As I’m writing this up, I can’t help but recall a scene from Schitt’s Creek where Moira and David are preparing a recipe. While Moira reads the directions from a recipe card, David seems to be doing all of the hard work. She hands him a bowl of shredded cheese and tells him to add it to the pot and fold it in. He has no idea what fold it in means, and clearly, neither does Moira. Things get a little heated, and David storms off, leaving Moira to her own devices.
Has this ever happened to you when baking or cooking? If a recipe states that you should sauté the onions, do you know what that means? No worries, Dear Reader! I’m here to help! Below, is a long list of culinary terms to help you master your efforts. The terms are in alphabetical order to make things easier for you.
If you have a question about a term that has not already been answered here, use the comment section below to write to me. I will respond as quickly as possible and together, we can find the answer!
To cook food until just firm, usually referring to pasta, but can include vegetables. A good rule to follow when cooking packaged pasta is to reduce the cooking time by 2-3 minutes. Pasta should have just the slightest bit of firmness in the middle.
To moisten food while cooking by spooning, brushing, or ladling a liquid, such as drippings or stock; the purpose of which is to add flavour and prevent it from drying out.
To stir rapidly in a circular motion to make a smooth mixture, using a whisk, spoon, or mixer.
To cook first by browning the food in butter or oil, then gently simmering in a small amount of liquid over low heat for a long period of time in a covered pan until tender.
To expose food to direct heat on a rack or spit, often used for melting food like cheese. The top burning element in electric ovens are used quite often to broil (or brown) food.
To cook over high heat (usually on the stove-top) to brown food. Browning food can also be achieved by using the broiler.
To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a syrup. Also referred to cooking onions on a low and steady heat until very soft and brown. Natural or added sugar helps to caramelize or brown food.
To cut vegetables or meat into large squares, usually specified by the recipe. Most recipes will indicate the size of the chop. For example, chop the potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
To beat ingredients (usually sugar and a fat) until smooth and fluffy.
Like chopping, it is to cut food into small cubes, usually about 1/2 inch.
1/8 teaspoon, usually referring to salt and pepper, or hot sauce.
To cut into small pieces, usually 1/4 to 1/8 chunks.
A spoonful of a semi-solid food, like whipped cream or mashed potatoes, placed on top of another food.
To lightly coat uncooked food with a dry mixture, usually with flour, cornmeal, or bread crumbs, to be pan fried or sautéed.
To coat foods with a sauce, such as salad.
To pour liquid back and forth over a dish in a fine stream, usually melted butter, oil, syrup, or melted chocolate.
To coat lightly with a powdery ingredients, such as confectioners’ sugar or cocoa.
To cut the bones from a piece of meat, poultry, or fish.
To drizzle a flammable spirit over a food while its cooking, to ignite just before serving.
To combine light ingredients, such as whipped cream or beaten eggs whites, with a heavier mixture, using a over-and-under motion.
To coat foods with mixtures such as jellies, sauces, or very thin syrups.
Creates tiny pieces of food, best for things like cheese to melt quickly or a vegetable used in a sauce.
To coat the interior of a pan or dish with shortening, oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking during cooking.
Cutting vegetables into long, thin stripes, approximately 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch long.
The process of mixing dough with the hands or a mixer
To soak in a sauce or flavoured liquid for a long period of time, usually a meat, poultry or fish.
To cut as small as possible, most commonly used with garlic.
To partially cook by boiling, usually to prepare the food for cooking by another method.
To cook gently over very low heat, in barely simmering water just to cover.
1/16 teaspoon, usually said when referring to seasonings like salt and pepper.
To mash or grind food until completely smooth.
Like baking but concerning meat, poultry or hearty vegetables, it is to cook food in an oven using dry heat.
To cook small pieces of food over a medium-high heat with oil in a pan, usually to brown food.
To heat liquid almost to a boil until bubbles begin forming just around the edge.
To brown the surface of meat by quick-cooking over high heat into order to seal in the meat’s juices.
Done on a grater with larger holes, resulting in long, smooth stripes to cook or melt.
Bring a pot to a boil, then reduce the heat until there are no bubbles.
To remove fat or foam from the surface a liquid.
To cut vertically down, thickness sometimes specified by the recipe.
To cook food on a rack or in a steamer set over boiling or simmering water.
To soak a dry ingredient in a liquid just under the boiling point to extract the flavour, such as with tea.
To cook covered over low heat in a liquid for a substantial period of time.
To beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and increase volume.
To beat ingredients with a fork or a whisk.
The outer, coloured peel of a citrus fruit.