Glossary of Cooking Terms
- Al dente
- Pasta that's cooked just till firm to the touch.
There should be slight resistent when you bite into it. Not overcooked
- A single spice whose flavor is reminiscent of a
blend of cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries and pepper. It is processed from the
unripe fruit of an evergreen tree indigenous to South America, and extensively
grown in Jamaica.
- A herb, available both ground and in seed form,
whose flavor is reminiscent of licorice. Used for flavoring curries, soups,
cakes, breads, candies, desserts, nonalcoholic beverage, and such liqueurs as
- A white powder, extracted from the root of a West
Indian plant, used as a thickening agent for sauces, fruit pie fillings and
glazes, and puddings. Recipes made with Arrowroot thicken at a lower
temperature than those made using cornstarch. If a recipe calls for cornstarch
and you want to use Arrowroot instead, just subtititue 2 teaspoons of Arrowroot
for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- To cook using dry heat by placing foods in an oven
(covered or uncovered, whatever your choice), under coals, or on a heated
- Baking Powder
- Used as a leavening agent in preparing baked goods.
Consists of a carbonate, an acid substance, and starch or flour. Check the
expiration date as baking powder loses its leavening power over time. Instead
of discarding when it becomes old just use it as a deodorizer in your
- Baking Soda
- A leavening agent which must be combined with an
acidic liquid to achieve results. Sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt,
molasses, orange or lemon juice produce good results
- Herb which is widely used in Italian dishes, most
particularly with tomato-based entrees. Basil is used to make pesto and is also
an excellent seasonin for chicken and fish. Plant basil between your tomato
plants to repel all sorts of tomato pests.
- To moisten and improve the flavor of foods (usually
meats) by brushing on, drizzling or spooning over pan drippings, fruit juices,
- Bay Leaf
- An aromatic leaf that comes from bay laurel trees
and used to flavor soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes. Place the whole
leaf right in the dish you're preparing but be sure to remove the bay leaf
- To rapidly stir food in a circular motion using a
spoon or fork, rotary egg beater or electric mixer. (one minute in an electric
mixer equals about 100 strokes with a spoon or fork)
- To boil or steam foods briefly in order to either
remove the skins (tomatoes, nuts, etc), whiten, or prepare food for freezing by
stopping the enzymatic action.
- To mix ingredients together until thoroughly
- To heat liquids until bubbles form on the surface
and steam forms.
- Bouquet Garni
- A mixture of herbs that is either tied together or
enclosed in a porous container and cooked with a dish but removed before
serving. The herbs most often used include equal measures of thyme, parsley and
crushed bay leaf; however a bouquet garni can also consist of equal measures of
thyme, chervil and crushed bay leaf OR equal measures of basil, marjoram, and
- A method of cooking foods (most often used for
meats) by quickly browning in oil and then cooking slowly in liquid (wine,
stock, etc) in a covered pot .
- To dip foods into a liquid (beaten eggs, milk, etc)
then coat food with bread crumbs.
- Using intense heat to cook food (usually meats) by
placing it directly under a broiler or on a grill. This is a low-fat way to
cook as the fat drips away.
- To cook food quickly (usually meats) over high
heat by either frying or broiling until the surface browns sealing in all the
- To melt either sugar or sugary foods by cooking
slowly over low heat until the contents become browned. Be carful not to burn
- To cut food either into small chucks (finely
chopped) or large chunks (coarsely chopped).
- Leaves of coriander used as a flavoring or garnish
- To cook food slowly in water keeping the water just
- Condensed Milk
- Evaporated milk to which a lot of sugar has been
- Confectioners' Sugar
- A refined finely-powdered sugar, often used in
- The seed of a plant in the parsley family with a
flavor reminiscent of a blend between sage and lemon.
- Starch made from corn and used in foods as a
thickening agent and in making corn syrup and sugars. To prevent lumping be
sure it's thoroughly mixed in a cold liquid before adding.
- To mix an ingredient or combination of ingredients
until soft, smooth and well-blended. Usually the ingredients contain butter or
shortening and sugar
- Cream of Tartar
- The ingredient left behind from wine fermentation.
Used as the main ingredient in baking powder and to stabilize beaten egg
- To cut foods into uniform 1/2"to 1"
- Cut in
- To mix butter, shortening, etc., into dry
ingredients by using a pastry blender or two knives.
- Curry Powder
- A condiment consisting of several pungent ground
spices including cayenne pepper, turmeric, and fenugreek.
- A very small quantity measuring three drops to 1/4
- Deep Fry
- To cook food by placing in enough hot oil cover the
- Double Boiler
- A cooking method consisting of two saucepans
fitting together so that the contents of the upper pan can be cooked or heated
by boiling water in the lower one.
- To coat food with flour, bread crumbs, etc.
- The process used to make a great-tasting sauce
using the browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan by heating a little
bit of wine or stock and stirring to loosen the brown bits.
- To sprinkle lightly with sugar or flour.
- To bind together substances which do not normally
mix, such as oil and water. Egg yolk is a commonly used for this purpose.
- Evaporated Milk
- Unsweetened milk concentrated by partial
- To cut the bones from meat or fish.
- To cook food in hot fat over medium to high heat
- To break food into small pieces, usually done with
- To combine two ingredients, usually a heavier
ingredient (whipping cream) with a lighter ingredient, (egg white). Using a
rubber spatula, lift the heavier mixture from the bottom and blend with the
lighter mixture on top..
- edible ornaments to enhance the appearance of food
- To shred hard food by rubbing it against a grater.
- A kitchen utensil with different sized sharp-edged
holes, for rubbing off small particles of any hard food..
- To prevent foods from sticking by lightly coating a
pan with butter, shortening, cooking spray, etc.
- To cook food on a rack over hot coals or other heat
- To transform food into pieces ranging from small
(fine grind) to large (coarse grind) using a food processor or grinder.
- To cut food into matchstick-sized strips
- To mix dough on a floured surface by pressing the
dough down with the palm of your hands then folding it over itself; repeat the
process until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Adding a leaving agent such as yeast, baking powder
or baking soda to ingredients in order to allow either dough or batter to rise.
- A savory usually acidic sauce in which meat, fish,
or vegetable is soaked to enrich its flavor or to tenderize it.
- To finely chop food, resulting in tiny pieces.
- To combine ingredients until smooth and evenly
- To cook uncovered over high heat in a pre-heated,
lightly-greased heavy pan, constantly removing any fat that accumulates.
- Partially cooking food in boiling water, stock, etc
for a few minutes just to tenderize the food, cooking is normally completed
using another method.
- To remove skin from fruits and vegetables using a
- a measure of dry ingredients that is normally the
amount that can be held between the thumb and forefinger, usually much less
than 1/8 teaspoon
- To cook food slowly in simmering water, milk,
- foods usually fruits or vegetables reduced to a
smooth, thick consistency using either a blender, food processor or a sieve.
- To boil a liquid, uncovered, until the volume is
reduced by evaporation, which thickens and intensifies the flavor.
- To cook food in an oven, using dry heat.; placing
food on a spit before a fire; or surrounding food with hot embers, sand or
- to cook quickly over high heat in an open frying
pan with a small amount of butter, oil or cooking spray, turning food
- To heat milk to just below the boiling point.
- To cook at very high heat for a short period of
time in order to brown meat and seal the surface ensuring that the juices are
- To cut or tear food into long, thin strips
- To pass dry ingredients, usually flour and baking
powder, salt, etc., through a fine-meshed strainer or sifter to blend
ingredients thoroughly and remove larger pieces thereby lightening the texture
of the mixture.
- To cook in liquid just below the boiling point..
- Soy Sauce
- A sauce containing soybeans, wheat, and salt. Used
in marinades and sauces or as a condiment for white rice.
- To cook food slowly and for a long period of time
using a small amount of liquid in a covered pan or pot
- To cook food quickly over high heat with a small
amount of oil using a skillet or wok, being sure to constantly stir ingredients
- To remove solid particles from a mixture or liquid
by pouring through a colander or sieve.
- A smooth, oily paste made from sesame seeds
- To brown with dry heat in an toaster or oven.
- To blend foods together by gently turning the
pieces over until the ingredients are well mixed
- To add air and volume to food by beating rapidly
using a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy.
- A wire kitchen utensil used for mixing dry
- Worcestershire Sauce
- a pungent sauce consisting of soy sauce, vinegar,
molasses, and garlic
- A small amount of the grated rind or thin outer
skin of any type of citrus fruit (orange and lemon being the most common) used
as flavoring especially in baking.