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Thread: Ask a chef

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Ask a chef

    With the holidays upon us, more people staying home than usual,, and my restaurant basically shut down from my states latest covid restrictions (so I've got time on my hands); I figured I'd offer my knowledge to playgrounders, in case anyone has any questions, wants any tips, etc.

    So go ahead and pick my brain. No question too big or small.

    I'll start it up with the best turkey recipe I've ever tried, not one of my own, but def a go to since I saw it 10 years ago; the marinade makes AMAZING chicken wings as well. Recipe originally from Weber's cookbook "The art of the grill"; posting link to the cooking blog i originally saw it on. A rotisserie is not necessary, but highly recommended if you like ridiculously crispy skin.

    https://cookingdude.com bbq-turkey
    Last edited by DwarvenWarCorgi; 2020-11-23 at 12:57 PM.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    I'm always in the market for easy to make desserts where you don't need special equipment to make. I already have a very good chocolate mousse, but more stuff is always welcome.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Baking is not my strong suit, but one I've made a few times over the years and enjoyed is Hersheys truffle bottom pie.

    I've also been taking the filling recipe from that pie, substituting peanut butter chips for the chocolate and layering that in mason jars with brownie chunks, whipped cream and crushed peanut butter cups for individual trifles.

    Another quick tip, turn any store bought cake mix into a bakery style cake by adding an egg, and substituting melted butter for the vegetable oil the recipe calls for.

    If I come up with anything else I'll add it

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    This is my favorite pie recipe.

    HOWEVER, there's a part where after I mix and dissolve the bloomed gelatin where I'm supposed whisk in over the iced bowl until it's the consistency of "raw egg whites". Even after seeing raw egg white (I did separate the yolks after all), I still never know just exactly how far I should be whisking until and I always worry that the filling might not set up enough when chilling.

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    Flumph

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    Dear Chef,

    I have a question about tomatoes.

    I often like to preach against the terrible sin of refrigerating tomatoes. (For those who don't know, once the core of the tomato dips below 50 degree Fahrenheit, an irreversible change occurs that makes the tomato bland and grainy.) Someone asked me recently if the same goes for smaller tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes. I'd assume you still want to keep those in the pantry, but is that necessary? Or is it just tomato-paranoia?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnia View Post
    This is my favorite pie recipe.

    HOWEVER, there's a part where after I mix and dissolve the bloomed gelatin where I'm supposed whisk in over the iced bowl until it's the consistency of "raw egg whites". Even after seeing raw egg white (I did separate the yolks after all), I still never know just exactly how far I should be whisking until and I always worry that the filling might not set up enough when chilling.
    It should set up regardless, assuming the recipe has the correct proportion of gelatin - once you get it mixed into the hot mix and fully dissolved/distributed it's in there, and when it gets fully chilled it'll set. This step appears to be there mainly to get the hot mix quickly cooled to the point where it will not cook, curdle, or deflate the whipped cream when you combine it at the next step. The recipe should probably call for a recommended temperature for the hot mix at this point rather than a consistency - the next time you do the recipe, take note of the hot mix's temperature at the point where you think it's right and make a note of that on the recipe, then you can try going higher or lower from there and see what difference it makes to the finished product. (That said, I would interpret 'raw egg white' as 'thick enough to cling to things and pours away slowly, but does not offer notable resistance to being stirred' - the gelatin should be partially set and notably thickened the mixture, but not so set that it is actually stiffening it.)

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Well, the recipe says to get it off the heat and mix in the gelatin when the filling hits 160F (which I did get to) before the iced bowl step.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Civis Mundi View Post
    Dear Chef,

    I have a question about tomatoes.

    I often like to preach against the terrible sin of refrigerating tomatoes. (For those who don't know, once the core of the tomato dips below 50 degree Fahrenheit, an irreversible change occurs that makes the tomato bland and grainy.) Someone asked me recently if the same goes for smaller tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes. I'd assume you still want to keep those in the pantry, but is that necessary? Or is it just tomato-paranoia?
    Many of the flavor compounds in tomatoes "turn themselves off" (to quote Alton brown, don't recall which episode of good eats) when dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the tomatoes will absolutely never taste as good ever again. This is absolutely true of all varieties of tomatoes. Another fact about tomatoes, they contain many compounds that can't be delivered to the human pallette unless first dissolved in alcohol, so whenever you're cooking with tomatoes, white wine is your friend ( red has too many tannins which with kill the natural sweetness.)

    As for gelatin, thats one that I still haven't mastered after 20yrs in this business (have had it bite me in the butt many times), all I can say is practice makes perfect.


    Edit:
    The comment on egg white consistency on the gelatin jogged something else out of my memory.

    Any decent cheesecake recipe can be turned up to decadent by separating your eggs, adding the yolks into the recipe at the normal time; then turning the whites into meringues and folding into your batter last thing before baking. Expect to increase your cook time 10% though. Makes your cheesecake extra light and fluffy
    Last edited by DwarvenWarCorgi; 2020-11-25 at 05:30 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Dear Chef,

    For several years now I've been trying to eat less and less meat. I'm stuck at meat or fish once a week, now - my discipline fails me to go fully vegetarian.

    I know a lot of very nice vegetarian dishes, and I cook and eat these with pleasure. They are quite good. However, the little voice in my head (mouth?) also knows that every single one of them would be even better with a piece of dead animal in it. Like, little bit of bacon, few slices of chicken - no matter how good the vegetarian dish, I'm always left with the nagging sensation that it could still be improved by meat (or fish).

    So what I've been looking for - partly as a fun brain teaser - is a vegetarian dish that would taste actively worse by putting in meat.
    For example, the thought of adding meat to ice cream or a fruit smoothie makes me go "yuck". I feel like the ultimate vegetarian satisfaction would be eating a dish that would have tasted worse if it'd had meat in it. Are there any dinner dishes like that?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murk View Post
    Dear Chef,

    For several years now I've been trying to eat less and less meat. I'm stuck at meat or fish once a week, now - my discipline fails me to go fully vegetarian. ..................
    Full disclosure, for the past couple years I've been slinging barbecue for a living; we do try to be locally sourced as much as possible and we do have a couple vegetarian options on our menu and one vegan one.

    Not so serious answer: anything with lutefisk in it.

    As far as dinner dishes, nothing really comes to mind of the top of my head that is objectively worse when meat is included; I'm well versed in French and Italian cuisine (Cacio e Pepe and a true old world Minestrone are both wonderful vegetarian Italian dinner options), fairly familiar with several Asian cuisine and some south american ones as well, might want to look at other culinary traditions if you want to pursue more options.

    There are many options that frankly don't need meat; the aforementioned Cacio e Pepe and Minestrone, Aglio e Olio, Pasta e Fagiol from Italy; Dill pickle soup and Zapiekanka from poland; I like to do a tomato and basil heavy ratatouille and toss that with pasta to make it a meal instead of a side. I'm sure I can come up with more for those interested, gotta start cooking soon though for the family.

    One recent story that seems poignant; my friend asked me for my bacon mac and cheese recipe, which I gave him. He went to a grocer that has a slightly odd stock setup, didn't realize there was a large selection of bacon on one end of the store, searched the meat case on the other end of the store and went home with salt pork.......proceeded to make the saltiest dinner he and his guests had ever tasted; so that would have been better without it. Lol

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenWarCorgi View Post
    Full disclosure, for the past couple years I've been slinging barbecue for a living; we do try to be locally sourced as much as possible and we do have a couple vegetarian options on our menu and one vegan one.
    Since I am only cooking for my nuclear family and not for 10+, I decided not to make a turkey. I am smoking 3 racks baby back ribs instead. Since you are a professional barbeque slinger, What is your recipe for ribs as far as cook time and temperature?

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Would you happen to have some recepees for relatively low effort pasta dishes? I tend to not be really in the mood for cooking after coming home from work and tend to gravitate towards stuff I can make in the oven, which generally ends up being some variation on roast potatoes, bell peppers and meat, so something else for a change of pace would be nice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenWarCorgi View Post
    One recent story that seems poignant; my friend asked me for my bacon mac and cheese recipe, which I gave him.
    Soooo....what are the chances I can get that bacon mac n cheese recipe?
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    Would you happen to have some recepees for relatively low effort pasta dishes? I tend to not be really in the mood for cooking after coming home from work and tend to gravitate towards stuff I can make in the oven, which generally ends up being some variation on roast potatoes, bell peppers and meat, so something else for a change of pace would be nice.
    Cacio e Pepe!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Trafalgar- we usually smoke for 2 hours, then finish in a 270F oven to an internal temp of about 205F. About 4.5hrs total cook time.
    Wont give you specifics on our rub but its brown sugar heavy, and has paprika, kosher salt, black pepper, ground dried guajillos, cayenne, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and coriander.

    Cygnia and DeTess,
    The ingredients in that cacio recipe look right, use less water to cook the pasta than they call for; you want the water to be REALLY starchy so the sauce comes together properly. America's Test Kitchen has a good version kicking around online.

    My absolute favorite pasta dish is super low effort, but does take hours to do properly: Pasta al Amatriciana. Theres an official recipe on the website of the town of Amatrice, Italy; lots of good versions kicking around the net.

    Pasta Carbonara is quick and simple, just a few ingredients, this recipes pretty close to what I've seen in Italian restaurants I've worked in.

    Another personal favorite is Pasta al la Norcina- sweet pork sausage and wild mushrooms in a cream sauce. Little more effort than cacio or carbonara, but not too bad.

    Peelee,
    I'll type it up later on this evening, tomorrow maybe; my laptops slow as hell, but I know it by heart anyway.
    Last edited by DwarvenWarCorgi; 2020-11-26 at 01:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenWarCorgi View Post
    Peelee,
    I'll type it up later on this evening, tomorrow maybe; my laptops slow as hell, but I know it by heart anyway.
    You're my favorite and I love you.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DeTess's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenWarCorgi View Post
    Cygnia and DeTess,
    The ingredients in that cacio recipe look right, use less water to cook the pasta than they call for; you want the water to be REALLY starchy so the sauce comes together properly. America's Test Kitchen has a good version kicking around online.

    My absolute favorite pasta dish is super low effort, but does take hours to do properly: Pasta al Amatriciana. Theres an official recipe on the website of the town of Amatrice, Italy; lots of good versions kicking around the net.

    Pasta Carbonara is quick and simple, just a few ingredients, this recipes pretty close to what I've seen in Italian restaurants I've worked in.

    Another personal favorite is Pasta al la Norcina- sweet pork sausage and wild mushrooms in a cream sauce. Little more effort than cacio or carbonara, but not too bad.
    Thanks! That Pasta al la Norcina in particular sounds good, I do like a mushroomy sauce.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    Thanks! That Pasta al la Norcina in particular sounds good, I do like a mushroomy sauce.
    No prob. Again America's Test Kitchen has a good version online. Other go to's for Italian recipes are Lydia Bastianich and Maryanne Esposito.


    I know i refer to other chefs a lot, my culinary education started with pbs in the 80s, I was a latch key kid. Most of the rest of my training has been on the job. Once my turkey day is out of the way, I can type up what I do on any of these dishes.



    Bacon Mac & Cheese recipe (may need adjustments, I usually just eyeball everything, adjust seasonings as I go)(here in the north east USA my go to slab bacon at a retail outlet is Toucinho Defoumado from Cortes Provisions, available at Seabra Foods, it’s less than $5 per pound and is absolutely amazing)

    6oz smoked slab bacon (honestly any bacon is fine, but the better quality the better the finished product)
    1 large shallot, minced
    2T butter
    1/2t ground mustard
    1/4C all purpose flour
    1 quart milk
    6oz White cheddar, shredded
    6oz Colby/jack blend, shredded
    1# pasta (I like cavatappi for this)

    Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside, don’t rinse or oil - it’s counter productive to your sauce sticking.
    Dice the bacon and render it over med/low heat in a large saucepan, when well browned remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, remove some of the fat from the pan to leave about 2T fat in the pan. Add the butter, shallot and mustard, continue over med/low heat until the shallots are lightly browned.
    Add the flour to the pan and whisk over medium heat until you form a tan roux (I use the Prudhome method for cooking a roux, do some reading/get some practice with a roux if you’re not familiar- it’s a good skill to have).
    Basically, as you whisk the flour and fat over heat, you’ll watch it go from a loose paste to almost a foam like texture, then it will start to change color and smell like cooked grain; you can’t make a roux too slowly, however the hotter the pan, the easier it is to screw it up, if you get black flecks that you don’t think are bacon leavings or charred shallot you should start over. Any higher than med heat and you risk burning the flour, in general the higher the heat the more frequently you need to stir it (stir constantly if using med/high heat or hotter, I don’t recommend it for this recipe as bacon fat has a fairly low smoke point).

    Once your tan roux is ready, slowly whisk in room temperature milk over medium heat, if you drop the temp too quickly the roux will make little clumps instead of dissolving into your sauce. Continue to cook over med heat while whisking until you feel the sauce begin to thicken, then slowly incorporate the cheese a little at a time while whisking constantly, if you drop the temp to much at this stage the fat from the cheese may separate and make an oil slick, just add small handfuls while stirring constantly and you should be fine.

    Once your cheese is incorporated, remove from the heat and toss with pasta and bacon. I like to top it with ritz cracker crumbs that were toasted in a skillet with butter and a little barbecue rub.
    Last edited by DwarvenWarCorgi; 2020-11-26 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Add recipe

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    My usual go-to homemade mac n cheese is to just make my mom's kaesespaetzle, but I'm dang excited to try this!
    Last edited by Peelee; 2020-11-26 at 09:54 PM.
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    DruidGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    Thanks! That Pasta al la Norcina in particular sounds good, I do like a mushroomy sauce.
    Pasta Norcina (4 to 6 servings)

    1/2# sweet Italian sausage (the ATK version of this recipe has a homemade sausage recipe attached, reason being that traditionally this dish doesn’t have fennel in it and most Italian sausage in US stores has fennel seed. I don’t think it detracts too much to use store bought)
    4oz dried mixed wild mushrooms, or 1/2# fresh crimini mushrooms, large dice
    (If using dried, rehydrate them in simmering water with a little chicken base in it, but save the water)


    1C heavy cream
    3/4 C weak chicken stock or mushroom water
    1/2C dry white wine
    4 tablespoons butter, med dice, cold (cut it first then put it back in the fridge til the end)
    2 medium garlic cloves, minced
    1/2t minced fresh rosemary
    Pinch nutmeg
    1/2C pecorino romano or locatelli, grated
    10oz fresh pasta, I like fusilli for this one, or about 1/2# dried pasta
    1/2C or so starchy pasta cooking water, as needed.

    In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of EVOO, then crumble raw sausage (with the casing removed) into the pan and cook until lightly browned. When the sausage is almost cooked through, add the mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes, add salt and paper to taste while the mushrooms are raw (they can take lots of salt, but remember you can always add more, can’t take it out).

    Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cook a few minutes to reduce, then add cream, stock and nutmeg, stir to combine, simmer lightly until reduced by about half, then add the butter, simmer and stir until emulsified (will happen pretty quickly). Remove from heat, toss with pasta and cheese, top with more cheese to serve.
    Last edited by DwarvenWarCorgi; 2020-11-26 at 11:14 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    One thing I'd like to know is:
    If you work all day in the restaurant, preparing food, do you still like to make your own meals when at home?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    I used to before my spouse micromanaged me to death.

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    I love NE clam chowder (well, I also love Manhattan, but prefer NE). What other chowder like it are there?
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Ask a chef

    Rhode Island chowder is like new England, but instead of the cream being cooked in the broth, you make a clear chowder, then pour a little heavy cream on top before you serve it.

    Another favorite of mine Ciopino is a spicy tomato based seafood chowder.

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    Griffon

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    There's also cullen skink -- which uses smoked haddock.

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    And I was successfully eating less this late.

    But I jsut HAD to open the thread....sigh.

    My Pasta Aglio e Olio sends its regards.
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    DruidGuy

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    Had aglio e olio once this week myself.

    I'm officially quarantined, covid positive. Cooking with tons of garlic, fresh ginger and lemon oil every day.

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    I wish you the best of Health, as far as that is possible!
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrayDeath View Post
    My Pasta Aglio e Olio sends its regards.
    My wife loves that dish! I call it "oily spaghetti" when I make it. She likes my joke name significantly less.
    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenWarCorgi View Post
    I'm officially quarantined, covid positive. Cooking with tons of garlic, fresh ginger and lemon oil every day.
    I demand you come out of this safe and healthy so you can share more tasty recipes. And also probably still be around for loved ones, I guess.
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    tonight i made us jerk chicken on the bbq with coconut/black bean rice, and bacon green beans for dinner. I haven't been a professional chef for about 10 years now, but it's fun to go all out once in awhile :)
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