The term 'Al Dente' comes from Italian and means 'to the tooth' or 'to the bite', referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. While it is most commonly used to describe pasta, it can also be used to describe rice or tender-crisp vegetables.
'Al dente' should not be confused with undercooked, sticky pasta that is still visibly white (i.e. dry) in the middle.
Backyard grilling is sometimes used synonymously for 'barbecuing', though it is one method of barbecuing. Barbecuing actually encompasses three distinct types of cooking techniques. One type is charbroil-grilling over direct dry heat on a ribbed surface, usually a hot fire (i.e., over 500°F) for a short time (minutes). A similar technique is griddling over direct dry or moist heat (sometimes with the additions of oils and butter) on a flat surface over a hot fire, at the same pace as charbroiling. Grilling and griddling may be done over wood, charcoal, gas (natural gas or propane), or electricity. Another technique is braising, which combines direct dry heat charbroil-grilling on a ribbed surface with a broth-filled pot for moist heat, cooking at various speeds throughout the duration (starting fast, slowing down, then speeding up again, lasting for a few hours). The other technique is cooking by using indirect heat or low-level direct radiant heat at lower temperatures (usually around 240°F) and significantly longer cooking times (several hours), often with smoke.
Charbroil grilling is done on some kind of ribbed surface or grill over direct, dry heat. The heat source used can vary. The most common heat sources are:
- Natural gas or propane
This method of cooking is very quick and easy.
Cooking over wood is very flavourful. Different woods are used to control the burn rate and temperature. In general, hard woods are burn slower and slightly cooler, while soft woods burn faster and slightly hotter. Wood needs to be dried and appropriately aged before use as a fuel. Cooking over wood can be very expensive, so usually wood chips are combined with some type of charcoal, which is very inexpensive and more readily obtainable. Charcoal also burns far more predictably than wood.
There are generally two types of charcoal you can purchase: briquettes and lump charcoal.
Briquettes are inexpensive and have a controlled and very predictable. You can buy them in most grocery stores. They come in heavy paper bag and consist of pillow-shaped pieces that contain everything from sawdust to sodium nitrate ("Chile saltpeter") to cow manure.
Lump charcoal is also relatively inexpensive, and some varieties have a good, controlled burn rate. Many grocery stores are also starting to carry lump charcoal, which is usually comprised of pre-charred hardwood and contains nothing else. These usually impart a nice, smoky flavour to the food.
A bain-marie is a double-walled oven pot with water in between the walls. This construction limits the maximum temperature to the boiling point of water, which is 212°F (100°C). Two suitably sized oven-proof pots can function as a bain-marie, provided that the inner pot can be kept from touching the outer pot (except perhaps at the top edge) and can be kept stable enough.
Oven temperature should be 325°F to 350°F (165°C to 175°C). Start the bain-marie with boiling water, instead of waiting for it to get hot in the oven. To prevent baking, use a lid and ensure that the water goes well up the side of the inner pot.
A bain-marie can be used to cook custard, preventing the outside from crusting before the inside is fully cooked. A similar device is the double-boiler, which is for use on a normal cooktop.
Baking is cooking food in an oven with dry heat applied evenly throughout the oven. Breads, pastries, desserts, and meat are often baked.
The dry heat of baking causes the outside of the food to brown or char, giving it an attractive appearance and taste, as well as sealing in the food's moisture. The browning is caused by caramelization of sugars and is the result of the Maillard browning reaction. Moisture is never really entirely "sealed in", however; over time, an item being baked will become drier and drier. This is often an advantage, especially in situations where drying is the desired outcome, for example in drying herbs or in roasting certain types of vegetables.
To compensate for moisture loss, some items are basted on the surface with butter or oil to slow the loss of moisture through the skin. Some foods are replenished with moisture during baking by placing a small amount of liquid (such as water or broth) in the bottom of the pan, and letting it steam up into or around the food.
Baking is the primary cooking technique used to produce cakes and sweet desserts.
Barbecuing is cooking food with dry heat and hardwood smoke. Spices, a marinade, or sauce may be applied to the food as part of the process. Any heat source can be used, but grilling as a barbecue method is hotly debated in most of the US. In places like eastern N.C. and Texas, they believe grilling is not a barbecue method. Using hardwood will infuse foods with a rich smoky flavor. Different woods will effect the flavor and cooking time. What woods to use is completely up to you as long as its hardwood. Charcoal can provide more predictable cooking times, the smoke flavor, but without the unique flavors that wood offers. Gas and electricity can allow more temperature control than charcoal and wood, but like charcoal doesn't provide the rich flavor that wood offers. What method and heat source you use is completely up to you. Many people also argue about what meat to use. In eastern N.C., they consider only the whole hog to be barbecue, while in Texas they only consider beef to be barbecue (Sorry about the repeated references to N.C. and Texas.). However, for the common American, barbecue means pork.
Many commercial BBQ sauces are actually sugar-based, not tomato based. Therefore, I don't advise coating your food in commercial based sauce right before you cook it unless you want food burnt on the outside, but raw on the inside.
What is Basting?
Basting is a method where you use a liquid to moisten food, particularly meat, while you are cooking it. This liquid could be anything from pan dripping, to melted fat or any other liquid. Doing this keeps the meat or other food moist and can improve the color or flavor of the food which you are cooking.
How to Baste?
It is actually quite simple you can use which ever tool you may have in your kitchen ranging from a simple spoon to a baster. You then simply scoop up which ever liquid you are choosing to use and pour it over the top of the meat, etc., during the cooking process to ensure a great result with both color and flavour.
Batter is a term for a variety of coatings put on food before cooking, to give a crispy coating.
Most batters contain beaten eggs and flour, but there is an enormous variety of recipes and techniques. Japanese cuisine uses batter extensively in the form of tempura.
Simple egg batter
This is a Basque batter, useful to coat fillets of fish. It is easily scaleable - use one egg for each two fillets.
- Preheat a large frying pan and add cooking oil when it is hot
- Separate the egg and reserve the yolk
- Beat the egg white until it is almost forming soft peaks
- Beat the yolk lightly on its own, then fold it into the egg white
- Coat the fish fillets in flour (which can be seasoned) then dip them in the batter
- Fry the fillets in the oil, turning once, until the batter is browned.
Beating is vigorously mixing the ingredients, often with an electric mixer.
Some recipes and ingredients that often require beating are whipped cream, egg whites, and butter. Beating butter is sometimes referred to as creaming.
Blanching is a cooking technique involving boiling food in water for a very short time. Blanching is often followed by plunging the food into ice water to stop the cooking process. Though the word means to make something white or pale, blanching certain vegetables like broccoli will make their colors more vivid.
Blanching is commonly used to remove skins from tomatoes and almonds.
Vegetables are often blanched prior to freezing or canning. This helps preserve the food by slowing down or halting enzyme action that causes foods to break down, losing color, flavor, and nutritional value.
Blanching is similar to parboiling, which also involves boiling food briefly in water. Certain vegetables may benefit from being blanched or parboiled before being stir-fried. One quick way to blanch vegetables is to boil your fresh produce in water, with salt, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then immediately freezing said vegetables.
Boiling, as it applies to cooking, means cooking foods in boiling water. In most populated parts of the world, plain water boils at temperatures from about 200°F to 212°F (95°C to 100°C). This varies with the atmospheric pressure, which in turn varies with both altitude and weather. When the water is salted, the boiling temperature is slightly higher than for clean water.
When the atmospheric pressure on the surface of the water is lessened, boiling takes place at a lower temperature than that mentioned, and in extremely high altitudes the boiling point is so lowered that to cook certain foods by means of boiling water is difficult. As the water heats in the process of boiling, tiny bubbles appear on the bottom of the vessel in which it is contained and rise to the surface. Then, gradually, the bubbles increase in size until large ones form, rise rapidly, and break, thus producing constant agitation of the water.
Boiling has various effects on foods. It toughens the albumin in eggs, softens the fiber and dissolves the connective tissues in meat, softens the cellulose in cereals, vegetables, and fruits, and dissolves other substances in many foods. A good point to bear in mind in preparing foods by boiling is that slowly boiling water has the same temperature as rapidly boiling water and is therefore able to do exactly the same work. However, certain recipes may specify rapid boiling or slow boiling due to other conditions (such as not wanting to disintegrate soft food, or wanting to make use of the bubbles that appear in rapid boiling).
Turning the stove on high, keeping the gas burning full heat, or running the fire hard to keep the water boiling rapidly is therefore unnecessary; besides, it wastes fuel without doing the work any faster and sometimes not so well. However, there are several factors that influence the rapidity with which water may be brought to the boiling point; namely, the kind of utensil used, the amount of surface exposed, and the quantity of heat applied.
A cover placed on a saucepan or a kettle in which food is to be boiled retains the heat, and thus causes the temperature to rise more quickly; besides, a cover so used prevents a loss of water by condensing the steam as it rises against the cover. As water boils, some of it constantly passes off in the form of steam, and for this reason syrups or sauces become thicker the longer they are cooked.
The evaporation takes place all over the surface of the water; consequently, the greater the surface exposed, the more quickly is the quantity of water decreased during boiling. Another point to observe in the boiling process is that foods boiled rapidly in water have a tendency to lose their shape and are reduced to small pieces if allowed to boil long enough.
Many recipes for pork ribs call for parboiling them before cooking, but this method is not recommended, as water is a solvent and may wash away flavors.
Besides serving to cook foods, boiling also renders water safe, as it destroys any germs that may be present. This explains why water must sometimes be boiled to make it safe for drinking. Boiled water, as is known, loses its good taste. However, as this change is brought about by the loss of air during boiling, the flavor can be restored and air again introduced if the water is shaken in a partly filled jar or bottle, or beaten vigorously for a short time with an egg beater or whisk.
In the culinary language, to bone means to remove all bones from inside an item.
Braising (from the French "braiser") is cooking with "moist heat," typically in a covered pot with a small amount of liquid which results in a particular flavor.
Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat. It is an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as Coq au Vin are highly-evolved methods of cooking otherwise tough and unpalatable foods. Swissing, stewing and pot-roasting are all braising types.
Most braises follow the same basic steps. The meat or poultry is first browned in hot fat. Aromatic vegetables are sometimes then browned as well. A cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes or wine, is added to the pot, which is covered. The dish cooks in relatively low heat in an oven or atop the stove until the meat is fork-tender. Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.
A successful braise intermingles the flavors of the foods being cooked and the cooking liquid. Also, the dissolved collagens and gelatins from the meat enrich and add body to the liquid. Braising is economical, as it allows the use of tough and inexpensive cuts, and efficient, as it often employs a single pot to cook an entire meal.
Familiar braised dishes include Murshed, pot roast, beef stew, Swiss steak, chicken cacciatore, goulash, braised tilapia and beef bourguignon, among others. Braising is also used extensively in the cuisines of Asia, particularly Chinese cuisine. Vegetables can also be braised. Glazed carrots are an example of a quick-braise, one which is done for a short period of time.
Broiling or Grilling is the use of radiant heat for cooking, usually called grilling in British and Australian English and broiling in US English. Typically this is done in an electric oven, using only the upper heating element, with the door partially open. Gas ovens often provide a less-effective lower drawer for broiling.
Broiling is used to retain the juices of meat while developing flavor. Broiling does not soften the fibers of tough meat. It is best used for tender meat, including poultry. Broiling is not the most economical way of cooking, and the browning of meat can create carcinogenic (albeit tasty) chemicals.
The food should be exposed to intense heat last, to ensure even cooking and less juice escaping. How does that work? Well, heat damages surface proteins that keep the juice in. The higher the heat, the more damage. So, contrary to popular belief, searing before cooking through will NOT lock in the juices. The food that is being broiled should be turned often. Once the outside is browned, the heat may need to be reduced to ensure that the center will cook before the outside burns.
Browning is the process of imparting a brown colour to the surface of foodstuffs both for appearance and for flavouring before subjecting them to further processing. The foods most frequently subjected to browning are meats and vegetables but the technique can be applied to virtually any solid food.
Browning can be achieved by different means but the most frequently used methods are sautéing and searing. Grilling and roasting are also sometimes used for larger quantities of food when pan browning is impractical due to volume and time constraints. Also, large cuts of meat are often browned in the oven at a high temperature of 400ºF or more before lowering the temperature to complete cooking.
Some foods and dishes which may be subjected to browning include:
- Meats for soups and stews
- Minced (ground) meats used in sauces and ragoûts such as bolognese sauce
- Vegetables used in soups and stews e.g. French onion soup
The idea that candy making is difficult is prevalent but it is not true....
If instructions and recipes are followed, even a child can master the art of candy making, and not one recipe in the book is too difficult for the beginner to attempt. In dipping bon-bons and chocolates it will require a little practice to acquire speed and to make uniform designs, but one’ s success at the very beginning is always surprising. Not everyone will have the tools most practical for candy making, but by making your own candy, you'll quickly recover the cost of tools. Making fine candy is one of the most interesting parts of the culinary art, and when a woman once begins making candies she will buy but little, for the home product is usually much superior to the commercial candies. To make ten pounds of candy, for which one ordinarily pays from forty to fifty cents per pound, is not more than one hour’s work, and one is always certain of the cleanliness and wholesomeness of the product. Children have a natural craving for sugar, which should be satisfied to a normal degree, but all factory candies containing deleterious ingredients should be guarded against. Many children have been made sick by unwholesome candy. Candy should be placed on the table and eaten at the end of the meal; to allow children to indulge in it every hour of the day is not conducive to good digestion.
If on any occasion a failure should occur, remember that only the work is lost. The sugar can be re-boiled and converted into a delicious fudge.
Making candies will be a pleasure.
Canning is the preservation of food in airtight cans, generally under pressure and/or heat. It is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat. Canning prevents spoilage by halting microbial growth, eliminating oxygen (and related oxidation), and destroying enzymes. Proper canning procedures allow foods to be stored for long periods without refridgeration. However, canning is not perfect and some spoilage can occur, requiring care and attention. Clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism) is one organism which can survive the canning process upon occasion.
Two main types of home canning are commonly used today: hot water baths and pressure canners. Pressure canners must be used for low-acid foods (such as meat, fish, and some vegetables) while hot water baths can be used for acidic foods only. Foods can be naturally acidic, such as applesauce, or have added acids, like vinegar. Pint or quart glass jars are generally used with single use self-sealing lids.
In a hot water bath, filled jars are immersed in a canner full of hot water. The canner is brought to a boil, and the jars are boiled for the given period of time. During the process time, the vapors and expansion of the jar contents force the air out of the jars, creating a vacuum.
A similar process occurs in a pressure canner, except the increased pressure within the canner allows processing to occur at a higher temperature. The higher temperatures are more effective at killing microorganisms, allowing low acid foods to be preserved.
Cleanliness is a key component of successful canning. Using sterilized jars, well washed and trimmed produce, and clean equipment prevents introducing microbial contamination and unwanted detrius.
Caramelization is when a sugar, such as sucrose or starches, chemically splits and changes to a golden, amber, deep brown, or charred color. This term is often used interchangably with the Maillard reaction, but in reality, they are quite different. A well-known use is to create a sugar crust on Creme Brulees that creates a pleasing texture differential.
Clay pot cooking is a technique of cooking food in an unglazed clay pot (or Dolbier which is a French Clay Pot) which has been soaked in water so as to release steam during the cooking process. This technique has a long history, stretching back at least to ancient Roman times.
Typically, an unglazed clay pot is submerged for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb water before cooking, then filled with the food and placed into an oven. The walls of the pot help to diffuse the heat, and as the pot warms it releases the water as steam.
The food inside the clay pot loses none of its moisture because it is surrounded by steam, creating a tender, flavorful dish. The evaporation of the water prevents burning so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until it is completely dry. Because no oil needs to be added with this cooking technique, food cooked in a clay pot may be lower in fat compared with food prepared by other methods such as sautéing or frying. And unlike boiling, nutrients are not leached out into the water.
Because of the heat lost to the evaporation of water, clay pot cooking requires higher oven temperature and longer cooking times than traditional roasting with dry heat. Clay pots may be cleaned by scrubbing them with salt; soaps or detergents should not be used, because the clay may absorb them.
Chiffonade is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons.
To chiffonade, place a large stack of basil leaves in your fingertips, largest leaves at the bottom. Roll tightly and place down on a cutting board and cut thinly across, while keeping your knife tip in contact with the board at all times.
The term comes from the French language. It means "made of rags" referring to the fabric-like strips that result in this technique.
Deep frying involves fully immersing food in hot oil. It is an extremely fast cooking method, and, despite the use of liquid oil, is best classified as a dry cooking method.
With a deep fryer, deep frying is reasonably safe, but hot cooking oil is intrinsically dangerous, and one should be very careful so as to avoid fires and severe burns.
Deep frying does not actually make the food greasy if it is done properly. What happens is the water in the food repels the oil. However, the hot oil also boils the water within the food, and steams the food from the inside out. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, no oil will enter the food itself. If the food stays in the oil too long, the water will steam out and the oil will penetrate the food. If the oil is too cool, the food won't be done before this happens.
Most fried recipes rely on either a coating of batter or breading, or on foods that have or produce a natural skin around the food such as potatoes or whole poultry with the skin on. The effect of this is that the outside of the food becomes crispy and browned while the inside is tender, moist, and steamed, similar to searing.
Deglazing is a cooking technique whereby a liquid is added ot a pan in which something, usually meat, has been cooked to dissolve the solid particles of food which have adhered to the bottom. It is a basic step in the preparation of many sauces and may be accomplished with water, stock, an alcoholic beverage or cream, according to the desired result.
Degorging is a the process of drawing out a vegetables moisture before cooking. It is a method often used to remove bitterness (due to a buildup of toxins) from an item. To degorge vegetables, cut the vegetable into skinned slices or cubes, then soak in heavily salted water, or sprinkle salt directly onto the vegetable and allow it to 'sweat'. Make sure to rinse the vegetable well before cooking. Degorging vegetables can reduce oil absorption of the vegetable, which may affect the fat content of sauces.
Degorging can also refer to removing an ice plug of yeast from a bottle of alcohol, especially champagne.
To dice means to cut into small cubes, the size is often specified in the recipe and in classical French cooking are of four sizes:
- Brunoise – ⅛ x ⅛ x ⅛ inch (3x3x3 mm) cubes
- Small dice – ¼ x ¼ x ¼ inch (6x6x6 mm) cubes
- Medium dice – ⅜ x ⅜ x ⅜ inch (9x9x9 mm) cubes
- Large dice – ⅝ x ⅝ x ⅝ inch (1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cm) cubes
- Paysanne – This is not a cube but falls within the same category as dice. The dimensions are ½ x ½ x ¼ inches (12 x 12 x 6 mm)
Fermentation is the process of controlling bacteria, yeast, and moulds to modify food, producing a desired product.
Fermentation can improve food so that it:
- tastes different, bringing new, often strong flavours to the source foods
- is easier to digest
- is more nutritious
- lasts longer
How to Ferment a Food
As with any food preparation, there are certain aspects of the fermentation process that can change the quality and acceptability of the end product. Here are some of the important ones that are generally applicable; check individual recipes for special tips and variations.
Selecting good quality ingredients is important when fermenting food. It doesn't generally matter if the ingredients aren't picture perfect – cider vinegar won't look or taste any different for using ugly apples – but avoid using old, rotting, or very dirty food. Remember that a fermentation is where yeast and bacteria are given a chance to multiply, so give your ferment a fighting chance and stick to good quality ingredients.
Many ferments use salt. Salt helps by inhibiting undesirable bacteria and moulds, and by drawing juices out of foods. It is best to use a salt that has no free-flow agents or iodine added to it, as these can inhibit the fermentation a little. Iodine is an effective antibacterial agent, and even in the very small amounts used in iodised salt, it can affect the bacteria that ferment the food. Salt suitable for fermenting is often called "pickling salt" or "Kosher salt".
When adding water to a fermentation, avoid chlorinated water if possible. Chlorine is added to municipal water supplies to prevent the build-up of bacteria and other water-borne microorganisms, and as such can inhibit a fermentation.
Tap water can be made chlorine-free in most areas simply by boiling it and letting it cool again, or even just by leaving it in an uncovered pot overnight. This doesn't work in areas where the water is chlorinated by adding chloramine to the water, a practice done specifically to keep the chlorine in the water. Many modern water filters will remove both chlorine and chloramine, however.
All fermentations are temperature sensitive. Some prefer it cooler, some hotter. Many are best served by warmer temperature at the start of fermentation, and cooler temperatures once fermenting has peaked. Temperature affects which microorganisms grow fastest, and can affect the flavour of the food, or even whether it will succeed or fail.
Here are some common ferments, and typical fermenting temperatures.
|diacetyl rest 18-22°C,
As can be seen, it is useful to be able to control the temperature of a fermentation. Some common ways to control the temperature are:
- sit the fermenting food in a picnic cooler or esky
- sit the container of fermenting food in a basin or tub of water at the desired temperature (because water has greater thermal mass than air, and changes temperature more slowly)
- put the fermenting food into an electric oven, and use the oven light to keep it warm (because oven lights are usually incandescent bulbs, which produce more heat than light)
- make a specialised incubator for fermenting – e.g an old picnic cooler with a heat source and a thermostat, or a refrigerator with a variable thermostat and heat source
- buy a specialised incubator for fermenting – e.g. a yoghurt maker, or an oven with a 45°C yoghurt mode (as sold in Turkey!)
Folding is a way of gently mixing ingredients, used to incorporate ingredients into a batter or other mixture. Use a wooden spoon or broad spatula and mix the ingredients a spoonful at a time. The technique is often used when one of the ingredients (e.g., egg white or cream) has been whipped, and strenuous mixing would risk driving out the air that has been incorporated. Similarly, if a delicate ingredient, such as cooked fish, is to be mixed, folding will prevent the pieces being broken up.
Freezing is the process of subjecting foods to temperatures below 0°C or 32°F. Foods are generally frozen to create the final form (see Vanilla Ice Cream), to preserve for later use, or to freeze-dry a food. Depending on its molecular content, i.e. whether the item has a high concentration of salt, sugar, or alcohol, a food may not become solid at the freezing point of water. Home freezers should be kept at or below 0°F to compensate for the differing freezing points of various foods as well as temperature fluctuations that occur through use of the freezer.
Freezing for later use
To preserve a food by freezing, it should be well wrapped or stored in a freezer-safe container to prevent freezer burn. Generally, vegetables should be or cooked before being frozen. Some fruits, meat and poultry can be frozen without being cooked beforehand. Other fruits, like apples or pears, benefit from being cooked before being frozen. Certain foods, such as potatoes and tofu, have dramatically altered textures after being frozen. The longer a food is to be stored, the more careful the cook needs to be in selecting and properly using the correct packaging. Vacuum bags are one option for the home cook who intends to store food for more than three months.
Storing dry foods inclined to become rancid, such as rarely used nuts, or whole-grain flour, in the freezer is recommended by some cooking authorities. Ingredients should be brought to room temperature, in their sealed packing, before using to prevent condensation from affecting the food's dryness.
Freezing for form
Freezing changes the food's texture into a solid mass, as can be seen when water turns into ice. Incorporating air into the mixture to be frozen can help create a lighter mass, as when cream is whipped before being used to create a frozen mousse.
Freeze-drying is used in commercial facilities. The food is brought to a temperature below the point at which the solid (frozen) and liquid states can occur, allowing moisture to sublime off into the atmosphere. Freeze-dried foods are shelf-stabe at room temperature, and may retain better flavors and textures than conventionally dried foods.
Frying is the cooking of food in fat. This takes several forms, from deep-frying, where the food is completely immersed in hot oil, to sauteing where food is cooked in a frying pan where there is only a thin coating of oil. Frying is the fastest way to cook, as it is the most efficient way to transfer heat into the food. Despite using liquid oil, frying is considered to be a dry cooking method as water is not used in the cooking process and ideally the cooking oil will not be absorbed by the food, thus no moisture is added by cooking.
From the method using the most oil to the least, the types of frying are:
- Deep frying
- Pan frying
Grilling is an ambiguous term that can mean:
- Double-sided Frying
This would be done in a sandwich cooking device, similar to a waffle iron but preferably without the square bumps. The George Foreman Grill works fairly well. The procedure is sometimes also known as toasting, as in the toasted cheese sandwich.
Broiling (British English usage)
Most British and European ovens are fitted with radiant grills: an overhead gas or electric radiant heating element cooks the food below, which lies on a "grill" or rack (the grill usually rests in a tray that catches drips from the food). The same term is also used to describe the cooking technique where food lying on a rack is cooked by radiant heat from below, as in a barbecue.
If no radiant grill is fitted, this is best done in an electric oven, with the door partly open and only the top heating element in use. Gas ovens often provide a less-effective lower drawer for this purpose.
The same can be achieved outdoors by vertical grilling, using either stacks of charcoals or fires with high flames fed by standing pieces of thin and long burning-wood. The food will then be placed to receive infrared radiation from the side.
This cooking method uses fire. It is usually done outdoors on barbecue grills over wood, charcoal, or propane fires. In some areas, the term barbecuing is reserved for a slow low-heat cooking process that operates at about 220°F (105°C) and the term grilling is used for a fast high-heat cooking process. In other areas, all barbecuing is considered grilling and all grilling over a fire is considered barbecuing. Barbecuing is traditionally done with hardwoods or fruitwoods, such as hickory, maple, mesquite, and applewood, which gives a nice smoke flavor to the food.
The meats, fish or vegetables may be prepared by marinating or by applying a combination of spices known as a dry rub. Marinated meats can also be ‘mopped’ with the marinade while cooking. A barbecue sauce may be added before, during, or after cooking.
Barbecue also can mean a device for cooking such food, a social event at which such food is served, or any food served with barbecue sauce.
Kneading is a process in which a quantity of dry product is added to wet product, mixing thoroughly and repeat until required thickness and hardness is achieved.
Cutting is one of the most basic kitchen preparation skills. By far the most common utensil for this is a chef's knife, although a paring knife and others are also used. With practice, cutting food can be safe, fun, and easy, and is a skill that is well worth developing for anyone who prepares food.
Knives should always be kept sharp – cuts occur more frequently with dull knives because they have a tendency to slip off the food being cut, rather than biting in. Use a honing steel to straighten the edge before each cutting session, and sharpen the blade by grinding a new edge when necessary, typically every few months or years, depending on use.
Knives should be stored separately from other utensils, either in a knife block, a knife tray, or with a knife guard.
- Never leave knives in a sink full of soapy water.
- Never try to catch a falling knife.
- Never try to clean the circular blade of a mechanical slicer while the machine is still assembled.
- Always ensure that mechanical slicers and other electrical cutting equipment are disconnected from the power supply before disassembling them for cleaning.
Microwaving is cooking food in a microwave oven. It is often quicker and more convenient than equivalent methods such as boiling or baking. Many vegetables, for example, can be microwaved instead of boiled or steamed.
As with other cooking instruments some care must be taken and food should be checked regularly if it is microwaved for a long period. Aluminium foil and other metal items should never be put in a microwave. Always use a container labelled "microwave safe" to avoid toxins in foods.
Items are often extremely hot after being microwaved, so take care when removing them.
Mincing is a technique for rendering food into very small pieces. Mincing is used to make:
- Minced meat (also just mince, ground beef, etc.)
- Fruit mince
- minced garlic
Mincing can be achieved using the following tools:
- Meat grinder or mincer
- food processor
- knife and chopping board
The mixing of ingredients is an important step in cooking. The techniques used in combining ingredients greatly influences the quality of the final product. Now here in cooking is this more evident than in baking but it is equally important in such procedures as sauce making where emulsification, the incorporation of hot liquid and starch, the mounting of a sauce with butter, etc. are special skills which must be mastered by every cook. In baking such procedures as the folding of egg whites or whipped cream into cake batter, mousses and moulds is another special skill. The mixing of batters in general is a science in itself and so on.
Outdoor cooking takes many forms; from basic cooking over a simple camp-fire to gourmet meals prepared on equipment that rivals that found in modern kitchens. Wood, charcoal, propane gas or piped in natural gas may fuel the cooking devices. This is clearly a type of cooking with many variations.
- Camp Cooking
- Backyard Smoking
- Backyard Grilling
- Backyard Deep-Fry
- Outdoor Cooking - Misc (Boiled Clams, Crabs, etc.)
General Rules for Outdoor Food Safety
- Plan ahead: decide what you are going to eat and how you are going to cook it; then plan what equipment you will need.
- Pack safely: use a cooler if car-camping or boating, or pack foods in the frozen state with a cold source if hiking or backpacking. Keep raw foods separate from other foods. Never bring meat or poultry products without a cold source to keep them safe.
- Bring disposable wipes or biodegradable soap for hand- and dishwashing.
- Plan on carrying bottled water for drinking. Otherwise, boil water or use water purification tablets.
- Do not leave trash in the wild or throw it off your boat.
- If using a cooler, leftover food is safe only if the cooler still has ice in it. Otherwise, discard leftover food.
- Whether in the wild or on the high seas, protect yourself and your family by washing your hands before and after handling food.
Pan frying is frying in a pan. Typically it implies that a frying pan is used with an amount of oil. Pan frying would be used for something like thin white fish or trout. It's also used for browning chicken, Quorn meat, and tofu.
When pan frying, the amount of oil in the frying pan is adjusted to come part way up the side of the food being fried. Generally, the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the food will be in the oil. The amount of oil is between that used in deep frying, where the food in completely immersed in oil, and sautéing, where only the bottom surface of the food is in contact with the oil.
Pan broiling is when an item, usually meats, is placed in a dry pan and cooked over high heat. Meats that are good for pan broiling include beef, pork, and fish.
How to Pan Broil Meat
1. Select a tender cut of beef such as fillet mignon or top sirloin steak.
2. Select a steak that is not too thick so the meat will cook evenly.
3. Preheat the pan until it is very hot.
4. Do not add fat to the pan.
5. Add the steak to the hot pan and quickly brown it on both sides.
6. Reduce heat and cook until the steak is done the way you like it.
7. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
8. Serve with a baked potato or french fries.
9. Bearnaise sauce is a nice accompaniment, if calories are not an issue.
Parboiling is the act of partly cooking an ingredient by boiling for less than the full time needed to cook it. For example, potatoes and other vegetables may be parboiled before being roasted (as in roast potatoes), or green beans may be parboiled (and immediately chilled in cold water) as a preparation for freezing.
This technique is also used as a method to quickly cook pork ribs before grilling, although I would never, ever, in my life, do this. You get pork broth if you boil ribs!
Pickling is the preservation of food in acid. It is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, herbs, meat, and even hard-boiled eggs.
Pickling brine is a moderately strong acid which inhibits the growth of microbes; a high content of salt and/or sugar often enhances this effect. Some foods have a high water content, in which case methods must be used to ensure that the brine is strong enough to function properly.
Some of the more popular pickled foods include pickles (cucumbers), sauerkraut (cabbage), and green olives (olives).
These three examples cover the range of methods used to produce acidic pickling brine. In the case of cucumbers, vinegar (acetic acid) is usually added to provide all or most of the necessary acidity. Sauerkraut relies on a fermentation process to produce lactic acid, so that careful control of temperature and salt content are crucial to the recipe. Fresh olives are naturally quite acidic, and so acid must be removed before they become palatable; depending upon the process used, several batches of brine might draw acid from the fruit and be thrown away before the final batch is added for storage.
It is widely believed that sushi has its origins in a method of pickling. Its defining ingredient is rice flavored with a brine of vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Poaching is a method of cooking that employs a liquid, usually a small amount, that is hot but not actually bubbling. The French term is frisonne – shivering. The ideal temperature is between 160F and 180F (75-80C). The cooking liquid is often water, but broth, stock, milk or juice can also be used.
Delicate foods such as fish, eggs out of the shell, or fruits are commonly cooked by poaching. The cooking method is also used to partially cook certain foods such as sweetbread in order to eliminate undesirable flavors and to firm the product before final cooking.
It should be noted that the term is occasionally used to describe foods that have been boiled or simmered.
Tips for poaching
- Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the cooking liquid or watch for bubbling and adjust the heat as necessary.
- Do not allow the food being cooked to touch the bottom of the pan or it may cook too rapidly or burn.
- When poaching eggs, add a splash of vinegar to the water. This will help quickly firm the egg white so multiple eggs can be cooked at once without all sticking together.
Pressure cooking is a method of cooking in which the boiling temperature of water is increased using a special vessel, causing the food to cook faster. Cooking times can be reduced by a factor of three or four. For example, shredded cabbage is cooked in one minute, fresh green beans take about five, small to medium-sized potatoes (up to 200 g) may be ready in five minutes or so and a whole chicken takes no more than twenty-five minutes. It is often used to simulate the effects of long braising or simmering in shorter periods of time.
This is accomplished using a pressure cooker, a sealed vessel that does not permit steam to escape until a preset pressure is achieved. Because water's boiling point increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a temperature higher than 100 °C (212 °F) before boiling. A safety valve releases steam when the pressure exceeds the safety limit for the cooker; usually the steam pressure lifts a weighted stopper allowing excess pressure to escape. There is usually a backup pressure release mechanism, in the form of a hole in the lid blocked by a plug of low melting-point alloy, a rubber seal and pin, or a rubber ring seal. If internal temperature (and hence pressure) gets too high, the release mechanism will trigger, resulting in a release of the pressure. However, it is best not to rely on this feature.
A pressure cooker can be used at high altitude to compensate for lower atmospheric pressure. Without it, water boils off before reaching 100 °C, lengthening the cooking time for recipes.
In some countries, the microwave has replaced the pressure cooker as a technical fix for faster cooking.
Purée - where vegetables, fruit, or legumes are turned into a soft paste or thick liquid by one of the following tools:
- Mortar and Pestle
- Potato Masher
- Potato Ricer
Roasting is high-heat baking with very little moisture. Roasted foods get drier and browned on the outside by initially exposing it to a high temperature. This keeps most of the moisture from being cooked out of the food. Temperature is then lowered to cook the meat through. The flavors of both meats and vegetables are retained and enhanced by roasting. A typical roasting temperature is 425-450 °F, with an initial temperature of over 500 °F for a period of 15 to 20 minutes.
You can either roast in an oven or over an open fire. Spit-roasting is a variation where the meat is impaled on a spit and rotated as it roasts.
Roasting nuts gives them a fuller flavour, and is a particularly good way to prepare nuts as a garnish.
Nuts can be roasted (or toasted) by placing them evenly on a sheet pan and roasting in a 350 degree F oven for five to ten minutes.
Small nuts, such as pine nuts or chopped hazelnuts, can be toasted in a dry frying pan over a fairly high heat. Keep the nuts moving, with a spatula, to keep them from burning. (You can also do this with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.)
A rolling boil (also roiling boil) is when a liquid is boiled rapidly with lots of bubbling. This requires much more energy than simmering, and is often discouraged because it can break up or alter the shape of ingredients, whereas simmering will keep the ingredients whole.
Some recipes require a rolling boil for the entire cooking period. Typically, however, recipes will specify that the liquid is brought to a rolling boil, then reduced to a simmer for the remainder of the cooking period.
Salting is a method of preserving food, that was more common before modern refridgeration. Salting preseves food by drawing water out of the food, preventing bacteria growing and spoiling the food.
There are two methods of salting food:
The food is surrounded in salt and left in a cool dry place. As water will be drawn out into the salt it may be necessary to pour the liquid the accumulates out.
A brine is prepared by dissolving salt in water, the food is then placed in the brine and left in a cool dry place. It is possible to introduce new flavours to the food by adding spices to the brine, for example juniper berries of peppercorns.
Depending on how much salt is used the food could last for a few months to a few years, and the cooking techniques adds flavor as well, though some do not like the taste of salted foods. Salted food is very salty and may need to be reconstituted, to reintroduce water and remove some of the salt.
Sautéing is browning food first on one side and then on the other in a small quantity of fat or oil. When sautéing, which is a type of frying, the fat is placed in a shallow pan, and when it is sufficiently hot, the food is put into it. When cooking, the fat should not come up the sides of the food being cooked, the food basically cooking on a thin layer of fat. Foods that are to be sautéed are usually sliced thin or cut into small pieces, and they are turned frequently during the process of cooking. Sauté is French for "jumping", used to describe the action of the food in the pan as it is tossed around to prevent burning.
Foods prepared in this way can be difficult to digest, because they become more or less hard and can become soaked with fat if too much is used. Chops and thin cuts of meat, which are intended to be pan-broiled, are really sautéed if they are allowed to cook in the fat that renders out of them.
The term pan-frying is the English equivalent of sautéing (which is a French word). Some people consider it a different technique, which uses more fat and takes longer. Stir-frying uses higher temperatures and continual stirring.
Tips for Proper Technique
While different ingredients will call for variations in this technique, there are some general guidelines to help ensure an ideal outcome.
Mise en place
The first rule is be prepared. If your recipe calls for chopped ingredients in step 12, make sure you have them now. While experienced cooks will successfully chop the next ingredient while the rest are cooking, this is not a path to follow for the inexperienced. For one thing, chopping times for the experienced cook are generally much shorter, so the cooking food doesn't have a chance to burn. For another, the experienced cook can quickly assess whether food is done. A less experienced cook should be much more attentive to the pan to become more familiar with the stages of doneness.
Heat the pan
Feel free to put a cold pan onto a cold burner before turning it on, but do not put cold oil into a cold pan and then try to heat. The reason is subtle: heat will eventually break down the chemical bonds of the oil and it will lose its lubricating properties. If that happens, your ingredients will stick to the hot surface and one side will blacken and burn, and the other side will remain raw or underdone.
The pan is hot enough if a few small drops of water flicked from your fingertips vaporise immediately, or if a larger drop of water hisses and floats across the surface of the pan on a cushion of its own steam. Do NOT add oil to the pan if there is hot water still there, as it may spatter vigorously. Clouds of oil droplets can be lit by open flame, and a fireball is never necessary for this particular cooking technique!
Heat the oil
Only after the dry pan is hot should you add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. The oil should begin to ripple, and spread quite quickly over the pan. If your pan was hot enough, this process should only take a few seconds. If your pan was too hot or if you wait too long, the oil will start to smoke, then turn brown, then burst into flame. Along the way you will have ruined a perfectly good pan, and possibly burned down your house.
Add the food
After your food item has been added, do not crowd the pan. If necessary, you should cook food in batches, removing each batch and reheating the pan and adding more oil as required. Also, unless the recipe specifically calls for it, do not cover the pan while cooking. Trapped steam from the cooking side of the food will soften the top side. Ideally sautéed item have a crispy outside, although this depends heavily on the food item (sautéed steak: crispy; sautéed carrots: not crispy)
Stir the food
Stir the food, don't shake the pan. Some cooks like the ostentatious technique of lifting the pan off the range and shaking it in the air, sometimes using the rounded edge of the sauté pan to flip the food over. Practice this to impress your uneducated friends (outside, with a cold pan, using dried split peas) but you should expect that the cooking time of your dish will be extended if you continually remove the pan from the heat source. Also, if the temperature drops too much, the oil will begin to soak into your food, and your dish will become greasy. If you feel the need to shake the pan, keep the pan close to your heating element if it is safe to do so.
The amount of attention required will depend on the recipe. For some recipes, constant stirring is required. Other times, especially when sautéing single cuts of meat, it is best to cook one side, then the other side, with no stirring or movement of the food item in the pan at all. In that case, plan to put the "skin" side or presentation side (the side facing up on the plate when served) down into the clean hot oil first.
Use the fond
When sautéing cuts of meat, many recipes will call for you to deglaze the pan with a flavorful liquid (e.g. stock, wine, spirits, or even fruit juices). The dark brown bits of meat left behind from the high heat cooking are called "fond" and are as intensely flavoured as pan drippings from roasted meats. These should generally be scraped off the bottom of the pan and dissolved into the deglazing liquid. In especially elegant preparations, the pan sauce created is strained to remove the solid bits, leaving only the dissolved flavourings in a smooth sauce.
When using garlic and onion
When sautéing with both onions and garlic, be sure to sauté the onions first until they are clear, then add the garlic, and continue to sauté until it is pale gold. The onion takes longer to cook, thus if both are added at the same time, the garlic will be browned by the time the onion is done, which results in an undesirable dominant pungency. Garlic will add its flavour much more harmoniously when only sautéed to a pale gold.
Recipes that call for sautéing
- Arroz con Pollo
- Baked Lamb and Yogurt
- Black-Eyed Peas and Kale
- Bulgher Burger
- Coq au Vin
- Eggplant and Chickpea Skillet
- Fiddlehead-Portobello Linguine
- Low Country Shrimp and Grits
- Paprika Chicken
- otato-Chickpea Curry
- Vegetable Pie
- Egg Rice
Scalding is a technique used in many recipes containing milk.
To scald milk, you use a heavy bottomed pan or double boiler and bring the temperature of the milk to 85-100°C (185-212°F). At sea level, the milk should just start showing small bubbles and releasing steam at the lower end of this temperature range.
Care must be taken to not allow the pan to heat too quickly, or the solids in the milk will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn or scorch. Scorched milk has a very distinctive and unpleasant taste, and it can ruin the whole pot of milk. Frequent stirring and scraping of the pan bottom will help keep the solids in suspension.
A lid will help keep a "skin," caused by surface evaporation off the surface, from forming.
The purposes of scalding in any given recipe can be many, as several chemical and biological changes happen during the process.
Many pathogens are killed at these temperatures and natural enzymes are neutralized. Pasteurization often achieves the same effect, but can take place at lower temperatures (about 63°C (145°F)) so one must be sure that scalding is not required for other reasons before assuming that the step can be skipped.
Some milk proteins unfold at scalding temperatures. In yogurt making, this allows for a tighter matrix to form as the proteins refold in the acidic environment, resulting in less whey separation and a firmer end product. This unfolding of protein also seems to help in bread making, resulting in a finer crumb and better rise.
The higher temperature could also be utilized as an essential element of cooking, e.g. helping sugar dissolve or cooking eggs in custards,and to better incorporate flavors. Basically, all the ingredients's different flavors (whether complimentary and/or contrasting) will "come together" better at a hotter temperature. No person wishing to brew tea, to use an analogy, would insert a tea bag in a cup of cold water for the purpose.
Separating eggs is a process used in cooking, in which one removes the egg yolk from the egg white in order to use them separately which is required in many recipes such as meringues, sponge-cakes, mousses, mousselines and mayonnaise, among many others.
Many recipes require frothing egg whites to make a foam, which will not work if the yolk is also included, as fat prevents eggs from foaming. Since egg yolks are high in fat, it is best to separate them before whisking. However, some recipes, such as genoise and zabaglione do include the yolk in the whisking procedure, but it is not possible to incorporate as much air and therefore to achieve as much volume.
All methods for separating eggs make use of the fact that the yolk can hold itself together while the white is much more runny. Since older eggs have more watery yolks which make separation difficult, it is a good idea to begin with the freshest eggs available. Old eggs can be used for other dishes that do not require separation, like omelettes.
An egg is fresh if it lies flat at the bottom of a glass of water. It is old if it floats.
It is easier to separate eggs immediately after removing them from the refrigerator. If the recipe calls for room temperature eggs, which allows for more volume, separate them immediately and then let them sit at room temperature for about thirty minutes.
- Break the egg and use your fingers to strain out the yolk, while the whites run into the bowl below. This is very quick but messy.
- Crack the egg in half and cradle the yolk in one half of the shell (using the other half of the shell to keep it from slipping out) while draining the white into a bowl. If some white is left with the yolk, carefully pass the yolk back and forth between halves until it is all drained, being sure not to break the yolk on the sharp edges of the shell. Then deposit the yolk into another bowl.
- Break the egg on to a plate, and trap the yolk under a glass. Carefully, drain off the whites, lifting the glass slightly.
- Use a needle to pierce the egg and run the whites out, leaving the yolk inside.
- Break the egg into a funnel, thus capturing the yolk.
Specialized tools are also available for this process. eg: Egg Separator
Simmering, or stewing, is a modification of boiling. By this method, food is cooked in liquid at a temperature below the boiling point, or anywhere from 185 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (85-95 Celsius). Water at the simmering point always moves gently--never rapidly as it does in boiling. Less heat and consequently less fuel are required to cook foods in this way, unless, of course, the time consumed in cooking the food at a low temperature is much greater than that consumed in cooking it more rapidly.
Aside from permitting economy in the use of fuel, simmering, or stewing, cooks deliciously certain foods that could not be selected for the more rapid methods. For example, tough cuts of meat and old fowl can be made tender and tasty by long cooking at a low temperature, for this method tends to soften the fiber and to develop an excellent flavor. Tough vegetables, too, can be cooked tender by the simmering process without using so much fuel as would be used if they were boiled, for whatever method is used they require long cooking. Beets, turnips, and other winter vegetables should be stewed rather than boiled, as it is somewhat difficult to cook them tender, especially in the late winter and early spring. If dry beans and peas are brought to the simmering point and then allowed to cook, they can be prepared for the table in practically the same length of time and without so much fuel as if they boiled continuously.
Slicing is the cutting of food into thin, relatively broad slices. Slices may be used as they are or processed further to produce other speciality cuts such as chiffonade, rondelles, diagonals, oblique or roll cuts, and lozenges. Slicing may be accomplished by hand or machine. Mechanized slicers include rotary slicers and food processors with a slicing attachment. A mandoline greatly increases both the speed and uniformity of slices produced and are available for both professional and home use.
The tip of the knife rests on the cutting board while the food item is held with the other hand. The knife is rocked up and down. On the downward movement, the blade moves down and forward to slice through the item, keeping the tip on the cutting board. If the item is too large to rest the tip on the work surface, the same motion is used but the tip points toward the cutting board while one pushes the knife down and forward through the food in one movement. Do not saw backwards and forwards.
Gripping the item with one's fingers curled under as described, use the wrist as a fulcrum and the second joint of one's index finger as a guide. With the heel of the knife on the cutting board, the tip is lifted and one slices by drawing the knife slightly back toward you and down through the item, using the knuckle of the index finger to adjust the thickness of each cut. The motion of the knife should be almost entirely from the wrist, not from the elbow.
Knives should always be kept sharp and stored separately from other utensils. Cuts occur more frequently with dull knives because they have a tendency to slip off the food being cut. Never leave knives in a sink full of soapy water. Never try to catch a falling knife. Never try to clean the circular blade of a mechanical slicer while the machine is still assembled. Always ensure that mechanical slicers and other electrical cutting equipment are disconnected from the power supply before disassembling them for cleaning. When using a mandoline, use the food holder which is supplied with it. If it didn't have one when you bought it, it is quite likely being illegally sold in your jurisdiction which probably requires that they be sold with a holder included.
When slicing food by hand, always grip the handle of the knife firmly. A loose grip can lead to accidents. The food item is held firmly with the other hand, the fingers curled under, so that the side of the blade is against the knuckles. The curling under of the hand holding the food is extremely important and a safety requirement that must never be disregarded even when the knife is nowhere near one's fingers, so as to make it a habit that becomes automatic. Many accidents, and indeed the loss of digits, could have been avoided if this technique were always followed. Regrettably, even professionals sometimes disregard their own rules. Resist the temptation to do so.
Smoking is a slow form of cooking that can pack in more flavour than probably any other form. It involves soaking the ingredient, whether it be fish, meat or vegetables, in the smoke of an aromatic wood.
An optional method of smoking food is through the cooking of the food in a covered grill. In a sense, all grilled or barbequed food have some aspect of smoking involved, usually through drippings on hot fire causing smoke, or by the fire smoke itself.
Ingredients and Materials
- Smoker or smoker grill
- wood, charcoal or other fuel for fire
- Smoking woods, leaves or herbs. Each has different attributes and favors. Some complement the meats more than others.
- Alder - light smoke, good with fish
- Bay leaves - spicy herbal smoke, good for meats, vegatables, and general purpose
- Apple-somewhat sweet. Good with ham, beef or poultry
- Cedar Plank - used with fish.
- Cherry - sweet smoke, good with poultry or fowl
- Grape - unique sweet smoke, good with poultry or fowl
- Hickory- traditional favorite. Sharper flavor
- Maple - Mild smoke, good with pork, bacon and ham
- Mesquite - southwest flavor, somewhat sweet. Burns hot and fast when moisture is depleted so replenish frequently.
- Oak - medium smoke, good with meats
- Peach - somewhat sweet, good with poultry or fowl
- Pecan - rich smoke, burns slowly
- Seaweed - Sharp unique flavor - unique flavor for seafood
- Wine barrel chips-combination of fruity wine and oak smokes, good with meats and poultry
- Herbal smoke - Bay leaves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea
- ruit smoke - Lemon Peel, Orange Peel
Building a Smoker
Building a smoker is not a complicated process, but may take a bit of time and effort. An old style barbecue (the round ones you put coals in the bottom of) is easily modified into a "grade A" smoker. Just get the barbecue, find a thick piece of metal tubing (about 10-15 cm diameter) and cut a hole to fit it into the bottom of the barbecue. Another smaller metal drum is now needed; similar to an oil drum. Attach the other end of the pipe to the lid. The pipe needs to be long enough so that the meat doesn't actually cook while being smoked, just picks up flavour. Put a light bulb at the bottom.
A metal mesh goes above the globe and this is where you place your leaves, wood and/or wood chips.
Cooking by Smoking
To cook, just pick the leaves and wood chips from an aromatic tree (Bay leaves are good) and put it on the metal mesh. Put the meat in the smoker like you would if you were barbequing it. Turn on the light and wait 6 hours. After this you can refrigerate it and cook it on a grill later.
Smoking food is time-consuming, and can be expensive and a bit tricky, but the results can be superb.
Cooking foods by smoking
In this method, the foods are cooked slowly with a smokey fire. This usually involves an indirect cooking method, where the food is covered with the smoke and heat, but not directly over hot coals. The smoke is provided through water soaked wood chips or aromatic leaves placed on the fire or coals. It is a slower cooking method taking an hour or longer, depending on the food being smoked.
Warning: If you can't cure it, do not cold smoke it. While cold smoking food is quite a simple process, there are issues of safety. All smoked products must be cured. The reason for this is the threat of botulism. The bacterium responsible, Clostridium botulinum, is ubiquitous in the environment, grows in the anaerobic conditions created in the smoker, and thrives in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 140°F (60°C) temperature range. For this reason, anything you cold smoke Should be cured.
Sous-vide is a method done by French chefs by placing the food in a vaccum pouch, usually with butter or sauce added, then sealed and dropped into water around 170°. Do this right and you will be rewarded with delicious food. Do this wrong and you die horribly of botulism or something else. As you can see, this method isn't recommended for home use.
Steaming is the cooking of food by the application of steam. In this cooking process, the food is put into a steamer, which is a cooking utensil that consists of a vessel with a perforated bottom placed over one containing water. As the water boils, steam rises and cooks the food in the upper, or perforated, vessel. Steamers are sometimes arranged with a number of perforated vessels, one on top of the other. Such a steamer permits of the cooking of several foods at the same time without the need of additional fuel, because a different food may be placed in each vessel.
Steaming is preferable to boiling in some cases, because there is no loss of mineral salts nor food substances. The flavour is not so likely to be lost as when food is boiled. Some delicate fish is best cooked by steaming as it does not break up as it might in boiling water. Vegetables prepared in this way prove very palatable, and very often variety is added to the diet by steaming bread, cake, and pudding mixtures and then, provided a crisp outside is desired, placing them in a hot oven to dry out the moist surface.
Recipes that call for steaming
- Bengal Potatoes
- Mussels with Potatoes
- Steamed Artichoke
- Steamed Rice
In culinary terms 'stewing can best be described as slowly cooking food in its own juices with the aid of a minimum amount of moistening agent in the form of stock, wine, beer, sauce, butter etc. During cooking the liquid is flavoured by extracts from the stewed food, the result is a highly flavoured liquor or sauce which forms an integral part of the stew. Throughout this process, which is generally a lengthy one, evaporation is kept to a minimum by covering the stewing vessel with a tight fitting lid and simmering the stew on top of the stove or in the oven. Condensation, which continually forms on the inside of the lid, acts as a self basting process keeping the food moist. If the rate of evaporation is not kept to a minimum the stew will become dry and could burn. Therefore it may be necessary to add additional liquid as needed throughout the cooking period. Once cooked the liquid and food are usually served together to form the complete dish. Tougher cuts of meat may be made tender and palatable by this method. Foods for stewing are cut into small pieces or cuts before cooking and may comprise of meats, fish, vegetables and fruit. The flavour and colour of stock used will be determined on the type of meat to be cooked and the colour required of the finished dish, e.g. brown beef stew using brown beef stock. When a brown colour is required the meat and vegetables are sealed and browned in oil/dripping at a high temperature to ensure correct colour and sealing of the meat. Colour is also achieved by browning the roux and by using a brown stock. If a white coloured product is required less heat is applied to seal gently and without browning. The most suitable mediums for this process are butter and margarine. Where a roux is required it is cooked to the blond stage before being moistened with stock to effect a white colour. In some instances meats used for white stews are blanched and refreshed as a means of sealing the meat and also extracting the scum, which would otherwise discolour the resultant sauce.
Throughout cooking, items need to be checked periodically to ensure that stock levels are maintained and that food is not adhering to the base of the cooking vessel as this could result in a burnt stew. Over cooking results in unpalatable meat which breaks up, becomes stringy in texture and difficult to handle.
On completion of cooking the flavoursome liquor is adjusted for consistency. This is achieved by one of the following:
- Reducing the sauce
- Whisking in beurre manié, arrowroot or cornflour, and reboiling to cook the starch and effect thickening
- Adding demi-glace, Jus lie or veloute sauce as required by the dish in question.
Stewing meats is an economical method of cooking as it allows for the use of less expensive cuts of meat.
Stir-frying involves frying food quickly over very high heat in an oiled pan. While stir-frying, you generally stir continually. A special slope-sided pan called a wok is designed for stir-frying.
Here are some tips:
- Make sure all ingredients are prepared before you begin stir-frying.
- Heat the wok on medium-high or high heat at least one minute before adding oil. Do not pre-heat the wok if it has non-stick coating, as the heat can damage the coating.
- Drizzle the oil down the sides of the wok to maximize oil coverage as well as to heat the oil more quickly.
- Cook meat on high heat in order to keep it juicy. Remove the meat before stir-frying the vegetables. Add the meat back into the mix once the vegetables are almost cooked.
- If you are cooking over an electric range, replace the wok with an ordinary heavy-bottomed frying pan. You will achieve better results this way since electric ranges will not properly heat the curved sides of a wok.
If you are using an electric range, you can preheat the pan or wok in an oven set to its highest setting, and only use the electric range to maintain heat during cooking. Be careful, as the pan's handle will be very hot.
- Black Bean Stir-Fry
- Chuu Chee Fish
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Peanut Chicken Stir-Fry
The act of tempering is done by gradually increasing the temperature of one recipe component by the addition of another.
To achieve this gradual increase of temperature, you drizzle the hot component into the cooler component while constantly mixing the cooler ingredient. If your container is sufficiently large, you may continue adding the hot component to this container, else you should bring the temperatures as close as you can, then whisk/mix the cooler components into the hotter.
Tempering is often done where eggs or yogurt are used as a thickening agent (i.e. in custards and sauces), since a sharp increase of temperature will cause the eggs to cook prematurely resulting in a lumpy texture or yogurt to curdle.
The same principle might be used when the addition of one recipe component might rapidly change the other, such as adding a large quantity of something acidic to something containing milk products.
Lightly cooking food, and in particular slices of bread, by exposure to radiated heat, as in grilling or broiling.