Culinary Education/Cooking Glossary

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Cooking Terms¦Easy To Understand Cooking Dictionary

Cooking terms can be a little confusing so I have provided these pages of definitions for frequently used terms found in recipes.

Cooking Definitions Starting With "A"

adobo - a dark red sauce made from ground chilies, herbs and vinegar

aging - what we all do but in cooking it means keeping meats or cheeses in a controlled environment for a certain amount of time to improve tenderness and flavor

al Dente' - describes pasta cooked firm to the bite (not "mushy")

au jus - the natural drippings or juice from a pan after cooking beef and deglazing

Cooking Terminology Starting With "B"

bard - to wrap thin sheets of fat or bacon around lean meat or poultry to prevent it from drying out while roasting

baste - to brush, squirt or pour drippings, fat or liquid, over food while broiling, roasting or baking to prevent drying out; develops a crusty exterior and improves flavor and appearance of product being cooked

bind - to thicken a hot liquid or sauce by stirring in a roux, flour, cornstarch, egg yolks, cream or butter

bisque - a shellfish soup with cream

blackened - method of cooking that uses spices (sometimes butter) to coat fish or steak or chicken and then cooked in a very hot cast iron skillet

blanch - to partially cook vegetables by plunging them into boiling water (often salted) for up to one minute and then cooling them quickly in cold or ice water

boil - to cook at the boiling point keeping water or other liquids bubbling; rapid penetration of heat

bok choy - a Chinese cabbage with long white stalks and narrow green leaves - also called Chinese cabbage

Bouillabaisse - a fish soup made from several varieties of fish, tomatoes, saffron, fennel and wine (Mediterranean origins)

bouillon - simmering lean meat, bones, seasonings and vegetables and removing all food particles leaving a clear soup

Bouquet Garni - a bouquet of fresh herbs (frequently bay leaf, thyme and parsley) tied together and immersed in a liquid; used to season stocks and braised foods

braise - a method of cooking that involves browning meat with vegetables in fat, oil or butter first, then slowly cooking the food in a small amount of liquid; a pot roast is often cooked this way

break - the separation of fat from a liquid content of a sauce or soup; appears curdled

bread - to coat the food with bread crumbs (usually the food is first dipped in flour and then beaten eggs, then bread crumbs)

broil - a method of cooking where the food is placed directly underneath or above the source of high heat

broth - a liquid made by simmering meats or fish or poultry or vegetables or their by-products in water with herbs (also "stock")

brown - quickly searing food to enhance flavor; most often done at the beginning of the cooking process

brush - to coat food with a liquid such as melted butter or a glaze using a brush designed for this process

butterfly - to cut food down the center but not all the way through; done to spread the food apart for quicker cooking without burning

Cooking Terminology Staring With "C"

calamari - squid

capers - pickled flower buds from the Mediterranean

caramelize - a process of cooking sugar (usually with oil or butter) until it begins to color; foods containing natural sugars will caramelize in their own sugars

chicory - sometimes called curly endive; a type of lettuce (chicory root is sometimes used as a coffee substitute)

chiffon - a filling made light and fluffy with beaten egg whites or whipped cream

chop - to cut into non-uniformed pieces or rough cut

clarify - a process of making a liquid clear; removing milk solids and impurities from butter resulting in a pure golden liquid butter used for many cooking purposes

Celsius - a temperature scale in which 0 (zero) is freezing and 100 degrees is boiling or steaming

coat - to cover food with another product

combine - mixing ingredients together

core - remove the center of fruits

cream - beat butter or shortening until light and fluffy

crush - to reduce food to small particles using a tool (rolling pin or mortar and pestle)

cube - to cut up into regular sizes

cut in - the process of combining solid fat (such as butter or shortening) with a dry ingredient (such as flour) until small pea-size particles are formed; as is done when making pie crust or biscuits

Cooking Terms Staring With "D"

dash - about 1/16th of a teaspoon; a "pinch" or less

deep-fry - to cook submerged in very hot fat (like French fries) until golden brown

deglaze - to swirl a liquid into a pan to dissolve particles of food on the bottom of the sauté' or roast pans for flavor

demi-glace - a rich brown sauce made from reduced veal or beef stock; used to make classic sauces

devil - to add hot, spicy ingredients (pepper, Tabasco, cayenne, mustard) to a food

dice - to cut into regular sized cubes; small, medium or large

direct heat - a grilling method of cooking, allowing food to be cooked directly over a flame or heat source

dissolve - to stir a dry substance into a liquid until no solids remain

dollop - a scoop or spoonful of food placed on top of another food

dough - a combination of flour, water or milk and sometimes a leaven (yeast) to make a mixture for baking

drain - to remove and discard the liquid contents from a cooking process (as in draining cooked potatoes or vegetables)

dredge - to lightly coat food to be pan-fried or sautéed (usually with flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs)

drippings - the juices and fat that is collected from the pan of cooked foods

Dutch Oven - a large, deep pot that is covered with a tight fitting lid

Cooking Terms Starting With "E"

egg wash - liquefied eggs; beaten eggs with milk or water sometimes added; used in the breading process, in sealing pieces of dough and to coat some baked goods for a shiny look when baked

emulsion - small particles of oil or another liquid suspended in the other (e.g. vinaigrette salad dressing)

entree' - in France this refers to the first course of a meal after the soup but before the main course; in the USA it is the main dish

espresso - a very strong, dark coffee brewed with steam pressure

Cooking Terms Starting With "F"

Fahrenheit - a temperature scale in which 32 degrees represents freezing and 212 degrees is the steam point( to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit reading, multiply by 5 and divide by 9; better yet - have a thermometer that reads both scales)

filet - a boneless, skinless piece of meat (fillet is used for boneless, skinless fish)

filet mignon - center cut from the tenderloin of beef

fillet - to remove the bones from fish or meat before cooking (fish fillet, meat filet)

filter - to remove impurities or particles of food by pouring through cheesecloth or a strainer or "China Cap" (chinoise)

flake - to break food into small pieces (or allow it to do so when cooking)

flame' - a method of cooking in which foods are splashed with liquor and ignited

Florentine - food cooked with or garnished with spinach

flute - a decorative scalloped edge on pastry or pie crusts; vegetables can be fluted as a way to make them have more eye appeal

fond - solids (sucs) left in the bottom of a pan after cooking meats; adding water to dissolve the sucs creates the fond base liquid

fold - combining two or more products with a spatula or spoon using a side-to-side motion or a top-to-bottom motion

fondue - a warmed creamy liquid made of cheese, eggs, wine or other products and used as a dip for vegetables, breads and some other products

fricassee - a stew of cut up poultry fried in butter and simmered with vegetables

frittata - an omelet that is baked and not folded; "open-faced" omelet

frizzle - to fry julienne vegetables in hot oil until crisp

Cooking Terms Starting With "G"

ganache - a chocolate coating made with chocolate, egg yolks and heavy cream; used as filling for truffles and coating for pies and other desserts

garnish - a decorative touch added to dishes and beverages

glace - a stock that has been reduced to a syrupy consistency and used to add flavor and color to a sauce

glaze - a liquid that gives a shiny surface to an item

grate - to shred food into fine pieces

gratin - to sprinkle an item with cheese and/or bread crumbs and baked until golden brown

gravy - a sauce made from pan drippings and thickened with a roux

grill - to cook directly over a heat source on metal racks

Cooking Terms Starting With "H"

hominy - corn kernels with the germ and bran removed

hors d'Oeuvres - small portions of foods, canapés; appetizers

hull - to remove the leafy parts of fruits

Cooking Terms Starting With "I"

infusion - extracting flavors by soaking them in a liquid heated in a covered pan

insulated baking sheet - a cookie sheet with a space between its double layers to prevent hot spots

Cooking Terms Starting With "J"

jell - a solidifying process usually using gelatin

julienne - to cut food into uniform thin strips two-three inches long

Cooking Terms Starting With "K"

kebab - small chucks of meat, fish, or shellfish that are usually marinated before being skewered and grilled, broiled or pan-fried (pieces of vegetables often are added to the skewer); also called "shish kebab"

knead - to press and fold dough in order to give it a smoother consistency needed for leavening

kosher salt - very coarse salt

Cooking Terms Starting With "L"

larding - putting strips of fat into pieces of meat to help the braised meat stay moist and juicy during cooking

leaven - yeast: also the process of whipping egg whites that produces air bubbles and causes the rising of baked items

Cooking Terms Starting With "M"

marble - to swirl or layer one food item into another to create a ribbon effect when cooked and sliced

marinade - a liquid sauce that is used to soften and flavor meats before cooking (most marinades contain ingredients such as vinegar, oil, lemon, wine, beer, herbs and spices)

marinate - to cover a food item with a liquid substance (see above)

medallion - a small piece of meat (beef, chicken, pork, veal) lightly pounded into an oval or a round

meringue - sweetened egg whites beaten until stiff but light

mince - to chop into very fine pieces

mirepoix - a mixture of rough-cut or diced vegetables, herbs and spices used for flavoring

mise en place - a French cooking term for having all your ingredients prepped and ready to use before starting to cook (very important!)

mount - the addition of small pieces of cold butter to a sauce as a finishing process

mull - heating wine, cider, or juices with spices, citrus and sugar

Cooking Terms Starting With "N"

nap - to cover a food item with a thin, even layer of sauce

Cooking Terms Starting With "O"

organic - grown or raised without chemicals or artificial growth enhancers, without chemical fertilizers or chemical pesticides (this is a favorite topic of mine)

oven bake - to cook foods surrounded by hot dry air

oven broil - to cook with radiant heat from above

oven poach - to cook in the oven with a small amount of water or another liquid

Cooking Terms Starting With "P"

pan broil - cooking food in a heavy pan without added fat and removing any fat that is produced as you cook the item

pan fry - to cook in a moderate amount of fat, uncovered

papillote - a cooking method where a product is wrapped in a special paper or foil and baked so that the food cooks in its own juices

parboil - to cook partially in a simmering or boiling liquid for a short period of time

parchment paper - a special, non-stick, silicone coated, heat resistant paper used in cooking

• pare or peel - to remove the outer layer of skin from certain foods (usually fruits and vegetables)

pickle - to preserve or flavor food in brine

pinch - a measurement of less than 1/16th of a teaspoon (same as "dash")

pipe - to squeeze a soft food item from a pastry bag to another food item, usually in a decorative manner

pit - to remove the center seed from fruits

poach - to cook very gently (slowly) in a liquid that is hot but not boiling or bubbling

precook - to partially cook food before final cooking process

preheat - to heat an oven (or sometimes a pan) to a recommended temperature before cooking in it

pressure cooking - using steam under a locked lid to produce high temperatures to accomplish a fast cooking time

proof - a cooking term used for the growth of yeast dough's rise

puree' - the action of mashing a food until it has a thick, smooth consistency; usually done by a blender or food processor or pushed through a colander

Cooking Terms Starting With "Q"

No cooking terms for "q"

Cooking Terms Starting With "R"

ramekin - a very small dish used for individual portions

reconstitute - a dried food product is returned to its original form by adding a liquid, hot or cold

reduce - to cook by simmering or boiling until its volume is decreased in order to concentrate flavors

refresh - to stop the cooking process by submerging in or spraying with cold water; common with vegetables and pasta

roast - to cook foods by surrounding them with hot, dry air in an oven (uncovered) or on a spit over an open fire

rolling boil - boiling water at very high heat so that even if stirred the water continues to boil (bubble)

roux - a cooked mixture of flour and oil, fat or butter that is used to thicken liquids

Cooking Terms Starting With "S"

sachet - a small bag usually made of cheesecloth containing herbs and spices and is placed into soups, stews, stocks and sauces while cooking for added flavor and is removed when the item is finished cooking

saffron - a yellow-orange spice made from the stigmas of purple crocus

sauce - a liquid that adds flavor and moisture to foods

sauté' - to cook foods quickly in a small amount of fat

scald - to heat a liquid just below boiling with bubbles around the edges

scallion - very young onions picked when beds of onions need to be thinned. Both the shallot and the green onion, which have small bulbs, are also known as scallions

scallop - to bake food with a sauce or other liquid in a casserole

score - tenderizing meats or seafood by slicing with a knife

sear - to seal in the juices of meat by quickly browning it on all sides in a very hot pan

season - enhancing the flavor of food by adding ingredients such as herbs and spices; cooking term also means to oil a pan and slowly warm it and then wipe it

set - to allow food to solidify

shred - to tear or cut food into narrow strips

shuck - to remove the shells from clams and oysters; also to remove the husks from corn

sieve - to press a food through a strainer to break it up

sift - to remove lumps from certain foods while aerating it

simmer - to gently cook food in a liquid over low heat so only tiny bubbles can be observed breaking the surface of the liquid

simple syrup - two parts water and one part sugar cooked together

skim - removing fat or impurities that have risen to the top of a liquid being cooked

slivered - thin slices about 1/4 inch by 1/8 inch

smoking point - the temperature at which fat breaks down and starts smoking

steam - to cook by direct contact with steam

steel - a dowel-shaped tool used to sharpen knives

steep - to soak dry ingredients in water or another liquid until the flavor is infused into the liquid

stew - to gradually cook ingredients in a covered pot for a long time (until tender)

stir-fry - fast frying in a small amount of oil over very high heat while continuously stirring ingredients

stock - the liquid that you have left after simmering bones, vegetables and seasonings in water or another liquid

strain - to separate and reserve the liquid contents from a cooking process such as straining the liquid from the bones and vegetables for stock

sucs - dehydrated solids of concentrated flavor left in the bottom of a pan after cooking meats; adding water dissolves the sucs, creating the fond base liquid

sweat - to cook in a very small amount of fat over low heat (sometimes covered) without browning to release flavors and moisture

Cooking Terms Starting With "T"

temper - to slowly introduce a hot liquid or batter component to a mix containing eggs; to prevent cooking an egg-base through slow incorporation of a hot component that must be added to a dish containing eggs

thin - reducing the thickness of a liquid by adding more liquid

toss - mixing ingredients by gently tossing together with an upward motion

Cooking Terms Starting With

"U" - "V" - "W" - "X" - "Y" - "Z"

unleavened - baked items that have no ingredients to give them volume (no yeast, no eggs, no baking powder for example)

vinaigrette - an acidic sauce or dressing

water bath - setting a container in a pan of simmering water to keep it hot

whisk - to quickly mix air into ingredients; also the name of a cooking tool
--Chef James 14:07, 7 June 2010 (UTC)