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