ASK CRONKER!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 12:54 AM GMT
    Hey everyone.

    Apart from being a gym bunny, I am a restauranteur, qualified chef and a serious foodie. I want the BEST in food, everytime, from potato mash to high-end venison roast,

    I have started this thread so that everyone on this site can ask me questions about food. It's very self-indulgent, I know, but if I can help, then it's a good thing.

    Ask away!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 1:12 AM GMT
    OK, I will start.

    1. In a restaurant, once you have finished your course, please do not stack your plates - it makes it very hard for the service staff to clean up correctly. There is a way for "clearing" to be done properly and all staff are trained that way, so let us do the work.

    2. Buy your herbs fresh. They taste much better and they are always cheaper.

    3. Improvise. If a recipe calls for dried Asian shallots, which you don't have in your area, then realise that onion will give the same effect. Don't be a slave to the recipe. If your guest isn't really into mushrooms, then improvise with turnips or leeks or whatever. Create!

    More to come
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 1:38 AM GMT
    Everyone asks about steak.

    Rare
    Medium Rare
    Medium
    Medium Well
    Well Done

    How to tell?

    OK. Use your index fingertip and your face.

    Push your index finger into your cheek - that feeling is the same as a rare steak should feel.

    Clench your cheek, and that's medium rare.

    With a medium steak, you push your finger into your chin. The bouncy response is your guide.

    Medium well is guided by pushing your finger into the groove between your eyebrows.

    Well done is a push into your forehead - tough and hard (cack!)

    It's all a matter of taste, I know, but good beef steak tastes the best when rarer. If you are one of those people who think that incinerated meat tastes best, then please at least try - one time - a rarer cooked steak. Get back to me!
  • Thirdbeach

    Posts: 1364

    Sep 20, 2008 1:47 AM GMT
    Okay:
    What can I take as an appetizer to a "Tacky Tourist" Party. I was told to bring something with a tropical theme...


  • CAtoFL

    Posts: 834

    Sep 20, 2008 2:08 AM GMT
    A can of pineapple chunks and some tiny paper umbrellas for the drinks?
  • ASH557

    Posts: 112

    Sep 20, 2008 2:09 AM GMT
    Dear Cronker,

    Often I find that my simple cream-cheese frosting recipe comes out too thick. And then I end up adding too much milk to compensate and it goes much too thin. What do you reccomend for the perfect cream-cheese frosting?

    Sincerely,

    Runny Glazes
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 2:38 AM GMT
    @ Third Beach
    Mango is your friend.

    Two mango
    Slice in quarters, DO NOT SLICE through. Just to the skin.
    Hot pan
    Olive oil
    Salt
    Pepper
    Sugar

    Lay the open mango in the pan
    Sautee quickly, throw in the seasoning

    Once sauteed, quickly remove from hot pan and slice into edible bite size. Skewer onto toothpicks for quick, yummy bites.

    @ my baby ASH

    The trick to frosting is to be fuckin careful!! Add the milk very slowly and portion by portion. Let the milk warm as you add it - it goes in cold, so let it warm up slowly. (Or warm the milk beforehand)
    One of your best friends in the kitchen is a measure jug, which most people ignore. I often hear the saying "I just throw it all in an hope!" BIG MISTAKE!

    Experience is the key. If it gets too runny, take it off the heat and cool it for a while. Then add some gomme syrup or some egg white (not my highest recommend, but it works)

    I also recommend that you buy the highest quality cream cheese that you can find. In Australia, the biggest brand is Philedelphia, which is rubbish. I source mine from the markets, where it is of exceptional quality and from Jersey cows. Again, it is more expensive and probably makes me sound like an elitist twat, but I am sure that my cooking and diet is working for all involved.

    Love Cronks
  • ASH557

    Posts: 112

    Sep 20, 2008 2:42 AM GMT
    Amazing advice. Thanks! icon_biggrin.gif

    x
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 2:58 AM GMT
    For lunch today I had grilled slices of veal hanger steak over braised Swiss chard, which was in turn placed over creamy polenta, surrounded by chopped, oven-roasted heirloom tomatoes with olives. For dessert: pistachio semifreddo with warmed chocolate sauce.

    For dinner I had linguine made of quinoa and corn meal tossed in a very light roquefort sauce spiked with a hot chile of some sort. Also in the bowl: hokkaido, roasted fennel, (more) chopped heirloom tomatoes. On the side: arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. All ingredients were organic and local.

    These were restaurant meals.

    What should I eat tomorrow?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 3:08 AM GMT
    Dear Cronk:

    Can you recommend a simple recipe for rabbit? It seems I can get them easily here, and I would like to be more of a "locavore." Thank you.

    SockMonkey
  • olden

    Posts: 194

    Sep 20, 2008 3:09 AM GMT
    A lot of the recipes I cook call for scallions. I use green onions, but the only ones I can find are very skinny. I always pictured scallions as rather hefty green onions. Am I right?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 3:15 AM GMT
    SockMonkey saidDear Cronk:Can you recommend a simple recipe for rabbit? It seems I can get them easily here, and I would like to be more of a "locavore." Thank you. SockMonkey


    Bambi likes 'em raw and smiling.

    Bambi-and-Thumper---Best-of-Friends-Disn
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 3:47 AM GMT
    obscenewish said

    Bambi likes 'em raw and smiling.


    I guess that would save me the trouble of worrying about a recipe. And I can guess what your recipe for venison would be, too.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 5:21 AM GMT
    SockMonkey:

    First question about your rabbit is - do you have the saddles and livers with the cut?

    Rabbit saddle is relatively easy to cook - but remember that good olive oil and an easy temp on your pan is essential. Too many people baste and boil - wrong, wrong, wrong!!.

    Rabbit Saddle:

    1/2 kilo rabbit saddles, cut and shanked
    Filo pastry
    Butter
    1 chopped onion
    Majoram
    Orange Rind Marmelade
    Olive Oil
    Seasoning
    (optional: rabbit livers)

    In a hot pan, brown rabbit saddle - it should be a nice long cut - ask your butcher do DO IT PROPERLY and he probably will know what you are after. Many butchers are as lazy as bad chefs.

    Into the hot pan, add the chopped onion. Brown along with the butter knobs.

    Whilst (or even beforehand) cooking the game, have your filo pastry ready. Baste with cold butter. Chop finely the majoram and glaze on the inside of the pastry with rind marmelade.

    Take the rabbit and onion "stir-fry" off the heat and let it cool. Very important!! Always let meat of any kind "settle" before serving or using for further cooking.

    On your benchtop, lay out a sheet of greaseproof paper about twice the size of your filo pastry. Now lay your pastry in the middle of that greaseproof pastry and spread your rabbit and onion mix onto the middle of the pastry. Add the chopped marjoram onto the mix.

    Grabbing the paper from one side, and firmly holding, roll the paper and pastry along until you have a "sausage". Wrap tightly at both ends and place into the fridge for 2-3 hours.

    When ready to cook, unwrap the "sausage" and place into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 40 minutes, glazing with olive oil and butter mixture.

    NEVER NEVER NEVER open the oven to check the meal. Opening the oven lets important heat escape and will make your meal dry.

    Once cooked, slice the rabbit saddle baked roulade into one inch thick "steaks" and serve with pan-fried rabbit livers and baby carrot cooked in butter and shallot.

    Simple! Nice!


  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 6:31 AM GMT
    We are vegetarians so recently we had a friend email for ideas on pre-dinner snacks for her son and future daughter in law's wedding reception. Our friend is not a vege but her son and his future wife are vegans. We hardly ever entertain because our place is too small so we were stumped except we sent her a humus receipe for spreading on pita bread pieces. Yeah, I know, kinda boring. Our friend lives in Chico, CA and the wedding is in San Francisco so what ever has to travel well.

    Thanks ahead for any ideas you might have and great thread, gee, an original idea!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 1:03 PM GMT
    Thanks so much, Cronker! This sounds really good, and not too difficult on a weekend. I think I will skip the livers for now, though--I have the typical American reluctance to eat internal organs.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 6:53 PM GMT
    Dear Flaminghead:

    I personally wouldn't eat squirrel, but feel free to. As with any animal that runs, you will encounter tough sinew in the meat. Probably best to use as sausage..

    Dear Alexander7

    Now here is a chef's passionate question! And I REALLY thank you for asking.
    IMHO, there are far, far too many chefs and cooks who believe that vego or vegan is an excuse to be fuckin lazy. Sorry, but just because someone doesn't want meat on their plate does not mean they want a stupid "vegetable stack"!!

    Vegan Canapes:

    Melba Toast ( or hot-pan fried aubergine slices, dependent on v/vgan)
    Kalamata Olive Tapanade
    Goats Cheese
    Caramelised Onion

    Trust me, these are damned easy, and you can embellish as you wish.

    It's a build recipe, where you get your melba toast from the shop - you could make them yourself, but there is really no advantage.
    Melba Toast are little squares of bread that have been dried quickly and taste like four day old toast. They really work with pass-around nibbles (canapes) and you could use smoked salmon and cream cheese, garlic and proscuitto or steak tartare.

    Anyway!

    Olive Tapanade:
    200gm kalamata olives - depipped (ask your market lad, they will have them)
    1 clove garlic, chopped roughly
    Basil
    Parmesan cheese
    Olive oil (heaps!)
    Seasoning

    Soak the olives overnight in a brine (2 parts salt/1/4 part water)
    In the morning, drain olives and put them, along with the rest of the ingredients into a room temp stainless steel bowl. Blend
    Your result should be a paste.


    Then:

    250gm high quality goats cheese - do not scrimp here - it make a big difference.
    Slice thinly the cheese - it will probably just be crumbles, no matter.

    Slice thinly the onion, and sautee in a hot pan with about 1/2 cup of water and sugar, Reduce.

    To serve, spread the olive tapande thickly on the Melba Toast, top with a chunk of goats cheese and a small finisher of the caramelised onion.

    I guarantee you that even the non-vego's will jump at this morsel, because it is a real taste winner!




  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 7:11 PM GMT
    olden saidA lot of the recipes I cook call for scallions. I use green onions, but the only ones I can find are very skinny. I always pictured scallions as rather hefty green onions. Am I right?


    No. Green onions, shallots, spring onions and scallions are all the same thing, just different horses-for-courses depending on where you live. In Australia, they are shallots. In Asia, they are spring onions. In US, they are scallions. Same beast.

    You should use them, they are fucking awesome!!
    Be careful when you chop them, because toward the top end of the shoot they become woody, and will compromise the texture and flavour of the dish. As you chop, you will notice how far you can go before the woodiness comes in. Stop there and remove the few slices beforehand to ensure a lovely, delicate flavour.

    I also strongly recommend substituting shallots with Asian chives every now and then - available at the Chinese grocer and amazingly cheap!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 10:04 PM GMT
    cronker saidGreen onions, shallots, spring onions and scallions are all the same thing, just different horses-for-courses depending on where you live. In Australia, they are shallots. In Asia, they are spring onions. In US, they are scallions. Same beast.


    Then what do Australians call the bulbs that we in the U.S. call "shallots"? Their papery skins have a slightly reddish cast, and the layers of the bulb itself are purple on the outer side. They have a flavor between onion and garlic.

    UPDATE: Wikipedia says that you call them "eschallotes" there, since you use the name "shallots" for what we here would call "green onions" or "scallions."
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 20, 2008 11:49 PM GMT
    Do you think the Pastry Chef is just a Niche Profession or has Wide appeal. I find myself unable to find a job except in Boutique hotels and I would love to get industry feedback as I am just coming from the CIA
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 21, 2008 4:24 AM GMT
    It's quite a saddening fact in our industry that specialist chefs, such as pastry, are now employed almost exclusively to the big hotel chains.

    A sous chef nowadays is recognized as being the "second" chef in most kitchens, whereas the traditional meaning of sous chef is the person who specialises in all the sauces.

    For a pastry chef, the larger hotel chains (Marriot, Hyatt, Hilton etc) offer the best options. That is because pastry chef's usually provide the entire hotel needs, from the fine dining outlet to the room service and function rooms.

    Almost every chef these days comes out of training with a workable knowledge of pastry, and most put that to use wherever they work. Clearly, that doesn't mean they are great at their pastry, and specialists are always needed.

    If you really want to forge a career in pastry, my advice would be to seek out a restaurant that is renowned for it's pastry work and pummel them with your expertise until they employ you.

    I applaud you for your determination in this field and wish you the very best of luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 21, 2008 6:59 AM GMT
    (awesome!)

    1: Will certain acids break down fat, as in cream cheese?

    I put some orange marmalade in cream cheese frosting and it separated. The 'orange oil' (which can be used for cleaning) and the citric acid were the likeliest culprits. Was I right?

    Shortening = crispy
    Butter = hard as a fucking rock
    Oil = moist

    2: Is that about right? Talking about cookies.


    3: What's a good way to have moist cookies without going hole hog on the oil? (sorta thinking egg yolk, but not sure where that idea came from)

    God I despise hard oatmeal cookies. Quaker can go drown himself.

    4: I've always heard that you can substitute apple sauce for oil and get similar results, is there any truth to that?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 21, 2008 7:47 PM GMT
    Dear Cronker,

    Will you marry me and cook all my meals everyday in a special dungeon I will make just for you?

    Seriously, my question is: How the heck do you eat really bony fish if it wasn't filleted in the first place? There's nothing more painful than a fishbone lodged in my pharynx somewhere.

    It's why I hate eating fish, since I spent more time picking out the bones than eating. icon_sad.gif

    Yours Truly,
    Sizzling Soybean
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Sep 21, 2008 10:23 PM GMT
    cronker saidDear Flaminghead:

    I personally wouldn't eat squirrel, but feel free to. As with any animal that runs, you will encounter tough sinew in the meat. Probably best to use as sausage..


    I bet that squirrel would be almost melt-in-your-mouth tender after three days of sous vide cooking at 135°F (57.2°C). I've done that with beef heart, and it is amazingly tender when cooked that way.
  • Thirdbeach

    Posts: 1364

    Sep 21, 2008 10:27 PM GMT
    Cronker:

    That Mango recipe was great.
    Thanks for that one...