Category Archives: 9. Cooking Terms–The Basics

Cooking Terms and Definitions-The Basics


Margot doing the inn keeper thingCooking Terms and Definitions: The Basics

  1.  Au Gratin: Topped with crumbs and/or cheese and browned in oven or under broiler
  2. Au Jus: Served in its own juices
  3. Baste: to moisten foods during cooking with pan drippings or special sauce in order to add flavor and prevent drying.
  4. Bisque: A thick cream soup.
  5. Blanch: To immerse in rapidly boiling water and allow to cook slightly. Also can be called parboiling.
  6. Bombe: A still-frozen rich cream or custard pudding.
  7. Braise: Braising begins like sauteing-you brown the food in a bit of fat, but it continues by adding liquid to the pan, covering it and finishing the cooking over moist, low heat(you don’t boil the food, you simmer it). It’s ideal to cook big chunks or large cuts of meat.
  8. Caramelize: To heat sugar in a skillet until melted and brown or to heat foods containing sugar until light brown and caramel flavored.
  9. Charlotte: Usually a gelatin dessert with flavored shipped cream molded in a form lined with cake or lady fingers.
  10. Clabber: Milk soured to a point where there is a market precipitation of curd but no separation from whey.  Buttermilk, sour milk, clabber and yogurt may be used interchangeably in cooking.
  11. Condiments: Food seasonings such as salt, pepper, vinegar, herbs and spices.  Relishes are frequently called condiments.
  12. Compote: Sweetened stewed fruit left whole or in pieces.
  13. Court Bouillion: A highly seasoned fish broth.
  14. Cream: To soften a fat, especially butter, by beating it at room temp. Butter and sugar are often creamed together, making a smooth, soft paste.
  15. Crimp: To seal the edges of a two-crust pie either by pinching them at intervals with the fingers or by pressing them together with the tines of a fork.
  16. Crudités: An assortment of raw veggies that is served as an hors d’oeuvre, often accompanied by a dip.
  17. Cuisine: Literally “kitchen” in French. Cookery or a style of cooking.
  18. Demi Tasse: a tiny cup of after-dinner coffee
  19. Degrease: To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups or stock. Usually cooled in the frig so that fat hardens and is easily removed.
  20. Deglazing: Using a liquid to release the flavorful bits that remain after cooking as in”deglazing the pan afterward” to make a sauce known as a reduction.  You can deglaze with lemon juice, vinegar, wine,stock, juice, cream or a combination.
  21. Dissolve: To liquefy a solid food, to melt.
  22. Drippings: The residue left in the pan in which meat or poultry has been cooked.
  23. Dust: To sprinkle lightly with flour or sugar.
  24. Dredge: to coat lightly with flour, cornmeal, etc.
  25. Entrée: The main course.
  26. Flake: To break up into small pieces with a utensil.
  27. Flambé: To cover or combine food with spirits and serve is lighted as Pears Flambé.
  28. Frappe: Sweetened fruit juice frozen until of a mushy consistency.
  29. Fold: To incorporate a delicate substance, such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites, into another substance without releasing air bubbles.  A spatula is used to gently bring part of the mixture from the bottom of the bowl to the top.  The process is repeated, while slowly rotating the bowl, until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.
  30. Glaze: To cover with a glossy coating, such as a melted and somewhat diluted jelly for fruit deserts.
  31. Goulash: A Hungarian thick meat stew.
  32. Gumbo: A term used for okra or mixtures with okra.
  33. Heat:This is a very integral and important part of cooking. Preheating your skillet for grilling or sauteing is a must for browning and proper cooking. Like wise with the oven; 350 degrees is not hot enough to brown most meats; you need a higher heat like 450 or more if you want to put a nice crust on the food you are cooking–bread or chicken. You’ve probably heard the poo-pah about electric stoves versus a fancy gas one, but that really is baloney.  Heat is heat and you just have to know how to use it.  With electric, if you know that you are going to need an element for high heat cooking, start it before you do your cooking.  If then you have to transfer from the high electric element to a low heat element, prepare for that by turning another element on your stove to low so that you can transfer your pot easily without having to remove it off the burner.  Of course, if all of your burners are full, you will have to remove it for a moment.  I’ve even done fabulous cooking in the micro and a small portable oven which also had the ability to go convection–like lamb shanks, muffins, etc..  I’ve done cooking in all sorts of kitchens–some of them with no more than a portable 2 electric burner unit, a micro, and well, you’ve gotten the idea.  If you want to make a gourmet meal, you can make it almost under any condition and any where.
  34. Hollandaise: A sauce made of eggs and butter, served hot or cold with vegetable, fish, or eggs.
  35. Julienne: to cut or slice veggies, fruits or cheeses into match shaped slivers.
  36. Lyonnaise: usually cold boiled potatoes shopped and sautéed with butter and onions.
  37. Marinade: An oil and acid mixture in which food is allowed to stand to gain flavor or tenderness.
  38. Marzipan: A confection of almonds reduced to paste with sugar.
  39. Marinate: To allow food to stand in a liquid in order to tenderize or to add flavor.
  40. Meuniere: Dredged with flour and sautéed in butter.
  41. Mince: To chop food into very small pieces.
  42. Mousse: A mixture of sweetened whipped cream and other ingredients frozen without stirring, or combinations of cream, fruit, meat, vegetable, etc. thickened with gelatin.
  43. Parboil: To boil until partially cooked: to blanch.  Usually final cooking in a seasoned sauce follows this procedure.
  44. Pare: To remove the outermost skin of a fruit or veggie
  45. Parfait: A frozen dessert consisting of beaten egg whites or yolks cooked with hot syrup and combined with whipped cream or a mixture of ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream.
  46. Paysanne: Country style.
  47. Pimento: All spice
  48. Pimiento: A garden pepper.
  49. Poach: To cook gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point.
  50. Polenta: Italian dish of corn meal.
  51. Puree: To mash foods by hand by rubbing through a sieve or food mill, or by whirling in a blender or food processor until perfectly smooth.
  52. Ragout: A de luxe concoction, but literally a thick, well-seasoned stew.
  53. Refresh: to run cold water over food that has been parboiled in order to stop the cooking process quickly.
  54. Render: To free fat from connective tissue by heating slowly until fat melts and can be drained off.
  55. Rissole: To sear or brown food with a protective covering, or a baked or fried pastry filled with meat, fish or fruit.
  56. Roe: Fish eggs.
  57. Roux: A melted fat and starch base used mainly for thickening sauces or soups.
  58. Reduce: To lessen a quantity of fluid by boiling it away-usually with out a cover/top.
  59. Sauté: To cook and/or brown food in a small quantity of hot shortening. Saute in French means “to jump”.
  60. Scald: To heat to just below the boiling point, when tiny bubbles appear at the edge of the saucepan.  To immerse food in boiling liquid for a short time.
  61. Scallop: To bake food in layers covered with sauce and crumbs in an oven-proof dish.
  62. Score: To make light cuts in a surface, usually in lines.
  63. Sear: To brown the surface of meat by quick application of intense heat, usually in a hot pan or in a hot oven.
  64. Shred: To cut into very thin slices or strips.
  65. Shortening: Any kind of fat suitable for baking.
  66. Simmer: To cook in liquid just below the boiling point.  The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.
  67. Sliver: To cut or shred into lengths.
  68. Steaming: Steaming is cooking over, not in, liquid.
  69. Steep: To let food stand in hot liquid in order to extract or to enhance flavor, like tea in hot water or poached fruit in syrup.
  70. Stewing: Braising, but usually with no initial browning and with more liquid.
  71. Stir Fry: Stir-frying is similar to sauteing in that food is cooked over high heat in a small amount of fat.  Food to be stir-fried is cut up before cooking; liquid is added during the cooking; and stir-frieds are most often associated with Asian foods which sautes are European.  It’s all a matter of tradition.
  72. Stock: The liquid resulting from the cooking of meat, fish or vegetables-an invaluable aid in making gravies, sauces, soup, and adding interest to vegetables.
  73. Toss: To combine ingredients with a repeated lifting motion.
  74. Until Set: Until a liquid has become firm, usually applied to a gelatine mixture.
  75. Veloute: A basic white sauce.
  76. Whip: To beat rapidly in order to incorporate air and produce expansion, as in heavy cream or egg white.