Friday 26 October 2007

A Tip...

I don’t really know whether this counts as an ingredient, or as a piece of kit……Whichever it is, though, it occupies a place of fundamental importance in my kitchen: catering-strength non-stick spray. The one I currently use is called Trennwax, made by a German (I think) outfit called Boesen; I get it through Vin Sullivan, who seem only ever to have one kind of non-stick spray in their list. For a long time, this was something called ‘One Spray’, and only rcently have they gone back to a new version of Trennwax, which appears to have been significantly upgraded from the Trennwax I first used about ten years ago. This stuff is quite simply wonderful! I use it for the insides of terrine moulds, for baking trays and roasting pans, for ramekins to be used for baking soufflés, for egg dishes, for the insides of aluminium foil which I’m about to use for wrapping and baking fish…… fact for absolutely anything where a non-stick surface is appropriate, and where a traditional recipe would talk about ‘greasing’ the surface with a butter wrapper, or indeed brushing the surface with melted butter. On occasion, if I want to ‘dry’ sauté something like a salmon fillet, then I don’t use any oil or butter as a frying agent , but merely spray some of this stuff into the frying pan or on the griddle, and the result is first class, dry and crisp and exactly as desired……

On supermarket shelves, I’ve come across distant – very distant – cousins to this product, which claim to do the same job, but which in practice are completely hopeless. They don’t do what they claim on the tin, which isn’t surprising, since it’s obvious to the naked eye that they produce a blotchy and uneven covering, which of course means that the end result sticks. Well, it would, wouldn’t it…..?

Trennwax (or equivalent products) appear to fall into the category of culinary goods which are generally available only to professional cooks, and for some reason are kept out of reach of the domestic cook – praline and pistachio pastes come under the same heading, I find, as do decently strong aluminium foil and cling-film. I don’t believe this culinary apartheid has a basis in anything other than manufacturers’ distribution practices, though, and if you can track these products down, I don’t believe there’s any reason why you shouldn’t be able to buy them.

Trennwax doesn’t come exactly cheap – I think a can of spray costs something like six pounds – but it lasts well. I get through a can in about six months, on the basis of almost daily use for some task or other (which, if nothing else, is a clear demonstration of how many things I use it for in practice).

If I were to give this a rating out of ten, it would have to be at least a twelve…. if not more!

Tonight’s Dinner:

Moules Marinières. (Using Pisan mussels, which cook and taste completely differently from those in London – they don’t turn a deep orange as they cook, and have a wonderfully ‘meaty’ flavour when ready….)

Scaloppini, with a sauce of Ham, Capers, Anchovy and Grappa

Chocolate & Apricot Tarts.