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    New Zealand
  1. The New York chesecake is one of those great mysteries of the pastry universe. I've seen many different versions in my years in kitchens some nice some horrible. I'm pretty sure there are a milion and different recipies for the New York cheesecake but from my understanding it needs to be quite dense,rich and only just set in the middle. Being not located in America I've only tried the recipies that have appeared here in N.Z but the best recipie I found that works for me takes 2hrs to cook and contains a large amount of Condensed Milk along with Cream cheese etc. Its the recipie that everyone seems to love and it goes a light tan colour on top with the low and slow baking. I'm happy to post it up if your interested,though it will be all in metric weights and celcius temps so some conversions maybe needed. As for the base i've done everything from sweet pastry to the traditional crumb base and even a oreo cookie base, I think it comes down to personal preference really and I've never really done any real digging to try and find the "correct" base for the traditional N.Y Cheesecake.
  2. Heat and moisture set off the popping candy. From the sounds of it the chocolate may have been too warm when you added it to the mix. I've found its best if the chocolate is appox body temp (ie: dip your finger in and it should feel the same temp as your finger.) when you add it the mix with the popping candy. I've made several popping candy bases this way and haven't had a problem with the candt "pre-popping" so to speak.
  3. Thought I'd share another story,this one from my time working at the hotel. Mountain Oysters : Here in Nz each year there is a Wild Foods competition among the restaurants country wide which as you can imagine inspires some very creative and interesting dishes. One year we were doing a dish called "Mountain Oysters and Wild herbs" , this dish was coming from my section and one quiet evening I had two on order. The dish was clean and simple, the only real cooking required was the battering and deep frying of the "oysters". So with two on order I began to batter and deep fry two portions when one of the front desk managers wandered through the kitchen on the way back from the restaurants reservations desk. Seeing some of the deep fried balls sitting there waiting to be plated he decided to ask what they were. I replied,without thinking " Deep fried oysters" "Oh yum,I love oysters!" He replied as he proceeded to steal one off my bench. He quickly ate the "oyster" and then commented "That was delicious, where are those oysters from??" At this point I began to chuckle along with a few other chefs in the kitchen ,realising that I hadn't explained fully what type of oysters they were. So being the gentleman chef I am I replied: "Their mountain oysters...." "Mountain oysters? What are mountain oysters??" He asked "Sheeps testicles ." I replied as straight faced as I could be. Now I don't think I've ever seen anyone turn green so fast in my life,the look on his face was absolute disgust as he realised what he'd just eaten. Thankfully at this point the entire kitchen,including myself, erupted in laughter just as he grabbed the nearest rubbish bin and forcibly eject his stomach into it. Needless to say the gentleman in question took quite a while to live that incident down and it kept the kitchen laughing for a good week after!
  4. Cheffriis

    Stuffed Mushrooms

    I did some stuffed button mushrooms as a amuse for a evening one night @ work, kept the stuffing simple with finely chopped sun dried tomato and olive, grated parmesan then I wrapped them in bacon then again in spiced chicken skin. Baked them for 16mins (didn't par cook the mushrooms) and they came out crispy skinned and tender in the middle. I think it does come down to the size of the mushroom and the cooking method involved ie: deep frying/ roasting etc.
  5. Thank you I appreciate it, I enjoy writing about the kitchen as much as I do working in it. I like to think of myself as a pretty good chef, classically French trained but I'm currently enjoying the challenge of taking on the Alinea & Fat Duck cookbooks. One of the things I love about the hospitality industry is it always generates some great stories, look forward to reading some more from everyone!
  6. Being a chef I have a few interesting stories which I sometimes write up and post on my facebook. Here's one I wrote after a big Saturday night: Calm before the storm: You could feel it in the air and you could see it on the faces of the Chefs. The reservations book for the night was full. No spare tables. The tension was palatable in the kitchen. Service begins in another 10mins but the Chefs were still prepping. Every available piece of bench space was being used,prep containers were everywhere and chopping boards were everywhere with every board in use. The smells of seared meat/freshly sliced herbs/caramel/chocolate/garlic all hung in the air creating a strangely comforting smell,the smell of prepared-ness so to speak. The facial expressions said it all,concentration/stress n that grim smile because you know its gunna be a big one. Body language was tense and movements were fast and smooth,graceful almost in the same way a golfer swings his 9 iron,fast almost violent but controlled and precise. A quick flick of the arm to shuffle the caramelizing onions in the pan or the quick twist/bend and pop up to pull the puff pastry out the oven and a slight twist of the foot to close the oven doors. The repetitive but skillfully sliding of the knife along the knuckles whilst finely chopping herbs and then a quick twist and flick of the knife to push them to one side of the board and then continue with the next lot. The dishwasher hums away in the background as the Chefs clear away the prep and begin setting up for service. The Chefs crouch in front of their lo-boy fridges,arranging and rearranging prep and positioning everything so that they don't have to think just grab. Courgettes/tomatoes/leek for fish to one side,shallots/garlic/thyme for the beef off to the other side. Containers for garnish are arranged on the service bench in front of each Chefs board,all the containers laid out a certain way for each Chef relative to the dish it is for. Knifes are washed,sharpened and then again positioned with optimal placement for speed and reach. Service spoons/ladles/assorted ring moulds and equipment are grabbed and the service benchs are given a quick final wipe down and sanitize. The Chefs check/double check and triple check their prep,rearranging the odd thing and run through in their head each component for each dish whilst looking for it and arranging it. Aprons are re-tied and jackets adjusted,fresh clean tea towels and grab cloths are hung from aprons and postioned on section for easy reach. Never underestimate how good a fresh cloth feels in the middle of a busy service,it could be called a morale booster,some Chefs have even been known to store one or five in the fridge during the really hot nights if for nothing else but to cool the hands down! Service time arrives, the Head Chef asks the all important question...."Anyone in the shit?? Need anything???" "No Chef" comes the reply and a little bit of relief is felt. Everyone is ready. Now its the waiting game.....when will the first order arrive and whats it gunna be??? The kitchen is quiet apart from the hum of the dishwasher,everyone is waiting....a waitstaff member walks in,everyone looks up! "Whats the fish of the day??" False alarm just getting the specials. And the waiting game continues. The Chefs exchange guesses about who's gunna get slammed and who'll end up in the weeds. Smart ass insults are traded and a little bit of laughter eases the tension. Kitchen banter is always a bit strange and this was just another example as one Chef starts to hum the main riff to a chessy 80's pop song "Funky town". It catches on pretty quick n everyone has another laugh and the kitchen goes quiet again...until someone gets clever and hums the riff to the song "The Final Countdown",laughter promptly follows but no-one picks up on the slight rise in volume from the restaurant. The customers are here.... Turns out "The final Countdown" was more than appropriate. 5mins later and a waiter walks in.... "Order up Chef" Everyone looks at the Head Chef... "New order,4 people..." ...a quick intake of breath.. "8 course tasting menu..." Everybody thinks the same thing....32 courses/first table...ahhhhsssshit.. Clang,clang clang clang as sauté pans hit the stove tops.. "First course 4 Potage.." "YES CHEF" "...followed by 4 prawns then followed by 4 Octopus then...." Yip gunna be a BIG night!!!!
  7. I've tend to find that I'll break the menu down for each section of the kitchen and print up a list of prep for each section and laminate it so that the chefs always have something to look at to jog their minds and they can then either write a prep list on paper or use a whiteboard marker and mark it on the laminated prep sheet.
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