OK, so here we go! The first piece of my new blog series will cover the basic cooking methods we all need to be familiar with. I bet you use most of them already, even if you did not know how they’re called.
According to the type of heat applied to your food, cooking methods can be divided to two categories (plus a third, when these two are combined):
Dry heat methods:
Bake/Roast. Items are cooked in the oven or other enclosed area where heat is applied until food is golden brown and tender.
Grill/Broil. Applying very high temperature for a shorter time period. The heat source is from below when grilling, and from above when broiling.
Deep Fry. Food is completely submerged in a hot fat. The result is a crispy, golden brown exterior and a fully cooked interior.
Pan Fry. Done by adding enough fat to a hot pan so that the fat comes up about half the side of the pan. Food is partially submerged in the fat and then flipped over so both sides can cook.
Sauté. Food is cooked in a thin layer of fat over medium-high heat, usually in a frying pan on the stovetop, just until tender.
Sear. Done with minimal amounts of fat over high heat. Searing gives food a brown, caramelized outside, while not cooking the interior fully.
Flambé. Alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames.
Moist heat methods:
Blanche. Food is par-cooked by boiling and then submerged immediately in an ice-bath to stop the cooking process.
Boil. Foods are boiled in water, completely submerged in the boiling liquid and cooked until tender, then drained.
Poach. Food is completely submerged in liquid until fully cooked through and tender.
Scald. Accomplished in water heated to around 185 °F (85 °C), usually in a double boiler, which conducts the heat of the water, contained in a bigger pan, to a smaller pan containing the food, thus avoiding contact between food and water.
Simmer. Slowly cooked with a liquid in a pot on the stovetop.
Steam. Food is 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.
Braise/Stew. A combination cooking method that first involves sautéing or searing an item, then simmering it in liquid for a long cooking period until tender. Food is in bigger parts when braising, while diced ingredients are used when stewing.
Check out this excellent Chasing Delicious chart! I’m thinking of featuring more of Russell’s infographics in this series, they are such great sources of information.
Before you ask, I’m not turning My Chest of Wonders into a travel blog. On the other hand, there were some aspects to the late summer vacay we took to the Croatian Adriatic that you guys can surely relate to: food, of course.
We were pondering the number of visits to our southern neighbour’s amazing seaside with the Fiance on the 8-hour drive, but couldn’t come up with a figure. Many, many times. Only thing that’s sure is that my first trip to the country was in 1997, shortly after the Yugoslav War.
Croatia can roughly be divided into 3 regions: Mainland including the capital city, the peninsula of Istria close to Italy, and coastal Dalmatia, people and culture being different in each territorial unit. That includes architecture, dialects, and you guessed, cuisine too. From a culinary point of view the seaside is more interesting to me, thanks to the Mediterranean and Italian-influenced eating habits.
We got some cloudy days, and admittedly there’s not much to do in the tiny seaside settlements when you can’t go to the beach. That is why we were thrilled to have found a brochure on the reception desk advertising olive oil tasting in Marušići, the next village just a kilometer down the winding coastal road. Off we went, and what an experience it was!
Naturally, olive oil is widely available at home too, but it’s quite a new addition to the average Hungarian kitchen. Even my parents’ generation was raised on meals prepared with lard. Yes, that is pig fat, horrific as it may sound for some (note to self: write an entry in its defence). Ok Fruzsi, focus. Since Hungary’s climate is not suitable for growing olives general knowledge, or at least mine for sure, is quite limited when it comes to olive oil.
Well, Orgula and our lovely hostess Bojana changed that for us. We had the pleasure of trying 3 different extra virgin olive oils accompanied with local delicacies, and got a tour of the olive mill too. You have to go see it for yourself, but here’s a teaser trailer:
The beginnings of olive growing in Dalmatia date back to the late Bronze Age. It is estimated that around 4.5 million olive trees are thriving in the barren soil today with Oblica, an indigenous variety taking up the majority of olive groves.
On the steep south-facing karst slopes unsuitable for irrigation and machine farming, the finest quality olive oil with moderate bitterness and pungency and a strong smell of fresh olive fruit is still produced mostly within family farms. This is what you call heritage.
It takes 10 to 15 kg of olives, harvested manually in the late autumn months, to make 1 liter of oil, the intensity of taste depending on the maturity of the fruit (the riper the olives, the milder the oil).
Orgula extracts oil with cold-press method in the modern mill for a commission and also sells its own branded products on the spot. The guided oil tasting, somewhat similar to a wine tasting, takes place on the terrace with a spectacular view of the sea and island Brač under clear skies, or in the tasting room if weather’s bad.
This tapas-like culinary experience is perfect as a light lunch or dinner. All the food we had along the oils (fresh and aged cheese, various breads, sea salt, wine and non-alcoholic drinks) were locally made and organic, served on the most amazing olive wood trays.
Our sincerest compliments to the company for this initiative creating a new attraction for the tourism palette and surprising a couple who thought they’d seen all Dalmatia has to offer. A great spot you’d be sorry to miss on your next trip to the Adriatic. Can’t wait to open the bottle of Premium, Orgula’s most intense and characteristic oil favored by locals, to offer our family and friends to enjoy!
*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*
Eat fresh, buy local! Those stalls at the market are barely holding up under all the beautiful produce in season. I tend to mourne summer a little, but also adore this time of the year. So looking forward to the new season!
Let me start with an acknowledgement: I am thankful to have a family as a source of unvarnished truth when it comes to my blogging. If it weren’t for them, I may have not recognized that in several of my previous posts I used culinary terms without realizing there might be some of you who are probably not familiar with the vocabulary. Major bummer!
And it’s not because you guys missed the smart train or something… I totally wasn’t born with the knowledge either, nor were my first words in French culinary lingo. So to take appropriate measures righting my wrong, I’ve decided to start a new blog series that will acquaint you with the vernacular. Not the fine-dining-everyday douchebag expletives, but just enough to find your way around common kitchen jargon. How about that!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional cook by any means. Making and serving a good meal is a crucial part of my love language though. Culinary art is my passion, something I enjoy a great deal. I am an information sponge when it comes to cooking and baking, these things interest me largely. I don’t want to impart wisdom, just would like to infect you all with my enthusiasm and love for food.
That said, here’s the deal. Every now and again I will post about Kitchen 101 exploring the fundamentals of cooking and baking, entries with information covering everything you need to know on a non-professional level. Think cooking methods, principles, techniques and terms, explained with plain and simple descriptions you can refer to whenever in need.
Learning to cook (and/or getting better at it) is a life long process that is both rewarding and challenging. Let’s broaden our knowledge, sharpen our skills and become serious home cooks together. And most importantly: enjoy time spent in the kitchen, be confident, create and eat good!