Tips and Tricks!

So, things have been crazy around here lately! It took me forever to get my meals planned, and actually get out to go grocery shopping! UGH! So, due to that, there has been a shortage of posts… oops! So, for this post I am going to explain different cooking terms, give definitions and a couple of kitchen “tips” to make foods turn out the way that you want them! Sound good?? Ok!

So, lets start out by defining cooking terms. This is something I have slowly learned through cooking shows… so, lets define!

To make it easy, I got it from here: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/cooking-tips/dictionary-cooking-terms

When a recipe says to cook the pasta: Al dente: Pasta cooked until just firm. From the Italian “to the tooth.”

There are times when you are cooking meat, such as turkey, and you want it moist. People use the term Baste: To moisten food for added flavor and to prevent drying out while cooking. Basically taking the juiced from the pan and occasionally putting back over the meat.

When we say to “beat” an egg… this is what we mean: Beat: To stir rapidly to make a mixture smooth, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer.

When making pesto, to keep the pesto green, you can do this to the basil and spinach: Blanch: To cook briefly in boiling water to seal in flavor and color; usually used for vegetables or fruit, to prepare for freezing, and to ease skin removal.

Bouquet garni: A tied bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, that is added to flavor soups, stews, and sauces but removed before serving.

If you are one to sear your meat before cooking it in the crock pot,… you are actually braising!! Who knew right?! Braise: To cook first by browning, then gently simmering in a small amount of liquid over low heat in a covered pan until tender.

How do you broil?? In the OVEN! 🙂 Easy! Broil: To cook on a rack or spit under or over direct heat, usually in an oven.

What do I mean when to brown or sear? Brown: To cook over high heat, usually on top of the stove, to brown food.

Do you ever wonder what it means when something is blackened? Here ya go! Blackened: A popular Cajun cooking method in which seasoned fish or other foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred, resulting in a crisp, spicy crust. At home, this is best done outdoors because of the large amount of smoke produced.

This is something that I do not usually use, but it is popular because it has a long shelf life: Bouillon: A bouillon cube is a compressed cube of dehydrated beef, chicken, fish, or vegetable stock. Bouillon granules are small particles of the same substance, but they dissolve faster. Both can be reconstituted in hot liquid to substitute for stock or broth.

Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown. You can also do this with onions… with the same end results in color.

When baking, if the term “cut-in” is used, here is the definition: Cut in: To distribute a solid fat in flour using a cutting motion, with 2 knives used scissors-fashion or a pastry blender, until divided evenly into tiny pieces. Usually refers to making pastry.

Chefs use this term a lot.. and it adds a lot of flavor! Deglaze: To loosen brown bits from a pan by adding a liquid, then heating while stirring and scraping the pan.

When making fried food, this term is used a lot: Dredge: To cover or coat uncooked food, usually with a flour, cornmeal mixture or bread crumbs.

If I say use the chicken/turkey/beef drippings it means: Drippings: Juices and fats rendered by meat or poultry during cooking.

Ever wonder what starting your dish on fire is called??? (When it’s ON PURPOSE!!???) Flambé: To drizzle liquor over a food while it is cooking, then when the alcohol has warmed, ignite the food just before serving.

And… another baking term: Fold: To combine light ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites with a heavier mixture, using a gentle over-and-under motion, usually with a rubber spatula.

Poach: To cook a food by partially or completely submerging it in a simmering liquid.

Reconstitute: To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice, to its original strength by adding water.

Reduce: To decrease the volume of a liquid by boiling it rapidly to cause evaporation. As the liquid evaporates, it thickens and intensifies in flavor. The resulting richly flavored liquid, called a reduction, can be used as a sauce or as the base of a sauce. When reducing liquids, use the pan size specified in the recipe, as the surface area of the pan affects how quickly the liquid will evaporate.

Saute: From the French word sauter, meaning “to jump.” Sauteed food is cooked and stirred in a small amount of fat over fairly high heat in an open, shallow pan. Food cut into uniform size sautes the best.

Those are just a few terms. If you have another one that you’d like me to define and give an example of, please let me know!!!

Ok, now tips:

Shrimp: I have found that the best way to get the BEST tasting shrimp is to bake it. It just always comes out evenly and perfectly cooked for me. I start out with thawed UNCOOKED shrimp, peeled and deveined. Wonder how to do it on your own? http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_devein_shrimp/

I always use Ina Garten’s recipe for shrimp. She is the one I followed to get the perfectly cooked shrimp. I sometimes adjust it a bit, but I always use the temperature she says, and I adjust the time based on how large the shrimp are. I’m not the only one either! Other blogs follow her great ways too! http://www.thekitchn.com/tip-from-ina-garten-try-ovenro-115973

Here is Ina Garten’s original recipe showing it: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-pasta-with-roasted-shrimp-recipe.html

Steak/Meat:

I have found, after trial and error, that my steak always turns out best when I start out by searing it on the stove (or browning) and then finishing it in the pre-heated oven for a certain amount of time until it reaches my desired temperature. Always. If I try to make it on the stove top only, it is usually either under done or over done. Just from my observations.

Mashed Potatoes:

Want them the most creamy? Add sour cream and whip them either in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer. Seriously… whipped and delicious!

Veggies:

I have found that sauteing or roasting vegetables keeps more vitamins and color in vegetables (even from frozen) than boiling them. Try it!

Want me to post other tips or tricks?? Ask me!! Comment below and I’ll do my best to find them!

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