Cooking Terms


Aspic: A transparent jelly made of meat, fish or vegetable stock, either boiled down or thickened with gelatin to become firm when cold.


Au gratin: French: Describes a topping of cheese or bread crumbs or a sauce over food that is browned under a broiler or baked in the oven.


Au jus: French: Served in natural juice or pan juices.


Baste: To moisten food periodically with a seasoned liquid while cooking.


Bard: To cover a bird or roast with strips of fat in order to automatically baste meat or to protect delicate parts.


Batter: An uncooked mixture, usually of flour, eggs, liquid, and a leavening agent, that is thin enough to pour.


Beat: To stir or mix rapidly in order to blend or make lighter.


Bind: To add egg, cream or other liquid to a mixture to hold it together.


Bisque: A rich, thick soup, a variation of cream soup.


Blanch: To immerse briefly in boiling water. Used to loosen skin, to remove or set color, or to stop enzymatic action (as for canning or freezing).


Bouillon: A clear soup stock not as strongly flavored as broth. it is usually clarified.


Braise: To cook over low heat with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan. Meats may or may not be browned in fat first.


Broil: To cook under direct heat in broiler or over coals.


Cacciatore: Italian style of cooking in a flavorful tomato-wine sauce. Usually chicken or veal.


Canapé: A small piece of fried or toasted bread with a topping. Served as an appetizer.


Candy: To cook in sugar or heavy syrup.


Capon: Roaster which has been gelded; grows larger and has tender meat.


Clarify: For butter, to melt and skim off top foam, then strain off milk solids, using only the clear layer.


Chill: To reduce temperature by putting in refrigerator or over ice.


Coddle: To simmer slowly just below the boiling point (usually applies to eggs or fruit).


Combine: To blend two or more ingredients together.


Cordon bleu: French for blue ribbon; also the name of a well-known French cooking school; a term for an exceptional cook.


Cream: To beat butter, or butter and sugar, until very light and nearly twice original volume.


Crimp: To pinch the edges of pastry together to form a fluted edge and or to seal in a filling.


Crisp-Tender: Cooked until tender enough to be pierced by a fork but still firm to the bite.


Cut In: To mix solid fat with dry ingredients using fingers, pastry blender or two knives.


Cube: To cut into 1/4-inch squares.


Deep Fry: To cover food with hot oil and cook.


Dice: To cut food into small, even cubes.


Deglaze: To loosen pan drippings by adding liquid, usually to make a sauce.


Dissolve: To form a solution by adding a dry substance to a liquid.


Dredge: To coat, usually with flour.


Dress: To add a dressing (as for salads or vegetables); to stuff (as for fowl or meats); to garnish or decorate.


Drizzle: To pour liquid such as melted butter over food in a thin stream.


Dust: To lightly sprinkle one food item with another ingredient.


Enrich: To add eggs, cream or butter.


Entrée: In the United States, the main course of a meal; in other parts of the world, the term denotes a small prepared dish served between main courses at a formal dinner.


Flack: To separate lightly into small, natural divisions.


Flambé: To douse with an alcoholic beverage and ignite.


Flake: To separate into small pieces with a folk.


Flute: To make a decorative edge on the rim of a pie crust.


Fold In: Using a spatula, to combine fragile substances, such as whipped cream, into a heavier mixture with light, circular motions.


Fondue: A dish of melted cheese, broth or oil, into which other pieces of food are dipped; a baked dish, similar to a soufflé ,made of cheese and bread crumbs.


Fricassee: To cook meat by braising or stewing in gravy.


Fry: To cook in oil or fat. For stir-frying or sautéing, a small amount of fat is used. For deep frying, a larger amount is used, often enough to cover the food.


Garnish: To ornament a dish with bright and savory tidbits


Gelée: French, refers to jelly or a jellied substance.


Glaze: To add a shiny appearance to food by applying a coating of syrup, beaten eggs, or milk.


Gluten: The sticky substance in wheat flour that gives dough its tough, elastic quality.


Grease: To apply a thin layer of butter or oil on food or utensils.


Grate: To separate food into small particles by rubbing across the teeth of a grater.


Grill: To cook over hot coals or a gridiron or under a broiler.


Hors d' oeuvre: From the French, literally "outside of work", the term has come to be synonymous with appetizer.


Infusion: A method of preparing beverages by covering a flavoring item with boiling water, covering the pot, and allowing it to stand until flavor is extracted.


Julienne: Cut into match-like sticks or strips.


Knead: To work dough with the palms by pressing, stretching and folding, turning a small amount after each push. Process develops the gluten until dough is smooth and elastic.


Marinate: To let food stand in a highly seasoned liquid or marinade, to tenderize or to add flavor.


Mince: To cut or chop into very small pieces.


Mix: To thoroughly combine ingredients until evenly distributed.


Mold: To give food a specific form by pressing it into or letting it jell in a container of the desired shape.


Pan-broil: To cook uncovered; fat is removed as it accumulates.


Pan-fry: To fry in an uncovered pan in the fat that accumulates from the cooking meat.


Parboil: To boil partially in a liquid. Cooking is unusually completed by baking.


Pare: To remove the peel or outer covering from a fruit or vegetable with a knife.


Paste: A thick creamy mixture, made by mixing dry ingredients with a liquid or by pounding fresh herbs, meats, or nuts with a mortar and pestle.


Pit: To remove the pit or pits from fruits.


Poach: To cook in a hot liquid.


Precook: To cook partially or completely before a final cooking or reheating.


Preheat: To heat an oven or broiler in advance of use to assure that it will be the proper temperature when ready to use.


Purée: To press through a sieve to make food the consistency of a thick paste.


Reduce: To boil a liquid and reduce its quantity through evaporation.


Roast: To cook in an oven, uncovered and without water.


Render: To melt down solid fats to get a liquid oil.


Sauté: To brown in a small amount of oil or butter.


Scald: To bring to a temperature just below the boiling point.


Scallop: To bake in a sauce, usually covered with seasoned bread crumbs.


Score: To make a sharp narrow slits or cuts in the outer surface of food to decorate or to allow seasonings to penetrate.


Sear: To quickly brown the surface of meat using very high heat.


Shred: To form small and narrow pieces by rubbing food against a shredder.


Sift: to put dry ingredients through a sifter or sieve.


Simmer: To stew gently below or just at the boiling point.


Skim: To remove fat or scum from the surface of a liquid. Steam: To cook covered in the vapor that rises from the liquid in which a food is cooking.


Steep: To soak in a liquid at a temperature below the boiling point.


Stew: To boil slowly or with simmering heat.


Stir: To mix ingredients until well blended.


Toss: To mix ingredients lightly without mashing them.


Truss: To bind the wings or legs of a fowl before cooking.


Whip: To beat quickly and steadily with either a hand or an electric beater.


Whisk: To stir rapidly, using a whisk, to blend ingredients or introduce air.