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Old 07-06-2012, 04:16 PM   #61
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i was just reading ....and some say stewing and braising is the same. Then read no its all based on the water,stewed is all the way submerged and braising not ,only half way up the sides. Gee,it seems cooking is never one way.....all different answers. How is one really suppose to know these terms,even following the rec. it doesnt say you are now braising it just walks you thru the steps.....and never a word on you have just accomplished braising or whatever. People who have been cooking for awhile do you all know the terms? Even thru expr. if doesnt say you are doing this in rec. how would you know. Just like crock pot cooking,i dont rem. any rec. saying by putting in crock pot (slow cooker) is like braising? Any advice.....thanks everyone.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:48 PM   #62
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That's why there are different levels of cookbooks/recipe books, and people need to pick from their level. Amazon is very good for that, because people comment extensively in their book reviews. At the higher levels, all that might be needed is to describe the dish by ingredients and approximate method. At that level, if it says "braised" whatever, the operator should have enough experience to adapt the general concept of braising to suit the dish. At a more beginner level, it might specify the size of the pan and the amount of water or specific water level to be used, with a note that the lid stays on in the oven.

And somewhere in the middle, it might just say to brown or sear the meat. At the middle level, the cook should know that "brown" and "sear" mean dark, hard browning and should know, for instance, that you get that by placing the meat in a small amount of very hot oil and leaving it alone until it naturally releases. At one point, that cook had to keep gently trying to left the meat but eventually learned about how long to leave it, how far up the side particular color changes would take place, and how exact timing wasn't necessary. I would not automatically assume a middle level cook knew that pork chops need medium or medium-low heat and scoring of the side fat in order not to curl, quite different from searing beef.

Like everything else, you have a box of tools. In cooking, the tools are the ingredients, heat sources, cooking vessels, and hand tools that produce some useful effect. You learn how each works by cooking from detailed recipes and paying attention to what happens, so that you don't try to deep fry in an oven, just as the beginning woodworker is told to use a coping saw and thus learns that it's the correct tool and observes how it works and therefore doesn't try to do the same job with a hack saw. But the accomplished woodworker doesn't have to be told which saw blade to use to cut cleanly across the grain.

For instance, the slow cooker is just another tool. The recipes that came with the cooker are very specific about amounts of water, time, and temperature. The more accomplished cook will just get out the slow cooker if it's the right tool and one they like using. But they will also know how to get the same effect with other tools.

And cooking need not be one way. Once you know what each component does, how oven heat transfers to a vessel, what the water in the vessel does, the different effects of the food being covered with water, partially covered, or a bare amount of water in the pot, the cook knows how that will change the outcome for each type of food. So he can change confidently it for effect.

To the highly experienced cook, braising vs. stewing doesn't matter. Tell them one or the other, and they're going to do something involving heat and water and do it according to their experience.

Look at what is perhaps the most famous of all recipes, boeuf bourguignon in Julia Child's book. You can do it just fine, because it's very detailed and is intended to teach method. And each of the related recipes, like sauteed mushrooms are equally detailed. But it's not a terribly complex dish (being just a beef stew done right), and after you make it once or twice, you know what to do and how to do it and can transfer that knowledge to quite different dishes. Nor do experienced cooks require most of a page telling them how to saute mushrooms. Go look at the sauteed mushroom recipe. Detailed, right down to shaking the pan. But once you've done it, all you need is "saute mushrooms with some shallots." And it also calls for "brown braised onions." Her only use of the term 'braise" is to say "Braise as follows.", prior to detailed directions.

If you want a recipe writer who pretty much says, "Now, you've braised," you can't beat Julia. She was writing for American women at a time when classic French cooking was something they may not have even heard of.. Do the Julia and Julie exercise, and you'll know a great deal of technique. Think about the why's of each recipe, and you'll know a great deal about cooking.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:46 AM   #63
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Very good advice. The Julia Child cookbook GLC's referring to is Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Volume one. It's a very good teaching tool.
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Old 07-07-2012, 08:08 PM   #64
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I suspect that the three coauthors quickly lost count of the number of times Julia told Simone and Louisette, "But Americans won't know what that means/what that is, so we will have to tell them." It's likely hard for someone much under forty-five or so to imagine how limited was the average American home cook's repertoire, even considering those places where an imported culture had a distinctive cuisine. Not that the cooking was inevitably bad, but it tended to lie within a sort of single dimension. Kind of like listening to only one genre of music and not being fully aware of others. MTAOFC didn't so much as convert American housewives to French cooking as it revealed the existence of very different "kitchen melodies" and a certain complexity and depth. It and her television program were the forerunners of Lydia, Jacque, that Jewish cooking guy, Rick Bayless, and the Skan cooking guy and girl that we take for granted. Prior to that, people didn't know there was much more to know than their mothers could teach them.
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Old 07-07-2012, 08:44 PM   #65
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I've always felt that Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is not all that much about cooking French food as much as it is about easy and inexpensive ways to make plain food taste good. For example, roast or pan fry a chicken and you've got plain chicken. Yet add one of the mother sauces or make a sauce a la minute from the pan juices and suddenly you have a fancy tasting dish. These sauces, usually roux and either milk or stock, are very basic, and there are classic French recipes to fancy up the sauces, but you could use spices traditional to any ethnic cuisine to change the character of the dish from French to almost any cuisine. This is why Child's book excites me so much, because by her examples she teaches us how to make tasty sauces that can be transformed into almost anything depending on your choice of vegetables, spices and other ingredients.

Granted that French cuisine is often very focused on sauces and on what I like to call saucery, the art of making sauces. I believe it's an art that many, most or all of us would benefit from learning, and a method that could be applied to many cuisines.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:13 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
I've always felt that Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is not all that much about cooking French food as much as it is about easy and inexpensive ways to make plain food taste good.
Perhaps that's exactly what that kind of French cooking is. With a historical continuity over hundreds of years, beginning with very plain cooking indeed, it's about making that plain food better and more interesting. A strong presence, too, of wild and right off the farm main ingredients, that having been all along the reality that continues as the tradition. (And to more fully satisfy the tendency of the French to be..... well, French.)
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:49 AM   #67
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understanding - Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums

wanted to make sure on something... baking in those oven bags say chicken its really steamed right,yet on this site awhile back someone said they are more like braising bags. Which term would be right? And isnt braising liquid suppose to come up sides of food to?
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:58 AM   #68
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That's why there are different levels of cookbooks/recipe books, and people need to pick from their level.
Masterfully written, GLC.

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Old 11-08-2012, 10:22 AM   #69
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understanding

i am a little confused .....if you cover the lasg. you are steaming the noodles bec. of the liquid in the lasg. right ,ok if say i have a pot on the stove with say spag. sauce and cover that would that be steaming too and not letting the sauce evaporate? This is steam that belongs to the food. thanks again for any advice.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:22 PM   #70
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Just because you see water vapor or water is present when you're cooking something doesn't mean you're steaming. Steaming is when boiling water cooks food suspended above it. Cooking lasagna is baking, as noted earlier. I just looked it up in "Culinary Fundamentals" by the American Culinary Federation

A pot of sauce on the stove that bubbles lightly is simmering. A pot of sauce that bubbles strongly is boiling.
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