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Top 20 Cooking Terms Defined

Top 20 Cooking Terms DefinedWhen I first began cooking, I remember how confused I was about some of the cooking terms I found in the recipes I was trying to make. I hope this list of cooking term definitions will be helpful to all you new cooks! For those of you who are already experienced cooks, this is a great review!

1. ALL PURPOSE FLOUR—-This is a blend of high and low protein flour. It is blended with enough gluten in it to make a loaf of bread but not so much that you would end up with a chewy cake. It is called all-purpose because it is good for using in a variety of baked goods.

2. SELF RISING FLOUR—This is all-purpose flour to which baking powder and salt have been added. So instead of having to measure out all-purpose flour and baking powder and salt, you just need to measure the self-rising flour.

3. BASTE—To brush, squirt or spoon a liquid, (melted butter, meat drippings, barbecue sauce, etc.), on food while it cooks to add flavor and to prevent it drying out.

4. BRAISE—A cooking method where meat or vegetables are first browned in oil and/or butter, then cooked in a covered pot in a small amount of cooking liquid for a long period of time. This process tenderizes the food by breaking down their fibers.

5. SIMMER—To cook food in liquid gently over low heat. You should see tiny bubbles just breaking the surface of the liquid.

6. SCORE—To make shallow cuts into the surface of foods, such as meat, fish or chicken breasts to aid in the absorption of marinade, to help tenderize and/or to decorate.

7. BROTH—A flavorful liquid, (also called stock), prepared by simmering meat, poultry, fish or vegetables in water with some added herbs. This liquid can then be used for making soups, sauces, braises or by itself.

8. DREDGE—To lightly coat food to be pan fried or sauteed, typically with flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs.

9. CUT-IN—When a solid fat such as butter or shortening is mixed with a dry ingredient like flour, until they form into small particles. I suggest using a pastry cutter for this but you could also use your fingers.

10. KNEAD—To mix and work dough into a pliable mass either by hand or a food processor. When done by hand you press the dough with the heels of your hands, fold in half, give a quarter turn and repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic.

11. SAUTÉ—To fry lightly and quickly over high heat in oil or fat in a shallow open pan, such as a skillet.

12. PUREE—Mashing a food until it has a thick, smooth consistency, usually done in a blender or food processor.

13. GLACE—A stock or broth that has been reduced to a syrupy consistency and used to add flavor and color to a sauce.

14. DRAIN—To pour off the cooking liquid separating the food from the liquid (pasta, vegetables, etc.). This is easiest done by pouring the contents into a strainer or colander.

15. FOLD—To mix gently, bringing a spatula down through the mixture and then back up over the top until blended.

16. PARE—To cut off the outer skin of foods such as potatoes or apples.

17. SCALD—To heat a liquid, usually milk, to just below the boiling point.

18. DICE—To cut into small pieces; 1/4 inch or less.

19. TOSS—To mix together lightly. This term is usually used when referring to making salads.

20. STEEP—To allow food to soak in a hot liquid in order to absorb flavor.


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