Some cooking techniques and cooking terms explained
A bain-marie (also known as a water bath) is a French term for a piece of equipment used in cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time. One recipient is placed in a water bath that is in another recipient (or pan) and is heated up slowly.
Blanching is a cooking term that describes a process of food preparation wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water ( shocked ) to halt the cooking process.
> Peeling Blanching loosens the skin on some fruits or nuts, such as onions, tomatoes, plums, peaches, or almonds.
> Flavor Blanching enhances the flavor of some vegetables, such as broccoli, by releasing bitter acids stored in the food.
> Appearance Blanching enhances the color of some (particularly green) vegetables by releasing gases trapped in the food that obscure the greenness of the chlorophyll. Since blanching is done quickly, the heat does not have time to break down chlorophyll as well.
> Shelf life Blanching neutralizes bacteria and enzymes present in foods, thus delaying spoilage. This is often done as a preparatory step for freezing and refrigerating vegetables.
Braising (from the French “braiser”), is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting, though some authors make a distinction between the two methods based on whether or not additional liquid is added.
In cooking, en brochette refers to food cooked, and sometimes served, on brochettes, or skewers. The French term generally applies to French cuisine, while other terms like shish kebab, satay, or souvlaki describe the same technique in other cuisines. Food served en brochette is generally grilled
Broiling (North American English) or grilling (British and Australian English) is a process of cooking food with high heat with the heat applied directly to the food, most commonly from above. Heat transfer to the food is primarily via thermal radiation. As it is a way of cooking without added oil, it is popular in low-fat diets.
Caramelization is the oxidation of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.
A casserole, from the French for “saucepan,” is a large, deep pot or dish used both in the oven and as a serving dish. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a dish. Casseroles originate from the ancient practice of stewing meat slowly in earthenware containers. Types of casserole include ragout, hotpot, cassoulet and carbonnade. A distinction may be made between casseroles and stews: stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a hob), whereas casseroling is done in an oven where heat circulates all round the cooking vessel.
Flambé (also spelled flambe) is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames. The word means flamed in French (thus, in French, flambé is a past participle; the verb is flamber). Some different liqueurs are used like Brandy, Cognac or fruit liqueurs depending on the flavors you like to give the specific dish.
Julienne, describes a technique of shredding vegetables or other food into long, thin strips. We often use vegetables like carrots for carrots Julienne or celery for Céléris Remoulade. To cut the vegetables we use a sharp knife and cut the items in about 3 to 4 centimeter ( A bit more then one inch) long pieces then slice them the long way until we have some small strips (kind of like very thin French fries) Vegetable cut julienne style are used in sauces as well often as garnish for many dishes.
Marination, (to marinate) also known as marinating, is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origins of the word allude to the use of brine (aqua marina) in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the ‘marinade’ can be acidic with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or savory with soy sauce, brine or other prepared sauces. Along with these liquids, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items. It is commonly used to flavor foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat or harder vegetables such as beetroot, eggplant (aubergine), and courgette (zucchini). The process may last seconds or days. Different marinades are used in different cuisines. For example, in Indian cuisine the marinade is usually prepared with yoghurt and spices.
Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery (either common Pascal celery or celeriac). Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
Mise en place (French for: “put in place”) is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to the ingredients, such as cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components that a cook requires for the menu items that they expect to prepare during their shift. As any pro already knows and any beginner soon learns, to have everything in place (mis-en-place), will save them much time and make the cooking process much easier and speed up things especially in the rush hours. Having all ingredients you need for a dish ready and prepared at reach is the best way to go! This expression – mis en place – is also used in dinning rooms of restaurants and hotels, where every waiter should have everything he needs at hand, that way once the big rush starts he or she does have it much easier to serve the guest without having to search for salt and pepper, the steak knife, the finger bowl or whatever the days menu or work plan calls for.
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered a flavour enhancement. Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted. Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in this fashion is called a roast. Also, meats and vegetables prepared in this way are described as “roast”, e.g., roast chicken or roast squash. Some foods such as coffee and chocolate are always roasted.
Sautéing is a method of cooking food that uses a small amount of fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. Unlike pan-searing, sautés are often finished with a sauce made from the pan’s residual fond. Sauter means “to jump” in French — The method includes flipping the food in the air. Food that is sautéed is usually cooked for a relatively short period of time over high heat, with the goal of browning the food while preserving its color, moisture and flavor. This is very common with more tender cuts of meat, e.g. tenderloin, pork chops, or filet mignon. Sautéing differs from searing in that the sautéed food is thoroughly cooked in the process. One may sear simply to add flavor and improve appearance before another process is used to finish cooking it. Olive oil or clarified butter are commonly used for sautéing, but most fats will do. Regular butter will produce more flavor but will burn at a lower temperature and more quickly than other fats due to the presence of milk solids.
Seasoning is the process of imparting flavor to, or improving the flavor of, food. Seasonings include herbs, spices, and all other condiments, which are themselves frequently referred to as “seasonings”. However, Larousse Gastronomique states that “to season and to flavour are not the same thing”, insisting that seasoning includes a large or small amount of salt being added to a preparation. Salt may be used to draw out water, or to magnify a natural flavor of a food making it richer or more delicate, depending on the dish. This type of procedure is akin to curing. For instance, kosher salt (a coarser-grained salt) is rubbed into chicken, lamb, and beef to tenderize the meat and improve flavor. Other seasonings like black pepper and basil transfer some of their flavor to the food. A well designed dish may combine seasonings that complement each other. As basic rule: always remember: Less is Better You or your guest always can add more of whatever it is (salt, hot spices, pepper etc) but its hard or impossible to take it away again once its added to the food. Also chicken for example should still taste like chicken after your done with seasoning and not like a herb garden (nothing against herbs at all, just use everything with in the right amount!) Again don’t go overboard here please!
Simmering is a cooking technique in which foods are cooked in hot liquids kept at or just barely below the boiling point of water ( at average sea level air pressure ), 100°C ( 212°F ). To keep a pot simmering, one brings it to a boil and then adjusts the heat downward until just before the formation of steam bubbles stops completely. Water normally begins to simmer at about 94°C ( 200°F ).
Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. Steaming is considered a relatively healthier cooking technique and capable of cooking almost all kinds of food.