Swifty’s Eats | Critiquing social media ‘food’

    When I find myself combing through the catacombs of social media recipes, I can’t help but ask, “Is no one heeding Gordon Ramsay’s critiques of their food?”  

     In this edition of Swifty’s Eats, we’ll be searching though food trends I have found lately on Tik Tok and Instagram that all unfortunately make big mistakes in basic cookery.  

     Disclaimer: I have not been on Instagram or Tik Tok (or any social media) for at least two years, but I did a two-hour search for recipes across both platforms. 

The over seasoning season  

    After moving through the top posts on Tik Tok and Instagram, I couldn’t help but find recipes that have people dousing their meats, sauces and entire recipes in a variety of seasonings. For a cook/baker, seasoning is either a great friend or a horrible enemy, so understanding the technique in seasoning is incredibly important.  

     For a seasoned cook (see what I did there?), in food, especially meat and eggs, seasoning should be minimal. Let the original flavor of the food you’re working with be the focal point.  

     This is where the quality of ingredients comes into play as well. If you find yourself over-seasoning to make up for low quality ingredients, find alternative recipes if you can’t afford those quality ingredients, especially when meat is the focal point of your dish.  

     Example: Shey.cooks’ jalapeno sauce. This recipe starts off great. By roasting the jalapenos, she is highlighting the original flavor of the vegetable. When she adds in the cilantro and garlic, she is keeping those strong flavors at a minimum. However, the mistake happens when she adds the dried seasonings. She adds far too much paprika, cumin and cayenne. Paprika and cayenne are both smokey and rich seasonings, which will unfortunately overpower this sauce.  

Stuffing for stuffing’s sake  

     Why is everything on social media in relation to food stuffed with some other food? Seriously? This was one of my bigger pet peeves when I was searching for recipes on social media. 

     From stuffing meat with vegetables, to stuffing confectionary with meat or my personal favorite: stuffing meat with other meat. The stuffing trend needs to STOP! Stuffing has its place in a lot of traditional recipes like turkey at Thanksgiving, stuffed chicken breasts or filled confectionary, but when it comes to stuffing food with more of that same food, we’ve crossed a line.  

      Example: cookistwow’s pancakes stuffed with ham and cheese. Wow. Unlike the last recipe where it started off well, this recipe started bad and ended even worse. From the overmixed pancake batter to the overload of ham and cheese, my arteries were calling out “LIFELINE!” before the video was even over. Please, just stop stuffing food with other food.  

Technique? Never heard of her  

     There are some real chefs on social media, and I praise them for sharing their craft, especially when faced with amateur cooks who lack technique that was meant to keep both the chef and consumer safe. Now, social media doesn’t have to exist for professional chefs, and amateur chefs have their place too because “anyone can cook.” But cooking correctly takes technique, which anyone can do too.  

     Techniques in cooking can include “mise en place” (everything in its place), knife skills (fingers tucked) and “keeping your station clear.” To have a quality meal, you need to have quality skills, and if you go against some of these traditions you could be putting yourself and your consumers at risk.  

     Example: daenskitchen’s fried chicken. The ingredients in this recipe are particularly well done, but the technique is where it is lacking.  

     First, when you are working with any type of meat, especially chicken, you must always be mindful of foodborne illness. In this video, the cook is cutting raw chicken on a wooden cutting board, which is highly dangerous because you can never completely clean a wooden cutting board.  

     Wooden boards are meant for cutting vegetables, bread or other non-hazardous ingredients. When you cut meat on a wooden cutting board the juices seep into the wood grain, contaminating it.  

     Second, in the scenes that follow she continues to cut other ingredients on the same cutting board that barely looks washed. When cutting ingredients, you need to continually wash your board so as keep your workspace fresh. Third, she measured dry ingredients with a liquid measuring cup. This is a big no-no for chefs and bakers alike; if you use a liquid measuring cup interchangeably, you are throwing your quantities off dramatically.   

Image from blog.ochsner.com. Graphic by Lexi Petri.