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Cooking Class: Boiling and Simmering

Cooking Class: Boiling and Simmering


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Cooking Light food editors Ann Taylor Pittman and Tim Cebula teach you the important differences between boiling and simmering.

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Simmering 101

Stocks, soups, and stews are just some of the things you can make when you master the art of simmering, one of the most basic (and delicious) cooking techniques in the kitchen. Whether it’s on the stove or in the oven, giving your food a chance to simmer pays off in the flavor department here’s when to do it and how it works.

Simmering is an excellent choice for any culinary endeavor including stocks, soups, or starchy items such as potatoes, pastas, legumes, and grains. It’s just a notch below boiling, but that notch keeps food soft and tender, letting everything mix together and get extra delicious. Once you’re skilled at identifying the stages of simmering and managing a consistent simmer, the world of cooking your own phenomenal soups and stews is at your fingertips.


Besides, cooked vegetables retain some of their vitamin C content. That said, research shows that some veggies, including broccoli, are healthier raw rather than cooked. … The bottom line, says Liu, is to eat your veggies and fruits no matter how they’re prepared. “We cook them so they taste better,” Liu says.

People can also get food poisoning from raw fruits and vegetables. This is less likely with cooked fruits and vegetables because the cooking process kills bacteria. The CDC recommend always washing produce before eating it.


Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Betsy asks on The Twitters:

A while back I did an article on simmering vs. boiling which covered the basics of the differences between two states of water which, according to high school physics, really should be the same thing. After all, the boiling point of water is 100°C, so how is there something called simmering and something called boiling that both happen at this 100°C. So I gave part of the explanation in the other article, but it wasn’t complete enough. So, first read that old article, then let’s learn some more, shall we?

Water is a social molecule, enjoying time with just about anything it comes across (short of oil and its ilk). This gives water the nickname “the universal solvent”, and is why water causes so much damage to everything it goes past: it will envelop other molecules, carrying them away from their sources. It’ll act as an enabler for acids, which don’t really do much dry but are very active when wet. Water will carry oxygen to fish that need to breathe it or to iron which it will rust away.

Aside from liking other molecules, water also really likes water. It’ll stick together given the opportunity, even while it’s folding other molecules in-between its own. When you heat water in order to boil it, you are trying to get those molecules to break away from each other and fly off into the atmosphere, and that takes a lot of energy.

To take 1g of water from 0°C to 100°C takes 100 calories of heat. To get that same gram of water, already at 100°C (the boiling point) to actually boil, it takes an additional 539 calories of heat. So it’s almost five and a half times the amount of energy to get it to boil than it was just to raise the water to the boiling point.

As we discussed in the earlier article, when you heat something on the stove, the heat is not distributed evenly. Parts near the element or the flame are going to heat up sooner than the rest of the liquid above it, and flame especially can be uneven because there are several individual points of contact rather than something distributed along a larger surface. Of course the pot itself will help to distribute the heat, but even with the best pots, you are going to concentrate all of that heat on the bottom.

While the bottom of the pot is warmer, the water near the bottom will absorb more heat more quickly than the rest of the pot. So the water near the bottom will get the extra heat necessary to change its phase from water to steam sooner than the rest of the pot. While there is an imbalance, you have simmering.

You can balance the simmering relatively easy by getting it to the point of simmering and only putting in roughly as much heat into the system as you are losing from evaporation. There’s no math involved here, of course, you just turn down the burner until the bubbling seems steady. And because you have that really wide margin between reaching the boiling point and actually boiling, you can be quite a bit off on this balance without causing much trouble.

However, let’s say you’ve brought everything to a complete boil. This means that you have added enough heat to the pot to make all of the water have that additional 539 cal/g of energy it needs in order to boil. If you let the heat drop from there, the top is going to cool faster than everything below it, but you add head from the bottom. So eventually everything will drop below that 539 calories/g that it needed to boil, but it’ll be even cooler at the very top and mostly still right next to boiling from just below that top layer down. So when you add any heat at all to the system from the bottom, it will very quickly hit the boil again, and it won’t simmer. There’s just too much energy in the system already.

If you let the whole system cool down for a while, or even drop that 1°C below the boiling point, then you will be able to simmer again easily. Even if you don’t drop the degree, giving it time will give you that buffer that you need to be able to maintain the simmer easily.

Also! You’ve almost certainly noticed that when you’re simmering, stirring the pot will stop all bubbling, and stopping the stirring starts the bubbling back up. This is why. All that heat that was concentrated to allow bubbling gets distributed throughout the whole pot when you stir, so you don’t have that small layer of water absorbing the amount of heat it needs in order to change state. This also means that when you stir continuously while you heat the liquid, when it finally does bubble you will be very close to a full boil.

The distribution of heat when you’re stirring helps to see why a watched pot never boils. After all, it’s easy to ignore a pot that’s trying to boil on its own, but when you have to stir it, you are, by necessity, attached to it and watching it regularly. A stirred pot will eventually boil, but not until well after a pot that is completely ignored will start to bubble.


Italian Cooking For A Healthy You

Italian food is packed with healthy benefits. Studies show that an Italian-style diet has many health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, to living a longer life. Main ingredients included in Italian dishes, such as tomatoes, spinach, leafy greens, citrus fruit onions and garlic, are low in calories and fat but high in nutrient value. Dietary fiber is bountiful in italian cuisines which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, maintain stable blood suger levels and prevent constipation.

Other staples of italian cuisine, such as olive oil and seafood are great sources of healthy fats. Olive oil and fresh fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids which is linked to prevention of coronary heart disease and reduction in high blood pressure. Learning to cook dishes from this healthy cuisine, lets you enjoy a guilt-free indulgence as you whip up delicious Italian dishes for your friends and family.


Why Is Boiling A Healthy Method Of Cooking

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Whether you broil, boil, or bake, cooking methods can have an impact on the nutrient content of food. Learn the best ways to cook but still keep the flavor.

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Ghee

Ghee gives the rich and distinctive flavour to Indian foods. Ghee is made from clarified butter and has high burning point. You can make your own by adding a block of butter to a saucepan. Heat it up until it begins to look foamy. You&rsquoll notice the milk solids will sink in the bottom of the pan. Drain the clear butter off the top and discard the remaining solids. You will need to pour the ghee through a cheese cloth (or clean chux) to strain. Store at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Indian food is so incredibly varied and is well known for producing unbelievable flavour combinations. Some being tangy, spicy, creamy, rich, subtle, pungent, mild or hot and more! Some of us might associate Indian food as "curry", but the fact is it incorporates a range of dishes made up of different combinations of spices and herbs. It encompasses a broad category that contains a lot of different cultural and historical points. So, let's clarify what's going on with this whole myth of curry!

The term &lsquonoodles&rsquo was manufactured the west, describing foods that are long and stringy. However, in China, a noodle is not called a &lsquonoodle&rsquo, it is called &lsquomiàn&rsquo or &lsquomein&rsquo. Miàn is not related to the shape of the food, but the fact it is made from flour in a liquid. Funnily enough in this sense, dumplings and tortellini are both are miàn! The Malaysian word &lsquomee&rsquo is derived from the Chinese name.

Rice is one of the most used grains on the planet. It&rsquos a staple food for a large portion of the world&rsquos population with hundreds of varieties. When selecting rice, enthusiasts will look carefully for the colour, fragrance, flavour and texture.

Stir-frying is a method of cooking where ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred. This technique originated in China but has spread into other parts of Asia and the West. To traditionally stir-fry, the most obvious tool you need is a good wok and spatula. However, if you don&rsquot have a wok, that shouldn&rsquot stop you! Simply use a large, wide frying pan with some other basic pantry ingredients. You&rsquoll soon be able to whip up the most delicious stir-fry recipes.


Cooking Class: Boiling and Simmering - Recipes

This Forks Over Knives Essentials course specializes in giving everyday people the confidence to adopt a Forks Over Knives-style, whole-food, plant-based diet and lifestyle. The Essentials course focuses on the most foundational knowledge and the most important aspects of getting started in the kitchen: getting your kitchen and work area set up, using a knife safely and efficiently, and practicing a few cooking techniques that you will apply to countless recipes.

Course Highlights

  • Foundational plant-based cooking techniques
  • Over 15 Lessons and 60 tasks
  • Over 30 Forks Over Knives approved whole food, plant-based recipes
  • Over 15 hours of learning and cooking time
  • Go at your own pace
  • Fun interactive quizzes
  • Instructor-graded activities
  • Classroom forums and support groups

Course Objectives

  • Understand and apply key principles of whole-food plant-based nutrition
  • Outfit the plant-based kitchen with essential tools and equipment
  • Demonstrate knife handling and a variety of knife cuts
  • Demonstrate moist cooking methods, such as steaming and simmering
  • Demonstrate dry cooking methods such as roasting, and sautéing without oil
  • Prepare a wide array of plant-based staple recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Course Description

This Forks Over Knives Essentials course specializes in giving everyday people the confidence to adopt a Forks Over Knives-style, whole-food, plant-based diet and lifestyle. The Essentials course focuses on the most foundational knowledge and the most important aspects of getting started in the kitchen: getting your kitchen and work area set up, using a knife safely and efficiently, and practicing a few cooking techniques that you will apply to countless recipes.


Registered Dietitian

Learn how Cook Well, Be Well works!

The Cook Well, Be Well classes are for beginning cooks who want to develop their skills and confidence in the kitchen and for advanced cooks who want to learn to cook healthier.

Each session—whether in-person or virtual—includes a nutrition presentation from a registered dietician, demonstrations and how-to instruction from our professional cooking instructors, hands on cooking (in-person classes cook in a group), a nutritional review of the recipes, tasting, along with copies of recipes and handouts, and plenty of opportunity for questions.

Each person who attends the in-person class must register separately. For virtual classes, we welcome other members of your household and friends to cook along with you.

Almost the entire Cook Well, Be Well curriculum can be done with basic equipment—knife, bowls, spoons, pans. There are a few recipes that specify special equipment—food processor, muffin pan—but we send out an equipment list with each weekly shop list that includes equipment substitutions and the option to cook an alternative recipe.

For in-person classes, enough food is made by each group for everyone in the class to have a taste. For virtual classes, each person will cook a recipe that serves 8 (or you can cut in half to serve 4) and you and your family and friends can enjoy the entire dish.


An Introduction To Cooking Class

Our one day Introduction To Cooking classes provides an opportunity for people to learn, engage and be inspired by nutritional cookery whilst gaining both essential life skills and confidence-building experiences.

This class is specially designed to develop an understanding of food hygiene, knife skills and safety in the kitchen in a fun and personalised way. You will also learn how to create delicious essential recipes that will prepare them for independent life.

Classes are entirely hands on and student gets to take their recipes home to share with their families. There is a maximum of 7 students per class to ensure everyone has immediate access to a chef, providing them with as much personal assistance and support as required.

This class is designed to develop confidence in the kitchen to enable students to cook a variety of dishes without supervision .


Cooking - Open Hearth

Open hearth cooking is the oldest way of cooking. Before cook stoves came into existence, fireplaces were commonly used. A cook knew how to prepare the fire for a day of planned cooking. The cook would rise early in order to start the fire for the day's cooking. The fire was also the last thing at night the cook tended to, banking it for the next morning's use.

The fire is something to be studied. If you do not understand how a fire operates, you will not be able to control it. Not just any wood will do. Hardwoods are the best. Ash, oak, hickory, hard maple, or dogwood are some hardwoods that are good to burn. "The two essential properties of the best cooking woods are that they generate an even, intense heat and that they produce a good supply of red hot coals as combustion proceeds." Hardwoods accomplish both properties. Blazing fires do look dramatic for display, but were used little for useful cooking.

Cooks used a controllable fire, which roasted and toasted foods. Boiling, simmering, and stewing foods were done under a small flame. To utilize still further the fire's energy, its coals were raked up, placed on the lid, and then placed underneath the Dutch ovens to bake. On rainy days, when the wood supply got wet, it was brought into the house and stacked around the back and sides of the fireplace. The heat of the fire would dry the wood out. This technique of drying wet wood in a fireplace is seen in old photographs of the period. The area you were settled in had a great deal to do with what wood you had available.

Some areas had only soft wooded trees growing around them. Bents' Fort had a problem with obtaining the proper wood for cooking, because of the softwoods native to their surroundings. Without the hardwoods, coals were difficult to accumulate. Baking is only successful with the aid of coals.

Although early American cooks used long-handled pots and utensils, being burned and even burning one's house down were frequent misfortunes, especially during this period of rudely constructed chimneys.

The floor near the cooking hearth was swept constantly, and the hearth itself scrubbed often to keep it free from grease. Dripping pans were used when roasting or boiling to prevent the grease from dripping directly on the hearth.

Scalding was a common accident when people used lugpoles. Lugpoles were sturdy, very green, saplings that rested on the projecting inner ledges of the fireplace throat six or seven feet above the hearth. If this big pole were not replaced frequently, it would burn through, causing damage to those around the hearth.

Lugpoles were replaced by cranes. The crane is a large iron bracket hinged to the fireplace jamb. From "S" hooks and trammels placed on it, the cook suspended cooking pots over the fire. The cranes' hinges allowed the cook to swing the pots on and off the fire safely. Many implements were used by the cook. Each one performed a useful task. Different types of tools used to care for the fire were: shovels, pokers, tongs, and bellows. Without these implements, one would not have been able to cook. Tending to the fire was important because without doing so, one would not be able to have available the right amount of coals for baking or enough flames for boiling.

Other versatile cooking implements are: peels, posnets , a cooking pot with 3 legs and a long handle, spiders, bird ovens, coffee roasters, tilting teakettles, ember tongs, salamanders, tin kitchens, Dutch ovens, clock jacks, griddles, waffle irons, and kettles of all sizes. Not all kitchens were supplied so lavishly.

The general arrangements were sparse. This did not hinder the cook's basic cooking techniques. One could turn out the prepared dishes with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy, and with remarkably tasty results. That was because of the cook's resourcefulness. Pots, which were designed for a particular cooking technique, were used in a variety of other ways as well. An average cook had a skillet or frying pan and would own a griddle, which was useful for baking biscuits, muffins, small cakes, pancakes, and sautéing. For pots that did not have fat on them, a trivet was required for supporting it. Spoons for stirring, forks for piercing, and spatulas for turning were all-important implements used.

Cookbooks were not common items in the 1840s. All good cooks knew their recipes by heart. If a cookbook were found in that era though, you would see recipes for French bread, ladyfingers, sponge cake, and puff.

The wood, knowledge of fires, implements, and of course, safety, are all a part of open hearth cooking this type of cooking is continuous process of learning. New recipes tried against old are always a challenge. The best teacher of all in open hearth cooking is just experiencing it and the old cliché, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Information in this section was adapted from an article on open hearth cooking written by Alice Maffett, a former park ranger at Fort Scott NHS.