First I must apologize for not writing sooner. This is, of course, assuming there is anyone who was looking forward to my next article to apologize to. I do appreciate the readers who sent me inquiries and I hope I was of some help to them.
For this article I want to talk about an important aspect of becoming a good cook and that is to learn how to cook. I know this sounds silly but really there is more to that statement then meets the eye.
Cooking is not about collecting a few recipes and following them. Recipes do not make a good cook. The best recipe in the world may be helpful, but it will not save you. The really good cooks master the basic cooking techniques. They know their ingredients and how to work with them. These are all part of good cooking. I know I talked about this before but one of the things I love about cooking is that there is always something new to learn.
Here are a few of the methods you will encounter as you learn to cook:
Baking means to cook in an oven that involves our product rising and becoming more firm. Usually refers to breads, cakes, cookies as well as casseroles.
Blanch and Shock involves plunging a food into boiling water for a few seconds and then into ice water to stop the cooking process. This method is used for fruits and vegetables in order to loosen their skin.
Boiling means to cook a food submerged in boiling liquid. Poachingis cooking a food submerged in water that is simmering. Steaming uses boiling water to indirectly cook food. The steam created by the boiling water is captured and transferred to cook the food.
Braising is cooking our product in a small amount of liquid so that the flavor of the food can absorb into the liquid, which is later be used to make a sauce. This is also known as stewingor pot-roasting. This type of cooking can be done in a crock-pot with magnificent results.
Broiling is a dry form of cooking that involves cooking in the oven at a heat source that is positioned above the food.
Deep frying is cooking a food completely submerged in hot oil.
Dredging or Breading means to coat your product with breadcrumbs, flour or cornmeal before you cook it.
Grilling is the opposite of broiling in that the heat source is positioned directly below the food. This cooking method is normally used outdoors.
Marinating is the process of adding flavor and moisture to meats, poultry or seafood. Also a marinade will help make tougher meats more tender.
Pan-frying is cooking a food partially submerged in oil at moderately high heat usually in a pan. This involves turning the item a few times to brown on all sides and eventually cook it completely. This usually involves thicker cuts of meat and is sometimes breaded. Sometimes you can brown the food on all sides then put the pan in the oven to finish the item.
Roasting is usually a dry form of cooking in an oven where we are trying to get our product to turn brown and form a crust. Usually refers to meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables
Sautéingis cooking in a pan at a high heat with very little oil. This involves cooking thinner foods very quickly.
Searing is a cooking term that involves cooking your product in high heat to brown the outside surface to seal in the natural juices. This is a good method to use before you start a braise.
Sweating involves taking vegetables that are cut into very small pieces and cooked very quickly over high heat in little fat. This causes the product to become soft and release its juices into a sauce or soup it is being used for.
As you learn to cook you will encounter these and many other methods used in cooking. There are many references and resources for learning more about these techniques. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy learning how to cook will ultimately result in your becoming a great cook.