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The Quintessential eG Kitchen Tips/Trucs


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I don't mean that scales are not an extremely useful for cooking - for baking they are certainly a very accurate way to make the same thing repeatedly. My comment was not an attack on measuring by weight. What I was trying to say is that many people don't use scales or even cups to cook and that's fine too, but whatever you are measuring with (scales, cups, handfuls, "eyeballs") please please taste and pay attention.

This seems to particularly apply to people approaching a new style of cooking or a new cuisine. I know so many very competent home cooks who suddenly go all of a dither and forget to salt, or stand and watch as pans go dry and stuff burns, or don't taste what they are making and end up with the wrong seasoning balance etc. Just take a deep breath, read the recipe through, look up the dish online if you aren't sure what it should be like and then use some common sense.

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Exactly! All I was saying is that in baking it's important to measure for consistent disaster-free results (barring the occasional exploding Pyrex pan, that is :D).

As far as other cooking goes, it should be completely as you're saying - we are actually in agreement!

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Seems like we are indeed :)

Not much of a baker myself. I make bread but mostly flat breads that are very forgiving to slapdash measuring. The yeasted breads I occasionally make are simple and have been forgiving too - I have made them by weighing the ingredients and also by volume and they have always come out fine but then they really are very simple recipes and I have made them very often so I know correct texture, etc. No doubt I would have more accurate results with weighing but I very rarely make these breads so it's not a major issue for me. Cakes and the like I would weigh out, if I ever made!

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I agree with Jenni completely. Your senses and thought process are more important than cups or scales. I don't mean to say to ignore them, just don't be driven by them. Even for baking, measuring by weight is not all that important. When you measure by weight the only thing you are assured of is that your results will be exactly the same as the last time. It does not guarantee good results, just the same results. Lately anymore I never measure flour when making yeast bread. I think it's nice to know how much was added in the recipe but I don't care if it is cups or ounces or grams. I will add flour until the dough is "right" and most of the time it isn't the same as the recipe that someone else wrote. That way I can add eggs or milk or seasonings or whatever and add enough flour to compensate for the differences.

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
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Has any one heard the saying "hot pan, cold grease, food won't stick" ....I heard that years ago somewhere. I think it is a stir fry thing...back in the day when stir-fry was the in thing (as opposd to sautéing).

It was Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet)'s mantra; "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Has any one heard the saying "hot pan, cold grease, food won't stick" ....I heard that years ago somewhere. I think it is a stir fry thing...back in the day when stir-fry was the in thing (as opposd to sautéing).

It was Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet)'s mantra; "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."

I always thought that was a really strange saying. First, once you add oil to a hot pan, it heats up pretty fast, so it's no longer cold. Second, what's the alternative? Heating up your oil separately, then adding it to the pan you're cooking in? Would anyone actually add hot oil to a cold pan?

Certainly, if you add oil to your pan when the pan is cold, and then start cooking without heating the pan and the oil, you'll have poor results. But that really just means that you should cook with a properly heated pan and properly heated oil. So it should actually be: "hot pan, hot oil, food won't stick."

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I think the point of the admonition is that you don't start the pan with oil in it and heat them up together, but rather pre-heat the pan dry and add the oil just before you drop in the food. This seems like the common-sense interpretation of "hot pan/cold oil" despite the fact that, as you point out, the oil immediately becomes hot once it hits the pan.

This is generally good advice, as one would often like to heat up the pan considerably above the smoke point of the oil. But if you add the "cold" oil to the hot pan and then immediately the food item, the oil generally does not smoke for the obvious reasons.

--

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Nickray: I like Harold McGees books and his website, curiouscook.com, as a modern scientific source and resource for chefs and cooks. He was the first modern expert to re-caution against adding salt to meat you are about to cook, just as older traditional chefs advised before him.(and before Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe became so fierce about it). Even if meat is salted 10m before cooking, it brings a pool of water to the surface of the meat which will then turn to steam at 212degreees, well before the 310 degrees the meat requires to begins browning.The inhibition of color, shrinkage and a tougher end product result through the steam produced. For salt to begin softening the meat proteins and reabsorb moisture it must go on long before cooking, a day at least,and more for best results. The evidence that early salting lowers shear force are numerous eg.The Journal of Food Science: vol40, issue2, pgs227-230; vol 146,issue 5,pg 1563-1567; vol 37, pg224-6; Meat Science, vol68, issue 2, p305-311.Judy Rogers Zuni Cafe Cookbook also gives a good explanation.Salt can be a tenderizer and flavor additive but it has the opposite effect if done at the time of cooking. A double blind taste test done by chowhound.chow.com about this subject is interesting reading.

Thanks, will check out sources. Seems there are a lot of differing opinions in this area and it will be good to look at facts. :smile:

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I think the point of the admonition is that you don't start the pan with oil in it and heat them up together, but rather pre-heat the pan dry and add the oil just before you drop in the food. This seems like the common-sense interpretation of "hot pan/cold oil" despite the fact that, as you point out, the oil immediately becomes hot once it hits the pan.

This is generally good advice, as one would often like to heat up the pan considerably above the smoke point of the oil. But if you add the "cold" oil to the hot pan and then immediately the food item, the oil generally does not smoke for the obvious reasons.

Of course I was being facetious in my comments -- I do realize what he was getting at. But in my experience, adding oil before the pan is hot isn't usually problematic. It doesn't make food stick more, at least as far as I can tell.

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I think the point of the admonition is that you don't start the pan with oil in it and heat them up together, but rather pre-heat the pan dry and add the oil just before you drop in the food. This seems like the common-sense interpretation of "hot pan/cold oil" despite the fact that, as you point out, the oil immediately becomes hot once it hits the pan.

This is generally good advice, as one would often like to heat up the pan considerably above the smoke point of the oil. But if you add the "cold" oil to the hot pan and then immediately the food item, the oil generally does not smoke for the obvious reasons.

Of course I was being facetious in my comments -- I do realize what he was getting at. But in my experience, adding oil before the pan is hot isn't usually problematic. It doesn't make food stick more, at least as far as I can tell.

Perhaps it depends on the material from which the pan is made.

I have always, as did my predecessors, put fat in a cast iron pan as soon as it was placed on the stove top or burner (it was a stove TOP when I first began cooking - on a wood/coal range) and if the pan was seasoned and there was enough fat in it, nothing would stick.

Those pans work the same way today.

I used the same technique in my old tin-lined copper skillets because one simply did not heat a dry, tin-lined pan until it was very hot - otherwise the tin would not be stable.

The hot pan/cold oil works fine with stainless but stuff does stick to stainless more easily than to most materials, except for "raw" aluminum. I've never had a problem with stuff sticking to hard anodized aluminum and I generally put the fat in while the pan is still cold or barely warm.

I don't think the principals of metal/fat behavior are different in my kitchen but I know what works for me.

I just used my very old Griswold skillet to fry some catfish and I put the fat in the skillet, put it on the burner and when it was sufficiently hot (dropped in a little piece of bread to "test" it) I slid the fish in, left it undisturbed for 90 seconds, shook the skillet, the fish slid easily so I turned it over and finished it for a bit less than 2 minutes as they were fairly thick fillets.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I think the point of the admonition is that you don't start the pan with oil in it and heat them up together, but rather pre-heat the pan dry and add the oil just before you drop in the food. This seems like the common-sense interpretation of "hot pan/cold oil" despite the fact that, as you point out, the oil immediately becomes hot once it hits the pan.

This is generally good advice, as one would often like to heat up the pan considerably above the smoke point of the oil. But if you add the "cold" oil to the hot pan and then immediately the food item, the oil generally does not smoke for the obvious reasons.

Of course I was being facetious in my comments -- I do realize what he was getting at. But in my experience, adding oil before the pan is hot isn't usually problematic. It doesn't make food stick more, at least as far as I can tell.

I think it depends on how hot you want to get your pan. A point of this advice would seem to be that the pan will be heated up until it is very, very hot. This, in my experience, does tend to lead to less sticking if the temperature is kept high (perhaps due to some Leidenfrost effects). If the pan is heated below the smoke point, then there doesn't seem to be much point in waiting to add the oil.

Clearly some of this will depend on the cooking technique used.

--

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This cannot be absolute, universal advice.

You still have to consider the material of which the pan is constructed.

Seasoned cast iron, should not be heated to a high temp dry - it will destroy the seasoning.

If you heat tin-lined copper to just a few degrees above 450° F., you will have a puddle of tin in the pan.

I know about this from personal experience, it was an accident.

And I'm sticking to that story! :rolleyes:

Although it did give me an excuse to buy my first stainless-lined copper skillet. :wub:

And as mentioned by others, never heat Teflon lined pans totally dry.

A "trick" to grilling steaks or chops in a cast iron skillet so as to not lose the seasoning, is to heat the skillet with water, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep.

When the water boils away completely, toss in some salt and pepper and drop in the steak.

I don't know who originated this process but I saw it done many times at The Green Shack in Las Vegas, my ex knew the owners and every time we were in town we had at least one meal there (during the 1960s, early '70s). They used a lot of cast iron skillets, both for grilling and for frying chicken, etc.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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This cannot be absolute, universal advice.

You still have to consider the material of which the pan is constructed.

Seasoned cast iron, should not be heated to a high temp dry - it will destroy the seasoning.

If you heat tin-lined copper to just a few degrees above 450° F., you will have a puddle of tin in the pan.

I know about this from personal experience, it was an accident.

And I'm sticking to that story! :rolleyes:

Although it did give me an excuse to buy my first stainless-lined copper skillet. :wub:

And as mentioned by others, never heat Teflon lined pans totally dry.

A "trick" to grilling steaks or chops in a cast iron skillet so as to not lose the seasoning, is to heat the skillet with water, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep.

When the water boils away completely, toss in some salt and pepper and drop in the steak.

I don't know who originated this process but I saw it done many times at The Green Shack in Las Vegas, my ex knew the owners and every time we were in town we had at least one meal there (during the 1960s, early '70s). They used a lot of cast iron skillets, both for grilling and for frying chicken, etc.

I agree with all is said.

Best to get an inexpensive IR remote thermometer, solves all problems.

dcarch

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A "trick" to grilling steaks or chops in a cast iron skillet so as to not lose the seasoning, is to heat the skillet with water, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep.

When the water boils away completely, toss in some salt and pepper and drop in the steak.

I don't know who originated this process but I saw it done many times at The Green Shack in Las Vegas, my ex knew the owners and every time we were in town we had at least one meal there (during the 1960s, early '70s). They used a lot of cast iron skillets, both for grilling and for frying chicken, etc.

I have never heard of this, and it puzzles me. Since I don't even wash my ancient cast iron, let alone boil water in it, I can't imagine that boiling water in it would do anything other than remove its aged seasoning, please explain. I'm prepared to learn--but skeptical.

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A "trick" to grilling steaks or chops in a cast iron skillet so as to not lose the seasoning, is to heat the skillet with water, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep.

When the water boils away completely, toss in some salt and pepper and drop in the steak.

I don't know who originated this process but I saw it done many times at The Green Shack in Las Vegas, my ex knew the owners and every time we were in town we had at least one meal there (during the 1960s, early '70s). They used a lot of cast iron skillets, both for grilling and for frying chicken, etc.

I have never heard of this, and it puzzles me. Since I don't even wash my ancient cast iron, let alone boil water in it, I can't imagine that boiling water in it would do anything other than remove its aged seasoning, please explain. I'm prepared to learn--but skeptical.

Me too. I have Griswold cast iron that was used by my mother and her mother. I can't imagine boiling water in them.

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Nickray: I like Harold McGees books and his website, curiouscook.com, as a modern scientific source and resource for chefs and cooks. He was the first modern expert to re-caution against adding salt to meat you are about to cook, just as older traditional chefs advised before him.(and before Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe became so fierce about it). Even if meat is salted 10m before cooking, it brings a pool of water to the surface of the meat which will then turn to steam at 212degreees, well before the 310 degrees the meat requires to begins browning.The inhibition of color, shrinkage and a tougher end product result through the steam produced. For salt to begin softening the meat proteins and reabsorb moisture it must go on long before cooking, a day at least,and more for best results. The evidence that early salting lowers shear force are numerous eg.The Journal of Food Science: vol40, issue2, pgs227-230; vol 146,issue 5,pg 1563-1567; vol 37, pg224-6; Meat Science, vol68, issue 2, p305-311.Judy Rogers Zuni Cafe Cookbook also gives a good explanation.Salt can be a tenderizer and flavor additive but it has the opposite effect if done at the time of cooking. A double blind taste test done by chowhound.chow.com about this subject is interesting reading.

Thanks, will check out sources. Seems there are a lot of differing opinions in this area and it will be good to look at facts. :smile:

Another old but interesting resource is Belle Lowe's "Experimental Cooking" from the 20's. (ebook downloadable)Harold McGee has followed in her footsteps and together I think they have had a major role to play in modern cookery.

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Just looking at Richards, Adzuki Bean, post and it reminded me.....

A good tip for cooking all pulses and beans is to know that minerals and salts toughen both the bean and its skin, so instead of adding salt to your soaking or cooking water add a pinch of Bi-carb instead, which will not only shorten the cooking time but also give you more volume with a plumper, softer bean.

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A good tip for cooking all pulses and beans is to know that minerals and salts toughen both the bean and its skin, so instead of adding salt to your soaking or cooking water add a pinch of Bi-carb instead, which will not only shorten the cooking time but also give you more volume with a plumper, softer bean.

I prefer to work with a better fresher bean and often want the toothsome quality. I have avoided the bicarb though some do report it facilitates cooking with chickpeas/garbanzos. I rarely cook them from dry so I can not comment. As for the salting - minerals in the water would also affect? - I salt in layers and have lovely plush beans.

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Just looking at Richards, Adzuki Bean, post and it reminded me.....

A good tip for cooking all pulses and beans is to know that minerals and salts toughen both the bean and its skin, so instead of adding salt to your soaking or cooking water add a pinch of Bi-carb instead, which will not only shorten the cooking time but also give you more volume with a plumper, softer bean.

According to Harold McGee in the New York Times:

Salt does slow the softening of dried beans, but adding it early also gets salt into the bean interior, while adding late leaves most of the salt on or near the surface. If you’re thinking ahead early enough to presoak the beans, salt in the presoaking water actually speeds the cooking, in addition to salting the beans evenly.
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