Basic Lingo

Here is a beginner’s list of  the cooking terms you will see in our recipes.

Blanch: To scald (food) briefly, as before freezing or as a preliminary stage in preparing a dish
Braise: To cook slowly in a covered pan, with a small amount of liquid — can be used for meat or vegetables.
Caramelize: To cook until the sugar in the food has browned, as with onions or garlic. This process brings out the sweetness in the food and adds color.
Cream: A method used in baking, in which sugar and butter are combined in small amounts, mixing thoroughly between additions. This method incorporates air into the sugar/butter mixture and makes for a tender baked product.
Deglaze: To pour water,stock (broth) or wine into a hot pan where meat has been cooked. The process loosens the browned crumbs in the pan, and may provide a base for gravy or sauce.
Dredge: To coat meat or vegetables in a dry mixture such as flour or breadcrumbs, prior to cooking.
Flambé: To ignite warmed spirits in a pan of food, often a dessert, for effect, and to caramelize the dish.


Fold: To gently incorporate ingredients together, usually with a scraper or spoon. Often used to blend whipped cream with other ingredients.
Mirepoix : the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery (either common pascal celery or celeriac). Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.
Parboil: To partially cook vegetables in boiling water, to be finished by another cooking method.
Poach: To simmer a food in liquid at just below the boiling point — eggs would be a common example but many meats are cooked using this method as well.
Rolling boil: When a liquid is boiling, and cannot be stirred down to below boiling point.
Roux: A mix of flour and oil, cooked together until the flour is browned. Used as a base for Cajun/Creole dishes such as gumbo. jambalaya and etouffé.
Sauté: To quickly cook vegetables or meat on the stovetop at a high heat. This method uses only a small amount of fat.
Scald: To heat milk or cream to just below the boiling point. Milk is scalded when steam rises from it.

Sear: To brown meat all over to create a crust, to be finished with another cooking method.
Soft/stiff peaks: When beating egg whites, a soft peak is reached when the beaters are pulled out of the whites and the peaks that form droop. Stiff peaks do not droop, but hold their shape.
Sweat: To slowly cook vegetables in a covered pan until they are soft, but still hold their shape. This is often done with onions or garlic.
Temper: To gently heat a food, often before adding it to a hotter substance. One example is adding a teaspoon or so of hot sauce to beaten eggs. The mixture is blended and then added to the sauce. This keeps the eggs from curdling. The method is also used in candy-making with chocolate.


One comment

  1. Mirepoix – My mom didn’t use this word, but always said that onions, carrots, and celery were the holy triumverate. She was a very good cook. She could come up with recipes on her own, which is something I don’t have the talent to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: