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Archive for the ‘Cook's Glossary’

Blanch / Blanching

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary, Recipe Categories:, Recipes by Main Ingredient, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetables No Comments →

Blanching is a quick-cooking process in which food is briefly plunged into boiling water to partially cook for a minute or two, then immediately transferred to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Example recipe, using blanched or par-boiled broccoli:
Batter-Fried Broccoli

8 servings

2 pounds broccoli (use the florets and very tops of stems)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

Parboil (blanch) the broccoli florets for 2 or 3 minutes to tenderize but not fully cook. Set aside to evaporate and dry. (Broccoli must be dry, or batter will not stick.)

Meanwhile mix remaining ingredients to make a batter. Heat 4 to 5 cups of vegetable oil to 350° in a deep fryer. Batter the broccoli to coat and deep-fry, in batches, for about 3 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve hot as is or with assorted dips, such as a ranch-style dressing or mustard-mayonnaise.

Note* If you do not have a deep fryer, such as a FryDaddy™ or a FryBaby™ an electric-skillet will do just fine. Make sure you get your oil up to temperature and hold it there, frying small batches at a time, so as not to cool down the oil. This will keep your batter from absorbing too much oil and becoming soggy.

Example recipe, using blanched asparagus:
Asparagus-Prosciutto Appetizer Spears

Fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
Cream cheese
Prosciutto (imported Italian salt and air-cured ham)

Trim asparagus by “snapping” off woody ends. Plunge into boiling water until crisp-tender. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Spread middle-third of each spear with a little cream cheese and wrap in thinly sliced prosciutto ham to cover the cream cheese. Arrange on serving platter.

Balsamic Vinegar

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →

Balsamic vinegar is an aged reduction of white sweet grapes (Trebbiano for red and Spergola for white sauvignon) that are boiled to a syrup. The grapes are cooked very slowly in copper cauldrons over an open flame until the water content is reduced by over 50%. The resulting “must” is placed into wooden barrels and an older balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acidification. Each year the vinegar is transferred to different wood barrels so that the vinegar can obtain some of the flavors of the different woods. The only approved woods are oak, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, acacia, juniper, and ash. The age of the vinegar is divided into young - from 3 to 5 years maturation; middle aged 6 to 12 years and the highly prized very old which is at least 12 years and up to 150 years old, and is consequently very expensive.

As the vinegar ages, its flavor becomes more intense, its color deepens, and its price more expensive. Don’t let the variety of Balsamic Vinegars out there intimidate you—pick a good “middle of the road” medium-priced one and you will be very pleased with the results it gives you in your cooking.

Pretty soon you will find yourself adding Balsamic vinegar to sauces, salads, roasts and gravies, vegetables, and even dessert! (Fresh, sweet strawberries sprinkled with a little Balsamic vinegar—very popular! And the finest Balsamic vinegar, drizzled over ice cream—that’s very chic too …)

All About Apples

November 08, 2008 By: Brook Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →


There really is truth to the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have a list of health benefits a mile long, including everything from lowering cholesterol to providing fiber to aiding with healthy lungs and minimizing asthma. Apples and apple juice are excellent additions to anyone’s diet.

Some of the best apples to use for cooking are: Granny Smith, Fuji, McIntosh, Pippin, Rome, and Winesap.

For just general good snacking and popping into your lunch box keep Red, Green, and Golden Delicious apples in your fruit basket.

Weights and measures:
1 pound of apples = approximately 2 large, 3 medium, 4 to 5 small
1 pound of apples yields about 3 cups, peeled, sliced, and ready to cook.

Shoepeg Corn

March 30, 2008 By: brooknoel Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →

Once in a while you will see an ethnic or regional recipe calling for the term “shoepeg” corn. Shoepeg corn is a canned white-kernelled sweet corn and if you can’t find it in your market, just substitute the more familiar yellow-kernelled corn instead.

Chili Sauce

March 30, 2008 By: brooknoel Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →

A spicy-hot-sauce-blend of tomatoes, chilies, onions, peppers, vinegar, sugar and spices used as a condiment or seasoning or for homemade sauces–not to be confused with cocktail sauce (which looks very similar but has horseradish in it). Find in the ketchup/condiment section of your market.


March 30, 2008 By: brooknoel Category: Cook's Glossary No Comments →

A French culinary term, that simply means leafy green herbs or greens that have been cut into very thin strips.