Cooking Terminology


Angelica A sweet-flavoured plant, its green stems are candied and used for decorating cakes and sweets.

Arrowroot Starch obtained from the ground root of an American plant, used for thickening sauces.

Aspic Clear savoury jelly made from stock.

Au gratin Food covered with a thick sauce, breadcrumbs, butter or grated cheese and grilled.

Baba Light yeast mixture with currants, baked in a dariole mould and soaked in a rum syrup after baking.

Bain-marie Large pan of hot water in which another smaller pan is placed to cook food or keep foods warm.

Bake ‘blind’ Pastry case, lined with aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and dried beans and partially baked for 15 minutes without a filling.

Baking powder Raising agent consisting of one part cream of tartar to two parts bicarbonate of soda, with added starch.

Barding Covering dry meat or poultry with pork fat or bacon as it cooks.

Basting Spooning over juices from the roasting tin to keep meat or poultry moist. Beating Introducing air to food using a wooden spoon, whisk or electric mixer, to make it light.

Bechamel White sauce, thickened with a roux, from which other sauces can be made.

Binding Holding together a dry mixture such as stuffing or croquettes, with eggs, cream, melted butter or thick sauce.

Blanching Immersing vegetables or fruit in boiling water briefly, to retain colour, kill enzymes before freezing, and to loosen skins before peeling.

Blanquette A dish made from the liquor in which meat or poultry has been cooked, with added milk, cream or egg yolks.

Boiling Cooking in a liquid at boiling point 100°C (212°F). Bouquet garni A bunch of herbs, most often bayleaf, thyme and parsley, used to flavour casseroles and savoury dishes. Bourguignonne Meat cooked with red wine, mushrooms and onions.

Braising Long, slow cooking with liquid and vegetables after the meat has been first browned in fat.

Bran Valuable source of roughage in the diet. Inner husk of wheat and other grains, which is normally removed in milling.

Brawn Dish made from a stewed pig’s head.

Brine Salt and water solution used for preserving. Brioche Light yeast dough, shaped like a small cottage loaf and baked in a fluted mould.

Brochette Skewer used for grilling assorted pieces of meat, fish and vegetables. Browning Sealing in juices of meat by quickly cooking outer surface of meat.

Canapé Hors d’oeuvre consisting of small pieces of fried or toasted bread or biscuits topped with a savoury mixture, such as cream cheese with stuffed olives, anchovy fillets, shrimps or crab. Candied peel The peel of citrus fruits, soaked in a sugar solution to preserve, used with dried fruit for cakes and puddings.

Cannelloni Italian pasta

shaped into large tubes, filled with a savoury stuffing and baked, coated with a cheese or tomato sauce.

Caper The flower bud from a bush grown around the Mediterranean, pickled, and used for garnishing and flavouring.

Caramel Sugar dissolved in water and heated gently until brown, used as a flavouring for sweets and puddings.

Carbonnade Meat in beer. Cardinal Dishes and sauces naturally bright red.

Casserole Long, slow cooking of meat, poultry or fish and vegetables.

Cassoulet French stew of haricot beans, pork, sausages and goose.

Caviar Sturgeon roes served as an hors-d’oeuvre.

Cayenne Red pepper from chillies.

Chantilly Sweetened whipped cream.

Charlotte A moulded pudding served hot, with slices of bread lined around an ovenproof dish and filled with sweetened fruit; cold, with sponge fingers, the centre filled with fruit and cream.

Chasseur A sauce made with white wine, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, served with chicken or rabbit.

Chaud-froid Creamy sauce dish, glazed with aspic. Chiffonade Shredded green salad, served as a garnish. Chining Separating the backbone from the ribs of meat, to make carving easier.

Chowder Fish stew.

Clarifying Clearing fats by slow heating and sieving. Use whisked egg white to clear soups and jellies.

Cochineal Bluish-red colouring, obtained from the cochineal insect.

Cocotte Small, ovenproof egg dish.

Coddling Cooking eggs slowly in simmering water. CompOte Fruit poached in syrup.

Concasse Roughly chopped vegetables, most often applied to tomatoes.

Condiment Spice or sauce which adds flavour to a dish, such as salt, pepper and mustard.

Conserve Fruit preserved, whole, in a sugar syrup. Consommé Thin clear soup. Cornflour A maize-based starch used for thickening sauces and puddings.

Court bouillon Stock made with water, vegetables, herbs, wine or vinegar, used mainly for poaching fish.

Crackling Skin of pork when roasted.

Crepe Thin pancake. Croissant Rich, flaky, crescent-shaped roll. Croquette Shaped savoury mixture, coated with egg, breadcrumbs and deep fried. Crotiton Small toasted or fried piece of bread.

Curd Milk solids, obtained from soured milk.

Curdling Milk separated into solids and liquids through overheating or added acid. Curing Preserving meat or fish by salting, pickling or cold smoking.

Dariole Mould used for making jellies, creams and puddings.

Deep-frying Frying foods completely covered in hot fat or oil.

Dicing Chopping food into small cubes.

Dough Flour and liquid mixture which is kneaded and shaped to make bread or scones.

Dredging Dusting food with flour or sugar.

Dressing Plucking, drawing and trussing poultry or game, or preparing shellfish. Dripping Fat obtained from roasting meat.

En croilte Food encased in pastry.

Entrée The main dish in a formal dinner, which is served after the fish course. Escalope Thin piece of meat, usually veal, which is shallow-fried.

Faggots Savoury rounds of seasoned minced meats, herbs and breadcrumbs.

Fines herbes Mixed herbs — parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives.

Flaking Separating the flesh of cooked fish.

Flambe Food flamed with brandy or wine.

Florentine Usually used to describe fish or eggs on a bed of spinach and coated with cheese sauce. It is also the name for wafer-thin biscuits containing nuts and fruits and coated with melted milk or plain chocolate.

Folding-in Using a metal spoon to introduce one mixture into another.

Fondant Syrup of sugar and water, boiled and used for sweets and cake icing. Fondue Originating from Switzerland, a melted cheese and white wine dish into which pieces of bread are dipped. In a meat fondue, tender, raw meat is dipped on a fork into hot oil.

Fool Purée of fruit and cream.

Freezing Storing at below freezing point to preserve food.

Fritter Piece of food dipped into batter and deep-fried. Frosting Coating a cake with icing, or dipping fruit into egg white and caster sugar. Frying Cooking quickly in hot fat.

Galantine A cold dish of boned and stuffed poultry, game or meat, glazed with aspic.

Garnish A decoration to improve the appearance of a dish.

Gelatine Used to set liquids and available in powder or sheets.

Genoise Rich sponge cake made from whisked eggs and sugar to which melted butter is added with flour.

Gherkin Small cucumber, pickled, used for garnishing and as cocktail savouries. Giblets Edible insides of poultry.

Glace Icing or iced dessert; also sugared fruit.

Glaze Shiny finish to food, obtained by brushing with milk, beaten egg or sugar and water before baking.

Gluten Protein in the grain of wheat, important in bread making.

Goulash Beef or lamb stew with onions, tomato and seasoning. Strongly flavoured with paprika.

Griddle (girdle) Thick round metal plate used to bake scones and oatcakes on the top of the cooker.

Haggis Scottish savoury pudding made from offal, suet, onions and oatmeal. Hanging Suspending meat, poultry or game to tenderize. Haricot Dried, white bean. Hash Fried dish made from leftover meat with added potatoes and other vegetables.

Hors d’oeuvre An appetizer served as the first course. Hot-pot Stew, topped with potatoes; the most famous is Lancashire hot-pot.

Hulling Removing the green calyx from soft fruit.

Icing Sugar coating used to decorate cakes.

Infusing Extracting the flavour of herbs, tea leaves or coffee soaked in water.

Jelly Liquid set with gelatine. Joint Cut of meat used for roasting or term used to divide meat or poultry into single portions.

Junket Milk set to a curd with rennet.

Kebab Small chunks of meat grilled or roasted on long skewers.

Kedgeree Rice dish containing fish and eggs.

Kirsch Liqueur distilled from the fermented juices of wild cherries, used in sweets, souffles and Black Forest gateau.

Lard Rendered-down pork fat used for frying.

Larding Threading small pieces of fat into lean meat, to keep moist during cooking.

Lasagne Wide ribbons of pasta, cooked and layered with meat, tomato and cheese sauce.

Legumes Vegetables with pods, such as peas and beans. Liqueur Alcohol distilled from spirits, flavoured with fruit, herbs or spices and with variable alcoholic content.

Macaroni Pasta tubes of varying length.

Macaroon Rich almond biscuit, made solely from ground almonds, sugar and egg whites.

Maitre-d’hôtel Butter, creamed with chopped, fresh parsley, served as a garnish to steak. Marinading Tenderizing meat or fish in a mixture of oil, wine or vinegar, herbs and spices for some hours before cooking.

Marzipan Almond paste used in confectionery and as a coating for rich fruit cakes.

Mille feuille ‘A thousand leaves’ — puff pastry layered with cream and jam.

Mocha A fine-textured variety of coffee, and a term often used to describe a coffee and chocolate flavouring.

Mornay Savoury dish coated with a cheese sauce and browned under the grill. Moussaka A casserole of minced meat (lamb or beef) with aubergines, onions, tomatoes and herbs, topped with a cheese sauce.

Mousse Light and fluffy, whether sweet or savoury, a mousse contains eggs and cream and is usually set with gelatine.

Muesli A Swiss-originated dish containing rolled oats, diced apple, nuts and dried fruit; served for breakfast with cream or yogurt.

Navarin Brown stew of lamb or mutton and vegetables. Nicoise Dishes from the district around Nice, containing tomatoes, garlic, black olives, anchovies and onions. Noodles Pasta shaped into long ribbons and made from hard (durum) flour, water and often added egg.

Oatmeal Ground from oats and available in different grades, used for porridge, black puddings, and oatcakes and scones.

Offal Edible insides of meat, poultry and game.

Paella Spanish rice dish containing shellfish, chicken, vegetables, herbs and spices. Panada Thick sauce used to bind dry ingredients.

Parboil Partially cook, as with potatoes before they are roasted.

Parfait Sweet made from cream and fruit purée, and frozen.

Parkin spiced gingerbread, made with oatmeal.

Parmentier A dish cooked with potatoes.

Pasty Individual pastry with savoury stuffing.

Pate A mixture of meats, often including liver, seasoned with herbs and spices, cooked slowly in the oven and served cold.

Patty Individual pie or round of food (potato or fish cake). Pa upiettes Thin slices of meat enveloping a savoury stuffing.

Pectin Starch extract in fruit, which helps set jams and jellies. Commercially prepared pectin can be bought to set jams and jellies made from low-pectin fruit.

Petits fours Small fancy cakes and biscuits, usually eaten with coffee at the end of a meal.

Pickling Preserving food in a salt and vinegar solution. Pilaff (Pilau) Rice dish cooked in stock, containing meat, poultry or fish, herbs and spices.

Pimento Green or red sweet pepper.

Pith Bitter white skin between the rind and flesh of citrus fruit.

Pizza Flat round of yeast dough, topped with tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, olives 9r other savoury ingredients.

Poaching Gentle simmering. Pot roasting Browning meat, before finishing cooking in a covered casserole in the oven.

Praline Mixture of nuts and caramelized sugar.

Preserving Heat, refrigeration, chemical, salt or sugar treatment of foods to keep in optimum edible condition. Profiterole Small ball of choux pastry filled with cream and covered with chocolate.

Provengale A dish cooked with garlic and tomatoes. Pulp Softened mass of fruit or vegetables.

Puree Sieved or liquidized fruit or vegetables.

Quiche Savoury tart, using eggs and cream with bacon, onion, cheese or other fillings.

Ragout Meat and vegetable stew.

Ramekin Small, individual soufflé dish.

Rare Term used for underdone steaks.

Ratafia Small macaroon flavoured with almonds, used in cream sweets. Also a liqueur flavoured with almonds.

Ratatouille Vegetable dish consisting of courgettes, aubergines, peppers, onions and tomatoes fried in olive oil and stewed.

Ravioli Small, savoury, filled squares of pasta, covered in tomato sauce.

Rechauffe Re-heated dish. Reducing Extended boiling of sauce or gravy to concentrate flavour and thicken consistency.

Relish Sauce made from fruit and/or vegetables.

Rendering Heating and melting fat in a roasting tin to produce dripping.

Rennet Extract from lining of calf’s stomach; used to coagulate milk to make junket and cheese.

Rice paper Edible white paper, produced from the pith of a Chinese plant.

Risotto Italian rice dish, cooked in stock, with added mushrooms, tomatoes and topped with cheese.

Rissole Minced meat patty. Roasting Cooking by radiant heat in the oven.

Roe Eggs from fish reproductive gland. Soft roe are from the male fish and hard roe from the female.

Roux Fat and flour cooked together to form the basis of some sauces.

Sautéing Shallow frying food in hot fat until brown and golden in appearance.

Savarin Rich yeast cake, soaked in a rum syrup after baking, then filled with fruit and fresh cream.

Scalding Plunging food into boiling water to remove skin or to heat milk just below boiling point.

Scoring Making incision, for example, on pork skin or surface of bread dough. Shortening Fat used in pastry and biscuit making to produce a ‘short’ texture.

Sifting Removing lumps in flour or sugar by rubbing through a sieve.

Simmering Cooking in liquid, maintained just below boiling point.

Skimming Removing fat from soups, stews and casseroles; scum from jam; cream from milk.

Souse Cook in a vinegar or wine marinade.

Spatula Kitchen implement, flat on both sides, used for scraping bowls and mixing food mixtures.

Steaming Cooking by moist heat, on a plate over a pan of boiling water or in a special steamer.

Steeping Soaking in liquid to produce desired flavour or to remove a strong taste, such as salt from ham or fish.

Stewing Cooking slowly in water or stock in a covered casserole dish.

Straining Using a sieve or muslin to separate liquid from solid.

Strudel Wafer-thin pastry, filled with a sweet or savoury filling.

Stuffing Mixture of bread-crumbs, fruit or vegetables and seasoning as a filling for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.

Suet Fat surrounding beef and mutton kidneys, used for pastry and puddings.

Syrup Mixture of sugar and water.

Tabasco Sauce from hot peppers.

Tea-cake Yeast bread baked in rounds.

Tenderize Make food tender by marinating or beating. Terrine Ovenproof dish with lid.

Truss Using string or skewers to secure poultry and joints during cooking.

Turnover Pastry patty containing sweet or savoury filling.

Vanilla Dried pod, used to flavour caster sugar, cream and custard.

Veloute Sauce or soup made with white stock.

Vermicelli Fine pasta strands, used mainly as a garnish. Vinaigrette Salad dressing containing oil, vinegar and seasoning.

Vinegar Acetic acid, made by fermenting malt, wine or cider.

Wafer Thin biscuit.

Waffle Flat crisp batter cakes made in a special waffle iron. Whipping Beating cream until thick.

Whisking Beating, to enclose air, until thick and creamy.

Yeast Fresh or dried, used as a raising agent for bread dough or for fermenting in beer and wine making.

Zest Outer rind of citrus fruit, used to flavour cakes and puddings.