If you are wondering about the meaning of some obscure culinary terms, check out this glossary of cooking terms, popular ingredients, terms and techniques. I hope it answers some of your questions.
GLOSSARY OF COOKING TERMS:
ADOBO SAUCE: A dark-red Mexican sauce made from ground chiles, herbs, and vinegar. Chipotle peppersare packed in cans of adobo sauce.
A LA MINUTE: Cooked to order.
Italian term used to describe pasta that is cooked until it offers a slight resistance to the bite.
AL FORNO: Italian term describing a dish cooked in the oven.
ALMOND PASTE:A creamy mixture made of ground, blanched almonds and sugar that's often used as a filling in pastries, cakes, and confections. For best baking results, use an almond paste without syrup or liquid glucose.
To cook by dry heat, usually in the oven.
BAKING AMMONIA:A compound also known as hartshorn powder that was once used as a leavening agent. Cream of tartar is an acceptable substitute, although cookies made with it are less crisp than those made with baking ammonia.
A combination of dry acid, baking soda, and starch that has the ability to release carbon dioxide in two stages: when liquid ingredients are added and when the mixture is heated.BAKING SODA:
A chemical leavening agent that creates carbon dioxide and is used in conjunction with acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, or fruit juices, to create the bubbles that make the product rise.
Usually used generally to refer to grilling done outdoors or over an open charcoal or wood fire. More specifically, barbecue refers to long, slow direct- heat cooking, including liberal basting with a barbecue sauce.
To moisten foods during cooking with pan drippings or special sauce to add flavor and prevent drying.
A mixture containing flour and liquid, thin enough to pour.
To mix rapidly in order to make a mixture smooth and light by incorporating as much air as possible.
To slice a food crosswise at a 45-degree angle.BLACKENED:
A popular Cajun cooking method in which seasoned fish or other foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred, resulting in a crisp, spicy crust. At home, this is best done outdoors because of the large amount of smoke produced.
To immerse in rapidly boiling water and allow to cook slightly.
To incorporate two or more ingredients thoroughly.
To heat a liquid until bubbles break continually on the surface.
A bouillon cube is a compressed cube of dehydrated beef, chicken, fish, or vegetable stock. Bouillon granules are small particles of the same substance, but they dissolve faster. Both can be reconstituted in hot liquid to substitute for stock or broth.
To cook food slowly in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan on the range top or in the oven. Braising is recommended for less-tender cuts of meat.
Heavily salted water used to pickle or cure vegetables, meats, fish, and seafood.BROIL:
To cook on a grill under strong, direct heat.
To split food, such as shrimp or pork chops, through the middle without completely separating the halves. Opened flat, the split halves resemble a butterfly.
To heat sugar in order to turn it brown and give it a special taste.
In cooking, this French word, meaning "made of rags," refers to thin strips of fresh herbs or lettuce..
To cool food to below room temperature in the refrigerator or over ice. When recipes call for chilling foods, it should be done in the refrigerator.
To cut solids into pieces with a sharp knife or other chopping device.
A condiment often used in Indian cuisine that's made of chopped fruit (mango is a classic), vegetables, and spices enlivened by hot peppers, fresh ginger, or vinegar.
To separate and remove solids from a liquid, thus making it clear.
To soften a fat, especially butter, by beating it at room temperature. Butter and sugar are often creamed together, making a smooth, soft paste.
To pinch or press pastry or dough together using your fingers, a fork, or another utensil. Usually done for a piecrust edge.
To smash food into smaller pieces, generally using hands, a mortar and pestle, or a rolling pin. Crushing dried herbs releases their flavor and aroma.
To preserve meats by drying and salting and/or smoking.
To dissolve the thin glaze of juices and brown bits on the surface of a pan in which food has been fried, sauteed or roasted. To do this, add liquid and stir and scrape over high heat, thereby adding flavor to the liquid for use as a sauce.
To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock. Usually cooled in the refrigerator so that fat hardens and is easily removed.
A thick, intense meat-flavor gel that's often used as a foundation for soups and sauces. Demi-glace is available in gourmet shops or through mail-order catalogs
To cut food in small cubes of uniform size and shape.
To cause a dry substance to pass into solution in a liquid.
To sprinkle or coat with flour or other fine substance.
To sprinkle drops of liquid lightly over food in a casual manner.
A two-pan arrangement where one pan nests partway inside the other. The lower pot holds simmering water that gently cooks heat-sensitive food in the upper pot.
To sprinkle food with dry ingredients. Use a strainer or a jar with a perforated cover, or try the good, old-fashioned way of shaking things together in a paper bag.
As a verb, to remove the bones from meat or fish. A fillet (or filet) is the piece of flesh after it has been boned.
To break lightly into small pieces
To flame foods by dousing in some form of potable alcohol and setting alight.
To incorporate a delicate substance, such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites, into another substance without releasing air bubbles. Cut down through mixture with spoon, whisk, or fork; go across bottom of bowl, up and over, close to surface. The process is repeated, while slowing rotating the bowl, until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.
To make a decorative impression in food, usually a piecrust.
To cook by braising; usually applied to fowl or rabbit.
To cook in hot fat. To cook in a fat is called pan-frying or sauteing; to cook in a one-to-two inch layer of hot fat is called shallow-fat frying; to cook in a deep layer of hot fat is called deep-fat frying
To decorate a dish both to enhance its appearance and to provide a flavorful foil. Parsley, lemon slices, raw vegetables, chopped chives, and other herbs are all forms of garnishes.
The French term for "glazed" or "frozen." In the United States, it describes a candied food.
To cook with a thin sugar syrup cooked to crack stage; mixture may be thickened slightly. Also, to cover with a thin, glossy icing.
GLUTEN FLOUR: Because whole-grain flours are low in gluten, some whole-grain bread recipes often call for a little gluten flour to help the finished loaf attain the proper texture. Sometimes called wheat gluten, gluten flour is made by removing most of the starch from high-protein, hard-wheat flour. If you can't find gluten flour at a supermarket, look for it at a health food store.
To rub on a grater that separates the food in various sizes of bits or shreds.GRATIN:
From the French word for "crust." Term used to describe any oven-baked dish--usually cooked in a shallow oval gratin dish--on which a golden brown crust of bread crumbs, cheese or creamy sauce is form.
To cook on a grill over intense heat.
To process solids by hand or mechanically to reduce them to tiny particles.
HORS D'OEUVRE: (or-DERV)
French term for small, hot or cold portions of savory food served as an appetizer.
To cut vegetables, fruits, or cheeses into thin strips.KNEAD:
To work and press dough with the palms of the hands or mechanically, to develop the gluten in the flour.
Neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature.
To flavor and moisturize pieces of meat, poultry, seafood or vegetable by soaking them in or brushing them with a liquid mixture of seasonings known as a marinade. Dry marinade mixtures composed of salt, pepper, herbs or spices may also be rubbed into meat, poultry or seafood.
Dredged with flour and sauteed in butter.
To cut or chop food into extremely small pieces.
To combine ingredients usually by stirring.
To slowly heat a beverage, such as cider, with spices and sugar.
To cook uncovered in a hot fry pan, pouring off fat as it accumulates.
To cook in small amounts of fat.
To boil until partially cooked; to blanch. Usually this procedure is followed by final cooking in a seasoned sauce.
A grease- and heat-resistant paper used to line baking pans, to wrap foods in packets for baking, or to make disposable pastry bags.
To remove the outermost skin of a fruit or vegetable.
To remove the peels from vegetables or fruits.
To preserve meats, vegetables, and fruits in brine.
A pinch is the trifling amount you can hold between your thumb and forefinger.
To remove pits from fruits.
Cooked on a thick hardwood plank.
To soak dried fruits in liquid until they swell.
To partially or completely cook a food before using it in a recipe.
To heat an oven or a utensil to a specific temperature before using it.
To cook very gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point.
To mash foods until perfectly smooth by hand, by rubbing through a sieve or food mill, or by whirling in a blender or food processor.
To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice, to its original strength by adding water.
To boil down to reduce the volume.
To run cold water over food that has been parboiled, to stop the cooking process quickly.RENDER:
To make solid fat into liquid by melting it slowly.
The skin or outer coating, usually rather thick, of a food.
To cook by dry heat in an oven.
To cook and/or brown food in a small amount of hot fat.
To bring to a temperature just below the boiling point.
To bake a food, usually in a casserole, with sauce or other liquid. Crumbs often are sprinkled over.
To cut narrow grooves or gashes partway through the outer surface of food.
To brown very quickly by intense heat. This method increases shrinkage but develops flavor and improves appearance.
To cut or tear in small, long, narrow pieces.
To remove the shells from seafood, such as oysters and clams, or the husks from corn.
To separate liquids from solids, usually using a sieve.
To put one or more dry ingredients through a sieve or sifter.
To cook slowly in liquid over low heat at a temperature of about 180°. The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.
To remove impurities, whether scum or fat, from the surface of a liquid during cooking, thereby resulting in a clear, cleaner-tasting final produce.
To cut food, often fresh herbs or dried fruit, with kitchen shears or scissors into very small, uniform pieces using short, quick strokes.
To cook in steam in a pressure cooker, deep well cooker, double boiler, or a steamer made by fitting a rack in a kettle with a tight cover. A small amount of boiling water is used, more water being added during steaming process, if necessary.
To extract color, flavor, or other qualities from a substance by leaving it in water just below the boiling point.
To destroy micro organisms by boiling, dry heat, or steam.
To simmer slowly in a small amount of liquid for a long time.
To mix ingredients with a circular motion until well blended or of uniform consistency.
To combine ingredients with a lifting motion.
To secure poultry with string or skewers, to hold its shape while cooking
When liquid separates out of a solid food, such as jellies, custards, and meringues.
To beat rapidly to incorporate air and produce expansion, as in heavy cream or egg whites.
The colored outer portion of citrus fruit peel. It is rich in fruit oils and often used as a seasoning. To remove the zest, scrape a grater or fruit zester across the peel; avoid the white membrane beneath the peel because it is bitter.