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jmacnaughtan

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Everything posted by jmacnaughtan

  1. My apologies for veering wildly off-topic, I was just reminded of this.
  2. I've always thought that the only difference between a sweet Pithiviers and a Galette des Rois was the fève... Interestingly, I was in the village of Pithiviers this summer. Turns out they are immensely proud of both the classic Pithiviers and this, the Pithiviers fondant: Disappointingly, it's just an almond cake. Tasty, but nothing particularly special.
  3. Great choice, I love Pépin's technique. For me, at the moment it's poulet au vin jaune: a quartered chicken, browned off with mushrooms (morels if you're lucky) and simmered for 45 minutes in 50/50 vin jaune (or dry sherry) and cream. This gets reduced down after the chicken is done. It's really good, and I don't even miss crispy skin.
  4. Last night I pan-roasted halved sprouts in butter, then added amontillado sherry to reduce and glaze. It worked very well. They were then tossed with mushrooms, chestnuts, garlic and thyme.
  5. The ones with the rolled edges tend to be stronger and less likely to deform if you drop them or step on them. ETA: Great tarts, by the way. I love a classic Bourdaloue.
  6. I hadn't looked properly - I thought there was a base. The most successful use I've seen with this cheese is the Café Pouchkine tvorog éclair. I think it's the only time I've had it crumbly and enjoyable.
  7. This was from last week, but I've been lazy: Chocolate, rum and raisin tart Sablé breton base Chocolate, rum and raisin crémeux Rum raisin purée Rum raisins It may have been a little too boozy, but I liked it
  8. Looks great! I've had mixed results with tvorog in desserts - does it stay crumbly in your zapekanka, or does it mix into the filling?
  9. As I said, it's easy for one person to crank out a couple of hundred loaves or pastries, so the labour cost per item is low. Similarly, they're all proved and baked en masse, so the overheads are greatly reduced. Unlike with more elaborate cakes, it takes relatively little time to make a large number of baguettes and pastries, prove them and crank them out throughout the day - it also helps that these are by far the most popular items. This is generally why, here at least, it's easy to get funding to open a boulangerie but much harder for a pâtisserie that doesn't do these high-margin, high-vo
  10. I think we've got our wires crossed. When I hear "bakery", I think of a place that only sells to take away. Generally in these places, there's a baker, an apprentice and someone working on the till - no service, coffee or dishwashing. Sure, in cafés these pastries are more expensive.
  11. They won't, but far from being a loss leader, the baguettes are what makes money. The ingredient costs are probably around 5 cents a loaf, and one baker can crank out hundreds. It's similar for croissants, etc. Most of the bakeries going under are generally not the "Mom and Pop" ones, which generally turn a healthy profit, but the crappy "pain chaud" that buy in the frozen dough. These products pay the bills, while the margins on more elaborate cakes are much slimmer.
  12. Sure it is. Each batch of baguette dough generally uses around 25kg of flour (often more), which is mixed by machine before being shaped, generally by hand. When you consider that a baguette normally weighs around 200g, that's a lot of loaves.
  13. Maybe not NYC, but the bakery is in Virginia. Skilled bakers cost a lot of money to employ here, and the social security contributions that the company pays the state pretty much equal the salary. Add to this the fact that Paris rental prices are extremely high... Even at the €1-2 mark however, bread and pastries are the most profitable items in bakeries, generally because they can be easily made en masse. The losses generally come from the more elaborate cakes. Also, what's your problem with British English?
  14. The elaborate pastries weren't the ones that caught my attention - it's more the pain au chocolat, plain croissant and cannelé for 3$ and up that I find extortionate. Given the ingredient costs (and labour and rental costs, which are almost certainly lower than they are here), they must be making a spectacular margin on those. If there are people willing to pay that, then great! But it still surprises me. And I am curious - are those prices pre-tax, and do you tip in these places?
  15. Those do look good, but the prices are staggering. Are these normal prices, or have they had to hike them up to survive the pandemic? I imagine these are pre-tax, pre-tip too 😬 (For context, at Ladurée or similar, a pain au chocolat is generally €1.80 or so. Neighbourhood bakeries sell them €1.00-1.20, tax included)
  16. Living under curfew for the next few weeks, so lunch is the new dinner. This was today's dessert. Quince and praline tart Sweet pastry Quince and praliné purée Poached quince White chocolate and praliné chantilly
  17. jmacnaughtan

    Mushrooms

    I always thought it was the same in France as over there, given it's a French name. Here though, the bottom ones are the chanterelles and the top ones are girolles. I think the generic family name is chanterelle, but I'm not sure.
  18. jmacnaughtan

    Mushrooms

    I'm curious when people in the UK/USA/etc. talk about chanterelles: are you talking about these or these?
  19. It's been a while since I've done any baking, so I took some time out to make a an old favourite. Paris-Brest Choux pastry Praliné feuillantine Praliné mousseline Nuts
  20. I'm having trouble with the scale here - is that a tiny sphere or a very large cup? In any case, it's very pretty (and a shame to melt). I think the gold leaf is wasted inside the sphere - I can't see very well on the photo, but it looks gunked up on the marshmallows. Would it work better on top of it?
  21. jmacnaughtan

    Mushrooms

    What are those? They look like the pieds de mouton that we get here...
  22. jmacnaughtan

    Breakfast 2020!

    Finally found a decent mushroom purveyor, so this was breakfast. Not brunch 🤨 Girolles and "pholiotes" fricasseed in butter and cream, oyster mushroom pastries, bread, Bordier butter, Livarot, Tomme St Antoine and a little Crottin goat's cheese.
  23. jmacnaughtan

    Carrots

    I've recently started "toasting" julienned carrots with salt in a dry, uncovered pan before doing anything else with them. It seems to dehydrate them a bit and ramp up the sweetness and flavour. Then you just need to finish them with butter. Cumin seeds work well in the toasting step too.
  24. If you're not sure about the kitchen, I'd probably avoid anything that requires dough - you don't know how much counter space you'll have, and you probably don't want a big clean-up either. If he's not a fan of big pieces of meat or any shellfish, why not go fish if you're on the coast? Do a thick piece of something in the pan, oven or on the grill, lightly roast or braise some good vegetables and do a beurre blanc sauce - very quick and easy, but still impressive and somewhat "special". Open a good bottle of white and have a pile of peas in the pod to snack on for apér
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