Introduction: How to Prepare Nearly Every Food for Tasty Dishes!

Picture of How to Prepare Nearly Every Food for Tasty Dishes!

Make a man a meal, and he's happy. Teach a man how to make a meal, and you're happy. Some cooking techniques like peeling and chopping an onion or hard boiled egg may seem like simple tasks, but if you want to do it good, you need some expertice. And that, my frinds, is what I will show you today. So read on, mosey down the line, or just skip a few, and look through some skills you never thought could be performed. Go ahead and go, i'm not stopping you...

Step 1: Peel Veggies & Fruits

Picture of Peel Veggies & Fruits

To peel asparagus with a swivel-type peeler:
Cut off the woody ends, usually about an inch or two. Peel the asparagus up to the base of the tips by moving rapidly back and forth along the length of the stalk with a swivel peller. Keep the stalks flat on the cutting board so they don't break. Very thick asparagus can pe peeled with a nonswivel peeler or a paring knife.

Peeling a Fruit with a Pairing Knife
1.To peel an apple with a pairing knife, cradle the apple in one hand. Place the tip of the pairing knife next to the top of the apple and insert horizontally just under the skin.
2.Peel away at the top of the apple in a circular motion, working away from fingertips and turning the apple in a controlled fashion. Your thumb works to give your knife leverage and the hand that is cradle the apple does most of the turning.
3.Clean up the stem and the bottom by inserting the tip of the knife at an angle toward the core and twisting the apple circular motion.
4.Place the peeled apple in lemon water to prevent oxidizing or browning. Oxidizing is the browning that occurs when the flesh of certain fruits is exposed to air. It has no taste, but can make foods look unappetizing

Peeling Root Vegetables
Thoroughly wash your root vegetables. Remove any blemishes, bruises, fine roots or eyes from the vegetables. If necessary, set them in a colander to dry. Have a clean container nearby to put the peelings into.

Use a swivel peeler for root vegetables with delicate skins, such as carrots. Use a peeler with a fixed blade for vegetables with tougher, thicker skins, such as potatoes and turnips. To peel the above-mentioned jicama, slice off the top and the bottom of the vegetable, then use your peeler to loosen the peel at the top and the bottom. Then simply strip off the sections of peel with your hands. Don't try to peel it in a spiral or you will subject yourself to unnecessary frustration.

Hold the root vegetable in your left hand if you're right handed, vice versa if you're left handed. Peel the vegetable with a good quality vegetable peeler, making sure that all strokes move away from your body. Try stabbing the vegetable with a fork in order to hold it in place. This will lessen the chance that you will injure yourself while trying to peel the vegetable.

Immediately place your peeling in a clean container. Have a pot of water boiling on the stove, and drop the peelings in the water as you get them. Boil the water for at least one hour to make stock for soups and other dishes.
Alternatively, you can cook some vegetables prior to peeling. This works primarily with potatoes and other vegetables with a tough, thick skin. Cook the vegetable fully. The microwave oven is the quickest method, but baking and boiling work well, too. Certain vegetables will need to be roasted under a broiler for this method to work properly. Allow the root vegetable to cool fully. Then poke a fork into it, and use a knife to score it all around. Gently and slowly remove the peel. You will notice that the peel comes off easily and without bringing up any of the meat of the vegetable with it. This method is best if you're trying to reduce the waste involved in peeling root vegetables
 
GARLIC
No need for a peeler here. Take a slice off the root end, lay your chef’s knife over the clove horizontally and give it a whack with your hand. The skin will come right off.

CITRUS FRUIT
The best tool for zesting citrus fruit is a microplane grater.  Just don’t remove more than the outermost peel. The underlying white pith is bitter.

Then there are the foods that are peeled not by a specific tool, but by a cooking technique. As the old adage states, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. 

TOMATOES
To peel tomatoes, cut a small X in their south pole and drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking and peel them with your hands.

PEARL ONIONS
Simply boil them for one minute to loosen the skins.

PEPPERS
You can peel peppers by dropping them in hot oil until the skins burst, broiling them, placing them on the flame of your gas stove, or grilling them.  For bell peppers, you can cut them down the shoulders to create four fairly flat pieces or leave them whole.  Obviously, if left whole you’ll need to rotate them as each side chars.  When the skin turns black, you’re done.  Then place them in an enclosed container for a few minutes to steep. This facilitates the removal of tie skin.


Step 2: Eggs

Picture of Eggs

This section shows some skills in the form of easy recipes.

1. Creamy Scramble: In a nonstick skillet, cook cup minced scallions in 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat until soft. In a bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 4 oz softened cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour into skillet; cook, stirring, over medium-low to desired doneness.

2. Snappy Salad : Place 8 eggs in a pot of cold water. Bring to boil; simmer for 10 minutes. Peel under cold running water; chop. Add 2 Tbsp mayo, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Season to taste. Serve atop lettuce.

3. Spinach Roll-Up: Combine ½ cup cooked frozen spinach with 4 scrambled egg whites. Season to taste; roll with shredded cheese into a warmed tortilla for a healthy breakfast.

4. Deviled Decadence: For a twist on tradition, combine hard-cooked yolks with mustard and canned lump crabmeat. Season to taste, then refill white egg halves. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning.

5. BLT + E&C: Build a BLT on a slice of crusty bread spread with mayonnaise. On another slice of bread, melt Monterey Jack under broiler. Slide a fried egg onto BLT; top with melted-cheese slice.

6. Eggs in Purgatory : Simmer 2 cups marinara with ½ tsp red-pepper flakes in a skillet; gently crack 4 eggs into sauce. Cook until whites set. Top with ½ cup Parmesan and pepper.

7. Parisian-Style poach: Serve poached eggs over steamed asparagus; sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and black pepper to taste.

8. Egg in a Hole with Cheese : Cut a 2-inch circle in a slice of bread. In buttered pan, cook bread 1 minute. Flip over. Crack egg in center of bread. Fry till white is set. Season with salt and pepper. Top with shredded cheese and broil briefly.

9. Quick Carbonara: Boil 1 lb spaghetti according to package instructions. Meanwhile, whisk 3 large eggs with ¾ cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a bowl. When pasta is ready, drain and immediately add to egg mixture (the heat from the pasta will cook the egg). Top with chopped cooked bacon and additional Parmesan; season to taste.

10. Egg-Drop Soup: Slowly add 2 eggs plus 1 yolk to 4 cups simmering chicken broth, stirring constantly. Add 2 Tbsp chopped scallions and 1/8 tsp ground ginger. Cook to desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Step 3: Vocabulary

AL DENTE:
Italian term used to describe pasta that is cooked until it offers a slight resistance to the bite.

BAKE:
To cook by dry heat, usually in the oven.

BARBECUE:
Usually used generally to refer to grilling done outdoors or over an open charcoal or wood fire. More specifically, barbecue refers to long, slow direct- heat cooking, including liberal basting with a barbecue sauce.

BASTE:
To moisten foods during cooking with pan drippings or special sauce to add flavor and prevent drying.

BATTER:
A mixture containing flour and liquid, thin enough to pour.

BEAT:
To mix rapidly in order to make a mixture smooth and light by incorporating as much air as possible.

BLANCH:
To immerse in rapidly boiling water and allow to cook slightly.

BLEND:
To incorporate two or more ingredients thoroughly.

BOIL:
To heat a liquid until bubbles break continually on the surface.

BROIL:
To cook on a grill under strong, direct heat.

CARAMELIZE:
To heat sugar in order to turn it brown and give it a special taste.

CHOP:
To cut solids into pieces with a sharp knife or other chopping device.


CLARIFY:
To separate and remove solids from a liquid, thus making it clear.

CREAM:
To soften a fat, especially butter, by beating it at room temperature. Butter and sugar are often creamed together, making a smooth, soft paste.

CURE:
To preserve meats by drying and salting and/or smoking.

DEGLAZE:
To dissolve the thin glaze of juices and brown bits on the surface of a pan in which food has been fried, sauteed or roasted. To do this, add liquid and stir and scrape over high heat, thereby adding flavor to the liquid for use as a sauce.

DEGREASE:
To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock. Usually cooled in the refrigerator so that fat hardens and is easily removed.

DICE:
To cut food in small cubes of uniform size and shape.

DISSOLVE:
To cause a dry substance to pass into solution in a liquid.

DREDGE:
To sprinkle or coat with flour or other fine substance.

DRIZZLE:
To sprinkle drops of liquid lightly over food in a casual manner.

DUST:
To sprinkle food with dry ingredients. Use a strainer or a jar with a perforated cover, or try the good, old-fashioned way of shaking things together in a paper bag.

FILLET:
As a verb, to remove the bones from meat or fish. A fillet (or filet) is the piece of flesh after it has been boned.

FLAKE:
To break lightly into small pieces.

FLAMBE':
To flame foods by dousing in some form of potable alcohol and setting alight.

FOLD:
To incorporate a delicate substance, such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites, into another substance without releasing air bubbles. Cut down through mixture with spoon, whisk, or fork; go across bottom of bowl, up and over, close to surface. The process is repeated, while slowing rotating the bowl, until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.

FRICASSEE:
To cook by braising; usually applied to fowl or rabbit.

FRY:
To cook in hot fat. To cook in a fat is called pan-frying or sauteing; to cook in a one-to-two inch layer of hot fat is called shallow-fat frying; to cook in a deep layer of hot fat is called deep-fat frying.

GARNISH:
To decorate a dish both to enhance its appearance and to provide a flavorful foil. Parsley, lemon slices, raw vegetables, chopped chives, and other herbs are all forms of garnishes.

GLAZE:
To cook with a thin sugar syrup cooked to crack stage; mixture may be thickened slightly. Also, to cover with a thin, glossy icing.

GRATE:
To rub on a grater that separates the food in various sizes of bits or shreds.

GRATIN:
From the French word for "crust." Term used to describe any oven-baked dish--usually cooked in a shallow oval gratin dish--on which a golden brown crust of bread crumbs, cheese or creamy sauce is form.

GRILL:
To cook on a grill over intense heat.

GRIND:
To process solids by hand or mechanically to reduce them to tiny particles.

JULIENNE:
To cut vegetables, fruits, or cheeses into thin strips.

KNEAD:
To work and press dough with the palms of the hands or mechanically, to develop the gluten in the flour.

LUKEWARM:
Neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature.

MARINATE:
To flavor and moisturize pieces of meat, poultry, seafood or vegetable by soaking them in or brushing them with a liquid mixture of seasonings known as a marinade. Dry marinade mixtures composed of salt, pepper, herbs or spices may also be rubbed into meat, poultry or seafood.

MEUNIERE:
Dredged with flour and sauteed in butter.

MINCE:
To cut or chop food into extremely small pieces.

MIX:
To combine ingredients usually by stirring.

PAN-BROIL:
To cook uncovered in a hot fry pan, pouring off fat as it accumulates.

PAN-FRY:
To cook in small amounts of fat.

PARBOIL:
To boil until partially cooked; to blanch. Usually this procedure is followed by final cooking in a seasoned sauce.

PARE:
To remove the outermost skin of a fruit or vegetable.

PEEL:
To remove the peels from vegetables or fruits.

PICKLE:
To preserve meats, vegetables, and fruits in brine.

PINCH:
A pinch is the trifling amount you can hold between your thumb and forefinger.

PIT:
To remove pits from fruits.

PLANKED:
Cooked on a thick hardwood plank.

PLUMP:
To soak dried fruits in liquid until they swell.

POACH:
To cook very gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point.

PUREE:
To mash foods until perfectly smooth by hand, by rubbing through a sieve or food mill, or by whirling in a blender or food processor.

REDUCE:
To boil down to reduce the volume.

REFRESH:
To run cold water over food that has been parboiled, to stop the cooking process quickly.

RENDER:
To make solid fat into liquid by melting it slowly.

ROAST:
To cook by dry heat in an oven.

SAUTE:
To cook and/or brown food in a small amount of hot fat.

SCALD:
To bring to a temperature just below the boiling point.

SCALLOP:
To bake a food, usually in a casserole, with sauce or other liquid. Crumbs often are sprinkled over.

SCORE:
To cut narrow grooves or gashes partway through the outer surface of food.

SEAR:
To brown very quickly by intense heat. This method increases shrinkage but develops flavor and improves appearance.

SHRED:
To cut or tear in small, long, narrow pieces.

SIFT:
To put one or more dry ingredients through a sieve or sifter.

SIMMER:
To cook slowly in liquid over low heat at a temperature of about 180°. The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.

SKIM:
To remove impurities, whether scum or fat, from the surface of a liquid during cooking, thereby resulting in a clear, cleaner-tasting final produce.

STEAM:
To cook in steam in a pressure cooker, deep well cooker, double boiler, or a steamer made by fitting a rack in a kettle with a tight cover. A small amount of boiling water is used, more water being added during steaming process, if necessary.

STEEP:
To extract color, flavor, or other qualities from a substance by leaving it in water just below the boiling point.

STERILIZE:
To destroy micro organisms by boiling, dry heat, or steam.

STEW:
To simmer slowly in a small amount of liquid for a long time.

STIR:
To mix ingredients with a circular motion until well blended or of uniform consistency.

TOSS:
To combine ingredients with a lifting motion.

TRUSS:
To secure poultry with string or skewers, to hold its shape while cooking.

WHIP:
To beat rapidly to incorporate air and produce expansion, as in heavy cream or egg whites.

(Thanks to d.umn.edu for the word list)

Step 4: Meat Preparation and Safety

Cooking And Preparation
Cooking changes the palatability of meat by effecting appearance, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. It is important to understand the effects of cooking temperatures, duration, and cooking method in order to achieve the desired palatability changes as well as to destroy illness-causing micro-organisms.

Heat Effects on Appearance
Cooking meat will change the color and texture of the meat according to the temperature at which the meat is cooked.

Meat Color Temperature

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Red 120ºF
Pink 140ºF
Grey 160ºF
Grey-Brown 170ºF
Sugar-Amine (surface browning)     194ºF

The table below indicates the temperatures required to cook different meats to the desired "doneness". Note that meat which is rare may not have been cooked long enough to kill all illness causing microorganisms. Safe cooking temperatures vary by species.

How Well Done Temperature

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beef/Lamb 
Very well done 180°F
Well done 170°F
Medium 160°F
Medium-Rare 145°F
Rare (Not recommended) 140°F
Very Rare (Not recommended) 130°F
  
Ground Beef (safest range) 160-170°F
  
Pork/Veal 
Well 170°F
Medium 160°F
No lower is recommended 
  
Poultry 170-180°F
  
Cured & Precooked Meat Products 155-165°F

Heat Effects on Tenderness
Tenderness is perceived to the consumer of meat by the softness to tongue and cheek, resistance to tooth pressure, ease of fragmentation, mealiness, adhesion and residue after chewing. Heating meat can cause both tenderization and toughening. Heating at all temperatures will cause an immediate improvement in tenderness. However, at high temperatures (above 160 degrees Fahrenheit) tenderization is then followed by toughening. Upon continued heating at these higher temperatures, the meat will again become more tender but will require several hours to approach the tenderness of the initial heating.

Heat Effects on Juiciness
As meat is heated, it will lose some water due to evaporation and drip loss. The amount of water lost will depend on the temperature and length of time the meat is cooked and the waterholding capacity of the meat. Marbling (intramuscular fat) and subcutaneous fat offer some protection against water evaporation during cooking.

Heat Effects on Flavor
Flavor is the mixture of sensations from taste, smell, pressure, temperature (hot,cold) and mild pain.  Cooking releases volatiles from protein and fat which change the flavor of the meat.  New compounds may also be formed as is the case with sugar-amine browning or the warmed over flavor caused by oxidative changes

(thanks to ag.ansc.purdue.edu for this info that i typed)

Step 5: Mixing Batters

Picture of Mixing Batters

While there are scores of methods used in baking, many recipes for cakes, muffins, cookies, and more utilize one of two methods: the muffin method or the creaming method.   (The muffin method is not just for muffins and is common to many recipes.)  Once you understand these two methods, you will quickly recognize the method in any recipe and instantly know what you must do to mix the batter or dough properly.  Understanding these methods and how they work will make you a better baker. 

The Creaming Method

In the creaming method, we cream the fat (butter or shortening) with the sugar until light and then add the other ingredients. In the muffin method, we mix the liquids and the dry ingredients separately and then stir them together until just combined.


In the creaming method, place the butter or shortening in the mixing bowl of your electric mixture. Add the sugar, spices, and salt and cream the mixture together with the paddle attachment for the mixer. (Of course, recipes that call for oil instead of butter or shortening cannot be creamed unless you substitute butter or shortening.) The objective is to drive the sharp sugar crystals through the butter or shortening creating tiny voids of air in the mixture. This entrained air will help the muffins rise.

The creaming method has two advantages: The sugar and fat are well-dispersed in the batter and the entrained air tends to make for a light, fine crumb in the muffins.

Steps in the Creaming Method
1. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, cream together the butter or shortening and sugars, spices, and salt until light.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, creaming after each.
3. Add the liquid ingredients and stir them in. Do not over-stir or you may reduce the entrained air in the creamed mixture.
4. Mix the flour and leavenings together and then add them to the creamed mixture. Mix until just combined.
5. Place in tins or a pan and bake immediately as set forth in the recipe.

The Muffin Method

The muffin method is quick and easy. Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together including the eggs then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture with a spatula and you’re ready to bake. (Don’t use the electric mixer.) Stir the two mixtures together with a spatula only until combined—not lump free—so that the gluten in the flour will not be developed.

(One advantage of the muffin method is that both the dry and the wet ingredients can be mixed the night before. Store the wet ingredients in the refrigerator and then add the wet to the dry ingredients in the morning and you’re ready to bake. You’ll save time on that busy morning.)

Steps in the Muffin Method
1. Whisk all the wet ingredients together including the eggs and oil or melted butter.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until just moistened.
4. Place in tins and bake immediately as set forth in the recipe.

thanks to preparedpantry.com for the info...

Step 6: Mirepoix

Picture of Mirepoix

Mirepoix Overview:

Mirepoix is a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauces, soups and other foods. The proportions (by weight) for making mirepoix are 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery.

Mirepoix Pronunciation:

"Meer-pwah"

Chopping Vegetables for Mirepoix:

Mirepoix is ultimately strained out of the finished stock, so it's not important to use great precision when chopping the vegetables. The sizes should be more or less uniform, however, to allow for uniform cooking times.

The more finely mirepoix is chopped, the more quickly its flavor and aroma is released into a stock. Since brown stock is simmered longer than white stock, it's perfectly acceptable to cut the mirepoix into pieces an inch or two in size. For white stock, a ½-inch dice is probably best.

Mirepoix in Brown Stock:

Use a pound of mirepoix per 6 quarts of cold water. For added flavor and color, the mirepoix is roasted before adding it to the stock liquid.

Mirepoix in White Stock:

Use a pound of mirepoix per 5 quarts of cold water.

Mirepoix in Fish Stock:

Use half a pound of mirepoix per gallon of cold water. The mirepoix and fish bones can be cooked in butter for a few minutes before adding the water.

Mirepoix Variations:

•Leeks can be used in place of some or all of the onions.
•If you want a colorless stock, you can make a "white mirepoix" by substituting parsnips, mushroom trimmings, or both, for the carrots, or just omitting the carrots altogether

Comments

Pettycache (author)2013-02-22

You might want to edit your "Peeling root vegetables" section to remove "to peel the above-mentioned jicama", since you hadn't previously mentioned jicama. It was mentioned on the ehow page that apple linked to, though.

apple... (author)2012-02-17

You have a lot of great information here, however it looks like you copied and pasted ALL OF IT: http://www.smithfield.com/articles/article/how-to-peel-vegetables http://www.ehow.com/how_2303100_peel-root-vegetables.html http://www.foodforthoughtonline.net/Peeling.html http://www.dashrecipes.com/blogs/dashboard/2011/04/13-10-Things-To-Do-With-Eggs.html http://www.d.umn.edu/~alphanu/cookery/glossary_cooking.html http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/meat_quality/cooking.html http://www.preparedpantry.com/Baking-recipes.htm http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/seasoningflavoring/p/mirepoix.htm And even the images: http://tinabloggar.blogspot.com/2009/02/vita-kok.html http://weecookery.blogspot.com/2009/01/chopping-vegetables-safely.html http://www.richardlydiard.com/achives/scramble_scramble.html http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/pictures/34127/20-food-gifts-for-teachers/2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirepoix_%28cuisine%29

GummiBear (author)apple...2012-02-21

I am sorry, but it is NOT copied and pasted. I typed it with help from the websites! And, i cannot believe you took the time to go to all those websites and check them. Such dedication, you must not like me...

GummiBear (author)apple...2012-02-21

I am sorry, but it is NOT copied and pasted. I typed it with help from the websites! And, i cannot believe you took the time to go to all those websites and check them. Such dedication, you must not like me...

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