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Cooking Terms     Back to Good Eats Home Page

A la king---Food that is generally served in a white sauce with mushrooms, green peppers, and pimentos
A la mode---Generally refers to ice cream served on top of pie or cake
Aging---The term applied to meat being held at a temperature of 34-36 degrees F. for the purpose of making the meat more tender
Al dente---Refers to slightly chewy or being tough to the bite
Antipasto---An Italian appetizer
Appetizer---A small serving of food served before, after, or as the first course of a meal to stimulate the appetite
Arrowroot---Used as a thickening agent in certain soups and sauces, bringing out a high sheen
Au gratin---Foods covered with a sauce, sprinkled with cheese or bread crumbs, or both, and baked to a golden brown
Bake---To cook by dry heat, usually in an oven
Barbecue Sauce---A highly-seasoned tomato-base sauce
Barbecue---To cook over the embers or coals of an open fire
Baste---To ladle drippings over a piece of meat being cooked as a roast to make it juicy and to prevent dryness
Batter---A mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, etc. which can be poured
Bearnaise sauce---A Hollandaise sauce with a tarragon vinegar mixture added for use with meat and fish
Beat---To lift a mixture with a spoon or an electric mixer to inject air and make the mixture smooth and creamy
Bisque---A thick, rich cream soup generally made from shellfish
Blacken---To coat fish or meat with pepper and/or other spices, then searing the meat in a hot skillet producing meat that is black on the outside but tender on the inside
Blanch---To scald, make white, to partially cook an item, to place fruits or nuts in boiling water to remove the skins, or to dip vegetables in boiling water in preparation for freezing, canning, or drying
Blend---To mix thoroughly two or more ingredients
Boiling point---The temperature reached when a mixture maintains a full bubbling motion on its surface
Boil---To cook in a liquid, generally water, in which large bubbles rise quickly and steadily so that all the liquid is agitated
Bordelaise---A brown sauce flavored with red wine usually served with beef entrees
Bouillon---A liquid similar to a stock, but cleaner and richer in flavor
Braise---To cook meat by searing in fat, then simmering in a covered dish in a small amount of liquid or to brown meat or vegetables in hot fat, then to cook slowly in a small amount of liquid
Brandy---An alcoholic liquor distilled from wine or fruit juices
Braten---German term for roast.
Breading---To coat an item with a mixture of flour, egg, and bread crumbs
Brew---To cook in hot liquid until the flavor is extracted
Brine---A liquid of salt and water or vinegar used in pickling
Brioche---A roll made of light sweet dough, originated in France
Broil---To cook by exposing the food directly to the heat
Broth---The liquid that meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables have been simmered in
Buffet---A table of ready-to-eat hot and/or cold foods, self-service generally with the exception of the hot foods
Cacao---Cocoa, chocolate
Cacciatore---An Italian term for sauteed chicken that is baked with a highly seasoned (basil and oregano) tomato sauce, diced mushrooms, and chives; also sometimes referred to as hunter-style
Canadian Bacon---Trimmed, pressed, smoked loin of pork that may be purchased cooked or uncooked
Canape---An appetizer, toasted bread, or cracker covered with a tasty paste and garnished
Candying---To cook certain fruits or vegetables in a heavy sweet syrup
Caramelize---To heat granulated sugar to a golden brown color for the purpose of flavoring and coloring other food
Carte du jour---Menu of the day
Casserole---A one-pot meal baked and served in an earthenware or glass dish
Caviar---The salted eggs or roe of the sturgeon and other certain fish
Chablis---A white, good-bodied wine, sometimes referred to as white Burgundy
Chicory---A salad green from the endive family
Chiffonade---Finely shredded or chopped vegetables used in soups or salad dressings
Chop---To cut into small pieces using a knife or other sharp utensil
Cider---The juice from pressed apples used as a beverage or to make vinegar
Citron---A lemon-like fruit with thicker skin, larger, and with less acid
Clarify---To make a liquid clear by adding beaten egg white and egg shells. The egg jells in the hot liquid and cloudiness adheres to it and then the liquid is strained
Coatspoon---When a mixture forms a thin, even film on a spoon
Coat---To cover the surface of one food with another
Cobbler---A deep dish pie, generally made with fruit
Cocktail---An appetizer served before or as the first course of a meal, an alcholic beverage served before the dinner, or a cut shell-fish with a tart sauce served at the start of a meal
Coddle---To cook or simmer an item just below the boiling point for a short length of time
Condiment---A seasoning for food, a spicy or pungent relish
Consomme---A clear, strong flavored soup
Core---To remove the central seed part of certain fruits, such as apples or pears
Cottage pudding---Cake served with a warm sweet sauce
Cracklings---Crisp remains left after the fat has been fried out
Cream---To beat until soft and fluffy, generally applies to shortening and sugar
Creole---Usually a soup or sauce containing tomatoes, onions, green peppers, celery, and seasoning
Crepe---French word for pancake
Croissant---A crescent shaped roll
Croquette---A ground food product, held together with the addition of a thick cream sauce and eggs, formed into balls or cones, breaded and fried in oil
Croutons---Small cubes of bread browned to a golden color in the oven or deep fat fryer, generally served with soups or salads
Cube---To cut into even, bite-size pieces
Cuisine---A characteristic style of preparing food
Cure---To preserve by pickling, salting, or drying
Cut in---A part blended into another part
Cutlet---A small flattened boneless piece of meat, generally referring to pork and veal
Deglaze---Adding water, wine, or other liquid to a pan in which meats have been sauteed or roasted to dissolve the crusted juice that has dried on the bottom and sides of the pan
Demiglace---A rich brown stock reduced to only half of its original amount by simmering
Demitasse---A small cup of black coffee
Deviled---An item flavored with hot condiments such as pepper, mustard, or tabasco
Dice---To cut into small cubes or squares
Dissolve---To cause a dry substance to become fluid or to absorb into liquid
Dot---To spot small particles of butter over the top of something
Dough---A thick, soft uncooked mass of moistened flour and other ingredients
Drawn butter---Melted butter
Dredge---To coat an item with dry ingredients such as flour
Dress---To trim or clean poultry or fish
Drippings---The fat and natural juice that drips from roasted meats
Du jour---French word meaning of the day
Dust---To sprinkle an item with flour or sugar
Emulsify---A liquid mixture suspended in another mixture (generally eggs and oil) to prevent separation
Entree---Main course of the meal
Epicure---A lover of food and wine
Extract---Drawing flavors from certain foods, used to flavor other food items
Fine herbs---A combination of three or four herbs chopped very fine
Flambeau---To serve on a flaming torch
Florentine---With spinach
Fold---To mix, using a motion beginning vertically down through the mixture, continuing across the bottom of the bowl and ending with an upward and over movement
Fondant---An icing made by boiling sugar and water to the point of crystallization then whipping it into a creamy mass
Fondue---A style of preparing foods which involves dipping vegetables, meats, breads into various heated sauces
Frappe---Frozen or partly frozen to the consistency of mush for dessert items
French Toast---Bread dipped in a batter of eggs and milk and fried til golden brown on both sides
Fricassee---Pieces of chicken, lamb, or veal stewed in liquid and served in a sauce made from the same liquid
Fritters---Food dipped or coated with a batter and fried to a golden brown in oil
Garbanzo beans---Dried or canned Chick peas
Garnish---To decorate a dish with an item to improve its look
Gherkin---A small sweet or sour pickled cucumber
Giblet---The gizzard, heart, and liver of Poultry
Glaze---To coat or cover an item with a glossy coating
Goulash---A rich, savory brown stew and generally the main seasoning is paprika
Gourmet---A connoisseur of fine foods and drink
Grate---To rub or wear into small particles, by rubbing on the rough surface of a grater
Griddle---A large, flat heavy pan with heat applied from the bottom
Grits---Coarsely ground hominy
Gruyere---A type of Swiss cheese made in France and Switzerland and has smaller holes than true Swiss cheese
Gumbo---A rich creole-type soup consisting of chicken broth, onion, celery, green peppers, okra, tomatoes, and rice
Hard Sauce---A dessert sauce made of butter, lemon extract, sugar, and vanilla
Head cheese---Jellied, spiced, pressed meat from the hog's head
Herbs---Savory leaves such as tarragon, sage, basil, parsley, oregano, etc.
Hollandaise---A rich, creamy sauce made of butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice
Hominy---Hulled Indian corn used for a cereal food, coarsely ground or broken
Homogenize---To break up fat globules into small particles, generally referring to milk
Hors d'oeuvres---An appetizer typically served before a meal
Hush puppies---A Southern deep fried food consisting of corn meal, milk, onions, baking powder, etc.
Infusion---Liquid extracted from tea, herbs, or coffee
Irish stew---A white lamb stew generally made with lamb, carrots, turnips, potatoes, onions, dumplings, and seasonings
Jambalaya---A combination of meat or seafood and rice cooked together
Julienne---To cut into long, very thin strips
Karo---A fairly thin, light or dark corn syrup
Kebob or Kabob---Small cubes of meat and/or vegetables roasted on a skewer
Knead---To place dough on a flat surface and work it, pressing down with your hands, then folding over and over again
Kosher---Meat that is butchered and processed according to the Hebrew religious laws
Kumquat---A small citrus fruit resembling a small orange, about the size and shape of an olive
Leek---A plant from the green onion family with little or no bulb and fairly long broad, mild-flavored green stems. The green stems are used to season or flavor foods
Legumes---Dried vegetables such as beans, lentils, and split peas
Lentil---A flat edible seed of the pea family generally used in soup
Limburger Cheese---Soft, rich, odorous, ripened cheese originally made in Belgium
London Broil---A broiled flank steak, sliced on the bias and generally served with a rich mushroom or Bordelaise sauce
Lyonnaise---To prepare and serve with onions
Marinade---A brine or pickling solution in which meat can be soaked before cooking to alter or enrich the flavor
Marinate---To let food stand in a liquid that will add flavor and tenderize
Marrow---Soft tissue from the center of beef and veal bones
Marsala---A semi-dry Italian sherry wine
Masking---To coven an item completely with a sauce or another ingredient
Mayonnaise---A rich salad dressing emulsified by whipping together eggs, oil, and vinegar
Melt---To dissolve or make liquid by heating
Menu---The list of foods served or Bill of Fare
Meringue---Egg whites and sugar beaten together to form a white frothy mass, generally used to top pies and cakes
Mincemeat---A blended mixture of finely chopped cooked beef, currants, apples, suet, and spices
Mince---To cut food into very small, fine pieces
Minestrone---A thick Italian soup made with vegetables, dried legumes, and pasta
Minute Steak---A small, fairly thin, boneless sirloin steak
Mirepoix---A mixture of fairly fine, diced vegetables such as carrots, onions, and celery
Mixed grill---A combination of any four broiled or grilled items, generally lamb chop, bacon, sausage, and tomato slices
Mixing---To combine two or more ingredients
Mocha---A flavoring made of coffee and chocolate
Mold---A metal form in which you can shape certain foods to make them look more attractive
Mornay sauce---A rich cream sauce with eggs and Parmesan cheese added
Mousse---A frozen dessert made mainly with whipped cream, sweetening, and flavoring
Mozarella---A fairly soft Italian cheese with a rubbery texture and is great to use in making pizza
Mutton---The flesh or meat of a mature sheep
Napoleons---A French pastry made my separating the layers of pastry with a cream filling and topping with an icing
Nougat---Generally a confection of pasty consistency, containing sugar, almonds, and pistachio nuts
Omelet---Beaten eggs, seasoned, fried with butter or grease in a pan until it starts to puff then folded over or rolled
Panache---Two or more kinds of one item in a dish, mixing colors
Papaya---A tropical fruit from which the juice can be used to tenderize certain meats
Parboil---To partially cook or boil in water
Pare---To cut off the outer covering or skin with a knife or other sharp tool
Parfait---Different colored ice creams served in a tall parfait glass with syrup and often fruit, topped with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry
Parmesan---A hard Italian cheese, usually sold in the grated or powdered form
Pastry bag---A duck cloth, cone bag with a metal or plastic tip at the small end used to decorate foods
Pate---A paste of ground meat or liver
Peel---To strip off an outer covering or skin
Petite---French word for Small
Petits fours---Small cakes iced with fondant and decorated
Pilaf or Pilau---Rice cooked in chicken stock with minced onions and seasonings
Pimiento---Sweet red peppers, canned
Piquant---Generally a sauce that is sharp and tart to the taste
Planked---Meat or fish served on a board usually garnished with duchess potatoes and vegetables
Poach---To cook in water that bubbles only slightly
Popovers---Quick, puffed-up hot bread made of milk, sugar, eggs, and flour generally containing a fruit mixture
Pot pie---Meat and vegetables in a rich creamy sauce, covered with a pie crust
Poulet---French word meaning Chicken
Proof---To let yeast dough rise by setting it in a warm, moist place of at least 85 degrees F
Puree---Any type of food cooked to a pulp
Ramekin---A small shallow baking dish in which foods can be baked and served in
Rasher---A thin slice of bacon
Ravioli---Small, square noodle dough cases filled with seasoned ground meat, grated seasoned cheese, or finely chopped seasoned vegetables and served with a meat or mariana sauce
Reduce---To concentrate a liquid by simmering for a long time
Remoulade sauce---A highly seasoned cold sauce similar to tartar sauce, but using mustard and ground pepper added
Render---To cook the grease out of animal fat
Risotto---Rice baked with minced onions and meat stock and adding Parmesan cheese after baking
Romaine---Mild flavored,long narrow, and crisp leaves of salad greens of which the outer leaves are a fairly dark green and the inner leaves are light in color
Roquefort---A famous French blue vein cheese
Roux---A mixture of fat and flour cooked together, usually in equal parts, over low heat until the flour and fat blend together smoothly and is used to thicken soups, sauces, gravies, and stews
Royale---A mixture of cream and eggs baked into a custard for garnishing a consomme and broth
Salami---A highly seasoned dried sausage made from pork, beef, or venison
Sauerbraten---A sour beef pot roast that has been marinated 3-5 days in a vinegar solution to sour the beef and served with a sour sauce
Saute---To quickly heat meat or vegetables in fat in an open pan
Scald---To heat milk or cream just below the boiling point until a scum forms on the surface
Scallion---The muscle of a sea mollusk which operates the opening and closing of the two shells
Scone---A type of Scottish quick bread similar to a biscuit
Score---To mark the surface of certain foods with shallow slits to improve appearance of increase tenderness
Sear---To scorch or char the surface of meat quickly, sealing in the juices
Shred---Cut into thin pieces, using the large holes of a grater or cheese shredder
Simmer---To cook liquid just below the boiling point
Smother---To cook in a covered container until tender or cover an item with another item completely
Sole---A flat, white-meated fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
Souffle---A very light, puffed up item, generally caused by folding beaten egg whites into a basic batter
Spit---A pointed metal rod used for roasting meats over an open fire
Spoon bread---A southern type of corn bread baked in a casserole and of a texture so that it must be served with a spoon
Squab---A young pigeon that has never flown
Steep---To soak in a hot liquid to extract flavor and color or to soften
Stew---To cook meat and vegetables in liquid just below the boiling point
Stir---To blend ingredients using a circular motion
Stock---The liquid in which meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables have been cooked
Stroganoff---Sauteed pieces of beef tenderloin, cooked gently using a sour cream sauce
Tabasco sauce---A hot red pepper sauce
Tapioca---A starch prepared from the roots of a bitter cassava plant for use in pudding and for thickening some soups
Tartare---Steak Highly seasoned, ground beef steak served raw as an appetizer
Tart---Small individual pies, filled with fruit or fruit and cream, without a crust on top
Tenderloin---A strip of very tender meat generally referring to beef, pork, lamb, and veal
Terapin---Fresh-water turtles, used as food
Torte---A fairly small, rich, decorated cake
Tortilla---Mexican griddle cake, a flat, unleavened corn cake baked on a heated stone or iron
Toss---To cause a rising and falling action for the purpose of blending ingredients together as in salads
Truffle---Similar to the mushroom, a black fungus grown mainly in France they are used for seasoning and garnishing
Truss---To bind or fasten with string or skewers such as preparing poultry for roasting
Tureen---A large deep kettle in which soup is served, generally made of silver
Venison---Deer meat
Vermicelli---Long fine rods of pasta similar to spaghetti, but thinner
Vichyssoise---A cream of potato soup that is served cold
Wellington---Beef tenderloin baked in a rich dough until the meat is slightly rare and the crust is crisp and golden
Welsh rarebit---Melted cheddar cheese, flavored with beer, mustard, and worcestershire sauce and served very hot over toast
Whip---To beat rapidly to increase volume and incorporate air
Wiener Schnitzel---A veal cutlet, breaded and fried
Wild rice---The brown seed of a tall northern water grass, usually served with wild game
Zest---A rind of lemon or orange