From Science In the Kitchen: Cooking methods
Science in the Kitchen from cookingtherapy.info
Science in the Kitchen is one of those cooking classics. Now in Public Domain there is much to be learned from the cooking masters of the past.
CARE OF FIRES.–Much fuel is wasted through the loss of heat from too much draft. Only just enough air should be supplied to promote combustion. A coal fire, when well kindled, needs only air enough to keep it burning. When the coal becomes red all through, it has parted with the most of its heat, and the fire will soon die unless replenished.
To keep a steady fire, add but a small amount of fuel at a time, and repeat often enough to prevent any sensible decrease of the degree of heat. Rake the fire from the bottom, and keep it clear of ashes and cinders. If a very hot fire is needed, open the drafts; at other times, keep them closed, or partially so, and not waste fuel.
There is no economy in allowing a fire to get low before fuel is added; for the fresh fuel cools the fire to a temperature so low that it is not useful, and thus occasions a direct waste of all fuel necessary to again raise the heat to the proper degree, to say nothing of the waste of time and patience.
The addition of small quantities of fuel at short intervals so long as continuous heat is needed, is far better than to let the fuel burn nearly out, and then add a larger quantity. The improper management of the drafts and dampers has also much to do with waste of fuel.
As stoves are generally constructed, it is necessary for the heat to pass over the top, down the back, and under the bottom of the oven before escaping into the flue, in order to properly heat the oven for baking. In order to force the heat to make this circuit, the direct draft of the stove needs to be closed. With this precaution observed, a quick fire from a small amount of fuel, used before its force is spent, will produce better results than a fire-box full under other circumstances.
An item of economy for those who are large users of coal, is the careful sifting of the cinders from the ashes. They can be used to good advantage to put first upon the kindlings, when building the fire, as they ignite more readily than fresh coal, and give a greater, quicker heat, although much less enduring.
METHODS OF COOKING.–A proper source of heat having been secured, the next step is to apply it to the food in some manner. The principal methods commonly employed are roasting, broiling, baking, boiling, stewing, simmering, steaming, and frying.
Roasting is cooking food in its own juices before an open fire. A clear fire with intense heat is necessary.
Broiling or grilling is cooking by radiant heat over glowing coals. This method is only adapted to thin pieces of food with a considerable amount of surface. Larger and more compact foods should be roasted or baked. Roasting and broiling are allied in principle. In both, the work is chiefly done by the radiation of heat directly upon the surface of the food, although some heat is communicated by the hot air surrounding the food. The intense heat applied to the food soon sears its outer surfaces, and thus prevents the escape of its juices. If care be taken frequently to turn the food so that its entire surface will be thus acted upon, the interior of the mass is cooked by its own juices.
Baking is the cooking of food by dry heat in a closed oven. Only foods containing a considerable degree of moisture are adapted for cooking by this method. The hot, dry air which fills the oven is always thirsting for moisture, and will take from every moist substance to which it has access a quantity of water proportionate to its degree of heat. Foods containing but a small amount of moisture, unless protected in some manner from the action of the heated air, or in some way supplied with moisture during the cooking process, come from the oven dry, hard, and unpalatable.
Proper cooking by this method depends greatly upon the facility with which the heat of the oven can be regulated. When oil or gas is the fuel used, it is an easy matter to secure and maintain almost any degree of heat desirable, but with a wood or coal stove, especial care and painstaking are necessary.
It is of the first importance that the mechanism of the oven to be used, be thoroughly understood by the cook, and she should test its heating capacity under various conditions, with a light, quick fire and with a more steady one; she should carefully note the kind and amount of fuel requisite to produce a certain degree of heat; in short, she should thoroughly know her “machine” and its capabilities before attempting to use it for the cooking of food.
An oven thermometer is of the utmost value for testing the heat, but unfortunately, such thermometers are not common. They are obtainable in England, although quite expensive. It is also possible at the present time to obtain ranges with a very reliable thermometer attachment to the oven door.
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