10 rules to break?
Thought this post was interesting, mostly because there are a bunch of rules I don't agree with. Was wondering what others think.
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I'm not a microbiologist but I've been told viruses and bacteria stick primarily to the natural oils on our skin. Soap allows the oil to be rinsed off and the bugs go along for the ride. One might assume produce would benefit from similar treatment but the USDA and independent testing labs have shown soaps and commercial washes to be ineffective and a waste of money. Repeating a bit from a previous post, some material is dislodged by running water, more comes off by rubbing / scrubbing and even more comes off on the towel.
As you've no doubt noticed there's a direct relationship between water temperature and cleaning efficiency but produce and hands have their limits. 20 seconds in warm water is the conventional advice.
I'm all for cloth towels and the drawer full of them in my kitchen stands as proof. But we have to be careful not to let our desire to save money / the planet bite us in the butt. Damp paper towels beg to be thrown away. A fresh, properly sanitized cloth towel will accomplish the same task but requires considerably more thought and effort -- two things that tend to work against us. It does no good to wipe the germs off the produce then subsequently transfer them back onto the knife and board only to recontaminate the item you just washed.
Guidelines for washing fruits & vegetables:
Basically, all produce, including organics, should be thoroughly rinsed under running water before eating, peeling, cutting or cooking. No soap or commercial produce washes. Use a clean produce brush where possible. Dry with a clean towel, preferably paper. Laboratory testing has shown more bacteria are removed by drying with paper towels than during the washing step itself.
Note the warning about raw sprouts -- the most dangerous vegetable.
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.
Pegeen, theoretically bacterial contamination of fruits and vegetables doesn’t matter if they are cooked to a safe level (like, hopefully, chicken). But food safety, like any proper security system, is comprised of layers, the more the better. It's like setting an alarm system but leaving your front door unlocked. Or stepping into the street because you have a green walk light without judging oncoming traffic first. Or jumping out of a plane without a backup 'chute. Better to wash then cook, just in case.
Proper washing of hard-skinned fruits and vegetables should remove any contamination (leafy greens are less of a sure thing, see post above). On the other hand, bacteria in a chicken is more than skin deep. It is often systemic because chickens are not susceptible to salmonella. They can look and act perfectly healthy (because they are) but they, or sometimes the eggs they lay, can be contaminated. Cattle don't pose the same problems but their meat can still become contaminated during handling. That's why a medium-rare steak is safe to eat, the outside is thoroughly cooked and the inside is out of bacteria's reach. Not so with poultry.
Cutting boards: Growing up in a stainless steel and Pyrex world, I remain leery but test after test have shown wood boards can be safe. Regardless, I feel better running plastic boards through the dishwasher. And I will make this argument: It's far easier to maintain multiple plastic boards. Every home should have at least one for raw meat and another for vegetables. Plastic boards are thinner, lighter, easier to store and clean. And only a clean board is a safe board no matter what it's made from.
Pierino, as I understand the situation, the same issues that can contaminate prewashed greens can just as easily poison regular produce. The real problem is that, just as e. coli and other bacteria survive triple washing, they also can't be washed off at home. Contamination has to be controlled up the supply chain, as close to the source as possible. At least bagged produce should be free of pesticides, filth and contamination due to consumer handling.
Both government and independent labs have shown prewashed greens to be safe up to the printed date on the package, another advantage over bulk produce. Notice it's a "use by" date rather than a "best by". The greens start out with a negligible bacterial count which, although slowed by refrigeration, continues to increase. The count should remain at a safe level until sometime after that date.
While you're at it, do the same with your refrigerator's plastic egg tray if you use one. Not that eggs are a high-danger item these days but that tray is still a possible source of cross-contamination.
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?
No apology necessary, Pegeen. I was amused, you were so close!
It appears Cynthia and I had a different interpretation of your question so I may be answering a different question than the one you asked but the jest is the same (except I have no fear of pre-washed greens).
One must assume all poultry is contaminated with one sort of pathological bacteria or another. Some erroneously call the pink-colored liquid that oozes from a bird "blood" (it's not, it's a combination of water and proteins). We refer to it in my kitchen as "salmonella juice" to remind ourselves to treat it as the bio-hazard it is.
Fruits and vegetables are also likely contaminated with something -- whatever the person before you had on their hands (the goo dripping from their kid's snotty nose perhaps), pesticides (avoiding the organic debate, the stuff that drifts on the wind from neighboring farms), bird and animal droppings, e. coli from flies playing hopscotch on cow patties -- all manner of yuck. If that weren't enough, there's the big one -- norovirus.
The difference is that you can't wash salmonella juice off a bird or otherwise neutralize it and, even if you did, it would just reappear. Definitely wash your fruits and vegetables.
Ahhh! Where did my paragraphs go???
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'.
On a related note: Instead of adding eggs one at a time, if you whisk them together first you can simply stream them into the creamed butter. The mixture will come together much more quickly that way. Whisking the yolks with the whites forms an emulsion and partially denatures the proteins in the whites helping them incorporate with other ingredients.
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.
"Room temperature" means different things to different people in different places at different times of year. And for different purposes. When it comes to creaming butter, leaving it on the counter overnight might not be the best idea if, say, it's winter in Montana or any time of year in Hawai'i. Being the scientist I am, I always turn to the thermometer for accurate guidance in such matters. The ideal beginning temperature for the butter is between 65 and 67F.
The goal of creaming is to form as many little pockets of air as possible by grinding the sugar crystals into the fat. If the starting temperature is higher the butter, which will warm from friction as it is beaten, will soon begin to lose capacity to hold air which results in decreased rise. Colder butter lessens the ability of the sugar to create air pockets to begin with.
I give my butter and eggs each a quick ride in the microwave as the first step when a recipe calls for creaming, allowing enough time for the internal temperatures to equalize.
I love the picture Cynthia painted of the eggs spinning around and around and around in the mixer bowlâ€¦
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.
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Maybe I'm "in a mood" tonight but I'm going to disagree with everyone. Sam you know I love you but I couldn't disagree more here. I know my knife needs steeling when it slips off a tomato. Sharp knives cut straight, dull ones slip and cause injuries. Kids should be taught proper knife skills early, when they're teachable and before they pick one up when nobody's looking. By the time they're in college they should be impressing dates with their cooking skills.
Pegeen, you don't need my advice. The recommendation to not rinse chicken is right at the link you posted (except two paragraphs up). Water carries contaminants from whatever it splashes on (or in). I know it feels wrong but rinsing doesn't really accomplish anything.
Chocolate: "Best" is a judgment call but this guy shows off his lack of knowledge and confidence by using Ghirardelli as an example of lesser quality (which it's not) but he says this even though he claims it's his favorite. If it's his favorite, it is the best.
Wine: The rule is "cook with a wine you would drink", meaning not anything labeled "cooking wine" or leftover wine that has gone off. Beyond that, there are so many more issues to choosing a wine to cook with that apparently mean nothing to him.
Mixing The Dry Ingredients: Obviously he's never tucked into a cake with a clump of baking powder in it. And apparently doesn't understand the effects of gluten development.
Ingredient Temperatures: Also unclear on proper creaming technique.
Chicken: Anyone who brings up Thomas Keller's name but pooh-poohs trussing *really* doesn't understand the issues and the technique (or Keller).
Garlic: Always a judgment call but, yes, there certainly is such a thing as "too much garlic". Rarely does anyone complain of too little but boy is the reverse true.
Scrambled Eggs: No you don't have to baby scrambled eggs but you will overcook them following his advice. But thanks for the warning; I won't order eggs at wd~50.
Buttering a Pan: Butter doesn't polymerize like lethicin and most sprays are canola based. Ugg.
Salting Beans: Yeah, big stubborn myth.
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!
My comment wasn't meant to denigrate Dufresne, quite the opposite, sorry. (If you have to explain a jokeâ€¦) The author tried to back up his preference and method for overcooked eggs by claiming a well-known chef does the same. Although I've never had the pleasure, I'm sure he (Dufresne) knows better than most what happens when you apply too much heat to an egg.
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/factsheets/Chicken_from_Farm_To_Table/index.asp#12
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).