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Everything posted by Dexter

  1. Something that I have done (and I may get pantsed for by the purists) is after I've lightly browned the butter, and skimmed off the foam, I allow the now essentially clarified butter to cool very slightly, then pour in about an inch of very warm water without stirring. This immediately settles to the bottom, cleanly separating the solids which stick to the bottom from the fats that I want to keep. Pop the pot in the fridge overnight, and remove a clean disc of solid fat the next morning. Doing it this way, I feel that I get a better total yield from the procedure, and a cleaner final product. It doesn't appreciably (at least as best I can tell) hydrate the final product.
  2. Dexter

    Making rice noodles

    Dave Arnold and co just recently tackled this exact video and noodle style. Even posted about it on their tragically-all-but-defunct blog too: http://www.cookingissues.com/2013/04/29/recipe-quest-shear-thickening-starch-noodles/ For what it's worth, evidently the noodles in the video are actually dangmyun sweet-potato noodles (mistranslated header on the video?), at least according to their posting.
  3. I'm going to take a stab at this, but I'm sure there are others on the board that are better equipped to answer the question with proper authority and all. That being said: A pressure cooker increases the temperature at which the food is being cooked by increasing the pressure experienced by the liquid (and food) within the vessel. As water hits its boiling point it converts to steam. That steam increases the pressure inside the vessel, making it "harder" for the remaining liquid to convert to steam. That means, it has to get a little hotter to do the same thing. What we are regulating in the pressure cooker is not the temperature (directly), but the pressure at which the food is cooking. This translates to higher temperatures, but it's really the pressure release point that is being manipulated directly. Alcohol boils (azeotropic or pure, it really doesn't matter) at a lower point that pure water. But boiling as a physical process doesn't change. You are still going to increase the pressure within the vessel as you heat it. Because it boils at a lower temperature, it maximum pressure will be reached at a lower temperature than would be if you were using water. So, I would expect that alcohol in a pressure cooker would result in a lower cooking temperature. Second point about pressure cooking - they aren't boiling off much water (or alcohol) at all, unless you are giving the vessel too much heat. You only really vent a considerable amount of vapor when you are above your pressure set point. Given this, if you could precisely measure the temperature at which you wanted the vessel to reach an stay, then you could theoretically boil off all the alcohol you wanted. However, this would require going above the pressure set point to release the valve - shaking weight, spring, or whatever. You'd also be releasing water vapor as part of the azeotropic complex. Changing the rate at which the alcohol would boil off is rather more complex, and involves a lot of variables that I just don't have easy ways to account for quickly. My expectation is that the alcohol would come off somewhat more quickly at higher solution concentrations than it would at lower pressures, but that the practical differences would be negligible.
  4. I would suggest building a resume that focuses not on your time spent at those establishments, but rather on what you did at those jobs. Skills-centered, not chronology based. Importantly, offer work references (old bosses, etc). Your cover letter and brief interview are going to clear up the nature of the 6-month gigs very quickly. You just want to give them a reason to invite you for that interview.
  5. I have one that I use in an apartment with super-sensitive detectors. My detectors go off when I use the freaking toaster, fry an egg, etc, so I've taken to slapping one of those hotel-freebie shower caps over the one over my oven (yup - just about directly), and closing the door to the other room whenever I cook. Haven't had problems since. Thing is, I don't use it nearly as much as I thought I would. I still use my stovetop smoker whenever I want to do something like a salmon fillet or anything similar. I'm sure it's just a lack of creativity on my part, but I've had it for 2 years and haven't used it more than half a dozen times. I'd also love to hear ideas from people.
  6. Most likely because the emulsion will break. If there aren't any stabilizers in there, then the fat will simply separate out.
  7. I was listening to a publisher being interviewed recently, and they were talking about how cook books are among their most profitable lines, not because people actually use them as guides, or cook from them, etc, but because of their value as the current "hot" coffee table books. Oversized, glossy pictures that take up both pages, etc. Seems like the puffy / padded covers are part of that packaging. Not intended to be practical, but decorative. Just a guess.
  8. I've got the Polyscience Sous Vide Pro Chef, and use it about 4 times a week, on average. At work, we've got the Julabo Pro's, and honestly I can't tell a difference at all in their efficiencies. Both of them are great machines, and I think you'd be equally happy with either. These machines really don't boil water efficiently though. Over about 90C, they just stay cranked up, and you end up with fairly close to, but not quite boiling.
  9. What's the shelf life of this stuff? Indefinite? It's got a "best by" date stamped on the bottom of the can that tends to run about 8 months, but I've used it for up to 2 years post expiration without noticing any differences in quality or anything. I'm guessing the expiration date is more a manufacturing requirement than an actual spoilage indicator.
  10. Wondra is, at its most basic, just a very low protein, pre-gelatinized flour. Because of this, it can be stirred into warm liquids without clumping, and fries up to a superbly crisp crust. How to fake that? It's going to have to be application specific. In many cases, you will be able to make a blond roux with something like cake flour (or similarly low protein). In others, it will doubtless require more tweaking - adding potato or corn starch to a flour slurry, or partially cooking batters before use. But, it's essentially its own animal, unlike any other single ingredient. Eric Ripert loves the stuff, and I'm told he orders the stuff by the drum. I hate to say it, but if you are looking for something that behaves exactly like Wondra, you are going to have to find something that is not just a pre-gelatinized, low protein flour product, but one meant to compete directly with Wondra. There aren't just a ton of those on the market. Even the MC team seem to default to the (understandably frustrating) "just buy Wondra" position.
  11. Wanted to bump this for anyone that is still interested. I just got back from the grocers, and a 382g (13.5 oz) can of Wondra flour cost me just under $4.00, and has a shelf ("Better if used by") life of about 7 months (9 May 2013).
  12. Dexter

    Smoke Point

    That's actually exactly why I mentioned butter. Because you can't change the temperature at which the milk solids will burn, but you can dilute overall mixture by adding more oils, you can still knock back the burned flavor in the mixture. It's not butter solids "smoking" like the smoke point of oil, but it's something burning in the matrix, and salvage of that matrix by diluting with a non-burned fat. In my college chemistry class, the professor used to quip "The solution to pollution is dilution" - I'm wondering if there is a flavor equivalent at work with fats at and around their smoke points. It seems to me that something with a relatively low smoke point like olive oil is still going to burn, even if you've diluted it 10x with highly refined peanut oil. What you have managed to do with the additional oil, however, is just dilute the burned molecules. /Edit: I'm no chemist, I'm just trying to think through this with a fairly limited tool box, and happily defer to those of you what actually know what you are talking about. I'm saying, I don't see how taking molecule A, which burns at temperature X, and surrounding it with molecules of B that burn at a higher temperature Y would actually prevent A from still burning at X. If the solution is at X+(a little) but below Y, don't you still have burned A surrounded by not-burned B?
  13. Dexter

    Smoke Point

    I looked in MC, McGee, and about a half dozen other places today, and didn't find anything that addresses it directly. MC talks briefly about oils and their smoke points (2-123), but doesn't go into detail about what's happening. That said, here are my thoughts on the subject: Browning butter is essentially the cooking of solids suspended in a fatty matrix. (I'm assuming that all the water is cooked off relatively quickly, and does not play any role in the browning process) the milk solids will brown, and even blacken and burn well before the fat reaches its smoke point, and are in no significant way protected from "overcooking" by the presence of the fat. Similarly, you can brown a pat of butter even when you have added a relatively large portion of peanut oil to a pan. If the solids aren't protected from burning, is there any reason to expect that a liquid-phase material would be protected? Dilution of the burning molecules may drop the threshold sensory detection, but the burned material would still be there. If this is actually the case, then it should be evident in a shorter lifespan of the oil mixture, eventual lowering of its smoke point, etc.
  14. I've got both an iSi soda and cream whipper, and honestly only ever use the creamer. It's got a much wider mouth, which lets me do things like carbonate fruits, easier to clean out with a brush, etc. If I had it to do over again, I'd just get the creamer (they use exactly the same style chargers, btw, so you can just get boxes of both and be fine). Silpats are great - get at least two. I use them all the time (and even keep them hanging by the oven by a binder clip so they are always handy). A jewelers scale is a must have, particularly if you are just going to try some of these recipes for 1 or 2 servings. Amazon has several for around $30 that are just fine, and come with some amusing "you may also be interested in" recommendations. Modernist Pantry has pretty much all the specialty ingredients you will be playing with, and in quantities that are reasonable for experimentation. I mention them because you mentioned being interested in trying transglutaminase. Many enzymes are oxygen labile, and once you open the package, their lifespan quickly winds down, and TG is definitely one of those. They've got it in 50g packages, which is good for about 10-12 lbs of meat. I've found that the 50g packages last about 2 months without noticeable decrease in activity after opening, when kept in the refrigerator with a little oxygen scavenger packet (available at Amazon). Edit: A minor note - a lot of things are being sold as "modernist" or whatever, and it's just bogus. Even the good guys aren't immune to doing something like selling a $3 julep strainer as a $15 "spherification spoon" or some such nonsense. And there are a lot of circumstances where the low-tech, cheap route is vastly superior to the high-tech, expensive alternatives, like with measuring pH. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a lab-grade pH meter that will still foul up with proteins in relatively short order and fall out of calibration quickly, or you can spend $10 and get a box of test strips that never go bad!
  15. Depends on what you are looking for, honestly. ModernistPantry.com ships internationally for pretty reasonable prices, and they sell just about everything in small to medium portions (like, good for a dozen or so servings, rather than 2 kilo restaurant packages). Homebrew supply houses also sell a lot of the stuff that is used - I think there is a DeFalco's in Ottawa? Any of them will have things like clarifying agents, calcium salts, etc.
  16. It's a safety issue more than anything. Just like Lisa said, if someone can't hear calls, breaking glass, or the normal cues to be aware of what someone may be doing behind them, then they are a danger to themselves and the rest of the crew. Yeah, being in the dish pit sucks, and I understand the desire for music. Get a small stereo. Kid's a volunteer, so all the sturm and dram about respect in the kitchen and things doesn't really apply as much, I'd venture, but rules still have to be followed. If the kid wants to go into kitchens professionally, then this is one thing that will get him in trouble very quickly - and based on the heat generated by the responses, likely fired on the spot in a lot of kitchens. Best to let him know why, not just that it's forbidden. It's a teachable moment.
  17. They actually make it a point to explain how you can do a lot of the low temp stuff without an immersion circulator. It's definitely a super nice bit of kit to have, but not necessary for the majority of the recipes and techniques in the book.
  18. Depends on what you want to get out of the gigs, really. At the hotel, you will be part of a largish brigade, and likely work not just in the restaurant in-house, but doing catering and banquet as well. Perks are insurance, pay checks are in no danger of bouncing, you aren't living review-to-review. Regular pay raises based on performance. Things like that. Downshots are there won't be nearly as much creativity, and learning opportunities may be somewhat more limited (learn this station, then the next, and so on). $17 / hr in Hawaii is not exactly a living wage, from what I've heard. Housing is phenomenally expensive, so that's a consideration. CNN has a cost of living comparison calculator here. But, seriously, if you want to do fine dining ultimately, it'd be pretty difficult to talk me out of going to Spain for the year.
  19. There are also a large number of different options in the educational paths you take. Going to a culinary program at one school may be very different from the another. What I mean is, going to a school like Cornell of University of Houston, they have degrees in Hospitality Management. There are still culinary programs within those departments that are very good, but the programs emphasis is on the management end of the business. Other schools, like Johnston and Wales, or the CIA also offer bachelors degrees, but their programs focus more on the kitchen and service itself. Yes, they cover managerial details well, and you will have the option of custom tailoring your education anywhere you end up. Also ask yourself, how much money am I willing to pour into this? Culinary school is an expense. If you do a search, you will find several threads where we've hashed over the relative merits and faults of schools vs just going straight to work. (Honestly, it's worth your time to do a search and read through them. This forum has a ton of very talented people on it who have offered decades of experience and perspective in every imaginable aspect of the culinary world.) Some schools are fantastically, head spinningly expensive. And, for the most part, the jobs are not high paying - particularly when you are starting out. I personally find it hard to justify taking on a $100,000 loan to get jobs that pay less than $15/hr. However, there are community college programs, many of which are excellent, that cost a small fraction of that amount. The trade off is the badge on the diploma. What that's worth depends very much on your personal goals. All of these schools want you to do externships. A couple of them (the CIA in particular) require you to have a fair amount of time in a professional kitchen before you are admitted to the program. This is their way of acknowledging that an academic environment does not teach you everything you need to know to go to work. It's like Edward J said above - schools teach you a very broad base of "what's right", but don't teach you speed or efficiency. Workplaces teach you speed and efficiency, but will really only teach you what they want, regardless of wether or not it's "right." Either way, work now. School can wait a couple of years. Learning that this is (or is not!) an appropriate fit is more important than anything else. Work hard, and keep trying to find new things to take on and do well in the kitchen. Stage at other restaurants. And be honest with yourself about what you want to be doing in 5 years time. Best of luck, -D (Hah - in the time it took me to post this, LindaK posted two of the bigger threads on schools vs work. Well played!)
  20. Hey all. I just heard back from the NZ customs people, and here are their rules.
  21. Yeah, I saw that one, but given that it's actually American ingredients being shipped from the US, I was unsure as to where exactly to put this. Given that this particular subforums description included "Hard to find ingredients" I thought it was a pseudo-fit. But, I'm sure you are right - the mods are pretty good about keeping things sorted.
  22. (Note to the mods: I think this might be the best forum for this to be, as these qualify as "hard to find ingredients" depending on locality, but please move it as necessary.) I've noticed over the course of about a year that there are several ingredients that are commonly available in the US, and referenced in books like Modernist Cuisine (and the At Home version), but aren't available internationally. Most recently, Wondra flour has come up. So, I wanted to start a thread where we could compile a sort of wish-list for people, and potentially work out some kind of system where I can just go to the grocers and pick up a bunch of this stuff, and ship it to you guys. Yeah, it's going to take a little coordination, and I will have to double check guidelines for shipping and packaging some of this stuff (several kilos of white powder? Yeah, customs is gonna' notice...) I will periodically go through this thread and try to compile a master list here. (One quick edit: There is a lot of regional variability within the US as to availability of some products. I'm in Arizona, and will get what I can, but some things are just not to be found here in the desert southwest! Perhaps we can find a few others in the US that can help out?) What do you wish you could find? So far: Wondra flour
  23. Happy to do it, honestly. I was thinking that Modernist Pantry and the like are definitely the go-to suppliers for most of this stuff, but, as you said, don't stock a lot of the things that are taken for granted at the grocery store. Seems like there have been a dozen or so items that people have been looking for over the last year. I will start a thread and see if we can get some interest worked up.
  24. I've managed to fake it fairly well with low protein cake flour, spiked with about 1% corn starch. Make a slurry with it first to work out lumps, but it really only works when you are using a relatively small amount. There are enough New Zealanders on this board that it might be worth trying to put together some kind of drop shipment of a bunch of stuff that's not available there. Just a thought, but I'd be willing to pack things up and take a big box to the post office if it'd be worth while to people...
  25. Booker & Dax is nestled in Momofuku Ssam. It's Dave Arnolds side (?) project since leaving the FCI, and well worth a trip in.
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