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.

1,238,557 123.5/5 for 116 ratings
Grade this page:

Last modified on: April 29th 2020

Words

Expressions


Add liquid

Add liquid

Adding a liquid.

Example: "Add white wine."

Meaning: Add white wine.

Add liquid to cover

Add liquid to cover

Filling a receptacle with liquid, until the contents are just covered.

Example: "Add red wine to cover."

Meaning: Add enough red wine to just cover pan contents.
Recipes which use this word: 2

Al dente

Al dente

"Al dente" ("at the tooth" in italian) is a term that mean: the optimum cooking pasta.

Example: "Cook spaghettis al dente."

Meaning: Cook spaghettis in a big pan of boiling salted water until they are cooked, but stay firm. Note: only tasting can allow you to check that.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Arrange on plate

Arrange on plate

Serving 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."
Recipes which use this word: 2

Bain-marie

Bain-marie

Method of gently heating something over hot water without direct contact with heat.

Example: "Melt chocolate in a bain-marie."

Meaning: Break chocolate into small pieces, put in a bowl and proceed as indicated here.
Recipes which use this word: 6, of which:

Base

Base

Concentrated 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)."

Meaning: Add 20 cl white (poultry) stock base (fond).

Blanch

Blanch

Blanching. 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."

Meaning: Bring a large pan of water to the boil, tip in green beans for one minute, remove with a strainer and put into very cold water (if possible with ice cubes). Leave to cool then drain.

This is ofen done to preserve the couleur of the ingredient in the final dish.

Recipes which use this word: 6, of which:

Blanch (almonds etc.)

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"

Meaning: Almonds still in their skins
Remarks:
Note:Can be used as a verb: "blanch the almonds", for example, means "remove the skin from the almonds". A similar method can be used to peel tomatoes easily.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Boil in water

Boil in water

Cooking in a large pan of salted water. English way of cooking.

Example: "Boil broad beans in salted water."

Meaning: Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add about a tablespoon of coarse salt per litre of water, add broad beasns and cook until they are tender.

Broken pieces or crumbs

Broken pieces or crumbs

Remaining parts of a product, after cutting, which are edible but not very attractive.

Example: "Save broken mushroom pieces to make stuffing."

Meaning: Keep to one side all unused broken pieces of mushroom, they will be used to make stuffing.

Brunoise (tiny diced vegetables as garnish)

Brunoise (tiny diced vegetables as garnish)

Cutting a product into very small dice.

Example: "Add a brunoise (tiny dice) of potatoes."

Meaning: Add potatoes, peeled, washed, and cut in small even dice.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Chablonnage (sealing pastry with chocolate)

Chablonnage (sealing pastry with chocolate)

Chablonnage is a French pâtisserie term which means sealing the inside of a pastry tart case with a thin coating of melted white or dark chocolate, normally applied with a brush. After cooling, the chocolate hardens to form a fine, moisture-proof layer. The chocolate prevents the tart filling (which may be a fairly liquid cream or juicy fruit) soaking into the bottom. The pastry will then stay crisp longer.

Example: "Apply a chablonnage to the tart case"

Meaning: Melt some white chocolate in a bain marie. When it is completely liquid, use a brush to apply a thin layer in the bottom of the pastry case. Put in the fridge to set. Then fill your tart as usual. See more details here.
Remarks: We can use white or dark chocolate – either will protect the pastry just as well – but white chocolate, being neutral in flavour, is more useful for almost any sort of sweet tart.

Checking seasoning

Checking seasoning

Tasting to see if the preparation has enough salt and pepper.

Example: "Put over low heat and check seasoning"

Meaning: Taste the preparation, and add salt and pepper if there is not enough already (sometimes also called "adjusting" seasoning).
Recipes which use this word: 121, of which:

Clarify

Clarify

Removing the solids from a mixture to obtain a clear liquid. To clarify.

Example: "Clarify stock by filtering."

Meaning: Filter solids from stock to keep only the liquid.

Clean (trim)

Clean (trim)

Cleaning, removing scraps (inedible parts).

Example: "Peel (or scrape) carrots."

Meaning: Peel and wash carrots, cut off ends. Ends and peelings are scraps ("parures" in French).
Recipes which use this word: 12, of which:

Cover/wrap with plastic film

Cover/wrap with plastic film

Covering with a plastic film to protect from air.

Example: "Cover bowl with plastic film overnight."

Meaning: Cover bowl with plastic film to protect from air, and leave overnight.
Remarks: Note: See also the page dedicated to films and papers used in cooking.
Recipes which use this word: 31, of which:

Cut or snip

Cut or snip

Cut in fairly thin slices or strips.

Example: "Chop (or cut) coriander."

Meaning: Cut coriander leaves into fine strips.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Deglaze

Deglaze

Deglazing. 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."

Meaning: Remove contents of frying pan , put back on heat, add rum. Scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spatula to dissolve juices in rum.
Recipes which use this word: 30, of which:

Dry roasting

Dry roasting

Dry 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"


Meaning: Put almonds on a baking tray in an oven at 150°C for about 15 minutes to dry them out and make them crunchier.
Remarks: 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.
Recipes which use this word: 37, of which:

Feuilletage

Feuilletage

Piece of puff pastry.

Example: "Wrap the fish fillet in puff pastry."

Finish sauce (with butter)

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."

Flour

Flour

Dusting, dredging or sprinkling, usually with flour.

Example: "Flour dough before baking."

Meaning: Sprinkle dough with flour before baking.

Fumet

Fumet

Similar to a "fond" (concentrated stock), but made from fish.

Example: "Add a little fish fumet."
Recipes which use this word: 1

Ganache

Ganache

A 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"

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""

Meaning: Add two cloves of garlic without peeling, they will be removed later.
Recipes which use this word: 7, of which:

Glaze

Glaze

Recipes which use this word: 66, of which:

Glaze (with apricot jelly)

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."

Meaning: Using a brush, glaze a cooked tart with strained apricot jam before putting it in the fridge.
Recipes which use this word: 13, of which:

Ingredient, product

Ingredient, product

Everything used as a raw material in the kitchen: vegetables, meat, fish, spices, fruit, etc.

Example: "Good cooking starts with good ingredients."

Julienne

Julienne

Cutting an ingredient into small sticks.

In French it's also the name of a sea fish (ling).

Example: "Make a julienne of vegetables."


Meaning: Cut vegetables into thin strips.
Recipes which use this word: 10, of which:

Lèchefrite (oven tray)

Lèchefrite (oven tray)

Large rectangular metal oven tray sold with cooker
Remarks: 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.
Recipes which use this word: 5

Line (with pastry)

Line (with pastry)

Lining a tart mould or tin with a circle of pastry.

Example: "Line mould or tin with sweetcrust pastry."

Meaning: Line mould or tin with circle of sweetcrust pastry, press it well into bottom and sides, then trim off excess around edge.
Recipes which use this word: 7, of which:

Ménagère

Ménagère

Housewife. 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."

Meaning: This is not a compliment in a professonal chef's kitchen, and that's sad...

Mirepoix (diced vgetables)

Mirepoix (diced vgetables)

Cutting a product into dice.

Example: "Add diced turnips (mirepoix)."

Meaning: Add turnips, peeled, washed and cut in large dice.

Mixture or batter

Mixture or batter

Preparation with several ingredients.

Example: "Make a soufflé mixture."

Meaning: Mix together ingredients needed for a souffle. This mixture is called "appareil" in French.
Recipes which use this word: 5

Oven floor or sole

Oven floor or sole

Word meaning the floor or bottom of your oven.

Example: "Place rounds of dough on the sole of oven."

Meaning: Place rounds of dough directly on the floor of oven without mould or tray.
Remarks: Note: Items are seldom placed directly on it to cook because it's very hot. One notable exception: pizzas.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Passing through a sieve

Passing through a sieve

To 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"

Meaning: Put the purée into a sieve, then press with a maryse or spatula using a to-and-fro movement until it has all been pushed through.
Remarks: Note: "Passing through a sieve" is not the same as sieving.
Recipes which use this word: 4

Peel fruit completely

Peel fruit completely

Removing all skin, seeds, pith, etc. of a fruit, to keep only flesh.

Example: "Peel oranges completely."
Recipes which use this word: 1

Piping

Piping

Piping is a way of applying or shaping a preparation with a forcing (or piping) bag.

It is the best way to distribute a mixture evenly and form regular shapes as it emerges from the nozzle.

Example: "Prepare 300g of choux pastry (pâte à choux) and pipe onto a baking sheet."

Meaning: Prepare 300g of choux pastry (pâte à choux), spoon into a forcing bag, then form small, even heaps of the mixture on a baking sheet.

Poaching

Poaching

Poaching is a way of cooking food (usually slowly) by lowering into a hot liquid: water, vegetable stock or syrup, for example.

This gentle method of cooking allows the food to retain all its flavour more easily.

Example: "Poach the peaches after peeling in a light syrup."

Meaning: Peel the peaches, then lower into a just-simmering sugar syrup and cook until tender.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Pointage (starting)

Pointage (starting)

In bakery, "pointage" (starting), it's the first resting period, just after kneading. The dough, in one piece, is put for resting in a bowl, at ambient temperature, covered to prevent from making crust. During this step, dough is starting fermentation.

Example: "Put the dough in a bowl and let rest for pointage 1 hour."

Meaning: Take dough from the bowl of the batter, possibly in one piece, make roughly a ball with it, put in a bowl covered by a plastic sheet, and let rest for 1 hour at ambient temperature.
Recipes which use this word: 2

Poolish

Poolish

Poolish is a fermented batter, generally a mixture of water, flour and yeast which acts as the leaven for certain kinds of bread dough.

There are distinct bread types, depending on the rising agent: yeast-raised bread, poolish bread, and leavened bread.

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."


Meaning: Mix the ingredients thoroughly but gently, preferably using a whisk, until the mixture is quite smooth.
Remarks: 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.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Puncher

Puncher

Puncher is soaked a biscuit with a liquid, usually a syrup or alcohol, to make it less dry.

Example: "Puncher the half génoise with griottines syrup"

Meaning: Dip a brush in the syrup and soak in the cake, do so on all its surface.
Remarks: Note: The brush is not absolutely necessary, you can also pour the syrup with a spoon for example, directly on the cake.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Reduce

Reduce

Reducing. Leaving a liquid on the heat until it reduces in volume by evaporation, to the desired quantity.

Example: "Reduce the red wine by half."

Meaning: Put red wine on medium heat until the volume reduces by half.

Rise (or prove)

Rise (or prove)

Removing for use the best part of a fish, poultry, etc.

Example: "Ask your fishmonger to fillet the salmon. "

Meaning: Ask your fishmonger to prepare salmon by skinning and filleting, and keep only these fillets.

Rolled-out pastry

Rolled-out pastry

Pastry that has been rolled out with a rolling pin, usually in a circle.

Example: "Put rolled-out pastry in fridge to rest."

Meaning: Take the rolled-out pastry, and put it in the fridge to rest.
Recipes which use this word: 5

Round slice of onion

Round slice of onion

Slice of something with round shape.

Example: "Fry sliced onions."

Meaning: Cut onion in thin slices and then fry.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Scraps (inedible parts)

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."

Meaning: Don't throw away skin, and white part of the grapefruit.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Seam

Seam

The seam. On a formed loaf prior to baking, the underside where the edges of the dough have been rolled towards the centre.
Remarks: Every loaf is formed with a "top", well rounded, and a "seam" on the underside where all the folds from the kneading process join.
Recipes which use this word: 1

Set aside

Set aside

Set aside or put away.

Example: "Keep hot."

Meaning: Set aside in a hot place.
Recipes which use this word: 269, of which:

Sieving

Sieving

To 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."

Meaning: Tip the icing sugar into a sieve, then shake it until all the sugar falls through directly onto where it is to be used.
Remarks: Note: "sieving" is not the same as passing through a sieve.
Recipes which use this word: 16, of which:

Slash

Slash

Slashing is a baker gesture, which means that cuts are made on top of loaves, with a very sharp blade, at baking time.
Remarks: See this page dedicated to slashing.
Recipes which use this word: 7, of which:

Sweat in butter

Sweat in butter

Cooking vegetables briefly in a little butter until they become slightly transparent.

Example: "Sweat the chopped onions in butter."

To simmer

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."

Meaning: Put scampi in a pan full of salted water, just beginning to boil.
Recipes which use this word: 28, of which:

Without colouring

Without colouring

Removing something cooking from heat, just before it begins to brown.

Example: "Cook chopped onions without letting them colour."

Meaning: of
Remarks: 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.
Recipes which use this word: 101, of which:

Zesting

Zesting

"Zesting" / "to zest" means to take off the zest, the thin outer layer of peel on citrus fruit (lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc.), to add the fruit's flavour with a hint of bitterness to a mixture.

This can be done with an ordinary knife, a vegetable peeler, or a more specialised utensil: a zesting knife or grater.

For more details, see the page on how to zest a fruit.

Example: "Zest the lime into the cream, then mix well."

Meaning: Use whichever utensil you prefer to remove all the zest from the lime and add this to the cream, then mix in well.
Recipes which use this word: 5

Post your comment or question

I am not a leaving thing

Your 12 comments or questions on this page

Back to top of page