Culinary Reference


This is the go to section on the blog, where I can explain techniques & phrases used in posts in greater detail, a culinary reference 101 for chefhermes.com, if you will. As this is a work in progress (WIP) and there is something that you’d like to see in this part of the site, then please let me know.

Cooking methods
Other cooking techniques
Other techniques & ingredients
Conversion tables
Dry weight
MetricImperialUS
7g¼oz
15g ½oz
25g1 oz
50g2 oz
75g3 oz
100g4 oz
125g5 oz
150g6 oz
175g7 oz
200g8 oz
225g9 oz1 US cup
250g10 oz
275g11 oz
325g12 oz
350g13 oz
375g14 oz
400g15 oz
425g16oz / 1lb
675g1« lb
900g2lb
1kg2.2lb
Liquids
MetricImperial
25ml1fl oz
50ml2fl oz
75ml3fl oz
125ml4fl oz
150ml5fl oz
175ml6fl oz
200ml7fl oz
225ml8fl oz
275ml9fl oz
300ml10fl oz / ½ pint
325ml11fl oz
350ml12fl oz
400ml13fl oz
425ml14fl oz
450ml15fl oz
475ml16fl oz
500ml17fl oz
550ml18fl oz
575ml19fl oz
600ml20fl oz / 1 pint
Small quantities
MetricImperial
¼ tsp1.25ml
½ tsp2.5ml
¾ tsp3.75ml
1 tsp5ml
1 tblspn15ml
Oven temperatures
MetricImperialGas mark
110°C225°F¼
130°C250°F½
140°C275°F1
150°C300°F2
170°C325°F3
180°C350°F4
190°C375°F5
200°C400°F6
220°C425°F7
230°C450°F8
240°C475°F9


Boiling

The boiling point of water is 100°C at sea level, thus making it a constant. Boiling is the heating of a liquid where rapid vaporisation/evaporation happens. Normally associated with vegetables. Blanching of vegetables is done with seasoned boiling water to retain colour & par-cook for later use. They are plunged into boiling water briefly, then shocked in iced water to prevent further cooking.


Simmering
Simmering is a gentle boil, ideally suited for a longer cooking process, but not so slow it becomes the poaching method. Bubbles should gently break the surface of the liquid.


Steaming
Can take two main forms: Atmospheric & Pressurised. for most cooks Atmospheric will involve a pan of boiling water (thus creating the steam) & trivet placed out of the water. A moist gentler type of cooking. Pressurised steaming is done in sealed unit, which can increase the temperature of the steam & therefor reduce cooking times.


Roasting

To expose to a open heat (usually an oven). Can apply to coffee beans through to vegetables, fish & meat. Where the latter three are concerned an oil is normally used to aid the process and to differ from baking.


Microwaving

Sometimes, microwave heating is explained as a resonance of water molecules, but this is incorrect; such resonances occur only at above 1 terahertz (THz). Microwaves work by passing non-ionizing microwave radiation through the food causing some molecules which are dipolar to rotate, thus releasing energy. This effect only penetrates 25-38mm of food stuffs, and is more efficient on such foods high in fat or water.


Shallow frying

Not to be confused with sautéing, shallow frying is normally done with about 1cm or more of fat in the pan over a medium heat. As the food is only partially submerged then it requires it to be turned over, or flipped.


Deep frying

The food is completely submerged in the oil, deep frying mediums can vary from: goose fat; vegetable & rapeseed oil to beef dripping, to name three. The range of temperatures used generally start at around 130°C (to start the Maillard reaction) upto and beyond 190°C.


 Baking

The application of dry heat in an oven, can be used with varying degrees of temperature & humidity.


Pot roasting (poêle)

Very similar to braising, but with the distinction that the food is cooked in a sealed vessel, ie with the lid on. This combines a slow cooking method, such as braising with steaming. This means that very little, if any of the cooking liquor is lost due to evaporation.


Sous vide

Currently enjoying a renaissance. Food is sealed in plastic pouches under vacuum, this can extend the shelf life or aid with marinating. In cooking terms, sous vide is generally used in conjunction with a water bath for more precise cooking methods.

From Wiki:

Sous-vide (/sˈvd/; French for “under vacuum”)[1] is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and not to overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same “doneness”, keeping the food juicier.


Grilling

The application of a fierce heat from either above (a typical household grill, aka a Salamander) or below (ie a chargrill or barbeque).


Braising

A slow method of cookery usually reserved for cuts of meat meat which are tougher than prime cuts, but can also be used for varying applications from vegetables to fish. Similar to Pot roasting, but the cooking vessel isn’t sealed, so the cooking liquor will evaporate or reduce, to intensify in flavour.  The generally accepted method of braising is:

  • Colour the food by ‘sealing’ in a hot pan.
  • Add to a suitable deep ovenware dish, along with some aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, carrots celery etc).
  • Add cooking liquor: Wine; stock or water, or any combination of the three.
  • Bring to the boil, skim.
  • Place in an oven on a medium low temperature.
  • *Cooking times & temperatures will vary according to the size, type & weight of the meat concerned.


Poaching

Moist gentle method of cookery, where the liquid barely has any bubbles rising, ie just below simmering in temperature.


Stewing

A slow method of cooking on the stove top, generally speaking. Although mainly used for tougher cuts of meat, technically speaking  dishes such as ratatouille (classical French vegetable stew from the Provence region) & pepperonata  (an Italian stew of sweet peppers, onions & tomatoes) also use this method. The cooking liquor is generally thickened, either by reduction or a thickening agent such as cornflour or buerre manié.


Sauteing

This is a quick method of cookery using very little fat in a frying pan, generally over a high heat. The literal translation from French means to jump or bounced, likening the quick movements & tossing of the pan’s contents  to prevent burning & discolouration.


Sweating

To fry in a ban but at a low enough temperature to not start the Maillard reaction, ie not to colour. Sweating vegetables can extract better flavours for dishes, such as sweating the onions & garlic to make a tomato ragout. It’ll remove the harshness from the onions and release the natural sugars, making the base for the sauce more balanced.


Sealing

One of the biggest misnomers in the culinary world for a long time. The theory use to be that applying high heat to the outsides of joints of meat would keep the juices sealed in. This is infact incorrect. Sealing meat, or the Maillard reaction as it is known, actually caramelises the natural sugars with the protiens present on the outside of the meat. This adds to the flavour, and if using a cooking method such as braising can add to the colour of the final sauce.


Maillard reaction

The Maillard reaction has been a buzz word in many kitchens for the past few years, but in actual fact, it was first documented around 1912 by French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. The Maillard reaction is a form of nonenzymatic browning. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Whilst many think it is applicable to only to high protein foods such as meat & fish, it also happens in baking as well, think the brown crust on bread.