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Frequently Asked Questions about Vegetarian Cooking
Every day, the Allrecipes staff answer lots of email from cooks like you in the Allrecipes community. For a glimpse of this dynamic exchange of ideas and tips, and for answers to questions about food that you may have had yourself, please have a look at this FAQ! You can also browse all the articles about Vegetarian Cooking in our Cooking Basics section!

If you still have questions, take a look at the FAQ for another cookbook, or read our Allrecipes FAQ for tips on using this website.

Q. I have a package of Arborio rice, and would like to know if it can be used in all rice recipes or only to make risotto?

A. You can cook Arborio rice as you would other types of rice.

Q. What is vegetarianism?

A. Very simply, a vegetarian is one who eschews the consumption of meat or other animal foods. However, vegetarianism, which has been practiced since ancient times, is certainly not one-faceted. The wide-ranging custom of vegetarianism may be based on a variety of personal principles including religious (certain Hindu and Buddhist sects), ethical (cruelty to animals and more efficient use of world food resources), nutritional (the healthy benefits of reducing fat and cholesterol) and economic (nonmeat products are, on the average, less expensive). There are several types of vegetarians today. Vegans, who are the purists of the vegetarian world and who have the most limited diet, refuse to eat all animal-derivative foods including butter, cheese, eggs and milk. Ovo-lacto vegetarians consider such animal-related foods acceptable but, of course, do not eat meat. Then there are those vegetarians who will eat fish and/or poultry, but not other animal meat. Across the board, most vegetarians prefer their food organically grown, and (if they eat fish and fowl) organically fed.

More definitions for cooking terms can be found in the Allrecipes Encyclopedia.

Q. Can you please tell me what cilantro is?

A. Cilantro is the bright green leaves and stems of the CORIANDER plant. Cilantro (also called Chinese parsley and coriander) has a lively, pungent fragrance that some describe as "soapy." It is widely used in Asian, Caribbean and Latin American cooking and its distinctive flavor lends itself to highly spiced foods. Cilantro can be found year-round in most supermarkets and is generally sold in bunches. Choose leaves with a bright, even color and no sign of wilting. Cilantro may be stored for up to 1 week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Or place the bunch, stems down, in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag, securing the bag to the glass with a rubber band. Refrigerate, changing water every 2 or 3 days. Just before using cilantro, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Both the leaves and relatively tender stems can be used in fresh or cooked dishes.

More definitions for cooking terms can be found in the Allrecipes Encyclopedia.

Q. Is gelatin vegetarian?

A. Gelatin is a glutinous substance obtained from the ligaments, bones, and skin of animals, and so it is not vegetarian. Agar agar is a vegetarian alternative, and can be substituted for gelatin. However, agar agar has stronger setting properties so less of it is required.

Q. How do I make a flavorful vegetable stock for vegetarian soups?

A. There are several keys to good, basic vegetable stocks. Vegetable stocks do not benefit from long cooking times. Quick vegetable stocks should take 25 to 30 minutes; basic vegetable stocks, 45 minutes to one hour. Certain herbs and vegetables will turn bitter as they steep, so strain them out as soon as the stock is finished. Also, some vegetables should be avoided altogether in stocks. The cabbage family (turnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) does not do well in stock. Nor do most powdered herbs, ground black pepper, onion skins, artichoke trimmings, or too many greens. When in doubt, simmer the ingredient separately first, and taste-test the resulting liquid.

Making Vegetable Stock provides step-by-step instructions for producing a good, basic chicken stock. Take a peek at our vegetarian articles for even more meal ideas and cooking advice.

Q. What is the difference between a garlic bulb and a clove of garlic? What is the best way to chop fresh garlic?

A. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchment-like membrane. We have photo-filled tutorials with step-by-step instructions for peeling garlic and chopping garlic, in Cooking Basics.

Q. . I often find myself adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family, but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have any advice for me?

A. Changing recipes in order to make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling." Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as soufflés, baked items requiring yeast such as breads, and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies, breads and whole turkey.

Our Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed guidelines for recipe scaling and easy instructions for using the handy recipe scaling tool on our site. You can always find this tool and a link to our recipe scaling tips from any recipe at



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