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Cooking Methods: Blanching, Broiling, Poaching, Steaming...

Blanching
Blanching is done when you want vegetables barely cooked and still crunchy at the center.  Blanching is typically done when canning and freezing vegetables. Prepare vegetables by cutting them the desired size. Bring salted water to a high boil. While water is coming to a boil get colander ready for draining and set up a bowl of ice water. Put vegetables in boiling water and boil just about 2-3 minutes, depending on how thick or big vegetables are. Drain vegetables through colander and immediately put into ice water.
When vegetables have had a chance to get cold all the way through, drain again in colander. If serving cold with dressing it is good to dry vegetables before dressing them. They can also be saved for later and reheated.
Blanching is the method used when freezing vegetables and sometimes in canning.

Baking
Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting by conduction, and not by radiation, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. It is primarily used for the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries and pies, tarts, and quiches. Such items are sometimes referred to as "baked goods," and are sold at a bakery. A person who prepares baked goods as a profession is called a baker. It is also used for the preparation of baked potatoes; baked apples; baked beans; some pasta dishes, such as lasagne; and various other foods, such as the pretzel.
Many domestic ovens are provided with two heating elements: one for baking, using convection and conduction to heat the food; and one for broiling or grilling, heating mainly by radiation. Meat may be baked, but is more often roasted, a similar process, using higher temperatures and shorter cooking times.

Braising
Braising is a method of slow cooking meat, fish and, or vegetables in a small amount of liquid, covered, in the oven or over low heated burner. This is done when you want to cook several things together infusing all the flavors, while tenderizing food. Because it is cooked slowly over a long period of time, you may need to add a little liquid during cooking time.

Saute (healthy)
Start your Healthy Sauté by heating 1 TBS of broth in a stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Once the broth begins to bubble add onions and sauté stirring frequently. After the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes, you can then add other ingredients such as garlic, or fresh ginger. Once they have had a chance to cook together for just another minute, add other vegetables. This method enables you to have flavorful sautéed vegetables without heating oil.

Stir Fry  (healthy)

Healthy stir-fry is done in a wok or large skillet. Instead of using oil, add 1 TBS of broth to a hot pan on medium high heat. When broth is hot add vegetables in order given in the recipe, stirring constantly. This is usually done quickly so vegetables are still a little crisp inside.

Poaching Fish
One way to poach fish is to simmer vegetables such as onion, carrots and celery until almost tender, about 5 minutes in stock or water just up to the top of vegetables. Place vegetables in cold water and bring to a high simmer. Place fish on top and cover. Cook for just about 5 minutes, depending on how thick fish is.

The operative word here is gentle – the liquid should barely simmer, in order not to overcook or break up the fish. Rolled fillets of sole and plaice will take 4-5 minutes, and the cooking liquid – dry white wine or cider – can be used to make a sauce. White or smoked fish fillets and fish steaks weighing 6-7 oz (175-200 g) will take 6-8 minutes, depending on their thickness. Whole trout weighing 10-12 oz (275-350 g) each will take 8-10 minutes – less for small fish. Use enough liquid to half cover the fish and make sure the pan has a well-fitting lid. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs, a couple of bay leaves, slices of lemon, thin onion slices and a few black peppercorns. Large, whole fish are better oven-baked. The timings that follow are guidelines only, so just remember that thicker pieces of fish will need the longer times, thinner pieces the shorter.


This is a wonderful way to cook salmon also...


Roasting

Roasting is done with dry heat in an open pan in a hot oven, about 450 or higher. It crisps up the exterior of the meat or vegetables while slow cooking the inside. To roast vegetables without oil, stir once in a while to distribute natural juices. However, the temperature for roasting nuts is much lower--use a 160-170 degree oven for 15-20 minutes--to preserve the heart-healthy oils in nuts.

Broiling (quick broiling fish)

This method of broiling allows you to broil without oil, and it is very fast and efficient, sealing in the juices of the fish. Preheat broiler on high and place an empty pan under flame to get very hot, about 10 minutes. Use a pan that has a metal handle so it doesn't burn.

A stainless steel pan with a metal handle that works best for this. Prepare fish and when pan is very hot remove from broiler and add fish. Place back under the broiler and cook for just a few minutes depending on the thickness. Keep in mind that it is cooking rapidly on both sides so it is done very fast, usually in 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness.

Steaming
Healthy Steaming is done when you cook over water. Use a steamer basket over simmering water. This is done usually when you want to cook vegetables, meat or fish rather quickly. Bring water to a high simmer before adding food to the basket above.
There are numerous steaming gadgets on the market. However, for efficiency, money saving and multiple use purposes I use a simple stainless steel colander. I fill my vetables with it and simply place over a pot of boiling water.

Steaming vegetables is one of my favorite ways to cook them. It's fast, and nutritious as you do not loose many vitamin and nutrients. You can sprinkle herbs over your vegetables while they steam. After add butter or olive oil, fresh crushed garlic and a little sea salt.

Reducing Sauce

To reduce a sauce, remove any solids such as meat, vegetables, fruit or herbs from broth by straining. Return to pan. It works best if the pan is wide and shallow. And it is best if you have about twice as much broth as needed. Simmer over medium high heat until volume reduces by 1/3 to ½. This will thicken sauce and intensify the flavor. If it is not thick enough for you at this point add a little arrowroot mixed with a small amount of water. Make sure you do not season with salt until end of reduction. Salt also intensifies as you cook it.