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     Where we can post kitchen tips, how to's and how not's.  You know those little secretes that make mom's cooking so good.  Also the basics like cutting and chopping techniques.


by on Oct. 21, 2010 at 4:48 PM
Replies (21-30):
by on Jan. 9, 2011 at 11:05 PM


Cooking Terms

Aioli – Aioli (garlic mayonnaise) is a delicious accompaniment to cold or hot grilled vegetables, steamed or boiled artichokes, boiled potatoes, and grilled or baked fish and shellfish.

À la Nage – Cooking à la nage means poaching food, usually seafood, in a court bouillon and serving the court bouillon and the vegetables around the food as part the garniture. When making a court bouillon to use for cooking à la nage, cut the vegetables in a decorative manner, such as julienne.

Albumen – A synonym for egg white.

Al dente – An Italian expression applied in all western kitchens to pasta cooked just until enough resistance is left in it to be felt “by the tooth.” Fresh pasta can never by cooked al dente as it is too soft. The expression is also applied to vegetables that have been cooked crisp by steaming, boiling, or stir-frying.

ArborioRisotto recipes The name given to some of the best short-grained rices grown in the Po Valley of Italy, and used to prepare risotto.

Aromatics – Plant ingredients, such as herbs and spices, used to enhance the flavor and fragrance of food.

Arrowroot – A fine starch extracted from the rhizomes of plants of the genus Maranta.

Aspic – A clear jelly made from stock or occasionally from fruit or vegetable juices.

B. Cooking Terms

Bain-marie – A bain-marie is a pan of water that is used to help mixtures such as custards bake evenly and to protect them from the direct heat of the oven or, in some cases, the stove.

Bake – To cook in the oven. The terms baking and roasting are often used interchangeably, but roasting usually implies cooking at a higher temperature—at least at the beginning—to get the surface of the foods to brown.

Barbecue – A cooking method involving grilling food over a wood or charcoal fire. Usually some sort of rub, marinade, or sauce is brushed on the item before or during cooking.

Basmati – The name of the most deliciously flavored long-grain rice from India.

Baste– To moisten food during cooking with pan drippings, sauce, or other liquid. Basting prevents foods from drying out.

Baster – A large kitchen syringe used to baste meats with their own gravy, another liquid, or melted fat.

Batter – A mixture of flour and liquid with the addition of flour, eggs, and sometimes fat, used to prepare cakes, muffins, pancakes, crepes, and quick breads. Also applies to frying batters.

Battuto – A combination of chopped raw vegetables for sautéing – typically carrots, celery, onion and/or garlic, and parsley—that is the foundation of many Italian sauces and other dishes.

Bavarian – A type of custard made by folding together whipped cream and a flavorful liquid mixture, usually a crème anglaise flavored with vanilla, coffee, chocolate, or a fruit puree.

Béarnaise – A warm, emulsified egg and butter sauce similar to hollandaise, but with the addition of white wine, shallots, and tarragon.

Beat – To agitate a mixture with the goal of making it smooth and introducing as much air as possible into it.

Béchamel – A classic white sauce made with whole milk thickened with a white roux, and flavored with aromatic vegetables,

Beurre Blanc – A rich butter sauce made by whisking butter into a reduction of white wine, white wine vinegar, and shallots, and sometimes finished with fresh herbs or other seasoning.

Bisque – A soup based on purees of vegetables and/or crustaceans. It is classically thickened with rice and usually finished with cream.

Blanch – A method of cooking in which foods are plunged into boiling water for a few seconds, removed from the water and refreshed under cold water, which stops the cooking process. Used to heighten color and flavor, to firm flesh and to loosen skins.

Bocconcini – Fresh Italian mozzarella balls sold in a water or brine solution. Available from delicatessens and supermarkets.

Boil – To cook in water or other liquid heated until bubbling vigorously. Few techniques cause as much confusion as boiling, simmering, and poaching. Boiling is, in fact, often a technique to be avoided. Most foods—meat and seafood, for example—are poached instead (cooked in liquid held just below the boil so it just shimmers slightly on the surface), because boiling turns them dry or stringy, and it can cause the liquid to become murky or greasy.

Some foods, however, are best cooked at a rolling boil. Rice and pasta cook more quickly and evenly in boiling water. Green vegetables are often cooked uncovered in a large amount of boiling salted water. The large quantity of water prevents the vegetables from lowering the temperature of the water, which would slow their cooking and cause them to lose their bright color. The salt also helps the vegetables retain their green color. As soon as the vegetables are done, immediately drain them in a colander and either plunge them into ice water or quickly rinse them under cold tap water until completely cool. This technique of immediately chilling the drained vegetables so they retain their flavor and color is called refreshing, or sometimes, shocking.

Bouillabaisse – Mediterranean seafood soup.

Bouillon – French, for broth. Refers to the liquid resulting from simmering meats, vegetables, and aromatics in water until the meats have lost all their nutritional elements to the water and the broth can jell upon cooling.

Bouquet Garni – A bundle of parsley stems, dried thyme, and a large bay leaf, tied together and left to float freely in broth, stock, or sauce.

Braise – To cook in a small amount of liquid (also called stewing or pot roasting). In contract to poaching, in which the food is completely submerged in simmering liquid, braised dishes use a relatively small amount of liquid. Usually, the purpose of braising is to concentrate the food’s flavors in the surrounding liquid so that it can be made into a sauce, or allowed to reduce so that it coats or is reabsorbed by the foods being braised.

Bread – To coat foods to be sautéed or deep-fried with flour or a breadcrumb mixture to create a crust.

Brine – A salt, water, and seasoning solution used to preserve foods.

Brioche – The famous flour, egg, and yeast cake of northern France, which is now made in one form or another everywhere.

Brisket – A cut of beef from the lower forequarter, best suited for long-cooking preparations like braising.

Broil – To cook with a direct heat source—usually a gas flame or an electric coil—above the food.

Broth – Broth and stock are interchangeable terms and mean a flavorful liquid made by gently cooking meat, seafood, or vegetables, often with herbs, in liquid, usually water.

Brown stock – An amber liquid produced by simmering browned bones and meat with vegetables and aromatics.

Buttercream – A mixture of butter, sugar, and eggs or custard.

Butterfly – To cut and open out the edges of meat or seafood like a book or the wings of a butterfly.

Buttermilk – A dairy liquid with a slightly sour taste similar to yogurt.

C. Cooking Terms

Calvados – Dry, apple-flavored brandy, which is named after a town in the Normandy region of France. Substitute apple cider, brandy, or sweet cooking wine.

Caramelize – The flavor of many foods, including vegetables, meats, and seafood, is often enhanced by a gentle browning that caramelizes natural sugars and other compounds and intensifies their flavor. Meats for stews, for example, are usually browned to caramelize juices that if not caramelized are much less flavorful. Chopped vegetables, especially aromatic ones such as carrots and onions, are often caramelized—sometimes with cubes of meat—in a small amount of fat before liquid is added to enhance the flavor of soups, stews, and sauces.

Cassoulet – Consists of partially cooked white beans blended with diverse meats, baked in a deep, round earthenware container.

Cheesecloth – A light, fine mesh gauze used for straining liquids.

Chévre – The French word for goat and by extension the cheeses made from goat’s milk.

Chiffonade – The fine ribbons obtained when several leafy vegetables or herbs are tightly rolled into a cigar shape and cut across into 1/16 –to 1/8-inch wide shreds.

Chinoise or China Cap – A very fine-meshed conical strainer used for straining refined sauces and coulis.

Chop – To cut into irregular pieces. Foods can be chopped from very fine (minced) to coarse.

Chorizo sausage – A spicy Spanish sausage containing a mixture of pork, pepper, and chilies.

Chowder – A thick soup that usually contains potatoes.

Cioppino Cioppino recipe A fish stew usually made with white wine and tomatoes.

Clarified butter – Because butter contains milk solids which burn at relatively low temperatures, it can’t be used to sauté at the high temperatures required for browning most meats and seafood and some vegetables. Clarifying removes the water and milk solids in butter. You can purchase clarified butter called ghee at most larger grocery stores.

Coat – To cover the back of a spoon with a layer of a thickened sauce or stirred custard.

Coddled eggs – Eggs cooked in simmering water, in their shells or in ramekins, until set.

Colander – A perforated bowl made of metal or plastic that is used to strain foods.

Compote – A dish of fruit cooked in syrup flavored with spices or liqueur.

Compound butter – Whole butter combined with herbs or other seasonings and used to sauce grilled or broiled meats or vegetables.

Consommé – Broth or stock that has been clarified by simmering it with beaten egg whites, which attract and trap the impurities clouding the broth.

Corned – As in corned beef or other meat; refers to a meat that has been salted and cured.

Cornichon – Tiny pickles mixed with onions and other aromatics and preserved in seasoned pure wine or cider vinegar.

Coulis – A mixture—often a fruit puree—that has been strained of tiny seeds or pieces of peel so it is perfectly smooth.

Court Bouillon – A vegetable broth made by simmering onions (or leeks), carrots, celery, and sometimes, other vegetables, such as fennel, with a bouquet garni in water and, often, white wine or vinegar.

Cream – To stir a fat—usually butter—and sugar together rapidly until the mixture looks white, aerated, and somewhat like stiffly beaten whipped cream. Or, that part of milk, containing 32 to 42 percent of butterfat in emulsion, that rises to its surface after the milk cools to room temperature and stands for several hours.

Crème anglaise – Custard sauce or vanilla sauce.

Crème brulee – Custard topped with sugar and caramelized under the broiler before serving.

Crème fraiche – Heavy cream cultured to give it a thick consistency and a slightly tangy flavor. Substitute sour cream, if necessary.

Crème patisserie – Custard made with eggs, flour or other starches, milk, sugar, and flavorings, used to fill and garnish pastries or as the base for puddings, pies, soufflés, and creams.

Crepe– A thin pancake made with egg batter.

Croute, en – Enclosed in a bread or pastry crust.

Crudités – French for a mixture of sliced and shredded vegetables diversely dressed and served as a first course.

Cure – To treat with an ingredient, usually salt and/or sugar, originally for the purpose of preserving foods by protecting them from bacteria, molds, etc.

Curry – A mixture of spices that may include turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne or other chilies, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, or garlic.

Custard – A liquid mixture that is combined with whole eggs, egg whites, or egg yolks, or a combination, and gently baked until set. Examples of custards are a quiche filling; a crème caramel and a crème brûlée.

D. Cooking Terms

Deep-fry – To cook completely submerged in hot oil. Deep-frying at the proper temperature, foods absorb little oil and are surprisingly light. But if the oil is too hot, foods will brown too quickly and stay raw in the middle. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the foods will sit in the oil too long and absorb too much oil. You can judge the oil by how certain foods behave. When the oil is too cool for frying, foods sink to the bottom and stay there. In somewhat hotter oil (but still not hot enough) foods sink to the bottom and then slowly rise to the top. The oil is at the proper temperature when the food doesn’t drop all the way to the bottom when it is added and then bobs back to the surface within a second or two. When the oil is too hot, foods immediately float, remaining on the surface, surrounded with bubbles. These are not necessarily hard and fast rules. French fries, for instance, require oil that’s hot enough to immediately surround the potatoes with bubbles.

Deglaze – To add liquid to a pan in which foods have been sautéed or roasted in order to dissolve the caramelized juices stuck to the bottom of the pan. The purpose of deglazing is to make a quick sauce or gravy for a roast, steak, chop, or a piece of seafood fillet or steak. To make a pan-deglazed sauce, first pour out any fat left in the pan, and make sure that the juices clinging to the bottom of the pan haven’t blackened and burned. Add a few tablespoons of flavorful liquid, such as wine, broth, or, in a pinch, water, to the pan. Gently scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the caramelized juices. You can use such a sauce as is, or you can turn it into something richer and more elaborate by adding reduced broth, swirling in a few pieces of butter, adding a little heavy cream, or thickening it with a vegetable puree, such as garlic or tomato, and then reducing the sauce to the consistency like. You can add nuance and flavor to the sauce by adding chopped herbs or ingredients such as green peppercorns.

Degrease – To remove the fat that forms on the tops of simmering broths, sauces, jus, and braising liquids. There are a couple of reliable methods for degreasing broth. The first, which requires a little practice, is to use a ladle or spoon to skim around the edges of the simmering broth to catch and remove just the surface fat. An easier method is to chill the broth overnight in the refrigerator and then remove the fat that has congealed on the surface. You can also use a degreasing cup that is specially made for this task. You simply pour the juices into the cup and then pour them out, leaving the fat behind.

Demi-glace – A mixture of equal parts of brown stock and brown sauce that has been reduced by half.

Dice – To cut into cubes (unlike chopping, which cuts foods into irregular pieces).

Dredge – To coat a food with flour, any finely crumbled ingredient, or, in pastry, with fine sugar.

Drupe – Peaches, apricots, and all plums are drupes, a juicy false fruit attached to a wooden pit in which an almond is enclosed.

Dumpling – A small lump of soft leavened and seasoned egg, milk, and flour dough, shaped with two spoons or piped out of a pastry bag fitted with a nozzle. Usually it is poached in simmering water, but can be steamed over a stew.

Dutch oven – A cast-iron pot used for the preparation of stews, braises, and pot-roasts.

Duxelles – A medium-fine shallot-scented mushroom hash.

E. Cooking Terms

Egg wash – A mixture of egg or egg white, oil, and water brushed over floured items, which are then deep-fried or pan-fried in clarified butter or oil.

Emulsion – An emulsion is a smooth mixture of two liquids, such as oil and water that normally do not mix. Mayonnaise, beurre blank, hollandaise, cream sauces, vinaigrettes, and béchamel sauce are examples of emulsions.

Enoki mushrooms – Also known as enokitake mushrooms. Thin, long-stemmed mushrooms with a mild flavor.

Espagnole – Brown sauce made with brown stock, caramelized mirepoix and tomato puree, and seasonings.

Essence – A concentrated flavoring extracted from an item.

Etouffe – A cooking method similar to braising in which items are cooked with little or no added liquid in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Also, a Cajun stew.

F. Cooking Terms

Fettuccine – ¼-inch-wide ribbon noodles.

Filé – Ground sassafras leaves used to give the Southern gumbos their distinct flavor.

Fines Herbes – A mixture of chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon.

Fish sauce – Clear, amber-tinted liquid that is drained from salted, fermented fish. A very important flavoring in Thai cuisine.

Flambé – To ignite a sauce or other liquid so that it flames. Most of the time flambéing has no real function other than to delight your guests. If you are going to flambé a dish keep in mind that it is impossible to flambé a cold dish by sprinkling it with spirits and trying to light it—the spirits only release their flammable fumes when hot. Do not pour flaming spirits.

Flan – A liquid or semi liquid mixture, held together with whole eggs, egg whites, or egg yolks, that is gently baked in a mold or pastry shell. Quiches, crème caramel, and crème brulee are examples of sweet flans. Any puree, or pureed soup, can be converted to a flan with the addition of egg. One whole egg, 2 egg whites, or 2 egg yolks will bind ¾ cup of liquid.

Foie Gras – The livers of geese and ducks that have been force-fed a mixture of corn, lard, and salted water.

Fold – To incorporate an egg-white foam into an egg yolk foam or a flour batter without deflating it so that it retains its full leavening power.

Forcemeat – A mixture of chopped or ground meat and other ingredients used for pates, sausages, and other preparations.

Fricassee – A fricassee is almost always a stew in which the meat, usually poultry, is cut up, lightly cooked in butter, and then simmered in liquid until done.

Frittata – A flat Italian baked or sometimes also half-fried/half-baked omelet.

Fritter – Any food coated with a batter or crumbs and deep-fried.

Fry – To cook in a hot fat.

G. Cooking Terms

Ganache – A mixture of grated or finely chopped chocolate, black or white, and scalded heavy cream, whisked on medium speed until completely cool.

Garnish – To add an interesting and completely edible item to a plate to make it look more attractive; or any such edible item.

Génoise – A sponge cake made with whole eggs, used for layer cakes and other desserts.

Gherkin – A small pickled cucumber.

Giblets – The neck, heart, gizzard, and liver of poultry.

Glaze – To give food a shiny surface by brushing it with sauce, aspic, icing, or another appariel. For meat, to coat with sauce and then brown in an oven.

Gnocchi – Gnocchi are starchy dumplings that are made in various shapes. There are two basic types of gnocchi: those based on potatoes and those based on flour or cornmeal.

Grand sauce – (or Mother sauce). One of several basic sauces that are used in the preparation of many other small sauces. The grand sauces are: demi-glace, veloute, béchamel, hollandaise, and tomato.

Gratin – A way of binding together, or combining, cooked or raw foods (usually vegetables or pasta—baked macaroni and cheese is a gratin) with a liquid such as cream, milk, béchamel sauce, or tomato sauce, in a shallow dish and baking until cooked and set. Typically the gratin is sprinkled with cheese or bread crumbs so a crunchy, savory crust forms on top. A gratin is really the same thing as a casserole, except a gratin is usually baked in a special oval, shallow dish.

Gravy – A gravy is an American-style jus that has been thickened with a roux. This roux can be made using butter and flour or by cooking flour into some of the fat skimmed off the jus. Cornstarch mixed with a little water can also be whisked into the jus and the jus brought to a simmer to get the cornstarch to thicken. Once the gravy is thickened, other ingredients, such as herbs or chopped giblets, can be added to it to give it extra flavor. Vegetable purees can also be used to thicken a natural jus and turn it into a flourless gravy. Garlic, roasted along with meats and poultry, or separately, is excellent pureed and whisked into the jus to thicken it.

Grill – To cook above the heat source (traditionally over wood coals) in the open air.

Grind – To pass meats or nuts through a grinder or a food processor to reduce to small pieces.

Gumbo – An African word for okra, it is now the name of a soup of shellfish made famous in Louisiana. It is lightly thickened with okra or the powdered sassafras leaves called filé.

H. Cooking Terms

Haloumi – Firm white cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a stringy texture and is usually sold in brine.

Haricot – French for bean.

Harissa – A hot paste of red chilies, garlic and olive oil. Available in tubes or jars.

Hash – Chopped, cooked meat, usually with potatoes and/or other vegetables, which is seasoned, bound with a sauce, and sautéed. Also, to chop.

Hoisin sauce – A thick, sweet-tasting Chinese sauce made from fermented soy beans, sugar, salt, and red rice. Used as a dipping sauce or glaze.

Hollandaise – One of the Grand or Mother sauces. It is made with a vinegar reduction, egg yolks, and melted butter flavored with lemon juice.

J. Cooking Terms

Jambalaya – A Cajun and Creole composition of rice, smoke sausage, cubed ham, aromatics, and any meat that interests the cook.

Jardiniere – French for a main course made mostly of new spring vegetables, like lettuce, peas, green beans, carrots, turnips, and flavored with bacon or salt pork. It may also contain baby artichokes and young celery and fennel hearts, or cauliflower.

Julienne – To cut into long thin matchstick size strips.

Jus – The natural juices released by roasting meats and poultry.

by on Jan. 9, 2011 at 11:06 PM


K. Cooking Terms

Kaffir lime – A variety of lime with a knobby outer skin. The fragrant leaves are crushed or shredded and used in cooking, and the limes are used for their juice, mainly in Thai cuisine.

Kosher – From the Hebrew kasher. When talking about food, to prepare it at every stage in strict observance of the Jewish dietary laws. When talking about salt, kosher salt is a coarse salt that does not contain magnesium carbonate.

L. Cooking Terms

Lard – To insert strips of fatback into a piece of meat to be braised, using a special cutter with a hollow blade called a lardoir. Also, to wrap a tenderloin of beef in a thin sheet of fatback before roasting it.

Lasagne – Wide strips of thin pasta.

Lemongrass – A tall, lemon-scented grass, used in Thai cooking.

Liqueur – A spirit flavored with fruit, spices, nuts, herbs, and / or seeds and usually sweetened.

London Broil – A large steak generally grilled or broiled and cut out of the rib cap, flank, or chuck of beef.

Low-fat Milk – Partially defatted milk containing 1 to 2 percent fat.

Lox – Yiddish word derived from the German word lachs for salmon and the name of salt-cured belly of salmon.

Lyonnaise – Lyons-style; with onions and usually butter, white wine, vinegar, and demi-glace.

M. Cooking Terms

Macaroni Italian Macaroni – Handmade eggless pasta made from flour or a combination of flour and semolina, water, and a small amount of salt. Often used to refer to elbow-shaped pasta.

Mahimahi – A firm-fleshed fish with a light, delicate flavor.

Mandoline – A slicer that can be fitted with diverse cutting blades.

Marinade – A mixture of ingredients used to flavor and moisten foods. May be liquid of dry. Liquid marinades are usually acidic based and dry marinades are usually salt based.

Marinate – To combine foods—usually meat or seafood, and occasionally vegetables—with aromatic ingredients in order to flavor the food.

Marsala – An Italian fortified wine made in the vicinity of Marsala in Sicily.

Melt – To liquefy a fat or a gel by heating it.

Meringue – Egg whites beaten until they are stiff, with added sugar or sugar syrup, used as a topping or shaped and baked until stiff.

Mince – To chop very fine.

Mirepoix – Many cooking preparations, particularly braises, stews, roasts, and soups, call for sweating various mixtures of chopped aromatic vegetables before liquid is added. These mixtures are designed to add freshness and flavor to meats and seafood. The best-known mixture is the French mirepoix, a mixture of 2 parts onion, 2 parts carrot, and 1 part celery, but other countries and regions have their own variations. Italy has its soffritto (onion, carrot, celery, and usually, garlic). Spain has its sofregit and sofrito (onion, carrot, celery, ham, and sometimes tomato). Indonesia has bumbu (garlic, shallots, spices, and shrimp paste).

Mirin – Heavily sweetened rice wine used as cooking wine. You can substitute sweet white wine.

Miso – A thick paste made from fermented and processed soy beans. Red miso is a combination of barley and soy beans and yellow miso is a combination of rice and soy beans.

Mix – To combine ingredients by hand or with a mixer with the goal of blending them well and uniformly together.

Mousse – A general term that can describe any mixture lightened with something airy, usually beaten egg whites or whipped cream.

Mousseline – A sauce made by folding whipped cream into hollandaise. Or, a very light forcemeat based on white meat or seafood lightened with cream and eggs.

Mozzarella – Italian cheese made of pasta filata, a cheese paste that pulls into strings when cooked to approximately 96 to 98 degrees F.

N. Cooking Terms

Napoleon – A pastry made with alternating layers of puff pastry and a cream of your choice and glazed.

Noodles – Pasta made with flour or a mixture of flour and semolina, whole eggs, or egg whites.

Nori sheets – Dried seaweed pressed into square sheets. Used for nori rolls, soups and Japanese cuisine.

O. Cooking Terms

Oeuf – Egg

Omelet – Beaten eggs that are cooked in butter, then rolled or folded into an oval. They may be filled with any variety of ingredients before folding.

Oyster mushrooms Thin-ridged, delicately flavored, cultivated mushrooms with a slight taste of oysters.

P. Cooking Terms

Paella – A Spanish dish of rice cooked with onion, tomato, garlic, saffron, vegetables, and various meats, including chicken, chorizo, and/or shellfish.

Panfry – Most cooks use the terms panfry and sauté interchangeably, but strictly speaking, there is a difference. Although both terms refer to cooking in a small amount of hot oil, butter, or other fat, sautéing means to toss foods over high heat, while pan-frying describes cooking pieces of meat, seafood, or large pieces of vegetables in a hot pan, turning with tongs, a spatula, or a fork only once or twice.

Pan gravy – A sauce made by deglazing pan drippings from a roast and combining them with a roux or other starch and additional stock.

Papillote – Food wrapped in parchment paper for aluminum foil and baked in an oven where it will steam in its own moisture and that of any vegetable added to the package to flavor the meat.

Parboil – To cook partially in boiling water.

Parchment paper – Heat-resistant paper used in baking to line pans. It does not need to be buttered or greased, and it keeps rich cookies from losing their shape and from sticking to the pan.

Paring knife – A short knife used for paring and trimming fruits and vegetables. Its blade is usually 2 to 4 inches long.

Parmigiano-Reggiano – The king of Italian hard-grating cheeses made from cow’s milk. Once you have tasted this cheese grated over the top of a pasta dish you will always have it on hand!

Pasta – The Italian generic name for all forms of alimentary pastes made from a mixture of flour, semolina, and whole eggs or egg whites, but no water, as opposed to macaroni, which contains water and no eggs.

Pastasciutta – Literally “dry pasta,” meaning fresh or dried pasta with sauce (as opposed to a soup or a baked pasta dish).

Pasticcio – A baked dish of pasta and other ingredients, moistened with one or more sauces.

Pâté – A rich forcemeat of meat, game, poultry, seafood, and /or vegetables, baked in pastry or in a mold or dish.

Pâté à choux – Cream puff paste, made by boiling a mixture of water, butter, and flour, then beating in whole eggs.

Pâté brisee – Short pastry for pie crusts.

Pâté en croute – Pâté baked in a pastry crust.

Pecorinoreally good in risotto recipes with pecorino A hard grating cheese derived from ewe’s milk mostly made in the Roman Lazio countryside and Sardinia.

Persillade – Finely or coarsely chopped mixture of garlic and parsley.

Pesto pesto recipes – From the Italian pestare, a verb that means to pound or crush. Pesto is traditionally made of crushed fresh basil leaves pounded with garlic, Pecorino, either pine nuts for walnuts, and olive oil.

Phyllo dough – Pastry made with very thin sheets of a flour-and-water dough layered with butter and / or crumbs; similar to strudel. Also called filo dough.

Pilaf A technique for cooking rice in which the rice is sautéed briefly in butter, then simmered in stock or water with various seasonings.

Poach – To cook completely submerged in barely simmering liquid.

Porcini mushrooms Seafood Risotto With Porcinis Mushrooms with a meaty texture and a woody, earthy taste. Available fresh and dried. Dried porcini should be soaked in hot water before using.

Prosciutto see eggplant Italiano for an example of using prociutto. A salt-cured, air-dried Italian ham that originated in the area around the city of Parma. This dense-textured, intensely flavored ham is served as an appetizer with melon or figs, and also used in cooking, often to flavor sauces. Prosciutto has been produced in the United States for years, but imported Italian prosciutto is also available. The finest is labeled “Prosciutto di Parma.” Prosciutto crudo is raw and prosciutto cotto is cooked.

Puree – To work or strain foods until they are completely smooth.

Q. Cooking Terms

Quenelle – A paste made of fish, poultry, or veal meat mixed with eggs, cream, panade, and/or beef suet. Or, an oblong dumpling made from such a paste or other more modern and lighter pastes, shaped between two spoons, poached in stock, and served with a sauce and garnish.

Quiche – Originally a pie made with a butter crust and filled with eggs beaten with heavy cream and very smoky bacon. American cooks have created a plethora of recipes for quiche.

Quick bread – Bread made with chemical leaveners, which work more quickly than yeast.

R. Cooking Terms

Ragout – Stew.

Ragừ – A complex meat sauce that may or may not contain tomato. Our timpano recipe link uses one of these!

Ramekin – A small, ovenproof dish, usually ceramic.

Ratatouille – An ancient Mediterranean mixture of vegetables cooked slowly until they make a well-bound compote.

Reduce or Reduction – The technique of cooking liquids down so that some of the water they contain evaporates. Reduction is used to concentrate the flavor of a broth or sauce and, at times, to help thicken the sauce by concentrating ingredients such as natural gelatin.

Refresh – To rinse just-boiled vegetables under very cold water to stop their cooking.

Resting – Roasted meats should not be served straight out of the over, but should be allowed to rest in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil. (The foil keeps the meat warm; loose wrapping ensures that the outside of the meat doesn’t steam and lose its crispness.) Resting allows the meat to relax so the juices become redistributed in the meat and aren’t squeezed out onto the platter during carving.

Ricotta – A fresh, creamy white cheese, smoother than cottage cheese, with a slightly sweet flavor. It is available in whole milk and part-skim milk versions, and is often used in lasagna and stuffed pastas. A little can be stirred into a sauce to add richness as well as creamy body. Refrigerate and use within a week.

Risotto Risotto recipes – Risotto is a creamy rice dish made with short-grain or Arborio Italian rice. The rice is gently cooked in butter or olive oil. Liquid, usually broth, is then added a small amount at a time until the rice is cooked and bathed in creamy liquid. Risotto must be stirred almost constantly to release the starch from the rice so the starch thickens the broth, giving the dish its characteristic creamy consistency.

Roast – The purpose of roasting is to create a golden brown crust on whatever it is we are roasting and, at the same time, make sure the meat, fish, or vegetable properly cooks in the center. When roasting, no liquid such as broth, wine, or water comes in contact with the food—only hot air, or, if the roast is being basted, hot fat. Roasting is both simple and complex—simple because there’s very little to do except slide the food into the oven; complex because if the temperature isn’t right, the food may never brown or cook properly.

Roma tomatoes – Also known as egg tomatoes. Oval-shaped tomatoes, which are great for cooking and eating.

Romano cheese – A hard, salty grating cheese. Pecorino Romano is the best known, and is made with sheep’s milk, while many other types are made with cow’s milk or a blend of cow’s and goat’s milk. Grate as you would Parmesan and use as a tangy accent for pasta dishes.

Roulade – A slice of meat or fish rolled around a stuffing.

Roux – A mixture of flour and butter used to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies. Usually the butter is cooked with the flour in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Most roux are white roux, made by cooking the flour for only a minute or two. Brown roux—made by cooking the flour until pale brown to dark brown—is also used in many recipes, especially Cajun cooking.

S. Cooking Terms

Sabayon –A light, frothy mixture made by beating egg yolks with water or other liquid over gentle heat.

Sake – Japanese fermented rice wine. Used in cooking to tenderize and add flavor. Store in a cool, dark place and use soon after opening. Substitute dry white wine.

Salsa – Tomato sauce or other type of sauce flavored with a fairly wide variety of ingredients.

Sashimi tuna – Finest quality tuna cut in an Asian or Japanese style. It is very tender and used raw in Japanese cuisine.

Sauté – To cook over high heat in a small amount of fat in a sauté pan or skillet.

Scald – To heat milk just below the boiling point. Or, to immerse a vegetable or fruit in boiling water in order to remove its skin easily.

Scallions – Immature onions (also called green onions) with a milk and slightly sweet flavor. Both the white bulb and the green tops can be used in cooking. The green tops also make an attractive garnish.

Sear – To brown the surface of pieces of meats and or fish by submitting them to intense initial heat.

Sea salt – Salt produced by evaporating sea water. It is available refined, or unrefined, crystallized, or ground.

Semolina – The coarsely milled hard wheat endosperm used for gnocchi, some pasta, and couscous.

Shallot – A member of the onion family, looking rather like large cloves of garlic. Shallots are used to infuse savory dishes with a mild, delicate onion flavor. Refrigerate for not more than 1 week to maintain maximum flavor.

Shred – To cut into fine strips. Shredding is similar to cutting into chiffonade but less precise.

Shitake mushroom – A meaty, Oriental variety of mushroom with an almost steak-like flavor, used in pasta sauces and salads for depth. Choose fresh shitakes that are plump and unblemished, and avoid broken or shriveled caps.

Simmer – To maintain the temperature of a liquid just below boiling.

Skim – To lift and discard any unwanted foam or fat from the surface of a stock, broth, sauce, or soup.

Smother – To cook in a covered pan with little liquid over low heat.

Sommelier – The wine steward or waiter.

Sorbet – A frozen dessert made with fruit juice or another flavoring, a sweetener (usually sugar), and beaten egg whites, which prevent the formation of large ice crystals.

Souffle – A preparation made with a sauce base, whipped egg whites, and flavorings. The egg whites cause the soufflé to puff during cooking.

Spatzle – Small flour, egg, and milk dumplings resembling fine noodles which are poached in water and then buttered.

Spring-form pan – A cake pan with a detachable bottom and a clamp on its side that can be released to easily unmold the cake. You make Tiramisu link in one of these.

Steam – To cook in steam by suspending foods over (not in) boiling water, in a covered pot or steamer.

Stew – A cooking method nearly identical to braising but generally involving smaller pieces of meat, and hence a shorter cooking time. Also, the dish prepared by using this method of preparation.

Stir-fry – Chinese technique of cooking think slivers of meat, shellfish, and vegetables in hot oil.

Stock link – A rich meat, fish, or vegetable broth. It is used as a base for soups, sauces, and other preparations.

Sugo – A simple tomato sauce or other type of sauce comprised of relatively few ingredients.

Sun-dried tomatoes – Plum tomatoes that have been dried slowly to produce a chewy, intensely flavorful sauce ingredient. They are available in both oil-packed and dry-packed. For many recipes, the dried tomatoes must be soaked in hot water to soften them before using.

Sweat – To cook foods over gentle heat, usually covered or partly covered, until they release their moisture. Vegetables, meats, and seafood are often sweated when making soups, stews, and sauces so that the foods release their juices into the pan and surrounding liquid. Sweating is the opposite of sautéing.

T. Cooking Terms

Table salt – Refined, granulated rock salt.

Tamarind paste – A product from the ripe bean pods of the tamarind tree. It can be purchased as pulp or in the more convenient form of tamarind concentrate ready to use.

Tart – A pie that has only a bottom crust.

Tempura – A Japanese method of cooking vegetables and shellfish. They are coated with a light cornstarch batter and deep-fried.

Terrine – A loaf of forcemeat, similar to a pate, but cooked in a covered mold in a bain-marie. Also, the mold used to cook this item.

Timbale – A small pail-shaped mold used to shape rice, custards, mousselines, and other foods. Also, a preparation made in such a mold.

Tomato paste – A concentrated essence of cooked tomatoes, sold in cans and tubes. It is commonly used to thicken and accent the flavor and color of sauces; however it is slightly bitter and should not be used alone or in large quantities. If you are using only part of a can, save the remainder by freezing it in a plastic bag.

Tournedos – A ¼ -inch-thick steak cut from the tenderloin.

V. Cooking Terms

Veloute – One of the Grande or Mother sauces. A sauce of white stock thickened with white roux. Also, a cream soup made with a veloute sauce base and flavorings that is usually finished with a mixture of egg yolks and cream.

Vinaigrette – The classic French salad dressing made of one part vinegar and three parts oil. Mustard and cream can be added if desired.

W. Cooking Terms

Wasabi – A spice that comes from a knobby green root of the Japanese plant wasbia japonica. A traditional condiment served with Japanese sushi and sashimi. It has the same warming or stinging nasal sensation as horseradish.

Whip – To beat a preparation with the goal of introducing air into it. Or, the balloon wire whisk often used to do so.

White chocolate – Cocoabutter flavored with sugar and milk solids.

White mirepoix – Mirepoix that does not include carrots and may include chopped mushrooms or mushroom trimmings. It is used for pale or white sauces and stocks.

White sauce – Traditional white sauces are divided into two types: those based on béchamel sauce and those based on velouté sauce. A basic béchamel sauce is made by adding hot milk to a white roux, and a basic veloute sauce is made by adding hot broth to a white roux.

White stock – A light-colored stock made with bones that have not been browned.

Wok – A round-bottomed pan, usually made of rolled steel, used for virtually all Chinese cooking methods.

Y. Cooking Terms

Yogurt – Milk cultured with bacteria to give it a slightly thick consistency and sour flavor.

Z. Cooking Terms

Zabaglione – A whipped custard made with egg yolks and sugar gradually diluted over heat with Marsala or other wine, fruit juice, or liqueur.

Zest – The thin, brightly colored outer part of the rind of citrus fruits. The oils make it ideal for use as a flavoring. Remove the zest with a grater, citrus zester, or vegetable peeler. Be careful to remove only the colored layer, not the bitter-white pith beneath it.

by on Jan. 9, 2011 at 11:07 PM


General Cooking Tips

Prepare what you need before you start. It’s how the pros do it and it simplifies the process when you are scrambling to put it all together.

When using a broiler to cook steaks, pre-heat oven until it's really hot. This will sear the outside of the meat and keep the juices in. And don’t use a fork to turn the steaks, use thongs or a spatula to prevent juices from leaking out.

Buy yourself a potato ricer for mashed potatoes. It a great gadget to have in your kitchen, it looks like a giant garlic press, costs about six bucks, but there’s nothing better for smooth airy mashed potatoes.

A folding steamer platform that sits in almost any pot works great for your steamed veggies. Important, be careful not to overcook the broccoli, you want it to be crisp but tender.

Invest in a salad spinner. They’re inexpensive and work great. There’s nothing more unappealing than soggy lettuce. And speaking of lettuce, you may have grown up on iceberg, but try some red or green leaf lettuce for a little diversity.

Never cook with any wine you wouldn't drink! You can substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves with 1 teaspoon. of dried, but fresh is better. Try using a spray olive oil to coat your roasting pan.

Any brine-cured black olives can be substituted for Kalmata and remember to tell your guests there are pits so they don't break a tooth.

To roast garlic, sprinkle the bulb with a little olive oil and white wine, salt and pepper, wrap it in tin foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately one hour.

Try using a hand blender to puree the's easier than transferring to food processor.

Mushrooms should be wiped off with a damp cloth and not washed under the faucet since they are like sponges and will absorb the water.

Make sure your roasting pan is the correct size and is placed on the middle rack.

When roasting, save the pan juices for your gravy.

Leeks are full of hard to get at sand and dirt, chop them first, then give them a bath in cold water and drain in a colander.

Try using carrots instead of sugar to sweeten your sauces.

Cracked pepper corns: I opt for putting the peppercorns in a zip lock bag and cracking them on my cutting board with a hammer. Noisy, but it worked. Otherwise, set your pepper mill to course grain instead.

When buying cabbage, look for heads that appear heavier than their size with crisp leaves.

by on Jan. 12, 2011 at 2:39 PM

77 Surprising Expiration Dates

A handy keep-or-toss guide to 77 foods, beauty products, and household goods.

by Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith


Certain items in your house practically scream “toss me” when their prime has passed. That mysterious extra white layer on the Cheddar? A sure sign it needs to be put out of its misery. Chunky milk? Down the drain it goes.


But what about that jar of olives or Maraschino cherries that has resided in your refrigerator since before the birth of your kindergartner? Or the innumerable nonedibles lurking deep within your cabinets and closets: stockpiled shampoo and toothpaste, seldom-used silver polish? How do you know when their primes have passed?


With help from experts and product manufacturers, Real Simple has compiled a guide to expiration dates. These dates are offered as a rough guideline. The shelf lives of most products depend upon how you treat them. Edibles, unless otherwise indicated, should be stored in a cool, dry place. (With any food, of course, use common sense.) Household cleaners also do best in a dry place with a stable temperature. After the dates shown, beauty and cleaning products are probably still safe but may be less effective.





Unopened: 4 months.


Brown sugar

Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.


Chocolate (Hershey bar)

1 year from production date


Coffee, canned ground

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 1 month refrigerated


Coffee, gourmet

Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Ground: 1 week in sealed container


Coffee, instant

Unopened: Up to 2 years

Opened: Up to 1 month


Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)

Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.

Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.


Dried pasta

12 months


Frozen dinners

Unopened: 12 to 18 months


Frozen vegetables

Unopened: 18 to 24 months

Opened: 1 month



Indefinite shelf life


Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)

Unopened: 8 months from production date

Opened: 7 to 10 days



Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)


Maple syrup, real or imitation

1 year


Maraschino cherries

Unopened: 3 to 4 years

Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated



Unopened: 40 weeks

Opened: 3 months



Unopened: Indefinitely

Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)



2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)



Olives, jarred (green with pimento)

Unopened: 3 years

Opened: 3 months


Olive oil

2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)



Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated

Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container


Peanut butter, natural

9 months


Peanut butter, processed (Jif)

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months



Unopened: 18 months

Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.


Protein bars (PowerBars)

Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.


Rice, white

2 years from date on box or date of purchase


Salad dressing, bottled

Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date

Opened: 9 months refrigerated


Soda, regular

Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date

Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected


Steak sauce

33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)



5 years, stored in a cool, dry place


Tea bags (Lipton)

Use within 2 years of opening the package


Tuna, canned

Unopened: 1 year from purchase date

Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can


Soy sauce, bottled

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)



42 months


Wine (red, white)

Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines

Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked


Worcestershire sauce

Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Opened: 2 years

Household Products



Air freshener, aerosol

2 years


Antifreeze, premixed

1 to 5 years


Antifreeze, concentrate



Batteries, alkaline

7 years


Batteries, lithium

10 years



3 to 6 months


Dish detergent, liquid or powdered

1 year


Fire extinguisher, rechargeable

Service or replace every 6 years


Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable

12 years


Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered

Unopened: 9 months to 1 year

Opened: 6 months


Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)

At least 3 years


Miracle Gro, liquid

Opened: 3 to 8 years


Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble



Motor oil

Unopened: 2 to 5 years

Opened: 3 months


Mr. Clean

2 years



Unopened: Up to 10 years

Opened: 2 to 5 years


Spray paint

2 to 3 years



2 years


Wood polish (Pledge)

2 years


Beauty Products



All dates are from the manufacture date, which is either displayed on the packaging or can be obtained by calling the manufacturer's customer-service number.


Bar soap

18 months to 3 years


Bath gel, body wash

3 years


Bath oil

1 year


Body bleaches and depilatories

Unopened: 2 years

Used: 6 months


Body lotion

3 years



2 to 3 years



Unopened: 2 years

Used: 1 to 2 years

For antiperspirants, see expiration date


Eye cream

Unopened: 3 years

Used: 1 year


Face lotion

With SPF, see expiration date. All others, at least 3 years


Foundation, oil-based

2 years


Foundation, water-based

3 years


Hair gel

2 to 3 years


Hair spray

2 to 3 years


Lip balm

Unopened: 5 years

Used: 1 to 5 years



2 years



Unopened: 2 years

Used: 3 to 4 months



Three years from manufacture date


Nail polish

1 year


Nail-polish remover

Lasts indefinitely



1 to 2 years


Rubbing alcohol

At least 3 years



2 to 3 years


Shaving cream

2 years or more


Tooth-whitening strips

13 months


Wash’n Dri moist wipes

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: Good until dried out


by on Jan. 17, 2011 at 1:55 PM


5 Hints for Busy Cooks

  1. Take a cue from restaurant chefs and prep fresh vegetables, like onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers, packaging them in separate containers or bags. They'll come in handy when making soups, stews and chilies.
  2. Buy a rotisserie chicken. One 2- to 3-pound chicken will yield about 4 cups of shredded meat. Most recipes call for 2 cups—freeze or chill the remaining meat to use in another meal.
  3. Wash and spin-dry lettuces, then store in plastic bags lined with paper towels. You won't believe how long lettuce will stay crisp this way.
  4. Make your own vinaigrettes and salad dressings. It requires a little work up front, but they’re a simple way to add a huge flavor boost to your meal. Make them fresh, and you'll be dressing those crisp greens with outstanding flavor all week.
  5. Buy fresh fruits in season—they make nutritious, ultra-speedy desserts. When you buy fruits in season, they’ll be at the peak of flavor and reasonably priced. Freeze them for fresh flavor year-round.
by on Apr. 11, 2011 at 10:02 PM

How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh

Proper Storage Prevents Spoilage, Saving You Hundreds
  -- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator and Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater. But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You're not alone. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. And a recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year! That's like throwing away $600! 

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn't be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop. To keep your produce optimally fresh (and cut down on food waste), use this handy guide. 

Countertop Storage Tips
There's nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep those apples crisp and all countertop-stored produce fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag. 

Refrigerator Storage Tips
For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.

  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.

What to Store Where: A Handy Chart 
Use this color-coded key along with the chart below:

  • Store unwashed and in a single layer 
  • Store unwashed and in a plastic bag 
  • Store in a paper bag 
  • *Ethylene producers (keep away from other fruits and vegetables)

Store in Refrigerator

Apples (storage >7 days)

Brussels sprouts
Green beans
Green onions 
Herbs (except basil)
Lima beans
Leafy vegetables
Summer squash
Yellow squash






Store on Countertop

Apples (storage < 7 days)


Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Onions (away from potatoes)
Potatoes (away from onions)
Spaghetti squash
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Ripen on Counter, 



*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they're picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Use this to your advantage if you want to speed up the ripening process of an unripe fruit, for example, by putting an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, remember to keep them away from ethylene-producing foods, as designated in the chart above. 

Food is expensive, and most people can't afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip. Then you'll be able to follow-through with your good intentions to eat your 5-9 servings a day, instead of letting all of that healthy food go to waste. 

by on Apr. 11, 2011 at 10:05 PM

The Shelf Life of Fruits and Vegetables

Plan Meals and Grocery Trips Using this Time Table

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

In addition to storing your fruits and veggies properly, it's good to know approximately how long the fresh stuff will last. Plan your trip to the grocery or farmer's market accordingly so that your foods are at the peak of freshness when you plan to prepare them, and you're not throwing away food that's gone bad before you get a chance to use it.

So, how long will it last? 
Once you've brought it home and stored it properly, you can prioritize your produce. First, eat the things that will spoil quickly, such as lettuce and berries. Save the longer-lasting foods (like eggplant and oranges) for later in the week. 

1-2 Days 2-4 Days 4-6 Days 7+ Days
Green beans


Brussels sprouts


Hard Squash


by on Apr. 12, 2011 at 5:57 PM

     It's all about the BEANS!

All About Beans


Soaking Methods for Dry Beans

  • Most dried beans, except split peas and lentils, need to be soaked before cooking. Select a soaking method below to fit your schedule.

  • Before cooking, sort through dried beans to remove any broken beans, pebbles or grit. Rinse beans with cold water in a colander.

  • Soaking softens and returns moisture to the beans, which helps reduce the cooking time. Soaking also helps eliminate some of the sugar molecules, oligosaccharides, which are responsible for the gas-causing effect that beans can have. The longer the beans soak, the more of the oligosaccharides are released into the water. The released sugars are discarded with the water after soaking.

  • Soak different kinds of beans separately. Some take longer to soak than others. Black beans can affect the color of other beans. To see if beans have soaked long enough, slice one in half. If the center is opaque, you need to soak them longer. If you have old beans, hard water or live at a high altitude, you may need to increase the soaking and cooking times.

  • Always use a large pot and plenty of water. Dried beans rehydrate to two to three times their size. After soaking, discard the soaking water and drain and rinse the beans.


Quick Hot Soak

Sort and rinse beans. Place in a soup kettle or Dutch oven; add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1 to 4 hours. Drain and rinse beans; discard liquid unless your recipe directs otherwise. Proceed with the recipe as directed.


Overnight Soak

Sort and rinse beans. Place in a soup kettle or Dutch oven; for every cup of beans, add 3 cups of cold water. Cover and soak at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans; discard liquid unless recipe directs otherwise. Proceed with the recipe as directed.


Cooking Soaked Dried Beans

  • After soaking, beans are simmered in fresh water for about 2 hours or until tender. The time will vary based on the variety and size of the bean, hardness of the water, altitude and the freshness of the dry beans.

  • Follow the recipe or package directions for the amount of water to add to the beans. To reduce foaming during cooking, add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter to the pot.

  • Salt or any acidic ingredients (like tomatoes, lemon juice, mustard, molasses, wine or vinegar) inhibit the absorption of liquid and stop the softening process. These ingredients shouldn't be added to the beans until they are tender.

  • To test beans for doneness while cooking, remove a bean from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Mash the bean with the back of a spoon. If it mashes easily and is soft in the center, it is thoroughly cooked. Or, if you prefer, you can bite into the bean to see if it is tender but not mushy. Allow about 1/2 cup cooked beans per serving.


The following is a chart giving the suggested cooking time for soaked dried beans:

Type of Dried Bean/Legume Cooking Time
Black Beans 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Black-Eyed Peas 1/2 to 1 hour
Cranberry Beans 3/4 to 1 hour
Garbanzo Beans 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Great Northern Beans 3/4 to 1 hour
Kidney Beans 1-1/2 to 2 hours
Lentils, green or brown 20 to 30 minutes
Lentils, red 15 minutes
Lima Beans, baby 1 hour
Lima Beans, large 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Navy Beans 1-1/2 to 2 hours
Pink Beans 1 hour
Pinto Beans 1-1/2 to 2 hours
Red Beans, small 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Split Peas 20 to 30 minute


Storing Dried Beans

Store uncooked dried beans tightly covered in a cool, dry area. It is best to use dried beans within 12 months; the older the bean, the longer it takes to cook. Store cooked beans covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze up to 6 months.


Bean Substitutions

  • One pound packaged dried beans (uncooked) equals 2 cups dried or about 6 cups cooked and drained.

  • One cup packaged dried beans (uncooked) equals about two 15-1/2-ounce cans of drained beans.

  • One cup dried split peas equals about 2 cups cooked.

  • One 15-1/2-ounce can of beans equals about 1-2/3 cups drained beans.


Canned Beans

Rinse and drain canned beans before using. You will not only reduce the sodium content, but also eliminate some of the gas-producing sugars.



by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 4:19 AM

Posted by 
 on Apr. 11, 2011 at 10:46 PM 

I always love hearing about the tips and tricks others have discovered to make life in the kitchen a little easier! A few of the things I do to speed things along are:

*before beginning to cook, I always scan through the recipe and make sure I have all the ingredients set out on the counter, and all the measuring spoons/cups I am going to need.

*I clean up as I go, putting dishes in the sink as I'm done using them and wiping up the counter as I go. I also put ingredients back in the fridge or cupboard after I have used them. Once something goes in the oven or into the fridge to set up, most of the clean up is already done!

*I bought a package of little foil stars (the kind teachers use on reward charts) and whenever I make a recipe in a cookbook that my family absolutely loves, I put a star by it. When I am short on time and patience, I can look through my cookbook and instantly find something that I know will be a hit!

Have a perfectly wonderful day!

by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 4:21 AM

Healthier Ways to Follow a Recipe

Smart Substitution: Baking Ingredients
  -- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer

It’s dinner time again and all of your tried and true recipes your family loves call for cups of oil, sticks of butter, and several ounces of whole milk. But you have the solution – smart substitutions.

For starters, invest in a good set of non-stick pans and skillets. These alone will help cut down the amount of oil you use to cook. Most of the time, you won’t even need to coat the pan with oil to achieve perfectly good food items. Another substitution is to avoid frying. Methods such as baking and broiling will greatly diminish, if not eliminate, the amount of oil or butter you need.

Eliminate the Oil
A lot of recipes call for an unnecessary amount of butter and oil, so just cut back. When cooking up some vegetable or meat, and the recipe demands oil, try instead some vegetable broth, or even some wine. If you absolutely need oil, use olive oil, a healthier alternative than vegetable oils. Read more about olive oil.

Eggs are bursting not just with protein, but with vitamin D and other minerals as well. However, they are also full of cholesterol. More specifically, the yolk is full of cholesterol. An easy way around this pitfall, especially for those concerned about high levels of cholesterol, is to toss the yolk. If a recipe calls for 2 eggs, keep the yolk of one and pitch the other. This alone will cut your cholesterol in half.

From the cow
Dairy products are also ingredients that can be easily substituted. Instead of regular sour cream, try a low fat version. Another option is yogurt. If you feel the flavor isn’t quite right that way, combine the two. You’ll hardly notice a difference. 

Before you pour in the cup of whole milk, take just a second. You’ll be reducing the fat by simply using a low or non-fat version instead. (Hint: you can do this all of the time, not just when baking!)

Cheeses are a little bit trickier. Sample some low fat versions, but depending on the type of cheese that you are using, it might not melt as well as the full fat variety. Different cheeses behave differently when you cut out the fat. Some work and some do not.

Ditch the meat
Substitute vegetables for meat. If a recipe calls for 2 pounds of chicken, reduce this to 1.5 pounds and add in some extra veggies. Chances are that nobody will even notice a difference in the meal. In the end, be creative! Don’t be scared to try out new things in the kitchen, even if it might take a few attempts to get it right. 

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