This week we will start our Kitchen Cooking Tips by talking a little bit about Sauteing.The purpose of saute is to cook the food quickly so as to minimize loss of juices and avoid killing off any vitamins while at the same time maximizing the browning and flavor development.
First, you only want to use a very little bit of oil, too much and you end up frying. If you want to have the food turn out crisp, you will need to heat the oil to a high temperature before adding the food. You can test the oil by placing a small piece of food into the pan. Often a chef will use a very tiny drop of water, if it pops and sizzles the oil is ready.
Always have the food at room temperature to avoid it sticking to the saute pan, plus it will brown faster and more evenly if that is your goal. Frying eggs are more like sauteing eggs than frying, because you want very little oil. This is one place where beginning cooks have a problem. They get the pan hot, then reach into the refrigerator and grab the very cold eggs and crack them into the pan. Then they get upset when the eggs stick to the pan. During the sauteing process, be sure to move the pan back and forth a little, it will help assure the browning is even and that the food item is not sticking.
Now I know we all use to much sugar, but if before sauteing meats, if you sprinkle a little sugar onto the surface of the meat, it will react with the meats juices and caramelize the meat causing a deeper browning as well as improving the flavor at tad.
Make sure to never over crown the pan because it causes poor heat distribution, resulting in uneven browning of the food. A chef will saute the food in batches and give the pan a moment or two to reheat between sautes.
Last, never cover the pan when you saute, steam will build up and the food can become mushy.
For a food item this week, I picked Coconut. It has been in the food news for the past year and we use them often because they are available year round. The brown, hairy ball you buy in the store is actually the seed of the fruit of the coconut palm tree. Inside the oval-shaped pale green outer shell, they are lined with a layer of rich white nutmeat that surrounds a hollow center filled with a thin, slightly sweet liquid we call “coconut water” Along tropical beaches, you can find people walking along with a basket of coconuts on their back and a machete in the hand. For a couple of peso’s they will chop off the end of a fresh coconut and insert a straw for your enjoyment. My wife enjoys them just the way they are, I like to add an ounce of dark rum to mine.
Like most other nuts, coconut is high in fat, however unlike other nuts, almost all the fat in a coconut is saturated, or good fat. When you buy a coconut in the store be sure that it is heavy for its size, otherwise it will be dry in the middle. Shake it a little and make sure that you can hear the liquid inside, if however the eyes are damp, put it back, this is not the coconut for you. If you are going to grate the coconut, put the coconut meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden it up and make it easier to work with. I hear your question already. Why on earth would I want to go to all the work to shred my own coconut when the grocery market is full of shredded coconut already? Most all of that store coconut has been preserved with propylene glycol a chemical used in antifreeze. It seems a whole lot safer to me to prepare my own with the help of a food processor. You can store your shredded coconut in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator, where it will stay fresh for up to a month.
To make coconut milk, place 1 cup of coconut chunks no bigger than a quarter of an inch each, into a blender or food processor and process until it is thoroughly broken up. Add 1 cup of warm water and continue to process until fluffy. If you have the water from the coconut, this is even better, just heat it a little and use it. Place a strainer over a glass container and line with cheesecloth. Pour the coconut into it and drain, using a wooded spoon or your hand to press out all the juice. Freshly made coconut milk can be refrigerated and used within two days. Use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk in your recipes. You can use it in your smoothies as well as your next batch of muffins or pancakes. And that’s all we will write about coconut for today.
The Fun Stuff: Have you gone to a party such as a wedding and someone stands up and says “lets make a toast”? O.K. fine, you look around and there is no toaster and no bread to toast even if you did find a toaster. Well maybe not, but the person that proposed the toast says a few words, everyone raises their glass and takes a sip of whatever they are drinking, which is usually wine. It is said to have originated in the 17th century in jolly old England, when a piece of spiced toast would be placed in the carafe of wine or each individual glass to improve the taste. When the “toast” was made it was considered polite to eat the toast so as not to offend the host. Well the actual toast is long gone but the “toast” remains.
That does it for this week, be sure to return next Thursday for more Kitchen cooking tips.
If you aren’t taking advantage of fresh herbs and spices, your diet and your health are missing out.My kindle book Herbs In The Kitchen contains information and recipes you might enjoy.you can find it at: http://chefwilliamlikes.me/The Herb Book
Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~