COOKING TERMS

Advanced level chef The advanced cook knows the kitchen inside and out and can do virtually anything in it, including producing a complete menu. Recipes are easily executed, and he or she is able to add their own flair to a recipe without compromising its heart.
Adjust To change the seasonings in a dish by adding a spice, herb, and so on, after you have tasted the dish to see if it needs more flavoring.
Al dente An Italian phrase meaning “to the tooth”, used to describe food that is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.
Baste To spoon or brush food as it cooks with melted butter or other fat, meat drippings or liquid such as stock.
Beat To make a mixture smooth by adding air with a brisk whipping or stirring motion, using a spoon or an electric mixer.
Blanch To precook in boiling water or steam to prepare foods for canning or freezing, or to loosen their skins.
Blend To process food in an electric blender, or to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients by hand with a stirring motion to make smooth and uniform mixture.
Bone To remove the bones, sinew, and gristle from meat, poultry, game, and fish.
Boil To cook in liquid at boiling temperature (212 degrees F. or 100 degrees C. at sea level) where bubbles rise to the surface and break. For a full rolling boil, bubbles form rapidly throughout the mixture.
Bouillon A clear soup made by cooking meat, usually beef, together with vegetables and seasonings, and then straining the resulting stock. It can also be prepared from bouillon granules or bouillon cubes.
Bouquet garni A combination of several herbs, such as parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, either tied in a bunch or put in a small cheesecloth bag and added to stews, soups, and sauces. It can easily be removed at any stage in the cooking.
Braise To cook slowly with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan on top of the range or in the oven.
Bread To coat with bread crumbs before cooking.
Broil To cook by direct heat under a broiler in an electric or gas range.
Broth Any clear soup usually made with meat or fish stock.
Brown To cook foods quickly over moderately high heat so that they turn a rich golden brown color.
Butterfly To split a food (such as shrimp) down the center, cutting almost but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly shape.
Can To preserve food by sealing it in airtight containers. The food is processed either in a water bath or pressure canner.
Candy To cook in sugar or syrup, when applied to sweet potatoes and carrots. For fruit or fruit peel, cook in heavy syrup until translucent and well coated.
Caramelize To melt sugar slowly over low heat until it becomes brown in color.
Carve To slice meat or poultry into serving-size pieces.
Chill To refrigerate foods or put them in a bowl filled with ice until they are cold.
Chop Using quick, heavy blows of a knife to cut food into pieces. Chopped food is more coarsely cut than minced food.
Clarify To make liquids clear by filtering, such as stock or broth, or butter.
Coat To evenly cover food with crumbs, flour, or a batter.
Coddle To cook food in water just below the boiling point, as in coddled eggs.
Cool To remove from heat and let stand at room temperature. When a recipe says, “cool quickly,” the food should be chilled or set in a bowl of ice water to quickly reduce its temperature.
Cream To beat a mixture with a spoon or electric mixer until it becomes soft and smooth. When applied to combining shortening and sugar, the mixture is beaten until light and fluffy, depending on the proportion of sugar to shortening.
Crimp To decorate the edges of a pie crust by pinching the top and bottom crusts together with your fingers.
Crisp-tender To cook food to the stage where it is tender but still crisp.
Crown Roast A special occasion roast formed from the rib section of a pork or lamb loin by tying into a circle, ribs up. The roast’s hollow center section is usually filled with mixed vegetables or other stuffing.
Crush To reduce a food to its finest form, such as crumbs, paste or powder. Crushing is often accomplished with a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin.
Cube To cut into pieces that are the same size on each side – at least 1/2 inch.
Cut in To mix shortening with dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives.
Deglaze Deglazing is done by adding a small amount of liquid (usually wine or an acid) to a pan that food (usually meat) has been sautéed. The liquid will help loosen any browned bits of food that are stuck to the bottom and the resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan.
Degrease To remove the fat from food. Fat rises to the top of food, making it easier to scoop the fat out.
Deseed To remove the inedible or fibrous seeds of fruits and vegetables.
Devein To remove the vein from the back of shrimp or to remove the interior ribs from peppers.
Dice To cut food into tiny cubes.
Dilute To make a food weaker by adding water or other liquid.
Dollop To add a small amount, such as a scoop or spoonful, of a semiliquid food to garnish another food.
Dot To distribute small bits of food over another food, such as dotting an apple pie with butter before baking.
Dredge To lightly coat foods to be fried, as with flour, cornmeal or breadcrumbs.
Drippings The melted fat and juices that gather in the bottom of a pan in which meat or other food is cooked. Drippings are used as a base for gravies and sauces and in which to cook other foods.
Drizzle To coat food lightly with a dry ingredient such as flour, bread crumbs, or sugar.
Dust To sprinkle foods lightly with sugar, flour, etc.
Fillet To cut lean meat or fish into pieces without bones.
Finely shred To rub food across a fine shredding surface to form very narrow strips.
Flake To break food lightly into small pieces.
Flute To make small decorative impressions in food. Pie crusts are fluted by pressing the pastry edge into various shapes.
Fold To add ingredients gently to a mixture. Using a spatula, cut down through the mixture; cut across the bottom of the bowl, and then up and over, close to the surface. Turn the bowl frequently for even distribution.
Freeze To reduce the temperature of foods so that the liquid content becomes solidified.
Fry To cook in hot fat. To pan fry, cook food in a small amount of fat. To deep-fat fry, cook the food immersed in a large amount of fat.
Garnish To decorate the served dish with small pieces of food that have distinctive texture or color, such as parsley.
Glaze To brush a mixture on a food to give it a glossy appearance or a hard finish.
Grate To reduce a large piece of food to small particles or thin shreds by rubbing it against a course, serrated surface, usually on a kitchen utensil called a grater.
Grease To coat a pan with fat to keep foods from sticking.
Grilling To prepare food on a grill over hot coals, or other heat source.
Grind To use a food grinder to cut a food into very fine pieces.
Hull To remove the stem of strawberries by hand or with a special implement called a huller.
Husk To remove the outside leaves from ears of corn.
Intermediate level chef By the time a cook reaches an intermediate level, no supervision will be required in the kitchen. Cooking is understood and can be completed well.
Julienne To cut vegetables, fruits, or meats into match like strips.
Knead To work dough with the heel of your hand in a pressing and folding motion.
Line To cover a pan or cookie sheet with paper to prevent foods from sticking.
Marinate To allow a food to stand in a liquid to add flavor.
Mince To cut food into very small pieces. Minced food is in smaller pieces than chopped food.
Mix To blend ingredients with a stirring motion using a spoon or fork.
Mull To heat beverages such as red wine and cider with spices and sugar.
Novice level chef Novice cooks are true first-timers in the kitchen, learning as they go. They are still learning basic terms and techniques, as well as the proper, safe, and efficient use of kitchen equipment. Once the water is boiling, though, they’re onto the next level!
Panbroil To cook uncovered, removing fat as it accumulates.
Panfry To cook food in a small amount of hot fat.
Parboil To partially cook food in boiling water before completely cooking it by some other process.
Pare To remove the skin from fruits and vegetables (the same as peeling). Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler.
Partially set To chill gelatin mixtures to the point in setting when the consistency resembles raw egg whites.
Peel To remove the outer layer or skin from a fruit or vegetable.
Pickle To preserve or flavor meat, fish, vegetables, etc. in a brine, or a solution made of vinegar, spices, and other seasonings.
Pit To remove the seed from a piece of fruit.
Plump To soak food (such as raisins or dried fruit) to make it soft and tender.
Pound To flatten food, especially meat, to make it thinner and more tender.
Poach To cook food in hot liquid, being careful that the food holds its shape while cooking.
Precook To cook food partially or completely before the final cooking or reheating.
Preheat To set the oven to a desired temperature so it is hot enough to receive food.
Preserve To prepare meat, fruit, vegetables, etc. for future use by salting, boiling in syrup, soakingin a brine, dehydrating, curing, smoking, canning, or freezing.
Prick To pierce food so it won’t explode, rise, expand, or shrink unnecessarily as it cooks.
Puree Any food (usually a fruit or vegetable) that is finely mashed to a smooth thick consistency. Can be used as a garnish or used to thicken soups and sauces.
Reconstitute To rehydrate dried food (such as dried mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes) by soaking it in water or other liquid.
Reduce To boil a liquid (usually stock, wine, or sauce mixture) rapidly until the volume is reduced by evaporation, thereby thickening the consistency and intensifying the flavor, sometimes referred to as a reduction.
Render To separate solid fat such as suet or lard from meat tissue by melting.
Roast To cook a meat, uncovered, in the oven. Pot-roasting refers to braising a meat roast.
Sauté To cook food in a small amount of oil or other fat in a skillet over direct heat. In French, it literally means to jump.
Scald To bring food to a temperature just below boiling so that tiny bubbles form at the edges of the pan.
Scallop To bake food, usually in a casserole, with a sauce or other liquid.
Score To cut narrow grooves or slits partway through the outer surface of a food.
Sear To brown meat quickly by subjecting it to very high heat either in a skillet or under the broiler in the oven. The object is to seal in the juices.
Season To add flavor to food by adding salt, pepper, herbs, or spices.
Shred To cut food into narrow strips either by hand or by using a grater or food processor. Cooked meat can be shredded by pulling apart with two forks.
Sift To put one or more dry ingredients through a sieve or sifter to incorporate air and break up lumps.
Simmer To cook food gently in a liquid at a temperature of 185 degrees or until tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface.
Slice To cut food into evenly shaped pieces.
Steam To cook food in steam. A small amount of boiling water is used and more water is added during steaming if necessary.
Steep To extract color, flavor, or other qualities from a substance by leaving it in liquid just below the boiling point.
Sterilize To destroy microorganisms by boiling, dry heating, or steaming.
Stew To destroy microorganisms by boiling, dry heating, or steaming.
Stiff peaks To beat egg whites until peaks stand up straight when the beaters are lifted from the mixer bowl, but are still moist and glossy.
Stir To mix ingredients with a spoon in a circular or figure-eight motion until well combined.
Stir-fry To cook food quickly in a small amount of hot fat, stirring constantly.
Strain To separate solid from liquids through a strainer or fine sieve.
Toss To mix ingredients lightly by lifting and dropping them with a spoon or a spoon and fork.
Whip To beat food lightly and rapidly, incorporating air into the mixture to make it light and to increase its volume.
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