Thought this post was interesting, mostly because there are a bunch of rules I don't agree with. Was wondering what others think.
One thing I Cringe at for people advice for people learning to cook is "Get a really good sharp knife".
If you're just starting out don't bother. That's advice for people with knife skills...and preping for 6 people or so.
A college kid is going to cut his/her finger off with that trying to emulate fast chopping skills. I never had a 'decent' knife until I 30 or so---and even now I'll reach for a steak knife to chop an bit of onion or something. (yeah, you do that too at home don't you --admit it).
No I do not do that at home, ever. I still don't have a really expensive one, but I cut pretty much everything with an 8" chef's and I wish I'd got a decent one much, much sooner. So I'm with the people who say to get a good, but not necessarily over the top one unless you can afford it. Get a forged, full tang for balance, accuracy and safety so you can control your cuts and up your skills.
Really? Dull knives are so much more dangerous as the user has to put extra pressure on it to make it cut, increasing the chance that the knife will slip, out of control and jam into your finger.
Yep! Yep I do that all the time!
#9 about not rinsing chicken in fresh water after removing store packaging, then patting it dry before cooking, sounds wrong. (Calling Chef Ono for advice.)
While I love Jacques Pépin and want to have his children, that TV series with Julia Child was a decade or more ago... the FDA has figured out a few things since then.
For starters: http://www.fsis.usda.gov...
ChefOno, I'm not worthy! I agree with you completely on every single point you made---especially on knives. You are more likely to injure yourself with an unsharpened knife than one that has been properly cared for. I also agree with you on sprays. I did a (thankfully) brief stint at a B&B where the innkeeper "chef" used cooking spray on everything even non-stick items. I was making waffles one morning when he came over and said, "You're in trouble". "Oh, why is that?". "You didn't use the spray." Then I said, "watch this". Boink, boink, boink---all the waffles popped right off, perfectly cooked. He looked at me and said,"beginner's luck" and then walked off. I almost took that as compliment.
I pretty much agree with everything, but I just have to put my two cents in to briefly say the following:1) ghiradelli--ewwww.... gross! At least guittard if not making your own chips!2) don't knock Dusfresne! 'Eggs Benedict' is a signature dish which I highly recommend plus eggs are basically his favorite thing!
ATG117, you always bring up the best discussions. I'm not a chef--far from it--but I have to agree with Chef Ono & pierino about unsharp knives. Even if you're a college student, sharp knives are safer and they increase the pleasure in cooking. (It's really really hard to cut things with a dull knife.)
And Pam spray? Not a fan. You don't have to melt or soften butter to butter a pan--you can just rub a stick around the baking pan. Quick and easy, much better tasting.
And I'm thrilled that teh Amateur Gourmet's cookies are "the bee's knees," butnI totally disagree with his methods--I don't think baking cookies requires mad science skills, but a little extra care--letting everything come to room temperature, mixing the dry ingredients well--produces superior results.
I'm on the good-knives-are-a-must team, and I agree with chefono on most other points. But the two I'm still most curious about are the chocolate and room temp ingredients rules. Re chocolate: I always wish I had time to experiment on my own (bake the same cake, different quality chocolates, etc), always wonder when and where I'd be able to detect the difference. Same goes for wine, excluding cooking wine or anything really cheap. As for creaming, I still don't understand how room temp eggs are a game changer. I follow the rules blindly, but I'd love to know why.
I am thrilled to address room temperature eggs. The creaming method of mixing begins many cakes and cookies: whip room temperature butter and sugar(s) until pale - nearly white - and fluffy, then add room temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Butter is an emulsion. Standard butter in the U.S. comprises 80% butter fat, 18% water, and 2% milk solids. The butter fat and water percentages are key. Eggs consist of one hell of a lot of water in the whites, and some beautifully emulsifying fats in the yolks. Crack all of your eggs into a liquid measuring cup because it is very easy to tip one egg at a time into your mixer. If you add cold, as in straight out of the refrigerator, eggs to room temperature (left to sit out overnight) butter, what do you think is going to happen to the butter? It is going to chill down. You will see the mixture of butter-sugar-one egg spin around and around in the bowl as the egg tries to ingratiate itself into the butter-sugar mixture. The sugar has done its job of binding up as much free water in the butter as possible, and it's trying for all its might to incorporate the water and fats in the egg, but that egg is just too cold. If you let it beat and beat, eventually, you'll see them emulsify. Chances are, though, that you'll grow impatient and figure what the he** and toss all the eggs in and move on with life. Have you ever done that and wound up with a bowl full of what look like scrambled eggs? You've broken the emulsion. By adding the room temperature eggs one at a time, you maintain the butter-water emulsion. Breaking it means that you have lots of free water (from the egg whites) rambling around in your dough just waiting for some gluten strands in the flour to which to attach themselves and develop (gluten, the protein in flour, develops in the presence of water). You will have a tougher dough as a result. Your cookies and cakes will have a tougher consistency than they would have otherwise had if you had taken the time to raise you eggs to room temp. How to do that easily? Place your eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water, about 100 degrees, for 5 minutes. That's all.
Charge the defibrillator and crank up the oxygen! Ignoring numbers 6 and 3 - oh please! Recipes which imply that whisking dry ingredients together make me long to reach for a stiff drink. Those which imply that it isn't important make me literally (can you hear me now?) scream. How freaking long does it take to measure them straight into a sieve, purchased at the Dollar Store for a dollar, and set over a mixing bowl, or a piece of parchment (which doesn't need to be washed). And any one who scrambles eggs on high heat has never read Richard Olney's description of how to properly scramble eggs (http://www.amazon.com/Simple-French-Food-Richard-Olney/dp/0020100604) has no concept of what sex is truly about.
I put my cold eggs into a measuring cup of 75-degree (or thereabouts) water. That seems to do the trick.
I think the interesting thing about this entire discussion is that cooks are really incredibly opinionated about what works for them. And frankly, what works for you is great unless it's causing you to cook bad food. For instance, I love my super sharp Japanese-style knives, but my mother, an excellent cook, uses really bad, dull knives. Guess what? Her food is still great. She's not cooking gourmet fare (neither am I for that matter), but her knives certainly get the job done for her.
But the technique-related issues (the room temp eggs and such) are important if you want your recipes to turn out as awesome as possible. It only takes a little more time to do things the right way.
I love this thread, too, for what it reveals of the passion, the humor, and the incredible wealth of culinary knowledge we have among us on Food52. Thanks everyone!
On the subject of chocolate, I am from the school of thought that you should bake with the chocolate you would enjoy eating. And, just like you, I pondered the question of how important it is to use Valrhona instead of something else, which led me to experiment with different chocolates in the same recipe. I baked with cheap stuff (and regretted it forever), Ghirardelli, Callebaut, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona. My observation is the following - the more elaborate and sophisticated the dish, the more noticeable the difference between a decent chocolate bar and a high-end one. Ghirardelli is a good starting point, and it will not let you down, but in recipes such as Sacher torte, chocolate mousse and hot chocolate, where chocolate is THE focal point of the dish, the high-end stuff really shines through.
'Room temperature' is not a good term. I really like Cynthia's suggestion: "Place your eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water, about 100 degrees, for 5 minutes."
I once took my eggs out 4~5 hours before using, then closed the kitchen door forgetting that the heater was on in the living room and none in the kitchen (separate room heaters). When I started the mixer, I had the egg swirling experience Cynthia described!
So warmed, not 'room temperature'.
This is a very helpful, educational thread.
Chef Ono & all, my bad about not reading the link I posted, more carefully re rinsing chicken. I am still doing my homework re rinsing vegetables and fruits.
Does that also apply to fruits and vegetables?
It does, Pegeen. It isn't simply the question of pesticides that it used to be, but rather washing away possible contaminants. Foreign countries where much of our produce comes from, certainly in the winter, don't have laws as strict as ours concerning irrigation water. And even here, as everywhere, many food contaminants occur naturally in soil. I avoid bagged lettuces for that reason. Remember the terrible cantaloupe contaminations with listeria and salmonella? Melons should always be washed before cutting the rind away because the instant you knife passes through it, it drags with it whatever is on the surface of the melon.
Sorry for the lagging sentence about fruits and veggies
Here is where I will politely disagree with my chum ChefOno; prewashed greens. I'm with Cynthia on this one. I happen to live in a part of the country where most of your prewashed bagged greens come from. The risk to you, convience shopper, is that if a portion of a field is contaminated by maybe being located next to a cattle lot e-coli poisoning can spread throughout the whole batch that is supposedly "triple washed" through the washing process itself. No, and ChefOno is exactly right on this, you can't wash off salmonella from poultry but you can cook it off. People sometimes complain of "stomach flu". There is no such thing. Odds are you've had some sort of food related poisoning. Hey, it's a mean old world.
Holy cow! (Or not so holy.) When I think of all the times my mother left the frozen chicken, beef, pork chops, whatever, in the kitchen sink overnight to defrost, and we ate everything without a thought as to washing it... but probably in those days everything we ate was domestically raised. See you later - going to wash out my veg crisper in the fridge with boiling hot water! :-)
One more question - are wooden cutting boards safe to use? Well they must be, or we'd all be in hospital beds. But what do you have to do to de-germ them? Just boiling water? Is soap necessary?
Sorry, another question: why does washing vegetables/fruit matter but not rinsing off chicken? Or any animal protein?
What is the best way of cleaning fruits and veg? What bothers me most is the thought of all the dirty hands that have touched (squeezed, sneezed on) the produce before I have.
ATG, excellent point. Recently I was at a local supermarket and watched a little kid, accompanied by a parent, stroll down the produce aisle slappling everything in sight apparently because he was attracted by all the bright colors. I also saw a store employee pick up a bunch of radishes off the floor and put it back on the top of the pile. The produce manager, who is a friend of mine, would have tossed it right away.
ChefOno, my point on bagged lettuces is this; you are correct that unwashed greens are just as susceptable to contamination from outside sources but it might be located to a single part of a field. The washing and bagging process actually proliferates the contagion. Compare it to ground beef where the meat might come from parts of hundreds of animals and e-coli can contaminate the whole lot. Which is why I grind my own meat in order to minimize that risk at least somewhat.
Raw sprouts? Amen to that brotha!
All good, but why 'preferably paper'? Clearly, a new paper towel is better than a previously used kitchen towel; but a freshly laundered one is just fine. I say this as a recovering paper towel addict, trying to be a little more conscientious. Simple, white cotton kitchen towels are inexpensive in bulk (and far cheaper than PT in the long run), so it's easy to have a stack of clean ones without moonlighting as a laundress.
how does water alone remove bacteria and germs. I've always been puzzled by people that "wash" their hands with water. Water makes things wet, not clean, right?
thoughts on the vegetable and fruits sprays or some home concocted alternative? If just water, should it be hot?