Techniques

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The Too Easy Gourmet cookbook contains useful cooking techniques such as Browning, Deglazing, Flambé, Frothing Eggs, Juicing a Lemon, Grating Cheese, and Making a Scallopini.

Browning

The purpose of this is to assure that a tender piece of meat (sirloin, pork loin) stays juicy inside when cooked. This is done by frying the meat in a pan for about one minute on each side (or till well brown) on high heat. Both sides will turn dark, sealing in the juices yet does not cook the meat on the inside. (Further cooking at lower heat will do this, without drying it out.) Allow for a little smoke, but stop when the meat is dark.

Deglazing

The best tasting part of food that is fried in a pan is the bits of well cooked meat and burned butter that stick to the inside of the fry pan mixed with run off fat and butter. Deglazing, is a method of getting all that flavor into a sauce that can be served with the meat. To deglaze, remove the pan from the stove after cooking and add a small amount of liquid (Lemon Juice, Wine, or broth). With a spatula, use the liquid to loosen up and scrap up all the flavor bits into a sauce. (Keep the pan off the stove or the liquid just evaporates away.) The amount of liquid determines the thickness of the sauce. To make thinner add more liquid. To thicken, heat to evaporate liquid intentionally, or a small amounts of flour.

Flambé

More than looking impressive, adding a liquor to food and igniting it actually caramelizes the sugars in the dish and adds a nice flavor as well as leaving a hint of the alcohol flavor. It is relatively safe because alcohol burns at a low temperature. Flambé is done by first assuring the liquor used is a room temperature or slightly warmer. (Too cold the liquor won't ignite; Too warm will cause the liquor to evaporate off.) Pour the liquid into the dish and touch a match to it. Tilt pan and move liquid to keep the flame going as long as possible. (Note: AA doesn't recommend liquor in dishes for people with alcohol problems because it does not all burn off.)

Frothing Eggs

This make egg whites into high, light merange for dishes like souffle and lemon merange pies. The key is to start with room temperature egg whites is a large open bowl and get lots of air into the egg whites. Using a clean and very dry whisk (or egg beater) starting beating egg whites at a slow speed and then after about 30 seconds change to high speed and do not stop until frothing is complete. Whites are done when they are stiff, opaque with no visible bubbles and are just starting to be shiny. When done handle egg whites as little as possible because each handling causes them to lose volume.

Juicing a Lemon

Roll the lemon, (room temperature) on the counter with the palm of your hand with slight pressure. This will make it juicy. Cut and squeeze out juice. Remove seeds.

Grating Cheese

Rather than buying powdered cheese called grated cheese, always buy a piece of fresh cheese and grate it fresh with a small hand held grater. It is cheaper and far tastier, especially on pasta.

Making a Scallopini

The purpose of this is to shape a meat so that it is the same thickness all over and will cook evenly. Place the boneless meat between two pieces of wax paper (to prevent sticking) and using a weight (meat mallet, rolling pin, Emmy award) and pound on meat until it is evenly 1/4" thick.
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Ben Levitan, benlev@aol.com

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