Glossary of Cooking Terms
Al Dente: Firm to the bite, in texture. Not soft or mushy. Used to describe pasta or vegetables.
Agneau: Pronounced an-YOH, the French word for lamb.
Al Forno: Baked or roasted in Italian.
Allemande: In French cooking, one of the five "mother sauces", these are the hollandaise and mayonnaise sauces made from an emulsion of egg yolks and fat (oil or butter). Hollandaise is made from an emulsion of butter, egg yolks and lemon juice. Mayonnaise is a creamy dressing made from an emulsion of vegetable oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice or vinegar. These sauces are used to embellish vegetable, fish and egg dishes. (also see béchamel, espagnole, velouté, and vinaigrette).
Au Gratin: Having a browned or crusted top, often created by topping with bread crumbs, cheese or a rich sauce and browning under the broiler.
Bake: To cook foods by surrounding with hot, dry air, typically in an oven. Similar to roast, but baking usually applies to bread, pastries, vegetables, fish and casseroles.
Béchamel: One of the five "mother sauces" in French cooking, also known as white sauce. A sauce made by stirring milk into a butter-flour roux. (also see allemande, espagnole, velouté, and vinaigrette).
Beurre Blanc: A white butter sauce flavored with white wine, shallots, vinegar or lemon juice, popular on fish and seafood.
Beurre Manie: A smooth paste made by blendingequal parts of raw butter and flour.
Beurre Noir: Butter heated until it's dark brown and then flavored with vinegar.
Bind: To thicken a liquid by boiling it with a binding agent (such as cornstarch).
Blanch: To cook an item partially and very briefly in boiling water. Typically used to loosen skins from vegetables, fruits and nutsl; to partially cook foods prior to finishing with another cooking method; to prepare foods for freezing; or to remove undesirable flavors.
Boil: To cook in water or other liquid that is bubbling rapidly. Water boils at a temperature of 212° F at sea level and normal atmospheric pressure, and at slightly lower temperatures at higher altitudes.
Braise: (1) To cook covered in a small amount of liquid, usually after preliminary browning (typically meats). (2) To cook certain vegetables slowly in a small amount of liquid without preliminary browing.
Broil: To cook and brown through direct radiant heat that comes from above the food (as in a broiler). Many ovens have an upper compartment for baking and a lower compartment for broiling under a flame or heating element.
Carmelization: The browning of sugars caused by heat.
Chop: To cut into irregularly shaped, usually fairly small pieces.
Clarified Butter: Purified butterfat, with water and milk solids removed.
Consommé: A rich, flavorful seasoned stock or broth (beef broth, chicken broth, etc.) that has been clarified to make it perfectly clear and transparent.
Court Bouillon: Water containing seasonings, herbs and usually some acid (vinegar), used for cooking or poaching fish.
Croquette: Food that has been pureed or bound with a thick sauce, made into small shapes, breaded and fried.
Deep-fry: To cook food completely submerged in very hot oil or fat.
Deglaze: To swirl a liquid in a frying pan or other pan to dissolve the cooked particles or food remaining on the bottom. Ofrent used to build up or render a flavorful sauce.
Demiglaze: A rich brown sauce that has been reduced to half its original volume.
Double Boiler: A pot that rests over another pot containing boiling water. Used for preparing delicate sauces and custards of for melting chocolate without burning it. The double boiler enables the application of a more indirect and even heat without actually submerging the items for cooking in the water.
Dredge: To dip food items in flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs immediately before frying or deep-fat frying.
Dressed: (1) Poultry in market form - killed, bled, and plucked. (2) Fish in market form - viscera, scales, head, tail and fins removed.
Dry-heat Cooking Methods: Cooking methods where heat is conducted to foods without the use of moisture.
Espagnole Sauce: In French cooking, one of the five "mother sauces", this traditional brown sauce is made with a rich meat stock or a mirapoix of browned vegetables (typically a mixture of diced carrots, onions and celery) combined with a browned roux (and sometimes tomato paste). (also see allemande, béchamel, velouté, and vinaigrette).
Fillet (filet): The technique of removing the bones from meat, fish or chicken. Meat- boneless tenderloin. Fish - boneless side of fish. Chicken - boneless breat of chicken.
Flambé: To pour a small amount of brandy or other high-percentage alcohol liqueur onto food, ignite with a flame and allow to burn off. As in bannanas flambé.
Glaze: (1) A stock that is reduced to a thicker consistency until it coats the back of a spoon. (2) A shiny coating, such as a syrup, applied to a food. (3) To make a food shiny or glossy by coating it with a glaze or by browing under the broiler or in a hot oven.
Grill: To cook and brown through direct radiant heat from below the food (as opposed to a broiler with the heat source above the food). A grill typically employs a cooking grate on top of the heat source as in a gas or charcoal fired barbeque grill. The open grate allows the fat to drip down onto the heat source which allows a smoky flavor to impart back into the food.
Julienne: (1) To cut into small, thin strips about 1/8 inch thin and 2 to 2 1/2 inches long. (2) To garnish with foods cut in this manner.
Marinade: The seasoned liquid used to marinate food (see marinate).
Marinate: To soak a food in a sesoned liquid, usually for an extended period of time.
Meringue: A foam made of beaten egg whites and sugar.
Mince: To chop into very fine pieces.
Mirepoix: A mixture of rough-cut or diced vegetables, herbs and spices used for flavoring.
Pan-broil: To cook uncovered in a frying pan or skillet without fat.
Pan-fry: To cook in uncovered in a frying pan or skillet with a moderate amount of fat.
Parboil: To cook partially in a boiling or simmering liquid.
Parcook: To cook partially by any method.
Pilaf: Rice or other grain product that has first been cooked in fat (butter, oil, etc.), then simmered in a stock or other liquid, usually with onions, seasonings, or other ingredients.
Poach: To cook very gently in water or other liquid that is hot but not actually bubbling, about 160° F to 180° F.
Puree: (1) A food product that has been blended, mashed or strained to a smooth liquid or pulp. (2) To make such a smooth liquid or pulp by blending, mashing or straining a food.
Reduce: To cook by simmering or boiling until the quantiy or volume of liquid is decreased. A reduction is often done to concentrate flavors.
Roast: To cook foods by surrounding them with hot, dry air, in an oven or on a spit over an open fire.
Sauté: To cook quickly in a small amount of fat (typically butter or oil).
Sear: To brown the surface of a food quickly at a high temperature. The technique can be used to seal in the juices.
Shock: To pour cold water over cooked, hot food items.
Shred: To cut into thin but irregular strips, either with the coarse blade of a grater or with a knife.
Simmer: To cook in water or other liquid that is bubbling gently, at slightly lower temperatures than a full boil, about 185° F to 200° F.
Soufflé: A light, fluffy, baked egg dish, consisting of a base (such as a heavy white sauce) mixed with egg yolks and flavoring ingredients into whtich beaten egg whites are folded just before baking. May be sweet or savory.
Stew: (1) To simmer foods in a small amount of liquid that is usually served with the food as a sauce. (2) A dish cooked by stewing, usually one in which the main ingredients are cut into small pieces.
Stock: A clear, thin liquid (that is unthickened) flavored by soluble substances extracted from meat, poultry or fish (and/or from meat, poultry or fish bones), and from vegetables and seasonings.
Strain: To pass cooked food items or raw, pureed foods through a sieve or strainer, to remove larger chunks and solids.
Sweat: To cook in a small amount of fat over low heat, sometimes covered.
Truss: To tie poultry into a compact shape for cooking.
Velouté sauce: In French cooking, one of the five "mother sauces". A stock-based white sauce, typically made from chicken or veal stock, or concentrated fish stock. Usually thickened with white roux, with enrichments such as egg yolks and cream sometimes added. Often the base for a number of other sauces. (also see allemande, béchamel, espagnole, and vinaigrette).
Vinaigrette: In French cooking, considered one of the five "mother sauces", a simple blend of oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, typically three parts oil to one part vinegar. A simple vinaigrette is often embellished with additional spices, herbs, shallots, onions, and sometimes mustard. Generally used to dress salad greens, and other cold vegetable, meat and fish dishes. (also see allemande, béchamel, espagnole, and velouté).
Wash: (1) To brush or coat a food item with a liquid such as egg wash or milk. (2) The liquid used in this procedure.