Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking.....T

We are on to the "T's" in our effort to learn culinary terminology.  So let's get started: 

Tahini - is a sesame paste made from ground sesame seeds.

Tahini sauce, often found in Humous

Tamarind - is a sticky brown acidic pulp with citrusy flavors - widely used as a flavoring in Asian cooking.

Tamarind Paste

Tamis - is a type of sieve used in the kitchen to puree/strain ingredients by means of forcing them through a fine mesh,

Tamis Seive

Tapas - are plates of Spanish cuisine.

A variety of Tapas

Tarragon - is a delicate herb that has a sweet, fragrant anise flavor.

Fresh Tarragon

Tartare - is a raw preparation of finely chopped red meat.

Steak Tartare

Tempering - is the process of slowly bringing the two temperatures together slowly so the eggs don’t cook and scramble.

Tempura - is a light form of batter coating used in Japanese cuisine.

Shrimp Tempura

Tender herbs - are Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Parsley (both curly and flat-leaf), Tarragon.

Teriyaki - is a sweet, thick soy sauce marinade used in this type of Japanese cuisine.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

What you need:
 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 Tablespoons Mirin ***
1/4 Cup water mixed with 3 teaspoons cornstarch

What you need to do:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a bout 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  

Use this sauce when you make your Shrimp Tempura.  It's a lovely combination.  The cause can be store in the refrigerator of up to a week.

*** Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine, similar to sake but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. If you don’t have mirin, you can use sherry with a pinch of sugar added to it.

Thai bird chilies - are chiles that have a strong, sharp heat so use carefully depending on your heat tolerance.

Thai bird chilies

Tiramisu - is a popular Italian dessert of layered sponge cake, coffee-flavored syrup and whipped mascarpone cheese.


Tofu - is curd made from mashed soybeans, used chiefly in Asian and vegetarian cooking.


Tomatillos - are a tart flavored fruit that are commonly used in Latin cuisine.


Tortillas - are unleavened flat breads made with corn or wheat flour, water, and salt.


Trussing - is to tie and secure with kitchen twine in order to hold a shape which will ensure even cooking and attractive shape.

Trussing a chicken

Tuiles - are wafer-like small, lacy cookies.


Tumeric - is a distinctively bright yellow spice powder that is aromatic and exotic.

Fresh and powdered Tumeric
There you have it.  The letter "T" in all its deliciousness.  We'll be back next week with more culinary terms.  Happy learning!!

Now go out and make something good.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking.....So - Sw

Wow!  We are on the 3rd addition of culinary terminology that begin with "S."  That's a lot of S's.  

We have a recipe for you that might be interesting to include a recipe this time that will help in being a bit more wholesome.  The 2 Prickly Pears love home cooking,  This kind of cooking that is from scratch.  Instead of opening a can or a box, we have a recipe that will make your soups, risotto, gravy, etc, more tasty.

Sorbet - is a frozen dessert made of simple syrup and various flavorings.

Strawberry Sorbet

Soufflé - means "to puff up" it is a light baked cake from French cuisine.

Cheese Souffle

Sous vide - is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a temperature-controlled water bath (usually low temperatures for long periods of time).

Soy lecitihin - is a substance extracted from soy beans commonly used as an emulsifier.

Soy sauce - is an Asian condiment made from fermented soy beans.  It has a salty flavor.

Soy Sauce

Spaetzle - is a traditional German form of pasta noodle.


Spherification - is a technique used to create spheres by jellification of a liquid when submerged in a bath.

Mango Spheres

Sriracha - is a fiery red hot sauce usually red chilies and vinegar.


Star anise - is an Asian distinctively shaped, licorice flavored, aromatic spice.

Star Anise

Steam - is a delicate method of cooking with steam.

Steep - is to allow and ingredient's flavor to infuse into another by letting it sit in it.

Stock - is arguably one of the most important ingredients in a kitchen and are at the core of classic cooking. Stocks add depth of flavor to most dishes, sauces or soups.

Stock Pot with the makings for Chicken Stock
You will need:
2 1/2 lbs chicken pieces
2 celery ribs with leaves, cut in chunks
2 medium carrots, cut in chunks
2 medium onions, quartered
1 small fennel bulb, quartered
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teast dried thyme
8-10 whole peppercorns
2 quarts cold water

What you need to do:
Place all ingredients in a Stock Pot or Dutch Oven.  Slowly bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Skim any foam from the stock surface.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Set chicken aside until cool enough to handle. ** Strain broth, disgarding vegetables and seasonings.  Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Skim fat from surface.  Yield:  about 6 cups.
**Save meat for another use, like chicken salad, chicken tacos, or make chicken soup with your home made chicken broth.

Stock pot - is a large pot used for those big jobs like making large batches of soup, or stock and even cooking pasta.

Superfine sugar - sometimes called bar sugar as it's commonly used in cocktails for it's quick dissolving properties.

Supreme - is a segment of citrus with the skin and pith removed.

Supreming a grapefruit

Sweetbreads - is the thymus gland and are a highly prized organ meat that are widely appreciated for their mild flavor and velvety.

As always, we wish you happy learning as you culinary vocabulary grows and grows.  So go out now and make something good.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking....Sh - Sm

This is our 2nd installment of the culinary terms that begin with "S."  There are three all together.  So stay tuned for the last of the S's next Thursday.

Let's begin:

Shallots -  a small bulb, similar to an onion but with richer flavor.

Sharpening stone - a tool used to periodically refine the teeth and give the blade a new edge.

Sharpening stone

Sherry wine - is a fortified wine with a rich, sweet flavor.

Shocking - refers to plunging in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Shocking broccoli

Short rib - is a rich flavored, tender cut of the rib from the underside of the cow's rib cage.

Short ribs

Sifting - breaks up any lumps and aerates the flour yielding a lighter dough.

Shifting flour using a mesh strainer

Silken tofu - is a delicate form of tofu, which is made from fermented soy beans and milk,

Silken Tofu

Simmer - is the is the process of gently heating a liquid so it is heated but not to the point where the liquid is at a rolling boil.

Simple syrup - is a mixture of sugar dissolved in water (commonly equal parts) and is used in a wide variety of recipes to sweeten things.

Simple Syrup
You will need:
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar

In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.  Simple, right?!

You can simple syrup for a variety of things.  You can use it to sweeten your tea.  Try using it in your favorite cocktails that include a sweet component.  You can make fruit syrups for pancakes by adding your favorite fruit to the original recipe.  Just reduce it down to the consistency you like.

Skinning - is to remove skin from a fillet of fish.

Skinning a salmon filet

Smoke - is to impart a smoky flavor on an ingredient by adding smoke to the ingredient in a sealed environment so the aroma absorbed into it.

Smoked paprika - is ground up smoked and dried pimiento peppers.
Smoked Paprika
That's our lesson for today.  We hope you have fun with all the new terminology.  Go out and use it and make something good!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Setting the table...

Occasionally my sister, Terry, and I will have a small soiree with a few friends as we create recipes for our cookbook.  This weekend we planned a small menu with some close friends to get their thoughts on a few dishes.

As some may know, I am in the middle of moving from my hometown of Green Bay, WI to Holiday, FL in the next few months.  My house is partially packed in boxes and the other half is ready for the last moving sale.   Nothing is in its place. I believe in saying... " A place for everything, and everything in it's place."   If you know me, you know I am going crazy with an unorganized house.  However, life moves on and you have to put such silly things to the side.  Many other things need my attention.  So, Terry came to Green Bay over the weekend to help put on a little dinner party.

We came up with an amazing menu.

Soup - Potato, fennel and asparagus topped with 3 cheeses.
Three different tacos:
Pork with Plum Chutney and Jicima
Chicken with Hummas and Picante
Salmon and Cucumber Dill Salad 
Dessert - Pannekoeken filled with Boston Cream, topped with Dark Chocolate

Soup - Potato, Fennel, Asparagus 
3 different tacos


Then what to do with the table?  I, like many others, worry about what to do with the table. I decided to keep it simple since so many things are packed.  I reached for my favorite dishes from our childhood, the Currier and Ives dishes and glassware from my grandmother. I picked a few hydrangeas from the garden and here is what I came up with. 

In the end it really doesn't matter what you serve the food on.  If you have great friends like I do you know they are coming for the company and food.  I could have served it on paper plates and they still would have had a great time.  However, if you want to make it a bit special it really doesn't take much.  You have everything you need in your house.  Even in the middle of packing you can pull something out to make it elegant, casual or fun.  Whatever you are looking for... you already have it.  

Look around your house and try out different items.  You will surprise yourself with your imagination and creativity.  It doesn't have to be conventional or what all the magazines say it has top be. What do they know what you like or what your personality is?

I follow a few simple rules:
  • I am not trying to impress anyone.
  • I want everyone to come and be comfortable.
  • I want everyone to leave with a full tummy
  • I want everyone to go home with happy memories of the gathering. 
So let yourself shine and just have fun.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking.....Sa to Se

There are scads of culinary terms that begin with "S."  It looks like we may need three Thursdays to get through them all!

So here we go....

Sabayon is a type of light emulsified sauce that is a whisked, aerated sauce made over a double boiler.

Sabayon sauce
Saffron is a spice that has a subtle, fragrant flavor with distinctive bright color.

Sage is a herb with an astringent, pungent flavor that complements bold savory dishes like roast meats, stews and winter vegetables.

Sake is a dry Japanese rice wine.

Saltimbocca literally meaning "salt in mouth" - this term refers to the combination of thinly pounded veal with prosciutto and sage.

Sambal is an Asian condiment commonly made of red chilli paste, garlic and vinegar.

Samosa is a stuffed pastry dumpling that is typically fried and triangular in shape.

Samosa (also called Sambosa)
San Marzano tomatoes is a rich and full flavored variety of Italian plum tomato - found in most US grocery stores canned.
San Marzano Tomatoes
Santoku knife is a knife that is usually slightly shorter than a chef's knife and has a distinctive scalloped edge on the face of the blade.  This helps reduce friction when slicing so things don’t stick to the blade.
Santoku knife
Sauce pan is a standard pot that is used for boiling, steaming and making soups and sauces. One of the things to look out for are pots with thicker walls as this will ensure an even heat distribution and better retention of heat as well.  A sauce pan is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can have. With its wide flat surface it’s designed for exactly that: sautéing or quick frying because it provides plenty of surface area on which you can get lots of of high even heat and caramelization.

Standard Sauce Pan
Scampi is a type of lobster but commonly used to define a type of dish/preparation rather than the ingredient.  Shrimp Scampi is a very common dish.  And here's a recipe for you:

Shrimp Scampi
What you need:
 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Hot cooked angel hair pasta

What to do:

In a large skillet, saute garlic in butter and oil until fragrant.  Add shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano.  Cook and stir until shrimp turn pink.  DON'T overcook the shrimp. The will turn to rubber if you do.  Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.

Serve shrimp over the hot pasta.  Serves 4.

Sear is to cook something at very high heat briefly on the outside, normally in a pan or on a grill.
Seared Steaks
Sel rose is a pink salt that is a preservative and helps the meat retain its pink color during the cooking process of a pate.
Sel Rose
Semifreddo literally means "half-cold".  It is a frozen cream dessert much like ice cream only it doesn’t require a machine.
Orange semifreddo
Semolina flour is a coarse flour used in pasta that is made from durum wheat.
Semolina Flour
Serrano pepper are a type of chili that have a crisp, bright, and biting flavor that is spicier than the more common jalapeno.

Serrano Peppers
We've just gotten started on the culinary terms that begin with "S."  Stay tuned for the next installment on Thursday.  Until then, cook good things and enjoy!