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A-Z Cooking Glossary

There are a number of terms and unusual words or ingredients we have used in our recipes which we have explained here for you. Just trying to make cooking easier! Let us know if we have missed any.

A

Al dente

Food that is cooked until it is ‘firm to the bite’. This is most commonly used to describe how pasta should be cooked.

Au gratin

Recipes that are browned in the oven, or under a grill. Often refers to dishes that use a sauce and are topped with breadcrumbs and/or cheese.

B

Baste

To spoon juices over food that is being roasted or baked to prevent it from drying out and to glaze the surface – commonly meat, or baked fruit.

Bind

To add eggs, cream or liquid to a recipe to make the other ingredients hold together

Blanch

To plunge food (usually vegetables) into boiling water briefly. The food is then removed and placed into cold water to stop the cooking process. This is often to help loosen their skins or to par-cook prior to freezing.

Bouquet Garni

Herbs, usually parley, thyme and bay leaf tied together (or contained in a small muslin bag) added to soups and stews and removed before serving.

Braise

To cook slowly in a very small amount of liquid in a dish with a tightly sealed lid.

C

Capers

Small green flower buds of a Mediterranean plant which are preserved in salt or vinegar and used to give a sharp burst of flavour in dishes.

Coulis

A strained sauce made from purée fruit or vegetables.

Cream (to)

To beat softened butter and sugar, either by hand, or with an egg beater or cake mixer until they become soft and creamy and lighter in colour.

D

Deglaze

To add wine, stock or other liquid to the sediment and cooking juices left in a pan after roasting or sautéing –which is then heated to make a jus.

Dropping Consistency

The consistency of cake batter when the mixture drops off the spoon with some reluctance.

F

Filo Pastry

Paper thin sheets of pastry commonly used in Greek, Eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisines. Filo is brushed with oil or butter and layered. Found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.

Fold (to)

A gentle hand mixing method used to combine a lighter, airy mixture (eg whipped eggs) with a heavier mixture. Use a metal spoon or spatula to cut through the mixture, gently lifting the bottom mixture to the top and turning the spoon over to ‘fold’ it into the mixture again. The motion is top to bottom rather than round and round.

Freezing

Make sure that anything you put into the freezer is tightly sealed as it’s easy for air to get in and cause freezer burn on your food.

G

Glaze

To coat foods, particularly meat or cakes, with syrup, jam, egg, milk or meat juice to give it a glazed surface when cooked.

Guacamole

A popular Mexican dish of mashed avocado mixed with lemon or lime juice and seasonings such as chilli. Sometimes finely chopped tomato, onion and coriander are added. Used as a dip or with other Mexican food like tacos.

H

Hummus

A puree or dip of crushed cooked chickpeas flavoured with tahini (pounded sesame seeds), oil, garlic and lemon juice.

I

Infuse

To extract flavour from one food into another, often by heating or steeping.

J

Julienne

To cut vegetables into long thin matchsticks.

L

Loose-bottom tin

Cake or flan tin with a removable base which allows the cake to be lifted out cleanly and served directly off the base.

Lukewarm

A temperature that feels neither hot nor cold when tested on the inside wrist – around 35˚C

M

Maldon salt

A gourmet salt which comes from the Maldon area of Essex. Maldon salt flakes are used sparingly as a condiment.

Marinate

To leave meat, poultry, fish, or sometimes fruit to soak in a ‘marinade’. Most often a combination of liquid ingredients and other flavourings. Used to tenderise and add flavour.

Mesclun

A mixture of young shoots lettuces, herbs and leaves used in a salad. Available pre-packed at the supermarket.

P

Panfry

Cook quickly in heated pan using a small amount of oil or butter as stated.

Parboil

To partly cook in boiling water. In the case of vegetables, they should still be very firm, but not crunchy.

Pesto

Traditionally pesto refers to an Italian paste of basil, oil, pinenuts, garlic and parmesan, but can also be made from a variety of herbs and different nuts. Served with pasta, vegetables or breads.

Poach

To cook very gently in simmering water or other liquid eg: wine.

Pureé

To mash, sieve or blend well-cooked vegetables or fruit to create a thick smooth paste.

R

Reduce

To boil rapidly in order to evaporate liquid, concentrate the flavours, and thicken.

Refresh

To plunge cooked vegetables into cold, or iced water to arrest the cooking process after they are removed from boiling water.

Roulade

Refers to something that has been filled or stuffed and rolled. In particular meats, pastries and sponge cakes.

Roux

A method of thickening a sauce by cooking flour and butter together, then gradually stirring in the liquid ingredients.

Rub into

A method of combining flour and butter, by rubbing or pressing the butter into the flour using the finger tips. The butter is ‘rubbed in’ when the mixture reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.

S

Salsa

A mixture of finely chopped vegetables or fruit combined with other flavourings and served cold – usually with spicy food.

Sauté

To fry food quickly in a hot pan, stirring or shaking the pan.

Scald

To heat liquids, (usually milk) until they are just at the point of boiling.

Score

To cut the surface of meat, pastry, or fruit with a sharp knife, without cutting right through it.

Sear

To brown (usually meat) in a hot pan or on a grill.

Simmer

To cook in liquid that is heated to the point where little bubbles rise to the surface.

Skim

To remove fat or scum from the surface of a boiling liquid.

Springform pan

A cake tin with a release spring on the side that allows it to expand and lift away from the cake, leaving the cake and base behind.

Steam

To cook in the steam created by boiling water – usually in a lidded container that allows the steam in through vents in the base. Also refers to method of cooking puddings (especially Xmas puddings) where the pudding is cooked in a tightly sealed container which is immersed in boiling water.

Steep

To stand food in hot liquid in order to extract the flavour.

Stir-fry

Method of cooking – traditionally in a wok, but also in a pan, where small pieces of food are cooked at a high temperature while turning and tossing constantly until just cooked.

Stock

Used as the base of soups, stews and in risottos – can be home made or packaged.Beef, chicken, vegetable and fish stocks are the most common.

Sweat

To cook vegetables, particularly onion, until the juices just run and the vegetable softens without colouring.

Swiss roll tin

A shallow rectangular baking tin often used to bake slices.

T

Tortilla

In Spain a tortilla is a set omelette often containing potato and other vegetables. In Mexico tortilla refers to a flatbread made from corn or wheat flour.

V

Vinaigrette

A salad dressing made from oil, vinegar and seasonings.

W

Water Bath

(or french term bain-marie )

A method of cooking whereby food is placed in a dish, pan or bowl and is sat in a large pan of warm water which surrounds the food with gentle heat.

This method of cooking can be used on the top of the stove or in the oven.

This cooking technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards and sauces without breaking or curdling them.

Whip

To beat with an egg-beater or electric beater until thick and frothy.

Whisk

To beat with a wire whisk until thick or frothy.

Z

Zest

The outer rind of citrus fruit containing essential oils. Must be removed with care – avoiding removing the white pith with it.

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