Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bum oven pilot

I see this problem more than any other. You turn the gas on and when you go to put that roast in the oven it is as cold as when you walked through the door. Spend any amount of time in the kitchen and I guarantee it will happen to you. So, you curse and grab your stick lighter and try to no avail to relight the pilot. It comes on, but as soon as you release that button on the safety valve it goes right back out. Its a bad thermocouple. I've seen it a hundred times, I'll see it a hundred more. A ten dollar part just ruined your day. The key is to have an extra one on hand. They only take about five minutes to install. I have to say if you are not a trained professional do not attempt this repair. Seriously folks, you're playing with fire here. If you are a complete moron you could theoretically kill everyone in the building. No wonder there is a strict policy forbidding students from even lighting pilots. For those of you that were born a pyromaniac that laughs in the face of death on a daily basis, here's the rundown. First turn off the gas at the valve behind the oven. I can't say I always do but let's just play this one on the safe side. Remove the racks and bottom plate from the oven. You'll see the culprit, looks like a knitting needle on a wire next to the pilot. There is a clip holding it in but should still slide out pretty easily with a pair of pliers. Now that it's loose you can close the oven door. Next you want to open the access panel on the front of the oven to get to the safety valve. There will be the other end of the wire that you just disconnected. Use a combination wrench on this one. You already have the right size because you picked one up when you bought the spare thermocouple, right? Once you have that off gently remove the old thermocouple and thread the new one into to same hole. Connect it to the safety valve and attach the other end to the pilot assembly. Replace bottom plate and oven racks. Viola. You just saved yourself hours of time, and more money than you care to see going to the repair tech who can't get there until next Tuesday.

Free Kitchen Degreaser

This one may not work for everyone. It just so happens that I lease my dishwasher. In the lease agreement I am provided free chemicals for the machine. The detergent, a dark reddish highly alkaline solution is the bee's knees when it comes to cleaning grease. This stuff is highly concentrated and will burn if you get it anywhere on you body. It is specifically designed to strip viscous oily slop from the plates of every greasy spoon in the country when highly diluted. So, how are those hood vents looking? Been a while hasn't it? Just pull them down and literally paint this stuff on them. Yes, with a paintbrush. After they've soaked for a few minutes just run them through the dishwasher.

De-seeding Pomegranates

Slice the pomegranate in half, as if it were an orange you wanted to juice. Hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and sharply rap the skin of the pomegranate with the back of a steel kitchen spoon. This will dislodge the seeds and they will fall into the awaiting bowl without you having to pry each and every one out with your dirty little fingernails. Remove any unwanted membrane that may have fallen out with the seeds and you're done.

Paper Thin Garlic

Chef Sartory showed me this shortcut when I was in Cuisines of the Americas. A truffle shaver ($15 or less at any kitchen supply store) can shave garlic paper thin in just a few seconds per clove. Be careful though, the blade is razor sharp and will make paper thin slices of your finger tips as well. You can also take it a step further and mince your garlic from here. I find it to be more uniform than the mess that someone has rocked their dull chef's knife over a few hundred times. If you are going to mince something, mince it. If you insist on destroying it, save the labor and just use the food processor.


I established this blog as a forum for culinary students and professionals to share their techniques and tricks of the trade.