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Everything posted by slkinsey

  1. I haven't used All-Clad D5, but I have a hard time understanding from a physics perspective why a core of stainless steel would be a good thing. Stainless steel has crappy thermal properties, so the usual practice (indeed, the entire point behind the original All-Clad cookware) is to use a core with good thermal properties and clad it with a thin layer of stainless steel -- the idea being that you benefit from the nonreactive properties of the stainless steel on the outside and the thermal properties of the aluminum on the inside.
  2. I think there is a meaningful difference between using a very high quality example of the same category of ingredient, and switching to a different ingredient that is perceived as categorically "better." For example, I agree that using Dijon mustard may corrupt the experience of a "ballpark" hot dog for some people. But this is not because the Dijon mustard is higher in quality than French's mustard (although this may also be true). It's because "ballpark" hot dogs are traditionally dressed with American-style yellow mustard, which is completely different from Dijon mustard. The lesson here is that mustard types aren't fungible, not that the hot dog was ruined because the Dijon mustard was "too good." The appropriate question to test this thesis would be whether using a much higher quality of American-style yellow mustard would corrupt the hotdog experience. My thinking is that it would not, although it is also possible that the highest quality of American-style yellow mustard is effectively defined for many American palates by French's mustard, simply because for them French's is "what American-style yellow mustard is supposed to taste like." This, of course, brings up the fact that every taster gets to define his or her own hierarchy of quality. Just because I might think that the small batch artisanal organic American-style yellow mustard made by blind nuns is higher quality than French's doesn't make it so. So I guess my answer is: no, I don't believe that using the highest quality example of an ingredient would ever have a negative effect on the success of a dish. But very often we confuse "different ingredient" for "better quality example of the same ingredient."
  3. slkinsey

    Cooking Dried Beans

    The ATK people don't say that, although they do state (in a recipe calling for an 8 to 24-hour soak): 'During soaking, the sodium ions will only filter partway into the beans, so their greatest effect is on the cells in the outermost part of the beans.' (Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2008, p. 15). They also call for draining and throughly rinsing the beans after brining. Have a listen to the ATK video posted above starting at the two-minute mark: “By soaking them overnight in salted water, the salt slowly softens the skin. However, as the skin does not allow the salt to penetrate into the bean flesh, the interiors remain creamy and not mealy at all.” (emphasis added)
  4. slkinsey

    Cooking Dried Beans

    I have no idea how the ATK people got the idea that salt from the brining liquid wouldn't pass through the skin of the bean, but from my experience they are dead wrong about that. If you brine beans in very salty water, even if you cook them in water with no salt whatsoever, the beans will be very salty.
  5. Ha ha! The main thing is that you want tart orange juice for drinks where there is no other acid component. Blood orange juice usually isn't. Clearly the PDT recipe tries to bump up the acidity by using pomegranate molasses instead of grenadine, but I think this misses out on the richness and the additional orange flower and vanilla flavors of good homemade grenadine. Also, I think their use of an absinthe rinse is a bit cute and seriously short-changes the amount of absinthe that's supposed to be in there. Hey... Not every recipe in a book is going to be great, and it's not like the Monkey Gland featured on PDT menus and benefitted from their full attention. The PDT recipe is more of a "Monkey Gland" than a Monkey Gland.
  6. The PDT recipe fot the Monkey Gland is not very good (also, I think it was a mistake for you to use blood orange juice). Personally, I think the Monkey Gland is a delightful drink, but it has to be made right. The original formula as provided by Dr. Cocktail works for me, with these admonitions as to the ingredients: 1.5 ounces Tanqueray* 1.5 ounces Valencia orange juice, squeezed to order and fine-strained 1 teaspoon absinthe 1 teaspoon homemade** grenadine * or another high proof, juniper-forward gin such as Junipero or Royal Dock -- also good with Old Tom gin ** provides extra acidity and body that commercial examples just don't
  7. Nice start. I've done SV hamburgers a few times. In my experience, grinding fresh makes a big difference. Cut of meat makes a big difference as well. The time I did SV burgers with 100% short rib meat was noticeably "beefier" than other cuts I meat I tried. I also have to say that I disagree with your admonition to use lean ground beef, unless this is for health purposes we found that the standard 80% lean was still the best just like it is for a conventional hamburger. These are all quibbles and individual preference issues, though. One thing I would definitely encourage you to do the next time you try SV hamburgers is deep frying them around 30 seconds at very high temperature to finish rather than frying them in a pan. You will get an amazingly beefy, Maillardized, crispy crust all the way around with virtually no cooking of the interior. Modernist Cuisine at Home suggests salting the meat before forming and letting it sit for an hour before cooking. This resulted in a beefier flavor, to my palate, but I found the texture a bit too "sausage-like" for my taste. I might try this again but only rest for 20 minutes or so after salting.
  8. Considering that it's stainless steel all around the outside, I would recommend spraying it down with a thick coating of heavy duty oven cleaner, sealing it inside a heavy duty garbage bag for 24 hours, and then rinsing it off. You will be surprised how much of that discoloration will disappear. In fact, this should be your go-to technique any time you really dirty up a piece of stainless.
  9. I've liked the new Knob Creek rye for Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. But not at the NYC prices ($45 for 750 ml). When I visit down in Houston, I pick up a few bottles at $30 and take them back in my checked baggage. Price differences are always interesting. Can't see any reason Knob Creek should cost 50% more in NYC than Houston. I also get Booker's down there for a similar discount against the NYC prices. But the strange thing is that the price differences sometimes work the other way.
  10. Considerably thinner aluminum will transfer less heat to the crust than cast iron, but the same thickness of aluminum will transfer far more heat in a shorter amount of time. I wouldn't say it works exactly this way. Carbon steel has around 56% more thermal capacity compared to aluminum at the same thickness. And stored thermal energy is the name of the game here, because its not like a pan on a restaurant stove where the thermal energy is constantly replenished from below. So the aluminum slab would rapidly transfer some thermal energy into the crust at first, but we would expect it to come down in temperature more quickly than we would like and at the end of three minutes it is likely that the steel slab will have transferred more thermal energy into the crust. In order to take advantage of aluminum in this context, you would really want a slab that was around 60% thicker than the steel slab. It would still weigh less, but it's possible that you might run into issues of thermal energy transferring too fast and the bottom burning before the top cooked. It would be interesting to compare. Cast iron, carbon steel and stainless steel all have poor thermal conductivity compared to aluminum and copper. But, again, when stored thermal energy has primary importance, we are more concerned about heat capacity than conductivity. The reason metal slabs work better than baking "stones" for home pizza making is mostly due to the fact that the metal slab holds way more thermal energy than the baking stone. If the thermal energy isn't there, all the conductivity in the world won't make much difference. I suspect that aluminum could work very well in this context, but it would definitely take some tweaking and experimentation to figure out the best thickness, etc. and it's no guarantee it would be better than carbon steel in the end.
  11. It's pretty thick at refrigerator temperature, yea. But you can always thin it out with some additional pomegranate juice until you get the consistency you want. If you look at my formula, it contains 5 cups of sugar and 2 cups of liquid (one fresh, one reduced). This should be thick but pourable at refrigerator temperature. If you add another 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice, you should have the equivalent of a 2:1 syrup.
  12. Here we are, two years later, and Chris and Nathan still have no idea what Neapolitan style pizza is.I am at least as much a purist as the next guy, but this strikes me as needless nitpicking. It's not D.O.C. Neapolitan pizza. It's Neapolitan style pizza, meaning that it evokes many of the same qualities as Neapolitan pizza but isn't the same thing. You have your time-based criterion for what allows something to be called "Neapolitan style" but that is no more definitive than another person's criterion that only pizza made with mozzarella di bufala may be called "Neapolitan style." I have exactly this kind of oven. I put a 1/2-inch steel plate in the broiler drawer, preheat on broil for an hour or so, and bake the pizzas in the broiler drawer with the broiler on full blast. It takes a bit more dexterity with the peel, but the results are good. Next time out, I will make sure to scale the ingredients as appropriate for the style and time how long it takes. My most recent effort was around twice the size and had around 5 times the amount of toppings compared to a traditional one like this, and it baked in 4 minutes. I doubt I could get down to 60 seconds, but I bet I could get pretty close to 90.
  13. The metal tin of a typical Boston set is around 28 ounces. So, making two drinks in a vessel twice the size of the one I recommended for only one drink is more or less the same advice I was giving, n'est-ce pas? That said, if you're not cracking the ice, I bet it's only your shaken drinks that approach 22F and that the stirred ones are closer to 32F. Of course, plenty of stirred drinks are not at their best when they are really cold anyway. But that's another discussion. I also usually make two drinks at a time when I'm at home, either stirring them in a 1300 ml gallone filled to around 900 ml, or shaking them in an 800 ml cobbler shaker. With these tools, I think I achieve equivalent results to what I would get stirring or shaking two drinks individually. Personally, I don't get the texture I want if I shake two drinks in a single-serving sized Boston set, and I've never been happy with the result when attempting to stir two drinks at once in a more or less pint-sized mixing glass like this one (which does make really great single servings, however).
  14. Right. Assuming you're starting with 3 ounces of liquid in each drink, two drinks at a time gives you 6 ounces of booze and maybe 9 ounces of ice in a warm glass. 2:3 is not such a great ratio of booze to ice if you want a really cold drink. If you're making drinks with a bigger pour, you're stacking the thermal deck against yourself even more.
  15. Well, there are your problems right there. Freeze the pint glass or (not quite as good) use the metal part. Crack the ice and put as much in there as you can (smaller pieces also means you can fit more ice in there). There should be no large voids between pieces of ice, and there should also be no "un-iced" liquid either below or above the ice. Keep in mind that a pint glass really is only big enough to make one drink, so if you're making two at a time in one glass there is no way you're going to get the chilling you're after.
  16. Stirring is a more difficult technique than shaking, because there are many more variables (more on which anon). Zachary is correct that starting with lower temperature ice won't make much of a difference in the final temperature of the drink. This is because most of the cooling power of ice comes from melting, due to the heat of fusion. In short, phase change takes a lot more thermal energy than heating a piece of ice the same number of degrees without phase change. That said, I do think it is valuable to have your ice substantially below freezing temperature. This is because very cold ice has dry surfaces, whereas ice in the neighborhood of 0C has wet surfaces. The wetness on the surface of ~0C ice is already-melted water that increases dilution of the drink without contributing to chilling. Especially in a stirred drink, we want all our dilution to contribute to chilling. Anyway, to the variables . . . If your goal is to get a stirred drink as cold as possible, the important variables IMO are: 1. The starting temperature of the liquids. This will almost always be room temperature, but it's worth considering that one of the most effective ways to get a colder stirred drink is to pre-chill the liquids. I store all my aromatized wines in in the refrigerator, so when making a stirred drink with one of these ingredients I am already starting out ahead of the game. 2. The temperature of the ice. As above, this is really only important insofar as it effects dilution. 3. The size of the ice. Since the ingredients are moving around much more slowly compared to shaking, this reduces the efficiency of the thermal exchange between the ice and the liquid. In short, the drink chills more slowly. One way to make this go faster is to increase the surface area-to-mass ratio of the ice in order to create more places where the liquid can transfer thermal energy into the ice. We do this by cracking the ice into smaller pieces. The starting temperature of the ice becomes pretty important when we do this, however, because greatly increasing the surface area of ~0C ice will also greatly increase the amount of already-melted water that gets into the drink and doesn't help with chilling. 4. The ratio of ice to liquid. More ice (up to a point) will bring more chilling power to the drink. Especially if there is a lot of ice in small pieces, there is a chance to approach or reach thermal equilibrium in a reasonable amount of time. 5. The size, materials and temperature of the stirring vessel. If the stirring vessel will be room temperature, we would like for it to have a very small heat capacity so that very little thermal energy is transferred into the liquid from the stirring vessel. This suggests thin metal or very thin glass. If, on the other hand, the stirring vessel will be significantly chilled, we would like for it to have a very large heat capacity so that thermal energy is transferred into the stirring vessel from the liquid. This suggests thick glass. 6. The size, materials and temperature of the glass. Similar to the above, a well-chilled and heavy glass can lower the temperature of a cocktail by a degree or two and help keep it cold for a longer period of time. If the glass will be room temperature, we would like for it to be as thin as possible to minimize the heating effect on the cocktail. 7. Stirring speed and length of time. The faster the cocktail is stirred, the more the contents of the mixing vessel are agitated and the faster the thermal exchange between the ice and liquid. Similarly, the longer you stir, the more thermal exchange takes place. 8. The starting proof of the liquid. The higher the proof, the lower the equilibrium temperature can be. Nos. 3 and 7 really only affect the speed of chilling. But assuming that you're not willing to stir forever, they will make a difference on the final temperature of the drink. So . . . Let's say you want to make a "Fitty Fitty" style Martini and you want it to be very cold, just apply this knowledge: Pull a large, thick glass mixing vessel out of the freezer and fill it with nice dry cracked ice from the freezer. In goes some Tanqueray (high proof gin) from the cupboard, an equal amount of vermouth from the refrigerator and a dash of orange bitters. This all gets stirred a good long time, strained into a frozen cocktail glass and garnished with a thin twist. The result should be a very cold drink indeed.
  17. For storage in the refrigerator, I find that putting hard grating cheeses in heavy ziplock bags helps to keep them from drying out. The reality is, however, that these cheeses will dry out and get hard if you have them in there for, say, six months. And the moistness of freshly-cracked Parmigiano-Reggiano won't last all that long after you bring it home no matter what you do.
  18. slkinsey


    I think the thing to try would be to make some assumptions as to how much nut solids you want in your orgeat. I think you could arrive at a reasonable ballpark assumption by making a regular batch of almond milk for orgeat and weighing the liquid yield and the spent almonds. Once you have your assumption as to how many grams of almonds go with however many grams of sugar syrup, you would just mill almonds together with the syrup until you got a colloidal suspension. Potentially you might want to dose it with a little bitter almond oil, etc. And then see how it tastes and how it behaves.
  19. slkinsey


    I don't think what we're talking about here is curdling. When something curdles, it comes out of emulsion and forms lumps. With dairy products, weak acids start to denature the casein proteins and this causes curdling. We don't have the casein protein in orgeat, so the only way to make curdling happen would be for some other effect to cause the fat to come out of emulsion. One thing we can note is that it's only homemade oregeat that seems to curdle. Commercial orgeat is made by emulsifying sugar, water and almond oils together, and this doesn't curdle. Even if we hypothesize that homemade orgeat has a much higher fat content compared to commercial orgeat, consider that heavy cream at around 36% fat doesn't curdle. It is unlikely that homemade orgeat approaches the fat content of heavy cream. Curdling also typically produces a characteristic "gritty" or "lumpy" texture, as the flocculated particles form lumps that are discernable to the tongue. Again, typically homemade orgeat is either already gritty or it never gets that way. Rather, what I think is happening here results from the fact that homemade orgeat contains lots of suspended nut solids. These particles are suspended, but they aren't emulsified. This is because the typical hardware available to the homemade orgeat maker is not sufficient to reduce the particles down to a size at which they could form a colloidal suspension. For this, we would need something like a rotor-stator homogenizer or colloid mill. Because the nut particles are not emulsified in a colloidal suspension, gravity causes them to eventually settle out and fall out of suspension. This is why homemade orgeat typically separates and has to be shaken up before use. When we shake it up, we are re-suspending the nut particles. We can add things to the homemade orgeat (I have found a combination of gum arabic and xanthan gum to be particularly useful in this regard) to help keep the nut particles in suspension and slow down separation, but eventually gravity will have its way and the nut particles will settle out. So what happens to cause this curdle-like effect? I think what happens is that the orgeat (along with its nut particles) is diluted when it is mixed with all the other liquids, and the suspended nut particles begin to settle out in the glass. If you let the drink sit for a while, of if it is a crushed ice drink so you have millions of tiny little pockets of water melting into the drink and not quite mixing with the nut particles that are coming out of suspension, it will create a mottled "curdle-like" appearance. The reason bostonapothecary's centrifuging technique works, I believe, is primarily because it removes the nut particles. I've always wanted to see what would happen if we took the other path and made an orgeat using a homogenizer to reduce the nut particles to the size of colloids.
  20. Damon Dyer came up with the Monte Cassino, which is based on the thinking underlying the Last Word. It's equal parts lemon juice, Bénédictine, yellow Chartreuse and rye whiskey (Rittenhouse BIB).
  21. As chance would have it, there is an extensive thread on Moroccan tagine cooking in which Paula herself has been a frequent contributor. One of the issues with her groundbreaking book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, is that the recipes are adaptations for the kinds of cookware an American home cook might be able to get in 1973. This, needless to say, did not include real tagines. Now that we can get real cooking tagines, I hope that that The Food of Morocco includes plenty of recipes that are written to be cooked in a tagine. If so, I am buying it asap!
  22. This, I think, is exactly it. Have your ethos but figure out a way to have it without being a jerk. A consistent issue a cocktail-focused bar will have to learn to handle, however, is patrons who are there to get loaded, and believe bars are valued for the "scene," and will take it amiss if they don't get exactly what they want. This goes directly to the below dialogue between Brown Hornet and Tri2Cook... Because it's much easier to be offended for the confrontational article you've decided to write if you set the stage so that you're sure you'll be offended. Indeed, one wonders why someone would go to a supposedly "serious cocktail spot" and order a vodka soda or a "serious beer bar" and order a Michelob Ultra. But it does happen, and in my opinion it happens because some people like the idea of a hip "serious cocktail bar" and cocktail culture, and want to participate in the superficial trappings of that "scene." This is the same reason why "-tini" drinks became so popular, and why the fruity, sweet, vodka-based drinks that previously would have been served over ice in a rocks glass started to be served in V-shaped "Martini glasses." Understanding this, it behooves a would-be "serious cocktail bar" to develop some practices for dealing with these sorts of customers, and different strategies work for different bars. Ultimately, however, some people are just going to get offended and decide they are being talked down to if they're told that the bar doesn't serve what they want.
  23. Mostly? That it doesn't taste like anything, and so the majority of people ordering vodka want the ethanol without any flavor. From a cocktail standpoint, vodka can very occasionally be useful when mindfully used as a dilutent to expose nuances in extremely concentrated flavors (e.g., the Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini). But for the most part, it's simply the case of taking a bunch of already-existing flavors and making them alcoholic. Take a Vodka and Tonic, for example. What does it taste like? Tonic water. Maybe tonic water with a little bit of bite, but effectively it's just a glass of tonic water that can get you drunk. A Gin and Tonic, on the other hand, has a flavor that is completely different from just as plain glass of tonic. So this is the reason that most cocktailophiles disdain vodka as a cocktail ingredient. This is also undoubtedly partly due to backlash against the preponderance of crappy vodka drinks in play during the years when the cocktail revival was first getting going, so that among a certain generation of the cocktail community hating on vodka became a kind of shibboleth.
  24. Right. But I think it's worthy of note that different "rules" may apply to different kinds of bars in different settings. A hotel bar has a mandate to be all things to all people. Just like a hotel restaurant has to serve meat dishes, a hotel bar has to serve Amaretto Sours. But there are gradations. A 40 seat specialty cocktail bar doesn't have a mandate to stock vodka or serve frozen Daiquiris any more than a 40 seat specialty fish restaurant has a mandate to serve hamburgers. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there isn't ever any reason for bar staff to be rude to customers -- or for customers to be rude to bar staff. To be fair, plenty of customers and writers complain loudly about this sort of thing in restaurants as well.
  25. The word "mixologist" actually dates to around 1856, although it was used tongue-in-cheek at that time. Later, I think it was recontextualized in an attempt to differentiate cocktailian bartenders from those who pour shots and beers and serve up the occasional vodka tonic. Personally, I think the term has some usefulness in differentiating the skill of creating cocktails (done by a mixologist) from the skill of producing and serving cocktails (done by a bartender), much in the way we have terms that differentiate composers and authors from performers. Using this terminology, we can note that many accomplished mixologists are or have been bartenders, but this is not true of all of them and many creators of great cocktails have not been bartenders. Similarly, there are plenty of accomplished cocktailian bartenders who aren't going to leave behind a legacy of their mixological skills in the form of enduring cocktail recipes.
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