"Freshly ground black pepper" and other cooking show nitpicks

This is so trivial that it really belongs in MPSIMS, but it’s food-related. Inviting other nitpicks, gripes, etc., related to cooking shows.

I like to watch cooking shows. In fact, I’m watching Martha Stewart on PBS right now. She just said (something that TV chefs often say), “Add half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper,” as she scoops out half a teaspoon from a bowl on the counter that contains a cup or more of ground black pepper.

Did she or one of her [del]slaves[/del] helpers grind that huge quantity of pepper before the show so she would have half a teaspoon for this recipe? Does she go through so much pepper that she has to grind that quantity often enough that it’s always fresh? Does she throw out the unused pepper when it’s no longer fresh? To me “freshly ground” means you use the pepper grinder to grind it right then and there. She’s not the only TV chef who does this.

I said it was trivial.

To me, it still counts as “freshly ground” even if you grind it an hour or two beforehand for prep. It just means it hasn’t been sitting ground in a bottle at the grocery store for weeks or months. Has the supreme court of pepper ruled on this?
My problem with “freshly ground black pepper” and other things like that on cooking shows is how arrogant the cooks are. Like they’re repulsed at eating pre-ground pepper like a lowly peasant.

And, you have to have some kind of setup to measure it. Whenever I see that in a recipe, I just grind pepper on it until it looks about right. I’m not gonna get out a funnel and a jar and grind pepper into it until I think I have half a teaspoon, then measure…

Pepper loses.flavor over time once it’s ground. Often the pepper in a Shaker is tasteless, so if you want to be sure you get pepper flavor, it can’t be pre-ground.

The answer is because it looks nice on TV. I had to grind like a cup of pepper and my wrists are still sore.

No, it is a military matter not a civilian matter. Even though he’s not an officer, Sgt. Pepper presides.

Well if the thought makes you cry then tears are a superior flavor agent to kosher salt.

FWIW, I never understood what the point of black pepper was when my only point of reference was the tasteless odorless preground stuff. Then they invented the grinder jar that keeps the peppercorns whole and you grind them as you go. AMAZING difference!

Yep. Like I always say, once you go freshly ground black, you never go back.

Hey, the Shakers may be known for their simple lifestyle, but I wouldn’t call them tasteless.

Air time is precious. It would take a minute or two to grind and measure half a teaspoon of pepper using a pepper mill. Most viewers don’t want to watch Martha Stewart do one task for that length of time.

On America’s Test Kitchen they often have the spices pre-ground and pre-measured in little glass bowls. Again, this is to save air time.

I grind pepper and other spices in a coffee mill. It gives good results, and it works a lot faster than a hand-cranked pepper mill. Of course, I don’t grind coffee beans in the same mill, since I don’t want pepper-flavored coffee or coffee-flavored pepper.

I’d argue that the difference is academic. In which case, we should turn to our esteemed PhD colleague, Dr Pepper*.

  • Of course he’s not a medical doctor. Because he’s not Dr Pepper, M.D.

Totally fair gripe, even if fresh grinding is much better. I finally found a cheap generic grinder that is reliable and grinds fast and kinda big. In my super-quick prep, I can grind what I need pretty quickly.
But I still use crushed garlic in a jar for a lot of cooking :eek:

Just filled 2 big pepper mills, one for the kitchen, though I rarely cook anymore. The other goes with me when I go out for a meal. Many restaurants have the usual pepper shaker on the tables(which sometimes feel quite crusty-ick!), but no peppermill. Can’t enjoy a steak,eggs, a burger, some soups, et al, without FRESH GROUND black pepper. Hey, restaurant owners, invest in a good mill, and keep it filled and available. Sheesh!

I’m amused at chefs on TV who go to the “bother” of using a peppermill, then do 3 or 4 baby twists, and call it done. If you’re gonna’ pepper it, PEPPER IT.

I’ve always loved, aesthetically, the look of a bunch of pre-measured spices sitting out ready to be used in a recipe. Sometimes when I’m cooking, I’ll do this as a kind of “warmup” activity before really getting started with the dish. It makes me feel more prepared and ready to tackle the task at hand.

Sometimes I just throw crap into the dish as I go, measuring in pinches and shakes. All depends on my mood.

Not if you make one of these. :smiley:

Mise en place. My preferred method.

I do not have any pre-ground pepper at home. I have three different peppercorn blend in 3 different grinders.

On America’s Test Kitchen, they do have the mise en place setup-- **tiny **dishes with the salt, pepper, herbs, etc., at the ready for this particular recipe.

My gripe (and it’s seeming pickier and pickier as we go on) is with a **large **bowl of ground pepper, which has been sitting out for what could be a very long time, being referred to as “freshly ground.” I doubt if Martha or any of her minions ground up that cup or more of pepper just for that show. Unless she films eight shows in a row and does indeed use up all of that pepper.

I agree with all who said “freshly ground” is the way to go. To me that means ground right then or shortly before commencing the recipe.

The trick, at least when I chucked our old pepper mill into my cordless drill, was keeping the adjustment right, since the little screw-knob at the top is what regulates the grind size. Taking the knob off and chucking it in was kind of hard to get and keep right.

But yeah, it grinds the heck out of some pepper!

For everyday use, one of these is really great. Grinds super-fast, has a huge peppercorn reservoir, and after 4 years of regular use in our kitchen, seems to be utterly indestructible.

Disclaimer:my girlfriend works for Peugeot the pepper mill folks.

I’ve got a Paris U Select on my desk at work. I just ground 1/2tsp of pepper in approx 10 seconds.

In my opinion, letting ground pepper sit even an hour makes a difference in its pungency. The McCormick stuff that is even more finely ground is useless.

Me too. When the kids were little, we called it “cooking show”, as in, “Let’s play cooking show!”

OK, I can kind of understand wanting to use fresh ground pepper, yet having it ready to go in a bowl. But I am mildly perturbed at all of the TV chefs using bowls of salt, and taking pinches out with their fingers. Well, la de da. You just shoved your dirty fingers into the salt supply to use maybe one-tenth of it. What’s wrong with a salt shaker? There are all sorts of salt shakers that can deliver just a little or a lot at a time. And salt doesn’t have to be freshly ground to taste good.

Now this complaint doesn’t apply to the pre-measured amounts in a small bowl, like on Test Kitchen. I get the time savings when preparing the dish if the spices are pre-measured. I’m talking about the ubiquitous open bowl of salt.