Tips and Tricks

General Cooking Tips



  • Temperature Danger Zone: foods should be kept at temperatures between 41°-135°F
  • Refrigerators should be maintained at 40°F or less
  • The FDA Food Code requires that foods be cooled from 135° to 70° F within two hours and from 70°-41° F within an additional four hours
  • Thaw foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave, but never at room temperature
  • High Altitude Cooking: increase liquid and flour; decrease leavening agent and time

Common Equivalents

  • 1 pint = 2 cups=16 fl.oz=32T=96t
  • 1 cup=8 fl. oz=16 T = 48t
  • 1 large egg=2 fl. oz
  • 4 large eggs = just under 1 cup
  • 8-10 egg whites or 12-14 egg yolks = 1 cup

Common Temperatures (F)

  • Boiling 212°
  • Simmering 180°
  • Poaching 160°-180°
  • Scalding 150°

Eggs

  • The best way to boil an egg is to actually simmer it; then cool in ice water
  • Prevent that green ring in boiled eggs: use fresh eggs, simmer, don’t boil, cool in ice water
  • Best way to store eggs is on the top shelf of the fridge; not low or in the ‘egg bin’ in the door
  • Egg whites can be frozen without harm
  • Whole eggs or egg yolks can be frozen but must have sugar, salt or syrup added to them first
  • Egg whites are excellent foaming agents and two ingredients stabilize the egg foam: cream of tartar and sugar
  • Salt and fat (oil/butter) suppress foam, so if you need fluffy meringues, don’t use oil or salt
  • If a recipe calls for raw eggs, best to use a pasteurized egg product
  • When making an egg foam, always use room temperature eggs

Milk

  • Buttermilk substitutes:
    • 1 cup milk and juice of one lemon for buttermilk; let it stand for 3-5 minutes before incorporating into recipe
    • Plain yogurts
    • Kefir
    • Sour cream
  • Milk substitute: 1 part evaporated milk to 1 part water
  • Homogenized milk has been processed so that the fat globules are broken up, which prevents a cream layer forming
  • Pasteurized milk is milk that has been processed to kill pathogens
  • Homogenized, pasteurized milk is not sterile, only UHT milk is sterile (ultra-heat-treatment)
  • UHT milk and creams are in the boxes on the shelves at the grocer; not in the cold dairy section
  • The best way to cook with milk is low heat; high heat causes the whey proteins to form a skin on the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • When making a whipped cream, use cold cream, a cold bowl and cold mixing utensils, otherwise, you’ll end up with butter
  • When cooking with milk, always add acid to the milk at the end of the heating period

Cheese

  • When melting cheese, a sharp cheese melts better than a mild cheese due to the aging process; aging breaks down proteins which allow the cheese to melt
  • High fat cheese melts faster and leave an oily residue
  • Low fat cheese separates when melted
  • Cheddar cheese has more calcium than cottage cheese
    • cheddar cheese is a rennet cheese, wherein the calcium is retained in the curd
    • cottage cheese is an acid cheese, wherein the caseins coagulate and the calcium is lost in the whey
  • When cooking with cheese, select the best cheese, shred, grate or cube cheese before melting at a low temperature; in sauces, add the cheese at the end of the heating period to prevent separation

Seasonings

  • When using whole or ground spices, add whole spices at the beginning of the cooking process; ground spices at the end
  • Fresh vs. dried herbs: use a 3:1 ratio for fresh : dried herbs
  • White pepper is stronger than black pepper because it is ripe; black pepper is not

Thickening Agents

  • Common thickening agents are flour and cornstarch; if you use flour, you’ll need twice as much than if you were using cornstarch
  • Flour contains proteins and starch, which makes the gravy cloudy instead of translucent
  • Roux: a mixture of a liquid, starch and melted fat; used to make white sauces and dark roux for savory dishes
  • Slurry: a cold water thickener, usually made with flour or cornstarch

Rice and Grains

  • White rice will produce three times the amount of original product
  • Instant rice and pasta will produce twice the amount of original product

Fruits and Vegetables

 

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