These are typically the words that make you wonder if cooking a recipe is really worth the trouble. There is no need to be detoured by big words or strange words in your cookbook. I am not going to give you the silly definitions like you would normally see, only the definition of the off-the-wall words that you might come into contact with.
Al Dente: This is usually used in pasta. It means cook until it is done, but not overly soft.
Baste: To moisten foods during cooking with fats or seasoned liquids. It adds flavor and prevents drying of the food.
Batter: An uncooked, wet mixture that can be spooned or poured. This is what cakes, pancakes and muffins are made of. Typically consists of flour, eggs and milk. Also can be used to coat foods before they are placed in a fryer.
Bias: Slice: Slice food at a 45-degree angle.
Blackened: Typically used in Cajun foods. Foods are cooked over super high heat or is a super hot skillet until charred.
Blanch: To partially cook. This helps set color and flavor. It is important when preparing fruit, vegetables and nuts. It also is used to make removing skin easier on tomatoes, peaches and almonds.
Braise: To cook (meat or vegetables) by browning in fat, then simmering in a small quantity of liquid in a covered container. Recommended for less tender cuts of meat.
Breading: Is a three-step procedure to coat foods so that they will fry crisply. Items handled with this procedure are dredged in flour, dipped in an egg wash mixture and then coated in breadcrumbs. All of these steps help seal in the moisture of the food while leaving its exterior pleasantly crispy.
Brine: To pickle or cure in heavily salted water.
Broil: To cook food a measured distance below direct, dry heat. When broiling, place the broiler pan and its rack so that the surface of the food is the specified distance from the heat source. Use a ruler to measure distance.
Brown: To cook a food in a skillet, broiler, or oven to add flavor and aroma and develop a rich, desirable color on the outside.
Butterfly: To split food, such as shrimp or pork through the middle without completely separating the halves. Opened flat the split halves resemble a butterfly.
Candied: A food, usually a fruit, nut, or citrus peel that has been cooked or dipped in sugar syrup.
Cheesecloth: A thin 100 percent cotton cloth with fine or coarse weave. The coarseness of the weave will be determined by the task you are doing. This can be used to bundle herbs, strain liquids and wrap rolled meats.
Chiffonade: It means made of rags. It refers to thin strips of fresh herbs or lettuce.
Clarified Butter: Clarified butter has had the milk solids removed. You may also see it written as drawn butter. This is typically used as a dipping sauce for seafood. The purpose of clarifying butter is that butter burns at a certain temperature due to the milk fats. However, when clarified, butter will not burn at such low temperatures.
Cream (verb): To beat a fat alone or with sugar to get a light fluffy consistency.
Crisp-Tender: The state in which vegetables have been cooked until just tender, but are still somewhat crunchy. Requires a little pressure to stick a fork through them.
Curdle: Causes semisolid pieces of coagulated protein to develop in a dairy product. (Kind of like cottage cheese)
Dash: Small amount of seasoning. Usually between 1/16th of a tsp and 1/8 of a tsp.
Deglaze: Add a liquid, such as water, wine or broth to a skillet that has been used to cook meat.
Drawn: A term that refers to a whole fish, with or without scales, that has had its organs removed.
Drip Pan: A metal or disposable pan placed under a food during grilling to catch drippings.
Emulsify: To combine two liquids or semi-liquids, such as oil or vinegar that don’t naturally dissolve together.
Fillet: A piece of meat that has no bones.
Flake: To gently break food into small, flat pieces.
Fold: A method of gently mixing ingredients without decreasing their volume.
French: To cut meat away from the end of a rib or chop to expose the bone.
Frost: To apply a cooked or uncooked topping.
Giblets: The edible internal organs of poultry, including the liver, heart, and gizzard.
Glace: The french term for glazed or frozen. In the U.S., it refers to a candied food.
Glaze: A thin, glossy coating.
Gluten: An elastic protein present in flour, especially in wheat flour, that provides most of the structure to baked products.
Grilling, direct: A method of quickly cooking food by placing it on a grill rack directly over the heat source.
Grilling, indirect: Method of slowly cooking food in a covered grill over a spot where there is no heat source. Usually over a drip pan.
Hors D’oeuvre: (or-DERV): French term for small, hot or cold portions of a savory food served as an appetizer.
Ice: To drizzle or spread baked goods with a thin frosting.
Julienne: Cut into long thin strips.
Marble: To gently swirl one food into another. Usually done with light and dark cake.
Mull: To slowly heat a beverage with spices.
Pan-broil: To cook food, especially meat, in a skillet without added fat, removing any fat as it accumulates.
Parboil: To boil food, such as vegetables, only until it is partially cooked.
Pare: To cut off the skin or outer covering of a fruit or vegetable.
Partially Set: A mixture of gelatin and liquid that has the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.
Poach: To cook food by partially or completely submerging it in water.
Proof: To allow a yeast dough to rise before baking.
Reconstitute: To bring concentrated or condensed food, such as a frozen juice to its original strength by adding water.
Reduce: To decrease the volume of a liquid by boiling it rapidly.
Roux (roo): A french term that refers to a mixture of flour and a fat cooked to a golden or rich brown color and used for a thickener in sauces, soups, and gumbos.
Saute: Stirred in a small amount of fat over a fairly high heat in an open, shallow pan. Foods should be cut into the same size.
Steep: To allow food, such as tea, to stand in water that is just below boiling point.
Weeping: When liquid separates out of a solid, such as jellies, custards, and meringues.
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