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The Illustrated Kitchen Bible - Introduction

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks

Introduction

Becoming a confident cook is all about producing delicious meals consistently. This guide has been designed to help you do just that.

As you become familiar with the contents of this guide, you will benefit hugely from the range of recipes that will enable you to create a multitude of imaginative and delicious meals. Whatever the occasion—from everyday sandwich lunches to elegant party fare—and whatever it is you want to achieve—from serving up healthy everyday dinner dishes cooked in as little time as possible, to mastering the classic dishes of international cuisine—this guide will enable you to achieve great results. It contains a marvelous collection of recipes from the ever-more familiar world of international cookery. Recipes that were once only eaten in exotic restaurants can now be served successfully at home alongside family favorites. Furthermore, many recipes have variations, which means that having mastered one, you can very easily make another along similar lines.

Most lives today are busy ones, so all the recipes have preparation and cooking times and, where applicable, instructions on preparing ahead and freezing. Any requirements for special equipment and/or advance preparation are flagged, and when a dish is low fat or low GI, there is an icon to point it out, making this guide unusually helpful.

Recipe Choosers with photographic galleries of dishes suitable for specific occasions make your meal planning easier. At a glance, you’ll be able to see many different possibilities for main meals under 30 minutes, meat-free dishes, or a weekend brunch or dinner party.

Special Features look more closely at the preparation of certain key dishes, such as roasting the most flavorful chicken, making different types of omelets, cooking the perfect steak, and perfecting your pastry skills.

Techniques demonstrate step-by-step how to work with a wide range of ingredients including vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, seafood, pasta, and rice.


Plan

Leafing through this content, there’s no doubt that your appetite will be whetted to try out various dishes, simply because they look so delicious. However, the choice of what to cook can arise from a number of other things. You may choose to cook a dish because of its main ingredient—you liked the look of fresh fish in the market, or a neighbor gave you some freshly picked vegetables. Or, you may want to cater for a specific occasion, such as a breakfast or lunch. Sometimes there will be particular circumstances—you’ve invited vegetarian friends over for brunch or you are hosting a cocktail party. Time or equipment may be other factors; what can you get on the table in under an hour, is there something you can prepare the night before, and what tastes good grilled outdoors?

Your budget and how many are eating needs to be considered. You may decide to splurge on lobster for an intimate dinner for two, but a casserole will be a cheaper and easier choice when cooking for a large number of guests .

Another consideration when menu planning should be to provide varied textures, colors, and tastes—all of which work well together. This will come with practice; the more you cook, the faster you will learn what works with what, and why. These days it is not usually necessary to serve a three course meal. For everyday dining, a substantial main course with a salad and/or vegetables could be followed by fruit or a simple dessert, and this guide helps you to choose with Recipe Choosers in each main section, and an image for every recipe in the guide.


Shop

Shopping, rather than being a chore, should be about buying the freshest ingredients available without having to visit too many different shops, therefore not having to take a lot of time and travel. Consider shopping at good-quality stores to avoid the disappointment of aisles of limp, colorless vegetables or tired old fish, and whenever possible, shop locally. The choice of ingredients may be smaller, but their freshness and quality will make up for it. Always attempt to buy meat from a good quality butcher, and fish from similar fishmonger; supporting small local shops is essential to the future of quality ingredients. To save time, know how many you’re cooking for, make a list, and pre-order important ingredients.


Tips for quantities

There are times when a recipe does not yield the right quantity of food for the number of people you plan to serve, and altering the quantities can become confusing. When halving, doubling, or serving more than one course, consider the following weights before shopping for ingredients:

6oz (175g) per person when serving one meat or fish main course dish

4oz (115g) per dish per person when serving two courses

3oz (85g) per dish per person when serving three courses


Store

Once the shopping is done, it is important to store the ingredients properly to avoid food spoiling. Be careful not to place tender lettuce and herbs at the back of the refrigerator where they are at risk of over chilling and possibly freezing. All dried, canned, and boxed products should be stored in a cool and dark place. Root vegetables should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place, but not necessarily the refrigerator. Certain foods, like tomatoes, are best kept in the light, i.e., a basket or bowl on the windowsill.

Soft fruit, such as berries, will keep for several days if kept dry and cool. Store hard fruit, such as apples, pears, or pineapple, for up to a week in a cool place out of direct sunlight, which will keep them from becoming overripe.

Meat and fish should be stored on a plate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 1–2 days. Be careful not to store any meat or fish that may drip above dairy foods or vegetables.

Dairy products such as cream, butter, and yogurt need to be refrigerated, but soft cheeses must be kept at room temperature to ripen before serving. Hard cheeses can be kept in a cool place or chilled. Eggs should be kept in a cool place, pointed end downward, to keep the yolk central in the white.


Freeze

If you are not planning to use ingredients right away, they should be frozen when fresh, and as quickly as possible. Freezing is useful to preserve leftovers for last minute meals.

Keep a thermometer in your freezer, to maintain the temperature at 17°F (8°C).

For even freezing, keep the freezer only three-quarters full.

Make sure all food is properly covered, labeled, and sealed before freezing to keep the food from drying out and becoming ruined or unidentifiable at a later time.

Milk and cream do not freeze well, as they often curdle when defrosted.

Don’t freeze dishes that contain mayonnaise or raw eggs.

Never refreeze defrosted food.

Defrost food slowly, ideally in the refrigerator or overnight somewhere cool, never near direct heat.


Cook for a crowd

Many cooks find cooking for a large number of people daunting. The important thing is to keep things simple. Do not over-stretch yourself; plan around what space you have to store dishes, as well as the facilities you have to prepare them in. Here are some tips for success:

When multiplying a recipe, be careful not to over-season, add too much liquid, or over-cook.

A casserole for six people and one for twelve will take approximately the same amount of time to cook, even though you may have doubled the weight of the ingredients.

Preparing too little food can be embarrassing, while a lot of uneaten dishes can ruin the success of a party. Figure out quantities carefully in advance of the event.

When catering, remember that if you are providing a number of different dishes, people will only have a little of each.

Guests will eat less if it is a stand-up party, rather than a sit-down meal.


Serve

The appearance of the food you serve and eat is very important. We are not suggesting everything be served garnished with a tomato rose, but by simply ensuring the plates are clean, drops of sauce are wiped away from the rim, and adding a wedge of lemon or lime with certain dishes, or adding a scattering of fresh herbs on savory recipes, will enhance a dish greatly. Keep the following tips in mind, and your presentation will always be successful:

Serve hot food straight from the oven, therefore avoiding skin forming on the juices, which never looks attractive.

Try to choose textures and colors that complement each other—crisp green beans alongside mashed potatoes, puréed carrots with stir-fried broccoli, or peas with roasted parsnips.

Do not dress a salad too early, but rather just before serving, if possible, so that the leaves stay crisp.

Searing meat not only gives a better color for presentation, but it also improves the flavor.

Avoid fussy garnishes on the plate that are not edible.

Desserts, cakes, and pastries served with a quick dusting of confectioner’s sugar will always look more appealing to the eye.

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