Cooking Terms, part 4

This is the last installment of cooking terms.  I have really enjoyed putting these together, and I hope you are finding these helpful in your cooking adventures!

-quick bread – any bread that doesn’t require kneading or rising.  Basically, bread products that don’t require yeast, but are leavened with baking soda or powder.  Muffins, banana bread, and biscuits are examples.  The important thing to note when making a quick bread is to not stir the dough too much.  You don’t want to develop gluten, which happens with stirring or kneading.  Just mix until combined and then stop.  It can be a bit lumpy.

-quinoa – an ancient grain that is very popular.  The great thing about quinoa is it is a complete protein source, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids.  It is the only grain that is a complete protein.  You can easily substitute quinoa for rice in many dishes.  It also cooks much faster than many other whole grains.

-reduce – Term often used when making a sauce.  You boil a liquid to decrease the volume of the liquid.  This concentrates the flavor.

-render – This is a process for getting fat from a meat/poultry product.  You cook the meat over moderate to low heat and melt the fat out.

-roux – a mixture of flour and fat used to thicken other mixtures such as soup or sauce.  Traditionally, you use equal parts fat and flour, with butter being the common fat.  I like to use half of the fat and still find it works well.  Depending on how long you cook the roux before adding the liquid will change the color and therefore the flavor the roux adds.  If you just cook it until it begins to slightly brown, it won’t add much flavor.  However, a brown roux, which is cooked to a deep golden brown will add a nutty flavor to your sauce.  But it will also darken it.

-saute – to cook food quickly in a small amount of fat over high heat.  You can also dry saute without fat.  Or try substituting stock for the oil.  Saute generally refers to less oil than fry.

-simmer – cook food gently in liquid that just begins to bubble.  This is a slightly cooler temperature than boiling (about 185).  Often you will bring a liquid to a boil then reduce it down to a simmer.

-smoke point – the heat at which a fat begins to smoke and emit acrid smells.  This is important for frying and grilling.  You want to use a fat with the appropriate smoke point.  For example, butter has a low smoke point.  We don’t deep fry in melted butter because it would be acrid at frying temperatures.  Olive oil has a relatively smoke point as well.  Vegetable oils, like peanut, corn, and safflower oil, all have higher smoke points.

-spice – aromatic compounds obtained from the bark, stems, roots, or seeds of plants (compared to herbs which are leaves).

-umami – the fifth taste, which refers to savory flavors.  It is especially associated with MSG.  I also like to think of it in relation to savory dishes such as meat or ingredients like soy sauce.

Happy eating this week!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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