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Cooking- Tips, Methods and Techniques

Submitted by Loring A. Windblad on June 9, 2011

Cooking Tips, Methods And Techniques

Cooking is an art. Whoever said that, was definitely not joking. The culinary arts, though not really considered an art form, can take you on a pleasant gastronomical journey—one which you are likely to relish for a long time. However, to those who do not know how to cook, it can be a stressful and often frightening experience too.

While cooking is mostly considered effortless by those who do it daily, some of us are not that good in the kitchen but a little practice and a little knowledge of the basic cooking methods and the utensils used for them, can help you get over your initial fears.

Cooking Methods

Obesity is one of the biggest health concerns around the world, but fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the health risks they face by being overweight. Hence, it is not uncommon to see people follow a diet that is low in fat and calories. A healthy low fat diet not only consists of nutritious ingredients, but also includes healthy cooking methods.

Cooking methods such as frying generally adds a lot of fat and calories to the food, which is why they are not very healthy. Fortunately, there are a few healthy cooking methods and techniques that not only preserve the nutritional value of the food, but also enhance the taste.

All healthy cooking methods include the preparation of food, without using a lot of oil, fat or salt.

Hence, people can achieve a lot in terms of weight loss and fitness, just by making minor changes to their eating habits. Moreover, there are so many healthy cooking methods that people can get access to a huge variety of food on a daily basis. Given below are some of the most highly recommended healthy cooking methods:

Blanching: Initially used to whiten meat products, especially beef, today blanching has taken on a new meaning.

Blanching is used for two main purposes. The first one is to remove the skins of vegetables and the second one is to destroy the enzymes that spoil the texture of the food when cooking. To blanch, the food item is immersed in boiling water for a few minutes and then immediately immersed into cold water. This process not only destroys the flavor reducing enzymes, but also helps loosen up the skin of the food item. A blanching pot is usually used for this method. You may also use a pressure cooker or a covered sauce pan.

Boiling: Boiling is one of the simplest methods of cooking in which raw food is immersed into water or any other liquid medium and heated. As the liquid gets heated, the food immersed in it keeps cooking. Once the liquid reaches boiling point, the cooking intensifies. Rice, pasta, boiled eggs and some vegetables are cooked by boiling them. For boiling, sauce pan, cauldrons and pressure cookers are used.

Simmering: Just like boiling, simmering also utilizes a liquid base to cook. However, when you are simmering, the liquid is never allowed to reach the boiling point. Instead, the temperature is lowered just before boiling point is reached. After that, the food is left to simmer. As the liquid bubbles away, the utensil is usually covered. However that depends on the type of dish you are cooking. The utensils used for boiling can be used for this method too.
Steaming: In this method, steam from the boiling liquid, generally water, is used.  food is placed in a perforated steamer or a basket and is suspended over some simmering water, is one of the easiest and healthiest ways of cooking. Foods that are steamed tend to have a very fine and tender texture. The nutrition is also maintained because the food is never immersed in water and therefore the nutrients remain intact. A saucepan and a steamer are together used for the steaming method. To enhance the taste of steamed food, seasoning should be added to the simmering water.

Grilling: Most people love grilling meat, fish and vegetables, as it adds a smoky flavor to their food. Grilling is ideal for weight watchers as it churns out healthy, low fat meals; however, people should be careful not to char the food. It is advisable to trim any excess fat and limit the amount of oil used.

Baking and Roasting: Both these cooking techniques are quite similar, but roasting is at a higher temperature. They are ideal for meat, poultry, seafood and even vegetables. However, meat and vegetables should always be baked or roasted separately, so that the fat from the meat does not get absorbed by vegetables.

Poaching: When food is cooked while it is submerged in liquid that is at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it is known as poaching. This cooking method is perfect for eggs, veggies and fish.

There are many other healthy cooking methods too, such as stir frying, sautéing, broiling and boiling.

What Is Simmering Cooking?

In the culinary world, the term simmering cooking is used to define a method, in which food is cooked in liquid at a certain temperature. Several experts define simmering, as “wet-heat” cooking, as the food is submerged in any liquid, where the temperature is below boiling point. Ideally, the simmering cooking temperature ranges from 180 degrees Fahrenheit and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. A lot of people confuse simmering methods with cooking styles like poaching and boiling, but they are all different, when it comes to the temperature of the fluid medium. The main difference between the simmering cooking method and other similar cooking methods is that in simmering, the formation of bubbles can be seen after which they gently rise to the surface, but the water does not reach a full boil.

It is very common for people to use the simmering cooking technique when making soups, stocks, pasta, or other starchy items, such as potatoes. Hard root vegetables, are also generally simmered, till they become tender enough to eat. Many renowned cooks claim that they prefer simmering cooking to other styles, as it brings out the flavors of the food in a better manner. One of the most well-known recipes in which the simmering technique is used is “Fondue”

There are a lot of people who also use simmering methods for other activities, apart from cooking. Most people use various simmering potpourri recipes, to make their home smell great, especially during the Christmas season. Spices and herbs that are ideal for simmering include cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon peels, orange rind, and many more. Hence, people who know the art of simmering cooking can extend their skills to other areas too.

Boiling Methods

The boiling method of cooking, where food is cooked after being submerged in liquid that is at a temperature of more than 185 degrees Fahrenheit, is one of the most commonly used cooking methods. Boiling methods of cookery could include water, stock, milk, or other similar liquid to be the medium that conducts the heat. Most people believe that the boiling method of cooking is the easiest; however, that is not completely true, as a lot of care needs to be taken while boiling food, to execute the recipe correctly. In fact most establishments where food is prepared on a large scale use special equipments used for boiling

Contrary to what people believe, boiling can be quite a complex cooking technique. There are different boiling equipments that are used, based on the ingredients that are being boiled, as well as the recipe. Some types or equipment used for boiling require the food to be placed in cold liquid, so that both the liquid as well as the food are brought to a boil together. On the other hand, there are other types of boiling equipment that are ideal for recipes where the liquid first needs to be boiled and then the food is placed in it for a minute or so. There are also certain types of boilers in which solid food is placed and then melted. For example, when baking a cake, or making desserts, a person may be required to use the double boiling method to melt chocolate, so that it does not stick to the pan. Hence, the boiling equipment used in this instance is usually a double boiler.

Since there are different ways of boiling, it is best to refer to culinary experts for a proper classification of boiling methods. You could also look for information about the same through other resources such as the internet or literature.

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