March 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
One of the easiest ways of preparing food, especially vegetables, is by steaming. This is not my favorite method of cooking, because you don’t get the depth of flavor produced by roasting or the ability to layer flavors produced by sautéing. However, steaming is hands down the easiest, quickest and healthiest way to prepare food. Since this blog is about breaking down cooking to it’s most basic components, I figure this is a great technique to write about.
First, you will need a steamer basket to suspend food above boiling water. You can find either a metal, plastic or bamboo basket that has small holes or slits in the bottom. This allows the steam to cook the food, instead of submerging food in water, as with boiling or blanching, so you don’t lose nutrients into the cooking water. Metal steaming baskets are common in any grocery store that sells kitchen supplies, and you can find them on-line for right around $10. You can also find bamboo steamers at an Asian market or on-line for about the same price. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
In my article, “How to Sweat Vegetables,” I talked a bit about the difference between sweating and sautéing. To quickly recap: sweating releases the aroma of vegetables without changing the flavor. With sautéing, however, the goal is to brown the vegetables, giving them a rich flavor.
Sautéing also requires a slightly different cooking method than sweating. When sautéing, you want to use a higher heat, more oil and a wide pan. I sautee on medium high to high heat, depending on what I’m cooking. Vegetables with a lot of water – such as zucchini, mushrooms or cabbage – cook better on high heat, while vegetables that are more dense – such carrots, fennel or onion – should be cooked on medium high, so they don’t burn before they’re done. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 3, 2012 § 5 Comments
One of my all-time, hands down favorite cooking techniques is deglazing. When executed properly, it allows you to add layers and layers of flavor, and is an exciting transition between dry and wet cooking methods. If it sounds like an exaggeration to say it’s exciting, remember this when your are pouring wine into a hot pan, as it bubbles and reduces almost immediately, giving off a cloud of steam. It’s fantastic spectacle, and absolutely delicious.
If you cook with a steel or iron pan – to phrase it awkwardly, a non non-stick pan – you’ll probably notice how bits of meat and vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan and turn brown. Now, anytime food is turning brown, it’s getting richer and deeper in flavor. So, what you have down at the bottom of that pan is flavor. Well, it’s actually called fond. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 3, 2012 § 4 Comments
So, this has got to be one of the greatest internet search phrases ever. Brings all kinds of fun things to mind, doesn’t it? But, sweating vegetables actually refers to cooking vegetables so they release their aroma without altering their flavor.
At a medium temperature for a longer period of time, vegetables like onions, carrots and celery become fragrant and glossy. This is sweating. At a high temperature for a shorter period of time, the vegetables start to caramelize, turning brown, and becoming sweeter and richer. This is sauteeing. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 3, 2012 § 3 Comments
As you will no doubt here me say over and over again, fresh herbs make everything better. If there’s a way to use them, use them. Use a lot of them! After all, they’re free flavor! In the spring and summer, when our herb garden is out of control, I can’t use them fast enough. Additionally, hearty herbs such as rosemary and thyme can last well in to the winter. As we all know, winter is soup making time, and these herbs make a great addition to almost any soup.
As great as herbs in soup are, fishing loose stems of thyme out of your soup or picking those tiny, tiny leaves off those delicate little stems both suck. So, what do you do? You make a sachet. Here’s my simple step-by-step guide to making a sachet: « Read the rest of this entry »