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Old 03-02-2017, 01:08 PM   #1
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What cooking "rules" do you regularly break?

If you've watched enough cooking shows, or read enough about cooking techniques, you know what techniques are considered "wrong" by most chefs. I almost think some of these "rules" are ones that some chefs might disagree with, but would never say so publicly for fear of ridicule (and possible loss of business and maybe even spots as judges on cooking shows)

I know that I will never be a celebrity chef, no matter how good I get as a cook because there are two things I vehemently disagree with fancy pants chefs about (and a third one that's not quite so much):
  • Lumps in mashed potatoes are okay
  • Heavy cream can (almost) always be replaced by half-and-half.
  • Light butter is a great substitute for regular butter.

When it comes to mashed potatoes, I know that I would have to puree the lumps out of them if I ever get into a cooking contest that uses them. And, the bit about the butter is a pretty minor one.

But, I feel much more strongly about heavy cream. I've tried to like it...really, I have. Once I got past the enormous calories, I realized that the overwhelming richness of it is really off-putting. I've made bisques where I hardly notice the heavy cream. What's the point of all those calories if I don't know it's there?

What killed it for me was Creme Brulee. I first tried making it using the recipe that literally everyone uses (i.e., heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla). After the first few bites, I became aware of a greasy coating in my mouth. Did I make it wrong? I checked my steps, and they were exactly like every celebrity chef recipe I'd ever seen.

So, I tried using half-and-half instead. Here's what I came up with:

Butterscotch Creme Brulee Light) Recipe - Food.com

It tastes like a creme brulee is supposed to taste, but it has about half the calories. Best of all, no greasy aftertaste. In some recipes, you will have to adjust the quantity somewhat, since it's thinner than heavy cream. But, it works.


Enough of my heresy...does anyone else have anything they'd like to confess that fancy pants chefs would not approve?

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Old 03-02-2017, 01:18 PM   #2
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Searing meats seals in the juices - baloney
Heat your skillet before you add the oil so the food won't stick - hokum
Lumpy mashed potatoes are NOT rustic. They are lumpy.
No butter substitutes.
I don't make "lite" versions of dishes.

I'm sure there are more.
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:06 PM   #3
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What in the heck is "light butter?"
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:26 PM   #4
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In my book, 'classic' recipes are simply guidelines. At the end of the day, it comes down to what suits you. O.K. if you go and dine at a top end restaurant, you accept what they serve and how it's done. The same is true for any other restaurant you may choose to go to. We all have our versions of recipes that, when we're at home, can all be done according to our preferences - with the execption of sauces such as hollandaise and such like. There are also plenty of recipes available for lean, mean and 'healthy'. The choice is in the hands fo the cook, just as there are recipes that are full fat and voluptuous.

I don't subscribe to the idea that searing a steak on both sides doesn't contain the juices. I've never had that problem. Lumpy mashed potatoes, in my book, went out with the Ark years ago, but I do think that there's a knack of doing a good mash - by the way, didn't they call lumpy mash 'crushed potatoes'? I have a feeling that they did, but that was one fine example of snobbery in the kitchen! So there you have it!

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Old 03-02-2017, 03:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
What in the heck is "light butter?"
LOL... I was wondering the same thing. I mean, it's either butter or it isn't.

Oh gosh, where to start... I can already sense this is going to be a contentious topic.

I guess cream is a matter of personal taste. As for me, I go through a pint of cream a week, and will accept no substitutes. However, I eat a lot of fat in my diet and don't give a fig about calories.

And Andy, I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you about heating skillets - at least for certain foods. If I don't heat my skillet before adding (real) butter and eggs to the pan, they will indeed stick. Other foods don't seem to matter as much, but eggs and fish, forget about it. It might be the fact I use carbon steel pans, but I find preheating is absolutely necessary for those. It makes those eggs slip and slide around like hockey pucks on ice. It also makes for getting a great sear on meats.

If it makes a difference, I very much agree with what you said the other day about cooking eggs over lower heat. But I still preheat the pan.

A few others "myths" I disagree with:
  • Don't salt meat before cooking. My dad used to tell me you shouldn't salt your steaks until after grilling or they would dry out. Bollocks. No wonder his steaks had little flavor. With something as large as a roast, I might season it up to 2 days before cooking to allow it to penetrate deeply into the meat. Salt also makes the meat jucier, not drier - not to mention more forgiving to overcooking.
  • Alcohol burns off during cooking. Some does, yes, but not all.
  • With hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and pith. Partially true. Capsaicin is more concentrated in the pith. I always remove the seeds, but often leave the pith, unless I'm deliberately trying to tone down the heat.
  • Don't salt eggs before cooking or they will give off more water. I've seen Jamie Oliver, Alton Brown, and other celeb chefs say this. I've never, ever found this to be true. I always salt my eggs before whisking them to make an omelet or scramble. There is never any water on my plate. I do, though, incorporate some type of fat into the eggs, either in the form of a splash of cream or small chunks of butter. Maybe this makes a difference. I don't know. I just know watery eggs isn't a problem I've run across.
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:31 PM   #6
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What cooking "rules" do you regularly break?

Rachel Ray always says don't wash your mushrooms, brush or wipe them. Bull. I always wash my mushrooms. Try brushing eight pounds of hen of the woods. I also wash my button, porcini, and any other mushrooms. No loss in quality.
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:32 PM   #7
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Steven kroll, if you pack meat in salt for weeks it does get dry....
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by di reston View Post
In my book, 'classic' recipes are simply guidelines. At the end of the day, it comes down to what suits you...
Classic recipes are classic for a reason. If you use a classic recipe as a starting point and change it to create your own original dish, that's fine as long as you change the name of the recipe.

Alfredo is a classic example of what I mean. The original recipe called for butter, cheese and pasta with a little pasta water to make a sauce. Since then, any white sauce served with pasta is now called Alfredo. I see recipes with cream, flour, cream cheese, egg and more that are called Alfredo.

Make whatever you want but don't presume to call it by the classic recipe's name.
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
...And Andy, I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you about heating skillets - at least for certain foods. If I don't heat my skillet before adding (real) butter and eggs to the pan, they will indeed stick...

Steve, I made that statement because I questioned its veracity. So one morning I used a try-ply stainless steel skillet and real butter to cook two eggs.

For one, I started with a cold skillet and heated it, then added butter, waited until it melted and cooked an over easy egg.

For the other I cleaned and dried the skillet and added cold butter to the cold skillet and heated them together. Then I cooked an over easy egg.

My results were identical for both methods. Each egg started slightly sticking but broke free with very little coaxing. I was able to flip each, finish cooking and plate them.

Perhaps if I was using a different pan my results would be different.
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Old 03-02-2017, 04:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
Oh gosh, where to start... I can already sense this is going to be a contentious topic.
  • With hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and pith. Partially true. Capsaicin is more concentrated in the pith. I always remove the seeds, but often leave the pith, unless I'm deliberately trying to tone down the heat.
I hear TV chef's get this one wrong all the time. They say all the heat is in the seeds, but that just isn't true. Capsaicin is mostly in the membrane, or "pith" as you called it. That's the whitish part inside the pepper. You can adjust the heat of your food by how much of the membrane you leave in.

CD
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