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Everything posted by emannths

  1. Both are available at Bloc 11 (Union Sq) and Diesel Cafe (Davis Sq). I've also heard good things about Barismo, sold at Simon's in Cambridge, but I still haven't gotten around to trying their beans. Edit to add: Btw, the roast date is on the barcode at the bottom of the Intelligentsia bags (in a 03.10.11 format). Bloc 11 usually gets their shipment of Intelligentsia on Friday, so if you look through the bags on the weekend, you can usually find some less than a week old. I think the date is more obvious the Stumptown and Barismo bags.
  2. I'm sort of curious what a restaurant like Alinea thinks of the citrus, saltwater fish, or European wine on their menus (the wine one is my favorite--the number of restaurants in the northeast that preach sustainability and have a winelist that contains nothing within 2 timezones must be sky-high). At what point are they willing to alter the menu to include a local ingredient and when is something so irreplaceable that it's location of origin doesn't matter? I don't fault them for keeping these things, but it makes it seem like they're already patting themselves on the back when the job is only half-complete.
  3. There was an article yesterday on the recent coffee price increases, which they link to lower yields and higher demand. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/science/earth/10coffee.html?pagewanted=all
  4. SSB here. Not sure why changing the mouthfeel with cornstarch (presumably acceptable) is different from changing the mouthfeel with cellulose gum. One comes from the kernels, the other from the husk or stalk. You can bulk up a product with any number of things--gums, starches, water, air... Why is cellulose gum the one that crosses the line?
  5. I dunno--what counts as "artificial?" We eat rocks that are mined (salt). We eat the products of microbial growth (xanthan gum, alcohol). We eat "artificially" produced meat and dairy mimics (albeit not very good ones). We eat chemicals produced in the lab from sources that have nothing to do with food (artificial colors and flavors). Would someone who grew up as a farmer, with no access to food other than that which they raised on the farm, look at a caramel-based candy and say that it was "natural?" It's made using sugar, which is highly purified. It uses salt, which is mined. It may have some texture-modifying starches or gums. It may be flavored with a liqueur. And it may include some artificial colors or flavors. And the final product bares almost no resemblance to any of the source plants, animals, or rocks.
  6. I do not have the book yet but in reading a lot about it and seeing sneak -preview pages this seems way off-base. The book appears to be well set up to give one a solid grounding in the science behind how things in cooking work (or don't work).... Oh I agree. I'm just positing that this may be is the basis for the reaction to an article or book review of MC that causes a "traditionalist" (whatever that is) to feel like MC takes the soul out of cooking.
  7. I think it's because if you don't understand the variable that go into the technique, it's hard to go beyond the recipes in a cookbook. So for experienced home cooks that are used to flipping through cookbooks to get ideas and are comfortable subbing ingredients, adapting recipes, and creating their own recipes, MC feels like a 'cooking by numbers' exercise. Their only exposure to many of the techniques and ingredients is through the book, so they feel they can't really interact with the material in the book. Additionally, the precision with which MC details recipes makes one unfamiliar with it think that MC is dictating THIS IS THE ONLY WAY THIS CAN BE DONE. For a cook used to interacting with with recipes, this appears as yet another factor inhibiting expanding beyond what's printed in the book. Finally, the "stick it in the sous vide bag and don't open it till it's done" nature of some of the recipes makes it feel like there's no interaction with the food along the way--there's no change to taste, adjust, season, etc. I think what people probably don't realize is that you can probably use MC just like any other cookbook. There's no reason you can't mix and match sauces and proteins. Want your lamb medium instead of rare? Nathan will tell you how. Want to try a risotto with something other than arborio rice? You don't have to guess at how long it will take--Nathan will tell you. Interested in making a cheese sauce for creamed onions? I bet that mac&cheese emulsion would blow the pants off of Aunt Susanne's rendition next Christmas. I don't really see how this book is much different than giving someone focused on European cuisine a Thai cookbook, for instance. The ingredients will be foreign and hard to find. There will be methods you'd never seen, tools you've never used, etc. Some things will look downright ridiculous (ant egg omelet!??!). And for a while, you'll have to cook by the book. But eventually, you'll learn how coconut milk can be used, what Thai basil tastes like, wtf galangal is, etc, and you'll be able to concoct your own curry pastes, your own soups, and make some sort of crazy fois gras fish cake thing that no one's ever tasted. MC is the same--learn the ingredients and the techniques, practice for a while, and then start to branch out. It'll happen.
  8. emannths

    Roux in the Oven

    Why use a pressure cooker? Isn't a pressure cooker just used to raise the temperature of wet food to 120C? Roux is pretty dry, at least by the time it start to take on any color, so the extra pressure shouldn't have any effect on the temperature. I'd think you'd get the same results by putting it in the oven at 120C for 90min. Of course, doing it in a mason jar that you can just lid up and stick in the fridge is a great idea.
  9. Chris: Over on the Q&A, there was some discussion of the risotto process and that the cooking times seemed unusually short. How did your cooking times compare with the book? Nathan: A homebrewer would tell you that boiling hops in your wort for a long time will boil off lots of the aroma of the hops. The solution is to just add more hops right before the end of the boil. I wonder if you could do the same thing for a dull stock--just throw some additional ingredients in right at the end (or take some stock out at the beginning to add back in at the end). My understanding is that the longer cook time is necessary to dissolve collagen, so perhaps some of the volatile flavor compounds could be extracted with a very short cook time. jmolinari: I think some pressure cookers are sealed simply with a series of clamps/screws (such as the one they like over at cooking issues). I assume there are many commercial/industrial models that use this design because of its simplicity. There's no pressure-lock on these, so you can be as dumb as you want to be.
  10. emannths

    Roux in the Oven

    Yep. AB sticks the nascent roux in an uncovered dutch oven and then into a 350F oven for an hour and a half. [Link]
  11. I suspect Ruhlman's review was heavily influenced by deadlines and word counts (though I would have thought that the latter would lead to a more lengthy blog post), so I would blame the format rather than the author for the result. I think I agree with abadoozy--he seemed overwhelmed. But I think this is because he misunderstands the goal of the book. It seems that MC is not really about recipes, specific techniques, etc. It's really more about thinking about food and cooking analytically. His penultimate paragraph is telling: For those for whom cooking is a way to decompress from a long day of mental exercise, the analytical, MC way of thinking is no good. For those for whom cooking is a career, or a hobby, or a passion, MC challenges them to think about what they're doing and why in order to help them cook excellent, reproduceable food. Ruhlman seemed to be looking for step-by-step instructions that he could follow--indeed, those that he found were his favorite parts. But any time the book challenged him to synthesize information and think about it independently, all he could focus on was simply how much information there was to learn. I actually think the review probably accomplished its goal. For those whom the depth and rigor of MC is riveting, and those who look forward to using sous vide, ebay rotovaps, and specialty texture modifiers, the review does nothing but pique their interest. For those who want recipes that taste good with a nice anecdote, using ingredients exclusively from the farmers' market (or at least the average grocery store), they will rightly see that the book isn't for them. Given how unique MC is in the cooking realm, I think it makes more sense to focus on this sort of context rather than trying to evaluate it based on the plated recipes and compare that to other cookbooks. Edit to add: Go read his blog post. He's much more explicit about his love of all the parametric recipes and sous vide table, and discusses who would like and dislike the books. Caveat: I too have not seen MC, but I think that's ok given that the review is probably for people that don't own the book.
  12. Here in Boston (well, Somerville), I'm buying single-origin Intelligentsia at $12.75-16+ for 12oz (generally slightly less than their online prices on a prorated basis). Stumptown house blend is also something like $12.75/12oz. I don't think the prices have gone up that much in the past year or so--maybe 10% tops. I've been buying Intelligentsia for about 6 years now though, and a few years ago the prices climbed about 25% (from about $16/lb to about $20/lb online). This may have coincided with their move to always In-Season offerings and their push to match/exceed Fair Trade-like prices with farmers. I don't think I'll really ever find tea to be a coffee substitute. Sure, it's hot and has caffeine, but IMO it's a totally different (though delicious) beverage. And as a one cup a day drinker, I can weather these price increases for a while. Edit to add one more thought: If increased prices make me change my behavior, I bet it will prompt me to roast my own rather than stop drinking coffee. Or at least I'll try.
  13. How do I word this--I knew "thinnest cross-section" wasn't very precise language. What I mean is you want to know the minimum distance the salt has to travel to get for the outside of the meat to every piece inside. So if you assume a piece of meat can be defined by HxWxD, you time your curing based on the smallest of those three values. So if you take a brisket flat, it would be the "height" of the brisket (what, maybe 2" for a flat and 4"+ for a point?)--the main idea being that point and flat cuts of brisket of equivalent weights will have different curing times because one is flatter than the other. Regardless, it sounds like MC doesn't use this approach to determine brine times, so for the purposes of this thread, the discussion is moot. I suppose we can continue in the Corned Beef topic or the a charcuterie topic.
  14. Re: brining/curing... The size and shape certainly make a difference in how long it will take stuff to equilibrate. But even half a brisket is going to easily exceed the weight of their test piece, and the thicker point end will probably not have any shape advantage of the (unnamed, though probably loin or shoulder) piece of pork those guys used. One way or another, the results seem at odds with each other. FWIW, they think their experiment shows that it takes at least 19 days per kg to reach equilibrium. If I were to design a curing recipe, the parameters I think I'd use would be the mass of the meat, the leanness of the meat, and the width of the thinnest cross-section. The mass and leanness tells you how much brine you need, and the width tells you how long it will take to diffuse in. Obviously the guys at sausagemaking.org tried to incorporate some of this, but they didn't incorporate all of it. I was hoping that perhaps MC used this approach, or provided the rationale for an alternate one. Sounds like the answer may be that it doesn't, at least when it comes to determine the time necessary to reach cure equilibrium.
  15. Another reason not to use absorbent gloves is because they will absorb the copious condensation that results from LN2 usage. If you've ever used a damp potholder, you know that wet cloth conducts heat much faster than dry cloth.
  16. Given that Nathan said they use the equilibrium cure method, I'm surprised that 7 days is long enough. For example, these guys found the concentration of salt was not yet at equilibrium after 11 days in one of their experiments. Does MC say that they expect the meat to reach equilibrium by day 7?
  17. By the way, I find it interesting that FG's link suggests that using the 5-second-rule exposes you to risk of salmonella poisoning. While salmonella could survive on the floor, it's MUCH more likely to be present on surfaces that food often touches[citation needed]--your counter, cutting boards, dish towels, etc. IMHO, if you're worried about getting salmonella from your floor, you'd better be spraying down your counters with bleach after every meal. Now, if the article had used a soil-borne disease, maybe the worry is not so misplaced...
  18. And back in 2003, another group looked at it. This one was awarded the Ig Nobel prize in Public Health in 2004. The Ig Nobel people have noticed the tendency for 5-second-rule researchers to be unaware of past work, which is somewhat amusing.
  19. For risotto and other things where the grain can be overcooked, I just cut stop cooking about one notch before it's the desired doneness. When I'm ready to serve, the rice has absorbed a bit more water, making it done, and I just add another ladle or two of broth to get the sauce consistency correct and then add the butter/cheese. For polenta and other things where you can't really overcook them, I just add hot water to loosen them up to the desired consistency. Maybe it's not perfect, but without a sous chef, what's one to do?
  20. Goya also sells 7oz bars of creamed coconut. It's pretty convenient stuff.
  21. Sweet miso marinated black cod, chilean sea bass, salmon, or other fatty fish is great. [Recipe] Mackerel stewed in miso with ginger is a nice winter fish meal. [Recipe] It's also good on eggplant--either as a sauce or sort of a paste that adheres to one side of a slice as you cook it. You might also want to check the Japanese cooking board for other suggestions.
  22. Chris--can you explain the goal of using the techniques described for the chicken and the pickles? It looks like the chicken is aiming to mimic roast chicken, trying to have both the skin and meat done perfectly without having to sacrifice one for the other, as opposed to mimicking traditional fried chicken. Is this right? And the pickles--they're just pickles, right? Salt, water, vinegar (or lactic acid?), and flavorings? Besides the use of the vacuum bag, anything that's not the same as making quick pickles? The reason they may use a vacuum for making pickles is maybe to try to get the brine to replace the air in the intercellular areas more quickly. You know how when you blanch green vegetables they get brilliantly green? I think this is because the intercellular air spaces either collapse or are filled with water, reducing the scatting of light and making the color look more saturated (similar to the difference between a clear glass and a frosted glass). Maybe the vacuum bag is designed to do the same thing--collapse those air-filled spaces to allow the pickle to finish faster/more thoroughly. ETA: I should probably make sure I read all the posts before I write back. At least I was on the right track though!
  23. Anyone have any idea what the recovery time is for baking a pizza on an Al plate--after removing the first pizza, how long do you have to wait before baking the second pizza?
  24. But on a volume basis, steel holds 1.5x that of aluminum, so a 1/2" steel plate has the same thermal mass as a 3/4" aluminum plate. A 1/4" steel plate is equivalent to a .375" thick Al plate.
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