Glossary of Food Terms
A Blanc – French for “in white”. Usually used to describe cream sauces, or meats that are prepared without browning them.
Acetic acid – Formed when airborne bacteria interacts with fermented products (beer, wine, etc.). It is what makes vinegar sour to the taste.
Acidulate – To make food or liquids slightly acidic by adding vinegar or lemon juice to it.
Aerate – The term means the same as “to sift”. Dry ingredients passed through a sifter or fine mesh strainer to break up clumped pieces. It also incorporates air into ingredients making them lighter.
Affriander – A French term for a stylish and appetizing presentation of a dish.
Affrioler – A French term for enticing ones guests to the table with hors d’oeuvres or small samplings.
Ageing – (meat) The change that takes place when freshly slaughtered meat is allowed to rest and reach the state at which it is suitable for consumption. (see also, dry aging) (cheese) to store in a temperature controlled environment to develop flavor and texture. (wine) either bottle or barrel aged, reds benefit more from aging than whites.
A La – A French term meaning “in the style/manner of”.
A La Carte – A menu term referring to items priced individually. (see also, prix fixe)
Al Dente – An Italian term literally meaning “to the tooth”. Describing the degree of doneness for pastas and other foods where there is a firm center. Not overdone or too soft.
Al Forno – An Italian term used to describe baked or roasted foods.
Alkali – Baking soda is one of the more common alkali used in cooking. Alkalis neutralize acids.
Amuse-bouche – A French term meaning “Amuse the mouth”. Also known as, amuse-gueule, amusee, petite amuse, and lagniappe. These are small samplings of food served before a meal to whet the appetite and stimulate the palate.
Antipasto – An Italian term referring to an assortment of hot or cold appetizers (smoked meats, fish, cheeses, olives, etc.) it literally translates to “before the pasta” and denotes a relatively light dish served before courses that are more substantial.
Aperitif – A French term for a light alcoholic beverage served before a meal, usually sherry or champagne, to stimulate the appetite.
A Point – Pronounced “pwah”, a French term used to describe food cooked just to the point of perfect doneness.
Appellation – The designated growing areas of wineries governed by local or federal rules and regulations. Although these rules vary from country to country, the basic principals of producing quality wines remains the same.
Aromatic – Any herb, spice, or plant that gives foods and drinks a distinct flavor or aroma.
Assation – A French term for cooking foods in their own natural juices without adding extra liquids.
A.Q. – Meaning, “As quoted”. Listed on menus denoting items that are generally seasonal or whose market price tends to fluctuate.
Au Bleu – A French term for the method of preparing fish the instant after it is killed, especially for trout, the fish is plunged into a boiling court bouillon, which turns the skin a metallic blue color.
Au Gratin – A French term for a dish topped with a layer of either cheese or bread crumbs mixed with butter. It is then broiled or baked until brown.
Au Jus – A French term for meats served in their natural juices.
Au Poivre – A French term meaning “with pepper”, typically describing meats either prepared by coating in coarse ground peppercorns before cooking or accompanied by a peppercorn sauce.
Bain-Marie – A kitchen utensil used to keep prepared food at a constant temperature, ready for service. Basically, it is two spherical metal containers, one larger than the other. Water is placed in the larger of the two; the food intended to be kept warm in the smaller. The smaller fits over the larger pan and both are placed into a water bath, at a set and constant temperature. It can also be used to cook foods at a very low temperature. It is commonly used in catering and restaurant service where some of the components of a dish are kept hot and ready for “at hand” use.
Bake Blind – A baking technique by which a pie or tart shell is cooked prior to filling it. This is done to keep the shell bottom from soaking through and producing a soggy crust. The shell is first perforated with a fork to prevent puffing, covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and then weighted with rice or beans.
Baking Stone – Also called a pizza stone, an unglazed ceramic, clay, or stone disc about ¾ of a inch thick, which allows for high temperature and dry heat, which is necessary for crisp crusts when making flatbreads, pizzas, calzones, etc.
Bard – To wrap a lean cut of meat in a fat, like bacon, to prevent drying out when roasted. The barding fat bastes the meat while cooking and is then removed a few minutes before is done to allow browning
Baron – An English term for a large cut of beef anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds, these are generally reserved for celebrations and significant events. In France, it is used to describe the saddle and legs of lamb.
Baste – To spoon, brush or pour fat, drippings or liquid continually over a baking or roasting food (usually poultry) in order to promote a moist finished product, to add flavor, and to glaze it.
Batter – An uncooked mixture usually containing milk, flour, and eggs. It can be thick enough to be poured or spooned (as with muffins), or thin, to coat foods before being fried in oil.
Batterie de Cuisine – A French term for the various utensils and equipment necessary for a proper kitchen.
Beard – The hair like filament that attach bivalves to their permanent residence. When long enough, they are to be removed before cooking. (see bivalves).
Beat – To stir vigorously in a circular motion.
Bind – To incorporate a thickening agent into a hot liquid.
Bistro – A quaint, modest local bar or restaurant that serves regional specialties and wines.
Bivalve – Any mollusk like: clams, oysters, scallops, etc. that is housed between two shells hinged together and held closed by a strong abductor muscle.
Blackened – A cooking technique where meat or fish is coated with a seasoning mixture of paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. A cast-iron skillet is heated until oil added to the pan reaches its smoke point. This technique gives the food a crust and sears in the juices.
Blanch – To briefly submerge food into boiling water and then into an ice bath to halt further cooking. It is a technique used to soften and bring out the chlorophyll in green vegetables.
Blend – A mixture of two or more flavors to produce its own unique character, and quality.
Bleu – A French term for a cut of meat cooked only until warmed through, or very rare. (see also au bleu)
Blondir – A French term for lightly browning food in a fat. Meats and flour (to produce roux) are cooked in this fashion.
Bocconcini – An Italian word meaning “mouthful”. It can be used to describe a particular dishes appetizing appeal or small portions (significantly fresh mozzarella cheese).
Body – A culinary term used to describe a food or drink of substantial texture and flavor that lends a complex, well-rounded flavor to the palate.
Boil – To heat a liquid to the point of breaking bubbles on the surface or to cook submerged in a boiling liquid.
Bolognaise – An Italian term for various dishes based on beef and vegetables, or relating to the area of Bologna.
Bon Appetit – Any of several French phrases that relate to its literal translation of “good appetite”. “Have a good meal”, “Enjoy your dinner”, etc.
Boning – To remove flesh from the bone or joint of meats, poultry, etc. A special boning knife is used and a degree of skill is required so as not to damage the end product.
Bonne Femme – A French phrase describing food prepared uncomplicated and simple or rustic.
Bottom Cuts – Cuts of meat that are from the lower parts of an animal when it is standing. It does not refer to a lesser quality as much as it signifies the second and third category meats suited for braising or boiling, as opposed to sirloin and other top end cuts.
Bouillon – The French word for a broth, it is a liquid made from scraps of meats, poultry, or fish with chopped vegetables simmered in water. The liquid that is strained after cooking is the bouillon.
Bouquet – The complex fragrance wines develop as a result of aging.
Bouquet Garni – A bundle of fresh herbs usually consisting of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf that is bound by twine and placed into a soup, stock, or sauce to aid flavor. The bundle is removed just before service.
Braise – A method of cooking in which very little liquid is used and the food is cooked over several hours in a sealed pan. Tougher cuts of meat are better prepared this way.
Brasserie – Originally a brewery, it is now more referred to cafes or restaurants serving beers, ciders, ales, wines, etc. with a limited menu at any hour (most notably during late evenings).
Breakfast – The first meal of the day. Literally, the meal that breaks the fasting when asleep.
Breast – A cut of meat from the chest area of an animal. The breast meat of beef is referred to as the brisket, in pork it is the belly.
Brimont – A French term used when describing a decorative dish that a chef has dedicated to his master.
Brinde – A glass of wine that is toasted to a particular person’s health and well-being.
Brix Scale – A scale of measurement for the density or gravity of sugary liquids. This has replaced the Braume scale since its introduction in the early 1960’s.
Brodo – The Italian word for bouillon.
Broil – A method of cooking, in which the heat source is above or below the food, it is placed on a rack or grate and the speed with which it cooks depends on how far away it is from the heating element and the foods thickness.
Broth – See Bouillon.
Brunch – A combination of the words for breakfast and lunch, and which is neither breakfast nor lunch, the meal combines some of the features of both and is served mid-morning, traditionally on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m..
Bruise – A culinary term used to describe the partial crushing of an ingredient so as to release its full flavor, most notably garlic.
Brule – French for “burnt”, as in, crème brulee.
Brunoise – A French term used to describe a specific cut (very small dice) or mixture of vegetables, usually braised in butter.
Brut – A degree of dryness (unsweet) given to Champagne or sparkling wines. “Brut” wines are drier than “Extra Brut”.
Buffet – A French term describing a table with an elaborate display (significantly tiered) of an establishments choice offerings. Also used for large ballroom events or weddings where items are lined up at long tables and guests are served butler style or serve themselves.
Butterfly – To cut food, usually meat, fish, or poultry, evenly down the center but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat and grilled, sautéed or stuffed and rolled to be roasted.
Butyric Acid – Found primarily in butter, this natural acid is what gives butter its flavor and also the rancid smell form when it spoils.
Café – The French and Spanish word for coffee, also an establishment that serves the same. The term is also used in reference to as a small restaurant with a quaint, unpretentious ambiance.
Caboulot – Similar to a café, but, is more specifically an establishment of modesty that also incorporates a country or suburban feel and invites its guests into lively dances and song to accompany the dining experience.
Cajun – Used in reference to people of French Acadian descent who were removed from their homeland of Nova Scotia by the British in the late 1700s. Cajun cooking has long been wrongly thought of as synonymous with creole cooking of the same region. Cajun and creole differ in the fact that, Cajun cuisine relies more on rouxs and a large amount of animal fat where as creole cooking utilizes more butter and cream.
Caldo – In Spanish and Portuguese, it means “soup” or “broth”. In Italian it means “warm” or “hot”.
Canapé – French for “couch”, these are bite size bread portions either toasted or untoasted, topped with a variety of meats, cheeses, pates, or spreads that are served as a light accompaniment to cocktails.
Candy Thermometer – A specific tool for measuring the temperature of boiling sugars, or oils. The instrument registers temperatures from 100° to 400° F.
Capsaicin – The compound that gives certain chile varieties their spicy flavor. Almost 80% of this comes from the seed and attaching membranes. This spicy, sometimes fiery, effect does not diminish, except by the removal of the seeds and membranes.
Capsicum – Any of a large variety of peppers used in cooking. Capsicum, or peppers, are arranged into categories as; sweet, mild, or hot.
Caramelize – In essence, all foods have a certain amount of natural sugars. When heated, these sugars start to brown or caramelize. When sugar alone is heated to the point of liquefying and takes on a golden to dark brown color.
Casing – The thin, tubular membrane of the intestine used to hold processed meats and forcemeats, as in sausages and salami.
Carving – The time-honored tradition of separating whole roasted meats, poultry, and fish in a ceremonial or lavish setting.
Casserole – Both a cooking utensil constructed of an ovenproof material that has handles on either side and a tight fitting lid, and the food prepared in it. Casseroles may contain a variety of meats, vegetables, rice, potatoes, etc. It is sometimes topped with cheeses or breadcrumbs similar to dishes served au gratin.
Cassolette – A small utensil for cooking individual portions.
Cassoulet – A French dish of white beans and an accompanied meat that are slow cooked in the oven to fully compliment the flavor.
Celsius – A scale of measurement for temperature devised by Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius, it represents degrees from 0 (freezing) to 100 (boiling).
Cephalopod – A class of mollusks that include octopus and squid. They all share two common characteristics, tentacles and an ink sac.
Chafing Dish – A variety of portable cooking containers used to either heat or cook food with a heat source directly underneath it. They usually contain a large pan with water, like a double boiler, to keep the food from burning and are most frequently used in a buffet setting.
Champignon – A French term for any variety of edible mushroom or the particular dish they accompany.
Charcuterie – Products based on, but not limited to, pork and its offal. These include sausages, salami, patés, and similar forcemeats. Also used in referrence to the practitioner of this ancient culinary art.
Chaud-froid – A French term describing a dish that is first cooked and then chilled for service.
Cheesecloth – A versatile, natural cotton cloth that can aide many kitchen tasks. It will not break apart when boiled, nor will it affect the flavor of foods it encounters.
Chef – The French word for a “cook”. Someone who prepares food as an occupation in a restaurant, hotel, etc.
Chemisé – A French culinary term for a food that is wrapped (in puff pastry, for example) or coated ( A thick sauce poured over the top).
Chevaler – A French culinary term for a dish where the ingredients are arranged overlapping each other, such as sliced beef or cutlets.
Chiffonade – A French culinary term for a cut of thin strips. Various leafy herbs and lettuce are prepared in this fashion.
Chine – A culinary term referring to the backbone of an animal and its addition or removal from cuts of meat.
Chinois – A conical sieve with a very fine mesh used for straining tiny particles from sauces and stocks.
Chop – A small cut of meat taken from the rib section and commonly including a portion of the rib itself. Also referring to quick, heavy blows of a cleaver or knife when preparing foods.
Chuck – An inexpensive cut of beef taken from the section between the neck and shoulder blade.
Churn – To agitate cream to the point of separating the fat from the liquid.
Civet – A French term for a well seasoned stew of game, usually hare, or rabbit.
Clambake – An informal beachfront meal consisting of a variety of seafoods and other foods like, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes, etc. They are cooked on an open pit of hot rocks and seaweed that are covered with wet canvas.
Claret – An English term for wines of the Bordeaux region of France or a similar light red wine.
Clarify – To clear a liquid by removing the cloudy sediments.
Cleaver – An ax-like cutting tool used for a multitude of tasks. A good cleaver has a well balanced weight and can easily cut through bone as well as chopping vegetables.
Coat – A culinary term for surrounding a food with another either before or after cooking, as with coating in breadcrumbs before baking or sautéeing or topping a finished product with a sauce prior to serving.
Coat a Spoon – A cooking technique used to judge the thickness of a liquid. When dipped into a simmering liquid, a spoon will determine how thick or thin the liquid is by how much sticks to the spoon.
Cocotte – The French word for “casserole”. Traditionally made of earthenware and round, or oval in shape.
Coddler – Similar to a double boiler or chafing dish, it differs in the fact it contains separate compartments for individual portions. Eggs are mostly prepared using this type of pan.
Colander – A spherical, perforated, bowl-shaped container used to separate solids from liquids.
Composed Salad – A salad of artful arrangement as opposed to tossing all the ingredients together.
Compote – A chilled sauce or condiment of fresh or dried fruit in a syrup.
Compound Butter – Softened butter mixed with a variety of ingredients then rolled and chilled. During service, disks of the butter are cut and usually placed of top of the dish allowing it to melt over the finished product.
Concassé – A French term for chopping of pounding an ingredient such as tomatoes, fresh herbs, meats, and ice used to chill an item for serving.
Concentrate – A culinary term used to describe a substance in which the water content has been reduced to a certain thickness.
Condiment – An accompaniment to prepared foods that heighten the flavor, aid in digestion, preserve the food, or stimulate the appetite.
Confectionary – Any of a numerous amount of food products based on sugar as the main ingredient.
Confit – A cooked meat or poultry that is prepared and stored in its own fat. Duck and goose are common to this ancient technique of cooking and storage.
Conserve – A mixture of fruits, nuts, and sugar cooked until thickened and spread on biscuits, toast points, etc.
Consommé – A clarified, highly flavorful broth served hot or cold. The broth is clarified using a “raft” of egg whites during preparation. As the whites cook they attract the various sediments like a magnet.
Coquille – French for “shell”, it is often used in reference to a scallop.
Cordon Bleu – Originally a blue ribbon worn by the members of France’s highest order of knighthood, it has extended to apply to a food preparation of the highest standards and also in reference to the cook that prepared it.
Coulis – A culinary term used generally to describe a thick puree, sauce, or soup.
Creole – More refined than Cajun, creole cookery relies more on butter and cream, it also relies more on the use of tomatoes and is not as spicy as its Cajun counterpart.
Crimp – To pinch together two pastry edges to prevent the filling from escaping.
Crisp – To refresh vegetables in a bath of ice water so as to make them firm or crisp.
Crudités – Raw fruits and vegetables served as an appetizer with various cold condiments.
Crush – To reduce foods to their smallest form, like pastes, crumbs, or powders.
Crustacean – The classification of shellfish that have elongated bodies with jointed shells. Examples are: crabs, lobster, and shrimp.
Cube – To cut food, such as cheese and vegetables, into half inch cubes or to describe tenderizing meet with a mallet that leaves cube shaped imprints on the surface.
Cuisine – A French term used to describe a specific style of cooking or a certain country’s food in general.
Curdle – The separation of the semi solid and liquid portions of milk caused by coagulation.
Cure – To treat foods in order to preserve them. Smoking, salting, and pickling are some of the many ways to cure foods.
Cut In – To blend a solid fat into a dry ingredient until the mixture is in the form of small particles.
Cutlet – A thin cut of meat from the leg or rib section, usually from lamb, veal, or pork.
Cuvée – The contents of a wine vat or cask. Also the blending of various vats into a whole, this term is used especially with champagne, were the ingredients of a cuvee may come from different wines of different vineyard plots.
Dash – A measuring term referring to a very small amount of seasoning added to food. Generally, a dash is considered to be between 1/16 and a scant 1/8 teaspoon.
Decant – To transfer a liquid from one vessel to another. This is generally done to separate the wine from any sediment and to allow it to “breathe” which enhances the flavor.
Deep Fry – To cook food in a container of hot fat, deep enough to completely cover the item being cooked.
Deglaze – A technique whereby after sautéing a food, liquid is added to the pan to loosen the caramelized bits of food on the bottom used to make a pan sauce.
Degrease – To skim the fat from the surface a hot liquid such as a soup, stock, or sauce.
Dehydrate – To remove water from food by slowly drying. Dehydration prevents moisture spoilage such as mold or fermentation.
Déjeuner – The French term for “lunch”.
Demi-glace – A French term meaning “half-glaze”. A rich brown sauce and that is used as a base for many other sauces, it begins with a basic brown sauce preparation which is combined with veal stock and wine. This is slowly reduced by half to a thickness that coats the back of a spoon.
Demi-sec – A French term meaning “half dry”, used to describe a sweet wine.
Demitasse – A French term for “half cup”, this can refer to either a tiny coffee cup or the strong coffee served in the cup.
Devein – To remove the intestinal vein from the back of a shrimp either using a sharp knife or a utensil called a deveiner.
Devil – A term describing food that is combined with various other spicy seasonings such as Tabasco sauce or red peppers and thereby creating a “deviled” dish.
Dice – Foods that are cut into cubes about 1/8 to ¼ inch wide.
Dilute – To reduce a mixtures strength or thickness by adding liquid.
Disjoint – A cooking term meaning to separate meats at the joint. Separating the drumstick from the thigh of poultry would be an example of this.
Dissolve – To mix a liquid with a dry ingredient thoroughly enough that no grains of the dry ingredient are evident.
Distillation – A process of separating the components of a liquid by heating to the point of evaporation, then cooling until it condenses into a purified form.
Dolce – The Italian word for “sweet”.
Dollop – A small amount of semi solid food placed on top of another food.
Dot – To cover the surface of food with small amounts of butter or other fat before baking or broiling.
Doux – The French word for “sweet”.
Drain – To separate the liquid or fat from a food.
Draw – To remove the entrails from poultry or fish, also to clarify a mixture.
Dredge – To coat a food that is to be fried with a dry mixture.
Dress – To prepare fish, poultry, and game for cooking, such as plucking, skinning, or scaling and then eviscerating. Also to add dressing to a salad.
Drippings – The juices and fat that gather at the bottom of a pan in which foods are cooked. These are used to form a sauce for the finished product.
Drizzle – To pour a liquid mixture in a fine stream over foods.
Dry – A term used to describe a beverage that is not sweet.
Dry Aging – The process of placing carcasses or wholesale cuts of beef in refrigerated temperatures 30 to 34°F with no protective packaging for 14 days with 80 to 85 percent humidity and an air velocity of 0.5 to 2.5 m/second. Only whole pieces of meat still covered with the natural fat can be aged, not cut pieces of individual steaks. With aging, the natural enzymes in the muscle breakdown the connective tissues and muscle fibers enhancing tenderness and flavor, in addition, marbling, helps make meat juicier, more flavorful, and tender. While cooking, the marbling is melted and lubricates the muscle strands providing the steak with the flavor qualities and tenderness one expects from a dry aged steak.
Dulce – The Spanish word for “sweet”.
Dust – To coat a food with a powdery ingredient such as flour or confectioners’ sugar.
Dutch Oven – A large kettle made of cast iron with a tight fitting lid used for braising or stewing foods.
Egg Timer – A small hourglass that holds enough sand to run for three minutes, the average time it takes to soft boil an egg.
Egg Wash – Either separated or whole egg mixed with water or milk brushed over pastries or other baked goods before baking to give them a gloss and added color.
Emballer – A French term meaning to wrap an article of food which is to be poached or simmered in stock. The food item is usually wrapped in cheesecloth to hold it together. It also refers to the filling of a mould to be cooked, such as paté.
Emulsifier – A food additive used to preserve the texture of emulsions. The most commonly used emulsifier used in cooking is egg yolks for their lecithin content.
Emulsion – A mixture that occurs from the binding together of two liquids that normally do not combine easily, such as vinegar and oil.
Enology – The science or study of winemaking, also spelled, “oenology”.
Enophile – One who is a connoisseur, expert, or lover of wines.
Entrecôte – A French term meaning “between the ribs”. It is the tender, highly marbled cut taken from the boned set of ribs of beef.
Entrée – Usually the main course of a meal, but when referred to a full French menu, it is the third course. With a trend towards a reduction in the number of courses, today’s menus usually center on a main dish preceded by an appetizer course.
Entremets – A French term used to describe the sweet course, or a specific dessert. Many restaurants still refer this word to vegetable dishes and side dishes, as well as sweets.
Epicure – Anyone that possesses an appreciation and understanding of fine foods and wine.
Escalope – French word meaning a thinly sliced white meat, usually veal, it can also be in reference to a fillet from a large fish or lobster.
Essence – Obtained by distillation or infusion, they are strong aromatic liquids used either to enhance the flavor of certain preparations or to flavor certain foods that have little flavor of their own.
Essential oils – A strong flavored extract from the flowers, leaves, seeds, and roots of certain plants used to flavor foods. Examples are walnut oil, citrus oil’s, and mint oil.
Estouffade – A French term referring to a dish whose ingredients are slow cooked, also a clear brown stock used to dilute sauces, ragouts, and braised dishes.
Eviscerate – To remove the internal soft tissues from a carcass.
Farce – The French word for “stuffing”.
Farci – The French word for “stuffed”. Traditionally a dish of forcemeat wrapped in cabbage leaves and boiled in a meat or vegetables stock.
Fermentation – A biochemical change brought on by the action of yeast or bacteria on certain foods, especially carbohydrates.
Filet – A French term for a boneless cut of meat taken from the undercut of the sirloin.
Fillet – A boneless cut of meat or fish, also, the action of removing flesh from the bone to obtain the fillet.
Fines Herbes – A chopped mixture of aromatic herbs used to flavor various foods. Classically, this mixture is comprised of chervil, tarragon, parsley, and chives.
Finger Bowl – An individual bowl made of glass, metal, or china which is filled with warm water and perfumed with lemon. Used primarily to wash the fingers after serving shellfish or any other food eaten with the hands.
Finish – To complete the preparation of a dish for consumption. This may entail adjusting the seasoning or the consistency, adding garnish, or mounting a soup or sauce with butter or vinegar before service.
Flamber – A French term meaning to pour a flammable spirit over food and ignite it. The purpose of which is to either enhance the flavor or for a culinary effect.
Flank – A cut of beef taken from the abdominal muscles.
Flavor – The sensation felt when food or drink comes in contact with the taste buds. There are four basic tastes; sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The particular flavor of a dish derives from a combination of these. When one taste overpowers the dish, it is described as such. A skillful cook combines similar or contrasting flavors and produces a harmonious whole. Flavors are enhanced by the texture, consistency, color, and temperature of the finished product.
Fold – A cooking technique whereby a light substance is gently combined with a heavier substance. The lighter of the two is placed on top and cut vertically into the heavier as the bowl is rotated a quarter turn with each series of strokes.
Fondue – Despite many misinterpretations, this is undoubtedly a Swiss specialty consisting of one or more cheeses ( usually Comté or Gruyére cheese) melted in a special pottery dish with white wine and seasonings. The dish is then held over a small flame during service where guests use long, two pronged forks to dip cubes of bread into the hot mixture. Beef and chocolate fondues are equally popular.
Food Mill – A hand turned utensil that forces food through a perforated plate at the bottom, separating the skin, seeds, or fibers from the edible product.
Forcemeat – A mixture of raw or cooked seasoned ingredients used to stuff a variety of foods, especially sausages. Also the basis for patés, meat pies, terrines, quenelles, etc.
Free Range – Animals bred for consumption that are allowed to roam and feed without confinement which promotes better quality meats and poultry, primarily because they to not consume their own excrements, as when they are caged..
French – A term used to describe various cuts of vegetables and meats. A long very thin strip, also referred to as julienne. To trim away the meat at the end of a rib or chop so that the bone is exposed.
Friandise – A French term for confections such as petits fours or truffles, eaten between meals or as an assortment served after the dessert course with coffee or tea.
Frill – A fluted paper decoration placed over a protruding bone. This type of garnish is classically found on the presentation of a crown roast.
Front of the House – The area of a restaurant where food and beverages are served to the guest by the serving staff. The separation of front and back in a restaurant are imparative to the entire dining experience. When a guest enters the establishment, the feeling of comfort and warmth welcomes them. The pampering and attention exuded by the staff and ambiance of the establishment are the focal points of the dining experience, not the hustle and bustle, or “behind the scenes” events of a professional kitchen in the midst of full production.
Frost – A technique of shaking ice cubes in an empty glass so that a mist forms on the sides of the glass before it is filled with a beverage. Alternately, the rim of the glasses is moistened with citrus juice or egg whites then dipped into plain or colored castor sugar, kosher salt, etc. Commonly used for margaritas or martini’s.
Froth – A cooking term referring to a layer of foam consisting of tiny bubbles or the process used to acheive them.
Fruits de Mer – A French term referring to any seafood or combination thereof.
Fry – Also referred to as sautéeing, the process of cooking a food in hot fat over moderate to high heat.
Fumé – A French term used to describe foods that are prepared by “smoking”.
Fumet – A concentrated liquid obtained by reducing a stock, particularly fish or mushroom, used to fortify or enhance the flavor of a sauce, soup, or stock.
Funghi – The Italian word for “mushrooms”.
Fusion Cooking – A style of culinary art that incorporates ingredients and/or methods from several different ethnicities or regions. Originally combining western and asian influences, it now includes all ethnic cuisine. Also considered modern American cooking.
Game – Any wild animal or bird that is hunted for the purpose of human consumption.
Garde Manger – A French term for the member of a professional kitchen in charge of cold items, salads, and hors d’oeuvres.
Gargote – An unflattering French term referring to any small, cheap, dirty restaurant serving poor quality food.
Garlic Press – A kitchen utensil used to press a clove of garlic through small perforations thereby extracting both pulp and juice.
Garnish – A single item or combination of decorative accompaniments to a finished dish. The garnish should always blend with the flavor of the dish. In any case, the garnish should be placed around a dish to achieve an overall harmony of shapes and colors which are pleasing to the eye.
Gastronome – A person with a refined palate or connoisseur of good food. While appreciating the most refined products of the culinary arts, the true gastronome enjoys them in moderation.
Gastromony – The art and science of fine dining, gourmet food, and drink. Described by Monselet as, “The joy of all situations and of all ages”.
Gâteau – The French word for any variety of cake.
Gelateria – Italian for “ice cream parlor”.
Gelato – Italian for “ice cream”, which by American standards is much denser having less air incorporated into it.
Germ – In culinary terms, the term refers to a grain kernels nucleus.
Giblets – A cooking term referring to the heart, liver, gizzard, and neckbone of poultry.
Gizzard – A muscular digestive pouch found in the lower stomach of poultry, used to grind the fowls food with the aid of small stones swallowed for this purpose.
Glacé – The French term for “glazed” or “frozen”. Primarily items that are coated with a syrup cook to the “crack stage”, to give the hard, shiny coating.
Glaze – A thick, syrupy substance obtained by reducing an unthickened stock. Used as an essence added to sauces to fortify their flavor.
Glazing – The technique of applying a glossy surface to food. This can be done by basting the food with a sauce while it is cooking or by putting a glaze on it and placing briefly under the broiler. To glaze cold foods, apply a coat of aspic, gelatin, or dissolved arrowroot.
Gluten – Proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains that hold carbon dioxide molecules produced by yeasts and expand during fermentation. Gluten develops when certain flours are mixed and kneaded for a period of time.
Gourmand – A person who merely enjoys eating good food, often to excess.
Gourmet – A person who enjoys good food, but, also knows how to choose and appreciate it. As a long standing listing of this hierarchy states, “At the bottom you have the goinfre (greedygut), next is the goulu (glutton), then the gourmand, the friand (epicure), and the gourmet, and finally the gastronome.”
Grater – A kitchen utensil with varying perforations, some toothed. By rubbing a solid food repeatedly over the holes it is reduced to fine or course shreds, to powder, or very fine fragments.
Gratin – Either the golden brown crust which forms on the surface of the dish when it is browned in the oven or put under a broiler, usually coated with grated cheese, bread crumbs, or a mixture of egg and bread crumbs, or, the method of cooking that produces the same.
Grecque – A French term used to describe dishes of Greek origin, also a loose term used for dishes inspired by Mediterranean cuisine.
Grilling – Also called broiling, is a method of cooking over or under a radiant heat source such as gas, electricity, charcoal, or wood. The intense heat produced seals in the juices by forming a crust on the surface of the food. The grill or grate itself, must be constantly cleaned and seasoned with oil so that food does not adhere and the distinctive grill marks may show predominantly for presentation.
Grind – To reduce a food substance to fine, medium , or coarse particles.
Hard-ball stage – A method for testing boiling sugar described as the point at which a drop immersed in cold water forms a hard or rigid ball that is slightly pliable. Using a candy thermometer, this stage registers between 250° and 265°F.
Hard-crack stage – A method for testing boiling sugar described as the point at which a drop immersed in cold water separates into hard brittle threads. Using a candy thermometer this stage is between 300° and 310°F.
Hash – A dish of finely chopped meats & vegetables (usually leftovers are used) combined with seasonings and sautéed until golden brown.
Haute Cuisine – A French term used to describe food that is presented in an elegant or elaborate manner, perfectly prepared, or of the highest quality.
Heifer – A young cow between eight and twenty months of age. Resulting from the improvements in raising dairy cattle and overcapacity thereof, an increasing number of heifers are being slaughtered for beef rather than being kept for milk. Equal to veal in most respects, the meat and offal are of good quality.
Herbes de Provence – A specific blend of herbs indigenous to the southern regions of France, it is to the used to season a variety of dishes. This common blend usually contains lavender, marjoram, rosemary, savory, basil, and sage.
Herbs – Any of a variety of aromatic plants very used in cookery, not only the season hot dishes but also used in salads or as a vegetable by themselves. In previous times, the term “herbs” once included all plants and vegetables that grew above ground, those growing below ground were considered “roots”.
Hock – The lower portion of an animal’s leg, just above the hoof. In relation to the ankle of a human.
Hog Jowl – Cheek of a hog, usually only found in the south, and commonly cured or smoked. It is similar in most respects to bacon and used to flavor stews, baked beans and the like.
Hog Maw – The stomach of a pig, commonly stuffed with a forcemeat mixture or used in soups or stews.
Homard – The French word for “lobster”
Hors d’oeuvres – By definition, the first dish to be served at a meal particularly at lunch. (dinners are usually started with soup) There two types of hors d’oeuvre, cold and hot. The presentation is very important, it should always look very decorative. More common today is the Russian customs serving an assortment as a small meal preceding the main one.
Hôteliére – The French term given to sautéed or grilled meats and fish dishes served in or with hotel butter. (see hotel butter)
Huile – The French word for “oil”, usually referring to cooking oil.
Hull – Also referred to as the husk or shell, it is the covering of certain fruits or seeds. Also used in reference for preparing food for consumption by removing the outer covering.
Immersion Blender – Also referred to as a “beurre mixer”, this handheld blender is tall, narrow and has a rotary blade at the end. It is immersed in directly into a pot of soup or other mixture to puree or ground coarsely the contents.
Incise – The technique of making shallow incisions into meats or fish with a sharp knife for the purpose of either tenderizatation or to insert herbs/ spices into the flesh.
Incorporate – The addition of an ingredient into the preparation of a dish or basic mixture by thoroughly blending it.
Induction Cooking – The technology of heating cookware by the use of magnetic energy. Induction coils beneath the surface of a smooth ceramic cook top producer high frequency, alternating current from regular low voltage direct current. The use of cookware with a magnetic base material is essential so as the molecules in the vessel begin to move so rapidly that the pan, not the stovetop, become hot. Most steel the iron based cookware work well, although, those made of aluminum, copper, and some types of stainless steel cannot be used because they are not magnetic.
Infusion – The technique of steeping an aromatic substance into a heated liquid until the liquid has absorbed the added ingredients flavor. Oil, milk, and tealeaves are common ingredients used in the infusion process.
Inn – An establishment catering to travelers in need of a place to sleep and a meal.
Insalata – The Italian word for “salad”.
Interlarding – The technique of inserting thin strips of pork fat called “lardons” into lean cuts of meat using a larding needle. Similar to larding, with interlarding, the fat is left protruding from the surface of the meat whereas larding is achieved by submersing the fat wholly in the flesh.
Irradiation – A method of preserving food by irradiating it with gamma rays. The process destroys microorganism and inactivates enzymes, thus sterilizing the food.
Issues – A term used in cooking to describe either the inedible parts of an animal such as hair or skin, or, in producing flour it refers to the by-products such as bran.
Jambon – The French word for “ham.”
Jambon Cru – French for “raw ham”.
Jambonneau – A French term for the knuckle end of a pork leg. It’s usually braised or poached, eaten fresh, smoked, or salted. Also used in reference to a preparation of stuffed chicken leg because of its similar shape.
Jambonnière – A cooking vessel with deep sides, handles on each end, and a lid, having the same shape as a ham. Used for cooking a whole leg or shoulder of pork.
Jelly-Roll Pan – A baking pan, rectangular in shape, about 1 inch deep, used to make sheet or sponge cakes used for jelly rolls.
Julienne – foods, especially vegetables, cut into thin sticks approximately ¼ inch thick and 1 inch long.
Jus – A French word loosely translated into “juice”, but has a more specific meaning than the translation. In French cookery it is primarily a sauce made by diluting the pan juices of a roast with liquid then boiling it in the roasting pan until all of the sediment has absorbed into the stock. Also used to describe thickened or clear brown stock, especially veal. The juices squeezed from raw vegetables or fruits are also referred to as “jus.”
Kitchen Staff – In largest establishments the staff consists of a team of cooks and others providing kitchen services. The team is directed by a head chef who divides his staff into sections each contributing to the total food production. The kitchen staff varies according to the requirements of each establishment, tasks being shared or distributed between the workers. The kitchen hierarchy of a restaurant and their functions are as follows:
- Executive Chef – creates menus, makes purchases, coordinates kitchen duties, hires personnel.
- Sous Chef – The underchef or assistant to the Executive Chef, aids in managing the day to day operations of the kitchen and assumes responsibility in the chefs absence.
- Saucier – Prepares stocks and sauces, braised, fried, sautéed, and sometimes poached meat, fish, and poultry.
- Garde-Manger – prepares all cold items from the pantry area such as salads, hors d’oeuvres, patés and terrines.
- Rôtisseur – Prepares roasted, broiled (grilled), and fried foods.
- Entremettier – Prepares vegetables, soups, and side dishes for plating at service.
- Poissonnier – Prepares all fish, from portioning of fillets to cooking them.
- Pâtissier – Prepares cooked desserts, pastries, ice creams, etc.
Kneading – The process by which a mixture of dough is made smoother, softer, and more elastic by working with the heel of the hand also incorporating air and additional ingredients at the same time.
Kobe Beef – An exclusive grade of beef cattle produced in Japan. The production of this beef is very limited and extremely expensive to obtain . The cattle are subjected to a treatment of limited mobility, massaged with sake, and fed a selective diet that includes plentiful amounts of beer, resulting in extremely tender and full flavored meat.
Kosher – Foods prepared and served following strict Jewish guidelines for their production and consumption. In order to meet the standards of kosher foods, they must be prepared under the supervision of a rabbi.
Lagniappe – A Cajun or New Orleans term, the word refers to something extra one receives in addition to normal service.
Lard – Lard is the layer of fat located along the back and underneath the skin of the hog. Hog-butchers prepare it during the slaughtering process and preserve it in salt. In Italy it is used mainly (either minced or in whole pieces) to prepare various kinds of sauces and soups, to cook vegetables and legumes, or to lard beef or poultry. In order to remove any excess of salt, lard should be blanched by placing it in cold water, bringing it to a boil and then letting it cool entirely under cold running water.
Lardons – A French term referring to bacon or other fatty substances that have been cut into narrow strips and either cooked or used to lard meats.
Leaven – To add a leavening agent to a mixture that will inhibit carbon dioxide production and make it rise. Leaveners are agents that are added to doughs and batters to increase the volume and lighten the texture. The most common leaveners are baking soda, baking powder, and yeast.
Leche – The Spanish word for “milk”.
Legume – Any of numerous plant species that produce seeds encased in pods, the individual seeds are also known as pulses.
Liaison – A thickening agent added to soups sauces or other mixtures. Common liasons are roux, cornstarch, and egg yolks.
Loin – The meat section of an animal that comes from the area on both sides of the backbone extending from the shoulder to the leg, or from the rib to the leg as in beef and lamb.
London Broil – A term used to describe both a dish and a cut of meat. Large pieces of flank steak (from the lower hindquarters) or top round (from the inner portion of the hind leg) are cut into pieces, marinated, grilled, or broiled, and then sliced across the grain. Many thick cuts of meat, including top round and sirloin tip, are labeled “London broil”.
Luau – A Hawaiian traditional feast which usually revolves around the roasting of a whole pig. The celebration and ceremonies are held in combination with dance, music, and song.
Lyonnaise – A French term describing dishes prepared or garnish with onions or any dish prepared in the manner of Lyon, France.
Magret – A portion of meat from the breast of duck, presented with the skin and underlying layer of fat still attached.
Maison – French for “house”, the term is generally used to denote a specialty of the particular restaurant.
Maître d’Hôtel – The head of a dining room, assisted by a team of waiters and stewards. They must have a very extensive technical knowledge of all aspects of the restaurant including the kitchens, cellars, and dining room, and be able to advise the guest and guide them through the dining experience.
Maltaise – A French term describing sweet or savory food preparations which are based on oranges, particularly the blood orange.
Manchette – Frilled paper used to decorate projecting bones of a chop, roast, or leg.
Mandoline – A portable slicer with adjustable blades and a folding support used to obtain a variety of cuts including julienne, gaufrette, etc.
Marbling – Small pieces or flecks of fat that run through a cut of meat aiding in the tenderness and flavor.
Marée – A French name for describing the collective goods sold at a fish market.
Marinade – A seasoned liquid either cooked or uncooked, used to soak foods for varying lengths of time for the purpose of adding flavor to the food, but also to soften the fibers of meats. In many cases the marinade maybe used for deglazing or to make an accompanying sauce.
Marinate – One of the oldest culinary procedures, used to steep meat or game in a marinade for a certain length of time to tenderize and flavor the flesh.
Marmite – A large capacity (usually 10-14 gallons) lidded pot made of metal or earthenware used for boiling large quantities of food.
Marrow – The soft tissue found in the center of certain bones of an animal., commonly prepared by baking or poaching, also used to fortify soups and stews.
Mash – To crush food into a smooth textured mixture, the term is also used to describe the malt or grains crushed before being steeped in water to produce fermentation.
Meal – Any dry food stuff ground, coarsely or fine, used in cooking.
Meat – The flesh of birds and animals used as food, meat is composed of small fibers which are bound together in bundles to form the muscle of the animal. There are three main categories, red meat (beef, lamb,etc.),white meat (pork, rabbit poultry, etc.), and dark meat (venison, pheasant, duck, etc.)
Medallion – Small, round cuts of beef, chicken, veal, or other meats taken from the tip or end cut, or formed in a mould.
Melt – To heat a food product until a liquefies, either with direct heat, or using a bain-marie.
Menu – A literal presentation of the dishes to be served or items available at a given meal, listed in a specific order.
Mets – A French word describing any dish prepared for the entire table.
Meunière – A French term meaning “miller’s wife”, used to describe a method of cooking where items are first lightly floured and then fried or sautéed in butter.
Milk – An opaque, nutritious liquid secreted from the mammary glands. The composition and quality of milk varies according to the breed of animal, its state of health, and the diet on which has been reared.
Mill – A mechanical apparatus used to reduce whole or solid foods to a coarse or powdered state.
Mince – To cut or chop food into very fine pieces.
Mirepoix – A culinary preparation consisting of diced carrots, onion, and celery. A mirepoix is used to enhance the flavor of soups, stocks, meat preparations, and as a garnish for presentations.
Mise en Place – A French term referring, on a whole, to all of the operations carried out in a restaurant prior to serving the meal. Culinarily speaking, it refers to all the required ingredients and utensils for the preparation of a menu item, preparing them for immediate use, and having the proper amounts for service at hand.
Mixed Grill – An assortment of various meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables barbecued or grilled and served together.
Moisten – To add an amount of liquid to a culinary preparation either in order to cook it or to make the sauce accompanying it.
Mollusk – One of the two main classifications of shellfish, mollusks are invertebrates with soft bodies covered by a shell of one or more sections.
Monkey Dish – A small, round bowl or saucer used in food service for side dishes or accompanying sauces.
Monter – A French term meaning to give body or increased volume to foods by incorporating air with a whisk to egg whites, cream, meringues, etc.
Mortar & Pestle – A mortar is a bowl-shaped container made of a hard wood, marble, pottery, or stone. The pestle is a bat-shaped tool that is used to grind inside the mortar (bowl) and pulverize food substances. The pestle is rotated against the bottom of the mortar to pulverize the ingredient between them to the desired consistency. Crushing the fibers of herbs releases the full range of essential oils they contain.
Mother Sauces – The five most basic sauces that every other sauce is based upon. Antonin Carệme invented the methodology in the early 1900’s by which hundreds of sauces are categorized under five Mother Sauces, and there are infinite possibilities for variations, since the sauces are all based on a few basic formulas. The five Mother Sauces are:
- Béchamel sauce (white) – White cream sauce thickened with a roux liason(a combination of flour and a fat). Béchamel sauce is the base for such sauces as Mornay sauce, and is the foundation for many savory soufflés. In Italy, béchamel sauce is known as balsamella.
- Veloute sauce (blond) – Chicken stock, white veal stock, or fish fumet is the base liquid with a liason added. Velouté is often made even richer by adding egg yolks or cream.
- Espagnole sauce (brown) – Traditionally made from beef or veal stock, aromatics, herbs, and tomato.
- Hollandaise sauce – An emulsion of fat and egg yolks, either hot or cold (mayonnaise based sauces fall into this category).
- Vinaigrette – A combination of vinegar, oil, and/or seasonings, herbs, etc.
Mould – Either to place food in a distinctively shaped container allowing it to set in order to take on the particular shape, forming by hand into a particular shape, or the resulting food obtained by the formation.
Mount – The cooking technique of whisking small pieces of cold, unsalted butter into a sauce just before service giving it a rounded flavor, texture, and a glossy look.
Mouli Grater – A handheld tool used to grate small amounts of cheese, nuts, chocolate, etc. by placing the food in the rotary grater, applying pressure to the handles, and turning the crank.
Mousseline – A term describing any sauce in which whipped cream or beaten egg whites have been added just prior to service to give it a light, airy consistency.
Moutarde – The French word for “mustard”.
Mull – To flavor a beverage or liquid with various ingredients, usually spices, by heating it.
Muslin – Also referred to as cheesecloth, loosely woven cloth used for many different purposes in cooking, like, straining thick liquids such as sauces and purées.
Mutton – The flesh of a castrated and fattened male sheep that is over one year old. Mutton is best at the end of the winter and in the spring, in summer months the odor of the oils from the wool impregnate the flesh giving it a much stronger smell. Firm, dark red flesh and hard, pearly white fat are signs of good quality when choosing mutton.
Nappe – A French term meaning to cover food with a light, thin, layer of sauce.
Neige – A French term for egg whites that have been beaten until they form stiff peaks. They are used in many dessert and pastry preparations.
Niçoise – A name given to various dishes typical of the cuisine found in the region around the city of Nice, France. The most common ingredients used are garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, and French green beans.
Noisette – The French word for “hazelnut”, also a small round steak, usually of lamb or mutton, the cut from the rib or loin.
Non-Reactive – Clay, copper, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel pans that do not react to the chemical reactions of acids in food. Stainless steel is the most common non-reactive cookware available as it does not conduct or retain heat well (it frequently has aluminum or copper bonded to the bottom or a core of aluminum between layers of stainless steel). Although expensive, this kind of cookware offers the benefits of a durable, non-reactive surface and rapid, uniform heat conductivity. Glass cookware is non-reactive and although it retains heat well it conducts it poorly. Enamelware is non-reactive as long as the enamel is not scratched or chipped.
Nouvelle Cuisine – A French term referring to a culinary style and movement of cookery started in 1972 with the aim of encouraging a simpler and more natural presentation of food. Advocates of nouvelle cuisine reject the overrich, complicated and in digestible dishes that are no longer suitable for generations conscious of the health habits of overeating.
Nutraceutical – A nutraceutical is any food that is nutritionally enhanced with nutrients, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
Oeuf – The French word for “egg”.
Offal – Also called variety meats, they are the edible internal parts and some extremities of a carcass. Offal Is divided into two categories, white and red.
- Red – Kidneys, heart, liver, tongue, liver, and spleen
- White – Bone marrow, testicles, sweetbreads, stomach, mesentery, and the head.
Oil – A fatty substance that holds a liquid state at normal room temperatures. Of the many types of oils it is the vegetable oils that are used in cooking.
Oleaginous Plants – Fruits, seeds, and plants with a fat content of 60 to 40 percent and rich in proteins. Their main uses are as a source for oils, or roasted and salted for consuming. They include almonds, pistachios, peanuts, olives, walnuts, etc. and the seeds of sunflower, safflower, poppy, etc.
On The Half Shell – A culinary phrase used to describe the presentation of oysters, scallops, etc. whereby they are served on the bottom shell only, usually on the bed of either crushed ice or rock salt.
Open Faced – A culinary term used in menu descriptions for a dish consisting of one slice of bread topped with various ingredients which may be served hot or cold.
Overlap – To arrange prepared foods so that each piece is partially covered by the next in order to achieve a decorative effect.
Pain – The French word for “bread. Also used to describe a moulded loaf of forcemeat such as beef, poultry, fish, or vegetable pain, which can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.
Palate – The conditioned refinement of the sense of taste. The palate of experienced food connoisseurs’ can detect the slightest variation or addition to a particular dish.
Pan – The Spanish word for “bread”.
Pan Sauce – A sauce made by deglazing the sauté pan used to cook meat, poultry, or fish, etc. with wine, stock or both and adding various ingredients including herbs, shallots, capers, etc. The liquid is then reduced to sauce consistency.
Papillote – An Italian term referring to dishes cooked in sealed parchment paper. Also used in reference to candy or chocolate wrapped in brightly colored shiny paper with fringed edges.
Parboil – Partially cooking food by blanching in water. This technique is used particularly for dense foods such as carrots and potatoes, ensuring that all the ingredients will complete cooking at the same time.
Parchment Paper – A heavy gauge paper with many cooking uses, it is resistant to moisture, oils, and fat.
Pare – To remove the skin or outer protective layer from foods like fruits and vegetables. This is done with a paring or tourne knife, or a vegetable peeler.
Pasteurize – A process in which bacteria is killed by heating milk or other liquids to moderately high temperatures for a short period of time.
Pastry – A general term for sweet baked goods made of unleavened dough containing fat, such as butter, flour, and water.
Pastry Blender – A kitchen tool consisting of parallel U-shaped steel wires with both ends attached to a wooden handle. It is used in making pastry dough to incorporate a cold fat into a flour mixture by “cutting in” or blending the ingredients without applying heat.
Pastry Wheel – A small fluted wheel, made of wood, steel, or plastic, mounted on a handle used to cut pastry into strips or serrated bands for decorating the top of tarts, pies, etc. or to cut out shapes for fritters and ravioli.
Pâtisserie – A French term with multiple meanings, the term applies to the art of the pastry cook, sweet pastries and cakes generally bake in an oven, and the place where these confections are made and sold.
Pâtissier – The French word for “pastry cook or chef”, primarily used for producers of sweets or confections, savory pastries are the responsibility of another chef in large kitchens or hotels.
Peel – Also known as an oven shovel, a long-handled, wide, wooden or metal spatula-like tool slides quickly and easily under breads or pizzas placed on a baking stone. Also describing the outer protective cover of fruits and vegetables.
Pickling – The preserving of food by steeping in a brine of vinegar to which aromatics have been added.
Pincer – A French culinary term describing the browning of vegetables and bones to be used in the production of stocks.
Pinch – A culinary term describing a small quantity of usually salt, pepper, or spices. Taken between the thumb and index finger, the quantity required of a pinch is equal to ¼ tsp. measured.
Pipe – To force a food substance through a pastry or piping bag. The shape of the nozzle and the way it is handled determines the final shape of the preparation.
Piquant – A term used culinarily to describe foods that are agreeably pungent.
Pistou – French for “pesto”.
Pith – The bitter, spongy layer between the outer peel and the flesh of citrus fruits.
Pluches – French term for fresh leaves of herbs used to both flavor the dish, and garnish it. They are added as a final touch to prepared dishes.
Pluck – The process of removing the feathers from a fowl or game bird, the term is also used in reference to the collective heart, spleen, liver, and lungs of a slaughtered animal.
Plump – To soak dried foods in a liquid solution until the food softens and swells slightly from absorption.
Poaching – A method of cooking achieved by gently simmering food in a liquid. The amount of liquid used depends on the food being cooked.
Pod – The outer covering of legumes such as peas, soybeans, and lentils.
Pollo – The Italian and Spanish word for “chicken”.
Polonaise – A descriptive term referring to recipes derived from Polish cooking; most notable are preparations of cauliflower and asparagus.
Portefeuille – A French term describing dishes in which the food is stuffed, folded, or placed in layers. Common preparations of this type are omelets, gratins, or stuffed pork chops.
Poisson – The French word for “fish”.
Potted – An old method of preserving food by cooking it in fat with a small amount of liquid. The cooked food is placed in small pots or jars and covered with a layer of fat creating an airtight seal to protect the food from bacteria.
Potable – In kitchen terms, it describes a liquid suitable for drinking, especially in reference to water.
Pot Roasting – A cooking method by which moist heat slow cooks the food after first being browned in butter, or some other fat, and then covered and transferred to the oven.
Poularde – The French term for a large chicken or hen suitable for roasting.
Poulet – A French term for a young spring chicken.
Poultry – The generic term for any domesticated birds raised for the purpose of food.
Poussin – The French term for very young, small chicken.
Preservation – Used culinarily as a term used to describe perishable food kept in a consumable state. The main principal of preservation, in any form, is to stop or slow down development, the actions of microorganisms, and to avoid exterior deterioration.
Prix Fixe – A French term describing a complete meal served at a set price.
Proof – To dissolve yeast in warm water to prove that the yeast is alive, active, and capable of leavening dough for baking.
Protein – Used in professional kitchens as a general term to describe the meat, poultry, or fish in a presented dish.
Provençale – A French term describing numerous preparations relating to the use of ingredients in the Provence region of France, including, olive oil, tomato, and garlic.
Pullet – The name given to a hen that is less than one year old.
Pulverize – To reduce a substance to powder or dust form, this is achieved by a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender.
Purée – A smooth and creamy preparation obtained by the use of a food processor, blender, or pressing cooked foods through a sieve.
Quasi – A French term for a cut of veal taken from the rump.
Quenelle – A dumpling made with forcemeat of pork, beef, or fish bound together with fat and eggs. The term is also used to describe the oval, three sided shape commonly produced.
Queso – The Spanish word for cheese. Many Latin American cheeses are called queso followed by an adjective to describe the particular cheeses characteristics.
Quignon – A term referring to the heel or end cut of a bread loaf.
Quick Breads – A term describing breads that do not require kneading or time to rise because either baking powder or baking soda are used as the levener.
Rack – A portion of the rib section of an animal usually containing eight ribs. The rack is either cut into chops or served whole as with a crown roast.
Raclette – A cheese fondue from the Valais region of Switzerland, prepared by holding a half round of the raclette close to an open fire. As the cheese melts, it is scraped off and shared between guests with a variety of condiments.
Ragout – In classic French terminology, it was used to describe anything which stimulated the appetite, the modern term refers to either a stew or sauce made from meat, poultry, fish, game, or vegetables cut into evenly size pieces and cooked in a thick sauce, generally well seasoned. There are two types of ragout; blonde and brown.
Ragu – An Italian red sauce with meat typically served with pasta.
Ramekin – A small, round (3-4 inches in diameter), straight sided soufflé dish made of ovenproof China or glass used to cook individual portions of foods or serve cold condiments.
Rancid – A term describing fatty foods or the fat itself which has gone stale due to oxidation of the fat. This is accelerated by exposure to light, high temperatures, or prolonged contact with a metallic substance.
Range – A large stove with burners or “eyes” that also has one or more ovens on the bottom.
Rasher – Either a single slice or serving of meats such as bacon or ham.
Reconstitute – A culinary term meaning to return dehydrated food to its original state by soaking in water or other liquid.
Reduce – To concentrate or thicken a liquid by boiling or simmering, which evaporates some of the water and reduces the volume. The finished product is called a reduction.
Reheat – To bring a prepared food back to the correct temperature suitable for eating after it has already been cooked and cooled down.
Relish – A condiment originating in India which resembles jelly, but, is more highly spiced and finely chopped or pureed.
Rennet – A natural enzyme obtained from the stomach of calves or lamb. It is used to coagulate or curdle milk when making cheese.
Reserve – To set aside ingredients, mixtures, or preparations for later use in cooking.
Rest – To let meats set before serving so that the muscle fibers relax and allow the juices to be retained. Also used in baking to indicate placing dough or batter to one side in a cool place as part of its preparation.
Restaurant – A business establishment where meals are served at set times either from a fixed menu or a la carte.
Restaurateur – The proprietor or manager of the restaurant.
Rib – A cut of meat taken from the rib section, between the short loin and the chuck.
Ribbon Stage – A point when beating together egg yolks and sugar one mixture is sufficiently smooth enough to flow from the spoon or whisk in a continuous ribbon.
Ris – The French word for “sweetbreads”.
Rissolé – A French term for foods that are fried until crispy and golden brown.
Ristra – A Spanish term for foods that are stung up on rope or twine, used mainly for drying chiles or for decoration purposes.
Roast – A cut of meat that is large enough to serve more than one person.
Roasting – The cooking of meats, fish, poultry, or game by exposing them to the heat of an open flame, over a grill, or the radiant heat of an oven.
Roe – The eggs or reproductive glands of fish and shellfish.
Roebuck – A small deer common to German and east European forests. The flesh of young roebuck is delicate and dark red with no need for marinating.
Rolling Pin – A kitchen tool used primarily to roll out dough, but has many other uses as well. Although there are varying types, one characteristic remains with all, a perfectly symmetrical cylinder top make the dough evenly flattened.
Rondeau – A cooking pan usually only found in restaurants that is round, shallow, with straight sides, opposing handles and a lid. It is generally used for braising, stewing, or oven roasting.
Rotisserie – A rotating spit for cooking meats and poultry, also the shop or restaurant where spit-roasted meats are prepared and sold.
Rouelle – A round, thick slice of veal cut across the leg commonly used in roasting or braising, this cut is used to make osso bucco.
Roulade – A French term for any of various preparations which are stuffed and then rolled.
Roux – A cooked mixture of equal amounts of flour and butter, or other fat, used to thicken many sauces and stews. The cooking time varies depending the on the type of the required. The three types of roux are blonde, brown, and black.
Salad – A dish of raw or cold, cooked food usually seasoned or dressed with a cold sauce, served as an hors d’oeuvre, side dish, or appetizer.
Salad Spinner – A kitchen utensil that utilizes centrifugal force to dry lettuce or washed greens.
Salpicon – A term describing ingredients that are cut into a small dice then bound with a sauce, either savory or sweet.
Salsa – The Mexican word for “sauce”, describing either cooked or raw preparations.
Salting – An ancient process of preserving meats, mainly pork and fish.
Sasser – A French term describing the cleansing of thin skinned vegetables through friction by wrapping them in cloth with course salt and shaking.
Sauce– A hot or cold seasoned or flavored liquid either served with, or used in the cooking process of a dish, designed to accompany food and to enhance or bring out its flavor.
Saucisse – The French term for a small sausage.
Saucisson – The French term for a large, smoke cured sausage.
Sauté – A cooking technique which refers to preparing a food quickly in oil and/or butter over direct heat.
Savory – In cooking terminology, it describes foods that are not sweet, but piquant and full flavored.
Scald – To heat milk to just below the boiling point.
Scale – A kitchen utensil used to accurately measure the weight of an ingredient, also the process of removing the scales from fish with a knife or a fish scaler.
Scant – Not quite up to full measure or slightly less than the required amount.
Score – To cut narrow gashes in fat to prevent the meat from curling when cooked. Also used to describe cutting even, shallow lines in cucumbers and other vegetables with a fork or scoring knife for decorations.
Seafood – A general term describing any fish, shellfish, or mollusk taken from the oceans that is fit for consumption.
Searing – The browning or caramelizing of a foods surface using direct heat. Searing seals in the natural juices of foods, brings out the flavor, and creates a thin layer at the bottom of the pan, which is deglazed and used for making sauces.
Season – To add an ingredient to foods before, during, or after cooking to enhance its flavor, but not taking away from the natural flavor of the food. The term also refers to coating the cooking surface of a new pan or grill with oil and then heating, this smoothes out the surface of new pots and pans to prevent foods from sticking.
Seize – Basically the same as searing, the term refers to cooking meat, poultry, or vegetables with hot fat or oil in a sauté pan until the surface is brown or caramelized. The purpose of which is to seal in the juices before final cooking. Also referred to melted chocolate that becomes a hardened mass when a minute amount of liquid comes in contact.
Service – The manner in which dishes are presented or the grouping of dishes comprising each part of the meal.
Shank – A cut of meat taken from the front leg of the carcass, though highly flavorful, extended cooking is required to break down the tough connective tissues.
Sharpening Steel – A long, thin, grooved rod made of extremely hard, high carbon steel, diamond steel, or ceramic, used to keep a fine edge on a blade.
Shellfish – Any of a variety of invertebrate aquatic animals with a hard, outer protective shell, including both mollusks and crustaceans.
Short Loin – The most tender section of beef, it lies in the middle of the cattles back between the ribs and sirloin.
Short Rib – The large or top section of the rib cage that is cut into portions usually 2-3 inches long
Shoulder – A cut of meat referring to the part of the carcass to which the front legs are attached.
Shred – To use a knife or a grater (a kitchen tool with round, sharp-edged holes) to cut food into long, thin strands.
Shuck – To remove the natural, outer covering from foods such as shells from oysters or husks from corn.
Sieve – A kitchen utensil used for sifting dry ingredients or straining liquids.
Sifter – A flour sifter is a sieve that is especially adapted for use with flour. It is commonly built in the form of a metal cup with a screen bottom and contains a mechanism (wires that either revolve or rub against the screen being operated by a crank or a lever) to force the flour through the mesh.
Silver Skin – A tough connective membrane found on cuts of meat where they attach to certain bones and joints. The silver skin must be removed before cooking.
Simmer – To cook food slowly in a sauce or other liquid over gentle heat just below the boiling point.
Singeing – The process of rotating poultry over a flame in order to burn off any feathers that remain after plucking.
Sirloin – The section of beef between the short loin and the round, the section is divided into three cuts, the top sirloin contains part of the top loin muscle of the short loin, the tenderloin which is also a continuation of the short loin, and the bottom sirloin which has a portion of the sirloin tip from the round.
Skillet – Once applied to any metal cooking vessel that has a handle, the term has come to apply, in the U.S., to a metal (usually cast iron) frying pan.
Skim – To remove fat or floating matter from the surface of a liquid with a spoon or ladle.
Sliver – A thin cut or serving of food.
Slurry – A mixture of a dry ingredient and water. Cornstarch (preferred for thickening milk or dairy sauces), arrowroot (great for defatted meat sauces or broths), potato starch, rice flour, or all purpose flour, the proportion is one part starch with two parts cold liquid.
Smoke – To expose foods to smoke from a wood fire, using select woods, for a prolonged period of time. Traditionally used for preservation purposes, smoking is used as a means of adding natural flavors to food.
Smoke Point – The point when a fat, such as butter or oil, smokes and lets off an acrid odor. Butter smokes at 350 degrees F., vegetable oil at 445 degrees F., lard at 365 to 400 degrees F., and olive oil at about 375 degrees F.
Smorgasbord – A Swedish buffet of many dishes served as hors d’oeuvres or as a full meal. Common elements of a smorgasbord are pickled fish, marinated vegetables, smoked salmon, open faced sandwiches, and hors d’oeuvers.
Soft Ball Stage – A measurement for cooked sugar whereby a drop of the sugar is placed in cold water and a soft, pliable ball is produced, the temperature for this is between 234-240 degrees F.
Soft Crack Stage – A measurement for cooked sugar whereby a drop of the sugar is placed in cold water and separates into hard, but still pliable threads, the temperature for this is between 270-290 degrees F.
Soup – Any combination of meats, fish, and/or vegetables cooked in a liquid that produces a thick, smooth, or chunky consistency.
Spare Rib – The lower portion of the rib cage and breast plate of a pig or hog.
Spices – Any of a large variety of piquant or aromatic seasonings obtained from the seeds, stem, root, bark, buds, or fruit of plants and trees. Herbs refer more to the leaves of said plants.
Spit – A pointed rod on which a portion of meat or a whole animal is speared for roasting over or in an open flame.
Springform Pan – A pan that has sides that can be removed and the bottom comes out. Used mostly in baking, the pan has a fastener on the side that can be opened to remove the rim after the cake is cool. They are available in a number of sizes, 9- and 10-inch being the most common. Cheesecakes and tortes are usually baked in this type of pan.
Stabilizing Agent – A food additive used to ensure prolonged consistency and texture.
Stale – A term describing foods that are no longer fresh due to over exposure to the elements.
Starch – A type of carbohydrate stored in the components of various plants.
Steam – To cook foods in a steamer or on a rack over boiling water. Steaming retains flavor, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching.
Steep – To soak a dry ingredient in a hot liquid until the flavor is incorporated into the liquid.
Stew – A method of cooking by which meat and/or vegetables are barely covered by a liquid and allowed to cook for a substantial period of time.
Stir – To gently agitate ingredients with a utensil to ensure the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Stock – The strained liquid resulting from cooked vegetables, meat, and/or fish in a significant amount of water with aromatics added.
Stoneware – Pottery (usually glazed) that is fired at very high temperatures that is also nonporous and resistant to chipping. It is best utilized in baking and slow cooking.
Strain – To separate liquids or dry ingredients from undesired particles by passing through fine mesh (i.e. a sieve, chinois, etc.)
Stud – A culinary term used to indicate the insertion of flavor or appearance enhancing ingredients such as, cloves, garlic, etc. into the surface of a food.
Stuff – To fill the interior of foods with another preparation before or after cooking.
Suet – White fatty casing that surrounds the kidneys and the loins in beef, sheep, and other animals. Suet has a higher melting point than butter and when it does melt it leaves small holes in the dough, giving it a loose soft texture. Many British recipes call for it to lend richness to pastries, puddings, stuffings, etc.
Supper – A light meal served in the evening, often after a night out.
Sweat – A cooking technique whereby ingredients are cooked in a small amount of fat over low heat and then covered. This method allows the food to soften without browning and retain the natural juices.
Sweetbreads – The two thymus glands of veal, lamb, and pork, located in the throat and near the heart.
Sweeten – To reduce the sharpness, bitterness, or acidity of a dish by adding water, cream, sugar, etc. or by extending the cooking time.
Tandoor Oven – A round top oven made of bricks and clay used to cook foods with direct heat produced from a fire made in the back of the oven.
Tapas – A Spanish custom of serving small portions of food or hors d’oeuvres while drinking local wines or aperitifs, particularly in the evening. The term itself comes from the Spanish word for “lid”, in reference to the age old practice of placing a slice of bread over a glass of wine to keep insects away.
Taste – One of the basic senses by which the flavors of food are perceived, from a gastronomic point of view, the sense of taste is closely associated with the sense of smell.
Tempering – A cooking technique whereby chocolate is made malleable and glossy through a process of heating and cooling.
Tempura – A Japanese technique of batter dipping and deep frying foods, particularily fish and vegetables.
Thickening – The culinary process used to give body to a liquid. The French word for thickening is “liason”. There are several methods depending on the ingredients used.
- starch (cornstarch, arrowroot, or ground rice)
- egg yolk, blood, cream, or liver.
- a roux.
- a mixture of egg and flour.
- whipped cream or butter just before service.
Thin – To add a liquid to a preparation in order to make it less thick.
Thread stage – The stage in cooked sugar when a soft thread is produced when immersed in water. This occurs between 230 – 234 degrees F.
Tongs – A kitchen or serving utensil having two arms with opposing “spoons” at the ends, either pivoted or connected by a spring.
Tonnato – An Italian word referring to dishes comprised or accompanied by tuna.
Toss – To turn the ingredients of a salad ensuring they are evenly coated with seasonings or dressing.
Tourage – The French term for a technique of making puff pastry dough by continually folding and rolling out the dough to make hundreds of dough layers that rise when baked.
Tournedo – A cut of beef taken from the tenderloin that is no more or less than 1 inch thick and 2-21/2 inches in diameter.
Trattoria – An Italian term describing an informal restaurant where simple, but satisfying meals are served. An informal atmosphere.
Trim – To remove the parts of a food that are not needed for preparation.
Trinity – A Louisiana Cajun/Creole vegetable mixture consisting of an equal combination of onion, green pepper, and celery used extensively in these types of cooking.
Tripe – The stomach of an animal used in cooking.
Trivet – A stand used to support hot foods thereby protecting the table it sits upon.
Trotter – The hoof or foot of an animal that is used in cooking.
Truss – To thread twine through the body of poultry for the purpose of holding the legs and sometimes the wings in place during cooking.
Turbiner – A French culinary term meaning to freeze ice creams and sorbets until solid.
Tureen – Any variety of deep, lidded dishes used in the service of hot liquids (soups, stews, etc.)
Turn – To shape vegetables into a specific shape with a knife.
Unleavened – Describing any baked good that has no leavener, such as yeast, baking powder, or baking soda (flat breads).
Unmould – The careful removal of a food shaped in a mould such as cakes and terrines.
Vanner – A French term meaning to stir or whisk a mixture until it has cooled.
Variety Meats – Also called Offal, these are the innards and extremities of slaughtered animals used in cooking. (see Offal)
Veal – The flesh of calves between 1-3 months old, the pale flesh is a result of not feeding them grains or grasses which darken the flesh.
Vegan – Referring to dishes prepared absolutely vegetarian, without the use or contact of any animal product whatsoever.
Venison – A term describing the flesh of deer.
Venue – A French term for the assembly and preparation of confections or pastries..
Vin – French for “wine”.
Vinaigrette – A basic preparation of oil and vinegar, combined and seasoned.
Vitamin – A water or fat soluble, organic substance contained in foods and vital for proper growth and development.
Vitello – The Italian word for “veal”.
Viticulture – The science or study of wine grapes.
Well – The hole made in the middle of a heap of flour to which the liquids or semi solid ingredients of dough are added.
Whetstone – A stone slab used to sharpen knives.
Whip – To beat ingredients vigorously to incorporate air increasing the volume of the preparation.
Whisk – A kitchen utensil consisting of a series of wires around a handle used to whip or mix ingredients.
Wok – A round bottomed cooking vessel used for stir frying, steaming, or poaching.
Yoke – A substance that binds or holds ingredients together.
Yolk – The yellow colored center of an egg.
Zuppa – The Italian word for “soup”.