Glossary of Cooking Terms
AL DENTE: In italian it means “to the tooth”, meaning that the pasta is cooked through but still firm when bitten into
AU JUS: A sauce made of the natural juices from meat.
BLIND BAKE: Baking a crust without filling in it. This is best for pies or tarts that have filling that does not need baked, like custard.
BISCUIT METHOD: The process of breaking cold butter into small pieces in flour by using your hands, forks, or pastry blender.
BOUQUET GARNI: An assortment on fresh herbs or other aromatics tied into a bundle with string. A basic bouquet garni usually has thyme springs, parsley stems, and bay leaves tightly placed between two vertical halves of a leek and tied together.
CLARIFIED BUTTER: Butter that has had the milk solids removed from it, leaving behind only the pure butter fat. Also known as ghee in Indian cooking.
CRUMB: The consistency of the inside of an item baked with flour. The crumb can show how dense an item is, whether it was commercially made or handmade, as well as how much water was in the dough.
CUTTING BUTTER : Cutting butter is the process of breaking butter down into small pieces while mixing it with dry ingredients. This is usually done with short breads utilizing the biscuit method.
DEMI-GLACE: A sauce made by evaporating most of the liquid out of stock. This is done reducing it down to make it thick and gelatinous
DRY-HEAT METHOD: A cooking method where no water is necessary to cook. Dry-heat cooking can still use direct application of fat.
EGG WASH : Eggs that have been beaten, sometime with the addition of another liquid, that is brushed on top of short breads to give color and sheen when baking.
EMULSIFY/EMULSIFICATION : The process of breaking down a liquid into tiny particles so they can become temporarily cohesive with another liquid that usually wouldn’t mix together (ex. oil & water). This is usually done with the aid of a surfactant or emulsifier such as egg yolk or mustard.
GRANITA: A frozen dessert that is made by freezing purée without the addition of other ingredients. Once frozen it is scraped into pieces with large ice crystals and served.
MOIST-HEAT METHOD A cooking method where liquid is necessary to aid in cooking – whether by direct application or steam.
PROOFING: The process of allowing yeast to become foamy and active. Usually this is reserved for active-dry yeast, and the yeast needs four times its weight in water to proof.
RENDER: When solid fat is heated up and melts to create a liquid fat to cook with. Example: Bacon fat.
ROUX: A mixture of fat and flour, in equal parts by weight, to make a thickener for soups, sauces, etc…
SABAYON: Also known as zabaione, this is the stage when an ingredient, such as egg yolks, thickens enough to create a “ribbon” when the whisk is removed from the ingredients and it drips back on itself. To tell if you’ve hit this stage, raise your whisk from the egg yolks and if the drippings take 1-2 seconds to sink back in, creating an effect that looks like a ribbon on top of the rest of the egg yolks, you’ve hit sabayon stage.
SACHET: French for “bag”, a sachet is a collection of herbs and spices that are placed in the middle of a layer or two of cheesecloth and then tied into a bundle with a long string that can be used for easy removal of the sachet from what you are cooking, like stock.
SHORT BREADS : A type of baked good that is not leavened with yeast, but rather relies on a chemical reaction within it’s ingredients, like baking soda, to create rise and expansion.
SIEVE: Similar to a colander except with finer holes, made by mesh, that is used for straining liquid or separating materials.
SLURRY: A mixture of water and cornstarch used for thickening. It is imperative for you to add the water into the cornstarch (not the other way around) to prevent clumping.
SMOKE POINT: The temperature at which the fats in your pan begin to burn – forming a visible smoke. Each fat has a different smoke point – so choose your fat based on your cooking method.