Cooking Terms For newer cooks, this food dictionary is the perfect place to begin to understand those strange cooking terms you find in the recipes you look through. More experienced cooks will find it valuable as well, when you come across a term and you're not quite sure it means what you think it means. Bake: To cook using dry heat, either covered or uncovered, in an oven or oven oven-type type appliance. Bake Blind: To bake a pie crust or shell while empty. To prevent pastry from puffing up, the shell is usually lined with baking paper and filled with "blind beans". (See below) Bard: To tie bacon or pork fat over a joint of meat or poultry before it is roasted to prevent it from drying out during cooking. Baste: To moisten meat or other foods to prevent it drying out while cooking and to add flavor. You can baste using pan drippings or another moist flavoring such as a marinade. Beat: To make a mixture smooth by adding air. Use a brisk over and over stirring motion with a spoon, or a rotary motion using a manual beater or electric mixer. Blanch: To heat for a short time in boiling water or steam. Used for preparing food for canning, freezing or drying. It helps loosen the skins of fruits, vegetables or nuts. Blend: To combine two or more ingredients together thoroughly. Blind Beans: Dried beans, peas, rice, pasta or specially made beads used to fill pastry shells during baking and later removed. Boil: To heat a liquid to the point that bubbles break continuously on the surface. Braise: To cook slowly in a covered pan using a small amount of liquid. Bread: To coat with flour, and then dip into beaten egg or milk, then coat with crumbs from crushed stale bread, cereal or crackers. Broil: To cook by direct heat, under a broiler or over hot coals. Caramelize: Too melt sugar, or foods containing or mixed with sugar, slowly over low heat without burning, until the sugars melt and become brown in color. Chop: To cut food into small pieces with a knife. Clarify: To make a liquid (butter,, stock or broth) clear by skimming skimming away or filtering out fat and impurities. Coat: To cover food on all sides with flour, crumbs or batter. Coddle: To cook food (especially eggs) slowly in water just below the boiling point. Cool: To let hot food stand at room temperature until it is no longer hot. Cream: To make a fat, like butter or margarine, soft and smooth by beating it with a spoon or mixing with a mixer. Also, to combine a fat like butter with sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Cube: To cut a solid food into squares of about 1/2" in size or larger. Cut In: To mix a solid fat (e.g. butter, shortening or lard) evenly into dry ingredients by chopping with two knives or a pastry blender. Dice: To cut into small squares of 1/8" to 1/4". Dredge: To cover or coat food with flour ur or a similar dry ingredient. Dust: To sprinkle lightly with flour, sugar or another powdery ingredient. Fillet: A piece of meat, poultry or fish with all bones removed. To fillet is to remove the bones. Flake: To break food into small pieces, usually using us a fork. Flute: To make decorative indentations around the edge of pastries, vegetables or fruit. Fold: To combine two ingredients using a specific movement with a spoon. To fold: Go down through the mixture on the far side of the bowl with a spoon or spatula. Bring the spoon across the bottom of the bowl and up the near side. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat. Keep doing this until the mixture is well blended. Fry: To cook in hot fat; to pan fry in a small amount of fat or deep fry in a large amount of fat that covers the food. Glaze: To coat with a smooth mixture to give food a glossy look. Grate: To rub food against an appliance that cuts it into fine shreds or forms small particles. Often used with cheeses and rinds of citrus fruits. Grill: To cook onn a rack over hot coals or other direct heat source that simulates coals. Grind: To reduce a food to fine particles using a mortar and pestle, blender or food processor.
Infuse: To steep or heat gently to extract flavor. For example to put a vanilla pod into into sugar infuses the sugar with vanilla flavor. Julienne: To cut meat, vegetables or fruit into long, very thin strips. Knead: To manipulate dough in order to develop the gluten. This is done using a pressing motion with folding and stretching For yeast breads: Fold the dough toward you, then push the dough away using the heel of your hand. Rotate the ball of dough 1/4 turn and repeat the action. Continue this motion for several minutes until the dough becomes more elastic than or as long as yourr recipe states. Kneading biscuit dough is done more gently and for less time. Knock Down or Punch Down: To punch or knead the air out of risen dough so that is resumes the volume it had before rising. Marinate: To let food stand in seasonings that include at least one wet ingredient to tenderize and increase the flavor. Mince: To cut or chop food into very small pieces. Mix: To combine ingredients until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Pan Broil: To cook uncovered on a hot surface, removing any fat as it accumulates. Parboil: To cook food in a boiling liquid just until partially done. Cooking may be completed using another method or at another time. Pare: To remove the outer peel or skin of a fruit or vegetable with a knife. Peel: To pull away, strip trip or cut off the outer covering of a fruit or vegetable. Poach: To cook slowly in a liquid such as water, seasoned water, broth or milk, at a temperature just below the boiling point. Prove: To let dough or yeast mixture rise before baking. PurĂŠe: To putt food through a sieve, blender or food processor in order to produce a thick pulp. Reduce: To boil down the volume of a liquid in order to concentrate the flavor. Render: To meld solid fat (e.g. from beef or pork) slowly in the oven. Roast: To cook meat orr vegetables in an uncovered pan in an oven using dry heat. SautĂŠ: To brown or cook meat, fish, vegetables or fruit in a small amount of fat (also see Fry). Scald: To heat milk until just below the boiling point, when you will see tiny bubbles appearing aaround the edges of the pan. Also: to dip food briefly into boiling water ((also see Blanch). Score: To make shallow slits into the food, usually in a rectangular or diamond pattern. Sear: To cook meat quickly at high heat to seal the surface of the meat and produce a brown color. Shred: To cut into long thin strips with a knife or shredder. Simmer: To cook in liquid that is just below the boiling point. Bubbles will form slowly and burst before reaching the surface. Sliver: To cut into long thin pieces with a knife. Often used with almonds or pimentos. Soft Ball: The term used to describe when sugar syrup has been boiled to the point that it is thick enough to form soft balls when dropped into cold water and rubbed between fingers and thumb. Steam: To cook in a covered container over boiling water. The container should have small holes in it to allow the steam from the water to rise. Steep: To let a food stand for a few minutes in just boiled water to increase flavor and color. Stew: To simmer slowly in enough gh liquid to cover. Stir: To mix ingredients in a circular motion with a spoon or fork until well blended. Stir Fry: To cook in a frying pan or wok over high heat in a small amount of fat, stirring constantly. Sweat: To cook gently, usually in butter, a bit of oil, or the foods own juices to soften but not brown the food. Toast: To brown with dry heat in an oven or toaster. Whip: To beat rapidly with a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer to incorporate air, lighten and increase volume. Zest: To grate the outer, colored portion of the skin of a citrus fruit, avoiding the white pith. The thin parings that result are also called the zest.
Cooking Terms for Students