Glossary of Cooking Terms and Methods
Antipasto: Italian phrase for a varied selection of hot or cold foods served as a appetizer.
Arrowroot: A starch that is used as a thickening agent.You may substitute arrowroot for cornstarch. Arrowroot gives a very clear gloss to a sauce.
Aspic: A savory jelly used for setting and encasing savory dishes.
Au Gratin: A dish that has been coated with usually a cheese sauce, sprinkled with bread crumbs or cheese, and finished by browning under the broiler or in the oven. Shallow baking dishes are usually used.
Bain- Marie: is a water bath. A low sided container that is half filed with water kept just below the boiling point. Containers of food are placed in it to deep warm or cook with our overheating. A bain-marie is used for cooking custards and other egg dishes and keeping sauces warm. No special container is needed; a roasting pan works well. The term is also sometimes applied to a double boiler.
Baking: Cooking in the oven by dry heat.
Baking blind: The method used for cooking pastry shells with their fillings, usually with dry beans or dry rice inside to keep the crust even.
Baking Powder: A leavening agent consisting of an acid, usually cream of tartar, and an alkali such as baking soda, which react to produce carbon dioxide. This expands during baking and makes cakes and breads rise.
Barding: Covering dry meat or the beast of poultry or game birds with pieces of bacon or fat to prevent the meat drying out during roasting.
Basting: spooning the juices and melted fat over meat, poultry, or game during roasting to keep it moist. The term is also used for spooning over a marinade.
Bean Curd: Also known as tofu and widely used in vegetarian and Asian cooking. It is made from a pressed puree of soybeans and sold fresh and dry in cans. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor but will adsorb any flavors that it is cooked with.
Beating: A method of incorporating air into an ingredient or mixture by agitating it vigorously with a spoon, wire whisk or electric mixer. Also used to soften ingredients.
Bechamel: Classic French white sauce, which is used as the basis for other sauces and a variety of savory dishes.
Beurre Manie’ or kneaded butter: Equal parts of flour and butter kneaded together to form a paste. Used for thickening soups, stews and casseroles. It is whisked into the hot liquid a little at a time at the end of cooking.
Blanching: Immersing food briefly in boiling water to whiten it, as for sweet breads, or to remove the skin. such as peaches or tomatoes. Vegetables that are to be frozen are blanched to destroy enzymes and preserve the color flavor and texture.
Blanquette: A stew usually made from white meat, such and veal or poultry, cooked in a white sauce enriched with cream and egg yolk.
Boning: Removing the bones from meat or poultry, cutting the meat as little as possible so that it can be rolled or stuffed.
Bouquet garni: A small bunch of herbs, usually a mixture of parsley stems, thyme, and bay leaf, tied in cheese cloth and used to flavor stocks, soups and stews.
Braising: A slow cooking method used for cuts of meat, poultry, and game that are too tough to roast. It is also good for some vegetables. a pan or casserole with a tight fitting lid should be used so that little liquid is lost through evaporation. The meat is first browned, then cooked on a bed of chopped vegetables (mirepoix), with just enough liquid to cover the vegetables. It may be cooked on the range top or in the oven.
Breading: Method of coating, meat with flour, eggs and or breadcrumbs before frying or baking.
Brining: A method of preserving by immersing food in a salt, sugar and water solution.
Brioche: An enriched yeast dough baked in the shape of a roll or bun. It is French in origin and can be eaten for breakfast or used for sandwiches.
Brochette: Vegetables, meat or fish, cut into chunks and cooked on a skewer or spit.
Broth: The combination of water and bones and or meat and herbs that produces a flavorful liquid. Usually cooked for an extended period of time to extract as much flavor as possible. Also can be referred to as a stock.
Brulee: A french term, literally means “burnt” used to refer to a dish with a crisp coating of caramelized sugar.
Calorie: A scientific term used in dietetics to measure the heat- and energy producing quality of food.
Canape’: Small appetizers, usually served with cocktails and often consisting of a topping on a bread or pastry base.
Candying: Method of impregnating pieces of fruit or peel with sugar to preserve them.
Caramel: Substance obtained by heating sugar syrup very slowly to a rich brown color.
Carbonade: Rich stew or braise of meat that includes beer.
Casserole: Strictly speaking, a dish such as a dutch oven, with a tight fitting lid used for cooking meat and vegetables. Also a stew like concoction which is prepared in a glass baking dish.
Celsius: Also known as centigrade. A scale for measuring temperature in which the freezing point of water is zero degrees and the boiling point is 100 degrees.
Chantilly: A classic French whipped cream that is slightly sweetened and may be flavored with vanilla.
Charcuterie: The French term for cured pork products, such as salami, hams and sausages.
Charlotte: A hot or cold molded dessert. For a hot Charlotte the mold is lined with bread and for a cold Charlotte it is lined with lady fingers.
Chasseur: Means “hunter style”. Describes dishes cooked with mushrooms, shallots and white wine.
Chining: Applied to roasts of meat, this means serving the rib bones from the backbone by sawing through the ribs close to the spine. cuts such as loin or rack of lamb, veal, or pork are best chined as this makes them easier to carve into chops after cooking.
Chorizo: A Spanish sausage made of pork, paprika and other spices.
Chowder: Somewhere between a soup and and stew, usually made with clams or other seafood.
Citric Acid: A mild acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruit. Commercially produced citric acid is used mainly for preserving soft fruit drinks and in home wine making.
Clarifying: Process of removing sediment or impurities from a food. Butter may be clarified so that it can be used for frying at higher temperatures. In Indian cooking clarified butter is called ghee. To clarify butter, heat until melted and all bubbling stops. Remove from the heat and set aside until the sediments have sunk to the bottom of the pan, and gently pour off the fat. It is recommended that you strain it through cheese cloth for the maximum purity. To clarify meat drippings, melt the fat, then strain to remove any particles. Pour over two to three times it’s volume of boiling water and let cool. The fat will rise to the top and become firm. Lift it off and and wipe the underside to remove any sediment. Clarifying also means to clear a liquid such as consomme’, usually by adding egg white. The coagulation of the egg white throughout the liquid gathers up all the impurities and forms a scum on the surface, which can be discarded.
Clotting: A gentle heat applied to cream, which produces the thick clotted cream familiar to England.
Coddling: A method of soft boiling eggs.
Colander: Perforated metal or plastic draining basket.
Compote: mixture of fruit stewed in sugar syrup. Served hot or cold.
Concasse: A French term used to describe food that is finely or roughly chopped. It is most often applied to peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes.
Conserve: Fruit preserve that contains nuts.
Consistency: Term used to describe the texture of a mixture, ergo firm or soft.
Consomme’: Concentrated stock that has been clarified.
Cornstarch: Flour obtained from corn, used to thicken soups, sauces, etc.
Coulis: A French term applied to a puree of vegetables, fish, poultry or fruit.
Court bouillon: Seasoned liquid in which meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables are boiled or poached.
Couscous: Processed semolina formed in tiny pellets. A staple of north African countries.
Crackling: The crisp skin on roasted pork.
Cream of tartar (tartaric acid): A leavening agent that is an ingredient of baking powder and self rising flour.
Creaming: Beating together fat and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy and resembles whipped cream in texture and color. Used in cakes and desserts that contain a high proportion of fat and requires the incorporation of a lot of air.
Crepe: French term for a thin, lacy pancake.
Crimping: Pinching edges of bottom and top pie crusts together, while making a decorative effect. Trimming cucumbers, radishes, etc with a canelle knife or fork to produce an attractive finish.
Croquette: Mixture of meat, fish, poultry, cooked potatoes, or vegetables bound together and formed into roll or cork shapes, coated with egg and crumbs, and shallow or deep fried.
Croute: A circle or rectangle or fried or toasted bread on which game and some main dishes and savories are served. The term may also refer to a pastry, usually crescent shaped, served with savory dishes.
Croutons: Small pieces of fried or toasted bread that are served with salads and soups.
Curd: the parts of milk that coagulate when natural fermentation takes place, or when a curdling agent such as rennet or an acid, is added. The term also refers to a creamy preserve made from fruit (usually lemon or orange) and sugar, eggs, and butter.
Curdle: To separate fresh milk or a sauce either by adding acid (such as lemon juice) or by heating excessively. Also used to refer to creamed mixtures that have separated when the egg has been beaten in too quickly.
Cure: To preserve, fish meat or poultry by salting, drying or smoking.
Daube: Braising meat or vegetables in stock, often with wine or herbs.
Deglaze: To heat stock, wine or other liquid with the cooking juices left in the pan after roasting or sauteing meat, stirring to dissolve the sediment.
De’gorge: To draw out moisture from food, ergo salting eggplant to remove bitter juices.
Dahl: The Indian collective term for lentils cooked in spicy curry sauce.
Dice: To cut food into small cubes.
Dough: A thick mixture of uncooked flour and liquid, usually combined with other ingredients. The term is used to refer to mixtures such as pastry, biscuits and cookies as well as those made with yeast.
Drawing: Removing the entrails from poultry, game, and fish. also used to describe clarifying, as in drawn butter.
Dredging: Sprinkling food with flour, sugar or other powdered coating. Fish and meat are often dredged with flour before frying, while cakes, cookies and crepes may be sprinkled with granulated or confectioners sugar after cooking.
Dressing: Plucking, drawing, scaling, eviscerating etc., poultry or game and fish. The term is also used to describe garnishing a dish, coating a salad, and a stuffing mixture.
Drippings: Fat obtained from roasting meat or pieces of fat that are rendered down deliberately.
Dropping Consistency: Term used to describe the texture of a cake batter just before cooking. Test for it by taking a spoonful of the batter and holding the spoon on its side above the bowl. The mixture should fall off on its own accord within 5 seconds.
Drying: Preserving food by dehydration. This is usually done commercial for foods such as rice, pasta, and legumes, but is possible to dry herbs, fruit and meat at home with the proper equipment.
Dust: To sprinkle lightly with flour, cornstarch or confectioners sugar.
Emulsion: a mixture of two liquids that do not automatically dissolve into each other, ergo oil and water. they can be made to emulsify by vigorous beating or shaking together, as when combining oil and vinegar in a Vinaigrette dressing.
En Croute: Term describing food that is wrapped in pastry before cooking.
En papillote: A French term applied to food that is baked in parchment paper for a brief period and served in the parcel.
Enzyme: Substances present in all foods that have not been subjected to processing. They work within foods continuously and are responsible for changes in good condition. Most enzymes are killed by cooking.
Escalope: French term for a thin slice of meat, such as veal, turkey, or pork, cut from the top of the leg.
Espagnole: Classic French rich brown sauce, used as a basis for other sauces.
Extract: Concentrated flavoring that is used in small quantities, ergo vanilla extract, almond extract.
Fahrenheit: System of measuring temperature. It’s freezing point is 32 degrees and boiling point is 212 degrees.
Farce: Alternative French term for stuffing.
Fermenting: Term used to denote chemical changes deliberately or accidentally brought about by fermenting agents, such as yeast or bacteria. The process is utilized for making bread, yogurt, and wine or beer.
Fillet: A term used for the boned sides of fish.
Fines herbes: Classic french mixture of chopped herbs, ie. parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil.
Flambe’: Flavoring a dish with alcohol, usually brandy or rum, which is then ignited so that the actual alcohol content is burned off. Crepes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee are traditionally flambeed.
Folding In: Method of combining a beaten or creamed mixture with other ingredients by cutting in or folding so that it retains it’s lightness. Used mainly for meringues, souffles, and certain cake batters. Use a large metal spoon or rubber spatula.
Fondue: Dish that is cooked at the table over a fondue burner into which the diners dip food speared on long pronged fondue forks.
Forcemeat: Stuffing for meat fish or vegetables that is usually comprised of a mixture of meat akin to sausage.
Fricassee: White stew of chicken, rabbit,veal or vegetables, finished with cream and egg yolks.
Frosting: mixture used to fill and coat cakes, cookies and pastries. The thinner more pourable mixtures are called icings.
Frying: Method of cooking food in hot fat or oil. There are various methods: shallow-frying in a little fat in a shallow pan; deep frying where food is totally immersed in oil; dry frying in which fatty foods such as bacon and sausages, are cooked without extra fat.
Galantine: A dish of white met that has been boned, sometimes stuffed, then rolled, cooked, pressed, and glazed with aspic to be served cold.
Garnish: A decoration, usually edible, such as parsley or lemon, which is added to a savory or sweet dish to enhance its appearance.
Gelatin: An animal derived gelling agent sold in powdered form in envelopes, and as leaf gelatin.
Genose: Sponge cake made with a whisked egg mixture enriched with melted butter.
Ghee: Clarified butter widely used in Indian cooking.
Glace’: French word meaning iced or glossy.
Glaze: Food used to give a glossy coating to sweet and savory dishes to improve their appearance and sometimes flavor. Ingredients for glazes include beaten eggs, egg white, milk and syrup.
Gluten: A protein made of wheat and other cereals. The amount present in flours varies and accounts for the different textures of cakes and breads.
Grating: finely shredding cheese, carrots, and other hard foods with a grater or food processor.
Griddle: A flat heavy, metal plate used on top of the stove for cooking pancakes and other foods.
Grinding: Reducing foods to small particles in a food mill, meat grinder, mortar and pestle, spice mill or food processor. Foods that can be ground include, meats, coffee beans, nuts and spices.
Grissini: long slim Italian bread sticks.
Hanging: Leaving meat or game suspended in a cool, dry place to allow air to circulate around it to tenderize the flesh and develop the flavor.
Hors d’oeuvre: Often used as a term for a first course, but strictly speaking, means a selection of cold foods served together as an appetizer.
Hulling: Removing the calyx from soft fruits like strawberries.
Infusing: Method of imparting flavor to a liquid. Flavorings such as aromatic vegetables, herbs, spices, vanilla or coffee beans are added to milk or water, sometimes brought to a boil, then left to soak.
Jardiniere: An Italian inspired condiment that is composed of celery, cauliflower, oregano, galic and olive oil. Traditionally used as a condiment for Italian beef sandwiches.
Jugged: Traditional English method of cooking rabbit in a tall covered pot until very tender and rich dark brown in color. The blood is added at the end of cooking time.
Julienne: Vegetables or fruit cut into very fine strips to use as a garnish or ingredient.
Kebob: General name for a dish comprising cubes of meat, fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables cooked on skewers under the broiler or on a barbecue.
Knead: To work dough by folding and pressing with your hands or in a electric mixer.
Kosher: Food prepared according to Orthodox Jewish laws.
Kugel: A sweetened yeast cake that contains dried fruit and is baked in a special deep fluted mold.
Larding: Inserting small strips of fat or bacon into the meat of game birds, poultry and dry meat before cooking. It is done with a special larding needle.
Leavening: The raising agent in dough, usually yeast or baking powder.
Legumes: Plants with seed pods that split open when ripe. Legumes include beans, peas, lentils and peanuts.
Liaison: Term used to describe any combination of ingredients that is used for thickening or binding. The ingredients of a liaison are usually flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, rice or potato flour, or egg yolk.
Macerate: To soften and flavor raw or dried foods by soaking in a liquid.
Marinate: To soak meat poultry or game in a mixture of oil, wine, vinegar and or flavorings to tenderize and add flavor. The mixture, which is known as a marinade, may also be used to baste the food during cooking.
Medallions: French term for small boneless rounds of meat, usually beef, veal or pork.
Meuni’ere: A French term to refers to food cooked in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, lemon juice and finished with parsley.
Milling: Reducing a powder or paste.
Mincing: Chopping or cutting food into very small pieces.
Mirepoix: A mixture of cut vegetables. Celery, Carrots and Onions, used as a bed to braise meat or to flavor stocks and other preparations.
Mocha: A term which means a blend of chocolate and coffee.
Monosodium glutamate (msg): A powder with flavor of it’s own, but enhances the flavor of ingredients it is added to. It is derived from the sugar beet and is a principle ingredient in processed food and Chinese cooking.
Parboiling: A term used to describe boiling food for part of its cooking time before finishing it by another method.
Paring: Thinly peeling and trimming vegetables or fruit.
Pasteurizing: Sterilizing milk by heating to 140-180 degrees to destroy bacteria.
Pate: A savory mixture made from ground meat, flaked fish, and or vegetables cooked to form a solid mass. Smoked fish pates’ are rarely cooked.
Pectin: A naturally occurring substance found in most fruit and some vegetables, which is necessary for setting jellies and jams.
Pickling: Preserving raw fresh or lightly cooked food in vinegar.
Piping: Forcing cream, frosting, mashed potato, pastes, or meringue through a tube fitted into the end of a pastry bag.
Pith: Inner lining under the rind of citrus fruit.
Plucking: Removing feathers from poultry and game.
Poaching: Cooking food gently in simmering liquid.
Pot Roasting: A method of cooking meat slowly in a covered pan with vegetables and a little liquid.
Potage: The French term for thick soup.
Praline: Almonds or other nuts caramelized in sugar. Also a soft candy made from pecans in Louisiana.
Preserving: Keeping foods in an edible condition, by freezing, canning, pickling, candying, irradiation, or smoking.
Pressure cooking: Cooking food quickly in steam under pressure.
Prosciutto: High quality Italian cured ham.
Proving: The term used for testing whether yeast is alive and ready to leaven a bread dough.
Punch down: To knead a yeast dough after the first rising to insure an even texture.
Puree’: Fruit, vegetables, meat or fish that has been pounded, strained, or liquidized to a smooth pulp. Purees often form the basis of soups and sauces.
Quenelles: Fish, meat or poultry that has been blended to a fine force meat, shaped into rounds or ovals, then cooked in liquid to be served either as a garnish for soup or as a main course.
Ramekin: Individual round ovenproof dish.
Reducing: Fast boiling a liquid in an uncovered pan to evaporate water and produce a more concentrated flavor.
Refresh: To add fresh or steamed vegetables or other food products to ice water to stop cooking and retain color and texture.
Rendering: Extracting fat from meat trimmings by cutting them into small pieces and heating over low heat until the fat that runs out can be strained.
Rennet: A substance extracted for a cow or sheep stomach that will curdle or coagulate milk. Rennet is used for cheese making.
Roasting: Cooking meat by dry heat in an oven or over an open flame.
Roulade: Meat, cake or souffle’ mixture rolled around a filling.
Roux: A mixture of fat and flour cooked together to form the basis of sauces and gravies.
Salting: A method of preserving food in dry salt or brine solution.
Sauteeing: Cooking food in a small quantity of fat in a saute’ pan, which browns the food quickly.
Scalding: Pouring boiling water over food to clean it, loosen hairs, or remove skin. It is also a term used for heating milk to just below the boiling point, to retard souring or to infuse it with another flavor.
Scalloping: Decorating the edge of a pie crust. Also a method of preparing food, usually potatoes, by layering with a creamy sauce and baking.
Scoring: To cut narrow parallel lines in the surface of food to improve its appearance or help it cook more quickly.
Searing: Browning mean quickly in a little hot fat before grilling, broiling or roasting.
Seasoned flour: Flour mixed with a little salt and pepper as well as other spices.
Shredding: Grating cheese or slicing raw vegetables or meat into fine strips.
Sifting: Shaking dry ingredients through a flour sifter or strainer to remove lumps.
Simmering: Keeping a liquid just below boiling point.
Skimming: Removing froth, scum or fat from the surface of stock, gravy, stews or jams. Use either a skimmer spoon or paper towels.
Smoking: The process of curing food by exposure to wood smoke.
Souring: Adding acid, often in the form of lemon juice to cream to give it a sour taste.
Sousing: Pickling pork or chicken in brine or vinegar.
Steaming: Cooking food in the steam of rapidly boiling water.
Steeping: Covering food with hot or cold water and letting it stand, either to soften it or extract its flavor.
Sterilizing: Destroying bacteria in foods by heating.
Stewing: Long slow cooking method where food is placed in liquid that is kept at a simmering point. Great for tenderizing tougher cuts of meat.
Stir Frying: Quick method of frying in shallow fat. The food must be cut into small, even sized pieces and moved around constantly until cooked. Stir fried food is usually cooked in an wok.
Stock: The liquid produced when meat, bones, poultry, fish or vegetables are simmered in water with herbs and flavorings for several hours to extract their flavor.
Suet: Hard fat found around the kidneys in beef or mutton. Used for mincemeat and steamed puddings.
Sweating: Gently cooking food in melted fat in a covered pan until the juices run.
Syrup: A concentrated solution of sugar in water, used in making sorbets, drinks, and fruit juices.
Tenderizing: Pounding raw meat with a spiked mallet or rolling pin to break down the fibers and to make the meat more tender before cooking.
Tenderloin: Term used for the under cut of a loin of beef, veal, pork or game. Very tender meat.
Tepid: The term used to describe temperature at approximately blood heat. Around 98 degrees.
Terrine: China or earthen ware mold used for pates. Also used to refer to food cooked in it.
Truffle: Rare black and white fungus of the same family as mushrooms. Due to the high cost truffles are usually used mainly for garnishing.
Trussing: Tying of skewering into shape before cooking. Applied to mainly poultry and game.
Unleavened: Bread baked without a raising agent
Whipping: Beating air rapidly into a mixture either with a manual of electric beater or whisk.
Wok: Chinese pan used for stir frying. The food cooks on the sloping sides of the pan as well as the rounded bottom.
Zest: The colored outer layer of citrus fruit that contains essential oils.