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california jobcase
11-17-2010, 08:02 AM
Here's a question for all the professional chefs/cooks out there. Do you really put all your ingredients into little separate dishes before you mix the ingredients? I'm betting that's just a TV thing.

Athena
11-17-2010, 08:29 AM
No, they put 'em in BIG separate dishes because they're going to be cooking 300 plates that night and that calls for a lot of garlic/onions/parsley/whatever. :D

Seriously, though, it's called mise-en-place (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mis_en_place), and though I'm not a professional chef, I definitely do that whenever I'm making food that is complex enough to use several different ingredients. If I'm doing a big dinner - many courses/many people, it's next to impossible to get it right without doing proper mise-en-place.

It's just a matter of being organized. When you're at the point where you're doing the cooking, you don't have the time to run to the cupboard, dig around to find that one spice you need, and measure it out before the stuff that's already in the pan burns.

I'm not saying that I never dice up a pepper while I'm waiting for the onion to saute. But in general, if I have the time and I really care about things coming out perfectly, I get everything ready before anything touches the heat. One common issue with people who are learning to cook is that it's difficult to get, say, 3 courses on the table with perfect timing, all of them at the proper temperature and fresh. Part of being able to do that is proper mise-en-place.

Plus, it's just more FUN to cook when you don't have to be doing twelve things at once very quickly because if you don't, the stuff in the pot will burn.

Snake Plissken
11-17-2010, 08:54 AM
Yep, Mise is a must, and nobody touches my mise without dire consequenses.

xanthous
11-17-2010, 08:56 AM
No, they put 'em in BIG separate dishes because they're going to be cooking 300 plates that night and that calls for a lot of garlic/onions/parsley/whatever. :D

Seriously, though, it's called mise-en-place (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mis_en_place), and though I'm not a professional chef, I definitely do that whenever I'm making food that is complex enough to use several different ingredients. If I'm doing a big dinner - many courses/many people, it's next to impossible to get it right without doing proper mise-en-place.

It's just a matter of being organized. When you're at the point where you're doing the cooking, you don't have the time to run to the cupboard, dig around to find that one spice you need, and measure it out before the stuff that's already in the pan burns.

I'm not saying that I never dice up a pepper while I'm waiting for the onion to saute. But in general, if I have the time and I really care about things coming out perfectly, I get everything ready before anything touches the heat. One common issue with people who are learning to cook is that it's difficult to get, say, 3 courses on the table with perfect timing, all of them at the proper temperature and fresh. Part of being able to do that is proper mise-en-place.

Plus, it's just more FUN to cook when you don't have to be doing twelve things at once very quickly because if you don't, the stuff in the pot will burn.

Ditto. I do it all the time. When I have one cutting board and I need 1 cup each of onion, celery, carrot, plus minced garlic, chopped herbs, etc, mise-en-place is the only way to go.

gwendee
11-17-2010, 09:08 AM
I am far from being a chef, but I do like to cook. It's only in the last five years that I've approached recipes by preparing everything before starting. It seems as if it would do the opposite but I find it makes clean up easier, and makes it harder to make mistakes. Every once in a while I think I'll get a stack of matching glass bowls from IKEA but so far I haven't and just use assorted measuring cups and juice glasses.

california jobcase
11-17-2010, 09:08 AM
I guess I do the same thing now that I think about it, but I use paper plates instead of dishes. Measuring cups hold the runny or gooey stuff just fine. I'd hate to be a dishwasher doing hundreds of tiny dishes every day!

By the way, I saw the little dishes for sale at Dollar Tree, three or four for a dollar, depending on size.

Moonlitherial
11-17-2010, 10:36 AM
I do this, particularly when I'm halfing or doubling a recipe. It's much easier to do a quick sanity check before you start if everything is laid out and premeasured in front of you.

It's also very helpful when I'm doing a day of cooking meals for the freezer. I don't measure out everything before I start, but during any downtime on the first recipe I'm cleaning and setting up for the next recipe in line.

Athena
11-17-2010, 10:39 AM
I looooove little bowls & dishes. I use 'em all the time for mise-en-place and also for serving things on the side, like little bowls of dipping sauce or mustard or whatever. I have to force myself NOT to buy more of 'em when I see cute or colorful ones, I already have half a cupboard full of ramekins, tiny colorful silicon bowls, pyrex 1/2 cup dishes, mini porcelain dishes in the shape of eggplant and watermelon, and probably a few more I'm not remembering. And that's not counting the fancy white porcelain ones that I never use for mise-en-place, but only for serving.

Campion
11-17-2010, 12:09 PM
I do it because I have a very small workspace in my kitchen, so I really can't use more than one cutting board. I also have a really bad habit of starting a recipe and then finding out that I'm missing an ingredient. So I usually get out all ingredients first to make sure I have them, then measure, chop, etc., and line them up in little dishes ready to go. I also like to clean as I go, because there's nothing more annoying than finishing cooking and having the kitchen be a disaster area. The little dishes are great, because after I dump the onions in the pot, the onion bowl goes straight into the dishwasher.

Diogenes the Cynic
11-17-2010, 12:19 PM
You only really need to do a lot of mise if you're going to be making a lot of the same dish. For cooking at home, you don't really need all the cutesy little dishes, but you should prep everything. Make sure your aromatics and veggies are all chopped, etc. I pre-mix spices so I'm not putting them all in one at a time, so I usually have my spice mix in a ramakin, but the chopped stuff I just have in little piles on a cutting board.

ETA I guess I do premix trinity and mirepoix if I'm using them.

Chefguy
11-17-2010, 12:28 PM
I'm not a professional, but I have a whole stack of small clear glass bowls that I use, especially when making breads and other dishes. It's just easier to measure out the sugar, salt, yeast, herbs, etc. in advance.

Dolores Reborn
11-17-2010, 01:04 PM
I love my little bowls! I use them for chopped garlic, chopped ginger, chiffonade of basil, chopped parsley, etc. I use larger bowls for chopped onion and peppers and the like.

Mise-en-place is the way to go.

Another thing I do is chop the whole onion even if I don't need the whole thing for this recipe. I store the leftovers in a plastic container in the veggie drawer of the fridge for the next time I need chopped onion.

overlyverbose
11-17-2010, 02:16 PM
I do sometimes, but only if I'm making Chinese food or some other food that requires a lot of fresh ingredients thrown in at specific times. For example, if I'm making something that has garlic & ginger thrown in, with peppers and onions later, then meat, then sauce, then scallions, yeah, I'll use the little bowls. Otherwise, everything's in neat piles on my cutting board, ready to be scraped in.

FoieGrasIsEvil
11-17-2010, 03:30 PM
They are also great for when you make a dish like a curry, where you can put all kinds of little condiments into them like diced hard-cooked egg, raisins, scallions, chopped nuts, etc. Used to be my favorite dish growing up that Mom would make for us.

FallenAngel
11-17-2010, 05:08 PM
I prep a mise for everything from making a single fritata to doing a 7 course meal for 10. It's the only way to make sure everything is ready before the actual heat starts flying.

That said, I don't have a collection of dedicated little bowls. Ramekins, soup bowls/saucers/whatever's handy work just fine.

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