For those who love to cook, a new recipe is always a delightful thing to look forward to.
Weighing and measuring ingredients as per the recipe, following every direction and instruction in the cookbook and the hope to get a fabulous result….much like the picture in the cookbook itself!
However, for those who love to cook and food is more than just a hobby, creating new recipes and flavors is truly a thing of pride.
This is not an easy task!!
To experiment with food, one needs to have a strong knowledge of basics……if one expects mouth-watering results.
A good dish is when the right flavors are brought together, cooked to perfection using the right cooking method for the right amount of time in the right temperature.
This understanding of flavors, ingredients, cooking methods, cooking time and temperature etc. will give you the ability to transform any raw ingredient into a wonderful gastronomic experience.
This section will teach you the basics that you need to create recipes…..for others to follow (I have tried making it simple for everyone to follow, rather than explaining theories)! I shall cover different topics in different chapters.
Let’s start with understanding the terminologies of most common basic cooking methods.
Sautéing requires a very hot pan.
While sautéing, it’s important to heat the pan for a minute, then add a small amount of fat and let the fat get hot as well, before adding the food to the pan. Remember – Do not overcrowd the pan.
Pan-frying closely resembles sautéing, with the main difference being that pan-frying uses slightly more fat and slightly lower temperature than sautéing.
Deep-frying involves submerging the food in hot, liquid fat.
Deep-frying requires keeping the oil at temperatures between 325°F and 400°F. Hotter than that and the oil may start to smoke, and if it’s any cooler, it starts to seep into the food and make it greasy.
The words roasting and baking are largely synonymous in that they both describe a method of cooking an item by enveloping it in hot, dry air, generally inside an oven and at temperatures of at least 300°F (but often much hotter).
However, the word ‘Roasting’ is used for meat and vegetables whereas the word ‘Baking’ is used for bakery items such as breads, cakes etc.
Broiling and grilling
Broiling is similar to grilling, except the heat source comes from the top. It is usually done in an oven by adjusting the setting to broil. Broiling happens very quickly and it’s best to watch the food carefully when broiling so it does not burn. Getting the cheese on top of lasagna golden brown and crispy is an example of broiling.
To cook an ingredient with steam, food is usually placed in a separate steamer over hot liquid. The food is cooked by the steam from the liquid and does not come in contact with the liquid.
Blanching is a cooking process 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 (shocking or refreshing) to halt the cooking process.
Blanching is a great way to bring out the color in green vegetables such as broccoli, celery etc., not suitable for starchy veggies like potato.
Searing is done with minimal amounts of fat over high heat. Searing foods gives them a brown, caramelized outside, while not cooking the interior fully. Think searing a thin piece of fish so that is has crispy skin and a delicate, tender inside.
Braising is a combination cooking method that first involves sautéing or searing an item, then simmering it in liquid for a long cooking period until tender. Foods that are braised are often larger proteins like pot roasts and poultry legs.