This is where you will find definitions of most of the less common terms we use throughout the recipes. It is not intended to be an exhaustive glossary of all the culinary terms in existence, but merely as a reference to help you familiarise yourself with the cooking terms you may not yet have come across.
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Also known as a double-boiler, this is a method for heating ingredients that can only be heated very gently. It normally consists of a container of hot water into or onto which another container is placed. The ingredient to be heated is put inside the second container.
A paste made by mixing together equal quantities of butter and flour. It is stirred into sauces and stews in order to thicken them and it must be cooked, otherwise it will leave the sauce tasting of flour.
The process of rapidly boiling an ingredient in water (for typically 30 seconds) before plunging it into cold water to stop the cooking process. This is done to soften the ingredient before further cooking and it also helps the ingredient to retain its original colour.
The process of precooking a pastry case so that the pastry is crisp and cooked before the filling is added, helping to ensure that it does not go soggy.
The process of cooking meat and/or vegetables slowly and immersed in liquid.
The process of frying an ingredient until it has turned brown in colour all over. This happens by caramelising the natural sugars in the ingredient, also known as the Maillard Reaction.
A technique of chopping ingredients so that they are cut into very small cubes of about 3mm in size (similar to Concasse).
The process of applying heat to an ingredient that, in effect, begins to burn the natural sugars in the ingredient, turning it brown in colour and developing a bitter-sweet flavour.
A conical sieve with a very fine mesh, used to take all but the very smallest particles out of a liquid and often used to strain soups and sauces.
A technique of chopping ingredients so that they are cut into small cubes of about 5mm in size (similar to Brinoise).
Originally a medieval French method of preserving fruit (the French word for jam is "confiture") that was later extended to meat, by cooking it and storing the meat sealed in its own fat. These days, this cooking method is mainly used to keep the meat moist and for its flavour.
In cooking, a term to describe the way in which a substance, such as a sauce or dough, holds together; the thickness of a substance.
The term used to describe the liquid left over after cooking something in it. Often used as the base of a sauce.
The large group of mainly aquatic arthropods that include crabs, lobsters, langoustine and shrimps.
The process of preserving meat or fish involving the application of one or more bacteria retarding chemicals, most often salt.
The process of dissolving and/or scraping off the caramelised residue left on the bottom of a pan after frying ingredients, usually using water or wine.
The name given to stock that has been greatly reduced to form a concentrated, strongly flavoured stock. Usually added to sauces and stews.
A technique of chopping ingredients so that they are cut into cubes, usually about 1cm in size.
A mixture of water and egg yolk, usually painted onto pastry before being baked to achieve a glossy, golden brown finish to the pastry (also known as a glaze).
A colloquial term to describe exerting a lot of effort.
To combine two liquids that would not normally be stable when mixed together, for example the egg yolk and the oil in mayonnaise.
The culinary term meaning "wrapped in pastry", from the French "in a crust".
A sweet almond paste, usually used to fill tarts, cakes or other pastries. It is similar to marzipan but has a more spongy texture.
An adornment used to embellish a finished dish, that usually (but not always) complements the food. The most typical examples are a sprig of parsley or a slice of lemon but they can be much more extravagant, such as garnishing a filet steak with seared foie gras and sliced truffle.
A process of coating the surface of food with a liquid to produce a glossy finish.
The process of imparting the flavours of one or more ingredients into another main ingredient where the main ingredient surrounds the other ingredients. For example, vanilla sugar is made by putting a split vanilla pod into a container of sugar.
A technique of chopping ingredients so that they are cut into matchstick-sized batons.
The term given to the reaction that occurs on the natural sugars in an ingredient during the application of heat, for example, roasting a chicken or frying an onion. The reaction produces hundreds of flavour compounds and turns the ingredient brown.
A utensil used for slicing ingredients. It is composed of a board with a blade suspended in the middle.
The process of imparting the flavours of one or more ingredients into another main ingredient where the main ingredient is surrounded by the other ingredients. For example, spicy chicken wings are made by coating them with oils and spices.
A thick, cylindrical, slice of meat or fish.
The, usually undesirable, reaction of a substance with oxygen, for example, a slice of apple turning brown or mayonnaise becoming transparent.
To give something a breadcrumb coating by dusting it with seasoned flour, then in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs.
This group of potatoes, when cooked, have a light and fluffy interior and are good for roasting and mashing. A few examples include Romano, Marris Piper, King Edwards and Russet.
This type of potato, when cooked, has a firm, slightly waxy interior that holds its shape well, making it suitable for sautéing and boiling. A few examples include Charlotte, Jersey Royals, New potatoes and Yukon Gold.
A paste (usually smooth) made by blending vegetables or fruit that intensifies the flavour of the ingredient. The term comes from the French, meaning "to purify".
The process of boiling a liquid, thereby evaporating the water in it and increasing the concentration of the solids (and the flavour) of the liquid. For example, boiling a stock to intensify its flavour.
The term given to the resulting liquid after reducing it, for example, a vinegar reduction.
The period of time during which a piece of meat is allowed to sit at room temperature after it has been cooked. The muscle fibres in the meat are allowed to relax and reabsorb the juices that are squeezed out of them when the muscles tense during cooking. If the meat does not rest and is cut immediately, the juice that is sitting between the muscle fibres will flow out of the cut and make the meat dry and tough.
A term to describe a sauce that has a large amount of air incorporated into it, making it light and foamy. It is normally a sweet sauce, flavoured with alcohol, but can also be used to describe savoury sauces.
From the French, meaning "to jump", this is a term used to describe frying ingredients quickly over a relatively high heat while keeping them moving in the pan.
The technique of cutting the surface of an ingredient without going all the way through it. For example, scoring the skin on a joint of pork before roasting.
The process of enhancing the flavour of ingredients with, most often, salt and/or pepper (although any herb or spice and even sugar can be used as seasoning). Using the correct amount of seasoning can only be learnt through practice and will vary depending on the food being prepared and the quality of the ingredients. Always taste the food you are cooking before you serve it to ensure it is properly seasoned.
The term used to describe a liquid that is below boiling point (100°c) and bubbling gently.
The name of the fibrous tissue on a piece of meat that attaches the muscle to the bone of the animal. When raw, it most often looks like a silvery strip on the surface of the meat and should be removed before cooking because it becomes very tough and can tighten up, distorting the meat.
Is the term given to the separation of two substances that where initially combined in an emulsion. For example, the oil and vinegar in French salad dressing will combine together if they are whisked but over time they will separate and the dressing is said "to have split".
The term given to a variable amount of herb. The quantity will depend on the context of the recipe being followed and the whim and fancy of the chef writing it.
A liquid that is made by slowly cooking bones and/or vegetables and herbs in water to produce an infusion. It is used as a base for soups, stews and sauces.
The process of gently frying vegetables in a shallow amount of fat so that they cook and soften without turning brown.
The term used to describe food after cooking, as being soft and not tough or chewy.
An ingredient used to increase the viscosity of a liquid to the desired consistency. For example, beurre manié can be whisked into sauces to make them thicker.
A salad dressing made principally with oil and vinegar, usually flavoured with other ingredients such as mustard, herbs or garlic.
Usually refers to the grated surface skin of citrus fruit, especially lemon, lime and orange. It is important to note that grating the zest of a fruit should only take off the coloured surface of the fruit and should not include any of the bitter white pith underneath the top-most layer.