Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Al Dente and All-Purpose Flour


What fun we are going to have this month with food terminology--techniques, foods, gadgets, and other stuff! I am a foodie, and though not a trained cook, I am trainable! I write a food column for a local paper and my first culinary mystery, Mission Impastable, came out in January.
 
I find that some of my friends are unfamiliar with what I consider to be common cooking terms. So what better way to spend this April than clarifying food language.

I will spend each post on one or two only. You need to know, there are hundreds of terms to pick from. Though there are not many choices for letters like X, other letters had way too many so I just picked the two that interested me!

Let the fun begin!

A is for Al Dente
You see this phrase on pasta cooking directions. Al dente means it is a little bit chewy, not all mushy and overcooked--firm “to the tooth.” There is science behind cooking your pasta to al dente instead of mush--there are more nutrients in properly cooked pasta! 

So what is al dente like and how do you know you have it? First of all, READ the directions. If the package gives a range of 7-9 minutes, start checking the pasta at 7 minutes. Never cook it longer than the end of the range. And, always add pasta to rapidly boiling, salted water, then set your timer. I always fish out a strand to eat at the beginning of when it may be done to gauge texture.

Practice. You’ll get the hang of it. Oh, and don’t throw it at the wall.

A is for All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is truth in advertising. It’s the flour most of us grew up with and used for cookies, cakes, pies, and coating that delicious fried chicken. It is a blend of hard and soft milled wheat with a medium protein content of 9-12%

Bread flour by way of contrast, is around 11-13% protein, resulting in a heavier, firmer baked product.

Some people use pastry flour or cake flour (instead of all-purpose) to make pie crusts or cakes. Those flours are lower in protein, resulting in smoother, flakier, lighter dough. But for most of us, that is a finer distinction than the every day cook needs. It’s called all-purpose flour for a reason.


If you are want to know more, try these resources:
www.allwords.com/cooking-glossary

http://lifehacker.com/a-beginners-guide-to-the-most-confusing-cooking-terms-1459836282

How to pronounce food words http://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/commonly-mispronounced-food-words-sriracha-pho-tzatziki-and-more-thrillist-nation

16 comments:

  1. Rosemary, I love the title of this blog! Whenever I'm adding spices to something I'm making, I find myself singing, "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme." That always makes me smile!
    What a fun post and "Mission Impastable" was a wonderful book. I wish you much success with it!

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Pat! I hope you'll be back!

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  2. Love your theme Sharon! Stopping by from the A-Z Challenge, and I'm so glad to have found your post. I'll be one of your regulars:)

    www.writeonsisters.com

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    1. And I loved your first post, Jennifer. I give stars to blogs I pop in on to check out for future visits (there are soooo many). You got one of my top ratings! You'll see me again.

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  3. I love your theme! I've been playing around in the kitchen since I was tiny and love learning more about food and cooking.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Sarah! I really enjoyed your first A-Z post, too. There's something so satisfying about the cooking world, isn't there?

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  4. This is good advice! in love pasta. I will put your advice into practice next time I make some.

    #theawsomedish.blogspot.com

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    1. It takes only a short time to learn the difference between al dente and not done! lol Glad you found it helpful! I hope you'll continue the journey with me this month!

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    1. Thanks, 40Plus, for stopping in. Isn't this A-Z thing fun? So many new folks to meet.

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  6. Very interesting. I did not know the differences in the flours. Thank you for expanding my knowledge today. (Not that I'll use it, as little cooking/baking as I do. lol) So, I'll just stick to my good ole all purpose. But at least now I know the differences.
    Trisha Faye

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    1. That's what I have found, too, Trisha. We just sort of accept "all purpose" and don't dig more deeply. That's what I hope to do this month. Please come by again to see what's cooking!

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    2. I've often thought of trying cake flour just to see I I could tel the difference, and did not know it meant pies too. Now that I have to try.

      History Sleuth's Writings - Blogging A-Z

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    3. Cindy, I can't really tell the difference, but then the family eats anything! If I were a baker selling goods, my guess is I'd have a finer palate developed! Thanks for coming by. LOVE your series.

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  7. Great idea for the challenge! Stopping by from Heather & Stormie's Roadtrip post. - Barbara
    Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Barbara. This was such fun to do! Hope to see you again.

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