Cooking terms

saute definition

  • Al dente – Literally means "to the tooth/bite". Boil pasta or veg until it is tender but has some "bite", not soggy and falling apart.
  • Au gratin – A baked dish topped with seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese.
  • Bain-marie – Usually used to cook custards like cheese cake or crème brulee. Involves placing custard containers in an oven dish filled with hot water (half way around the custard containers) and cooking in the over. The steam from the water fills the oven and keeps the custard moist.
  • Baste – When roasting chicken or cooking meat in a marinate, you can "baste" the meat to keep it moist by spooning the juices or sauce over the meat.
  • Blanch – Bring water to the boil, add veg to the boiling water and remove very quickly (1-2 mins).
  • Blind bake – Partially or completely bake a pie crust/shell before adding the filling. Pie crusts are usually blind baked if the filling takes less time to cook than the crust or when the filling does not require baking. It also helps to prevent a soggy bottom crust.
  • Bouquet garni – a bundle of herbs tied together with a string, mainly used for soups, stock or stews. The bouquet is cooked with other ingredients but is removed before serving.
  • Chop - Cut food into uniform bite-size pieces.
  • Dice - Chop food into uniform squares.
  • Deglaze – Adding liquid such as stock or wine to loosen and dissolve food stuck to the bottom of the pan. The mixture can then be used to create a sauce or gravy.
  • Egg wash – A mixture of beaten eggs which is brushed onto food such as pastry before baking. This adds a golden colour and sheen to the cooked pastry.
  • Fold – Using a spoon, create a figure 8 movement to "fold" ingredients into a mixture without agitating the mixture too much.
  • Grill – Cooking something on an open rack or grate with a heat source underneath. Barbeque is a form of grilling where the heat source is wood or charcoal.
  • Julienne - Chop food into unifrom matchsticks or strips.
  • Jus – Refers to the pan dripping from roasted meat, generally enhanced by deglazing, which is simmered to reduce before straining and serving as sauce.
  • Kneading – Working a dough, usually by hand which gives baked goods their structure and texture.
  • Marinate – Refers to a process of adding a marinade mixture to meat or vegetables. A Marinade can be a paste, liquid or a dry rub (such as herb or spice mix). This is done to add flavour or in some cases tenderise the meat.
  • Puree – To blend until smooth.
  • Poach – To cook in liquid e.g. poached eggs are cooking in boiling water, poached fish is often cooked in hot milk.
  • Sauté – Fry in hot oil over high heat for a short amount of time (5-8 mins).
  • Simmer vs. boil - Simmer means bring the sauce up to boil and then turn down the heat level so it is bubbling but not boiling.

Different names for common foods

  • Arugula – Rocket
  • Courgette – Zucchini
  • Béchamel sauce – White sauce
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Icing sugar
  • Cilantro – Coriander