Cooking Terms

Aromatic
To be able to smell the ingredient as it wakes up when cooked.

Beat
To combine a mixture using a spoon, fork, or kitchen utensil called a whisk, or by using an electric mixer. The important thing to remember is to mix all the ingredients until the mixture looks smooth. Mixing by hand can get tiring. Try to use a fast circular motion with your wrist, not your arm.

Blanch
To cook a food in boiling water for a few minutes. Blanching seals in color and juices and helps to remove skin or peels. This is usually done as a first step when preparing a more complicated recipe.

Boil
To heat a liquid (usually water) until many bubbles appear on the surface. A rapid boil is when the bubbles appear very quickly.

Broil
To cook food (usually meat and veggies) directly under a heat source. For example, you can broil food in a traditional oven or in a toaster oven, on the broil setting. Food such as meat turns brown or crispy on the outside and cooks quickly.

Brown
To quickly cook a food (usually meat) on the outside only. The reason for browning is to seal in juices and to make food more appealing by giving it color. This can be done using a frying pan or by broiling the food for a short time in the oven. Try to turn the food so that all sides are quickly cooked and have a brown or grilled look on the outside.

Chopped (largest and uneven)
To cut foods into pieces that are not necessarily even. (Approximately 1/2")

Chill
To place food inside of the refrigerator until it gets cold.

Cubed (largest and even)
To cut food into pieces that are even, like a cube. The size is usually about the same as the chopped pieces sizes. (Approximately 1/3 to 1/2")

Diced (medium)
To cut foods into small squares using a sharp kitchen knife. These pieces should be as even as possible. (Approximately 1/4")

Divided
When a recipe calls for an ingredient to be divided, it means that you will use the ingredient more than once in a recipe. Read ahead in the cooking steps to find the measurement you need.

Drain
To remove the liquid out of a food that you are cooking. A strainer or colander can be used to drain liquid from a food.

Dredge
To coat food with an ingredient such as flour or egg by dragging it through a bowl filled with the coating.

Drizzle
To lightly sprinkle a liquid such as melted butter or sauce on top of a food.

Dust
To lightly sprinkle a dry ingredient such as confectioners sugar on top of a food.

Flip
To cook something on one side and then the other such as pancakes.

Fold
To gently mix a lighter ingredient such as egg whites into a heavier one, such as batter.

Garnish
To decorate food with herbs such as parsley, dill, or mint, lemon slices, vegetables, or other food items.

Grate
To break apart either a soft food such as cheese or a hard food such as carrots using a metal tool with different size holes called a grater, or by using an electric food processor on the “grate” setting.

Grease
To cover the inside of a pan, bowl, or container, with butter, lard, or cooking spray. This will allow the food put in it to be removed more easily.

Grill
To cook food on a barbecue grill, stovetop grill, or hibachi grill. This cooking process uses flames to cook the food with high heat.

Lardons
Slab bacon sliced into matchsticks about ¼-inch thick, 1-inch long.

Let stand
To let a food cool or set at room temperature before cutting it or before serving it.

Marinate
To place food such as meat, chicken, fish, or vegetables in a seasoned liquid in order to give the food additional flavor before cooking.

Mantecatura/Mentecare
This is the process of adding the pasta or rice to sauce and simmering together on low heat while mixing constantly in order to combine them perfectly. This is also the term used to describe the constant stirring necessary to make a good creamy risotto. Mantecare, a verb, generally means to whip, beat it or stir vigorously, to create a smooth, creamy consistency. The whole process is called mantecatura, a noun.

Minced (smallest)
To cut foods into even, very small pieces. First chop the food, then cut it up even smaller by rocking a knife back and forth and across the food until the pieces are tiny. This process can be done by hand or by using an electric food processor. (Approximately 1/4")

Mix
To stir or put together more than one ingredient. This can be done by hand with a spoon or by using an electric mixer.

Peel
To take off the outer covering of a food such as an apple. A “peeler” is a kitchen tool that helps with this task. If you use a knife instead, always peel in the direction away from your body to avoid cutting yourself.

Pinch
A very small amount of an ingredient that is measured between your thumb and index fingers.

Pressed
Used to refer to garlic that is passed through a garlic press.

Puree
To blend to the texture of apple sauce.

Reserve
To temporarily set something aside. For example, sometimes recipes will have you reserve liquid ingredients to add to the recipe later.

Rest
To let meat sit undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the juices to soak back into the meat before you cut it.

Roux
Equal weights of flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces. The flour is added to the melted fat or oil on the stove top, blended until smooth, and cooked to the desired level of brownness. Butter, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. Roux is used as a thickening agent for gravy, sauces, soups and stews. It provides the base for a dish, and other ingredients are added after the roux is complete.

Sauté
To fry lightly with a small amount of butter or oil in a pan.

Season with
To add salt, pepper, herbs, spices or other seasonings to give a plain food more flavors.

Seeded
When a recipe calls for a fruit or vegetable to be seeded, it means to remove all of the seeds before cooking or eating.

Simmer
To simmer is to boil liquid ingredients very gently so that only tiny bubbles come to the surface.

Soffritto/Mirepoix //So-Free-Toe Meer-Pwah
A flavor base made from diced vegetables cooked—usually with butter, oil, or other fat—for a long time on low heat without coloring or browning. It is not sautéed or otherwise hard cooked, because the intention is to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them. Usually the vegetable mixture is onions, carrots, and celery with the traditional ratio being 2:1:1, two parts onion, one part carrot, and one part celery.

Steam
To cook food over boiling water using a “steamer” basket that is placed inside a pot or by cooking food in a small amount of boiling water.

Stir
To mix ingredients in a rotating motion in a bowl by using a wooden spoon or whisk.

To taste
To add salt, pepper or an herb (amount is up to the cook) to give the food more flavor.

Whisk
To beat ingredients with a kitchen tool called a “whisk” in order to make sure the food is well mixed.

Wilted
Wilting occurs when heat causes spinach or other greens to quickly cook and gives it a droopy appearance.

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