Glossary (talk like a chef)
You have probably noticed that many recipes given by chefs are full of incomprehensible jargon. This is because chefs have their own "language".
Here is a small glossary of words and expressions that you are likely to find in recipes.
Add liquidAdding a liquid.
Example: "Add white wine."
Add liquid to coverFilling a receptacle with liquid, until the contents are just covered.
Example: "Add red wine to cover."
Al dente"Al dente" ("at the tooth" in italian) is a term that mean: the optimum cooking pasta.
Example: "Cook spaghettis al dente."
Arrange on plateServing up a dish on a plate which will go directly onto the table in front of your guests. To arrange on the plate.
Example: "Arrange salad on a plate."
Bain-marieMethod of gently heating something over hot water without direct contact with heat.
BaseConcentrated stock of various meats, vegetables and spices usually used as a base for sauces. There are several kinds of "fond" (white=poultry, brown=beef and veal fond).
Example: "Add 20 cl white stock base (fond)."
BlanchBlanching. Plunging an ingredient (usually vegetables) into boiling salted water for a very short time (a few seconds), and then into very cold water.
Example: "Blanch the green beans."
This is ofen done to preserve the couleur of the ingredient in the final dish.
Blanch (almonds etc.)For almonds (or other nuts), blanching is the process of plunging in boiling water in order to remove the skins easily.
Example: "Unblanched almonds"
Boil in waterCooking in a large pan of salted water. English way of cooking.
Example: "Boil broad beans in salted water."
Broken pieces or crumbsRemaining parts of a product, after cutting, which are edible but not very attractive.
Example: "Save broken mushroom pieces to make stuffing."
Brunoise (tiny diced vegetables as garnish)Cutting a product into very small dice.
Example: "Add a brunoise (tiny dice) of potatoes."
Checking seasoningTasting to see if the preparation has enough salt and pepper.
Example: "Put over low heat and check seasoning"
ClarifyRemoving the solids from a mixture to obtain a clear liquid. To clarify.
Example: "Clarify stock by filtering."
Clean (trim)Cleaning, removing scraps (inedible parts).
Example: "Peel (or scrape) carrots."
Cover/wrap with plastic filmCovering with a plastic film to protect from air.
Example: "Cover bowl with plastic film overnight."
Note: See also the page dedicated to films and papers used in cooking.
Cut or snipCut in fairly thin slices or strips.
Example: "Chop (or cut) coriander."
DeglazeDeglazing. Pouring a little liquid into a pan where cooking has left a deposit on the bottom, then scraping to free all the juices and mix them with the liquid.
Example: "Deglaze frying pan, where fruits are caramelized, with a little rum."
Dry roastingDry roasting (torréfication in French), usually seeds (sesame, linseed,...) or nuts (almonds, walnuts, ...), means to heat without water or fat, in the oven or a heavy pan, to drive off all water they contain.
It make seeds crunchier, very pleasant in the mouth, with an improved flavour.
Example: "Dry roast almonds in the oven"
Note: Dry roasting is not cooking in the classic sense, it's shorter in time, and lower in temperature. This is the method is used to dry coffee beans for example.
FeuilletagePiece of puff pastry.
Example: "Wrap the fish fillet in puff pastry."
Finish sauce (with butter)Adding cold butter to a hot liquid a little at a time, while beating with a whip to make a smooth sauce.
Example: "Reduce white wine and onions, then beat in butter to finish."
FlourDusting, dredging or sprinkling, usually with flour.
Example: "Flour dough before baking."
FumetSimilar to a "fond" (concentrated stock), but made from fish.
Example: "Add a little fish fumet."
GanacheA mixture of melted chocolate with cream or milk, which allows it to keep a soft consitency which doesn't set on cooling.
Garlic "en chemise"Said of garlic cloves which are used without being peeled ("in its shirt" in French). In the photo, the left hand clove is peeled as normal, the right hand one is "en chemise".
Example: "Adding two cloves of garlic "en chemise""
Glaze (with apricot jelly)Glazing a tart or cake with a little apricot jelly (using a brush) to make it glossy and appetising.
Example: "Glaze the tart before putting it in a cool place."
Ingredient, productEverything used as a raw material in the kitchen: vegetables, meat, fish, spices, fruit, etc.
Example: "Good cooking starts with good ingredients."
JulienneCutting an ingredient into small sticks.
In French it's also the name of a sea fish (ling).
Example: "Make a julienne of vegetables."
Lèchefrite (oven tray)Large rectangular metal oven tray sold with cooker
A "lèchefrite" is a large (full-size) oven tray for collecting cooking juices under poultry roasted using a rotisserie (the most usual way to roast poultry in France), but it can also be use as a huge rectangular baking tray.
Line (with pastry)Lining a tart mould or tin with a circle of pastry.
Example: "Line mould or tin with sweetcrust pastry."
MénagèreHousewife. The term, unfortunately condescending and rather pejorative, used by chefs to refer to someone who cooks at home and is therefore not a professional chef.
In France, a "Ménagère" it's also a nice set of spoons, forks and knifes presented in a pretty box. A classical wedding gift usually.
Example: "To cook like a housewife."
Mirepoix (diced vgetables)Cutting a product into dice.
Example: "Add diced turnips (mirepoix)."
Mixture or batterPreparation with several ingredients.
Example: "Make a soufflé mixture."
Oven floor or soleWord meaning the floor or bottom of your oven.
Example: "Place rounds of dough directly on the sole (floor) of oven."
Items are seldom placed directly on it to cook because it's very hot. One notable exception: pizzas.
Passing through a sieveTo push a fairly thick preparation through a"sieve", usually with a maryse, thus removing any remaining lumps. The aim is to produce something totally smooth in texture.
Example: "Passing potato purée through a sieve"
Note: "Passing through a sieve" is not the same as sieving.
Peel fruit completelyRemoving all skin, seeds, pith, etc. of a fruit, to keep only flesh.
Example: "Peel oranges completely."
PoolishPoolish is a fermented batter, generally a mixture of water, flour and yeast which acts as the leaven for certain kinds of bread dough.
Although it doesn't have the full flavour of a leavened bread, poolish gives a bread with more flavour than one just using yeast.
.[Translator's note: the term poolish is more common in French baking than in English. For more information see the Pre-ferment, article on Wikipedia.].
Example: "Prepare a poolish by mixing the water, flour, yeast and a teaspoon of sugar."
The prepared mixture is covered and left in a warm place to ferment. This produces a rather sticky batter full of bubbles, the poolish, which can then be mixed with flour and water to make bread.
PuncherPuncher is soaked a biscuit with a liquid, usually a syrup or alcohol, to make it less dry.
Note: The brush is not absolutely necessary, you can also pour the syrup with a spoon for example, directly on the cake.
ReduceReducing. Leaving a liquid on the heat until it reduces in volume by evaporation, to the desired quantity.
Example: "Reduce the red wine by half."
Rise (or prove)Removing for use the best part of a fish, poultry, etc.
Example: "Ask your fishmonger to fillet the salmon. "
Rolled out pastryPastry, rolled out with a rolling pin, usually in a circle.
Example: "Put rolled out pastry in fridge to rest."
Round slice of onionSlice of something with round shape.
Example: "Fry sliced onions."
Scraps (inedible parts)Scraps, inedible parts. Applies to vegetables, fruit (skins, core, ...), meat (bones, veins, skin, ...) and fish (heads, skin, bones...).
Example: "Set aside grapefruit scraps."
SeamThe seam. On a formed loaf prior to baking, the underside where the edges of the dough have been rolled towards the centre.
Every loaf is formed with a "top", well rounded, and a "seam" on the underside where all the folds from the kneading process join.
Set asideSet aside or put away.
Example: "Keep hot."
SievingTo sieve means to pass a powder through a strainer with a fairly close mesh, to ensure that there is only a fine powder and no bits or lumps.
Example: "Sieving icing sugar."
Note: "sieving" is not the same as passing through a sieve.
SlashSlashing is a baker gesture, which means that cuts are made on top of loaves, with a very sharp blade, at baking time.
See this page dedicated to slashing.
Sweat in butterCooking vegetables briefly in a little butter until they become slightly transparent.
Example: "Sweat the chopped onions in butter."
To simmer"Simmering" is used for a liquid that just start to boil, not rolling boil (left photo).
The opposite of "simmering" is "rolling boil" (right photo).
Example: "Put scampi in salted simmering water."
Without colouringRemoving something cooking from heat, just before it begins to brown.
Example: "Cook chopped onions without letting them colour."
Frequently refers to cooking onions and shallot in a little butter or oil. The aim is to cook them gently without letting them fry and brown.
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