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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Squeeze with Precision and Decorative Pride!

In my continuing disgust of the dumbing down of food preparation, I’ve been really steamed about the use of plastic bags. I’m sure the Food Network has stock in Glad Bags otherwise how can they justify the gleeful use for marinating food, or better yet rolling out pie dough in a plastic bag. There also was a scene that I watched where the food entertainer threw all of her guacamole ingredients into a- you guessed it- plastic bag and smashed them all together! Snip a corner and squeeze that baby out. I can’t tell you how disgusting guac looks when squeezed in plastic! What is so hard about dirtying a flipping bowl and mashing the avocado and friends with a fork or one of those new fangled guacamole gadgets?

My personal favorite is the baggie turned pastry bag. The humble pastry bag comes in many guises. It can be waterproofed cotton, nylon, polyester, and yes plastic (the difference being the thickness of the bag). Its purpose is to attractively extrude semi-liquid food onto another food. Simply put, ice cakes, fill devilled eggs, or twice baked potatoes. Now I will admit before the plastic bag impostor craze that I did in a pinch use a plastic bag but that was only after forgetting my pastry bags at a catering job. Never again.

Over Christmas this past season I watched a cake decorating sequence where a female TV announcer was given a plastic bag filled with chocolate icing and told to broadcast the icing across the cake. This poor hapless woman was nervous, squeezed too hard and a huge blob of icing landed unceremoniously in the middle of the cake. Icing interuptus. The “chef” laughed and spread the goop around and I’m sure the TV announcer will never do that trick again.

Pastry bags won’t break the bank and the disposable ones make it even easier for the occasional squeezer. If you can have sharp knives, All Clad pans, granite counters and stainless steel appliances; why the hay short change your decorative possibilities?

Then there is the tip issue. Pastry tips come in many sizes and shapes and truly add that gourmet touch to plated mashed potatoes. They just don’t work with plastic bags. They also are reasonably priced last forever (they do have a way of wandering around the kitchen drawer), and make great squiggles out of the most mundane stuff. Don’t forget to buy a coupling- a little two pieced affair that when put on the outside of the bag holds the tip so you can change the tip without emptying the bag every time.

There is technique to using a pastry bag but it isn’t one of those rocket science things like beurre blanc emulsions or choux paste. The important thing is to have a bag generous enough (don’t go skimpy or just right- it won’t do) to twist the top and with one hand on the twisted top and the other as a guide it’s just squeeze and go. When you stop squeezing at the top the goop stops coming out, even Rachel Ray would say, “How easy is that guys!!!!!." If you use a square plastic bag you won’t get the same twist at the top and without a pastry tip the bag can easily hemorrhage and splat.

In a perfect world television chefs would stop promoting their knives, pots and pans, and other logoed items and TEACH a simple real technique that Jane and Joe cook could have fun with and wow their friends. Oh, well I can dream, but in the mean time-

Buy your pastry bag today and squeeze away!

1 comment:

Kelsie said...

Not to mention that the little seam around the bag makes the icing (or whatever) that you are squeezing out look unattractive because of the little line running through it.

I definitely agree with you that pastry bags are worth it!