Cooking And Food Terms And Glossary
A short course in cooking terms. These terms may be familiar to some, but many will be unfamiliar to beginning cooks, and since cookbok often assume we know all these words, they are not defined.
Here are some common cooking terms. An experienced cook will be familiar with these, but a beginner might not be. Cookbook authors often assume that everyone knows these terms, and therefore, do not define them.
Braise: to brown meat, then cook slowly in a small amount of liquid. Used to tenderize tougher cuts of meat.
Blanch: to partially cook vegetables by parboiling.
Parboiling: to boil vegetables until partially cooked.
Saute: to quickly brown vegetables or meat in a small amount of fat.
De-glaze: to pour a small amount of liquid into a hot pan in which something has been fried, to clean the pan bottom, especially as for gravy.
Fold: to gently combine two ingredients, using a bottom-to-top motion with the spoon or scraper.
Sear: to quickly brown the outside of meat at a high temperature.
Dredge (as in flour): to thoroughly coat in flour.
Scald (as in milk): to heat milk just to the point that steam is rising from it, but not to boiling.
Scraper/spatula: these terms are sometimes used interchangably. Technically, a spatula is used to turn food in a pan, such as pancakes. A scraper is a flat, flexible piece of rubber attached to a handle. These are useful for scraping food down the sides of a pan or bowl.
Julienne: to cut vegetables in finger-length, narrow strips. Often used in stir-fry dishes.
Dice: to finely chop.
Egg wash: brushing the top of a baked item, such as bread, lightly with a beaten egg.
Cream (as in butter and sugar): a baking technique involving combining butter or margarine and sugar together together to a fluffy consistency. Done by thoroughly beating butter in a bowl, then gradually adding sugar until mixture is fluffy and creamy.
Merengue: a baking term used to refer to the shells made from egg white and flavoring, and filled with a sweet filling, or to the egg whites on a pie, and browned in the oven.
Oleo: a term for margarine often found in older cookbooks. A stick of oleo is a stick of margarine.
Tube pan: a round cake pan with tall, smooth sides and a metal tube in the middle. Often used for angel food cake, but an excellent all-purpose cake pan.
Springform pan: a round cake pan with straight sides that come away from the cake separately. Often used for cheesecakes.
Jellyroll pan: a baking pan, usually 9 1/2 by 13, with sides about an inch high. Also good for use as a cookie sheet.
Insulated baking sheet: a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan that has a two-layer bottom.
Cake pan: round baking pan with straight sides.
Pie pan: round baking pan with slanted sides.
Rolling boil: when substance is boiling sufficiently that stirring with a spoon does not cause it to stop boiling.
Soft ball/soft crack; hard ball/hard crack: these are candy-making terms that denote what a ball of the candy does when placed in a cup of cold water. A good candy thermometer will have these stages noted on it.
Buttercream frosting: the simplest kind of frosting, it is uncooked and made from confectioner's sugar, butter, milk and flavoring.
Cooked frosting: a more complicated, candy-like frosting, made from sugar, butter, flavoring and milk, and cooked on the stovetop.
Royal icing: a hard icing used for decorating purposes. This icing becomes solid quickly. It is often used on cookies. The icing, once hard, does not soften.
Simple syrup: a syrup that results from cooking water and sugar together until boiling.
"Spin a thread": a candy-making term that explains the thread that appears between the spoon and candy when the spoon is lifted and turned.
Pinch/dash: small, inexact amounts that basically add up to "to taste."
Punch down: a term used in working with yeast-risen products. After letting the dough rise, one flattens it forcefully in the bowl before turning it out onto a floured board.
Knead: another bread-making term, refers to the folding and working motion used to make the dough elastic in consistency.
Rise: in bread-making, to leave the dough in a warm place and allow to double in volume.
Rest: in bread-making, to let the dough sit a few minutes before kneading more.
Gravy: a thick sauce, usually made from pan drippings and other liquid, plus flour.
Sauce: food topping (may or may not be cooked) made from any ingredients on hand, including butter, flour and milk, or even eggs.
Double a recipe: to increase all recipe amounts times two. One cup of flour doubled is two cups and so on. Makes a recipe bigger.
Halve a recipe: to cut the amounts of a recipe by 50 percent. One cup woulld become one-half cup, and so forth. Makes a recipe smaller.
Many churches publish their own cookbooks, and these often have excellent charts and tips very useful for the beginning cook. The recipes are usually good, too, so these are good resources for inexperienced cooks.