Methods for Preparation of Vegetables

Vegetables are served with or incorporated into a wide range of dishes to add interest, variety, nutritional value, color, flavor and texture, and so contribute much to an enjoyable meal. They have a large part to play in many courses, and make good hors-d’oeuvres, are widely used in making soups, and form garnishes for fish, meat, poultry and game as well as being featured in salads. Used as a garnish for main items they may be cooked either with the dish or separately and arranged around the dish when serving. Some are used solely to add flavor to stocks, soups, sauces and stews and are discarded when they have given up their flavor and nutritional value. Several expensive vegetables such as asparagus and globe artichokes may be served as dishes in their own right, partly because they do not combine well with other items but also because they are excellent as a separate course either hot or cold.

This chapter deals first with the preparation of vegetables for cooking, including a detailed list of the shapes into which they may be cut for various culinary uses, and then proceeds through the various methods of cooking which may be applied —- boiling, steaming, braising, and so on. At the beginning of each recipe there is a guide to the number of portions the quantities given will yield and the time taken to cook the vegetable. The number of portions and the cooking times indicated are intended solely as a guide and experience will yield the best results. (Where vegetables require cooking by two different methods, e.g. boiling then deep frying, then cooking time is given for the second method only.) Throughout the chapter methods of retaining the vegetables once they are cooked and how best to reheat them are also indicated Although it is realized that specialized equipment is available to deal with these aspects, this chapter covers the traditional approaches practiced in many catering establishments in the industry.

The correct preparation of all vegetables cannot be overstressed. If this aspect is badly carried out food costs will rise considerably due to wastage. Further problems may be encountered at subsequent stages of cooking, for example some vegetables may fall to pieces when they are to be served whole whilst others may be completely inedible because the outer woodiness had not been removed when peeled, and invariably the visual effect of the final result will be adversely affected. A controlled and systematic approach to this aspect of cooking is essential in order that high standards of quality are maintained.

Artichoke Bottoms
Remove the hard stem with a knife or, holding the artichoke in one hand, grasp the stem with the other and break it off (this latter method removes the fibres in the base of the artichoke). Using a sharp knife cut away all the leaves to within 1/2 cm from the bottom of the vegetable. Turn the bottom upside down in the hand and remove all traces of any leaves and green, at the same time smoothing the surface with a peeler. Immediately rub all over with lemon to prevent discoloration. Remove the choke (the fibrous inside of the artichoke bottom) using a spoon. Wash in cold water and immediately place into a basin of cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Asparagus Sprue
Remove the small hard leaves or spurs at the head of the vegetable just below the point using the back of a small knife. Remove the outer hard skin of the stem with a peeler, peeling in a downward motion away from the point. Break off the stem at the bottom at its hardest and woodiest point. Wash in plenty of cold water. Firmly tie into portion sized bundles with string. Trim off the stems so that they are of an even length.

Note:
As sprue are young shoots of asparagus there is generally no need to remove the small spurs or to peel the stems.

Baby Marrow
Remove the stalk. With the aid of a peeler remove strips of the Outer skin along the length of the vegetable leaving alternate strips of skin and exposed flesh. Trim each end of the vegetable to give a founded effect. (An alternative method is to completely remove all the outer skin with a peeler, but care should be taken not to peel too deeply to expose the underlayer of light green flesh.) Wash in cold water.

Broad Beans
Shell the beans retaining the inner bean within its skin. Wash in cold water.

Broad Beans
Cut away any discoloured outer leaves and trim any excess and hard stems. Wash in cold salt water.

Brussels Sprouts
Trim away any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Cut an incision approximately 1mm into the stem. Wash in cold salt water.

Cabbage
For boiling
Remove any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the center stalks. Wash in cold salt water.

For braising
Remove any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Cut the cabbage in half, remove the center stalks and wash in cold salt water.

Carrots
Peel lengthwise with a peeler then cut off top and tail.

Cauliflower
Trim away the coarse outer leaves retaining some of the inner tender leaves surrounding the flower. With a small knife hollow out the stem in the shape of a cone to a depth of about 2 cm. Wash in cold salt water.

Celeriac
Trim the end of the vegetable. Peel in a circular motion with a small knife making certain to remove the skin below the line of fibrous flesh which can be seen inside. Wash in cold water and place immediately into a basin of cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Celery
Remove any outside discolored stems. Trim and cut away leaves at the head of the vegetable. Carefully trim the root end taking care not to cut away so much of the root that the celery falls apart. Wash under cold running water.

Chestnuts
(1) Slit the shells of the nuts with the point of a small knife and place them into a frying basket.
(2) Either
— (a) dip the basket into boiling water; or
— (b) dip the basket into deep fat at a temperature of 160°C; or
— (c) place them onto a tray under a salamander grill until the shells split open.
(3) Remove the outer shells and inner skin with the point of a small knife and retain in a basin covered with a damp cloth until required.

Note:
Whilst it is appreciated that chestnuts are not vegetables they fit into this section because of the method of preparation.

Corn On The Cob
Using a small knife trim away any excess stalk, coarse outer leaves and silky fibres. Wash in cold water.

Eggplant
For deep frying
Remove the stalk and green part attached to it. With the aid of a peeler remove strips of the outer skin along the length of the vegetable leaving alternate strips of skin and exposed flesh. Cut into slices on the slant about 1/2 cm thick. Place into a colander and sprinkle with salt which draws out any excess moisture and/or bitterness.

For stuffing
Remove the stalk and green part attached to it. Cut in half lengthwise. With the point of a small knife make a slight incision around the inside edge to within ½ cm from the edge. Cut trellis fashion across the exposed part of the plant to a depth of approximately ½ cm.

Endive (Belgian Chicory)
Trim away any discolored outer leaves. Wash in cold water.

Fennel
Trim away the leaves at the head of the vegetable and carefully trim the root end. If rather large in size then cut through the length into two equal parts. Wash in cold water.

French Beans
For the small variety top and tail. For the larger variety, top and tail the beans, cut in half lengthwise then in half crosswise. Wash in cold water.

Globe Artichokes
Remove the hard stems with a small knife or, holding the artichoke in one hand, grasp the stem with the other and break it off (this latter method removes the fibers in the base of the artichoke). Using a sharp knife remove the top of the vegetable cutting off approximately 2 cm. Trim away any discolored outer leaves using a pair of scissors. Lightly trim the bottom of the artichoke (known as the fond) using a small knife or peeler. Rub the bottom of the artichoke with lemon and tie a piece of string around the vegetable so that it retains its shape whilst cooking. Also tie a piece of lemon against the base.

Jerusalem Artichokes
Wash the vegetables to remove the dirt. Peel with a peeler.

Note:
Once peeled Jerusalem artichokes should be placed immediately into cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Leeks
Remove any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Remove the coarse green leaves at the top of the vegetable with a large knife taking care not to cut back too far as this will cause unnecessary waste. Trim the root end taking care not to remove the root completely as this holds the vegetable together. Cut in half lengthwise commencing approximately 2 cm from the root end and going through to the top. Wash under cold running water gently opening the two halves to allow the water to penetrate into the center of the vegetable to remove any dirt. Tie in manageable bundles of about 40 leeks with the root ends together.

Lettuce (round leaf type)
Remove any discolored or coarse outer leaves and neatly trim the root end. Wash in cold water.

Marrow
Peel the vegetable lengthwise with a peeler. Cut into half lengthwise and with a spoon remove the seeds. Cut across into servable sizes about 5 cm square. Trim the corners of each piece of marrow with a small knife to give each a rounded effect. Wash in cold water.

For braised stuffed marrow
Peel the vegetable lengthwise with a peeler. Cut a slice from the tail end and remove the seeds with a long handled spoon, leaving the vegetable whole. Wash in cold water.

Mushrooms
For grilling
Trim the stalks back to about 1 mm from the mushroom head.

Turned mushrooms
Shape the top of firm white button mushrooms in a whirl fashion with a small knife. Once turned rub with lemon to help retain the whiteness. Place in a basin of cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Onions
Remove the outer skin with a small knife taking care not to remove the root end as this holds the vegetable together. Carefully trim the root.

Parsley
Picked parsley
Wash the parsley in cold water. Remove small sprigs from the stem about 2 cm in length.

Chopped parsley
Wash the parsley in cold water. Remove the parsley from the stalks and chop with a large knife until finely chopped. Place the parsley into a cloth and squeeze out the liquid and place into a suitable basin.

Parsnips
Peel lengthwise with a peeler. Cut into quarters lengthwise and remove the inner hard core with a small knife. Wash in cold water.

Pimento
For braised stuffed pimentos
To remove the skin place onto a baking tray and either pass through an oven at a temperature of approximately 175 °C or under a salamander grill for a few minutes until the outer skin is easily removable with a small knife. Cut and remove the stem end, Remove the seeds from the inside taking care not to pierce the outer flesh.

Note:
If pimentos are for use other than stuffing the above method is still applicable. However, it is easier to cut the pimento in half, remove the stem and seeds and then proceed by placing in an oven or under a salamander grill in order to remove the skin.

Red Cabbage
Remove any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the centre stalks. Finely shred the cabbage and wash in cold water.

Runner Beans
Top and tail. Remove the coarse fibrous parts on the leading edges using a peeler. Cut into strips at an angle across the bean about I mm thick. Wash in cold water.

Salsify
Method 1
Wash the vegetables to remove the dirt. Peel lengthways with a peeler and cut into lengths of about 5 cm.

Method 2
Wash the vegetables thoroughly, removing all traces of dirt. Boil in salt water for 5 minutes then refresh under cold water. Remove the outer skin with the point of a small knife running the length of the vegetable through the fingers. Cut the salsify into lengths of about 5cm.

Note:
Once peeled and cut into lengths salsify should be placed immediately into cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Seakale
Remove any discoloured leaf stems. Trim the root end taking care not to remove the root completely as this holds the vegetable together. Wash in cold water. Tie into manageable bundles of about 46 seakale with the root ends together.

Shallots
Remove the outer skin with a small knife taking care not to remove the root end as this holds the vegetable together. Carefully trim the root.

Spinach
Tear off the coarse stems. Wash several times in changes of clean cold water in a deep receptacle or sink.

Spring Cabbage
Trim any discolored or coarse outer leaves. Trim the stalk and cut an incision approximately 1 mm into the stem. Wash in cold salt water. Tie into manageable bundles of about 46 cabbages with the root end together.

Sugar Pea
Top and tail the pods. Wash in cold water.

Note:
This is a pea pod containing immature peas. The whole pod is eaten.

Swede
Proceed as for Turnips

Turnips
Trim the ends of the vegetable. Peel in a circular motion with a small knife making certain to remove the skin below the line of fibrous flesh which can be seen inside. Wash in cold water.

Tomatoes
For salads and other dishes
Remove the stalk end using the point of a small knife. Place the tomatoes into a dipper or frying basket and plunge into boiling water for a period of about 14 seconds. Drain well and remove the skins with the point of a small knife.

For concassée
Peel as above then cut into halves across the tomato and remove the pips and center core with a small spoon. Cut the flesh into 1 cm dice.

For stuffing (whole)
Wash the tomatoes and remove the stem. Cut a slice across the end to a depth of about 2 cm and retain. Remove the inner pips and center core with a small spoon.

For stuffing (halves)
Wash the tomatoes and remove the stem. Cut through the center of the tomato dividing it into two halves. Remove the inner pips and center core with a small spoon.

Note:
Tomatoes to be prepared for grilling or stuffed and served as a vegetable dish are not usually skinned.

Watercress
Picked watercress
Remove and discard the stalks by cutting through with a knife, leaving approximately 5 cm of stalk. Thoroughly wash the cress in cold water, changing the water several times if necessary to remove any small insects or small snails. To retain for future use neatly arrange with stalks together in a receptacle with a little ice water.

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