Au jus - To serve with the natural juices or
Bake - Cook by dry heat in an oven; or to cook
pancakes on a griddle.
Baking sheet - Good baking sheets (also called
cookie sheets) are thick, and the best are insulated. Nonstick baking
sheets can make life easier.
Baking (Pizza) stone - It is best to bake pizza
and bread directly on a hot surface, and a baking stone provides
the hot surface needed.
Barbecue - To roast meat slowly on a spit or grill
over coals, or in the oven, basting frequently with a highly seasoned
Baste - To moisten foods during cooking with drippings,
water or seasoned sauce, to prevent drying or to add flavor.
Beat - To work a mixture smooth with a regular,
hard, rhythmic movement.
Blanch - To immerse fruits or nuts in boiling water
to remove skins or make easy to peel; also, to dip fruits and vegetables
in boiling water in preparation for canning, freezing or drying.
Blend - To mix two or more ingredients until smooth
Blind bake - To bake a piecrust before it is filled
to create a crisper crust. To prevent puffing and slipping during
baking, the pastry is lined with foil and filled with pie weights,
dry beans or uncooked rice. These are removed shortly before the
end of baking time to allow the crust to brown.
Boil - Cook in boiling liquid in which bubbles
rise vigorously to the surface. The boiling point of water is 212 F
at sea level.
Braise - To brown meat or vegetables in small quantity
of hot fat, then to cook slowly in small amount of liquid either
in the oven or on top of the stove. Braising is an ideal way to
prepare less-tender cuts of meat, firm fleshed fish and vegetables
Broil - Cook by exposure to direct heat under the
broiler of a gas or electric range, in an electric broiler, or over
an open fire.
Brown - To cook food quickly on top the stove (in
fat or without fat), under a broiler, or in the oven to develop
a richly browned, flavorful surface and help seal in the natural
Brush - To spread food with butter or margarine
or egg, using a small brush.
Butterfly - To split a food such as shrimp, boneless
lamb leg or pork chop, horizontally in half, cutting almost but
not all the way through, then opening (like a book) to form a butterfly
shape. Butterflying exposes more surface area so the food cooks
evenly and more quickly.
Candy - To cook fruit in a heavy sugar syrup until
transparent, then drain and dry. Also, to cook vegetables with sugar
or syrup to give a coating or glaze when cooked.
Caramelize - To melt sugar slowly over very low
heat until sugar is liquid, deep amber in color and caramel flavored.
Chill - To refrigerate food or let it stand in
ice or iced water until cold.
Chop - To cut food into small
pieces with a knife or small cutting appliance.
Chow (Stir-fry) - A basic cooking method in Oriental
kitchens. Generally a wok is used, but you may use a frying pan.
The food is tossed about in a hot pan with very little oil, in a
process not unlike saut ing.
Clarify - To clear a liquid, such as consomm ,
by adding slightly beaten egg white and egg shells; the beaten egg
coagulates in the hot liquid and the particles which cause cloudiness
adhere to it. The mixture is then strained.
Coat - To roll foods in flour, nuts, sugar, crumbs,
etc., until all sides are evenly covered; or to dip first into slightly
beaten egg or milk, then to cover with whatever coating is called
for in a recipe.
Coats spoon - When a mixture forms a thin, even
film on the spoon.
Coddle - To cook slowly and gently in water just
below the boiling point. Eggs are frequently coddled.
Combine - To mix various ingredients together.
Cook - To prepare food by applying heat in any
Core - To remove the core or center of various
fruits, such as apples, pears and pineapple, and vegetables, such
as lettuce and cabbage. Coring eliminates small seeds or tough and
Correct the seasoning - To check for salt, pepper
or herbs to make sure the dish has turned out as expected.
Cream - To rub, whip or beat with a spoon or mixer
until mixture is soft and fluffy. Usually describes the combining
of butter and sugar for a cake.
Crimp - To pinch or press dough edges - especially
piecrust edges - to create a decorative finish and/or to seal two
layers of dough so the filling does not seep out during baking.
Edges of parchment or foil may also be crimped to seal in food and
its juices during cooking.
Crisp - To make firm and brittle in very cold water
or in refrigerator (lettuce or other greens, for example).
Curdle - To coagulate, or separate, into solids
and liquids. Egg- and milk-based mixtures are susceptible to curdling
if they are heated too quickly or combined with an acidic ingredient,
such as lemon juice or tomatoes.
Cut - To break up food into pieces, with a knife
Cut in - To mix shortening with dry ingredients
using a pastry blender, knife or fork. Usually applied to pastry
Deep-Fry - Cooking in enough fat to cover the food
completely. The aim is to produce foods with a crisp golden-brown
crust and a thoroughly cooked interior without letting them absorb
too much fat. The kind, quantity and temperature of the fat are
important in accomplishing this result.
Deglaze - After meats or vegetables have been browned,
wine or stock is added to the pan over high heat, and the rich coloring
that remains in the pan is gently scraped with a wooden spoon and
combined with the wine or stock.
Devein - To remove the dark intestinal vein of
a shrimp by using the tip of a sharp knife, then rinsing the shrimp
in cold water.
Develop - Allow food to sit for a time before serving
so the flavors have a chance to blend or brighten.
Devil - To coat with a hot seasoning, such as mustard
or a hot sauce. Eggs are "deviled" when the yolk is mixed
with highly spiced seasonings.
Dice - To cut food into small cubes of uniform
size and shape, usually about 1/4 inch in size.
Dissolve - To make a liquid and a dry substance
go into solution.
Dot - Scatter small amounts of specified ingredients,
usually butter, or nuts, chocolate, etc. on top of food. This adds
extra richness and flavor and helps promote browning.
Dredge - To sprinkle, coat or cover with flour,
crumbs, cornmeal or other seasoned mixture.
Drizzle - To slowly pour a liquid, such as melted
butter or a glaze in a fine stream, back and forth, over food.
Dust - To sprinkle a food or coat lightly with
flour, sugar, cornmeal or cocoa powder.
Emulsify - To bind liquids that usually cannot
blend smoothly, such as oil and water. The trick is to add one liquid,
usually the oil, to the other in a slow stream while mixing vigorously.
You can also use natural emulsifiers - egg yolks or mustard - to
bind mixtures like vinaigrettes and sauces.
Ferment - To bring about a chemical change in foods
or beverages. Beer, wine, yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, cheese and
yeast breads all get their distinctive flavors from fermentation.
Fillet - A strip or compact piece of boneless meat
Flambe - To sprinkle with brandy or liqueur and
ignite and serve flaming.
Fold; Fold in - To combine two
ingredients or two combinations of ingredients by two motions; cutting
vertically through the mixture and turning over and over by sliding
the implement (usually a rubber spatula or wire whisk) across the
bottom of the mixing bowl with each turn.
Fork-tender - A degree of doneness for cooked vegetables
and meats. You should feel just a slight resistance when food is
pierced with a fork.
Fricassee - To cook pieces of fowl or meat by braising
and serving with a thickened sauce.
Fry or Pan-Fry - To cook in a small amount of fat
on top of the stove; also called "saut " and "pan-fry."
Garnish - To decorate any foods. Nuts, olives,
parsley, citrus zest and so forth are called garnishes when used
to give a finish to a dish.
Glace - To coat with a thin sugar syrup cooked
to the crack stage.
Glaze - To cover with aspic; to coat with a thin
sugar syrup; to cover with melted fruit jelly. Cold meats, fish,
fruit, etc., are often glazed.
Grate - to rub on a grater to shred or flake.
Grill - See "Broil."
Hack - When cutting up chickens or thin boned meats,
one "hacks" with a cleaver, thus cutting the meat into
large bite-size pieces and retaining the bone. The presence of the
bone will keep the meat moist during cooking.
Julienne - Food cut into very thin strips.
Knead - To work and press dough with the heels
of your hands so the dough becomes stretched and elastic.
Lard - To insert strips or pieces of fat into uncooked
lean meat for added flavor and moisture; or, slices of fat may be
spread on top of uncooked lean meat, meatloaf or fish for the same
Leavening - Any agent that causes a dough or batter
to rise. Common leaveners include baking powder, baking soda and
yeast. Natural leaveners are air (when beaten into eggs) and steam
(in popovers and cream puffs).
Liqueur - A sweet, high-alcohol beverage made from
fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, or herbs infused with a spirit, such
as brandy or rum. Traditionally served after dinner as a mild digestive,
liqueurs can also be used in cooking.
Lukewarm - At a temperature of about 95 F. Lukewarm
food will feel neither warm nor cold when sprinkled on or held to
the inside of the wrist.
Marinate (Marinade) - To let foods stand in a marinade,
usually an acid-oil mixture of oil and vinegar or wine, often flavored
with spices and herbs.
Melt - To heat solid food, like sugar or fat, until
it becomes liquid.
Mince - To cut with knife or scissors into very
Mix - To stir, usually with a spoon, until ingredients
are thoroughly combined.
Pan-broil - To cook, uncovered, on a hot surface,
usually a skillet. The fat is poured off as it accumulates.
Pan-fry - To cook or fry on top of the range in
a hot, uncovered skillet with little or no fat. Steaks, chops, potatoes
are frequently cooked this way.
Parboil - To boil until partially cooked.
Pare - To cut away coverings of vegetables and
Pasteurize - To sterilize milk by heating, then
rapidly cooling it.
Peel - To strip or slip off outer coverings of
some fruits or vegetables.
Pinch - The amount of a powdery ingredient you
can hold between your thumb and forefinger -- about 1/16 teaspoon.
Pipe - To force a food (typically frosting or whipped
cream) through a pastry tip to use as a decoration or garnish, or
to shape dough, such as that for eclairs.
Pit - To remove the seed or pit.
Plank - To bake or broil meat, fish or vegetables
on a wooden or metal plank.
Poach - To cook eggs, fish, chicken, fruit and
other delicate foods in hot liquid (below the boiling point), being
very careful that food holds its shape.
Pot-roast - To brown meat in a small amount of
fat, then finish cooking in a small amount of liquid.
Pound - To flatten meats and poultry to a uniform
thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. This ensures even
cooling and also tenderizes tough meat by breaking up connective
tissues. Veal and chicken cutlets are often pounded.
Preheat - To heat oven to stated temperature before
Prick - To pierce a food in many or a few places.
You can prick a food in order to prevent buckling - an empty piecrust
before it is baked, for example - or bursting - a potato before
baking, or sausages before cooking.
Proof - To test yeast for potency: If you're
not sure if yeast is fresh and active, dissolve it in warm water
(105 to 115 F) with a pinch of sugar. If the mixture foams after
5 to 10 minutes, the yeast is fine to use. Proofing also refers
to the rising stage for yeast doughs.
Punch down - To deflate yeast dough after it has
risen, which distributes gluten (the elastic protein in flour that
gives bread its strength) and prevents dough from over-rising. Punch
your fist in the center of dough, then pull the edges toward the
Puree - To force vegetables, fruits and other foods
through a fine sieve, food mill or ricer or blend in an electric
blender or food processor to remove skins, seeds and so forth, and
to produce a fine-textured substance.
Reconstitute - A procedure used for preparing dried
foods, whereby the product is soaked in fresh water for a time.
Reduce - To evaporate some of the liquid in stock
or sauce by boiling.
Render - To heat meat fat, cut into small pieces,
until fat is separated from connective tissues. The clear fat is
strained before being used in cooking. The crisp, brown bits left
in the skillet - delicious but high in fat - are called cracklings.
Roast - Cook (Bake) by dry heat in an oven, on
a spit in an oven, over charcoal, or in an electric rotisserie.
Roux - A blend of flour and oil or butter used
to thicken sauces and gravies. The fat and flour are mixed together
in equal amounts over heat. If a white roux is desired, the melting
and blending are done over low heat for a few minutes. If a brown
roux is desired, the flour is cooked in the fat to the desired degree
Rubbed - When whole-leaf herbs, such as sage or
bay leaves, are crushed in the hands so that their oils are released,
the herbs are then referred to as having been rubbed.
Saute - To fry lightly until golden and tender
in a small amount of hot fat on top of range, turning frequently.
From the French word that means "to jump."
Scald - To heat liquid just below the boiling point;
milk has reached a scalding point when film forms on the surface.
Scallop - To arrange foods in layers in a casserole
(such as scalloped potatoes), with a sauce or liquid, and then bake.
Usually has a topping of bread crumbs.
Score - To cut narrow grooves or gashes part way
through fat, in meats before cooking.; e.g., in steaks to prevent
curling, or to cut diamond-shaped gashes through fat in ham just
Scramble - To stir or mix foods gently while cooking,
Sear - To cook at a very high temperature, either
on top of range or in oven, for a short time in order to quickly
form a brown crust on the outer surface of meat.
Shave - To cut wide, paper-thin slices of food,
especially Parmesan cheese, vegetables, or chocolate. Shave off
slices with a vegetable peeler and use as garnish.
Shirr - To break eggs into a dish with cream or
crumbs, then bake.
Shot - A liquid measure that amounts to very little
or to taste. A shot of wine is about 1 ounce, but a shot of Tabasco
is less than 1/16 teaspoon.
Shred - To cut food into slivers or slender pieces,
using a knife or shredder.
Shuck - To remove the shells of oysters, mussels
or clams, or the husks of corn.
Sift - To put dry ingredients through a fine sieve.
Simmer - To cook in a liquid that is kept just
below the boiling point; bubbles form slowly and break below the
Skewer - A long, thin metal or wooden pin used
to secure or suspend meat and/or vegetables during cooking. To thread
foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, on a wooden or metal
skewer so they hold their shape during cooking.
Skim - To remove fat or froth from the surface
of a liquid, such as stock or boiling jelly.
Steam - To cook on a rack or holder over a small
amount of boiling water in a tightly covered container.
Steep - To allow food, such as tea, to stand in
hot liquid to extract flavor and/or color.
Sterilize - To heat in boiling water or steam for
at least 20 minutes, until living organisms are destroyed.
Stew - To cook foods, in enough liquid to cover,
very slowly - always below the boiling point.
Stir - To mix, usually with a spoon or fork, until
ingredients are worked together.
Stir-fry (Chow) - A basic cooking method in Oriental
kitchens. Generally a wok is used, but you may use a frying pan.
The food is tossed about in a hot pan with very little oil, in a
process not unlike saut ing.
Stock - A liquid in which vegetables or meat has
Sweat - To saute over low heat with a lid on. This
method causes steam and expedites the cooking time.
Temper - To heat food gently before adding it to
a hot mixture so it does not separate or curdle. Often eggs are
tempered by mixing with a little hot liquid to raise their temperature
before they are stirred into a hot sauce or soup.
Tender-crisp - The ideal degree of doneness for
many vegetables, especially green vegetables. Cook them until they
are just tender but still retain some texture.
Terrine - A dish used for the cooking and molding
of coarse-ground meat loaves. Also the meat itself. The
dishes are found in many styles and materials.
Toast - To brown and dry the surface of foods with
heat, such as bread and nuts.
Toss - To tumble ingredients lightly with a lifting
motion, as in a salad.
Truss - To tie meat with metal or wooden pins or
skewers, or string, to help meat hold its shape during cooking.
Whip - To rapidly beat eggs, heavy cream, etc.,
in order to incorporate air and expand volume.
Whisk - To beat ingredients (such cream, eggs,
salad dressings, sauces) with a fork or the looped wire utensil
called a whisk so as to mix or blend, or incorporate air.
Zest - To remove the colored peel of a citrus fruit.
Use a grater, zester or vegetable peeler to remove the outermost
part, avoiding the bitter white pith underneath. The peel itself
is often referred to as zest.