Blind Baking – To prevent pastry cases from becoming soggy, they need to be partially cooked before adding moist fillings. This is what is known as blind baking, sealing the surface, giving you a nuce crisp pastry case. To achieve this:
- Line the base and sides of your uncooked pastry case with baking paper. Place rice, dried beans, or metal or ceramic baking weights on top of the baking paper (they stop the pastry from rising while its cooking.) Bake in an oven preheated to 220C for approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove the pastry case from the oven and carefully remove the baking paper and weights. Cook for a further 8 minutes until light golden.
- Your pastry case is now ready for its filling and the final cook.
Bouquet Garni – A selection of sprigs of aromatic plants tied together and added to sauces, stocks, soups, casseroles, etc. to add flavour. The basic bouquet garni, generally, consists of 2-3 sprigs of parsley, 1 sprig of thyme and 1-2 bay leaves, but the composition can vary depending on local resources and cooking styles. In Provence, rosemary is always added, and for the Italian mazzetto, sage and rosemary are added. Depending on the flavours you are wanting to add to your dish, you could also add any of the following celery, leek, savoury, even a strip of orange peel.
Cartouche – For a cartouche, simply cut a circle of parchment/baking paper slightly larger than the dimension of your pot, scrunch it up and place under running cold water to dampen and soften it. Flatten it and then place it onto the liquid surface of a casserole, soup, stock or sauce. This slows down the evaporation, prevents a skin from forming and helps to keep the ingredients submerged, as well as moist.
Crème pâtissière – Also known as pastry cream or ‘crème pat’, crème pâtissière is a rich, creamy custard that has been thickened with flour. It is a key ingredient of many French desserts such as soufflés, and fruit tarts.
Choucroute – An Alsatian dish of sauerkraut with wine, sausages, pork, and juniper berries.
Dariole Moulds – A small, individual, flowerpot-shaped mould for cooking sweet or savoury dishes.
Double Boiler – A set of two fitted saucepans which stack together with space between them. You put water in the bottom saucepan, then the second saucepan is placed on top. When heated, the hot steam from the bottom pan heats the upper pan.
Frenched lamb shanks – are trimmed so that the bone is scraped clean and cut shorter making them look much more elegant when cooked and plated.
Mace – is an aromatic golden brown spice obtained from the dried net-like sheath that covers the Nutmeg seed, It is yellowish to reddish-tan in color, made up of flat, shiny branched pieces with a fragrant, nutmeg aroma and warm taste.
Mesclun – A salad mix of assorted small, young salad green leaves. Can contain various types of lettuce, rocket, baby spinach, curly endive, baby beetroot leaves, etc.
Mimosa – While mimosa is a plant that has yellow
flowers that can be used in cooking for fritters, salad garnish and even to make homemade liqueurs. To make egg mimosa, you rub the yolk of hard boiled egg through a course sieve to resemble mimosa flowers. It is then used to garnish salads etc. It can also be mixed with mayonnaise and soft fresh herbs such as parsley or chives, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and then piped back into the hard boiled egg whites to make stuffed eggs.
Pickling Spice – used in recipes for pickles and sauces, as well as wet cures for meat, such as corned beef. You can either buy a pre-mix from the supermarket, or you can make your own, by simply combining the following ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool place for up to one year:
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into bits
- 8 bay leaves, crushed
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp whole allspice
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp dill seeds
- 2 tsp cardamon seeds
- 1 tsp whole mace
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp whole cloves
Pork scotch fillet – (or collar butt or pork neck) is best suited to slow cooking. It has more marbling than the loin and leg, and tastes delicious.
Prawns – To peel, remove the head and legs from the tail, and then remove the shell from the tail. (If you choose, you can leave the tip of the shell on the tail – for presentation purposes, it looks very nice.)
Prawns – To devein, use a small sharp knife to make a slit along the middle of the back, exposing the dark vein, then carefully remove the dark vein.
Setting Point for Jams and Jellies – The simplest method for checking for a good set is to place a saucer in the freezer so that it is very cold. Then when you think the jam is ready, place a little on the saucer and leave it until it cools down before running your finger through the middle of the jam, the surface should wrinkle and the jam should not run back and fill the track your finger has made.
Sumac – comes from the berries of a wild bush that is a member of the cashew family and grows wild in all Mediterranean areas, especially in Sicily and southern Italy, as well as parts of the Middle East where it is an essential ingredient in cooking in preference to the lemon. When the berries are picked, they are dried and ground into a powder, the colour of which is a dark burgundy/purplish colour. It has a lovely, fruity-tart flavor and is a little milder than lemon.