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Cooking Dictionary: Part 3

8 Oct

Pinch: The amount of dry ingredients you can hold in a pinch (between your thumb and forefinger). It’s equivalent to 1/16 teaspoon.

Puree: To mash a food to a smooth, thick consistency.

Sauté: To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat.

Spatula: A flat utensil. Some are shaped to scrape sides of the mixing bowl; others are shaped to flip foods, or to stir ingredients in a curved bowl.

Sear: To burn or scorch a food with an application of intense heat.

Simmer: To cook food gently in liquid at a temperature low enough that tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface (around 185 degrees).

Steam: A cooking method in which food is placed in a steamer basket over boiling water in a covered pan.

Stir-Fry: To quickly fry small pieces of food in a large pan over very high heat while stirring.

Whisk: A utensil with looped wires in the shape of a teardrop, used for whipping ingredients like batters, sauces, eggs, and cream. The whisk helps add air into the batter.

Zester: A utensil with tiny cutting holes on one end that creates threadlike strips of peel when pulled over the surface of a lemon lime or orange. It removes only the colored outer portion of the peel (zest).

Source: Cooking 101: WebMD

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Cooking Dictionary: Part 2

4 Oct

Here’s a cheat sheet to help you figure out confusing words you may come across in recipes.

 

Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.

Convection Oven: An oven equipped with a fan that provides continuous circulation of hot air around the food.

Cut in: To mix a solid, cold fat (like shortening or butter) with dry ingredients until the mixture takes the form of small particles. It can be done with a food processor, a handheld tool called a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives.

Dash: A very small amount of seasoning added to food. It’s somewhere between 1/16 teaspoon and a scant 1/8 teaspoon.

Dice: To cut food into tiny cubes (1/8 to 1/4 inch).

Dilute: To reduce a mixture’s strength by adding liquid (usually water).

Dollop: A small glob of soft food, such as whipped cream.

Dredge: To lightly coat a food with flour, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs before frying or baking.

Dust: Lightly coating a food with a powdery liquid, such as flour or powdered sugar.

Egg Wash: Egg yolk or egg white mixed with a small amount of water or milk. It’s brushed over baked goods before baking to give them gloss and color.
Source: Cooking 101: WebMD

Cooking Dictionary Part 1

2 Oct

Here’s a cheat sheet to help you figure out confusing words you may come across in recipes.

Al dente: Italian phrase meaning “to the tooth,” used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers slight resistance when bitten into.

Au gratin: A dish that is topped with cheese or a mixture of breadcrumbs and butter, then heated in the oven or under the broiler until brown and crispy.

Au jus:French phrase describing meat that is served with its own natural cooking juices.

Au lait: French for “with milk.”

Bain-marie: A water bath used to cook certain dishes.

Baking powder: A leavener (which helps a dough or batter rise or become light in texture) that contains a combination of baking soda; an acid (such as cream of tartar); and a moisture-absorber (like cornstarch).

Baking sheet: A flat sheet of metal, usually rectangular, used to bake cookies, biscuits, etc.

Baking soda: Bicarbonate of soda. Baking soda is used as a leavener in baked recipes. When combined with an acid like buttermilk, yogurt, or vinegar in a batter, it produces bubbles from carbon dioxide gas that allowing the batter to rise as it bakes.

Blackened: A cooking method in which meat or fish, usually rubbed with Cajun spices, is cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet.

Broth/bouillon: A liquid made by cooking vegetables, poultry, meat, or fish. The flavored liquid is strained off after cooking.

Braise: A cooking method, on top of a stove or in the oven, in which food is browned in fat, and then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid, at low heat for a long time.

Broil: To cook or brown food by placing it under the broiling unit in an oven. The broiling unit is usually at the top of the oven, but older ovens may have a broiler drawer underneath. Recipes often call for placing the food 4-6 inches away from the broiling unit.

Brown: To cook quickly over high heat, causing the surface of the food to turn brown while the interior stays moist.

Brush: To apply a liquid with a pastry brush to the surface of food.

 

Source: Cooking 101: WebMD

Buying, Storing & Cooking Chicken

30 Sep

 

Here are some tips for buying, storing, and cooking this popular type of poultry:

  • Check the “buy by” date when buying fresh chicken to get the latest possible date.
  • Never leave cooked chicken out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. And don’t leave raw or frozen chicken at room temperature, if you can help it. Use unfrozen raw chicken (stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator) within 2 days.
  • Thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator, or, if you have to, use the defrost setting on your microwave and watch it carefully.
  • Rinse raw chicken pieces with cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel (which you then throw away) before you start your recipe.
  • Clean everything that comes into contact with raw chicken or its juices with hot, soapy water.
  • Chicken should always be cooked throughout. Check for doneness by making a slit in the thickest part of the piece of chicken piece, then look to see if it is cooked through to the middle. The juices from the chicken should run clear (not pink).
  • When marinating chicken, don’t use the same marinade that was on your raw chicken as a basting sauce during cooking or a dipping sauce afterward. Put some marinade aside before adding the chicken to use for basting and dipping.

Source: WebMD

Cooking Pasta

28 Sep

 

 

  • Make sure to cook the pasta in plenty of water in a large saucepan or stockpot. Pasta needs lots of space to move around. And bring your water to a full, rolling boil before you add the pasta.
  • You can add a tablespoon of oil to the water to help keep the pasta from sticking together, but it isn’t mandatory.
  • Adding salt to the water is optional, too, but it can add flavor and help the pasta absorb sauce better.
  • Only add one type or shape of pasta to your boiling water. If they’re different shapes, they will probably have different cooking times, too.
  • Pasta should be tender but still slightly firm to the bite (this is called al dente). If you cook the pasta beyond this, you can still eat it. But it will be softer and potentially mushier.
  • Drain cooked pasta in a colander in the sink. Rinse only if you’re making a cold pasta salad. The starch that is sitting on the outside of your pasta can help the sauce stick better. When you rinse your pasta, the starch rinses away.
  • Make pasta a meal by using a sauce and adding vegetables and/or cheese. You can also add grilled or roasted chicken or other meat. Try frozen cooked shrimp — just defrost in the microwave, and they’re ready to add to your dish.
  • Stuffed pasta, like ravioli and tortellini, is an easy way to make your pasta dish seem more like a meal. Just cover with sauce and you’re good to go!

Source: WebMD

How to Chop an Onion

27 Sep

1. Be sure to use a clean cutting board and clean, sharp knife.

2. Wash & Peel Onion

2. Cut in half through both root and stem

3. Take one half and cut thin vertical slices across onion in one direction

4. Cut 2-3 horitzonal slices through onion

5. Turn onion and cut thin vertical slice in opposite direction as before

6. Repeat with second half

How To Poach An Egg

22 Sep

1. Place 1 1/2 in of water in a non stick skillet

2. Bring water to a slow simmer.

3. Break egg into a small cup

4. Carefully submerge cup and lower egg into simmering water.

5. Cook for 4.5 minutes

6. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel.

Tip: Taming Your Sweet Tooth

12 Sep

(HealthDay News) — The occasional sweet treat is fine. But if your sweet tooth acts up daily, there are things you can do to help keep your cravings in check.

The American Council on Exercise offers this advice:

  • Eat lots of fiber to help you feel full, and include some fruits and berries to enjoy something sweet.
  • Keep only a single serving of chocolate or other high-calorie sweet on hand.
  • Avoid vending machines.
  • Prepare homemade trail mix, including pretzels, nuts and dried fruit.
  • Eat your sweet treat slowly, savoring and enjoying each bite so you feel better satisfied.

 

Source: Women’s Health

Tip: Senior Nutritional Needs

3 Aug

A balanced diet and physical activity can do wonders for the senior in your life. It contributes tremendously to enhanced independence and a greater quality of life. There are many factors that contribute to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. We highlight just a few of them below. More information on Senior Nutrition can be found at helpguide.org.

 

How many calories do seniors need?

A woman over 50 who is:

  • Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
  • Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
  • Very active needs about 2000 calories a day

A man over 50 who is:

  • Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
  • Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
  • Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day

 

Senior food pyramid guidelines

Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for around 1 ½ to 2 servings each day. Break the apple and banana rut and go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons.

Veggies – Color is your credo in this category. Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Try for 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day.

Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

Grains – Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber. If you’re not sure, look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list. Seniors need 6-7 ounces of grains each day (one ounce is about 1 slice of bread).

Protein – Seniors need about 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. Simply divide your bodyweight in half to know how many grams you need. A 130-pound woman will need around 65 grams of protein a day. A serving of tuna, for example, has about 40 grams of protein. Vary your sources with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, and seeds.

 

Important vitamin and minerals

Water – Seniors are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of the ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst is dulled as we age. Post a note in your kitchen reminding you to sip water every hour and with meals to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.

Vitamin B – After 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves vital. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin supplement.

Vitamin D – We get most of our vitamin D intake—essential to absorbing calcium—through sun exposure and certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk). With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin.

Tip: What is meant by a “Low Sodium” Diet?

20 Jul

Many of our aging clients are on a “low-sodium” diet, but what exactly does this mean? How much sodium should a healthy individual consume? To answer some of these questions please look at the following facts and recommendations from The Cleveland Clinic:

Sodium is a mineral found in many foods. It helps keep normal fluids balanced in the body. Most people eat foods containing more sodium than they need. Some foods may be high in sodium and not taste salty. Eating too much sodium causes the body to keep or retain too much water.

Following a low-sodium diet helps control high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling, and water build-up (edema). A low-sodium diet also can help decrease breathing difficulties caused when the weakened heart has difficulty pumping excess fluid out of the body.

  • Control the sodium in your diet. Decrease the total amount of sodium you consume to 2,000 mg (2 g) per day.
  • Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.
  • Include high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cooked dried peas and beans (legumes), whole-grain foods, bran, cereals, pasta, rice and fresh fruit. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that helps move food along the digestive tract, better controls blood glucose levels, and may reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. Foods high in fiber include natural antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The goal for everyone is to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories, follow a low-fat diet and exercise regularly to achieve or maintain your ideal body weight.
  • Low sodium = 140 mg or less per serving
  • No sodium = less than 5 mg per serving