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Chris Amirault

The Stupid Things Food TV Teaches You

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Silver spoon - the oft quoted Italian cookbook has similar issues.

I seem to recall a recipe that tells you to spoon some water into hot oil before deep frying.

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I remember seeing this one and being utterly gobsmacked! You could produce this word for word and it would be a perfect SNL parody. She keeps referring to 'acorns' and they are obviously cornnuts. Ditz.

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I remember watching Sara Moulton attempting to make something in which an apple was sliced horizontally and then reformed. She obviously had never made it, possibly never even read it, as she sliced the apple into wedges and then tried to put it back together. Epic failure. She didn't even apologize. :wacko:

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This raises a question that has bugged me for a long time. TV "chefs" don't seem to wash their produce. For example, I once saw Mario Batali* break a stalk of celery off a bunch and just start chopping it up. I, on the other hand, was all my produce quite carefully, cut off any little brown spots, and so on. I've wondered whether this was just home-cook foolishness, and how carefully--if at all--produce might be washed in restaurants.

On exactness in measuring: it recently dawned on me that it doesn't make sense to be too fastidious about measuring spices according to a recipe (formula), since they vary in flavor so much.

* I think Batali was dropped by the Food Network for being too, well, smart.

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That the best way to get chopped up ingredients from your chopping board into the pan is to hold the board over the pan, and scrape the food into it with the blade of your beautifully sharpened chef's knife. Don't forget to repeat the scraping to get every last morsel off.

Every time I see this, I want to throw something at the TV..talk about a good way to speed up the dullening of your most important kitchen tool. Either use your hands, a dough scraper, or flip the knife upside down, geniuses!!

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I also once saw an English chef recommend that you rinse oysters after you've shucked them. Nearly had a spluttering rage-athon over that one.

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Just the other day I heard someone on an Australian cooking show say how throwing your steak on a really hot barbecue 'seals in all the juices.' I can't believe that shit is still floating around.

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Just the other day I heard someone on an Australian cooking show say how throwing your steak on a really hot barbecue 'seals in all the juices.' I can't believe that shit is still floating around.

I don't think that one is ever going to die. I'm certain it's not limited to TV, either. Wouldn't surprise me if there are instructors in cooking schools are various levels still telling students this.

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Thats about as bad as Diana Kennedys Mex book where she is putting boiled beef chunks IN A BLENDER!!!!to make grated beef... jeeze

Bud

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From Dave Lieberman: Five things TV chefs get wrong.

He includes adding oil to pasta water and cutting baked goods when they've just come out of the oven. Ironically, he himself gets it wrong when talking about salting meat:

Yes, it's important to salt meat and salt it well; if you're making an enormous roast, however, salting the outside means the outside will be saltier than the inside. That's actually not bad, as long as slices include the salty crust and the less-seasoned insides, but many times, the meat is mis-cut as well as mis-salted. A better option, depending on what the final dish is, may be marinating, which gives the salt time to be absorbed further into the meat.

Dude, learn the difference between a marinade and a brine.

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I was horrified to see Alton Brown...

Okay, I have to own up to liking Alton's character on Good Eats...but then I'm a sciency kind of guy with an active nerd gene. Even so, he and virtually all TV chefs/cooks/posers do something that drives me to distraction: mispronounce Spätzle. I've heard spāt-zəl, spăt-zəl, and maybe even a half-gargled spatulas...but rarely the proper shpātz-ləh. Maybe it irks me because I lived in Germany for a few years or maybe it's my persnickety nature. I just happen to think that we should make a decent effort to pronounce such foreign words correctly...at least until they are completely co-opted into our native language.

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...but rarely the proper shpātz-ləh.

Drives me nuts too. FWIW: My wife has a degree in German Literature and we use a recipe from a German cookbook.

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I was horrified to see Alton Brown...

Okay, I have to own up to liking Alton's character on Good Eats...but then I'm a sciency kind of guy with an active nerd gene. Even so, he and virtually all TV chefs/cooks/posers do something that drives me to distraction: mispronounce Spätzle. I've heard spāt-zəl, spăt-zəl, and maybe even a half-gargled spatulas...but rarely the proper shpātz-ləh. Maybe it irks me because I lived in Germany for a few years or maybe it's my persnickety nature. I just happen to think that we should make a decent effort to pronounce such foreign words correctly...at least until they are completely co-opted into our native language.

People try but for most people it's too difficult. If all you speak is English (and/or other languages without letter patterns like 'zl' in common usage') then you--well, most of you--will be hard-pressed to even hear the distinction between spatzel and spatzle, let along pronouncing it. It's like that Japanese 'r' thing. Most Japanese would find hearing the distinction between our 'l' and 'r', let alone saying them, near impossible. Or the speakers of many European languages, they'd struggle to pick up on the subtleties of tonal languages such as Mandarin. Initially, at least. If you were immersed in the environment in which this language was spoken (like, say, if you travelled to Germany for a while ...) then probably you'd gradually pick it up (but plenty of people still don't--just listen to the English of some migrants). There are people who are exceptionally good at this sort of thing. You may be one of them. A lot of people are not. It's not some fault of character.

I'm going to get off my high horse before I start ranting about waitstaff--and self-appointed language tutors--who correct customer's mispronouncations of menu items.

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. . . .

People try but for most people it's too difficult. If all you speak is English (and/or other languages without letter patterns like 'zl' in common usage') then you--well, most of you--will be hard-pressed to even hear the distinction between spatzel and spatzle, let along pronouncing it. It's like that Japanese 'r' thing. Most Japanese would find hearing the distinction between our 'l' and 'r', let alone saying them, near impossible. Or the speakers of many European languages, they'd struggle to pick up on the subtleties of tonal languages such as Mandarin. Initially, at least. If you were immersed in the environment in which this language was spoken (like, say, if you travelled to Germany for a while ...) then probably you'd gradually pick it up (but plenty of people still don't--just listen to the English of some migrants). There are people who are exceptionally good at this sort of thing. You may be one of them. A lot of people are not. It's not some fault of character.

I'm going to get off my high horse before I start ranting about waitstaff--and self-appointed language tutors--who correct customer's mispronouncations of menu items.

I'm with you on some of the language pronunciation, but this one's fairly easy... leaving aside the ä in the middle (which really is a nuance thing), we're just talkng about a sh instead of an s at the beginning, and a schwa (like that you have at the end of 'Porsche') added to the end, after the l.

But I guess it's only a problem if you can't figure out what someone is talking about (I've had people encourage me to try their 'lovely prosqueeto and canaloop', and could still decipher what they were talking about).

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well, Paula Dean is perfectly happy to teach you not to wash your hands, taste something with a spoon, then put the spoon back in the mixture, take a bite of something and then proceed to cook with it, and the coup de gras, feed the dog,OFF YOUR HAND, don't throw it up in the air and let him catch it, hell no, let him lick your fingers and then go back to cooking.

I've seen her do all of the above, and more I'm sure I can't remember. if you're going to teach cooking, isn't food safety in the mix somewhere? I have a dog, I know where his mouth's been... ugh. I get ill just remembering it. I only hope that everyone watching her knows better, but I'm sure that's not the case.

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Two incredibly stupid comments from TV peeps (on the same day, no less):

From Christopher Kimball (talking about brining): "Salt is made of two molecules, so it's faster at osmosis than sugar, which only has one molecule." I don't even know what this could possibly mean.

From Rick Bayliss: Having visited mussel and oyster farms in Baja Mexico and coming back to shore with a bin of each, he said they were coming back with a "big load of crustaceans." C'mon Rick! At least edit that out -- it was a voiceover.

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From Christopher Kimball (talking about brining): "Salt is made of two molecules, so it's faster at osmosis than sugar, which only has one molecule." I don't even know what this could possibly mean.

That makes no sense at all. Maybe he meant to say salt is faster because its a smaller molecule? NaCl has gotta be smaller than C12H22O11.

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Two incredibly stupid comments from TV peeps (on the same day, no less):

From Christopher Kimball (talking about brining): "Salt is made of two molecules, so it's faster at osmosis than sugar, which only has one molecule." I don't even know what this could possibly mean.

. . . .

That's just bizarre. I'm guessing it means that neither Kimball nor whoever wrote up the cue card has a clue about chemistry.

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Two incredibly stupid comments from TV peeps (on the same day, no less):

From Christopher Kimball (talking about brining): "Salt is made of two molecules, so it's faster at osmosis than sugar, which only has one molecule." I don't even know what this could possibly mean.

Like many of my students, he has a hard time with the concepts of "atoms", "ions", and "molelcules". Salt (in this case sodium chloride, NaCl) breaks up into two ions (or particles) when it dissolves in water, a sodium (Na+) ion and chloride (Cl-) ion. Sugar (sucrose) molecules don't ionize, so you just have the one particle. So on a unit by unit basis, for every one "unit" of NaCl, you get two particles, and for every one "unit" of sucrose, you get one particle. This can make a difference in colligative properties like freezing point depression and boiling point elevation and osmosis (this last one is important in brining). Colligative properties depend on the number of particles in solution, and are not dependent on the identity of the particle.

Now, having said all that, unless Mr. Kimball is determining the concentrations of sugar and salt of his brining solution, taking into account the different molar masses of the two compounds, that this really matters all that much. :smile:

Sorry for the chemistry lecture, occupational hazard.

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Two incredibly stupid comments from TV peeps (on the same day, no less):

From Christopher Kimball (talking about brining): "Salt is made of two molecules, so it's faster at osmosis than sugar, which only has one molecule." I don't even know what this could possibly mean.

Like many of my students, he has a hard time with the concepts of "atoms", "ions", and "molelcules". Salt (in this case sodium chloride, NaCl) breaks up into two ions (or particles) when it dissolves in water, a sodium (Na+) ion and chloride (Cl-) ion. Sugar (sucrose) molecules don't ionize, so you just have the one particle. So on a unit by unit basis, for every one "unit" of NaCl, you get two particles, and for every one "unit" of sucrose, you get one particle. This can make a difference in colligative properties like freezing point depression and boiling point elevation and osmosis (this last one is important in brining). Colligative properties depend on the number of particles in solution, and are not dependent on the identity of the particle.

Now, having said all that, unless Mr. Kimball is determining the concentrations of sugar and salt of his brining solution, taking into account the different molar masses of the two compounds, that this really matters all that much. :smile:

Sorry for the chemistry lecture, occupational hazard.

I think what you've laid out here is probably what confused Kimball. It's a little harder to explain away his implication that you could use sugar instead of salt in a brine, and the only difference would be that sugar would take longer.

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Oh. Steak tartare in a food processor.

Anyone up for beef paste?

Erm... I actually make tartare in a processor. As long as you start with smaller bits of meat, pulse only and don't over process I find it works really well. I grew up with fairly finely minced tartare though, and loathe it when it's too chunky. And I didn't learn it from food TV.

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