Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mission Organization: Week 44 - Mise en Place

Who among us has not been frustrated in our own kitchens by disorganization? At the very least, a lack of organization might cause a meal to be served late, but frequently it causes more serious problems. Maybe your recipe says to heat the oil, then add chopped onion. A disorganized cook will heat the oil, then start chopping the onion, a recipe for disaster.

The French have a term for organization in the kitchen called "mise en place," which in translation means "to put in place." For the organized cook this would mean that all the ingredients need to be prepared and ready to use before you start cooking.

As an example of cooking with mise en place, an organized cook would refer to the recipe for a list of ingredients and assemble those first. Raise your hand if you have ever started stirring up a recipe only to find that you were out of a needed ingredient or even two. (My hand is up.) No, your next-door neighbor does not want to loan you a cup of sugar or a stick of butter, don't ask. Also, if there is chopping, dicing, or other preparation that needs to be done in advance, take note and get those chores done before beginning the recipe.



When I am blogging I sometimes show a photo of ingredients I will use in the recipe. This has helped my cooking habits because now I routinely assemble all ingredients before starting any recipe. I'm getting better at mise en place.

Measuring out needed quantities of ingredients before starting to put a recipe together is another example of mise en place. This not only saves time when preparing food, it can help with the accuracy of measurements. Think of how much better it is to measure out 6 cups of flour and set those aside when baking bread than to try to measure one cup at a time from your canister and keep an accurate count as you mix. If you're like me, you'll lose count after about three cups.

In the process of getting all your ingredients assembled before you start to cook you can use a lot of prep bowls to have your supplies ready. That can translate into lots of dirty dishes for the cook. You can apply a little mise en place to this situation as well. One way is to always have some hot sudsy water ready in your sink while cooking so that you can keep utensils and bowls washed as they are used.



Another way is to re-purpose some paper cupcake liners from the pantry to use as disposable prep bowls. I always keep a supply of paper liners on hand, and they come in handy when measuring out quantities of nuts, dried fruits, and spices. Most cooks I hear from love baking and cooking for their families, but hate the clean-up afterward. Practicing mise en place can make the clean-up so much easier.

Thanksgiving is a short three weeks away, and many of us are planning meals for a crowd. A little mise en place will help tremendously with holiday preparations. Even though I love to cook and entertain guests, I can no longer physically stand in the kitchen for long periods of time. I plan to take my own advice and let mise en place help me out with my cooking. I think mise en place is another tool to help us simply work smarter, not harder.

5 comments:

  1. omg I love your idea of using cupcake liners as prep bowls! briliant.

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  2. wow, nice! I always get my ingredients out before starting a recipe. But, to have it all measured out and using cupcake liners or even coffee liners instead of messing up bowls. super! Thanks for this one!

    Mary Malone

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  3. I love the concept of Mise en Place. It hasn't happened in our house just yet, but I'm hopefuly. Maybe if I paint some pretty sign with that saying on it...
    No. Probably won't help.
    Also, I love your pretty blog theme. I may be late to the party. If it's been this style for a while I'm sorry I haven't noticed sooner.
    Hope to see you soon somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the concept of Mise en Place. It hasn't happened in our house just yet, but I'm hopefuly. Maybe if I paint some pretty sign with that saying on it...
    No. Probably won't help.
    Also, I love your pretty blog theme. I may be late to the party. If it's been this style for a while I'm sorry I haven't noticed sooner.
    Hope to see you soon somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You always give the best advice, Anita!

    ReplyDelete