Basic Cooking Terminology
To cook in the oven. The cooking of food slowly with gentle heat, causing the natural moisture to evaporate slowly and concentrating the flavor.
To brush or spoon liquid fat or juices over meat during roasting. Adds flavor and will prevent it from drying out.
A mixture of flour, fat and liquid that is thin enough in consistency to require a pan to encase it. Used in such preparations as cakes and some cookies. A batter is different from dough, which maintains its shape.
To smooth a mixture by briskly whipping or stirring it up with a spoon, fork, wire whisk, rotary beater or electric mixer.
To thicken a sauce or hot liquid by stirring in ingredients such as eggs, flour, butter or cream.
A popular Cajun-style cooking method in which seasoned foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred on the outside.
To boil briefly to loosen the skin of a fruit or a vegetable. After 30 seconds in boiling water, the fruit or vegetable should be plunged into ice water to stop the cooking action and then the skin easily slices or peels off.
To mix or fold two or more ingredients together, to obtain equal distribution throughout the mixture.
To cook food in heated water or other liquid that is bubbling vigorously.
To cook food directly under the heat source.
Broth or Stock
A flavorful liquid made by gently cooking meat, seafood or vegetables (and/or their by-products, such as bones and trimming) often with herbs, in liquid (usually water).
A quick saute, pan/oven broiling, or grilling method, done either at the beginning or end of meal preparation, often to enhance flavor, texture or eye appeal.
Using a pastry brush to coat a food such as meat or bread with melted butter, glaze or other liquid.
To cut open a food such as pork chops down the center without cutting all the way through and then spread apart.
Browning sugar over a flame with or without the addition of some water to aid the process. The temperature range in which sugar caramelizes, approximately 320° to 360°.
To cut into irregular pieces.
To evenly cover food with flour, crumbs or a batter.
To blend two or more ingredients into a single mixture.
To remove the non edible centers of fruits such as pineapples.
To beat vegetable shortening, butter or margarine, with or without sugar, until light and fluffy. This process traps in air bubbles, later used to create height in cookies and cakes.
To create a decorative edge on a piecrust. On a double piecrust, this also seals both crust edges together.
To restore the crunch to foods; vegetables such as celery and carrots can be crisped with an ice water bath and foods such as stale crackers can be heated in a medium oven.
To preserve or add flavor with a soaking ingredient, usually salt, spices and/or sugar is used.
A mixture of beaten egg, milk and possibly other ingredients such as sweet or savory flavorings, which is cooked with gentle heat, often in a water bath or double boiler. As pie filling, custard is frequently cooked and chilled before being layered into a pre baked crust.
A measure approximately equal to 1/16 teaspoon.
To completely submerge the food in hot oil.
To add liquid to a pan in which foods have been fried or roasted, in order to dissolve the caramelized juices stuck to the bottom of the pan.
To cut into cubes.
A cooking method that allows heat to meet food directly, such as grilling, broiling or toasting.
To sprinkle food with small bits of an ingredient such as butter to allow for even melting.
A combination of ingredients including flour, water or milk and sometimes, a leavening agent, producing a firm but workable mixture, mostly for making baked goods.
To sprinkle lightly and evenly with sugar or flour. A dredger has holes pierced on the lid to sprinkle evenly.
To pour a liquid such as a sweet glaze or melted butter in a slow, light trickle over food.
Used for gravies and sauces. Drippings are the liquids left in the bottom of a roasting or frying pan after meat is cooked.
To sprinkle food lightly with spices, sugar or flour. A light coating of food.
A French term that originally referred to the first course of a meal served after the soup and before the meat courses. In the United States it refers to the main dish of a meal.
To remove the bones from meat or fish for cooking.
In candy making, the point where boiling syrup dropped in cold water forms a ball that is compact yet gives slightly to the touch.
To cut and mix lightly with a spoon to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
To cook food in hot cooking oil, usually until a crispy brown crust forms.
A decorative piece of an edible ingredient such as parsley, lemon wedges, croutons or chocolate curls placed as a finishing touch to dishes or drinks.
A liquid that gives an item a shiny surface. Examples are fruit jams that have been heated or chocolate thinned with melted vegetable shortening. Also to cover a food with a liquid.
To shred or cut down a food into fine pieces by rubbing it against a rough surface.
To coat a pan or skillet with a thin layer of oil. Virgin olive oil is one of the best to use.
To cook over the heat source (traditionally over wood coals) in the open air.
To mechanically cut a food into small pieces.
To work dough with the heels of your hands in a pressing and folding motion until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Coat or immerse foods in an acidic-based liquid or dry rub, to tenderize and add flavor before cooking and eating.
To beat or press a food to remove lumps and make a smooth mixture.
Egg whites beaten until they are stiff, then sweetened. Can be used as the topping for pies or baked as cookies.
To chop food into tiny irregular pieces.
To beat or stir two or more foods together until they are thoroughly combined.
Adding enough liquid to dry ingredients to dampen but not soak them.
To cook in a hot pan with small amount of hot oil, butter or other fat, turning the food over once or twice.
A heavy heat-resistant paper used in cooking.
To simmer in liquid.
A cooking method that uses steam trapped under a locked lid to produce high temperatures and achieve fast cooking time.
To mash or sieve food into a thick liquid.
To cook liquids down so that some of the water evaporates.
To cook uncovered in the oven.
To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or frying pan over direct heat.
Cooking a liquid such as milk to just below the point of boiling; also to loosen the skin of fruits or vegetables by dipping them in boiling water.
To tenderize meat by making a number of shallow (often diagonal) cuts across its surface. This technique is also useful in marinating, as it allows for better absorption of the marinade.
Sealing in a meat's juices by cooking it quickly under very high heat.
Season and Seasoning
To enhance the flavor of foods by adding ingredients such as salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cinnamon and a variety of other herbs, spices, condiments and vinegars.
Also, to treat a pot or pan (usually cast iron) with a coating of cooking oil and then baking it in a 350° oven for approximately 1 hour. This process seals any tiny rough spots on the pan's surface that may cause food to stick.
Let food become solid.
To cut or tear into long narrow strips, either by hand or by using a grater or food processor.
To remove large lumps from a dry ingredient such as flour or confectioners' sugar by passing them through a fine mesh. This process also incorporates air into the ingredients, making them lighter.
Cooking food in a liquid at a low enough temperature so that small bubbles begin to break the surface. A very low boil.
To remove the top fat layer from stocks, soups, sauces or other liquids such as cream from milk.
To cook over boiling water in a covered pan, this method keeps foods' shape, texture and nutritional value intact better than methods such as boiling.
To soak dry ingredients such as tea leaves, ground coffee, herbs, spices, etc, in liquid until the flavor is infused into the liquid.
Browning small pieces of meat, poultry or fish, then simmering them with vegetables or other ingredients in enough liquid to cover them, usually in a closed pot on the stove, in the oven or with a slow cooker.
The fast frying of small pieces of meat and vegetables over very high heat with continual and rapid stirring.
To reduce a mixture's thickness with the addition of more liquid.
To thoroughly combine several ingredients by mixing lightly.
Baked goods that contain no agents to give them volume such as baking powder, baking soda or yeast.
To incorporate air into ingredients such as cream or egg whites by beating them until light and fluffy; also refers to the utensil used for this action.
To mix or fluff by beating; also refers to the utensil used for this action.