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Cooking terms defined

Al dente: Pasta cooked until just firm; from the Italian “to the tooth”

Bake: To cook food in an oven, surrounded with dry heat; called roasting
when applied to meat or poultry

Baking powder: A combination of baking soda, an acid such as cream of
tartar, and a starch or flour (moisture absorber). Most common type is
double-acting baking powder, which acts when mixed with liquid and again
when heated

Baking soda: The main ingredient in baking powder, baking soda is also used
when there is acid (buttermilk or sour cream, for example) in a recipe. Always
mix with other dry ingredients before adding any liquid, since leavening
begins as soon as soda comes in contact with liquid

Barbecue: To cook foods on a rack or a spit over coals

Baste: To moisten food for added flavor and to prevent drying out while
cooking

Batter: An uncooked pourable mixture usually made up of flour, a liquid, and
other ingredients

Beat: To stir rapidly to make a mixture smooth, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer

Blanch: To cook briefly in boiling water to seal in flavor and color; usually
used for vegetables or fruit, to prepare for freezing, and to ease skin removal

Blend: To thoroughly combine 2 or more ingredients, either by hand with a
whisk or spoon, or with a mixer

Bloom: 1. To soften gelatin in a cool liquid. 2. To age smoked sausage at room
temperature to darken the casing. 3. To extract flavor from spices in hot fat
or oil

Boil: To cook in bubbling water that has reached 212 degrees Fahrenheit

Bone: To remove bones from poultry, meat, or fish

Bouquet garni: A tied bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay
leaves, that is added to flavor soups, stews, and sauces but removed before
serving

Braise: To cook first by browning, then gently simmering in a small amount of
liquid over low heat in a covered pan until tender

Bread: To coat with crumbs or cornmeal before cooking

Broil: To cook on a rack or spit under or over direct heat, usually in an oven

Brown: To cook over high heat, usually on top of the stove, to brown food

Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup ranging in
color from golden to dark brown

Core: To remove the seeds or tough woody centers from fruits and
vegetables

Cream: 1. The butterfat portion of milk. 2. To beat ingredients, usually sugar
and a fat, until smooth and fluffy

Cube: To cut food into small (about 1/2 inch) cubes

Cut in: To distribute a solid fat in flour using a cutting motion, with 2 knives
used scissors-fashion or a pastry blender, until divided evenly into tiny
pieces. Usually refers to making pastry

Deep-fry: To cook by completely immersing food in hot fat

Deglaze: To loosen brown bits from a pan by adding a liquid, then heating
while stirring and scraping the pan

Dice: To cut food into very small (1/8 to 1/4 inch) cubes

Dollop: A spoonful of soft food such as whipped cream or mashed potatoes

Dot: To scatter butter in bits over food

Dredge: To cover or coat uncooked food, usually with a flour, cornmeal
mixture or bread crumbs

Dress: To coat foods such as salad with a sauce. Also, to clean fish, poultry,
or game for cooking

Drippings: Juices and fats rendered by meat or poultry during cooking

Drizzle: To pour melted butter, oil, syrup, melted chocolate, or other liquid
back and forth over food in a fine stream

Dust: To coat lightly with confectioners’ sugar or cocoa (cakes and pastries)
or another powdery ingredient

Fillet: A flat piece of boneless meat, poultry, or fish. Also, to cut the bones
from a piece of meat, poultry, or fish

Fines herbes: A mixture of herbs traditionally parsley, chervil, chives, and
tarragon, used to flavor fish, chicken, and eggs

Flambé: To drizzle liquor over a food while it is cooking, then when the
alcohol has warmed, ignite the food just before serving

Flute: To make decorative grooves. Usually refers to pastry

Fold: To combine light ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg
whites with a heavier mixture, using a gentle over-and-under motion, usually
with a rubber spatula

Glaze: To coat foods with glossy mixtures such as jellies or sauces

Grate: To rub foods against a serrated surface to produce shredded or fine
bits

Grease: To rub the interior surface of a cooking dish or pan with shortening,
oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking to it

Grill: To cook food on a rack under or over direct heat, as on a barbecue or in
a broiler

Grind: To reduce food to tiny particles using a grinder or a food processor

Julienne: To cut into long, thin strips, matchstick-like in shape

Knead: To blend dough together with hands or in a mixer to form a pliable
mass

Macerate: To soak in a flavored liquid; usually refers to fruit

Marinate: To soak in a flavored liquid; usually refers to meat, poultry, or fish

Mince: To cut into tiny pieces, usually with a knife

Parboil: To partially cook by boiling. Usually done to prepare food for final
cooking by another method

Poach: To cook gently over very low heat in barely simmering liquid just to
cover

Purée: To mash or grind food until completely smooth, usually in a food
processor, blender, sieve, or food mill

Reduce: To thicken a liquid and concentrate its flavor by boiling

Render: To cook fatty meat or poultry—such as bacon or goose—over low
heat to obtain drippings

Roast: To cook a large piece of meat or poultry uncovered with dry heat in an
oven

Sauté or panfry: To cook food in a small amount of fat over relatively high
heat

Scald: To heat liquid almost to a boil until bubbles begin to form around the
edge

Sear: To brown the surface of meat by quick-cooking over high heat in order
to add flavor

Shred: To cut food into narrow strips with a knife or a grater

Simmer: To cook in liquid just below the boiling point; bubbles form but do
not burst on the surface of the liquid

Skim: To remove surface foam or fat from a liquid

Steam: To cook food on a rack or in a steamer set over boiling or simmering
water in a covered pan

Steep: To soak in a liquid just under the boiling point to extract the essence—
e.g., tea

Stew: To cook covered over low heat in a liquid

Stir-fry: To quickly cook small pieces of food over high heat, stirring
constantly

Truss: To tie whole poultry with string or skewers so it will hold its shape
during cooking

Whip: To beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce
volume

Whisk: To beat ingredients (such as heavy or whipping cream, eggs, salad
dressings, or sauces) with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air

Zest: 1. The outer, colored part of the peel of citrus fruit 2. The action of
removing said outer, colored part of the peel of citrus with a vegetable peeler
or rasp e.g. "Please zest that lemon"