The Cooking Methods
If you're cooking simply as a way to put a meal on the table in the quickest and easiest way possible, you'll find many recipes you can use in this book. If, on the other hand, you live to cook, you've probably amassed all sorts of gadgets and gizmos and immersed yourself in the process. There's something in this book for you, too. No matter how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in the kitchen, the recipes in this book address your needs, giving instructions on how to make great food using a variety of cooking methods, including the following:
Baking involves putting the food that's in a baking pan or ovenproof casserole dish in a preheated oven; the food cooks by being surrounded by the hot, dry air of your oven. (In the case of a convection oven, it cooks by being surround by circulating hot, dry air.)
Braising usually starts by browning a less expensive cut of meat in a pan on top of the stove, and then covering the meat with a small amount of liquid, adding a lid or covering to the pan, and slowly cooking it. Braising can take place on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. The slow-cooking process tenderizes the meat.
Poaching is accomplished by gently simmering ingredients in broth, juice, water, wine, or other flavorful liquid until they're cooked through and tender.
Roasting, like baking, is usually done in the oven, but generally at a higher oven temperature. Food can be roasted by putting it directly on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan; however, fattier cuts of meat are often roasted by placing the meat on a rack inside of a roasting pan so that the rendered fat drips away during roasting. Better cuts of meat that don't require becoming tender during the cooking process are best suited for roasting.
Sautéing is the method of quickly cooking small or thin pieces of food in some oil or butter that has been brought to temperature in a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Alternatively, you can sauté in a good-quality nonstick pan without using added fat; instead use a little broth, nonstick cooking spray, or water in place of the oil or butter.
Steaming is a cooking method that uses the steam from the cooking liquid to cook the food. In this cookbook, steaming ingredients or vegetables in a covered container placed in the microwave is sometimes suggested.
Stewing is similar to braising in that food is slowly cooked in a liquid; however, stewing involves a larger liquid to food ratio. In other words, you use far more liquid when you're stewing food. Not surprising, this method is most often used to make stew.
Stir-Frying is a cooking process similar to sautéing that's used to cook larger, bite-sized pieces of meat or vegetables in oil; the cooking is done in a wok or deep nonstick frying pan.
Tempering is the act of gradually increasing the temperature of one cooking ingredient by adding small amounts of a hotter ingredient to the first. For example, tempering beaten eggs by whisking small amounts of hot liquid into them before you add the eggs to the cooking pan allows them to be mixed into the dish; tempering prevents them from scrambling.