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Reference for Chefs & Cooks. Below is our glossary of some common cooking terms.
ACIDS Sourness is found naturally in many foods. Wines, vinegars and lemon juice are many of the common acids used in cooking. These are natural tenderizers and help break down foods by marinating.
ADJUST In cooking "To Adjust" means to taste during cooking and add seasonings or flavorings, as needed.
AERATE To pass dry ingredients through a
fine-mesh sifter so large pieces can be removed. The process also
incorporates air to make ingredients like flour, lighter. Sifting dry
ingredients aerates them while distributing small amounts of chemical leaveners or dry seasoning evenly through the mixture.
Use sifters, sieves or whisks to both aerate and sift.
AGED In cooking "To Age" means to let food get older under controlled conditions. Aged Meat is usually stored 3 - 6 weeks at 34 - 38 degree's F. to allow the enzymes break down connective tissues. Aged Cheese is stored in a teperature controlled area until it develops the desired texture and flavor. Aged Wine is aged in both barrels and bottles. Red wine often benefits from longer aging.
AHI The Hawaiian name for yellowfin or bigeye tuna. Often served raw or medium rare and used in sushi and sashimi.
AIOLI A strong flavorful garlic mayonnaise mixture used for fish, meats and vegetables.
ALA A French word for "in the style of", often used by region A la Carte means items are priced and ordered separately. A la mode means topped with ice cream.
AL DENTE An Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth" used to describe pasta or foods that are cooked only to the point of doneness, often slightly underdone.
AMBROSIA Greek Mythology refers to ambrosia as the food of the gods (translation is "immortality"). Also a dessert mixture of fruit served many ways, with or without gelatin.
AMUSE BOUCHE A French phrase: A little bite of food to amuse the mouth and invigorate the palate. Many Chefs tantalize diners palates with decorative, intense flavored tastings to delight the eyes.
ANCHOVY Small silvery fish that come from the Mediterranean, usually salt cured and canned in olive oil. These add great flavor to many foods!
BARD To tie fat around lean meats or
fowl to keep them from drying out during roasting. The fat bastes the meat while
it cooks, keeping it moist and adding flavor. The fat is removed a few
minutes before the meat is finished, allowing the meat to brown. Barding is
necessary only when there is no natural fat present.
BASTE To brush or spoon food as it cooks
with melted fat or the cooking juices from the dish. Basting prevents foods
from drying out and adds color and flavor.
BLANCH To cook raw ingredients in boiling
water briefly. Blanched vegetables are generally "shocked" i.e.
plunged immediately and briefly into an ice water bath to stop the cooking
process and preserve color and crunch.
BLEND To combine two or more ingredients
together with a spoon, beater or blender.
BOIL To heat a liquid to its boiling
point, until bubbles break the surface. "Boil" also means to cook
food in a boiling liquid.
BONE To remove the bones from meat, fish
or fowl. Use a sharp boning knife and angle the blade toward the bone to
avoid tearing or nicking the flesh.
BRAISE To cook food, tightly covered, in a
small amount of liquid at low heat for a long period of time. Sometimes, the
food is first browned in fat. The long, slow cooking tenderizes meats by
gently breaking down their fibers. The braising liquid keeps meats moist and
can be used as a basis for sauce. Use wine, stocks or water as components in
BROIL To cook food directly above or
under a heat source. Food can be broiled in an oven or on a grill.
BRUSH To apply a liquid, like a glaze, to
the surface of food using a pastry brush.
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.
CHANNEL To create small V-shaped grooves
over the surface of fruits or vegetables for decorative purposes using a
channel knife. The fruit or vegetable is then sliced, creating a decorative
border on the slices.
CARAMELIZE To heat sugar until it liquefies
and become a clear caramel syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.
Fruits and vegetables with natural sugars can be caramelized by sauteeing, roasting or grilling, giving them a sweet
flavor and golden glaze.
CHIFFONADE To slice into very thin strips or
shreds. Literally translated from French, the term means "made of
CHOP To cut food into bite-size pieces
using a knife. A food processor may also be used to chop food. Chopped food
is more coarsely cut than minced food.
CLARIFY To remove sediment from a cloudy
liquid, thereby making it clear. To clarify liquids, such as stock, egg
whites and/or eggshells are commonly added and simmered for approximately 15
minutes. The egg whites attract and trap particles from the liquid. After
cooling, strain the mixture through a cloth-lined sieve to remove residue. To
clarify rendered fat, add hot water and boil for about 15 minutes. The
mixture should then be strained through several layers of cheesecloth and
chilled. The resulting layer of fat should be completely clear of residue.
Clarified butter is butter that has been heated slowly so that its milk
solids separate and sink, and can be discarded. The resulting clear liquid
can be used at a higher cooking temperature and will not go rancid as quickly
as unclarified butter.
CURE To treat food by one of several
methods for preservation purposes. Examples are smoking, pickling - in an
acid base, corning - with acid and salt, and salt curing - which removes
DEEP-FRY To cook food in hot fat or oil deep
enough so that it is completely covered. The temperature of the fat is
extremely important and can make the difference between success and failure.
When the fat is not hot enough, the food absorbs fat and becomes greasy. When
the fat is too hot, the food burns on the exterior before it has cooked
through. Fat at the correct temperature will produce food with a crisp, dry
exterior and moist interior. An average fat temperature for deep-frying is
375 degrees, but the temperature varies according to the food being fried.
Use a deep fryer, an electric fry pan or a heavy pot and a good kitchen
thermometer for deep frying.
DEGLAZE To remove browned bits of food from
the bottom of a pan after sauteing, usually meat.
After the food and excess fat have been removed from the pan, a small amount
of liquid is heated with the cooking juices in the pan and stirred to remove
browned bits of food from the bottom. The resulting mixture often becomes the
base for a sauce.
DEMI-GLACE A rich brown sauce that starts with Espagnole sauce. Beef stock, made from beef and or veal bones and vegetables with wine, slowly cooked and reduced until it naturally coats a spoon.It is used as a base for many small sauces.
DEVEIN To remove the blackish-gray vein
from the back of a shrimp. The vein can be removed with a special utensil
called a deveiner or with the tip of a sharp knife.
Small and medium shrimp need deveining for
aesthetic purposes only. However, because the veins in large shrimp contain
grit, they should always be removed.
DICE To cut food into tiny cubes (about
1/8- to 1/4-inch).
DRAIN To pour off fat or liquid from
food, often using a colander.
DREDGE To lightly coat food that is going
to be fried with flour, breadcrumbs or cornmeal. The coating helps to brown
the food and provides a crunchy surface. Dredged foods need to be cooked
immediately, while breaded foods, those dredged in flour, dipped in egg then
dredged again in breading, can be prepared and held before cooking.
ECLAIR A small oblong pastry that is filled with cream. Many eclairs are topped with five finger icing (3 T. powdered sugar and a few drops of water, melt over double boiler while stirring).
EGGS Eggs are one of the most important items in cooking! All eggs should be free of cracks, leaks or holes. Eggs are graded by quality and size with grade AA, A and B. Eggs are sized by weight per dozen, Ex. Large 27 oz., Large 24 oz., Medium 21 oz., Small 18 oz., Peewee 15 oz. Very fresh high quality eggs stand up more when cooked, while older eggs spread out more. The color of the yolk depends on the hen's diet. The egg color, white or brown depends on the breed of the hen, it has nothing to do with nutritional value or taste. Eggs must always be refrigerated. Pasteurized liquid eggs (easy eggs) are beaten together and heated up without cooking to kill any bacteria and then packaged for sale.
EGG WASH Egg Wash is a mixture of egg yolks and/or whites beaten with a little water or milk. Used to brush over breads, cakes and pies to give them color and a shiny sealed glaze.
EGGNOG A Christmas beverage consisting of milk and ice cream, beaten eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and liquor (we like brandy and rum). The best eggnog requires seperating the eggs and beating the yolks with 1/2 the sugar and whipping the whites with 1/2 the sugar to make meringue, folding all together with an electric mixer or blender!
EGGPLANT An Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, along with the potato and tomato, making it a fruit! It is actually a berry growing on a long vine. There are many varities grown and eaten around the world. Sizes are 2 to 12 inches, white, black and purple.
EMULSIFY To bind together two liquid ingredients that normally do not combine smoothly, such as water and fat. Slowly add one ingredient to the other while mixing rapidly. This action disperses tiny droplets of one liquid in the other. Mayonnaise and vinaigrettes are emulsions. Use a good whisk for a steady even emulsification.
ENTREE In America "Entree" refers to the main course of the meal. In Europe, it refers to the dish served before the meat course during formal dinners.
ESPRESSO A dark strong coffee that's made by forcing steam through a small amount of finely ground pressed special coffee beans. Served in a tiny espresso cup. The addition of heated cream or milk makes this a Cappuccino.
FABRICATION The butchering, cutting and trimming of meat, poultry, fish and game.
FILLET To create a fillet of fish or meat
by cutting away the bones. Fish and boning knives help produce clean fillets.
FOLD To combine a light mixture like
beaten egg whites with a much heavier mixture like whipped cream. In a large
bowl, place the lighter mixture on top of the heavier one. Starting at the
back of the bowl, using the edge of a rubber
spatula, cut down through the middle of both mixtures, across the bottom of
the bowl and up the near side. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.
This process gently combines the two mixtures.
FOOD NETWORK Chefs and Cooks sharing cooking techniques, recipes and ideas with people who share similar interests or concerns and who interact and remain in contact for mutual assistance or support. Professionals in the foodservice industry network together to achieve quality.
FRY To cook food (non-submerged) in hot
fat or oil over moderate to high heat. There is very little difference
between frying and SAUTEING although sauteing is
often thought of as being faster and using less fat.
GRATE To reduce a large piece of food to
coarse or fine threads by rubbing it against a rough, serrated surface,
usually on a grater. A food processor, fitted with the appropriate blades,
can also be used for grating. The food that is being grated should be firm.
Cheese that needs to be grated can be refrigerated first for easier grating.
GRIDDLE A special flat pan or cooktop designed to cook foods like pancakes and hamburgers. Some have long handles or two handles, non stick, aluminum or cast iron. Often confused with grilling, see below.
GRILL To cook food on a grill over hot
coals or other heat source. The intense heat creates a crust on the surface
of the food which seals in the juices. The grill should be clean and must be
heated before the food is laid on it. The food can also be basted and
GRIND To reduce food to small pieces by
running it through a grinder or food processor. Food can be ground to different degrees, from
fine to coarse. A mortar and pestle is prefered by many Chefs and Pharmacists alike.
GYROS A Greek specialty consisting of chopped lamb and spices molded around a vertical spit, the meat is sliced and served on pita bread with cucumber sauce, tomatoes and onions.
HABANERO This extremely hot chile is from Mexico and the Caribean. It is light green, yellow or orange and also available as a dried habanero powder! Caution, it is extremely hot, some believe it's strong enough to stop a grizzly.
HOMOGENIZE To create an emulsion by reducing
all the particles to the same size. The fat globules are broken down
mechanically until they are evenly distributed throughout the liquid.
Homogenized milk and some commercial salad dressings are two examples of
INFUSE To steep an aromatic ingredient in
hot liquid until the flavor has been extracted and absorbed by the liquid.
Teas are infusions. Milk or cream can also be infused with flavor before
being used in custards or sauces.
KNEAD To mix and work dough into a
smooth, elastic mass. Kneading can be done either manually or by machine. By
hand, kneading is done with a pressing-folding-turning action. First the
dough is pressed with the heels of both hands and pushed away from the body
so the dough stretches out. The dough is then folded in half, given a quarter
turn, and the process is repeated. Depending on the dough, the kneading time
can range anywhere from
to 15 minutes. During kneading, the gluten strands stretch and expand,
enabling dough to hold in gas bubbles formed by a leavener,
which allows it to rise.
LARD To insert strips of fat (lardons) or bacon into a dry cut of meat using a utensil
called a larding needle. Larding makes the cooked meat more succulent and
LINE To cover the bottom and sides of a
pan, mold or terrine with a thin layer of bacon, pork fat, flavorings or
pastry. Cake pans are frequently lined with parchment paper to prevent the
cake from sticking to the pan after baking.
MACERATE To soak foods, usually fruit, in
liquid so they absorb the liquid's flavor. The macerating liquid is usually
alcohol, liqueur, wine, brandy or sugar syrup. Macerate is also frequently
applied to fruits sprinkled with sugar, which intensifies natural flavor of
the fruit by drawing out its juices.
MARINATE To soak food in a seasoned liquid
mixture for a certain length of time. The purpose of marinating is to add
flavor and/or tenderize the food. Due to the acidic ingredients in many
marinades, foods should be marinated in glass, ceramic or stainless steel
containers. Foods should also be covered and refrigerated while they are
marinating. When fruits are soaked in this same manner, the process is called
MASH To crush a food into smooth and
evenly textured state. For potatoes or other root vegetables, use a ricer,
masher or food mill. While food processors provide a smooth texture more like
a puree or a paste, they should not be used for potatoes.
MINCE To cut food into very tiny pieces.
Minced food is cut into smaller, finer pieces than diced food.
MOUNT To whisk cold butter, piece by
piece, into a warm sauce for smooth texture, flavor and sheen. Each piece of
butter must be thoroughly incorporated before a new piece is added so that
the sauce does not break (or separate into liquid and fat).
PARBOIL To boil food briefly in water,
cooking it only partially. Parboiling is used for dense food like carrots and
potatoes. After being parboiled, these foods can be added at the last minute
to quicker-cooking ingredients. Parboiling insures that all ingredients will
finish cooking at the same time. Since foods will continue to cook once they
have been removed from the boiling water, they should be shocked in ice water
briefly to preserve color and texture. Cooking can then be completed by sauteeing or the parboiled vegetable can be added to
simmering soups or stews.
PARE To remove the thin outer layer of
foods using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.
PEEL To remove the rind or skin from a
fruit or vegetable using a knife or vegetable peeler.
POACH To cook food by gently simmering in
liquid at or just below the boiling point. The amount of the liquid and
poaching temperature depends on the food being poached.
POT ROAST To cook meat slowly by moist heat
in a covered pot. The meat is first browned, then
braised either on top of the stove or in the oven. Pot roasting is good for
tougher cuts of meat which require longer cooking times to break down
POUND Pounding thinner cuts of meat
tenderizes it by breaking down muscle. Kitchen mallets are generally used for
pounding, but it can be done using a small frying pan as well. First place
the piece of meat between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper.
PUREE To grind or mash food until
completely smooth. This can be done using a food processor or blender or by
pressing the food through a sieve.
QUADRILLER To mark the surface of grilled or
broiled food with a crisscross pattern of lines. The scorings are produced by
contact with very hot single grill bars which brown the surface of the food.
Very hot skewers may also be used to mark the surface.
QUENCH To quickly place a heated object in
cold water. This is usually done to either stop the cooking process or
to separate the skin of an object from the meat. This process is sometimes
referred to as "shocking."
RATATOUILLE A popular dish from the French region of Province that combines tomatoes, eggplant, onions, peppers, zucchini, olive oil, herbs and garlic all simmered together. Visti our recipe section to get the recipe thats full of flavor.
REDUCE To thicken or concentrate a liquid
by boiling rapidly. The volume of the liquid is reduced as the water
evaporates, thereby thickening the consistency and intensifying the flavor.
RICE To push cooked food through a
perforated kitchen tool called a ricer. The resulting food looks like rice.
ROAST To oven-cook food in an uncovered
pan. The food is exposed to high heat which produces a well-browned surface
and seals in the juices. Reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry should
be used for roasting. Food that is going to be roasted for a long time may be
barded to prevent drying out.
SAUTE To cook food quickly in a small
amount of fat or oil, until brown, in a skillet or saute
pan over direct heat. The saute pan and fat must be
hot before the food is added, otherwise the food
will absorb oil and become soggy. Practice makes perfectly saute foods.
SCALD To dip fruits or vegetables in
boiling water in order to loosen their skins and simplify peeling. The
produce should be left in the water for only 30 seconds to prohibit cooking,
and should be shocked in an ice water bath before the skin is removed
SCALE To remove the scales from the skin
of a fish using a dull knife or a special kitchen tool called a fish scaler. Also means weighing out all ingredients in a recipe.
SEAR To brown meat or fish quickly over
very high heat either in a fry pan, under a broiler or in a hot oven. Searing
seals in the food's juices and provides a crisp tasty exterior. Seared food
can then be eaten rare or roasted or braised to desired degree of doneness.
SEASON To add flavor to foods.
To coat the cooking surface of a new pot or pan with vegetable oil then heat
in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. This smoothes out the surface of new
pots and pans, particularly cast-iron, and prevents foods from sticking.
SEED To remove the seeds from fruits and
SHRED To cut food into thin strips. This
can be done by hand or by using a grater or food processor. Cooked meat can
be shredded by pulling it apart with two forks.
SIEVE To strain liquids or particles of
food through a sieve or strainer. Press the solids, using a ladle or wooden
spoon, into the strainer to remove as much liquid and flavor as
SIFT To pass dry ingredients through a
fine mesh sifter so large pieces can be removed. The process also incorporates air to make ingredients like flour, lighter. Synonymous with
SIMMER To cook food in liquid over gentle
heat, just below the boiling point, low enough so that tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface.
SKEWER To spear small pieces of food on long, thin, pointed rods called skewers. The Romans and Chinese have skewered many foods for thousands of years.
SKIM To remove the scum that rises to the surface from a liquid when it is boiled. The top layer of the liquid, such as the cream from milk or the foam and fat from stock, soups or sauces, can be removed using a spoon, ladle or skimmer. Soups, stews or sauces can be
chilled so that the fat coagulates on the surface and may be easily removed before reheating.
SKIN To remove the skin from food before
or after cooking. Poultry, fish and game are often skinned for reasons of appearance, taste and diet. Check out our cutlery section for scissors and skinning knives.
SMOKE To expose fresh food to smoke from
a wood fire for a prolonged period of time. Traditionally used for
preservation purposes, smoking is now a means of giving flavor to food.
Smoking tends to dry the food, kills bacteria, deepens color and gives food a
smoky flavor. The duration of smoking varies from 20 minutes to several days.
The most commonly used woods are beech, oak and chestnut to which aromatic
essences are often added. Small home smokers are now available.
STEAM To cook food on a rack or in steamer basket over a boiling liquid in a covered pan. Steaming retains flavor, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching. Our steamer insert fits almost any pot! Search "steamer basket" on the home page.
SUPREME To remove the flesh sections of
citrus fruit from the membranes. Using a sharp knife, cut away all of the
skin and pith from the outside of the fruit. Place the knife between the
membrane and the flesh of one section and slice down. Turn the knife catching
the middle of the fruit. Slice up, removing each section sans membrane.
SWEAT To cook vegetables in fat over
gentle heat so they become soft but not brown, and their juices are concentrated in the cooking
fat. If the pan is covered during cooking, the ingredients will keep a
certain amount of their natural moisture. If the pan is not covered, the
ingredients will remain relatively dry.
TEMPER 1. To slowly bring up the temperature of a cold or room temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot or boiling liquid. Adding the hot liquid gradually prevents the cool ingredient, such as eggs, from cooking or setting. The tempered mixture can
then be added back to hot liquid for further cooking. This process is used most in making pastry cream and the like.
2. To bring chocolate to a state in which it has snap, shine and no streaks. Commercially
available chocolate is already tempered but this condition changes when it is melted. Tempering is often done when the chocolate will be used for candy making
or decorations. Chocolate must be tempered because it contains cocoa butter, a fat that forms crystals after chocolate is melted and cooled. Dull grey streaks form and are called bloom. The classic tempering method is to melt chocolate until it is totally without lumps (semisweet chocolate melts at a temperature of 104 degrees F.) One third of
the chocolate is then poured onto a marble slab then spread and worked back and forth with a metal spatula until it becomes thick and reaches a temperature of about 80 degrees F. The thickened chocolate is then added back to the remaining 2/3 melted chocolate and stirred. The process is repeated
until the entire mixture reaches 88-92 degrees for semisweet chocolate, 84-88 degrees for milk or white chocolate. This whole process can also be done in a simple double boiler or a stainless steel mixing bowl over a pot of hot water. For more chocolate tips, visit our chocolate section.
TENDERIZE To make meat more
tender by pounding with a mallet, marinating for varying periods of time, or storing at lower temperatures. Fat may also be placed into a piece
of meat to make it more tender during cooking. Our meat tenderizers are amazing, visit the Sportsmans section.
TOURNE To make a barrel shape piece of
food by using a tourney or birds beak knife, usually a vegetable. Search this word "Tourne" on the home page.
TRUSS To secure food, usually poultry or
game, with string, pins or skewers so that it maintains a compact shape
during cooking. Trussing allows for easier basting during cooking.
ZEST To remove the outermost skin layers
of citrus fruit using a knife, peeler or zester.
When zesting, be careful not to remove the pith,
the white layer between the zest and the flesh, which is bitter.