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chocolateman's Profile

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Caramel trouble

Becareful of the taylor candy thermometers, I had the lettering rub off after a few uses.

Jan 27, 2009
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Path to take to being a very good Cook at home

An instructor of mine Jacques Pepin said that a good home cook will usually be a better cook than a professional cook, but probably wouldn't survive in a professional kitchen. They are two different things.

A home cook is cooking from the heart for for people that you care about. A professional cook is executing a meal for many people and is concerned about volume, speed and consistency.

I wouldn't worry about working in a kitchen. Just realize, as with most things, it will take time and a lot of mistakes.

Jan 07, 2009
chocolateman in Not About Food

Help with holiday chocolate making

Cutting the recipes in half isn't a problem with the recipes in the book. A lot of the recipes will depend on your personal taste since they are rather varied.

Jan 07, 2009
chocolateman in Home Cooking

What did I do wrong in this recipe

I would lower the heat, and use water to soften the brown sugar. A cup of butter (1 stick) to about 1/2 cup of solids (the sugar) and 1/4 of liquid shouldn't generate a soupy mixture, unless the mixture was too hot, and you were actually making a caramel, which in this recipe it doesn't seem that you were suppose to.

If you burnt the brown sugar in the first take, you were cooking too long. If the brown sugar is one solid mass that you tried to melt, that could be the problem.

Jan 06, 2009
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Melting white chocolate -- burned it! Can I resurrect it?

The chocolate should be able to melt but taste it to make sure it's not bitter or some other off taste.

Dec 21, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Caramel trouble

The purpose of corn syrup is to prevent crystallization or grittiness. I have never seen a solution to fix caramel once it has become gritty. You can try to take the crystalized caramel and heat it over low heat to melt the crystals.

Are you using a dry caramel or wet (using water) caramel? A wet caramel will give you more control over cooking time but you have to be careful with agitating the sugar mix which can form crystals. I've never had an issue with crystallization when using a dry caramel.

Dec 21, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Pate de fruit for civilians?

Storage you should keep pate de fruit in the fridge, covered or wrapped. It will start weeping water/break down if it's left at room temperature for too long. Worse if it's humid.

You can try to use the mango recipe for the strawberries. Cooking for 45 minutes seems like a real long time and can give a cooked taste. Are you using a particular puree like perfect puree?

Dec 20, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Pate de fruit for civilians?

Using weights is not just for a professionals. For baking I find it indispensable for consistent results, and makes scaling a lot easier.
That said, a few general guidelines Pate de fruit.
1. Get ready to try it more than once. Do maybe half a recipe or less if possible, or take out part of the mixture at varying temperatures (every 3 or 5 degrees) to see how it sets up.
2. I would use the temperature recipe. You are looking for a particular water % in the pate de fruit, so recipes with vague (or no) temperature for a period of time won't be accurate. When we use to use the temperature recipe we would shoot for 165C
3. The final temperature can vary depending on the fruit, expect to adjust it. Also do not forget about carryover heat, the temperature will go up a little bit after you remove it from the heat.
4. There are different types of pectin and there is a pectin for pate de fruit. They should work the same but temperatures will be different.

In the kitchen we use a refractometer to measure water content and even then we can get varying results to a degree (usually too soft). If it's anything like gummi bears it's too hard. Pate de Fruit is an easy recipe but the hardest to get consistent results.

Good luck.

Dec 20, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

5 Kitchen Gadgets you can't live without???

Useful to pull out things out of boiling water or stock, ie cooking dumplings, blanching vegetables, pasta

Dec 19, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

Vegetarians and dim sum?

That reminds me when my mother made the dan tat dish (basically a custard tart) at home and I saw a pound of lard go into making it! I can't remember how many it made since it was so long ago, but still...

Dec 19, 2008
chocolateman in General Topics

Mushy salmon... what went wrong??

I believe there is a federal law that applies to any fish that will be eaten raw (like sushi) must be frozen.

Supposedly they surveyed experienced sushi chefs who had a very hard time to tell the difference between frozen and fresh fish. Of course the fish were professionally frozen.

Dec 18, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

5 Kitchen Gadgets you can't live without???

A winekey is another name for a corkscrew. Usually it comes with a foil-cutter and a bottle opener. They come in so many permutations, but I prefer the simple waiter's winekey. There are those that are gas powered, table mounted, double action, etc.

I tend to use a bit of wine in my cooking, in addition to the normal use.

Dec 18, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

5 Kitchen Gadgets you can't live without???

An immersion blender is a small appliance that allows you to process (blend) things in a bowl or a pot that you would normally use a blender for, without needing to transfer to a special container. Say you have potato leek soup on the stove, you would blend the contents with an immersion blender in the pot on the stove. Sometimes it is also known as a stick blender.

There is talk about the best one here.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/577116

Dec 18, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

5 Kitchen Gadgets you can't live without???

Chef knife
Can opener
Grater/microplane
Spatula
Strainer
Whisk

Additional things that are important peeler, paring knife, thermometer, tongs, wine key

Dec 18, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

culinary school...help!!

A few important things that you should think about is do you have an idea what you want to do in the field, do you want to own your own business, etc. . Baking and pastry is a very large field, where you can go into breads, work in a restaurant, make wedding cakes, work in a bakery etc. Those are all very different fields and have different requirements (expect late nights in restaurants, early mornings in bread, stress in cakes etc)

It might be a good idea to work in a few different places to see how they work and if they are what you really want to do.

You will gain much more in general knowledge if you do go to school, but you can pick up a lot of it from experience, depending on your enthusiasm. (where will you learn how to make a bouche de noel is or how to make pate fruit?) A school will open more doors in the beginning, especially in high-end restaurants and hotels, but the experience on your resume will come to play more later on.

Places I know in New York have you trail (work for free for a few hours) before they'd make you an offer regardless of what you have on your resume or where you went to school.

Cooking schools in general will not be cheap (ingredients, especially now is expensive), but can provide a broad knowledge that you can be hard from just working in the field. You might find you enjoy working with chocolates, candies or petite-fours.

Also look at the school. I know that an inexpensive school that use to exist in New York had more group projects rather than individual ones to save cost (they were 1/2 to 2/3rds cheaper than the other ones) so you won't always get to make your own doughs or cakes, etc.

I would not go to a school unless you had anidea where you want to go in the food industry with realistic expectations. It will take a long time to pay off that loan working in the field and would suck if you decide that it is not for you at the end of it.

Dec 17, 2008
chocolateman in Not About Food

Knife skills class?

While I have not taken that class at ICE, friends who have, have said very good things about it.

I think he also has a book out, that I saw at the Strand, maybe that can give you an idea about the level that the class might have.

There are 4 levels of the class and they don't have to be taken in order, so you might be able to simply have him pick the class(es) that he thinks he'd learn the most or have the most fun in.

Dec 17, 2008
chocolateman in Not About Food

How bad off is the restaurant industry?

In New York, food costs have gone up a bit and combined with decreased traffic are beginning to hurt the high-end restaurants. It can be tough to raise prices to cover costs here, because competition is pretty fierce.

If this downturn keeps up, I suspect that the middle tiered and lower tiered will become more adversely affected.

Just looking at the job boards here, for this time of year have been off by 30-40% for restaurant work.

Dec 17, 2008
chocolateman in Not About Food

Cookies without butter?

The New York Times had an article about butter in cookies and what it does for them.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/din...
I've never tried to substitute margarine for butter, but after reading this article I'm not going to even consider it.

Dec 16, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

Is there such a thing as a bad Oxo product?

I think it's for citrus fruit to get juice it.

Dec 14, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

Digital Scale

The difference is the capacity i5000 is 5kg while the i2500 is 2.5kg. For most cases 2.5 kg is sufficient. I like to weigh things in my pots so 5kg is pretty useful. All depends on how you use them.

Dec 14, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

Need recipe for invert sugar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted...
says to use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1lb of sugar and 20 minutes. The two parts sugar and 1part water says to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. These all seem rather imprecise because the consistency sounds like it might vary depending on how hot your burners are. The consistency of commercial inverted sugar is crisco like.

You could always try to use honey which contains natural inverted sugar.

And while it does improve mouthfeel and increases shelf life of truffles, if it's just for home use you don't really need to use inverted sugar in the recipes, though you might have to adjust the sweetness a little.

Dec 14, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

What dishes are improved by truffle oil?

You know that truffle oil is not usually made with truffles but with is olive oil with one of the chemical that gives truffles it's magic.

In most of the restaurants that I worked in, we were not allowed to use truffle oil in the kitchen.

That said, it does enhance the flavor of food, as truffle would but I would be careful in spending gobs of cash on it.

Dec 13, 2008
chocolateman in General Topics

"Green" nonstick pans?

I'm not sure how durable it is, but the cuisinart green gourmet looks interesting. It's a ceramic surface which should not have the gas/teflon coating issue that other non-sticks have, dead birds and all. It is suppose to be broiler safe, which most nonstick can't do I believe.

Note that there is cuisinart has another ceramic nonstick which is green-something but you can tell right off that the construction is of a lower quality.

I have yet to see any solid reviews on this, besides on amazon which appears to be glowing.

Dec 11, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

Candy thermometer recomendations?

An electric stove works fine for candy making. Though, if the sugar is heating up very fast you have to take the syrup off earlier, and with an electric stove there's (usually) a slight delay if you try to lower the heat setting to retard that.

Digital thermometers work well however you have to be careful because unless they have a holder to clip to the side of a pan, you have to hold it to get a proper reading, otherwise the probe will hit the bottom of the pan. It's not more or less accurate than a traditional thermometer, however I've ruined many of the traditional ones and not realize it.

You can always do the foolproof ice + water in the bowl test. Hold your hand in the bowl and quickly reach in and get a little bit of the syrup putting it back into the bowl. When it is at the right temperature (say soft ball) it'll literally form a soft squishy ball in your fingers. If you're scared of doing that, you can get a spoon to get the syrup and put it into the bowl of water.

Dec 11, 2008
chocolateman in Cookware

Any advice on pairing chocolate with wine?

You can pair chocolate with red wine, it's just that some wines will not work. Wines designed to go with hearty foods can be a problem.

I actually made chocolates that were formulated to pair with wines. The chocolates were not overly sweet, as a lot are these days, specifically so it could pair well red wine. The best way to find out is to try with your chocolates of choice.

Dec 11, 2008
chocolateman in Wine

Any advice on pairing chocolate with wine?

The only book that I know that talks about wine (beer) and chocolate pairings is Andrew Garrison Shotts book Making Artisan Chocolates, and it gives decent advice. The best one is to try everything. Because wine is a balance between acidity, sugar and aromas, the affects on a particular chocolate can vary from producer, even year to year.

Dec 09, 2008
chocolateman in Wine

Help with holiday chocolate making

I think that the two best books that you can easily get on the subject, at the moment are the Grewelingbook Chcocolate Confections and the other is by Jean-Pierre Wybauw -Fine Chocolates Great Expectations .
1. If you mis-temper chocolate, as long as you didn't burn it, you can re-temper it. The easiest ways to temper chocolate is the microwave method, or the seed method. The marble way or the granite way you have to work pretty quickly.
2. Any thermometer will work though ones with big numbers such as digital are easier to work.
3. If the centers are too cold, the coating chocolate will harden too fast and can make a very thick coating.
4. You can either paint the mold before you put the chocolate in or afterwards. You don't have to mix the powder with anything.
5. Yes you can, and no it is not wrong.

You do not have to use courveture chocolate for enrobing though what happens is that you will then have a thick coating. Courveture chocolate, as someone pointed out, has higher cocoa butter % which enables a thin coating. It is also easier to temper.

If your chocolates are sticking in the mold either, it is "dirty", or wet or the chocolate has come out of temper in the mold, which can happen for various reasons. You can stick the molds in the fridge for a little while until chocolate starts to set. Properly tempered chocolate should contract and come out of the mold rather easily.

If there was a problem in tempering, bloom should appear very quickly. It can appear days after if the chocolate isn't stored properly.

Dec 08, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

URGENT food safety question! Do I need to start over?

Bacteria and the like are usually killed when you cook the food, and unless you disturb the food and introduced contaminants, there should not be much that could get in. If contaminants can get through the walls of a pot, then we'd have a lot of problems.

Note... that stuff can be in the air, but if the lid was closed it's not the end of the world.

In a professional kitchen, there is no choice, there's too many variables and safety is very important.

Dec 06, 2008
chocolateman in General Topics

Tell me about Quinoa

Quinoa is a great substitute for rice and barley in a lot of recipes that I've tried. Cooking it is about the same water ratio as other grains about 2 to 1.

It is high in protein (higher than grains) and has a lot of nutrients. In Whole Foods or Trader Joe's I've seen it for about 4-5 dollars a pound and recently found it in a health food store for about 2 a pound, but haven't used that version. It'll cook in about 15 minutes.

Because it is a seed, after you cook it, the germ separates and looks like a little tail giving it an interesting texture, fluffy like.

Dec 02, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking

how to pit cherries, easily?

The fastest and most effective way that I have found has been the paperclip/modified coathanger. The idea is to make a little hook that you reach into the cherry and pull out the pit. This will remove it in one move (or two depending on how you view it).

A cherry/olive pitter is a little slower because you have to place it into into the thing and plunge it, and sometimes it'll miss.

Dec 02, 2008
chocolateman in Home Cooking