Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Steaming, and boiling, and roasting, and searing. These are a few of my favorite thingssssss...

When you read a recipe, or watch a cooking show on television, does it ever seem they aren't quite speaking  your language?  Braising and roasting, parboiling or poaching?  Without knowledge of at least some of these terms, your cooking skills might not be what they COULD be.  I mean, at least use it as an excuse for burning the pasta.  "Oh my GOODNESS, I should have boiled, but instead I blackened!!!"  Ok, ok, maybe a lame excuse but you get my point.  Short of being trained at Le Cordon Bleu, there is no way you can just know ALL these terms without purposely looking these things up.   When speaking to a friend recently, I suggested she parboil her brussel sprouts, drain them and then saute them in a skillet with shallots, bacon and butter.  Her response?  "HOLD UP....what in the HELL is parboiling and what are shallots?".  I occassionally forget others have lives that dont revolve around cooking 24 hours a day. . It's what I dream about, I think about, and  love.  I want to clear up that as long as you know how to cook pasta in my world, nothing else matters. :)  So lets clear up some terminology issues using terms you may occassionally run across in my blog.   These are some easy, basic terms.  Ready?  We will start with the most important one first!  

Al Dente- Italian cooking term meaning "to the tooth". Referring to pasta that is slightly chewy. Not overdone.  Nothing is worse than mushy pasta, its sticky and nasty. If you have to use sauce just to unstick it from each other, we have a problem!

Bechamel -A rich sauce made from butter, flour and milk. Sometimes used as a base for preparing other sauces.  Unless your name is DONNA and you worship PAULA DEEN, you will do this in your pot over low heat..  Use your whisk people!!!

Blanch- Cooking food in boiling water and then placing in cold water to stop the cooking process. Helps to keep vegetables crisp and flavorful.  Nobody wants olive green, fresh green beans, blanch blanch blanch!

Broil - Cook by exposure to direct heat under the broiler of a gas or electric range, in an electric broiler, or over an open fire.

Deglaze- After sauteing meat, liquid (commonly wine) is added to the pan to loosen bits of food. This usually becomes the base for a sauce.  You can also deglaze with stock!  On a side note when you go to clean your pan.....deglaze with water, it will get all the mess out of the pan!

Egg wash- An egg beated with a small amount of water or milk. Brushed on top of pastry dough, pie crusts, anything yo want to bake to a sweet scrumptous golden brown color.  Definitely magazine photo quality kinda golden!

Ganache- Creamy frosting made with semi-sweet chocolate and cream. Possibly one of the most important terms in the kitchen because it involves chocolate!  I prefer milk chocolate, and it also requires some butter!  I will be doing an entire blog just on ganache at some point.

Marinate/Marinade - To let foods stand in a marinade, usually an acid-oil mixture of oil and vinegar or wine, often flavored with spices and herbs.

Poach- To cook in liquid. Poached eggs...YUM!

Puree- Strained or blended food.  Do this with peaches in a blender, add it to prosecco and its a bellini!

Render- Slow cooking meat to extract fat.  For instance bacon, or pancetta.

Roux- A flour and butter mixture used to thicken soups, stews and gravies.

Saute- To cook in food in fat, briefly over high heat. Butter, drippings rendered from bacon, or other meat.

Scald- Heating milk almost to the boiling point.

Sear- To brown meat quickly over high heat in order to seal in the juices.  Done often before putting it in the oven to bake.

Simmer- Cooking liquid just below the boiling point.

Steam - To cook on a rack or holder over a small amount of boiling water in a tightly covered container.

Stock- A base for soup which is made from cooking meats, seafood and/or vegetables in water and straining the liquid.   Another topic we will discuss in depth, especially with fall and winter coming!

Sweat - To saute over low heat with a lid on. This method causes steam and expedites the cooking time.  If you sweat onions, they will become translucent.  You will smell them.  Just like when we sweat we SMELL, so will onions!

Temper - To heat food gently before adding it to a hot mixture so it does not separate or curdle. Often eggs are tempered by mixing with a little hot liquid to raise their temperature before they are stirred into a hot sauce or soup.

Whip - To rapidly beat eggs, heavy cream, etc., in order to incorporate air and expand volume.

Zest- Grated peel from the outer covering of a citrus fruit. CLEAN your fruit first!  I am a non organtic girl but I think even organic people should wash it first!

So those are a few basic kitchen terms.  Anyone have any questions?  In case you have dinner cooking, go check it now.....unless you planned on a "blackened" dish!

Your steamy, zesty chefwannabe who wonders if she can jump in a pan and "Render" herself....

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