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.

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Last modified on: November 11th 2019

Words

Expressions



Add liquid

Adding a liquid.

Example: "Add white wine."

Meaning: Add white wine.
Add liquid

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.
Add liquid to cover
Recipes which use this word: 2

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.
Al dente
Recipes which use this word: 1

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."
Arrange on plate
Recipes which use this word: 2

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.
Bain-marie
Recipes which use this word: 4

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).
Base

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.

Blanch
Recipes which use this word: 6, of which:

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.
Blanch (almonds etc.)
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Boil in water

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.
Broken pieces or crumbs

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.
Brunoise (tiny diced vegetables as garnish)
Recipes which use this word: 1

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).
Checking seasoning
Recipes which use this word: 104, of which:

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.
Clarify

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).
Clean (trim)
Recipes which use this word: 10, of which:

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.
Cover/wrap with plastic film
Recipes which use this word: 25, of which:

Cut or snip

Cut in fairly thin slices or strips.

Example: "Chop (or cut) coriander."

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

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.
Deglaze
Recipes which use this word: 26, of which:

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.
Dry roasting
Recipes which use this word: 31, of which:

Feuilletage

Piece of puff pastry.

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

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."
Finish sauce (with butter)

Flour

Dusting, dredging or sprinkling, usually with flour.

Example: "Flour dough before baking."

Meaning: Sprinkle dough with flour before baking.
Flour

Fumet

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

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

Ganache

A mixture of melted chocolate with cream or milk, which allows it to keep a soft consitency which doesn't set on cooling.
Ganache

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.
Garlic
Recipes which use this word: 8, of which:

Glaze

Glaze
Recipes which use this word: 67, of which:

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.
Glaze (with apricot jelly)
Recipes which use this word: 11, of which:

Ingredient, product

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

Example: "Good cooking starts with good ingredients."
Ingredient, product

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.
Julienne
Recipes which use this word: 8, of which:

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.
Lèchefrite (oven tray)
Recipes which use this word: 5

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.
Line (with pastry)
Recipes which use this word: 6, of which:

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...
Ménagère

Mirepoix (diced vgetables)

Cutting a product into dice.

Example: "Add diced turnips (mirepoix)."

Meaning: Add turnips, peeled, washed and cut in large dice.
Mirepoix (diced vgetables)

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.
Mixture or batter
Recipes which use this word: 5

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.
Oven floor or sole
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Passing through a sieve
Recipes which use this word: 4

Peel fruit completely

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

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

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.
Piping

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.
Poaching
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Pointage (starting)
Recipes which use this word: 2

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.
Poolish
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Puncher
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Reduce

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.
Rise (or prove)

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.
Rolled-out pastry
Recipes which use this word: 5

Round slice of onion

Slice of something with round shape.

Example: "Fry sliced onions."

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

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.
Scraps (inedible parts)
Recipes which use this word: 1

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.
Seam
Recipes which use this word: 1

Set aside

Set aside or put away.

Example: "Keep hot."

Meaning: Set aside in a hot place.
Set aside
Recipes which use this word: 245, of which:

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.
Sieving
Recipes which use this word: 16, of which:

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.
Slash
Recipes which use this word: 7, of which:

Sweat in butter

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

Example: "Sweat the chopped onions in butter."
Sweat 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."

Meaning: Put scampi in a pan full of salted water, just beginning to boil.
To simmer
Recipes which use this word: 21, of which:

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.
Without colouring
Recipes which use this word: 93, of which:

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.
Zesting
Recipes which use this word: 5

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