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How To Cook Fish on Stovetop or Oven

Knowing how to cook fish is a skillset that requires finesse and an understanding of the basics of cooking. As always, we go a bit further than other sites and show you how to properly choose your fish, the best way to season, and to use your fundamental cooking skills to cook off your fish either on the stovetop or in the oven.

Selecting Your Fish (Purchasing & Storing Fish)

Depending on where you are purchasing your fish, there are some basics to follow to ensure that you are picking the proper cuts. While we will not go into the specifics of the what types of fish to cook, I will go over this in a broader sense (ie cooking a lean or fatty fish). This is also covered a bit here.

Determining Freshness

Fish (and shellfish) are highly perishable and can deteriorate before you have a chance at cooking it. A few hours at the wrong temperature or a few days in the fridge can turn high-quality fish into garbage. Before you learn how to cook a fish on the stovetop or oven, you need to be able to determine the freshness before you purchase or use. A good rule of thumb is to check freshness before you buy and again before you cook it.

  1. Smell — Smell is by far the easiest way to determine the freshness of a fish. Fresh fish should have a slight sea smell or no odor at all. Any off-odors or ammonia odors are a sure sign of an aged or improperly handled fish.
  2. Eyes — The eyes should be clear and full. Sunken eyes mean that the fish is drying out and properly not fresh. Cloudy eyes are a sign of age.
  3. Gills — The gills should be intact and bright red. Brown gills are a sign of age.
  4. Texture — Generally, the flesh of fresh fish should be firm. Mushy flesh or flesh that does not spring back when pressed is a sign of poor quality or age.
  5. Fins & Scales — Fins and scales should be moist and full without excessive drying on the outer edges. Dry fins or scales are a sign of age. Damaged fins or scales may be a sign of mishandling.
  6. Appearance — Fish cuts should be moist and glistening, without bruises or dark spots. Edges should not be brown or dry.




Fresh fish showing clear eyes, shiny skin and kept at proper temperature with crushed ice

Types of Fish Cuts To Choose From

When you’re selecting your fish to cook on the stovetop or oven, the type of cut is important as this may impact the kind of cooking method you will apply to the fish. Steak cuts, for example, may be best cooked in the oven over a longer period while a fillet may cook best in a saute pan.

  • Whole or Round — As caught; intact.
  • Drawn — Viscera (internal organs) are removed; most whole fish are sold in this manner
  • Dressed — Viscera, gills, fins and scales are removed
  • Pan-dressed — Viscera and gills are removed; fish is scaled; head removed. Smaller fish like trout may still have their heads still attached.
  • Butterflied — Pan-dressed fish, boned and opened flat like a book. The two sides remain attached
  • Fillet — The side of a fish removed intact, boneless or semi-boneless, with or without skin. A highly popular way to eat fish.
  • Steam or darne — Cross-section slice wth a small section of backbone still attached. Usually from large round fish.
  • Wheel or center-cut — Used for swordfish and sharks, which are cut into large boneless pieces from which steaks are then cut.

Different Types of Fish Cuts

Cooking Fish on a Stovetop

If you are cooking your fish on the stovetop, follow these easy steps and cooking methods. Cooking fish on a stovetop is fast and effective. Learning how to cook fish on a stovetop does not have to be difficult!

Pan-Fried

Best suited for Pan-dressed, butterflied, fillet, steak, or wheel

  • Season and prepare fish (Base being salt, pepper, oil — add your own seasonings from there)
  • Heat sautepan at medium-high heat.
  • Add oil or butter to pan and allow to reach temperature
  • Lay fish into pan from one end to the other presentation side down
  • Flip after 2-3 minutes
  • Baste presentation side with oil as the other side cooks
  • Add fresh herbs and/or sauces
  • Serve

Fish Fillets being pan-fried in butter.



Poached

Best suited for Fillet, butterflied, steak, wheel

  • Season water into rondeu or high-sided pan (Recommend court bouillon)
  • Place fish into simmering water
  • Gently removed when finished, serve.

Poached fish in seasoned stock/broth

Deep-Fried

Best suited for Fillet, butterflied

  • Apply coating or batter to fish
  • Heat oil in a saucepan or use a deep-fryer
  • Place fish slowly into the deep-fryer
  • Remove when golden brown and thoroughly cooked, serve.
Cooking Fish in an Oven

Learning how to cook fish in an oven is simple, and basically is used when you want a slower, steadier cooking method.

Baked Fish

Best suited for: Drawn, Dressed, pan-dressed, butterflied, steak

  • Preheat oven to appropriate temperature (325’F – 350’F)
  • Leave uncovered for a crispy dry heat product
  • Cook fish until done, serve




Steamed Fish

Best suited for: Drawn, Dressed, pan-dressed, butterflied, steak

  • Preheat oven to appropriate temperature (325’F – 350’F)
  • Season fish and cover with tinfoil.
  • Cook fish until done, serve.

The post How to Cook Fish On Stovetop or Oven appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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Top 8 Mistakes Amateur Cooks Are Making 1. Cutting With a Dull Knife

When I first began cooking in kitchens, I found that almost all of the knives that I used would be terribly dull. This would cause a lot of issues with the food that was being prepped, with tomatoes being squished instead of sliced. This caused many of the cooks to apply a great amount of pressure on the knife when cutting, which can cause knife accidents. A dull knife is a dangerous tool. Always keep it sharp and avoid the slips that could severely cut you. A knife’s edge should do the cutting and you should only have to apply minimal pressure.

2. Cooking at too high or too low temp

Finding the right temperature is an important instinct to have as a cook and is something that you will learn as you go. What I see is that cooks unfamiliar with high heat will burn food or overestimate the heat and undercook food. Know what your intended cooking method is before you begin. If it’s a pan sear, you want your temperature to be higher. If you have a large item being cooked through, you’ll want a lower temperature for a longer period of time. High heat is applied to smaller quicker items, so prep your ingredients accordingly beforehand.

Professional Cutting Board by The Culinary Cook ($39.99)

3. Not prepping beforehand

Prepping on the fly is probably one of the worst ways someone can cook. Not only does this add additional stress, but it opens you up to missing key time frames and can cause you to burn or overcook between steps. Always read the recipe fully beforehand, and prep accordingly.

4. Creating recipes by volume, not weight

You will see a lot of recipes on your journey that list their recipes by volume. It is something that I don’t necessarily like for several factors. One, a cup of flour can vary widely depending on the person. Some use heaping, some compress. The actual weight can vary by up to 10% every time, which can mess up your consistency. Especially when baking, you should always be using weight whenever possible.

5. Using the wrong tools

The proper tools can mean the difference between failure and success. If you do not have a strainer, it will be very tough to strain a stock. Not only that but if you start bootstrapping your toolset you can lose the intended goal of the recipe. While a ricer might be called for in a certain recipe, it would be difficult to achieve the same result from other methods such as grating. Small differences can be the difference between a successful recipe or a failed recipe.

A good cook .. cannot turn terrible ingredients into good food.

6. Ignoring Cooking Signs

In cooking, we have several signs we use to determine the doneness of our foods: sight, touch, time. Ignoring any of these signs due to uncertainty or inexperience can have terrible consequences. Always be sure to know your cooking signs and trust your instinct.

Don’t avoid the obvious signs

7. Estimating Recipes

This is usually one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to overconfident cooks. Estimating major aspects of a recipe should never be done. What makes us professional cooks is our consistency and knowledge application. I’ve seen far too many cooks winging the recipe and having disastrous results. If you think recipes by volume is bad, this is the far worse!

8. Cooking With Substandard Ingredients

Any cook worth their weight realizes that you are only as good as the ingredients you cook with. While a good cook can make an economical cut of proteins taste amazing, they cannot make terrible ingredients into good food. Always source the best produce, the highest quality meats and make that your standard. Don’t compromise otherwise you will compromise your end product.

Attention readers! Be sure to check out our Store to check out our awesome cutting board. You have to see it to believe it!

The post Top 8 Mistakes Amateur Cooks Are Making appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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How to Master Smoking, Salt-Curing and Brining

Smoking, curing and brining are ancient techniques used in preserving food. Today, foods such as hams, corned beef and smoked salmon are salt-cured, brined or smoked primarily for flavor. Cured meats have a characteristic pink color which is caused by the reaction of sodium nitrite, which is added during processing, with the naturally occurring myoglobin protein in the meat.

Salt-Curing

Salt-curing is the process of surrounding a food with salt or a mixture of salt, sugar, nitrite based curing salt, herbs and spices. Salt-curing dehydrates the food, inhibiting bacterial growth and adding flavor. It is most often used with pork products and fish. Salt-curing is not a quick procedure and does take a bit of time to complete. As an example, country-style hams are salt-cured. Proper curing requires about one and a half days per 450g (1lb) of ham, which means three weeks for the average ham!

Some salt-cured hams such as smithfield and prosciutto are not actually cooked. The curing process preserves the meat and makes it safe to consume raw.

Gravlax is a well-known salmon dish prepared by salt-curing salmon fillets with a mixture of salt, sugar, pepper and dill.

Salt-cured gravlax

Brining

A brine is actually a very salty marinade. Most brines have approx. 20% salinity, which is equivalent to 450g (1 lbs) of salt per 4 L (1 gal.) of water.

A brine has approx. 450g (1 Lbs) of salt per 4L (1 Gal) of water

As with dry-salt cures, brines can also contain sugar, nitrites, herbs and spices. Brining is sometimes called pickling.

Today, most cured meats are prepared in large production facilities where the brine is injected into the meat for rapid and uniform distribution. Commercially brined corned beef is cured by this process, as are most common hams. After brining, hams are further processed by smoking.

Smoking Meats

Smoking meats has a lot of information associated with it, but it results in one of the most satisfying and widely-used processing methods.

There are two basic methods of smoking foods:

  • Cold smoking
  • Hot smoking

The principle differences between the two is that hot smoking actually cooks the food while cold smoking does not.

Both are done in a smoker specifically designed for this purpose. Smokers can be gas or electric and they vary greatly in size and operation. But they have several things in common.

All consist of a chamber that holds the food being smoked, a means of burning woods to produce smoke and a heating element.

Types of Wood for Smoking

Different types of wood can be used to smoke food. Specific woods are selected to impart specific flavors.

  • Hickory — Often used for pork products
  • Alder — Great for smoked salmon
  • Maple
  • Chestnut
  • Juniper
  • Mesquite
  • Cherry
  • Apple
  • And many more

It is important to avoid resinous woods that give food a bitter flavor such pine. Tea and aromatic herb stems may be used in smoking as well.

Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is the process of exposing foods to smoke at temperatures of 10’C – 29’C (50’F – 85’F).

Meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, cheese, nuts and even vegetables can be cold-smoked successfully. Most cold-smoked meats are generally salt-cured or brined first. Salt-curing or brining adds flavor, allows the nitrites (which give ham, bacon and other smoked meats their distinctive pink color) to penetrate the flesh and, most important, extracts moisture from the food, allowing the smoke to penetrate more easily.

Wood chips for smoking

Most cold-smoked meats are generally salt-cured or brined first.

Cold-smoked foods are actually still raw. Some, like smoked salmon (lox), are eaten without further cooking. Others, such as bacon and hams, must be cooked before eating.



Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is the process of exposing foods to smoke at temperatures of 93’C to 121’C (200’F to 250’F). As with cold smoking, a great variety of foods can be prepared by hot smoking. Meats, poultry, game, fish and shellfish that are hot-smoked also benefit from salt-curing or brining. Although most smoked foods are fully cooked when removed from the smoker, many are used in other recipes that call for further cooking.

While most smoking requires specialized equipment, two affordable options exist for imparting a smoked flavor to foods. A stove top smoker, which resembles a hotel pan with a tight fitting lid, can be used to hot-smoke small cuts of meat, fish, poultry or vegetables. Wood chips are scattered inside the bottom of the pan. Foods to be smoked sit on top of a mesh rack inside the box. The heat of the stove top ignites the wood chips, permeating the food with a smoky flavor.

Foods smoked in this manner must reach a proper internal cooking temperature to be served without additional cooking.

Liquid smoke is a flavoring made from smoke, which has been condensed from the burning of wood chips. When used judiciously it can impart a pleasant smoky taste to BBQ sauces and marinades.

The post How to Master Smoking Meat, Salt-Curing and Brining appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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How to Make Terrine

Traditionally, a pate was a fine savory meat filling wrapped in pastry, baked and serve hot or cold. A terrine was considered more basic, containing coarsely ground and highly seasoned meats baked in a water bath in an earthware mold and generally served cold. The dishware used is also called a terrine, derived from the French word terre, meaning earth.

Today, the term pate and terrine are used almost interchangeably.

Terrine cookware comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pates that are not baked in a crust can be prepared in standard metal loaf pans of any shape, although rectangular ones make portioning easier. Here we have listed a few recommendations for terrine cookware

Terrines

Terrines are forcemeats baked in a mold without a crust. The mold can be traditional earthenware or some other appropriate metal, enamel or glass mold. Any type of forcemeat can be used to make a terrine. The terrine can be as simple as a baking dish filled with a forcemeat and baked until done. A more attractive terrine can be constructed by layering the forcemeat with garnishes to create a mosaic effect when sliced.

A terrine can even be layered with different forcemeats such as pink salmon mousseline layered with white pike mousseline.

Procedure for Preparing Terrine
  1. Prepare the desired forcemeat and garnishes. Keep refrigerated.
  2. Line a mold with thin slices of backfat (Such as bacon, pork fat), blanched leafy vegetables or another appropriate liner. The lining should overlap slightly, completely covering the inside of the mold and extending over the edges of the mold. A good measurement is about 1 inch.
  3. Fill the terrine with the forcemeat and garnishes, being careful not to create air pockets. Tap the mold several times on a solid surface to remove any air pockets that have formed.
  4. Fold the liner over the forcemeat and, if necessary, use additional pieces of fat/backfat to completely cover the surface
  5. If you so desire, garnish the top of the terrine with herbs that were used in the forcemeat
  6. Cover the terrine with its lid or aluminum foil and bake in a water bath at 350’F in the oven. Regular the temperature so the water stays between 77’C-82’C (170’F – 180’F). The water bath may be replaced by cooking terrines in a combitherm oven with steam, but you will only see these in high-end commercial kitchens.
  7. Cook the terrine so the internal temperature reaches 60’C (140’F) for meat-based forcemeats, 55’C (170’F) for fish or vegetable based forcemeats.
  8. Remove the terrine from the oven and cool slightly.

Terrine cookware layered with blanched vegetables

Several types of terrines are not made from traditional forcemeats. Many others are not made from forcemeats at all. But nevertheless, they are called terrines because they are molded or cooked in the earthenware mold called a terrine. These include liver (and foie gras) terrines, vegetable terrines, brawns or aspic terrines, mousses, rillettes, and confits.

Liver Terrine

Liver terrines are popular and easy to make and you can find them usually in your local grocery store. Pureed poultry, pork or veal livers are mixed with eggs, seasonings and a panada of cream and bread, then baked in a backfat or bacon-lined terrine. Although most liver puree easily in a food processor, a smoother finished product is achieved if the livers are forced through the drum sieve after you puree them.

Foie Gras Terrine

Foie gras terrines are made wth fattened geese or duck livers called foie gras. Foie gras is unique, even among other poultry livers, in that it consists almost entirely of fat. It requires special attention during cooking. It is an expensive cut and best left for those well-seasoned in terrine creation.

Foie Gras

Vegetable Terrine

Vegetable terrine can be made with a relatively low-fat content and are becoming increasingly popular as they are much less intimidating as the classic terrines. Beautiful vegetable terrines are made by lining a terrine with a blanched leafy vegetable such as spinach, then alternating layers of two or three separately prepared vegetable fillings to create contrasting colors and flavors. A unique and different style of the vegetable terrine is made by suspending brightly colored vegetables in mousseline forcemeat.

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Brawn or Aspic Terrine

Brawns are aspic terrines are made by simmering gelatinous cuts of meat in a rich stock with wine and flavorings. The stock is enriched with gelatin and flavor from the meat, creating an unclarified aspic jelly. The meat is then pulled from the bone, diced and packed into the terrine mold. The stock is reduced to concentrate its gelatin content and strained. Then poured over the meat inside the terrine. After it has set, it is removed from the mold and sliced. The finished product is a classic and flavorful dish.

A more elegant appearing brawn is made by lining a terrine mold with aspic jelly, arranging a layer of garnish along with the mold bottom, adding aspic jelly to cover the garnish and repeating until the mold is full.

Mousse

A mousse can be sweet or savory. A savory mousse — which is not a mousseline forcemeat — is made from fully cooked meats, poultry, fish, shellfish or vegetables that are pureed and combined with a bechamel or other sauce, bound with gelatin and lightened with whipped cream. A

Rillettes and Confits

Rillettes and confits are actually preserved meats. Rillettes are prepared by seasoning and slow-cooking pork or fatty poultry such as duck or goose in generous amounts of their own fat until the meat falls off the bone. The warm meat is then mashed and combined with a portion of the cooking fat. The mixture is then packed into a crock or terrine and rendered fat is strained over the top to seal it. Rillettes are eating cold as a spread.

Confit is prepared in a similar manner except before cooking, the meat or poultry is often lightly salt-cured to draw out some moisture. The confit is then cooked until very tender but not falling apart. Confits are generally served hot. Like rillettes, confits can be preserved by sealing them with a layer of fat.

Although it is sometimes incorrectly called chicken liver pate, chopped chicken liver is prepared in a similar fashion to a rillette.

The post How to Make Terrine Easy and Simply appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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Forcemeats and their Binders, Fats, and Seasonings

In charcuterie, forcemeats are central to the what charcuterie is all about. As part of our charcuterie portion, we will go through the various types of forcemeats.

A forcemeat is a preparation made from uncooked ground meats, poultry, fish or shellfish, seasoned, then emulsified with fat. Forcemeats are the primary ingredient used to make pates, terrines, galantines and sausages.

The word forcemeat is derived from the French word farce, which means stuffing. Depending on the preparation method, a forcemeat can be very smooth and velvety, well textures and course, or anything in between. Regardless of its intended use, it has a glossy appearance when raw and will slice cleanly when cooked. A properly emulsified forcemeat provides a rich taste and comforting texture.

Forcemeats are emulsified products. Emulsification is the process of binding two ingredients that ordinarily would not combine. The proteins present in the meat, poultry, fish and shellfish combine easily with the fat and liquid. In forcemeats, these proteins act as a stabilizer that allows the fat and liquids that ordinarily do not combine to bind. When improperly emulsified forcemeats are cooked, they lose their fat, shrink and become dry and grainy.

  • The ratio of fat to other ingredients must be precise
  • Temperatures must be maintained below 4’C (40’F)
  • The ingredients must be mixed properly

Because forcemeats are prepared with raw meats, it is very important to be careful in how you prepare your forcemeats. This means adhering to all safe food handling processes. Charcuterie is considered an intermediate skill level.

Forcemeat Ingredients

Forcemeats are usually meat, poultry, fish or shellfish combined with binders, seasonings, and sometimes garnishes. Selections from these categories are used to make the wide array of forcemeats. It is very important that you source only the highest ingredients for your forcemeats.

Meats

The dominant meat is the meat that gives the forcemeat its name and essential flavor. The dominant meat does not have to be beef, veal, lamb, pork or game. It can be poultry, fish or shellfish. When you are preparing these varieties of meats, be very sure to remove all the silverskin, gristle, and small bones so the meat will be easier to grind and thus produce a smoother finished product.

Many forcemeats contain some pork. Pork adds moisture and smoothness to the forcemeat. Without it, poultry-based forcemeats tend to be rubbery, while venison and other game-based forcemeats will tend to be drier than other meats.

Fats

Fat is referred to as a separate ingredient, not the fat in the dominant meat or pork, both of which should be lean in order to ensure the correct ratio of fat to meat. Pork backfat or heavy cream is used to add moisture and richness to most forcemeats. Fat carries flavor and this is the vehicle needed to promote the infusion of flavors.

Binders

There are two different types of binders that you need to know about: panadas and eggs.

A panada is something other than fat that is added to a forcemeat to enhance smoothness, to aid emulsification or both. It should not make up more than 20% of the total weight. Usually, a panada is nothing more than a crustless white bread soaked in milk or a heavy bechamel.

Eggs or egg whites are used asl well as a binding agent in some types of forcemeats. If used with forcemeats that have a high ratio of liver or liquids, they also add texture.

Seasonings

Forcemeats are seasoned with salt, curing salt, marinades and various herbs and spices. Salt not only adds flavor but also aids in emulsification of the meat and fat. A lack of salt will taste flat and may not bind quite right. A good ratio to use is 10 grams per kilogram (1 tsp per pound) of meat.

Curing salt is a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite controls spoilage by prohibiting bacterial growth. Not only this, but curing salts also preserve the rosy pink color of some forcemeats that may otherwise oxidize to an unappetizing gray. Although currently seen as a much safer alternative to potassium nitrate (Saltpetre), some studies do suggest that sodium nitrite is a carcinogen. For a typical consumer, the amount of sodium nitrite consumed from cured meats should not pose a substantial health threat.

Pate Spice

A pate spice mixture is several spices and herbs that are premixed and used as needed.

Garnishes

Forcemeat garnishes are meats, fat, vegetables or other foods that are added in limited amounts to provide a contrast in flavor and texture as well as to improve the appearance. The garnishes are usually diced, chopped, or more coarsely ground than the dominant meat. Common garnishes include pistachio nuts, diced backfat, truffles or truffle peelings, and diced ham or tongue.

The post Forcemeats and their Binders, Fats, and Seasonings appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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Coffee and Espresso Preparation Methods

In our previous article, we introduced some coffee basics which included different beans, types of coffee and the different roasts. This helped you understand some of the history behind coffee and how the different roasts can affect flavor. In your culinary journey, this becomes important as it allows you to pair proper foods with the right coffee.

Today we will discuss the different methods in which coffee and espresso are prepared. We will go over the types of brewing, including drip brewing and espresso brewing. As avid coffee drinkers, we have also chosen some of our favorite products that we use to prepare coffee and espresso. If you are interested in these products, please feel free to go through our links as it goes to support more great content.

Grinding the Coffee Beans

Unlike roasting, which is best left to the experts, the grinding of coffee beans is best left to the consumer or restaurant. Whole coffee beans stay fresh much longer than pre-grounded coffee. Ground coffee kept in an airtight container away from heat and light will stay fresh for three or four days. Whole beans will stay fresh for a few weeks and may be frozen for several months, as long as they are dry and protected from other invasive flavors. Frozen coffee beans do not need to be thawed before grinding and brewing. As a rule, do not refrigerate your coffee.

Frozen coffee beans do not need to be thawed before grinding and brewing.

The fineness of the grind depends entirely on the type of coffee maker being used. The grind determines the length of time it takes to achieve the perfect (19%) extraction from the beans. There is no “perfect grind”, and the optimum grind is the one that allows that extraction to occur in the time that coffee maker takes to complete its brewing cycle. A good general rule is the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared.

Recommended Burr Mill

Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill


Brewing Coffee

Coffee is brewed by one of two methods: decoction or infusion. Decoction means boiling something until its flavor is removed. Think of this as similar to making stock. Boiling is the oldest method for making coffee but is no longer used except in preparing extremely strong Turkish coffee. Infusion refers to the extraction of flavors at temperatures

Infusion refers to the extraction of flavors at temperatures below boiling. Infusion include steeping (mixing hot water and ground coffee), filtering (pouring water slowly over a cloth or filter), and dripping (pouring water over a strainer and allowing liquid to run through. Percolating is not recommended as the continuous boil ruins the coffee’s flavor.

The secrets to brewing a good cup of coffee are knowing the exact proportion of coffee to water as well as the amount of time to maintain contact between both. This various depending on the equipment and type of coffee.

Drip Brewing

Drip coffee is commonly made from a machine that allows water to slowly be released over coffee grounds.

For drip coffee, the best results are usually achieved by using 55g (2oz) of ground coffee per liter (quart) of filtered water. This yields approx. 5.5 cups of coffee, a cup being 175 mL (6 fl oz). The brewing temperature should be between 90’C to 93’C (195’F to 205’F). The best coffee is brewed in a French press coffee maker.

Best French Press, Bar None

AeroPress — The top total immersion/French-press coffee maker on the market.

If a strong coffee is desired, use more coffee per cup of water, not a longer brewing time. For weaker coffee, prepare regular-strength coffee and dilute it with hot water. Never reuse old coffee grounds.

Espresso Brewing

Espresso is derived from the Latin word exprimo, “to press out” and is made with a pump-driven machine that forces hot water through a compressed, finely ground coffee. An espresso machine also has a steaming rod to froth milk for espresso-based beverages.

Lightly roasted and finely ground coffee make the best espresso. It is best ground fresh with a conical burr grinder. A single serving of espresso uses 7 to 8 g (1/4oz) of coffee for 25 to 30 mL (1 fl oz) of purified water at 88’C to 95’C (190’F to 203’F). It is forced through the grounds at high pressure (9 to 10 atmospheres of pressure for 22-30 seconds. The pressure creates the crema or foam on top of the espresso.

Espresso machine showing the crema or foam.

It is important that the espresso is made quickly, as if the machine pumps water for too long, too much water will be added and the intense flavor will be ruined. Because a single or double shot of espresso forms the foundation for so many coffee beverages, this is an important consideration.

Recommended Espresso Machine

Breville BES870XL — Mid-range but top quality and top rated. Must-have.

Serving Coffee and Espresso

Coffee can be made with specific additions. The most common ways of serving coffee are detailed here.



Drip Coffee or Filtered Coffee

Drip or filtered coffee is the most common style of coffee served in North America.

  • Black: A plain cup of unsweetened coffee with no milk or cream added.
  • Cafe au lait: The French version of the Italian caffe latte, cafe au lait is made with strong coffee instead of espresso and hot, not steamed, milk.
  • Demitasse: A small cup of strong black coffee or espresso.
  • Iced coffee: Strong coffee served over ice. Best to add the sweetener before adding the coffee. In Austrailia, a dollop of vanilla ice cream is often added. Vietnamese coffee is made with a small Vietnamese filter pot using condensed milk as a sweetener. Left over coffee should never be used for iced coffee
Espresso
  • Espresso: A single or double serving, black.
  • Espresso macchiato: Espresso marked with a tiny portion of steamed milk.
  • Cappuccino: One-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, one-third foamed milk.
  • Caffe latte: One-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk without foam.
  • Caffe mocha: one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, flavored with chocolate syrup and usually topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings/cocoa
  • Espresso con panna: Espresso with a dollop of whipped cream
  • Espresso corretto: A shot of espresso “corrected” with the addition of liquor such as brandy of liqueur.
  • Espresso ristretto: Espresso made with half the water normally used for a regular espresso

Any type of milk can be used to make cappuccino, latte and other espresso drinks. Milk with higher fat content will produce a creamier tasting drink.

How To Froth Milk

To froth the milk for these drinks, pour the milk into a jug, then position it under the steam spout of your espresso machine. Activate the steam control only when the head of the spout is under the surface of the milk. Moving the jug around while keeping the spout submerged helps the steam aerate the milk, giving it a consistency resembling frothed cream.

The Most Expensive Coffee in the World

Want to try something extraordinary? Then you must try Kopi Luwak — the most expensive coffee in the world. The palm civet or Luwak, as it is called in Indonesia, eats only the ripest of the coffee cherries. Unable to digest the bean, it passes through the digestive tract and is excreted whole. The journey creates an unusual fermentation environment, where the beans are affected by stomach acids and enzymes. This creates a very expensive coffee delight and retails up to $180 a pound.

The post Coffee and Espresso: The Full Disclosure appeared first on The Culinary Cook.

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