cut micro-thin and was actually quite unobtrusive. My sister's bouillabaisse was briny (as it should be) and the way it was plated was interesting. She received a whole lobster tail (split longways) and this was curled in the middle of the bowl to provide a center for the other seafoods. The clams were excellent. The only thing I didn't like was the crouton, and this was not the fault of the crouton--it was the fault of the excellent house bread already on the table! The crouton seemed superfluous. My friend's scallops were not bad. I don't really get that into scallops, but I enjoyed the Roma sauce they were in. When I hear "Roma sauce" I think "marinara sauce" for some reason, but hers was actually quite light and had a predominant flavor of garlic. The sauteed spinach was done up in little "curls" on top of each scallop--must be a bitch to plate--but I thought the mushrooms were a little underdone. But that's better than overdone. We shared a bottle of viognier. The bill came to about $112. I would have liked to try a dessert (the bread pudding comes to mind) but we were absolutely stuffed from all the dinner bread. I have to say that their dessert selection was a bit disappointing. Anyone know if they do their desserts in house or if they come from somewhere else? I guess I am just sick of seeing molten chocolate cake and vanilla bean creme brulee on every menu. So it was a good experience, and they had a female broiler cook, which I enjoy seeing, having been a female broiler cook myself. My only hesitation would be coming to the place on a weekend and having to sit through what must be rock-concert decibel noise. My friend said that the last time she was there the Chef was expediting, but we did not see him on our visit. I saw that he has a cookbook out. I was going to buy it for her, but she doesn't cook, nor is she one of those oddballs that collects cookbooks
  16. Thanks! I could've dug out the McGee to answer my own question, but there is nothing like "The Passionate Embrace of Glutenin and Gliadin" in there.
  17. In this order (if you tamper with this order I can not be held responsible for what might happen): 1 glass water. 4 Ibuprofen. Lacking Ibuprofen, you may substitute Motrin 800, Xanax, or any other favorite pain-smoother (may I recommend the Xanax). 2 cups blazing-strong coffee. 2 Bloody Marys. It doesn't matter what kind of vodka. Just get it in there. If there is no tomato juice to be had, substitute 2 screwdrivers (although the social implications seem to be different if you drink vodka and orange juice in the morning instead of vodka and tomato juice. I do not know why). 1 gyro with steak fries and tzatziki, or failing that, 1 gyro omelet. If there is no gyro meat, substitute any other red meat: bacon cheeseburgers are my second favorite. Another cup of coffee. Another glass of water. Either more painkillers or a nice joint, whichever your poison. Me, I will take the joint. Then I drink more water, take a nap, wake up, play some video games, and eat some more red meat, washed down with vodka, if my roommates haven't drank it all while I sleep. Unless of course it's a work day, in which case I put the checks on and suck it up.
  18. I just made 2 baguettes (I am happy to report that my baguettes no longer look like they were made by monkeys). When I pulled them out of the oven and cooled them (on my upside-down dish rack ) they made little popping sounds. What is that?
  19. Ronnie, totally agree on that smoked brisket. God, that was a great party! Opera would also make my top 10 metro Chicago list. Of course I am not what you might call "well-dined."
  20. So far so good on my batch of truffles. I have been taking it slow and allowing myself plenty of time. The hardest part is hiding them from the dishwashers.
  21. Now I have to make 2 big-ass croquembouche for the Christmas Eve buffet. I am going to the craft store to buy 2 large Christmas tree-shaped molds. I am also ordering the cream puffs to cut my workload a bit. Any tips? I have only made one once, and it was a small one. I remember it being difficult to keep the caramel workable while I stuck the cream puffs to the mold. Yarrrrgh.
  22. Thanks everyone for the great replies. Zilla, we have those scoopers at work. The servers use them to make butter plates. I will take your advice and use one when I form the truffles. Chromedome, my third truffle is going to be "PB & J": chocolate-Chambord, rolled in crushed peanuts. jgarner, my 4th truffle is going to be chocolate-Earl Grey. Sinclair, thanks for the tip on not pressing down on the tea leaves. Working mostly on the hot side, I am used to straining sauces and pressing down on the ingredients (shallots, herbs, etc.) to force out their flavors. I am sure I would have done that with the truffles, too. Thanks. I am planning to make the 4 ganaches today and form the truffles either tomorrow or the next day. Then I will freeze them and finish them (coatings) just before Christmas Eve. Will that work? Or should I coat them prior to freezing? Will it be OK to make my ganaches a few days in advance? I know they need to set a little bit. Also, the only experience I have with dipping is using that pate glace (??) stuff that comes in a bucket. My Chef laughed at me when I asked him to order that so I have to do without. I am planning on dipping in straight melted Callebaut. I don't know how to temper chocolate. Will this be OK? Should I try to temper it to get a nice shine or will that just be a travesty? I know the truffles won't be shiny and won't look as nice as they would if I had good dipping chocolate. A little off-topic: Lately at work I have been responsible for desserts. We get most of our a la carte and party desserts from off-site, but there is always a need for candies, custards, cookies, brownies, muffins, plating, and dessert sauces. Basic things like that, nothing fancy. I am my Chef's "go to" gal for these things. I enjoy the work but it is a little annoying trying to do even "lite" pastry work in a "hot" kitchen! For instance: the bent sheet pans (a major headache when making hundreds of creme brulee), the constant changing of the oven temps, and the impatience of my sous Chefs when they don't understand why I will spend hours tweaking with cookie decoration or custard flavorings. It is not "important" to them and they think I could spend my time doing something better . . . something savory! When they see my results they always compliment me, but they never understand why I put forth the effort. It is also annoying when something like yesterday happens. My Exec sous Chef told me at the last minute that we needed 8 special desserts for a VIP party that evening. That would not be a big deal in a dedicated pastry kitchen (we don't even have a pastry Chef) where you have doughs and sauces and things like that pre-made, to some extent. We have nothing like that, not even frozen puff paste! So I made dark chocolate pots de creme with a caramelized banana half and bananas foster ice cream. I wanted to do individual tarte tatins, but they bitched about me taking up the burner space, even for a few minutes! I just realized that there was a thread like this not long ago.
  23. My Chef asked me to make 200 truffles for Christmas Eve. He wants 4 different kinds. I have made truffles before in small batches but never mass-produced. So I have a few questions I have 2 recipes I want to use: 1. Basic Dark Chocolate (yield about 50): 7 oz. heavy cream, vanilla extract, 1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped, 2 oz. butter, cocoa powder to coat. Heat cream and vanilla to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and stir to make the ganache, let it cool until it is only slightly warm. Add the butter and stir to melt in. Let stand until it firms up a little, then either pipe or roll into balls onto parchment. Chill to firm and coat with cocoa powder. 2. White Chocolate Orange-Cardamom (yield about 50): 4 oz. heavy cream, a few strips of orange zest, 1 oz. pulp-free orange juice, 3 oz. Grand Marnier, 2 oz. butter, 1 egg yolk, 2 oz. sugar, 7 oz. white couverture, chopped. Bring cream, juice, booze, and butter to simmer. Whip egg yolks with sugar until light. Temper hot liquid into egg mixture. Add a bit of cardamom. Strain over chopped white couverture to make the "ganache." Let it start to thicken, but not too thick, and then form truffles. I will coat these with more white chocolate and sprinkle with candied orange zest. Questions: What are some other ideas? These are the only kinds of truffles I have ever made. For Christmas Eve in years past, they've done simple chocolate ones rolled in Oreo Cookies or Butterfinger but I want to do something different (I have kind of a reputation). Also, is there anything I need to beware of when making a large-ish amount of truffles? Do these formulas look OK? Any tips or suggestions or pointers are much appreciated. Thank you and I hope all holiday preparations are going well . . . it's almost over!
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