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Glossary of Cooking terms


Below are definitions and full explanations of cooking terms and techniques which you are likely to come across in recipes and cooking related articles. From A-Z



Bake - To cook in an enclosed oven


Bake Blind – To partially or completely cook an unfilled pastry case. This is done by pricking the base of the case with a fork all over then lining the uncooked case with greaseproof paper and weighting it down with beans. Cooking is between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the recipe.


Bard -  To cover a food with strips of fat, such as bacon or larding fat, which protects and bastes it during cooking.


Baste - To moisten with the pan juices or other liquid during cooking. This aids in moisture retention.


Beat – To introduce air into a mixture using a utensil such as a wooden spoon, fork or whisk, in order to thoroughly mix and achieve a lighter texture.


Blanche  - To briefly plunge food into boiling water or hot fat.


Blend -  To mix together ingredients, usually of different consistencies, to a smooth and even texture, utilising a utensil such as a wooden spoon or blender.


Boil  - To bring a liquid to boiling temperature and to maintain it throughout the cooking time.

Boil rapidly - Food is submerged into boiling liquid over a high heat and the bubbling state is maintained throughout the required cooking period. This method is also used to reduce sauces by  boiling off the liquid and reducing it to a concentrated state.


Braise  - To bake or stew  food slowly, usually  on a bed of vegetables in a covered pan or ovenproof dish.


Broil - The American term for browning under the grill.


Brown  to  -  To fry in very shallow  fat  over a high heat in order to colour the food and seal in the juices. This is usually a very quick process : not more than a couple of minutes on each side of the food.


Brunoise – Food cut into very small dice – no bigger than 5mm/ 1/8 inch and sometimes smaller. Usually refers to vegetables.


Butterfly -  To cut food (usually meat or seafood) leaving one side attached and to open it out like the wings of a butterfly.


Caramelise -  The effect of heating sugar or a sugar-rich fruit, until the sugar turns brown and syrupy.


Casing – A synthetic or natural membrane (usually pig or sheep intestines) use to encase food such as sausages.


Casserole - to - To cook in a covered dish in the oven in liquid such as stock or wine.


Chine to – Usually refers to the removal of the backbone on a cut of meat such as a rack of  pork.


Chop to – To cut into pieces of approximately the same size.


Chunks -  Pieces of food which have been cut into equal sizes, measuring at least 2.5cm/1inch.


Clarified Butter -  is clarified by bringing to the boil until it foams and then skimming the solids from the top or straining through muslin before use.


Clarify - To clear a cloudy substance. This term is generally used for liquids, in particular stocks where egg white is added to the liquid which is brought to the boil, at which point the whites coagulate and trap the impurities. This is then skimmed off.


Coat -  to – to cover with a thin film of liquid, usually a sauce.


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Coats a spoon – when a substance is rendered thin/thick enough so that when a wooden or metal spoon is inserted into it and taken out, the substance leaves a thin film “coating the spoon”.


Cream - to - The process where sugar and softened butter are beaten together with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is light, pale and well blended. This process may also be carried out with a hand held mixer or in a food processor.


Confit - A preserving technique where meat  is cooked and preserved in it’s own fat.


Crimp  - To seal the edges or two layers of dough using the fingertips or a fork.


Cube  - to  – to cut foods into small even-sized pieces  ranging from 12mm/½  inch to 2.5cm/1 inch. 


Cut in  - to – To incorporate fat into a dry ingredient, such as flour, by using a knife and making cutting movements in order to break the fat down.


Curdle – The state of a liquid or food, such as eggs, to divide into liquid and solids, usually due to the application excess heat.


Deep Fry -  The process of cooking food by immersion in hot fat or oil in a deep pan or electric fryer to give a crisp, golden coating.


Deglaze   - To use a liquid such as stock, water or wine, to dissolve food particles which are left in a pan after roasting or frying.

Desalting  - The removal of salt from foods. Food is soaked in cold, water or washed under running water to dissolve the salt.  Some foods such as salt cod, require long, overnight soaking.


Dice –to  -  To cut ingredients into small cubes. Sizes range from 5mm/¼ inch to 15mm/¾ inch.


Drizzle -  To drip a liquid substance, such as a sauce or dressing, over food usually in a semi fluid motion


Drying off - The removal of excess moisture from foods during cooking. Not to be confused with drying or reducing. An example of drying off is when potatoes are placed over a low heat after having been drained in order to dry them off before mashing.


Dust – to– To sprinkle lightly with flour, sugar or seasonings.


Egg wash -  A mixture of beaten eggs with liquid (usually milk) used to coat baked goods. This gives a shiny appearance once cooked.


Emulsifying  - The blending of two liquids that don't naturally combine or dissolve into each other without agitation, or that aren't mutually soluble. The classic examples are oil and water, French dressing and mayonnaise.

Flake  - to – To separate cooked fish into slivers.


FlambéTo add alcohol to a dish and ignited  in order to burn off the alcohol and intensify the flavour. This can be done at the cooker or, as in the case of Christmas Puddings or Crepes, at the table.


Flute/Fluting  - Used in pastry or biscuit making as a decoration. Pies and tarts are fluted around the edge by pinching the pastry between the forefinger and thumb to create v-shaped grooves.


Also A toothed, piping nozzle which is used to flute cream and icing for cake decoration.


Fold in  - To gently combine lighter mixtures with heavier ones usually using a metal spoon or spatula in a cutting or slicing “J” movement whilst slightly lifting the utensil.

Fry  - To cook over a brisk heat, in oil or fat to obtain a good seal and colour.


Garnish – to –  To decorate a finished dish with extra items such as parsley, lemon wedges etc.


Glaze –to  – To give a food a shiny appearance by coating it with a sauce or similar substance such as aspic or melted jam.


Grate – To reduce a food to very small particles by rubbing it against a sharp, rough surface, usually a grater  or zester.  


Grease -to  – To cover the inside  surface of a dish or pan with a layer of fat, such as butter or margarine,  or oil using a brush or kitchen paper.


Grill  - to - To cook foods from above, under a heat source such as gas or electricity.


Infuse/infusing  - The soaking or standing of food in hot water or liquid in order to extract the flavour of the food .


Julienne  -  Food which is cut into thin strips, to a thickness of approximately 2mm/ 1/8 inch  and a length ranging from 2.5cm/1inch to 5cm/2 inches as standard.


Knead - A rhythmic action in dough making whereby one end of the dough is secured by the heel of one hand and  stretched away, then pulled back over the top. In bread making, two hands are use.


Knock back    - To press out air bubbles in a risen dough before shaping and proving.


Knock up   -  No No No !   The term used in pastry making, when two edges of uncooked pastry are pressed together and the cut edges are lightly scored with the back of a knife to produce a better seal.


Marinade – A mixture or wet and/or dry ingredients used to flavour or tenderise food prior to cooking.

Marinate -    To soak foods in a marinade to enhance the flavour.  It also sometimes has the effect of tenderising foods such as meat.

Mash - to -  Break down food items with a fork or other specialised mashing equipment until a smoother texture is achieved.


Papillote  - en -  A method of cooking,  in which food is wrapped sealed and cooked, usually in greaseproof paper or  tin foil.


Parboil -  To partially cook food by boiling prior to another method of cooking.


Pipe –to -  To shape or decorate food using a forcing bag or utensil fitted with a plain or decorated nozzle.


Poach - To cook food in hot liquid over a gentle heat to the liquid is barely bubbling.


Prick - To make small shallow holes in food with a fork or the tip of a small sharp knife mainly to allow for the escape of moisture during cooking


Prove - To allow a yeast dough to rise by placing, covered, in a warm environment


Purée -  to     - To process food by means of mashing, sieving or  processing in a food processor until  very smooth.


Reduce - To boil a liquid rapidly in order to decrease its volume by evaporation and produce a concentrated flavour and thicker consistency.

Refresh -  To plunge food into, or run under, cold water after branching to prevent further cooking.


Roast – to  - To cook food in an oven or on a spit over a fire.


Rubbing in  - The incorporation of fat into flour.  Butter is softened and cubed then gently rubbed between the thumb and forefinger, lifting the mixing at the same time, until the fat is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs in appearance.


Sauté  - The cooking of food in a small amount of fat, preferably in a single layer, until it browns and softens. Small items are cooked uncovered, but larger pieces may need covering after the initial browning to complete the cooking. The pan is shaken, over a high heat to move the food around, and prevent sticking. It is important not to overfill the pan.

Scald  - To heat a liquid, usually milk until it is almost boiling at which point very small  bubbles begin to form around the age of the pan.


Score - to -  To make shallow incisions with a small knife on the surface of foods, either  with parallel lines  or criss-cross patterns in order to improve its appearance or to absorb the flavours of bastes and marinades. Also aids in even cooking.


Sear  -  To brown the surface of food in fat over a high heat before finishing cooking by another method, in order to add flavour.

Season - to

1. To add flavourings such as salt, pepper, herbs, spices etc. to foods.


2. To season a pan - Rub the inside of a clean  pan with a good layer of oil, bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour, and wipe off the excess oil. This can be done a few times to start build up the layer.


Season to taste - Usually refers to adding extra salt and pepper.


Shallow-fry - To cook in oil which is no more than 1.25cm (1/2 inch) deep.


Shred – To tear or cut into food into thin strips.


Sift  -  To pass  a dry ingredient, such as flour, through a sieve to ensure it is lump free.


Simmer - To maintain the temperature of a liquid at just below boiling.


Skim -  To remove impurities from the surface of a liquid, such as stock, during or after cooking.


Skin – to  - The removal of skin from meat, fish, poultry, fruit, nuts and vegetables.

Slice to -  To cut food, such as bread, meat, fish or vegetables, into flat pieces of varying thickness.


Soak - to  - To completely cover with liquid and leave for a varying amount of time


Steam - to  - The cooking of food in steam, over rapidly boiling water or other liquid. The food is usually suspended above such liquid  by means of a trivet or steaming basket, although in the case of puddings, the basin actually sits in the water.


Steep    - To soak food in a liquid such as alcohol or syrup until saturated.


Stew - to -  To place food in liquid and cook, covered,  on the top of the cooker.


Stir-fry  - To fry small pieces of food quickly in a large frying pan or wok, over a high heat , using very little fat and constantly moving the food around the pan throughout cooking, keeping them in contact with the hot wok.


Strain  – To separate liquids from solids by passing through a sieve, muslin or similar.


Sweat  -  To cook  food in a covered pan in a small amount of fat, so the natural juices run into the pan. Foods cooked in this way will soften but not brown. 


Toss - to - To lightly mix ingredients together, usually in order to coat solid ingredients with a dressing or sauce


Truss – to  - To tie up meat or poultry with string before cooking in order to make a more compact shape for even cooking or produce a better appearance.


Whip   - To beat an item, such as cream or egg whites, in order to incorporate air and, usually, thicken.


Whisk – to – To beat air into a mixture until soft and fluffy.


Zester  - A hand held tool with small, sharp-edged holes at the end of it, which cuts orange, lemon or grapefruit peel into fine shreds.  



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