Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cooking Dictionary

Hello! Below you will find common cooking terms.  Definitions, background information, suggestions, and techniques provided.  I love these definitions. They're so informative and useful... I feel like an actual culinary student, YAY! 

Definitions taken from Epicurious's food dictionary. Click HERE to find definitions not included below.

Bake- To cook in the oven. The cooking of food slowly with gentle heat, causing the natural moisture to evaporate slowly and concentrating the flavor.

Baste- To baste means to spoon or pour a liquid over foods, usually meat, during cooking or grilling. The liquid may be a marinade, the drippings from the bottom of the pan, or a fat like butter or oils. 

Batter- Batter is a semi-liquid mixture of one or more flours combined with liquids such as water, milk or eggs used to prepare various foods.

Beat- to stir vigorously: Beat the egg whites well.

Bind- To thicken a sauce or hot liquid by stirring in ingredients such as eggs, flour, butter or cream.  

Blanch- This term means to plunge foods into boiling water for a few seconds or a few minutes, then remove and place in ice water. This process sets the color of vegetables, lets you easily peel fruits, and slip the skins off nuts. The food does not cook all the way through, so crisp texture is preserved. Blanching also denatures enzymes that make food spoil as the first step in food preservation.

Blend- To mix two or more ingredients together  by kitchen tools such as a whisk, fork, etc. to get a uniform mixture. Or to use a blender to break 2 or more ingredients into a uniform mixture.

Boil- to reach or be brought to the boiling point: When the water boils, add the meat and cabbage.
Braise- This cooking method is used for less tender meats. The meat is browned slowly and thoroughly on all sides, then a small amount of liquid is added to the pan, the pan is covered, and the meat is simmered over very low heat until very tender.

Broil- to cook by direct heat, as on a gridiron over the heat or in an oven under the heat; grill: to broil a steak.

Broth or stockthin soup of concentrated meat or fish stock.

Brown Browning foods, usually meats, involves heating them in a skillet with a small amount of oil. This process is repeated on each side of the cut of meat. The meat should only be cooked for 5 minutes or so on each side. One common beginner's mistake is to overcook the meat at this stage, which results in less tender results. Other types of browning include enzymatic browning, which appears on cut surfaces of fruit.

Brush- Using a cooking brush to coat meat, bread, and other foods with liquid such as butter or glaze.

Bundt Pan- a pan shaped into a distinct ridged ring

Butterfly- To split food (meat, fish, fowl) down the center, cutting almost, but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly.

Caramelize- Caramelization or caramelisation is the browning of sugar over a flame with or without an addition of a liquid such as water, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color.

Chiffon- Made light and fluffy by the addition of beaten egg whites or gelatin: a lemon chiffon pie.

Chop- To cut foods into squares, usually about 1/2" in diameter. The squares do not have to be perfectly equal, but should approximate the same size in order to cook evenly. 

Coat- to completely cover food in liquid, glaze, crumbs, or batter. 

Combine- to mix two or more ingredients together into a single mixture

Core- to remove the non-edible parts of fruit and vegetables such as an apple.

Cream- to beat fats such as butter or shortening until light and fluffy with or without sugar.

Crimp- to create a decorative pie crust edge or to seal two pie crust edges together as in a double pie crust or in an empanada.

Crisp- To bring back the crisp to foods such as veggies (soak in water bath) and crackers (toast in over)

Cure- To treat food (such as meat, cheese or fish) by one of several methods in order to preserve it. Smoke-curing is generally done in one of two ways. The cold-smoking method (which can take up to a month, depending on the food) smokes the food at between 70° to 90°F. Hot-smoking partially or totally cooks the food by treating it at temperatures ranging from 100° to 190°F. Pickled foods are soaked in variously flavored acid-based BRINES. Corned products (such as corned beef) have also been soaked in brine — usually one made with water, salt and various seasonings. Salt-cured foods have been dried and packed in salt preparations. Cheese curing can be done by several methods, including injecting or spraying the cheese with specific bacteria or by wrapping the cheese in various flavored materials. Some of the more common cured foods are smoked ham, pickled herring and salted fish. 

Custard- A puddinglike dessert (made with a sweetened mixture of milk and eggs) that can either be baked or stirred on stovetop. Custards require slow cooking and gentle heat in order to prevent separation (curdling). For this reason, stirred custards are generally made in a DOUBLE BOILER; baked custards in a WATER BATH. A safeguard when making custard is to remove it from the heat when it reaches 170° to 175°F on a CANDY THERMOMETER. Custards may be enhanced with various flavorings such as chocolate, vanilla, fruit and so on. Stirred custards are softer than baked custards and are often used as a sauce or as an ice cream base. 

Dash- a measure approx. equal to 1/16 of a tsp. 

Deep Fry- to completely submerge and cook food in oil

Direct Heat- a cooking method where flame is in direct contact with food such as in grilling, broiling, or toasting.
Deglaze- After foods are fried or cooked in a skillet or pan in the oven, the pan is deglazed. This means liquid is added to loosen and dissolve the brown bits and pan drippings at the bottom of the pan that form during cooking and basting. This pulls all the flavor possible out of the cooking process. Deglazing liquid is usually broth, a marinade, or wine. Deglazing is the first step when cooking many sauces.

Dice- Dice means to cut foods into small 1/4" squares. These pieces should be as even as possible, usually for appearance. In some cuisines, especially Southeast Asian, exact sizes are important for even cooking. 

Dough- A mixture of flour, liquid and other ingredients (often including a leavening) that's stiff but pliable enough to work with the hands. Unlike a batter, dough is too stiff to pour.

Dredge- To lightly coat food to be fried, as with flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs. This coating helps brown the food. Chicken, for example, might be dredged with flour before frying. 
Drippings Drippings are the juices, marinade, melted fat, and browned particles that are in the bottom of a pan or skillet after cooking meats. They form the base of many sauces.

Drizzle- To slowly pour a liquid mixture in a very fine stream over food (such as a sweet glaze over cake or bread, or melted butter over food before baking). 

Dry Rub- A dry rub is a combination of spices and herbs that is rubbed into meat to help flavor and tenderize the flesh before cooking. 

Dust- In cooking, this term refers to lightly coating a food with a powdery ingredient such as flour or confectioners' sugar. 

Entree- 1. In America, the term "entrée" refers to the main course of a meal. 2. In parts of Europe, it refers to the dish served between the fish and meat courses during formal dinners. 

Fillet- A boneless piece of meat or fish. Filet  is the French spelling. fillet v.  To cut the bones from a piece of meat or fish, thereby creating a meat or fish fillet. 

Flan- 1. A round pastry tart that can have a sweet filling (such as CUSTARD or fruit) or savory filling (vegetable, meat or savory custard). The pastry is usually formed and baked in a special flan ring, a bottomless metal ring with straight (about 1 1/2-inch-high) sides. The flan ring is set on a baking sheet before the dough is baked. 2. A famous Spanish baked custard coated with caramel. See also  CRÈME CARAMEL.

Fold- A technique used to gently combine a light, airy mixture (such as beaten egg whites) with a heavier mixture (such as whipped cream or custard). The lighter mixture is placed on top of the heavier one in a large bowl. Starting at the back of the bowl, a rubber spatula is used to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl and up the nearest side. The bowl is rotated a quarter turn with each series of strokes. This down-across-up-and-over motion gently turns the mixtures over on top of each other, combining them in the process. 

Fry- v.  To cook food in hot fat over moderate to high heat. DEEP-FRIED food is submerged in hot, liquid fat. Frying (also called pan frying ) or SAUTÉING refers to cooking food in a lesser amount of fat, which doesn't cover the food. There is little difference in these two terms, though sautéing is often thought of as using less fat and being the faster of the two methods. fry n.  1. A special (usually outdoor) occasion at which fried foods are served, such as a fish fry . 2. The young of fish. 

Garnish- n.  A decorative, edible accompaniment to finished dishes, from appetizers to desserts. Garnishes can be placed under, around or on food, depending on the dish. They vary from simple sprigs of parsley or exotically carved vegetables on plated food, to CROUTONS in soup, to chocolate leaves on top of chocolate mousse. Garnishes should not only be appealing to the eye, but should also echo or complement the flavor of the dish. garnish v.  To decorate or accompany a dish with a garnish. 

Glaze- n.  A thin, glossy coating for both hot and cold foods. A savory glaze might be a reduced meat stock or ASPIC, whereas a sweet glaze could be anything from melted jelly to a chocolate coating. An EGG WASH brushed on pastry before baking to add color and shine is also called a glaze. glaze v.  To coat food with a thin, liquid, sweet or savory mixture that will be smooth and shiny after setting. 

Grate- To reduce a large piece of food to small particles or thin shreds by rubbing it against a coarse, serrated surface, usually on a kitchen utensil called a GRATER. A FOOD PROCESSOR fitted with the metal blade can also be used to reduce food to small bits or, fitted with the shredding disc, to long, thin strips. The food to be grated should be firm, which in the case of cheese can usually be accomplished by refrigeration. Grating food makes it easier to incorporate with other foods. 

Grease- v.  To rub the surface of a pan — such as a griddle, muffin pan or cake pan — with grease or SHORTENING in order to prevent the food prepared in it from sticking. Grease and flour refers to rubbing the pan with grease or shortening before lightly dusting it with flour. The flour coating is applied by sprinkling the pan with flour, then inverting it and tapping the bottom of the pan to remove any excess flour. grease n.  Any RENDERED animal fat, such as bacon, beef or chicken fat. 

Grill- n.  1. A heavy metal grate that is set over hot coals or other heat source and used to cook foods such as steak or hamburgers. 2. A dish of food (usually meat, such as MIXED GRILL) cooked on a grill. grill v.  To prepare food on a grill over hot coals or other heat source. The term barbecue  is often used synonymously with grill. 

Grind- To reduce food to small particles. Coffee beans can be ground in a coffee GRINDER, while meats such as beef must be run through a meat grinder. A FOOD PROCESSOR fitted with a metal blade can also grind some foods. Food can be ground to various degrees — fine, medium and coarse. 

Knead- A technique used to mix and work a dough in order to form it into a cohesive, pliable mass. During kneading, the network of GLUTEN strands stretches and expands, thereby enabling a dough to hold in the gas bubbles formed by a LEAVENER (which allows it to rise). Kneading is accomplished either manually or by machine — usually a large mixer equipped with a dough hook (some machines have two dough hooks) or a FOOD PROCESSOR with a plastic blade. By hand, kneading is done with a pressing-folding-turning action performed by pressing down into the dough with the heels of both hands, then pushing away from the body. The dough is folded in half and given a quarter turn, and the process is repeated. Depending on the dough, the manual kneading time can range anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes (or more). Well-kneaded dough is smooth and elastic. 

Loin- Depending on the animal, the loin comes from the area on both sides of the backbone extending from the shoulder to the leg (for pork) or from the rib to the leg (in beef, lamb and veal). Beef loin is divided into SHORT LOIN and SIRLOIN. In general, the loin is a tender cut that can be butchered into chops, steaks and roasts.

Macerate- This term means letting food, usually fruit, soak in a liquid to absorb flavor. Fruits are usually soaked in liqueurs. In other words, fruit that is marinated in liqueurs is being macerated.  

Marinade-Marinade refers to the liquid foods marinate in. Marinades always contain some acidic liquid like lemon juice or vinegar to tenderize the foods, and may contain spices or herbs to add flavor. Meats are placed in marinade to tenderize and add flavor. Vegetables and fruits are placed in marinade to add flavor.

Marinate- Marinate means to coat or immerse foods in an acidic-based liquid or dry rub, to tenderize and flavor before cooking. Food is marinated in a marinade. 

Mash- n.  Grain or malt that is ground or crushed before being steeped in hot water. Mash is used in brewing beer and in the fermentation of whiskey. Sour mash is made by adding a portion of the old mash to help ferment each new batch in the same way as a portion of SOURDOUGH STARTER is the genesis of each new batch of sourdough bread. mash v.  To crush a food (such as cooked potatoes) into a smooth, evenly textured mixture. 

Meringue- Very simply, a meringue is a mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and granulated sugar. In order for the sugar to dissolve completely (and therefore produce an absolutely smooth meringue), it must be beaten into the whites a tablespoon at a time. Soft meringue is used as a swirled topping for pies, puddings and other desserts such as BAKED ALASKA. It's baked only until the peaks are nicely browned and the valleys golden. Hard meringues begin by being piped onto a PARCHMENT-lined baking sheet. They're usually round and may be large or small. They're then baked at a very low temperature (about 200°F) for as long as 2 hours and left in the turned-off oven until completely dry. Hard meringues often have a center depression that is filled with ice cream, custard, whipped cream and fruit, etc. Tiny, one- or two-bite size, mound-shape meringues are called KISSES and are eaten as a confection. Kisses often contain chopped nuts, cherries or coconut. They may be baked until completely dry or just until crisp on the outside and chewy inside. An Italian meringue is made by gradually pouring hot SUGAR SYRUP over stiffly beaten egg whites, then beating constantly until the mixture is smooth and satiny. This versatile mixture may be used to create either soft or hard meringues.

Mince- To cut into very small pieces. This term means the smallest possible pieces; smaller than dice or chop, but not pureed. 

Moisten- This term is often used in baking recipes to instruct that only enough liquid be added to flour and other dry ingredients to make them damp or moist, but not wet. 

Parchment- A heavy, grease- and moisture-resistant paper with a number of culinary uses including lining baking pans, wrapping foods that are to be baked en PAPILLOTE and to make disposable PASTRY BAGS. Parchment paper is available in gourmet kitchenware stores and many supermarkets.
Sauteing- To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat.

Poach- To cook food gently in liquid just below the boiling point when the liquid's surface is beginning to show some quivering movement. The amount and temperature of the liquid used depends on the food being poached. Meats and poultry are usually simmered in stock, fish in COURT-BOUILLON and eggs in lightly salted water, often with a little vinegar added. Fruit is often poached in a light SUGAR SYRUP. Poaching produces a delicate flavor in foods, while imparting some of the liquid's flavor to the ingredient being poached. 

Pressure cooker- A special cooking pot with a locking, airtight lid and a valve system to regulate internal pressure. Pressure cookers operate on a principle whereby the steam that builds up inside the pressurized pot cooks food at a very high temperature. This reduces the cooking time by as much as two-thirds without destroying the food's nutritional value. Newer pressure cooker designs feature built-in valves and indicator rods that indicate the pressure. Traditional models are equipped with detachable pressure regulators that can adjust the pressure for low (5 pounds), medium (10 pounds) or high (15 pounds). The more pounds of pressure, the higher the internal temperature and the quicker the food cooks. Pressure cookers have a safety valve, which will automatically vent the steam should there be a malfunction. There are many styles of pressure cookers on the market today, most of which are made for stovetop cooking. But there are also small pressure cookers that can be used in a microwave oven. Some of the newer pressure cookers have built-in pressure regulators. Pressure cookers are useful for foods that would normally be cooked with moist heat such as soups, stews, steamed puddings, tough cuts of meat, artichokes, etc. They can also be used for canning, and there are special pressure canners made specifically for this purpose. 

Proof- n.   A term used to indicate the amount of alcohol in LIQUOR or other spirits. In the United States, proof is exactly twice the percentage of alcohol. Therefore, a bottle of liquor labeled "86 Proof" contains 43 percent alcohol. proof v.  To dissolve YEAST in a warm liquid (sometimes with a small amount of sugar) and set it aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes until it swells and becomes bubbly. This technique proves that the yeast is alive and active and therefore capable of LEAVENING a bread or other baked good.

Puree- n.  Any food (usually a fruit or vegetable) that is finely mashed to a smooth, thick consistency. Purees can be used as a garnish, served as a side dish or added as a thickener to sauces or soups. puree v.  To grind or mash food until it's completely smooth. This can be accomplished by one of several methods including using a food processor or blender or by forcing the food through a sieve.

Reduce- Culinarily, to boil a liquid (usually stock, wine or a sauce mixture) rapidly until the volume is reduced by evaporation, thereby thickening the consistency and intensifying the flavor. Such a mixture is sometimes referred to as a reduction .

Roast- n.  1. A piece of meat — such as a RIB ROAST — that's large enough to serve more than one person. Such a meat cut is usually cooked by the roasting method. 2. Food, usually meat, that has been prepared by roasting. roast v.  To oven-cook food in an uncovered pan, a method that usually produces a well-browned exterior and ideally a moist interior. Roasting requires reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry. Tougher pieces of meat need moist cooking methods such as braising.

Scald- Scald means to heat a liquid, usually a dairy product, in a saucepan until it almost boils. It used to be an essential step in bread making, since heating would disable or denature some proteins in milk that interfered with yeast fermentation. That is no longer true of milk products. Now scalded milk is usually made and added to custards, puddings, and sauces. 

Score- To make shallow cuts (usually in a diamond pattern) in the surface of certain foods, such as meat or fish. This is done for several reasons: as a decoration on some foods (breads and meats); as a means of assisting flavor absorption (as with MARINATED foods); to tenderize less tender cuts of meat; and to allow excess fat to drain during cooking. 

Sear- To brown meat quickly by subjecting it to very high heat either in a skillet, under a broiler or in a very hot oven. The object of searing is to seal in the meat's juices, which is why British cooks often use the word "seal" to mean the same thing. 

Set- To allow food to become firm, as with a gelatin-based dish.

Shreds- To cut food into narrow strips, either by hand or by using a grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding disk. Cooked meat can be separated into shreds by pulling it apart with two forks. 

Sift- To pass dry ingredients through a fine-mesh SIFTER so any large pieces can be removed. Sifting also incorporates air to make ingredients (such as confectioners' sugar or flour) lighter.

Simmer- Simmer means to bring a liquid almost to a boil over low heat. Simmering liquid is characterized by small bubbles which rise slowly to the surface, usually breaking before they reach the surface. 

Skim- To remove the top layer from a liquid, such as cream from milk or foam and fat from stock, soups, sauces, etc. 

Springform pan- A two-part baking pan in which a spring-loaded collar fits around a base; the collar is removed after baking is complete. Used for foods that may be difficult to remove from regular pans, such as cheesecake.

Steam- A method of cooking whereby food is placed on a rack or in a special steamer basket over boiling or simmering water in a covered pan. Steaming does a better job than boiling or poaching of retaining a food's flavor, shape, texture and many of the vitamins and minerals.

Steep- To soak dry ingredients such as tea leaves, ground coffee, herbs, spices, etc. in liquid (usually hot) until the flavor is infused into the liquid.

Stew- n.  Any dish that is prepared by stewing. The term is most often applied to dishes that contain meat, vegetables and a thick soup- like broth resulting from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed. stew v.  A method of cooking by which food is barely covered with liquid and simmered slowly for a long period of time in a tightly covered pot. Stewing not only tenderizes tough pieces of meat but also allows the flavors of the ingredients to blend deliciously.

Stir-Fry- n.  Any dish of food that has been prepared by the stir-fry method. stir-fry v.  To quickly fry small pieces of food in a large pan over very high heat while constantly and briskly stirring the food. This cooking technique, which is associated with Asian cooking and the WOK, requires a minimum amount of fat and results in food that is crisply tender.
Thin- v.  To dilute mixtures such as soups, sauces, batters, etc., by adding more liquid.

Toss- To turn pieces of food over multiple times, thereby mixing the ingredients together. The term is most often applied to salad, where various ingredients and the salad dressing are tossed together, mixing the ingredients and coating them with the dressing. 

Unleavened- A word describing baked goods (breads, cakes, etc.) that contain no LEAVENER, such as BAKING POWDER, BAKING SODA or YEAST. Among the most popular unleavened breads are LAHVOSH.

Vinaigrette- One of the five "mother sauces," vinaigrette is a basic oil-and-vinegar combination, generally used to dress salad greens and other cold vegetable, meat or fish dishes. In its simplest form, vinaigrette consists of oil, vinegar (usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar), salt and pepper. More elaborate variations can include any of various ingredients such as spices, herbs, shallots, onions, mustard, etc. 


Water Bath- The French call this cooking technique bain marie . It consists of placing a container (pan, bowl, soufflé dish, etc.) of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked in this manner either in an oven or on top of a range. This technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. It can also be used to keep cooked foods warm.


Whip- n.  1. A gelatin-based dessert that's airy and light because of the addition of either whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites. Such desserts are usually made with fruit puree but can also be flavored with other ingredients such as chocolate or coffee. 2. Another name for a
WHISK. whip v.  To beat ingredients, such as egg whites, cream, etc., thereby incorporating air into them and increasing their volume until they are light and fluffy.

Whisk- Also called a whip , this kitchen utensil consists of a series of looped wires forming a three-dimensional teardrop shape. The wires are joined and held together with a long handle. Whisks are used for whipping ingredients (such as cream, eggs, sauces, etc.), thereby incorporating air into them. They come in different sizes for different tasks and are most often made of stainless steel or tinned steel.


Zest- The perfumy outermost skin layer of citrus fruit (usually oranges or lemons), which is removed with the aid of a CITRUS ZESTER, paring knife or VEGETABLE PEELER. Only the colored portion of the skin (and not the white pith) is considered the zest. The aromatic oils in citrus zest are what add so much flavor to food. Zest can be used to flavor raw or cooked and sweet or savory dishes.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know you can shorten your long links with AdFly and get cash for every click on your shortened urls.

    ReplyDelete