“How-To” Cooking – Different Types of Cream

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The main difference between the various creams that are available is the amount of fat content contained within them. The higher the fat content in cream the easier it will be to whip into stable peaks which are needed to achieve a nice, luscious whipped cream. Creams that are higher in fat are also less likely to curdle so they are the best choice for use in hot liquids such as soups or sauces.

  • Half-and-Half – As the name would suggest, this cream is composed of half milk and half cream. It has a fat content of 12% which is less fat than light cream but more fat that milk. It is most commonly used in coffee as it adds a nice creaminess however, half-and-half is not suitable for whipping as it is too low in fat. It is also more likely to curdle when added to hot liquids.
  • Light Cream – With a 20% fat content it is slightly creamier than half-and-half but still lighter than a whipping or heavy cream. It is suitable as an addition to coffee, scrambled eggs, or drizzled on a dessert. Due to the lower fat content it is not a good choice for whipping or to be added to hot liquids.
  • Whipping Cream – As the name would suggest this is the perfect choice for making whipped cream. With a fat content of 35% it will be heavy enough to create stable peaks when whipped and it will not curdle when added to hot soups and sauces. Whipping cream has just slightly less fat than heavy cream however, it is a perfectly acceptable substitution if heavy cream is not available.
  • Heavy Cream – At 38% fat this is the creamiest and most rich of the creams. It is nearly identical to whipping cream, less the slightly higher fat content, so they can be used interchangeably. It can be churned into ice cream, whipped beautifully and it will not curdle when added to hot liquids.

 

“How-To” Baking/Cooking – Measuring Dry and Wet Ingredients

It is extremely important in both baking and cooking to measure your ingredients accurately and the only way to do that is to use the correct vessel. Using the wrong vessel for measuring can drastically alter the accuracy of the measurement. While cooking can be a little more forgiving, it is essential in baking to be as accurate as possible.

For dry ingredientsALWAYS measure dry ingredients using DRY measuring cups or spoons. The most accurate method is to lightly spoon the ingredients into the measuring cup and then sweep off the excess with a flat utensil. This will ensure that not too much of the ingredient gets packed down into the cup. The ONLY exception to this method is brown sugar which, unless otherwise noted, is measured by packing it down into the measuring cup.

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For wet ingredientsALWAYS measure liquids using either a glass or plastic WET measuring cup. The most accurate method is to place the vessel on a flat surface then pour in the liquid in until it reaches the desired marking. Check for accuracy by bending down so you’re at eye level.

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Please note, the most accurate way to measure ANY ingredient is by using a digital food scale. They are very inexpensive but absolutely invaluable in the kitchen, especially for baking.

Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale, 11 lb 5 kg, Silver, Stainless Steel (Batteries Included)

“How-To” Cooking – Compound Butter

Compound butter is nothing more than softened butter that has sweet or savory ingredients whipped into it. It’s typically rolled into a log, chilled and then sliced into pats that can be used to flavor food such as steaks, fish, vegetables, chicken, toast, waffles or even scones. The flavor combinations, both sweet and savory, are endless.

To make compound butter, take softened butter and mix in the sweet or savory ingredients. Transfer the compound butter to either parchment paper or plastic wrap and gently roll into the shape of a log. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing into pieces for serving.

Cinnamon Maple ButterServe with pancakes, waffles, muffins or sweet potatoes

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Brown Sugar Cinnamon ButterServe with toast, pancakes, or French toast

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Berry ButterServe with muffins, scones, waffles or pancakes

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cups berries, diced (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries etc)
  • Dash of granulated sugar

Garlic Herb Butter Serve with steak, fish or vegetables

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary etc)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Cilantro Lime ButterServe with Mexican inspired dishes

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Zest of 1/2 a lime

White Wine and Herb ButterServe with chicken, pasta, or fish

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbs herbs, chopped (basil, thyme, tarragon, etc)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Splash of white wine

“How-To” Cooking – Roasting (Vegetables)

Roasting is an excellent way to bring out an extra depth of flavor in most vegetables. The slight crisp to the edges that roasting gives also adds a nice textural component to the vegetable as well. Root vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips are traditional choices for roasting however, other vegetables such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, onions, and peppers are also excellent choices. The best thing about roasting is that it is super easy and requires very little effort.

To roast vegetables, first cut up the vegetables into bite sized chunks. Then toss them in a good olive oil until they are nicely coated and glossy. Season the vegetables liberally with Kosher salt and fresh black pepper and then spread them out on a cookie sheet leaving some space between the vegetables. Roast the vegetables at 425ºF until they pierce easily with a fork and there is some charred bits on the edges. The charred bits are what make the roasted vegetables taste so good therefore, don’t hesitate to roast the vegetables a little longer to get that char even though they might already be tender.

For more information on roasting, click here .

“How-To” Cooking – Sweating

Sweating, similar to sautéeing, is a French technique of cooking food (usually vegetables) in a little fat, over low heat, in a covered pan. Sweating causes the food to release its juices and cook without browning which in turn, concentrates the flavor of the food. This technique is often used in recipes where the vegeatables/aromatics are not the main ingredients of the dish but rather the background flavor base.

“How-To” Cooking – Studding

Studding means to decorate and/or flavor food by inserting seasonings into the surface of the food. Common ingredients used in studding are garlic, spices (such as cloves), or nuts. Whole hams are commonly studded with cloves, pork roasts are commonly studded with slivers of garlic and/or apple slices, and even breads can be studded with raisins or other dried fruits. Studding enhances the presentation of food and imparts another layer of flavor as well.

“How-To” Cooking – Butterflying

Butterflying is a cooking technique whereby food is cut all the way down the middle, almost all the way through, so that it can be opened up to lie relatively flat. Butterflying allows for fast, even cooking of food and it also makes it easy to stuff and roll up meat.

To butterfly:

  • Beef Filets – First, lay the meat flat on the cutting board. With a chef’s knife, make short, smooth strokes horizontally down the middle of the filet. Avoid cutting the meat so that one side is thicker than the other, both sides need to be about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Cut almost all the way through the meat, stopping right before the two halves are completely severed. Open up the two halves like a butterfly.
  • Chicken Breasts – Lay the breast on the cutting board, smooth side down. First, remove the inner filet known as the chicken tender and set aside. Then, flip the breast over and cut the meat horizontally, just as you would with a beef filet, and follow the same procedure to butterfly. Save the chicken tenders to use for another recipe.
  • Seafood – Shrimp is an easy piece of seafood to butterfly. Using a smaller knife slice shrimp down the curved part of the tail, open it up, and lie flat to butterfly.

“How-To” Cooking – Nonreactive Pans

A nonreactive pan is one that is made of or lined with a material that will not react with acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, citrus juice or vinegar. When using a pan that is not nonreactive it will result in an “off” flavor and an unappealing, but harmless, darker coloring of of the food. This is why a nonreactive pan is essential when cooking certain foods.

The most common nonreactive pans are made of anodized stainless steel but they can also be made from enamel or glass. On the flip side, reactive materials include nonanodized stainless steel, unlined copper or cast iron. Cast iron is the least problematic of the three as it can be used to prepare acidic foods only if the food is not left in the pan for an extended period of time.

“How-To” Cooking – Roasting

Roasting is when dry, indirect heat is used to cook foods. Although similar to baking, the term roasting is typically used when speaking about foods that already have structure prior to cooking, such as meats and vegetables. Food is placed in an open pan and baked uncovered in order to achieve even cooking and browning. When roasting, food is first cooked at a higher temperature in order to create the browned “crust” and then the temperature is lowered for the remainder of the cooking time.

To roast meat, begin by allowing it to come to room temperature before cooking. Place the meat on top of a rack set inside a wide, open roasting pan. This allows air to circulate around the meat encouraging even cooking. If you don’t have a rack, use sturdy vegetables such as leeks or carrots to raise the meat up from the bottom of the pan. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and cook according to recipe instructions. When cooking is complete, allow the roasted meat to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

To roast vegetables, coat generously with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them out in one layer on a large, shallow baking sheet. Do not crowd the pan or the vegetables will steam rather than roast. Roast until the vegetables are fork tender and browned with some charred bits. Harder vegetables, such as potatoes, will take longer to roast than softer vegetables. Also, the smaller the dice, the faster they will roast.

“How-To” Cooking – Making a Mirepoix

The French term, mirepoix (pronounced “meer pwah”) is a group of aromatics that are used to season and flavor sauces, stocks, soups, and other foods. Mirepoix is also referred to as the “Holy Trinity” by many chefs around the world and it consists of finely diced carrots, onions, and celery that are sautéed in butter.

Typically the ratio for a mirepoix is 2 parts onion to 1 part celery and 1 part carrot according to weight. (Example: 1 pound of mirepoix would be 8 oz of onion, 4 oz of celery, and 4 oz of carrot) Since a mirepoix does not have to be exact down to the last ounce it can also be measured by volume to make it easier for the home cook. (Example: 2 cups onions, 1 cup celery, 1 cup carrot)

To make a mirepoix, brown the onions and carrots together over medium heat until nice and brown, then add in the celery and cook until soft.