Cooking Terms, Common and not so common!

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Cooking Terms

The following is a list of common Cooking Terms Measurements and abbreviations I have compiled from several sources. These have come from cook books I own, family recipes and internet descriptions. We hope these will be beneficial to you in your quest to become the best cook ever! Happy Cooking.


Common Cooking Terms:

  • Al Dente: (AL-DEN-TAY) Refers to how pasta is cooked, it is slightly chewy or being tough to the bite.
  • Au gratin: (OH-GRAH-TAHN) Foods covered with a sauce, sprinkled with cheese or bread crumbs, or both, and baked to a golden brown
  • Au jus: (OH-JOO-I) Food served with its natural juice
  • Bake: To cook by dry heat, usually in an oven.
  • Baste: (BASED) To ladle drippings (the stuff that comes out of the meat when you cook it!) over a piece of meat being cooked as a roast to make it juicy and to prevent dryness
  • Beat: To lift a mixture with a spoon or an electric mixer to inject air and make the mixture smooth and creamy
  • Blend: To stir together ingredients until thoroughly mixed
  • Blanch: To scald, make white, to partially cook an item, or to dip vegetables in boiling water in preparation for freezing, canning, or drying
  • Boil: To heat liquid until large bubbles break the surface of the water.( Water boils at 212*)
  • Bouillon: Stock that forms the basis of soup and sauses; oftrn in dried compact form or cubes or granules
  • Bread: To coat food with flour or a bread crumb mixture to create a crust. Used for baking and frying.
  • Braise: To cook meat by searing in fat, then simmering in a covered dish in a small amount of liquid or to brown meat or vegetables in hot fat, then to cook slowly in a small amount of liquid
  • Brine: To add moisture to meat by immersing it in salty liquid before cooking
  • Broil: To cook by exposing the food directly to the heat
  • Brown: To cook by high heat, causing the surface of the food to turn dark, imparting a rich cooked flavor.
  • Broth: A liquid resulting from cooking meat, fish, poultry or vegetables with water.
  • Butterfly: To cut open and spread the sides apart, especially with fish or meat.
  • Caramelise: Sugar – to heat sugar until it melts and turns a pale brown colour. Onions/garlic: to cook onions in a small amount of oil or butter until they change to a brown colour (the sugars in the onions/garlic actualy turn to caramel). Done over an easy heat and stirred occassionally.
  • Chile: Any number of pungent fruits of the Capsicum botanical family; usually used to denote one that is piquant – mildly hot to scorching.
  • Chop: To cut into small pieces using a knife or other sharp utensil
  • Core: To remove the core of some fruits; (n.) the center of some fruits, containing seeds and pithy, woody material.
  • Crisp-Tender: The state of cooked food, especially vegetables, which offers slight resistance to a knife or tooth.
  • Cube: To cut food into cubes about 1/2 inch across (larger than dice or mince).
  • Cream (as in butter and sugar): a baking technique involving combining butter or margarine and sugar together together to a fluffy consistency. Done by thoroughly beating butter in a bowl, then gradually adding sugar until mixture is fluffy and creamy.
  • Dash: An informal measure meant to indicate just the downward shake of the wrist (as in a bottle of seasoning liquid, like Worcestershire, or a shake of a seasoning shaker, like salt or garlic powder); measure meant to be less than 1/8 teaspoon.
  • Defrost: To thaw frozen food so it is ready to cook.
  • De-glaze: to pour a small amount of liquid into a hot pan in which something has been fried, to clean the pan bottom, especially as for gravy.
  • Drain: To pour off liquid or fat from a food.
  • Dredge: To coat with flour, and a crumbled ingredient, like bread crumbs, to help brown the food when cooking. In baking, food is often dredged in sugar.
  • Drippings: The melted fat, with other liquids, left in a pan after cooking food.
  • Egg wash: brushing the top of a baked item, such as bread, lightly with a beaten egg.
  • Emulsion: Emulsifying is a technique that slowly adds one ingredient to one with which is does not normally mix–such as oil and water when making salad dressings–while stirring rapidly. This disperses small droplets of one liquid throughout the other. Use a balloon whisk for this.
  • Flambe: (FLARM-BE) Served aflame
  • Floret: The single small piece(s) of cauliflower or broccoli into which the heads of these vegetables can be broken.
  • Fold: (Nothing to do with computers this time!!)To mix, using a motion beginning vertically down through the mixture, continuing across the bottom of the bowl and ending with an upward and over movement to fold one on top of the other.
  • Garnish: To decorate or embellish a prepared food dish. Garnishes, typically finely chopped herbs or torn basil leaves, are usually used to enhance the presentation of a plate rather than the fla
  • Glaze: A sweet or savory mixture of ingredients added to meat during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Grate: To shred a food, such as a root vegetable or cheese, into very small pieces with a grater.
  • Grease: To very lightly coat a cooking pan or baking dish with fat.
  • Grill: To cook food directly over a live fire heat source; (n.) The implement on which food can be placed to cook directly over heat source.
  • Greens: One or a mixture of fresh leafy vegetables that can be cooked or eaten raw (e.g. endive, romaine, iceberg, lolla rossa, mustard, kale).
  • Herb: One of many fragrant, flavorful leaves of various plants that are used for culinary seasoning (e.g. basil, chives, cilantro, marjoram, tarragon, thyme).
  • Knead: (NEED) To place dough on a flat surface and work it, pressing down with your hands, then folding over and over again
  • Marinade: A liquid including seasoning and acid (vinegar, wine or citrus juice) in which food is soaked before cooking to impart extra flavor.
  • Marinate: Soaking food in a marinade, very briefly or for hours or days.
  • Mince: To cube food into very small pieces, usually less than 1/4 inch.
  • Pan-Broil: To cook food in a pan on top of the stove without adding any water or fat.
  • Pinch/dash: small, inexact amounts that basically add up to “to taste.”
  • Poach: To cook in water that bubbles only slightly
  • Puree: To reduce a food to a smooth, thick consistency. (n.) A food that is mashed, blended or processed to a smooth, thick consistency.
  • Roast: To cook food by exposing to dry heat (as in an oven or before a fire) or by surrounding with hot embers, sand, or stones.
  • Reduce: To concentrate a liquid by simmering for a long time
  • Rise: in bread-making, to leave the dough in a warm place and allow to double in volume.
  • Rest: in bread-making, to let the dough sit a few minutes before kneading more.
  • Roll Out: To use a rolling pin, to flatten dough to a thin and even layer.
  • Roux (Roo) – The basis of many sauces, and a good thickening agent for soup. Made but melting 1tbls of butter and adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of milk. For a thinner consistency, add more milk, for a thicker consistency, add more flour.
  • Rub: A savory mix of herbs and spices rubbed onto the surface of meat like a dry marinade.
  • Saute: (SAW-TAY) To quickly heat meat or vegetables in fat in an open pan turning often t oprevent burning.
  • Scald (as in milk): to heat milk just to the point that steam is rising from it, but not to boiling.
  • Sear: to quickly brown the outside of meat at a high temperature.
  • Season: To flavor food in order to add and improve taste.
  • Set: To wait until food becomes firm, as in custards and jellies.
  • Sift: To use a sieve or sifter to combine dry ingredients such as flour and spices, or to remove any lumps. Also see “aerate.
  • Simmer: To cook liquid just below the boiling point
  • Skewer: A very thin wooden or metal stick with one sharpened end, used to hold uniform-sized pieces of food together, usually before grilling or broiling. (v.) To align pieces of food on a skewer.
  • Smother: To cook food in a covered pan with a small amount of liquid over low heat.
  • Spice: A wide variety of seasonings made from the bud, bark, root, fruit seed or stem of various plants; spices are generally ground to use in seasoning food, but can also be used whole (e.g. caraway seed); spices are also sold as blends, such as curry powder.
  • Steam: To cook food by surrounding it with steam in a covered pan; food is usually suspended above boiling liquid in a pot with a lid.
  • Stew: To cook food slowly in a small amount of liquid without letting it come to a boil.
  • Stir-Fry: To quickly cook small pieces of food in a large skillet over fairly high heat in a small amount of fat, briskly stirring food to cook and brown as evenly and as quickly as possible.
  • Whip: To beat rapidly to increase volume and incorporate air
  • Zest: A technique using a citrus zester or vegetable peeler to remove a small amount of the outermost layer of citrus, such as oranges, limes and lemons. Make sure to use only the colored part of the skin and avoid the white pith. It’s also best to buy organic fruits if you plan on using thier zest. Zest can be used effectively to add flavor to many types of dishes.

Common Cooking Substitutions:

If you need (You can use)

  • 1 teaspoon Allspice (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 cup Catsup (1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tbsp vinegar (for use in cooking)
  • 1 c sugar (3/4 c honey)
  • 1 square or 1 ounce Chocolate, Unsweetened (3 tablespoons cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, freshly squeezed (1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice)
  • 1 cup Cream, half-and-half (7/8 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine)
  • 1 cup Flour, self-rising (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus 1/1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1 cup Cornmeal, Self – Rising (7/8 cup plain, 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt )
  • 1 c brown sugar (1 c granulated sugar + 2 tbsp molasses)
  • 1 c powdered sugar (1 c granulated sugar + 1 tbsp cornstarch, blended)
  • 1 c shortening (1 c butter or margarine)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard (1 tbsp prepared mustard)
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard (1/2 tsp dry mustard + 2 tsp vinegar)
  • 1 c cake flour (1 c minus 2 tbsp regular flour)
  • 1 c buttermilk (2/3 c plain yogurt + 1/3 c milk)
  • 1 c buttermilk (15 tbsp milk + 1 tbsp vinegar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar)
  • 1/2 c wine (sweet) (1/2 c fruit juice)
  • 1/2 c wine (savory) (1/2 c chicken broth)
  • 1 c tomato sauce ( 3/4 c tomato paste + 1 c water)
  • 1 c sour cream (1 c plain yogurt)
  • 1 c orange juice (3 medium oranges)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)

Common Terms:

  • tsp = teaspoon
  • tbsp = tablespoon
  • c = cup
  • oz = ounce
  • fl oz = fluid ounce (liquid capacity)
  • Pkg= package
  • pt = pint
  • qt = quart
  • gal = gallon
  • lb = pound

Customary Measurements:

  • 3 tsp = 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp = 1 fl oz
  • 8 fl oz = 1 c
  • 2 c = 1 pt
  • 2 pt = 1 qt
  • 4 qt = 1 gal
  • 16 oz = 1 lb
  • Juice of 1 lemon= Approx 2 t o3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Juice of 1 orange= Appox 1/2 cup of orange juice.

As always we welcome your comments and suggestions.
If you have a recipe you would like to submit to us to list please attach the original photo if you have it and the entire recipe.


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