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Five Basic Cooking Techniques

Updated on August 24, 2015

A chiffonade (pronounced Shif-a-Nod; a French term for "made of rags") is chopping any leafy herb or green into thin ribbons. This is done by simply stacking the herb or green in a pile, then rolling up the stack to produce a cigar shape. Then, using a sharp knife, cut across the width of the roll. Done!

A fine grating of a fruit's peel (particularly lemon or lime) is the zest. There are special tools that can be used to achieve this, but you can also use a regular grater (the smallest holes). Proceed gently (to avoid pulverizing the fruit). And be sure to wash the fruit first.

Creaming butter and sugar proceeds like this: Put both items in the bowl of a stand mixer (it's best to start with softened butter, unless you have a power mixer). Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter and sugar on low speed. Then gradually increase the speed; continue beating for 7 to 10 minutes. The results should be pale and fluffy (the sides of the bowl will probably need to be scraped down a couple of times). Did you know that this method will help cake and cookies rise?

When preparing sauces and gravies, the term reducing means you need to simmer the liquid (usually vinegar or a fruit juice) in a saucepan over medium heat until a part of it evaporates. No measurements are needed to accomplish this (despite what many recipes say). Just watch the liquid and test the thickness by taking a spoon, lap up a bit (or taste it!) and let it fall back into the pan. Reducing will provide flavor concentration, besides a thicker liquid.

Juicing is just squeezing the liquid out of fruit. You can use your hands or any variety of citrus juicers available. For getting the most juice: Let the fruit set at room temperature. Then roll it on the countertop, pressing with the palm of your hand. This will loosen up the insides (particularly the membranes).

Source: "Basic Training"-Relish, June 2015


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