Cooking Glossary

Everything has it’s own vocabulary and if you don’t understand the meaning of those words, it makes understanding or following instructions difficult.  This Cooking Glossary is meant to help define some of the most commonly used cooking terms.

Beat – to use an electric mixer to combine ingredients 

Braise – to cook meat using both moist and dry heat. First meat is seared at a high temperature. Liquid is then added. Cooking is completed in a covered pan at a lower temperature. 

Broil -cooking in an oven using only the top heat source

Brown – to fry meat in shallow amount of oil over high heat just until brown on the outside

Chop – to cut into pieces

Cream – to mix thoroughly with an electric mixer until creamy consistency is reached; usually refers to combining sugar and a solid “fat” such as butter or shortening

Deep Fry – to cook food fully submerged in hot oil.  Oil is usually covered and stored to be used again.

Dice – to cut into small pieces – larger than mince but smaller than chop

Double Boiler -a small pot or bowl placed inside a larger pot containing water. The larger post is placed over medium heat. Ingredients are melted in the smaller bowl or pot.  This method is used when an ingredient tends to scorch easily over direct heat.  Ex. chocolate or caramel

Flute – Used when referring to pastry, particularly pie crust.  Meaning to fold or crimp edges of pie crust to keep it from shrinking down into the pie while baking…and it looks pretty

Fry – to cook in oil.  Frying methods include saute, pan fry, stir fry or deep fry

Glaze – a glossy, usually sweet topping applied to food by drizzling, dipping or brushing

Grate or Shred – (verb) to use a grater to cut food into fine pieces

Grater or Shredder – (noun) Kitchen tool used to grate food into fine pieces – available in several sizes

Grill -to cook over an open flame

Julienne – to cut food in long thin strips, usually referring to vegetable.  Also called Shoe String. 

Marinade(noun) seasoned liquid used to soak or marinate food before cooking

Marinate(verb) to soak meat in a liquid seasoning before cooking, used to flavor and tenderize

Mince -to cut into small uniform pieces, smaller than chopped or diced,  

Mix – to combine ingredients, usually recipe specifies using spoon or electric mixer

Pan Fry – to fry in enough oil to cover about one-third to one half of each piece of food.  Unlike deep frying, oil is only used once.

Reduce – to cook food with a high water content, by boiling or simmering, until almost all water has evaporated 

Roux – equal parts “fat” (such as butter or oil) and flour, combined over medium heat.  Used as a base for sauces or gravy

Rub -mixture of dry ingredients used to rub on meat before cooking; most often used when grilling

Saute – to fry in a small amount of oil in a shallow pan over high heat. Usually food is cut into small pieces in order to cook quickly.

Sear – to cook the surface of meat at a high temperature in order to form a “caramelized” crust on the outside.  Often done over an open flame. 

Shred – see Grate

Simmer – to cook food in a hot liquid, other than oil, just under the boiling point.  Done by bringing to a boil then reducing heat until bubbles almost cease forming.  Kept around 200 degree and usually done with the lid on, unless trying to reduce liquid.

Steam – to cook using steam, usually done in a steamer or microwave

Steamer – used to steam food, often vegetables.  Can be a separate appliance or a pot with a steamer “basket”. Water is placed in the pot and brought to a boil.  The steamer “basket” fits into the pot, similar to a double boiler.  The basket has large holes to allow steam to come through.  Food is placed in the basket with a lid and cooked until done, usually only taking a short time.

Slice – to cut in a thin flat piece, best done with a very sharp knife

Stir – to combine ingredients using a fork or spoon

Stir Fry – to cook in a very small amount of oil (sometimes no oil) over very high heat causing food to cook rapidly and requiring constant stirring.

Tent – to place aluminum foil loosely over a dish being baked to avoid excess browning or burning 

Whip –  to beat air into (usually a liquid) using an electric mixer on highest speed

Whisk(noun) cooking tool made of wire, used to whip (by hand) air into liquids

                   (verb) use a whisk to combine ingredients so air is incorporated.  Most electric mixers also come with a whisk attachment.