Have you ever picked up a new recipe that called for a term you weren’t familiar with? Or you thought you knew what it meant but you weren’t positive? To clear up any confusion, here’s a list of common cooking terms and their definitions:
Chop: Cut into small pieces with a knife.
Crush: Press to extract juice or grind into fine particles.
Cube: Cut into squares 1/2-inch or larger with a knife.
Cut up: Cut into pieces with scissors (dried apricots, for example)
Dice: Cut into squares smaller than ½-inch with a knife.
Grate: Cut into tiny particles using the small holes of grater (lemon).
Mince: Cut into very small pieces with a knife.
Pare: Cut off outer covering with knife or vegetable peeler.
Peel: Strip off outer covering.
Score: Cut surface of food about ¼-inch deep with a knife to facilitate cooking, flavoring or tenderizing.
Shred: Cut into long, thin pieces using large holes of grater or a knife (cheese).
Slice: Cut into thin, flat pieces with a knife.
Sliver: Cut into long thin pieces with a knife.
Snip: Cut into very small pieces with scissors.
Beat: Mix ingredients vigorously with a spoon, hand beater or electric mixer until smooth.
Blend: Mix ingredients until they are very smooth and uniform.
Cut in: Distribute solid fat in dry ingredients by cutting with a pastry blender with a rolling motion or cutting with two knives until particles are desired size.
Fold: Combine ingredients lightly using two motions: first cut vertically through mixture with a rubber spatula; then slide spatula across bottom of bowl and up the side, turning mixture over. Continue down-across-up-over-motion while rotating bowl ¼ turn with each series of strokes.
Mix: Combine ingredients in any way that distributes them easily.
Stir: Mix ingredients with circular or figure-eight motion until of uniform consistency.
Bake: Cook in oven.
Boil: Heat until bubbles rise continuously and break on the surface. For a rolling boil, the bubbles form rapidly.
Braise: Cook covered in small amount of liquid over low heat in 300 degree F to 325 degree F oven.
Brown: Cook until surface of food changes color, usually in a small amount of fat over medium heat.
Cook and Stir: Cook, rapidly in small amount of fat, stirring occasionally.
Panfry: Cook uncovered in a small amount of fat.
Poach: Cook in hot liquid just below the boiling point.
Roast: Cook uncovered in the oven on a rack in a shallow pan.
Scald: Heat liquid just below the boiling point. Tiny bubbles form at the edge.
Simmer: Cook in liquid until just below the boiling point. Bubbles form slowly and collapse below the surface.
Stir-fry: A Chinese method of cooking uniform pieces of food in a small amount of hot oil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Baste: Spoon liquid over food during cooking to keep it moist.
Blanch: Plunge food into boiling water for a brief time to preserve color, texture and nutritional value or to remove skin from fruit or nuts.
Chill: Refrigerate food to make it cold.
Cool: Allow hot food or liquid to come to room temperature.
Lard: Insert strips of fat in uncooked lean meat to make it more tender and flavorful.
Marinate: Refrigerate food in a liquid that will tenderize it or add flavor.
Reduce: Boil liquid, such as gravy, uncovered to evaporate liquid until the desired consistency and to intensify flavor.
Soften: Let cold butter, margarine or cream cheese stand at room temperature until soft.
Toast: Brown food in oven or toaster.