Cooking Terms


Al dente: Literally “to the tooth”, refers to an item, such as pasta or vegetables, cooked until it’s tender but still firm, not soft.
Amuse-Bouche: Chef’s Tasting, a small portion of something unusual, or otherwise special that is served when the guests are seated.
Antipasto: Literally “before the pasta”; Typically, a platter with cold hors-d’oeuvre that includes meats, olives, cheese, and vegetables.
Arborio: A high-starch, short grain rice traditionally used in the preparation of risotto.
Aromatic: Ingredients, such as herbs, spices, vegetables, citrus fruits, wines and vinegars, used to enhance the flavor and fragrance of food.
Aspic: A clear jelly made form stock thickened with gelatin. Used to coat foods or cubed and used as garnish.


Bain-Marie: A water-bath used to cook foods gently by surrounding the cooking vessel with simmering water. (Placing the pot of the food item into another pot of simmering water)
Batter: a mixture of flour and liquid, sometimes with the inclusion of other ingredients. Batters vary in thickness but are usually semi liquid and thinner than doughs.
Béchamel: A white sauce made of milk thickened with light roux and flavored with onion.
Bisque: A soup based on crustaceans or a vegetable purée. It is classically thickened with rice and usually finished with cream.
Blanch: To cook an item briefly in boiling water or hot fat before finishing or storing it.
Boil: A cooking method in which the foods are immersed in liquid at or above the boiling point.
Bouquet Garni: a small bundle of herbs tied with a string. It is used to flavor stocks, braises, and other preparations. Usually contains: Bay leave, parsley, thyme, and possible other aromatics.
Broil: To cook by means of a radiant heat source placed above the food.


Caramelization: The process of browning sugar in the presence of heat. This goes also for sugar in foods like meat, fish or vegetables it simply means to cook food until it’s brown (the sugar in the item hence broken down).
Carry-Over Cooking: Heat retained in cooked foods that allows to continue cooking even after removing from the cooking unit. Especially important to roasted foods.
Chowder: A thick soup that may be made from a variety of ingredients but usually contains potatoes.
Cioppino: A fish stew usually made with white wine and tomatoes, believed to have originated in Genoa.
Clarification: The process of removing solid impurities from a liquid (such as butter or stock)
Clarified Butter: Butter from which the milk solids and water have been removed, leaving pure butter fat. Clarified butter has a higher smoking point than whole butter but less butter flavor.
Consommé: Broth that has been clarified.


Deglacé: To use a liquid such as white wine, water, or stock, to dissolve food particles and/ or caramelized drippings left in a pan after roasting or sautéing. It simply means to pour the liquid into the pan.


Emulsion: A mixture of two or more liquids, one of which is a fat or oil, and the other of which is water-based, so that tiny globules of one are suspended in the other. This may involve the use of stabilizers, such as egg or mustard. Emulsions may be temporary, permanent or semi-permanent.


Fold: To gently combine ingredients (especially foams) so as not to release trapped air bubbles. Also, to gently mix together two items, generally a light, airy mixture with a denser mixture.
Fortified Wine: Wine to which a spirit, usually brandy, has been added (for example, Marsala, Maderia, Port or Sherry).


Gazpacho: A cold soup made from vegetables, typically tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers.
Gelatin: A protein based substance found in animal bones and connective tissue. When dissolved in hot liquid and then cooled, it can be used as a thickener or stabilizer.
Glaze: To give an item a shiny surface by brushing it with sauce, aspic, icing or another appareil.
Gratin: Browned in an oven or under a salamander.


Hollandaise: A classic emulsion sauce made with a vinegar reduction, egg yolks, and melted butter flavored with lemon juice.
Hors-d’Oeuvre: Literally, “outside the work”. An Appetizer.


Infusion: Steeping an aromatic or other item in liquid to extract it’s flavor. Also, a liquid resulting from this process.


Mince: To chop into very small pieces.
Mirepoix: A combination of chopped aromatic vegetables; usually 2/3 Onion, 1/3 carrot, & 1/3 Celery. Mirepoix is used to flavor, stocks, soups, braises and stews.
Mise en place: Literally, “put in place”. The preparation and assembly of ingredients, pots, utensils, plates or serving pieces needed for a particular dish or service period. (Also ensures all material needed is present).
Mousse: A dish made with beaten egg whites and/or whipped cream folded into a flavored base appareil. May be sweet or savory.


Nature: Literally, “un-garnished” or “plain”.


Ragoût: Stew.
Reduce: To decrease the volume of a liquid by simmering or boiling, used to provide a thicker consistency and/or concentrated flavors.
Reduction: The product that results when a liquid is reduced.
Roasting: To cook in the oven or on a spit over the fire
Roux: Equal parts of butter and flour used to thicken liquids. Roux is cooked to various degrees (white, blond, or brown) depending on its intended use.


Sauté: To cook quickly in a small amount of fat in a pan or pot.
Savory: Not sweet (usually salty).
Sear: To brown the surface of food in fat over high heat before finishing by another method (for example braising or roasting) in order to add flavor.
Simmer: To maintain the temperature of a liquid just below boiling.
Smoking point: the temperature at which fat begins to break when heated (burns).
Soufflé: Literally, “puffed”. A preparation made with a sauce base (usually béchamel for savory and pastry cream for sweet soufflés), whipped egg whites, and flavorings. The egg whites cause the soufflé to puff during cooking.
Steaming: A cooking method in which items are cooked in a vapor bath created by boiling water or other liquids.
Stew: A cooking method nearly identical to braising but generally involving smaller pieces of meat hence a shorted cooking time. Stew items may be blanched, rather than, seared to give the finished product a pale color.
Stir-Frying: A cooking method similar to Sautéing in which items are cooked over very high heat, using little fat. Usually this is done in a wok and the food is kept moving constantly.
Stock: A flavorful liquid prepared by simmering meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in water with aromatics until their flavor is extracted. It is used as a basis of soups, sauces, and other preparations.


Vinaigrette: A cold sauce of oil and vinegar, usually with various flavorings. It is a temporary emulsion. The standard portion is 2/3 oil, to 1/3 vinegar.


Whip: To beat an item, such as cream or egg whites, to incorporate air.
White Mirepoix: Mirepoix that does not include carrots and may include chipped mushrooms or mushroom trimmings. It is used for pale or white sauces and stocks.


Zest: The thin, brightly colored outer part of citrus rind. It contains volatile oils, making it ideal for use as a flavoring.