Cooking Glossary

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Al dente

Pasta that's cooked just till firm to the touch. There should be slight resistent when you bite into it. Not overcooked


A single spice whose flavor is reminiscent of a blend of cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries and pepper. It is processed from the unripe fruit of an evergreen tree indigenous to South America, and extensively grown in Jamaica.


A herb, available both ground and in seed form, whose flavor is reminiscent of licorice. Used for flavoring curries, soups, cakes, breads, candies, desserts, nonalcoholic beverage, and such liqueurs as anisette.


A white powder, extracted from the root of a West Indian plant, used as a thickening agent for sauces, fruit pie fillings and glazes, and puddings. Recipes made with Arrowroot thicken at a lower temperature than those made using cornstarch. If a recipe calls for cornstarch and you want to use Arrowroot instead, just subtititue 2 teaspoons of Arrowroot for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch



To cook using dry heat by placing foods in an oven (covered or uncovered, whatever your choice), under coals, or on a heated stone..

Baking Powder

Used as a leavening agent in preparing baked goods. Consists of a carbonate, an acid substance, and starch or flour. Check the expiration date as baking powder loses its leavening power over time. Instead of discarding when it becomes old just use it as a deodorizer in your refrigerator.

Baking Soda

A leavening agent which must be combined with an acidic liquid to achieve results. Sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, molasses, orange or lemon juice produce good results


Herb which is widely used in Italian dishes, most particularly with tomato-based entrees. Basil is used to make pesto and is also an excellent seasonin for chicken and fish. Plant basil between your tomato plants to repel all sorts of tomato pests.


To moisten and improve the flavor of foods (usually meats) by brushing on, drizzling or spooning over pan drippings, fruit juices, sauces, etc.

Bay Leaf

An aromatic leaf that comes from bay laurel trees and used to flavor soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes. Place the whole leaf right in the dish you're preparing but be sure to remove the bay leaf before serving.


To rapidly stir food in a circular motion using a spoon or fork, rotary egg beater or electric mixer. (one minute in an electric mixer equals about 100 strokes with a spoon or fork)


To boil or steam foods briefly in order to either remove the skins (tomatoes, nuts, etc), whiten, or prepare food for freezing by stopping the enzymatic action.


To mix ingredients together until thoroughly combined.


To heat liquids until bubbles form on the surface and steam forms.

Bouquet Garni

A mixture of herbs that is either tied together or enclosed in a porous container and cooked with a dish but removed before serving. The herbs most often used include equal measures of thyme, parsley and crushed bay leaf; however a bouquet garni can also consist of equal measures of thyme, chervil and crushed bay leaf OR equal measures of basil, marjoram, and summer savory.


A method of cooking foods (most often used for meats) by quickly browning in oil and then cooking slowly in liquid (wine, stock, etc) in a covered pot .


To dip foods into a liquid (beaten eggs, milk, etc) then coat food with bread crumbs.


Using intense heat to cook food (usually meats) by placing it directly under a broiler or on a grill. This is a low-fat way to cook as the fat drips away.


To cook food quickly (usually meats) over high heat by either frying or broiling until the surface browns sealing in all the succulent juices



To melt either sugar or sugary foods by cooking slowly over low heat until the contents become browned. Be carful not to burn


To cut food either into small chucks (finely chopped) or large chunks (coarsely chopped).


Leaves of coriander used as a flavoring or garnish


To cook food slowly in water keeping the water just below boiling.

Condensed Milk

Evaporated milk to which a lot of sugar has been added

Confectioners' Sugar

A refined finely-powdered sugar, often used in frostings.


The seed of a plant in the parsley family with a flavor reminiscent of a blend between sage and lemon.


Starch made from corn and used in foods as a thickening agent and in making corn syrup and sugars. To prevent lumping be sure it's thoroughly mixed in a cold liquid before adding.


To mix an ingredient or combination of ingredients until soft, smooth and well-blended. Usually the ingredients contain butter or shortening and sugar

Cream of Tartar

The ingredient left behind from wine fermentation. Used as the main ingredient in baking powder and to stabilize beaten egg whites.


To cut foods into uniform 1/2"to 1" cubes.

Cut in

To mix butter, shortening, etc., into dry ingredients by using a pastry blender or two knives.

Curry Powder

A condiment consisting of several pungent ground spices including cayenne pepper, turmeric, and fenugreek.



A very small quantity measuring three drops to 1/4 teaspoon.

Deep Fry

To cook food by placing in enough hot oil cover the food completely

Double Boiler

A cooking method consisting of two saucepans fitting together so that the contents of the upper pan can be cooked or heated by boiling water in the lower one.


To coat food with flour, bread crumbs, etc.


The process used to make a great-tasting sauce using the browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan by heating a little bit of wine or stock and stirring to loosen the brown bits.


To sprinkle lightly with sugar or flour.



To bind together substances which do not normally mix, such as oil and water. Egg yolk is a commonly used for this purpose.

Evaporated Milk

Unsweetened milk concentrated by partial evaporation.



To cut the bones from meat or fish.


To cook food in hot fat over medium to high heat


To break food into small pieces, usually done with a fork


To combine two ingredients, usually a heavier ingredient (whipping cream) with a lighter ingredient, (egg white). Using a rubber spatula, lift the heavier mixture from the bottom and blend with the lighter mixture on top..


edible ornaments to enhance the appearance of food


To shred hard food by rubbing it against a grater.


A kitchen utensil with different sized sharp-edged holes, for rubbing off small particles of any hard food..


To prevent foods from sticking by lightly coating a pan with butter, shortening, cooking spray, etc.


To cook food on a rack over hot coals or other heat source


To transform food into pieces ranging from small (fine grind) to large (coarse grind) using a food processor or grinder.


To cut food into matchstick-sized strips


To mix dough on a floured surface by pressing the dough down with the palm of your hands then folding it over itself; repeat the process until the dough is smooth and elastic.


Adding a leaving agent such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda to ingredients in order to allow either dough or batter to rise.


A savory usually acidic sauce in which meat, fish, or vegetable is soaked to enrich its flavor or to tenderize it.


To finely chop food, resulting in tiny pieces.


To combine ingredients until smooth and evenly distributed.


To cook uncovered over high heat in a pre-heated, lightly-greased heavy pan, constantly removing any fat that accumulates.


Partially cooking food in boiling water, stock, etc for a few minutes just to tenderize the food, cooking is normally completed using another method.


To remove skin from fruits and vegetables using a knife.


a measure of dry ingredients that is normally the amount that can be held between the thumb and forefinger, usually much less than 1/8 teaspoon


To cook food slowly in simmering water, milk, stock, etc.


foods usually fruits or vegetables reduced to a smooth, thick consistency using either a blender, food processor or a sieve.


To boil a liquid, uncovered, until the volume is reduced by evaporation, which thickens and intensifies the flavor.


To cook food in an oven, using dry heat.; placing food on a spit before a fire; or surrounding food with hot embers, sand or stones.


to cook quickly over high heat in an open frying pan with a small amount of butter, oil or cooking spray, turning food frequently


To heat milk to just below the boiling point.


To cook at very high heat for a short period of time in order to brown meat and seal the surface ensuring that the juices are trapped within.


To cut or tear food into long, thin strips


To pass dry ingredients, usually flour and baking powder, salt, etc., through a fine-meshed strainer or sifter to blend ingredients thoroughly and remove larger pieces thereby lightening the texture of the mixture.


To cook in liquid just below the boiling point..

Soy Sauce

A sauce containing soybeans, wheat, and salt. Used in marinades and sauces or as a condiment for white rice.


To cook food slowly and for a long period of time using a small amount of liquid in a covered pan or pot


To cook food quickly over high heat with a small amount of oil using a skillet or wok, being sure to constantly stir ingredients


To remove solid particles from a mixture or liquid by pouring through a colander or sieve.



A smooth, oily paste made from sesame seeds


To brown with dry heat in an toaster or oven.


To blend foods together by gently turning the pieces over until the ingredients are well mixed



To add air and volume to food by beating rapidly using a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy.


A wire kitchen utensil used for mixing dry ingredients together

Worcestershire Sauce

a pungent sauce consisting of soy sauce, vinegar, molasses, and garlic



A small amount of the grated rind or thin outer skin of any type of citrus fruit (orange and lemon being the most common) used as flavoring especially in baking.

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ds=dash (e.g. dash of pepper)
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