Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 25 Culinary Terms Every Student Should Know By Erik R Johnson

There are many different terms used in the culinary world. The following are the top 25 culinary terms every student should know as they are training to become a chef:
  • Bind: Thickening soups, sauces or gravies by adding egg yolks, cream, flour, starch or blood.
  • Blanch: Immersing foods in boiling water to part-cook or clean them.
  • Braise: Slowly cooking meats or vegetables in a small covered quantity of aromatic liquid.
  • Compote: Preparing fruits and/or vegetables by slowly cooking in a light sweet stock.
  • Confit: Meats that have been slowly and gently cooked in fat.
  • Emulsion: Mixing two incompatible liquids by dropping one slowly into the other in a continuous phase.
  • Decoct: Extracting the essence of something by boiling it.
  • Deglaze: Dissolving caramelized juice at the bottom of a saucepan by moistening with liquid.
  • Dilute: Adding liquid to adjust the consistency of an overly thick sauce or puree.
  • Julienne: Very thin strips of vegetables or cooked meat.
  • Knead: Pressing, folding and stretching to work dough into a uniform mixture.
  • Line: Arranging slices of ingredients on the bottom and sides of a utensil.
  • Marinate: Soaking meat, poultry or fish in an acidic liquid to flavor and/or tenderize it.
  • Mirepoix: Roughly chopped vegetables added to flavor stock; usually celery, onions and carrots.
  • Poach: Simmering in a liquid that is kept just below the boiling point.
  • Reduce: Simmering a liquid or sauce down to a concentrated liquid.
  • Roux: Combination of flour and butter cooked to white, golden or dark as specified.
  • Saute: Frying quickly in a small amount of hot fat or oil.
  • Score: Creating small incisions on the skin of meat or fish to help it cook.
  • Shrink: Sweating off moisture and juice of ingredients until they contract.
  • Simmer: Boiling gently and consistently using low heat.
  • Stew: Cooking ingredients in a closed container with almost no liquid, or no liquid at all.
  • Sweat: Cooking an ingredient covered and over low heat until it loses its juices.
  • Trimmings: Cut-off pieces left over after trimming an ingredient.
  • Whisk: Adding volume to substances like egg whites, sauce, cream or hollandaise.
For more information about culinary careers and cooking degrees programs visit This is an online culinary degree portal offering information about best culinary school and colleges of USA and Canada that are offering culinary & cooking courses in various disciplines.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cooking With Fresh Herbs - Healthy Cooking With Fresh Herbs

If you are one of those people who like to experiment in the kitchen or just love to experience culinary cooking, then you will really enjoy healthy cooking with fresh herbs. When it comes to cooking, nothing can compare with using only the freshest ingredients like herbs.
Fresh herbs are definitely more flavorful, aromatic, and healthy. They can surely provide you the right flavor and aroma you want for your food preparation. If you have an herb garden at home, cooking with herbs is a real delight for you and your family. You can use herbs in poultry stuffing, baking cookies or bread, pasta sauces, tea, and even as a garnish to your menus. They give off a very appealing scent that can tickle the taste buds and want you to ask for more.
Healthy cooking with fresh herbs is very easy, practical, and convenient especially if you grow your own herbs at home. At least, you are assured of the kind of herbs you use in your cooking, especially their cleanliness and purity.
Now if you want to start healthy cooking with fresh herbs, here are some important tips you should keep in mind:
o Choosing the best herbs for cooking
When is the best time to cut those herbs for cooking? Now this is one thing you should know in order to get the best out of your herbs. When purchasing from your local grocery store, buy only the herbs you intend to use during the day you are going to use them. Meanwhile, if you grow your own herbs, you can pick them in the morning after the dew dried up and before the sun is too hot.
o Washing herbs correctly
They should be washed and cleaned thoroughly. Wash small amounts of herbs under running water for a few minutes and pat them dry with a paper towel. On the other hand, put bunches of herbs in the sink or bowl and wash them thoroughly with water until all the dirt and grit are removed. Washing the herbs correctly can help make them stay fresh and clean for use.
o Storing fresh herbs
You can retain your herb's freshness by storing them correctly in the refrigerator. After cleaning and drying them, put herbs in a plastic bag or zip lock and punch holes around it to allow air to circulate, You can them put the bag in your ref's crisper or freezer. Another is by putting your herb in a glass with one inch water. Dip the tip of your herbs in the water and cover it with plastic. Do not tie the plastic otherwise there will not be enough air to circulate.
o Preparing fresh herbs for cooking
Once cleaned, your herbs are ready for cooking. You can mince them to smaller pieces, chop with a knife, or snip with scissors. Others use sprigs of herbs in cooking but mostly, it is the leaves which are often used.
By following the simple tips above, you can start working on that healthy cooking with fresh herbs. Just remember to choose the best herbs for cooking, wash and clean them correctly, store them well, and prepare the herbs for cooking as needed. Before you knew it, you'll be cooking like a pro.
Lianne Oaks is an herb garden enthusiast and enjoys helping and teaching people everything they need to know about starting and maintaining a thriving herb garden. For more great tips and advice on Cooking with Fresh Herbs, visit
Here there is a complimentary free mini-course on Herb Gardening.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Herb Garden Plants - by Roger Allan

When you are planning your first herb garden, there are so many options and you should decide what you want to accomplish. Your concerns may be: indoor or outdoor or culinary cooking or medicinal or pest control or any combination.
at this point, you need to understand how to search for the herbs that work with you. To cover all aspects of this would require an entire e-Book; so, What I am trying to squeeze in here is categorizing herbs.
Botanists classify all plants, including herb garden plants, into three categories: Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials.
Annuals germinate, blossom, produce seed, and die in one growing season. Annual herbs examples would be sunflowers, petunias, and zinnias.
Biennials need two growing seasons to complete their life cycle. The first growing season is usually as a rosette and the second should produce some kind of flower or fruit and then the plant will die. Biennial herb garden plants include caraway and parsley.
Perennials are the majority of herb garden plants. Their life cycle lasts through many growing seasons. Herb examples are: aloe, angelica, chicory, catnip, fennel, feverfew and lavender.
Now for the good part.
When planning or designing a new herb plant garden; consider how certain herbs benefit you and the maintenance to provide success. For example, Perennials will grow better when protected from frost but they are the only type that have mechanisms to survive some frost. Biennials are weak in this area and annuals just die. Be sure to research each plant you consider for your herb garden.
There are four classes of herbs are: CULINARY, MEDICINAL, AROMATIC, and ORNAMENTAl.
CULINARY HERBS are used to provide flavor and/or spice food. Some herbs provide both a flavor and a spice. For example coriander seeds (spice) and coriander leaves (flavor). Examples of flavor herbs are: basil, chives, marjoram, sage, savory and thyme.
MEDICINAL HERBS have been effectively used for thousands of years. Now referred to as alternative medicine. Here are some herbs with clinically proven benefits.
Ephedrine is an herb that has been used for bronchitis and asthma for thousands of years. It became so popular in modern times that the herb became scarce. It is mostly produced synthetically and you will often see it on your drug store shelf as Pseudoephedrine. Yarrow can be eaten to counter poisoning; but it must be eaten quickly. Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Dill or Dill oil has bee proven to soothe the stomach after meals. Konjac positively works on Atopic Dermatitis and high cholesterol. Bergamot Orange works on malaria. Hawthorn works on nervous tension. Horehound is an expectorant. Peppermint works on irritable bowel syndrome. Ginger can help ease nausea from chemotherapy.
And there are many more herbs that have clinically proven health benefits.
AROMATIC HERBS usually fit into more than one herb class. Many will benefit you in the culinary or medical areas as well. Here we will discuss their fragrance.
The most notable herb fragrance is lavender. The essential oils of lavender have long been used in sachets, perfumes, and aromatherapy. Sweet marjoram is a mint used in perfumed soaps and potpourri. Examples of the many, many wonderful herbal fragrances available.
ORNAMENTAL HERBS is another class where most of the herbs also fall into other classes; including aromatic herbs. The main focus here is that they are beautiful. Most gardeners use ornamental herbs at entryways or displays or to fill in the cracks and crevices of their herb garden design. A few examples are: ornamental oregano, roman chamomile, catmint, salem rosemary, borage, chicory, and anise hyssop.
I have more information than can be confined to one article. I hope this gives you a foundation to work with. Until we meet again.
Roger Allan
Roger Allan is an herb expert. For more information on herb garden plants, visit

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cheese of Vermont - Part 3


Cheese SamplerWhen you're assembling cheeses to serve as hors d'oeuvres or as a cheese course, aim for a variety of textures, such as crumbly, smooth, soft, and firm, and a range of flavors, from mild to strong. Some good sources for cheese: Artisanal Premium Cheese (877-797-1200), Formaggio Kitchen (888-212-3224), Murray's Cheese(888-692-4339), and Saxelby Cheesemongers (212-228-8204).
1. Manchester This aged tomme-style goats' milk cheese from Consider Bardwell has a buttery texture and hints of hazelnut.
2. Mettowee Consider Bardwell's youngest, freshest goats' milk cheese is creamy and mild, with a clean, pure-milk taste.
3. Landaff A traditional Welsh-style semifirm cheese from Landaff Creamery, in New Hampshire, that's aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. It's creamy, mild, and tangy.
4. Tarentaise Thistle Hill Farm's homage to the aged Alpine cheeses of France's Haute-Savoie region. Toothsome yet silky, salty yet sweet, with a subtly nutty flavor.
5. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar The delicious result of a partnership between the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm and Cabot Creamery, this traditional cheddar is aged in muslin for up to a year.
6. La Luna Blue Ledge Farm's aged raw-milk (unpasteurized) goats' milk cheese is mild and firm, similar to a Gouda.
7. Constant Bliss Jasper Hill Farm's raw-milk, bloomy-rind cheese (meaning that added molds ripen it) is aged for 60 days. It is rich, ripe, and milky in the center.
8. Bayley Hazen Blue Drier than most blues and not nearly as pungent, this natural-rind (developed thanks to naturally occurring molds) cheese by Jasper Hill Farm has a slightly sweet, milky flavor and a dense texture.
9. Willoughby This semisoft disk is made at Ploughgate Creamery, in Albany, Vermont, and aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm; the washed-rind cheese (meaning it is "washed" with brine as it ages) has a slightly smoky taste with grassy, herbal accents.
From Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Part 2: Cheeses of Vermont

This year, the Kehler brothers and their partners put the finishing touches on a 22,000-square-foot aging facility with seven cavernous, climate-controlled cellars, each devoted to aging a particular style of cheese. One vault is just for washed-rind cheeses from small producers. Another holds 6,000 wheels of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, each hand-coated with lard that invites just the right molds to grow during their yearlong maturation. This earthy cheddar with hints of butterscotch, a collaboration with the commercial brand Cabot Creamery, is served at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., and the French Laundry, in Yountville, California. If all goes well, it will be sold in European shops and restaurants before long.
Cash flow from this part of the Kehlers' business finances the more modest operations of cheese-makers just getting started, which fuels Vermont's hottest export since Ben & Jerry's ice cream. This is pretty big thinking for a farm that began making cheese only six years ago -- and a delicious example of how community spirit nurtures the land.
Willow Hill Farm"When you eat things made close to you, they always taste better," says Willow Smart.
The farmers: Willow Smart and Dave Phinney of Milton
The cheese: Varieties include Summertomme, herb-crusted and buttery; Vermont Brebis, soft and tasting of mushrooms; and Alderbrook, semi-ripened, with citrus and herbal notes.
Learn more:
Consider Bardwell Farm 
"I really bonded well with the goats," says Angela Miller.
The farmers: Angela Miller and Russell Glover of West Pawlet; with partners Peter Dixon, and Chris Gray
The cheese: Seven kinds, four from goats' milk and three from cows'. Standouts include Mettowee, a fresh, creamy chevre, and Manchester, a rustic tomme-style cheese that's nutty and earthy.
Learn more:
Thistle Hill Farm"We do it the European way: one place, one cheese. That way your cheese tastes like your farm," says John Putnam.
The farmers: John and Janine Putnam of North Pomfret
The cheese: Tarentaise, an aged semi-hard cheese inspired by Beaufort and Abondance, from the French Alps, and made from the organic milk of the farm's Jersey cows.
Learn more:
Blue Ledge Farm"People cherish the small luxuries in life, and cheese is just that," says Hannah Sessions.
The farmers: Greg Bernhardt and Hannah Sessions of Salisbury, with their children, Livia and Hayden
The cheese: Seven goats' milk varieties, including Lake's Edge, a slightly tangy melt-in-your-mouth cheese with a layer of ash, and Dunmore, a new semisoft cheese named after a nearby lake. "It knocked my socks off," New York cheesemonger Anne Saxelby says. "It's like buttercream frosting."
Learn more:
Jasper Hill Farm"Our mission is to keep the landscape working," says Mateo Kehler.
The farmers: Brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler, of Greensboro
The cheese: Two made from the raw milk of Ayrshire cows are Constant Bliss, a slow-ripened cheese whose name says it all, and Bayley Hazen Blue, deeply veined and rich, with grassy notes. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, a collaboration with Cabot Creamery, is as good as cheddar gets.
Learn more:

Roaming Culinary Adventure

As a chef, surfer, and outdoor artist, Jim Denevan appreciates the connection we have with the earth, which is why he created Outstanding in the Field (, a roaming culinary endeavor that unites diners with the source of their food. Denevan, 46, and his crew move across the country stopping and cooking for guests at various farms along the way. With fresh ingredients, hand-picked on the spot, it doesn't get more farm-to-table than this.
How did this idea come about?
As a teenager working on my brother Bill's organic farm, I was always aware of the relation between land and food. Later, as a chef at Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz, I began hosting farmers' dinners. The farmer behind the evening's ingredients would sit at a table and share his or her experiences of growing the food. These dinners became really popular, and I thought, "Why not take them right to the farm?"
What kinds of people do the dinners attract?
We get some folks who grew up on farms but haven't been to one in years -- and foodie-types who follow a chef. Some attend just because they see the farm as culturally significant. That's the biggest reason I got into it: the idea of going beyond the supermarket to promote a local culture. We've crossed the country three times, discovering a rich tradition of food hidden in every state along the way. Every region has a story with food.
Which have been your favorite dinners?
I like the more challenging ones. We traveled a few thousand miles just to get to our site in Alaska. But our dinner included Kachemak Bay oysters, served with the 6,400-foot Pioneer Peak in the background. One time, we hosted a salmon dinner in a dry sea cave in San Gregorio, California, with the fisherman present. The biggest challenge was carrying the chairs, tables, and food a very great distance across the beach and into the cave. Not everyone on the staff was into that idea.
What actions do you hope your guests will take after a night of dining?
Make choices that further value food culture. Plant a garden or visit a farm. If you don't have access to one, go to a farmers' market and talk with a grower. It's the next best thing to actually visiting a farm, and it offers a way to establish a connection with the origin of your food.
From Body+Soul, September 2007

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cheeses of Vermont

Cheeses of Vermont

The Green Mountain State is famous for its abundance of dairy farms, which have provided fresh, clean-tasting milk to New England for generations. Now, thanks to a new breed of farmers with sophisticated palates and mad-scientist zeal, some of these dairies are also producing delicious handcrafted cheese. 
These luscious creations include tangy chevres; buttery tomme-style wheels; oozing disks that recall Camembert; and pungent, creamy blues -- all inspired by European classics and tasting of the fertile earth from which they come (or at least of the grasses, herbs, and other browse that cows, goats, and sheep graze on before they are milked).
Tarentaise, for instance, an Alpine-style aged semihard cheese made at Thistle Hill Farm, gets its nutty flavor and golden color from the milk of Jersey cows that munch on the nutrient-rich grasses at John and Janine Putnam's 85-acre hillside property. John, a former lawyer, left the corporate world to make one cheese and to make it well. 
Other cheese-makers came to their craft after falling for Vermont itself, having spent summers there as children, returned after college, or just driven through, captivated by the sylvan setting. Some, like Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt, of Blue Ledge Farm, are raising young families as they are raising herds -- an all-hands-on approach to farming at its most elemental. What they have in common is a passion for the state's agrarian culture. "We were really drawn to working with our hands on the landscape," Bernhardt says. "We didn't know that we were getting into such a fast-growing food sector."
Angela Miller didn't know that, either, when she started making cheese five years ago. "There's a real interest now in artisanal cheeses," says Miller, whose Consider Bardwell label is sold in specialty shops. A literary agent from New York City, Miller moved to Vermont part-time because she was "looking for a change." But she wasn't thinking about a second career that involved separating curd from whey: "I've had a lifelong passion for cheese, but I had no intention of making it." 
When she and her husband, Russell Glover, happened to find a rolling, 305-acre property that, in the mid-1800s, was the site of Vermont's first cheese-making cooperative, "a light bulb went on," she says. Miller took animal husbandry and cheese-making workshops, began raising goats, and produced her first cheese, a fresh, delicate-tasting patty called Mettowee, in 2004.
Willow Smart and Dave Phinney keep a flock of about 90 sheep for the cheese they produce on Willow Hill Farm. This isn't a common choice -- sheep give less milk than cows or goats and are more labor-intensive to care for. But Smart loves the small animals and their wonderfully rich milk. "The richer the milk, the more cheese you can make," she says. "The cheeses tend to be more buttery. They can be peppery or nutty -- there are just a myriad of flavors."
Like many emerging cheese-makers, Miller and Smart purchase some milk from other Vermont dairies, which allows them to produce more cheese without the cost and work of caring for more animals -- and to support and sustain the surrounding dairy community. (For Miller, who buys cow's milk, it also means that she can make new styles of cheese in the winter, when her goats get a break from milking so they can have their babies, before the cycle starts up again in spring.)
The brothers behind Jasper Hill Farm may have the most ambitious plan for ensuring that Vermont becomes a cheese-making mecca on a national, and perhaps even an international, scale. Mateo and Andy Kehler not only produce some of the finest cows' milk cheeses in this country, but they also buy, age, and sell cheeses made by dairies that don't have the resources to age and market their own products. They work with 13 other farms and say they have the capacity to handle 40. "We're interested in keeping these farms viable and helping them thrive," Mateo says.
From Martha Stewart Living, November 2009