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Alton Brown- Cornier than Corn Bread? - Page 2

post #31 of 57
Shel - Just curious, why do you think a non stick pan is detrimental to cooking great eggs? I actually have both types of pans , use them both for eggs, and I'm not sure I can tell any difference.


Willie
post #32 of 57
The comment was partly tongue-in-cheek, but after using a carbon steel pan I won't go back. A well seasoned carbon steel pan - at least the one I use compared to my non-stick - seems more slippery. Some non-stick pans aren't very non-stick, or so I've read.

A personal belief is that over time the surface of the non-stick pans develop microscopic or very fine wear, not always visible to the naked eye, and the wear contributes to sticking. It could just be nonesense, but for now, I believe it. And we all know that at some point the surface is going to be totally unusable, and the pan becomes trash. I just hate to discard things, and the carbon steel pan should last the rest of my days. I like having things for a long time.

Finally, the idea of using an old fashioned pan to make eggs is very satisfying. It gives me pleasure. Using a pan with a high-tech coating just bothers me some. Why was non-stick first used in cookware? To cut down the need to use fats, and to provide healthier results. I like to use a lot of good, fresh butter when making eggs. Don't need a non-stick pan.
post #33 of 57
I always enjoy Alton Brown. I wish he was my uncle.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #34 of 57
When a non-stick pan is treated well, it lasts a while. When it's worn out it's garbage. I prefer a 6" non-stick pan to make my over-easy eggs.
post #35 of 57
Shel -

.... non-stick pans develop microscopic or very fine wear

that has been my experience as well. I've had expensive ones and cheap ones and seems there's little difference in "life"

somewhere I read dishwasher detergents are harsh enough to make that happen - well, other than my knives, cast iron and my grandmothers very delicate crystal there isn't much that is spared the dishwasher treatment in our house.... a definite "maybe"...

mine seem to last 16 - 18 months; then I go to the bargain store and pick out a new one based on shape (for flipping ease) and balance. I don't think I could maintain the seasoning on a carbon steel pan (it's the dishwasher issue)
post #36 of 57
I agree, and have even said so. However, a while ain't a lifetime. I'm miffed that some of my pots have only lasted thirty years!
post #37 of 57
In a restaurant where I cooked breakfasts, we had 6" non-stick pans that were for eggs only (although not for scrambled eggs). Utensils weren't used in the pans, and for cleaning they were wiped out with a paper towel. They lasted months, at least . . . I don't remember us disposing of any, but that was 20 years ago so I'm not sure. The pans served this purpose well.
post #38 of 57
There are several on Tv that I am NOT a fan of, but I do like Alton.

I think his approach is original and he come's across as genuine.

He's not pretentious.

And most of all I like the geeky science trivia!

However that being said I have never felt moved to try one of his recipes.
post #39 of 57
Not real sure what a "DH" is. There are so many things running in my head when you say "DH" and you are refering to your husband. I think of all the "DH" names my wife calls me and most of the are not for polite company. Could you please tell me what a "DH" is? Thank-You.
So many Flavors; So little time. Taste your way through life.
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So many Flavors; So little time. Taste your way through life.
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post #40 of 57
I rather like Alton. Being relatively new to cooking (as opposed to burning the meat and boiling potatos) I learn quite a bit from Good Eats about the how and why of it all. I can understand why the pros might not care for him having learned all this stuff in school or under fire in a commercial kitchen but for us home cooks, especially those of us without much experience, Good Eats is a real learning experience. This pretty much applies to all of the Food Network cooking shows. It gives us hope that we can do better than just heating up the contents of a can or box.
post #41 of 57
>This pretty much applies to all of the Food Network cooking shows. It gives us hope that we can do better than just heating up the contents of a can or box. <

Bubba, I'd say that was once true. But not anymore. Not when the FN airwaves are dominated by Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray, and their clones.

FN has decided that cooking isn't important to its audience. So they've been concentrating on the entertainment value. And on the sex appeal of its stars. I'm really surprised, in fact, that they haven't canned Paula Dean and Ima Garten yet: after all, neither of them stands around in their size 3 dresses with their half-naked boobs in the soup---which seems to be FN's sole criterium for hiring female stars nowadays.

Frankly, for a true learning to cook experience, you'd be much better off with some of the cooking shows on public television than with the crap you're currently getting on FN.

BTW, it isn't a matter of pros vs other people. FN has always appealed more to the home cook than to professionals, for the very reason you gave. But home cooks have deserted it en masse precisely because they can no longer find the instructional and educational stuff they're looking for.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #42 of 57
AB has a few different things going for him, his writing and production, pedagogy and cooking.

The production and writing is cute, sometimes overly so. His cooking, perhaps his greatest weakness, is mediocre at best.

A lot of people seem to benefit from his teaching, so what can you say? I find it highly variable. It can be quite good sometimes, but two things are especially and constantly infuriating. First, the implication that his way is the best, "real," proven, or only way to make something. He often veers pretty far from standard techniques and should at least nod in their direction as acceptable alternatives. Secondly he relies too heavily on measurement and not enough on sensorial feedback.

BDL
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post #43 of 57
Paula and Ina are two of my favorites as are Tyler Florence and Bobby Flay. I do watch other stuff on public TV as well when time permits. I do agree though that some aren't that great. I wouldn't call them entertainment, I'd call them lessons in taking quality ingredients and turning them into fast food.
post #44 of 57
I am not Shel, but totally agree with the statement.

While I use teflon on the omelete line a lot.

To many times teflon creates a problem where people learn to cook eggs at the wrong temperature.
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #45 of 57
I have cooked professionally for over 30 years now.

I don't find your question a problem. In fact I sit on our Culinary Schools Curriculum board and I have cut out a bunch of the the useless stuff that was being taught because it was "traditional."

Judging the student competitions I got in a knock down drag out with two of the instructors over knocking a group of students down for putting Tourne root vegetables on their menu and then they prepared the same for the cooking competition.

The competition has as a main focus a large component on "profitability and real world application". The tourne cut will run a resto into bankruptcy when using it fully backward integrated. So I knocked them down, beautiful yes, practical, useable in the real world... not on your life!

So I have fought the same battle your question relates too for years and years. I agree a good understanding is required, but a lot of what is taught is just a waste of time. And detrimental to successfully running a culinary business.

Also had to kill a bunch of the practice meals.... students cooking with truffles? Students cooking with buffalo loin? Students cooking with Peking ducks? Tradition calls for it, real world is.... anyone can make a great dish with the most expensive ingredients,..... show me what you can do to salt pork that allows me to sell it for $45.00 per plate... that impresses me.

Still on the board, as most of my students now get picked up at the resorts, because resorts need to make money in the F&B department and they know my guys understand what that means!
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #46 of 57
This is the deal with AB. He is not a chef.. but he is a good cooking teacher and gets people trying to cook. So do a lot of the FoodTv hosts.

If you want cooking education you need to go to PBS or your local community college. That shipped sailed from FoodTv when they started getting rid of Jaque Pepin, Wolfgang Puck, etc., etc.

They changed the FoodTv business plan to include the branding sales. Most the chefs left.... and FoodTv kitchenwares started appearing!

FoodTv has its place and function. And they still have a few chefs worth watching. At least to my mind they do.

But I agree they have gone JiggleFest and Gigglefest in the last three years. Camera shots and angles make it obvious that FoodTv is heading toward Victory Secrets Cooking Show.
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #47 of 57
You've used your palate to define away the distinction between different techniques. I'm going to pretend you didn't. You pegged it. Cooking is results oriented and can pretty much be pared down to what's on the plate -- what it tastes, smells, feels and looks like.

If a discerning diner can't tell the difference -- then extra effort and expense, whether traditional or not, is wasted. But if the diner can ...

For the few years when I was a professional and for the succeeding several decades when I have been a "mere" home cook I have always tried to put the best food on the plate reasonably possible under the circumstances. "Reasonable under the circumstances" is highly elastic.
The thing of it is, I can usually tell the difference between fresh and freeze dried rhino hairs. So, when possible I pluck my own (TMI?).

I'm with Ed on the premise that AB doesn't give enough credit to the methods he chooses not to use. If Brown mentions them, it's usually with scorn. That said, he's a good cooking teacher. But as a cooking teacher Alton's biggest problem is neither his unconventional methods, nor his humor, but that he doesn't leave enough to the cook. He's overly dependent on formulas and is way too equipment oriented. It's funny really, because when he does shows about the food itself as on his road trip series, the food he seems to really appreciate are prepared in very much the opposite way.

BDL
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
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post #48 of 57
You are 100 correct in the fact about his road series. The other thing that makes me crazy is his measurement. A teaspoon of this, a 1/4 cup of that. Hogwash!!! thats not what cooking is, to learn you must experiment .You learn from your triumps and failures. Cooking is 3/4 imagination and he helps take that away. So you put to mush salt, does he tell you how to get it out? or to much pepper does he tell you that. You dont have a chinoise what else can you use? you would go broke buying all the gadgets he tells you to buy and you would not have room in your kitchen for them. Baking, yes measurement is important it is based on chemical balance. Cooking however is you. Your love, your ideas, your presentation And yes Virginia there are many ways to do many things. Not just his way.
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post #49 of 57
Well said Ed!
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #50 of 57
One technique I picked up from food network is that it is never necessary to taste food as you cook it. At the end of the show, just before the last commercial, you taste it once, and it is always delicious!
I still haven't broken the habit.
post #51 of 57
If you tast it today after it is completed and then tast it tommorrow, it will differ, because over night the flavors will marry. This is true in stews, and sauces ,and soups. Go lighter wrather then heavier on seasoning .Thats why there is salt and pepper shakers on tables.:bounce:
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post #52 of 57
Ed did AB piss in your cornflakes?

Its a show meant for BEGINNERS. I'm a scientist by training, not a chef. His approach is what got me to try cooking beyond eggs and bacon. You don't tell a beginner to put love and imagination as a measurement, you tell him 1/4th a cup. I've made a handful of his recipes and I've modified most of them after to my tastes, but you need to start somewhere as a baseline.

Today I made the best steak steak sandwich I've eaten in my life, using some of the techniques I learned watching AB's show, and some of my experimentation. The other day I made arctic char using again, some from his show and my own imagination/experimentation. Still I needed a base to start from, and his show does that very well. He can't really cover all aspects in a single show, and I'm pleased what what I've learned and what its inspired me to learn.
post #53 of 57
I agree that AB is for beginners but when I am cooking something that I have never cooked before, his shows and recipes are usally what I look to for the first run. Things such as his omilete technique I disagree with but his way is still a good starting point for beginners.

For me, messurements are the key to starting out. I have had to teach myself how to cook many dishes and some items (like a dark rue) that are tough to just go through the steps on your own. Once I have made the recipe a couple of times I know the color and consistancy an item should have so that is the point that I can really make the dish my own. Things such as seasoning I only use a recipe as a guide but any new style of cusine I like to have a step by step guide.

I have a couple of AB's books and do really like the book he put out on what items to buy for your kitchen. He is also very anti-unitaskers so buying items that work well for several different things is very helpful to both get the most bang for your buck and keep from having a cluttered kitchen.
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Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or just a really cool opotamous? - Mitch Hedburg
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post #54 of 57
...as well as learn from the experience of others. "Definition of learn (verb)
to get knowledge about..."

I think he does that well. Learning, intuitively, is not asking "what" but asking "why?" What is watching a cooking show or merely replicating a recipe. Why is witnessing the dynamic of an event(s) as it/they unfold and question the ends and means; synthesis.

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #55 of 57
Ed, I appreciate all your input on this board and I'm sure your culinary knowledge is beyond what mine will ever be, however, I don't think we're talking about the same Alton Brown!!!! or you're certainly not watching the same person/show that we are. You mentioned all the gadgets?? Thats' the COMPLETE opposite of Alton Brown....Complete...couldn't get more opposite than what he preaches.

There is something to be said about following his recipes to the letter, ...yes those little "1/4 tsp of this and that" when needed, and they are rarely a failure and more often than not, SPOT on.....at least for this home cook.
post #56 of 57
It's funny, I don't like AB all that much, mostly because I find his manner tedious, sort of pseudo-edgy Mouseketeers play scientist. On gadgetry and whatnot, I do find that he's into it more than I'd like, but compared to most TV cooks he's dead on: he insists that you ought not to buy anything that has only a single use. And there go 99% of the useless gadgets in the drawer.

As to his right-way/wrong-way thing, again I think this is largely a matter of perception, and in particular historical reference. If you have a strong sense of the historical range of a dish or technique, you're bound to find AB telling you that the "best" or "right" way is such-and-such irritating. On the other hand, if you are trying to learn how to get this result at all in the first place, it's probably best to have him give you a relatively simple, straightforward method, founded largely on calculation and formulas rather than practice, skill, or talent.

I do get very irritated sometimes when he makes sweeping statements about the history of this or that... and gets it dead wrong. He had a show about gumbo, and basically trashed Cajun cuisine, and specifically Paul Prudhomme, without apparently realizing he was doing it. He claimed that all that very spicy stuff was a bunch of marketing nonsense. Really? Have you ever eaten Prudhomme's cooking -- or just decent Opelousas cooking in general?

In the same show, he made what I think of as a classic America's Test Kitchen false test. He compared bad technique to his idiosyncratic method. Which worked? His, but what do we learn? The question was how to make a dark roux. His method does work, but actually is a bit finicky and time-consuming. Then there's doing it the old-fashioned way, which is a bit finicky and time-consuming. Then there's doing it the standard post-Prudhomme professional way, which is a bit finicky and extremely quick. What he compared was his method against the old-fashioned way done wrong. What's the point of that?

Unfortunately, you can't really have this discussion on the basis of transcripts alone. He does sometimes say things like, "now you can do it X way, but I prefer Y." Sounds very even-handed. But in the background when he says this, there's somebody on fire, or somebody dressed as an ancient French chef committing suicide, or whatever. The point being clear to the viewer: you can pick A or B, but one way has a lot of heavy tradition going for it... and the other way works better and is easier. That's not exactly even-handed.

As a final note, I'd like to point something out. There is a nice division that appears in this discussion, which you might think about comparing to other discussions on this forum (and elsewhere). That's between "tradition" (often negative) and "authentic" (almost always positive). If you happen to like something that isn't the old, classic way, you're Mr/Ms Hip and down on heavy old stodgy tradition. If you happen to like something (often something associated with "ethnic" cuisines) that isn't what one usually gets in mainstream restaurants, you're all on fire to stick to "authentic" foods.

Next time you find yourself reading or writing either of those two words, stop: are you just picking the one you like to fit the moment? You're in very good company if you do this, but it's kind of silly and incoherent if you step back and think about it.
post #57 of 57
To the original poster I love the Alton and the good eats program. Love the instructional
part of the show.
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