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Are there other green chile addicts out there?

I think it is awesome that green chile is available that far north. My family might be moving up to yankee country and i have dreaded being without my favorite New Mexican staple.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in General Topics

Once and for all -- rice in a burrito -- Yay or nay?

I will have to go with "it depends on where i am" i like to eat foods as they are locally prepared

In the US:
Rice is traditionally served in burritos west of New Mexico.... so pretty much Arizona and California.

In New Mexico and Texas there is rarely any rice in a burrito and if you are at an authentic restaurant and are not white you will probably have it served on a corn tortilla unless you specify flower. Non hispanics for the most part have never taken to the corn tortilla except for in enchiladas, and even then some people make them with soggy flour tortillas.

Once you start getting east of Louisiana you get french and cuban influences on Mexican cooking so you often will find rice, and a whole bunch of other unique things added to Mexican cooking.

In mexico the norteno for the most part has never put rice in a burrito, though they often eat it as a side dish.

The Mayan and atlantic peoples of Mexico have harvested planted rice since the 1600's and before that they would collect wild rice in the inland swamps and it was a staple rolled in their rolled tortilla like flat bread.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in General Topics

Mexican- NOT IN CHICAGO??

You should note that there are three types of carnitas de puerco depending on what part of Mexico, Texas, or California the cook is from. The first is cooked like chicharones (pork rinds) where it is dropped in hot fat and fried. The second is cooked on a rotisserie. and the third and my favorite is cooked on a disco (a disk like metal frisbee thing that was originally used to plow behind modern tractors but is taken and welded and used in the fashion of a wok) they are all very different though all incredibly good.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Chicago Area

Heavy / Table Cream available in Chicago?

If you have a whole foods they often stock cream up to 41% which is considered heavy cream in the us. If you are looking for the 48% heavy cream (usually called double heavy in the resturant industry) which is used extensively in the uk then you need to either buy it through a food wholesaler such as US foods, or find an English market or pub that will get you some.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Chicago Area

Greedy owner (again) drives customer away

Those south east coast bbq people get might upset when you put bbq sauce on their meat. They are into the vinegar which is all right by me if they have some bbq sauce available.

As a Texan i personally like bbq sauce but rarely put it on my meat if it is cooked right as good meat does not need a bunch of sauce to cover the taste. I personally have always had sauce available though when people wanted it, and i put it in cheap plastic squeeze ketchup bottles so it can be poured out as much or as little as the customer wants.... after all this is america and people should get what they want.

As to the charging per refill thing, i too find it troubling when a restaurant charges me for each refill and will not go back to a place that does not offer free refills. Sure it was standard 20 years ago to charge for refills but that time has long past, if you are going to go against the norm and expect customers to pay for it, then you should warn them.... and not expect repeat business.

Dishwasher Help

I live in the high plains of Texas where the only thing worse then the weather is our water. It routinely eats up dish washers in 5 years or less. If you want something that will last for ever and can wash dishes with no presoaking might i suggest getting a commercial auto chlor type unit. I put one in my home and wouldnt trade it for anything. You are going to pay at least $400 up to 800 depending on newness, however you can easily save this money by never having to buy another dishwasher, your commercial soap costs next to nothing, and it uses relatively little water. All this and it washes, sanatizes, and leaves your dishes spot free in 4 minutes.

Be careful about going this route however: since i first did this i have installed a 3 compartment sink, a hatco, a steam tray, and wanted to turn my pantry into a walk in, but the wife put her foot down. She told me that if i wanted to be in a restaurant so bad i should go to work.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Cookware

delis and underground supper clubs

http://orangearrowdc.com/

you need to find a sponsor, shouldnt be too hard if you ask around though. and if not there is always craigslist

Pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan

I personally use the cheap metal pans that are sold at the restaurant supply. I sprinkle corn meal over the pan and put my dough ungreased on top. It is a secret i picked up while working at one of the many pizza outfits i put myself through college cooking at.

The pizza doesnt stick to the pan btw and slides right off.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Cookware

What do you like to cook for yourself when your spouse or family isn't around?

I always use my crock pot. I dont know why but i personally believe that all awesome kitchen gadgets were invented in the 70's and crock pots top the list.

When the wife is away i will usually cook a brisket or pork shoulder in the crock pot. Just throw it in, grind a little pepper, add one teaspoon liquid smoke, and cook on high 4 hours.

Serve over buns or bread with bbq sauce or without. Forget the bbq sauce and top your bun with coleslaw and sprinkle the meat with cider vinegar if your in an east coast mood.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Home Cooking

Any special meals you like to cook when you want to impress someone you are interested in?

I always make the same thing... shrimp fajitas. Everyone i know likes shrimp fajitas and they are usually a very high ticket item when eaten at a restaurant. Add to this that they are impossible to mess up, and when using cocktail shrimp even a college student can afford it $12 for (cocktail) shrimp fajitas for 2.

For drinks i go with the cheapest spumante ($4) that the liquor store has and put it over frozen strawberries ($3) in thier own syrup.... grand total $11 dollars ( i buy 2 bottles of champagne)

For desert i make cherries jubalie... $2 can of cherries, $2 gallon of icecram, i always have bacardi 151 on hand, something about a pan catching on fire in your kitchen puts ladies in the mood.... by the way having bacardi 151 handy is nice because if you are with a lush, or the champagne runs low, you pour the 151 and coke over ice and let her drink till she looses her morals.

So there you have it a gourmet meal for under $30, honestly what is awesome is that this meal can lay around in the freezer of your home and be ready to go within 20 minutes of you coming home from a club.... at 3am your 4 star home cooking is doubly impressive.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Home Cooking

Peanut Butter

Add a table spoon of peanut butter to oriental ramen noodles when they are done cooking. It makes a crazy oriental peanut butter soup that kept me fed through college.

At my restaurant i put peanut butter, corn syrup, and chocolate topping in the blender. I add more corn syrup till it is runny and put it in ketchup bottles to make mudslides with. Girls love em and about 50% of girls snatch up at least one of these $7 drinks per visit (my call prices are $3.50 so its a huge upsell for me)

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in General Topics

'fess up, "i'm a hog when it comes to eating ____ ."

I love shrimp cocktail... it doesnt matter if its the vegas 99 cent ones, or the chineese buffet, or the ones that street vendors sell on the side of the road in baja mexico. I love them.

Salsa. If you bring out a bowl of chips and salsa there is a 100% chance that i will be asking for a take out box for my main course. I resisted putting in chips and salsa at my resturant for years (in Texas this is almost considered a communist thing to do) but i just did not want to be around chips and salsa all day because i knew i would eat them. I now only eat them once a week or so as i am tired of ours, but when i go out im ready to lay waste to different chips and salsa!

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in General Topics

What menu items need to be retired?

Uggg Tilapia! Every time a new salesman takes over my account i know the food service warns them not to offer me Tilapia, I had a salesman once at the start of the Tilapia craze come out and pitch me the new in cheap fish.... of course worrying about food costs we cooked some up while he was still there, i have never tasted a more revolting piece of shoe leather in my life.

In addition to the spinach and artichoke dip, all oversized fried apetizers have seen their day and need to be pulled from menus. No one wants a three inch fried mushroom or a cheese stick the width of a baseball bat.

If you have been buying the dayglo green key lime pie and bland cheescake from the foodservice with a vat of strawberry glaze to serve for desert..... STOP IT! seriously is it a wonder no one orders desert anymore? Oh and your tunnel of or lava of or whatever name you have given to your choclate cake taking up precious walk in space... dump it!

Your bartender is not a unique snowflake and neither is your top shelf margarita or martini. Just because you found a catchy name on the internet or your liquor rep gave you some free keychains does not mean that you can call your patron margarita the "Platinum Midnight Margarita del Cozumel." NOOOOOO its a freakin patron margarita get over it and quit trying to push call liquor using fancy names.... you are not Isac, this is not the Love Boat, and the seventies were before most of us were born.

The food network is not coming to your restaurant. I dont care that you have a bowl of ghost chilis in your walk in that some dishwasher grew in his backyard last summer waiting to make the hottest wings on earth. Or you have a giant frozen hamburger bun that you can cook on a pizza plate in the salamander that man vs. food cant finish. Every shit restaurant in America seems to think that one day Adam Richman will walk in his too small coat and make them famous. The plan goes something like this: 1. Ghost Chilis + Wings + Adam Richman 2. ?????? 3. Profit.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in General Topics

Help with Cheese Platters

I bought a small metal watering trough (like for sheep) at my local feed store to serve cold foods in, it ran $35. It measures four feet long, by two and 1/2 feet wide and is 8 inches tall. It can be dressed up for formal occasions by putting it on a table with a nice table cloth, i normally just put it on a heavy outside type plastic folding table. I put two bags of ice in it and it keeps stuff cold for hours and looks awesome. I put plastic or corelle type dishes in it when serving cheese as your good china will get banged up if it hits the sides. You can also find steamer trays at the restaurant supply store that will fit these perfectly. When entertaining it can also chill wine, beer, cokes, shrimp, or salad, but for cocktail parties i do:

I put out Brie, Camembert, sharp Cheddar and a cheap store brand pre made dip. In addition i do little smokies in a crockpot and roll sliced meat and toothpick it. Add tortilla chips and salsa and some ritz crackers, mini rye, melba toast, a jar of dijon mustard and a squirt thing of mayo and you have a meal. I used to always make canapes but its too much work. All of this can be set up in less than 15 minutes.

Vegans, vegitarians, and diabetics are not that hard and can be satisfied with a cheap grocery store fruit plate and a jar of olives. If they want more they should eat before they come. Most know that the world is not going to go out of its way to cater to them.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Cheese

What's wrong with all the cooking shows on TV?

Go buy a used autochlor type system for your home, you will wonder why you went so long without one. Honestly it is the best purchase i ever made and it only cost me around $800 for a used system installed. Yes this is about 1/3 more than what a good dishwasher costs but they last forever, use way less water, you never have plumbing or disposer problems, and it only takes 4 minutes to wash dishes with no pre rinsing at all.

Of course you need to be careful, once i put in the auto chlor i wanted a 3 compartment sink, then i put in a hatco, i bought a new buffet steamer tray system for our restaurant and brought the old one home and replaced the kitchen's island with it. When i told my wife i was going to turn our pantry into a walk in she finally put her foot down and said "if you want to be in a restaurant go to work and make us some money."

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Food Media & News

Costco cooking - advice?

I definitely understand trying to cut food costs, i think the recession has been hard on us all. I use a ton of foil in my kitchen and catering business and i have found costcos huge thing of foil to be by far the cheapest. Other than foil I have four main staples that i can not live without from Costco, and they will save you money and are great.

1. The first is the big bag of Tyson chicken breasts, they are flash frozen better than any i have ever found, even the food service that supplies my restaurant does not have better... as long as they do not defrost they will never stick together.

2. The second is their bag of coctail shrimp (around $12 for a ton of them), i use it of course for shrimp coctail with cut up avocado and lemon. But i also put it in everything that i make that i can think of adding shrimp to such as pasta, salads, tacos, stir fry, enchiladas, hamburgers, and even just tossing them in a can of soup.

3. The third thing is their individual hamburger patties, at one thime they were about the only people that had them... of course you can get them anywhere now but i still think theirs are the best.

4. The last thing is i always keep one of their 1/2 salmon frozen, just in case company drops by and i need to whip up dinner real quick. It is freakin awesome! I usually cook this when i have company come over, a 1/2 salmon feeds an army and i put it on a foil boat, with a stick of butter, salt, pepper, and juice of a lemon. At 350 for 20 minutes you can feed an army for $7.00 while they eat cocktail shrimp. In the summer you can cook it on your bar b que grill and it really turns out well.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Home Cooking

Tipping/Cash Only Question

Im a third generation restaurant owner. On a typical day my restaurant pulls in 80% or more in card purchases (most of them debit ran as credit) Other people may have different millage because we cater to the 18-35 crowd in a Texas college town.

I personally find it unforgivable that in this day and age that any place does not accept credit cards, i am only charged 2.7%, if you cant afford 2.7 percent then raise all of your menu prices 2.7 percent and take cards.

I am an extremely good tipper (usually over 25%) having worked in this industry all of my life, that being said there is no way i would pay the $3 fee at the ripoff atm.

I understand how many responders thought that maybe this was an asian or indian restaurant as the only restaurants that i personally know that do not take cards are newly opened ethnic restaurants. Because of my knowledge of this i do go by the atm and grab cash before going to new asian or indian restaurants and just chalk it up to the owners not yet being assimilated into american culture. (which is why i am eating at their restaurant in the first place!)

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Cash only eateries

You dont need the machine, just use the old fashioned papers with the carbon and rub them over the credit card with a pencil. If these cant be found just take down the credit card numbers.

I personally would give away free meals before i told my customers they couldnt pay with their debit cards, because they would go down the street and find someone who would let them, and they might actually get good food there.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Cash only eateries

To me this is honestly unforgivable. I am a restaurant owner who does more than an 80% debit card business. I very rarely have run into the cash only restaurant, and they are usually, at least around here in Texas, small asian or indian food restaurants that just opened. (but this i sort of expect now so i do stop by the atm and grab a few bucks)

I take credit cards and it only costs me 2.7% fee, i have no idea why anyone would want to piss off thier customers, or not make a sale to save 2.7%. Honestly if you need money that bad maybe you should just raise all of your prices by 2.7 percent (a couple pennies) so you wont piss people off.

You are very lucky to have had that much cash on you, i have had the same four dollars in my wallet for probably 6 months, i just dont use cash anymore because i like the accounting convenience of debit cards.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

How bad does accepting credit cards hurt small restaurants?

I personally do not know a single restaurant or bar that does not take credit cards, this must be a regional thing. My restaurant caters to 18-35 year olds and does about 45% liquor to food sales here in Texas. I have taken credit forever, and when my father was alive his steakhouse took all credit cards except american express and discover, but gave some sort of discount for cash and dinners club for groups over 8.

I personally run about $3,500 during the week and with maybe $500 - $800 of that being cash. In fact i have to keep cash on hand in order for my waitstaff to be able to pull their tips at the end of the night. I am probably the only person in town that still takes checks, and honestly very few of my mostly college age clients have them, they for the most part either use thier own debit card or their parents (who often live thousands of miles away) credit cards.... i still take checks because the only people that still write checks are the parents who come along with the college kids and they are usually old enough that they dont write bad checks. (i have not had a bad check in 5 years or more)

As to fees, it really depends on who you go through. Some places pay a flat rate a month, some pay a percentage. I use a local credit union for my bank, and they provide me with my credit card processing for only 2.7% (this may be lower than most because my micros system has built in credit card terminals) I have all charges posted to my account within 72 hours even on holidays.

Jan 12, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Alcohol in food at restaurants - Legal?

I realize that this is a relatively old thread, however i have recently studied this subject and find it fascinating. Though many of the responses to this thread treat this as a social or ethical issue, to the resturanteer it is an operations and legal question. This being said i would like to point out that i am not an attorney and legal questions should be asked of a qualified barrister or your states alcohol control board.

The laws of your state govern whether or not you are taxed on alcohol that is used in cooking. Here in Texas our laws are very definite on this matter. If you have a mixed beverage permit like i do (meaning i sell liquor in addition to beer and wine) then all alcohol that is used on premises must be bought from a liquor distributor and is taxed just like alcohol that is to be drunk. If however you are using alcohol for cooking only, and do not have a permit to sell alcohol, and it is in the kitchen and marked with a sharpie "for cooking only" then you may buy it wherever you want and bring it into your restaurant.

As to whether or not you can serve your food products to minors the answer should in all cases be yes. The reason is that the law of what constitutes an alcoholic beverage is set by the state. Texas has one of the most stringent laws of any state (because they want thier taxes) which states that a beverage is considered alcoholic when it is one half of one percent by volume.

Taking this definition over to cooking, the one ounce shot of jack daniels that i mix with a ladel of clarified butter and use on my 12 ounce kc strips would end up being less by weight than the legal definition of an alcoholic beverage once the steak is prepared. Can i scientifically back up this claim? No, but your local ABC wont ever question you about it, as it is common knowledge (even if it is false) that alcohol cooks out when you cook something.

If i was ever questioned and had to get one of my college student bartenders to start crunching numbers on the calculator i would have them also look at the USDA's alcohol burnoff chart. Which i found a link to here: http://homecooking.about.com/library/...

The most important thing to me is that my dram shop insurance agent told me to not worry about it, and he worries about everything.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Would you go to a restaurant that doesn't serve beer, wine or any alcohol

After reading the posts i found that this restaurant is to be located in San Francisco. Depending on location i believe that not having liquor might be a major factor in building a regular customer base.

I personally make no money from my bar (and most restaurants really do not once costs are figured) my liquor cost is usually between 28% and 34% which though a little high is not bad really. Having only 88 seats i pull the manager behind the bar on weekends and have expo make mixed drinks during the weekday so i am virtually out no labor (my servers pour thier own beer, wine, and margaritas which is 83% of my sales.) To me the big costs are to running the extra ice machine, the refrigerator for the kegs, the cold plate freezer for chilled draft glasses, and the daily labor and electricity required to maintain both the bar and the margarita machine (im in Texas so frozen margaritas are a big seller year round.)

Add to all of the the problems with making sure that my servers are liscensed by the Texas ABC (which here is every 3 years) and also the problems with dram shop laws and insurance.

I can guarantee that alcohol and a bar in general is a pain in the butt, and will not make you much money, however with the exception of my patio and fish tank it is probably the thing that people say they like about my restaurant the most.

Sometimes i wonder why i even bother with food...... oh yeah its how i pay the electric bill.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Alcohol on Planes - Checked Luggage

I honestly never understood why people like carrying alcohol on planes. I travel 1 out of 5 days a year and i personally like to just make everything as smooth as possible. I do have an advantage as i usually know a week in advance before i go anywhere so i phone ahead my alcohol and special request orders at least 3 days in advance to the concierge desk of my hotel. Truthfully most people do not use their concierge enough, tip them $50 each week you stay there and you will never have to shop for yourself. Double that if you are needing them to get you free tickets or reservations to hot spots.

As far as bringing back liquor or really anything heavy from overseas i always just have my hotel mail it for me. Depending on the hotel you can leave it with the concierge or they might tell you to just leave it in your room. I have never had a problem and they will just bill the card you reserved the room with.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Not About Food

Sorbet Squeezups Latest Attempt to Healthify Kids

These are absolutely awesome! They are sort of like a popsicle but grown up, i love them. My kids actually are bigger fans than i thought that they would be, and actually picked these over blue bell fudge bars when we went to the store today.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Features

Ma Po Tofu

I absolutely love this recipe and remember it being my favorite dish at a small mom and pop Chinese restaurant in Lubbock Texas when i was growing up!

I have made both the original recipe for my family and substituted 4 lbs of melissas ground tofu "beef" as a vegan cooking experiment for myself. the melissas ground tofu "beef" was as close to vegetarian pork as i could come, and it turned out great!

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Recipes

Am I a Better Hostess If I Don't Serve Dessert?

I definitely agree with jennifer98000 that granita is wonderful, and i am a big fan of the really course granita that is homemade. I personally have been skipping making traditional pie and cake deserts lately and instead have been offering gelato or ice cream. You can do bananas foster or cherry jubilee for a toping, when was the last time you pulled out the homemade icecream freezer and rock salt? It is freakin easy and easy clean up! I will often bring out the icecream freezer during happy hour at my bar, with self service bottles of grenadine, chocolate (i had it for mudslides anyway) and whiped cream it makes for a unique and welcomed happy hour feast.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Features

You're Not Allergic to MSG and 6 More Culinary Secrets

I use msg as a meat tenderizer and have for years. I dont know how many foodies i have had at my bar talk about how they are "alergic to msg" and they only eat local and blah blah blah... while eating one of my msg and jack daniels aged kc strips.

Jan 11, 2011
badvegan in Features