The Ultimate Cooking & Baking Glossary
When I started to experiment in the kitchen with more complex recipes, I often found myself confused and flabbergasted by the terms used in some recipes. Every time I ran across a term I didn't understand, I looked it up and wrote it down. That's how this glossary came to be.
Because this glossary has 300+ items in it, I divided it into three sections: Cooking & Baking Techniques, Cookware & Utensils, and Types of Ingredients and Foods. Hopefully you guys find what you're looking for!
Cooking & Baking Technique Terms
À la Carte
(Pronunciation: ah luh -kahrt) Refers to food that can be ordered as separate items and has individual prices, rather than part of a set meal.
À la Grecque
(Pronunciation: a-la-grek) Literally translated from French, à la grecque means "in the Greek manner". Refers to Greek style of cooking whereby food, often vegetables, is served in a sauce made of olive oil, lemon juice and a combination of spices.
À la Minute
(Pronunciation: a lah min-oot) A French phrase used to describe something that is cooked to order.
(Pronunciation: a -pwan) Cooking until the ideal degree of doneness, often referring to meat as medium rare.
A process where dry ingredients pass through a sifter and air is circulated through. As a result, there is a change in composition of the sifted material. It is usually used in reference to flour.
The term al dente comes from an Italian phrase which translates as "to the tooth". It generally means to cook food firm to the bite. The phrase is most commonly used in reference to pasta.
(Pronunciation: amooz-boosh) Literally translated from French, "amuse the mouth" is a small bite of food served as you site down for dinner. It is a gift from the chef and is usually served in fine restaurants.
(Pronunciation: oh -graht-n) Sprinkled with breadcrumbs or grated cheese and browned.
(Pronunciation: oh -zhoos) A French culinary term meaning "with juice". It refers to meat dishes prepared or served together with a light gravy, or broth, made from the fluids secreted by the meat as it is cooked.
(Pronunciation: oh -pwa-vruh) French for "with pepper", it usually refers to a sauce or preparation incorporating crushed black peppercorns
(Pronunciation: oh seck) A process often used in sauce making to describing a liquid which has been reduced until it is almost completely dry.
(Pronunciation: beyn-muh-ree) A container holding hot water into which a pan is placed for slow cooking, otherwise known as a "water bath" or "double boiler".
To cook food by dry heat without direct exposure to a flame, typically in an oven.
To cook or roast foods over an open hearth or fireplace.
To cover meat with a layer of fat before cooking to maintain the moisture of the meat while it cooks.
A technique to keep food moist and to add flavor by spooning, brushing, or squirting a liquid, such as fat or meat drippings, onto meat while it is cooking.
To stir rapidly in a circular motion to make a smooth mixture, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer.
(Pronunciation: ben-yay) A fritter or doughnut without a hole in th ecnter. It is a deep-fried pastry that is doused in copious amaounts of confectioner's sugar. New Orleans is well-known for having delicious beignets.
To cut on an angle
A cooking technique where fruits, vegetables or nuts are partially cooked in boiling water or steam to intensify and set color and flavor.
Blanch and Shock
To cook fruits, vegetables or nuts rapidly (about a minute or less) in boiling water. After which the blanched food is immediately transferred to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking in its tracks.
To combine two or more ingredients by hand or with an electric mixer or blender, until smooth and uniform in texture, flavor and color.
A baking technique where the pie- or pastry crust is baked without its filling. The crust is pricked with a fork and a sheet of parchment paper and baking beans are placed on top to keep the crust flat while baking. The pie filling is then added and the pie or pastry is baked again if necessary.
To cook food in liquid at a temperature that causes bubbles to form in the liquid and to rise in a steady patter, breaking at the surface.
To remove the bone(s) from a piece of meat.
To cook first by browning the food in butter or oil, then gently simmering in a small amount of liquid over low heat for a long period of time in a covered pan until tender.
A coating of crumbs, sometimes seasoned, on meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables.
Marinating foods in a strong solution of water and salt. Traditionally, this cooking technique is used to preserve or pickle food. It is also used to add flavor and juiciness to meat and poultry before grilling, broiling, sautéing or roasting.
To expose food to direct heat on a rack or spit, often used for melting food like cheese.
The strained clear liquid in which meat, poultry or fish has been simmered with vegetables and herbs. It is similar to stock and can be used interchangeably. Reconstituted bouillon can also be used when broth specified.
To cook over high heat (usually on the stove-top) until the food has a golden-brown color.
To add fresh herbs to a marinade, herbs are often "bruised". The herbs, usually their whole sprigs, are pounded with a pestle and mortar to release their aromatic oils.
A very, very small dice. Brunoise cuts typically measure 1/8 of an inch on each side of the cube.
To split food, such as lobster or pork chops, through the middle without completely separating the halves. Opened flat, the split halves resemble a butterfly.
A food, usually a fruit, nut or citrus peel that has been dipped or cooked in sugar syrup.
To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup.
To cut or slice cooked meat, poultry, fish or game into serving-size pieces
(pronunciation: shif-oh-nod) Slicing foods into thin ribbon-like threads. Most often used when referring to sliced herbs.
To cool food to below room temperature in the refridgerator or over ice. When recipes call for chilling foods, it should be done in the refrigerator.
To cut vegetables into large squares, usually specified by the recipe.
To evenly cover food with crumbs, flour, or a batter.
Coming from the French "concasser" which means to "to crush or grind", concasse is a cooking term meaning to roughly chop any ingredient, usually vegetables or fruit. The term is particularly applied to tomatoes, where tomato concasse is a tomato that has been peeled, seeded and chopped to specific dimensions.
(pronunciation: con-fee) Duck or other meat cooked very slowly at a low heat in its own fat.
To remove the tough central parts and seeds that are usually not consumed. The term is mostly used in reference to fruit.
To work two or more ingredients, typically butter and sugar, together to form a smooth and fluffy paste.
To pinch or press pastry or dough together using your fingers, a fork or another utensil. Usually done for a piecrust edge.
To smash food into smaller pieces, generally using hands, a mortar and pestle, or a rolling pin.
To cut food into small cubes, usually 1/2 inch squares.
Curing is a non-heated method of cooking meant for preserving. The food is packed with a salt mixture so that the moisture is drawn out of the food.
To work a solid fat, such as shortening, butter, or margarine, intro dry ingredients. This is usually done using a pastry blender, two knives in a crisscross fashion, your fingertips or a food processor.
1/8th of a teaspoon.
To cook food by completely immersing it into hot (liquid) fat. To deep-fry a vegetable oil, such as peanut or sunflower oil) with a smoking point over 200°C (400°F) should be used.
Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.
To remove the moisture from food in order to preserve it. Coconut is a food that is commonly desiccated.
To cut into small pieces, usually 1/4 to 1/8 inch chunks.
To immerse food for a short time in a liquid or dry mixture to coat, cool, or moisten it.
A spoonful of a semi-solid food, like whipped cream or masted potatoes, placed on top of another food.
To lightly coat uncooked food with a dry mixture, usually with flour, cornmeal, or bread crumbs, to be pan fried or sautéed.
To put oil, vinegar, salt or other toppings on a salad or other food.
To pour liquid back and forth over a dish in a fine stream, usually melted butter, oil, syrup, or melted chocolate.
To coat lightly with a powdery ingredients, such as confectioner's sugar or cocoa.
Emincer is a French cooking term that means to slice thinly. It is often mistakenly thought by English-speakers to mean “chop finely”, based on what the English word “mince” means.
A form of food preservation that uses naturally occurring "gut friendly" organisms to convert the natural sugars in food into acids.
To drizzle a flammable spirit (alcohol) over a food while its cooking and ignite it just before serving.
To coat or dust a food or utensil with flour. Food may be floured before cooking to add texture and improve browning. Baking utensils are floured to prevent sticking.
To make indentations around the edge of a pie, in an undulating pattern, sealing the edge of the dough.
A technique to gently combine light ingredients, such as whipped cream or beaten eggs whites, with a heavier mixture, using an over-and-under or folding motion.
To cook food in hot cooking oil or fat, usually until a crisp brown crust forms. Pan-frying uses just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet.
To coat foods with mixtures such as jellies or sauces.
To reduce food, usually cheese or vegetables, to small shreds by rubbing it across a grating surface.
To coat a pan or dish with some kind of fat to prevent food from sticking during cooking.
The flavors extracted when adding ingredients to a liquid and heating them slowly, then letting them sit or "steep" while cooling.
Cutting vegetables into long, thin strips, approximately 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch.
To work (moistened flour or clay) into dough or paste with the hands.
A knife cut that results in 3/4 inch squared pieces.
The soaking of an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid so that it takes on the flavour of the liquid. Can also be used to soften dried fruit.
To gently swirl one food into another. Marbling is usually done with light and dark batters for cakes or cookies.
To soak in a sauce or flavoured liquid for a long period of time, usually a meat, poultry or fish.
To press or beat a food to remove lumps and make a smooth mixture. This can be done with a fork, potato masher, food mill, food ricer, or electric mixer.
A knife cut that results 1/2 inch squared pieces.
A very fine chop, with pieces about 1/4 inch or smaller. These will effectively melt into whatever you are cooking.
Mise en Place
(pronunciation: meez-ahn-plahss) The practice of assembling and preparing all the ingredients before starting to cook.
To stir or beat two or more foods together until they are thoroughly combined. May be done with an electric mixer or a rotary beater, or by hand with a wooden spoon.
To slowly heat a beverage, such as cider, with spices and sugar.
Nap, Nappé, Napper
To coat with sauce. Sauces are said to nap when they leave an opaque coating on the back of a spoon.
To partially cook by boiling, usually to prepare the food for cooking by another method.
To cut off the skin or outer covering of a fruit or vegetable using a small knife or a vegetable peeler.
The process of preserving food in a brine, which is a salt or vinegar solution
1/16th of a teaspoon.
To put a decorative line or pattern on a cake or similar dish, using frosting, whipped cream, etc.
To remove the seed from fruits such as avocados, cherries, or peaches.
To cook in gently bubbling liquids such as stock or a broth.
Using a food-specific meat pounder/tenderizer to flatten meats to an even thickness. This allows the meat to cook evenly.
To partially or completely cook a food before using it in a recipe.
To heat an oven or utensil to a specific temperature before using it.
(pronunciation: pree-feeks) Translated from French prix fixe literally means "fixed price". It is a multi-course meal served at a pre-set price.
(pronunciation: proh-ven-sahl) An area of Southern France on the Mediterranean bordered by Italy, where olive oil rather than butter is the choice for cooking. Many dishes utilize locally prolific tomatoes, garlic, herbs, eggplant, artichokes, and almonds.
Ingredients that are crushed or blended until smooth. Usually done with the assistance of a blender or food processor.
To restore dried foods or drinks to its original state by adding water. For example, you reconstitute dried noodles in boiling water.
To heat a liquid over medium heat to thicken to a sauce consistency and concentrate flavors.
To halt the cooking process, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice cold water.