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Daily Archives: August 28, 2009

Chefs on Charlie Rose last night

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Charlie Rose is on vacation right now, so his shows are compilations of shows done earlier in the year, grouped by common topics.

Last night, he ran clips from his interviews with David Chang, Ferran Adria and José Andrés (with Andrés serving as interpreter), and Tom Collichio (learn how to pronounce his name, Charlie!).

All of the interviews were illuminating (I didn’t know that David Chang was basically a competitive golfer in his early days). I liked Adria comparing cooking to other art forms, noting that cooking involves all of the senses, whereas something like painting only involves one of them (sight). And I liked Collichio’s evolution as a chef actually being an evolution of reduction instead of increasing complexity.

You can view the entire show here for a little while:

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10572

If it becomes unavailable as a whole show, you can likely view each segment separately in the archives by searching for each chef. The David Chang segment shown last night is excerpted from the full hour that Rose spent with him, so you might want to go directly to that segment, which you can find at the link of Serious Eats below the screenshot below.

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Screenshots courtesy of Serious Eats and can be found here:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/07/videos-david-chang-charlie-rose-pbs-momofuku-ko.html

Kitchen tool of the day – Silpat

Silpat? What in the heck is that?

This:

Silpat-Silicon-Baking-Mats_7B60FC97

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a silcone impregnated plastic baking mat.  It starts as woven fiberglass and then it’s coated with a heat-resistant silicone-impregnated plastic.

It’s a true time-saver when baking. Nothing sticks to it; not cookies, not melted cheese, not dough, not anything. To clean it, you simply wipe it with a cloth. Occasionally you might feel better about using a little detergent and a good rinse, but it usually doesn’t even need that.

It’s great because you don’t have to use any oil on a baking sheet – in fact you don’t use any oil whatsoever.

It is good up to 482º so it’s good for any possible baking that you might do.

It isn’t usable for roasting or broiling, although you can use it for slow roasting things like tomatoes and you can use it almost as a dehydrator in a very slow oven. You don’t want to put any hot pans on it, nor do you want to ever cut it “to fit”. Fiberglass is hazardous to the health. They also say that you shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher. Just a quick wipe will do. In line with this, don’t use any metal scrapers, knives, cutters or spatulas. You won’t need them anyway. Cookies and baked goods slide right off. All you might need is a little nudge from a plastic spatula.

If you have a large enough Silpat, you can use it for rolling out dough. The bottom of the mat is tacky, so it sticks to the countertop. You really don’t have to flour the dough very much to keep it from sticking.

You use the mat with the writing side up.

It will discolor over time through the oil that’s emitted by things like cookies and cheese (remember, most cookies are mostly butter). But that isn’t a problem.

Don’t use it with insulated or air-type baking sheets. Always use it with simple one layer baking sheets. 

You can use it for reheating pizza but you shouldn’t use it for baking pizza because a baking stone works a lot better and you won’t get a good crust with it (plus, frankly I cook pizza at the highest temperature possible anyway). Personally, I wouldn’t use it for anything that sits in a baking dish because I can just as easily put those on a bare metal baking sheet.

You should always use it with a baking sheet and you should always store it flat. Never fold it up. I actually roll mine loosely, which the manufacturer doesn’t recommend, or even comment on, but I suspect that it’s fine, since that’s how it’s packaged from the manufacturer.

One thing about baking cookies on this mat – they tend to end up flatter than when you cook on greased metal. The manufacturer says that this is because of the extreme slipperiness of the silicone. The dough moves easier as it heats up.  So, you might find that you might not want to use the Silpat for certain types of cookies. Feel free to use a greased metal sheet if the result that you’re looking for requires it.

There are other brands and they are probably just as good. But this is the original. It’s been used since the 60s in French kitchens. I don’t dismiss the others by recommending this, but this is the only one that I can recommend, since it’s the only one that I use.

There are some people who have concerns about using the product as things have come out recently about heating plastics (especially in baby bottles). I have no such concerns about this product, but if you do, then only you can decide whether you want to take the “risk”. There are also some people that claim that they can smell a rubber-like smell, but I’ve never really noticed anything like that.

I find the Silpat quite useful because, I’m basically a lazy git.  Plus, I like innovative “gadgets”. Guess I’m a sucker for them.

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