Glossary of Food Terms.
Ancho Chile Powder – Dark, reddish-brown chile powder made from dried Poblano chili peppers, a variety of Capsicum longum, a regional pepper grown in the Southwest. Intensity and flavor range from mild to very pungent. Should be used sparingly.
Antipasto – (ann-tee-pahs-toe, Italian for “before the pasta”) A small plate or tray of flavorful bite-size cold food such as smoked oysters, olives, marinated vegetables, spicy cold meats, fish, shellfish, cheese.
Arrowroot – A fine white powder or starch, extracted from a tropical rhizome or under-ground root, that is used to thicken sauces and soups. Because of its clarity, appearance and the absence of any taste of its own, it is considered superior to cornstarch as an all-purpose thickening agent.
Au jus – (oh zhue) Served with its natural juices, which are usually mixed with stock and enriched by simmering with a mirepoix.
Bain-marie – (ban-ma-ree) Vat of hot water kept at 180 degrees F. (82 degrees C), or thereabouts. for holding hot liquids such as soups or sauces in readiness for service. French for a “steam table” or “hot water bath”.
Bake – A dry-heat process of cooking where a raw ingredient is surrounded by hot air in a closed oven. The air contains some moisture that has been released from the food being baked. The term usually applies to breads, pastries, vegetables and fish.
Baker’s percentages – A system for expressing ratios of ingredients in baking formulas: the weight of the flour is always 100%, and the weight of each other ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the weight of the flour.
Batter – A semi-liquid mixture of flour, liquid and eggs, used to make cakes, cookies and quick breads or as a coating for foods to be fried. To batter is to coat with batter for frying. A drop batter is one having a low ratio of flour to liquid that can be poured easily in a steady stream.
Boil – To cook a product submerged in a boiling liquid. The body of a boiling
liquid is in turmoil; its surface is agitated and rolling. Its temperature is a constant
212 degrees F. (100 degrees C) at sea level.
Botulism – (botch-a-lizm) A food-borne disease caused by a family of bacteria that produce deadly
toxins in non-acid foods in the absence of air; usually associated with improperly processed canned goods.
Bouquet garni – (boo-kay gar-nee – literally, garnished bouquet) (1) Classically,
sprigs of parsley, bay leaf, and thyme, tied together in a bundle with string, often
with a celery rib; used as a flavor builder in stocks, soups, and sauces. (2) Any aromatic vegetable – herb -spice combination so used.
Breading – A coating for a product to be fried, usually consisting of a coat of crumbs on top of a coat of egg wash on top of a coat of flour, a three-step process known as standard breading procedure.
Break down – (1) To divide, for example, to cut a meat carcass into smaller cuts.
(2) To disassemble, for example, to take apart a display platter after the buffet line has
closed and store or dispose of the remaining food.
Brown or Browned – To brown meat is to saute, usually small chunks of beef, until they turn brown on all sides. Do not let the individual chunks touch each other as that will hinder the browning process. Browning, then long, slow simmering with little water (braising), turns less tender cuts of beef into fork tender morsels.
Butter – A fat derived from the creamy part of milk. Brown butter is whole melted butter cooked gently until golden brown; beurre noisette. Clarified butter
is liquid butterfat separated from the water and solids in ordinary butter. A compound butter
is a blend of softened butter and one or more pureed or finely chopped ingredients.
Simple butter is heated butter with no added ingredients, used in the role of a sauce.
Sweet butter is unsalted butter.
Carbohydrates – Starches, sugars and cellulose or fiber, found mainly in plant foods, in milk, and in manufactured starch products. Starches and sugars supply energy to the body; fiber aids in digestion. The behavior of all three carbohydrate types in the presence of heat is very important in cooking.
Celsius – (cel-see-us) Scale (abbreviated C). The system of temperature measurement used in most countries also called the centigrade scale. It sets the freezing point of pure distilled water at 0 degrees and the boiling point at 100 degrees at standard atmospheric pressure. One Celsius degree equals 1.8 Fahrenheit degrees.
Cheese – A dairy product made from coagulated milk protein (curd); used as a flavorer, a meat substitute, a topping and appetizer, a cold buffet food, a sandwich filling, a salad ingredient, a dessert.
Clarify – To clear a liquid of all solid particles. To clarify butter is to heat it with low heat and remove the clear oil from the milky residue that settles at the bottom of the pan. To clarify stock is to remove particles by simmering it with a ground-meat-and-egg-white mixture.
Coagulation – (co-ag-u-lay-shun) A process in which proteins, when exposed to heat, become firm and gather together into a thickened mass, as egg proteins do when heated or gelatin does when it jells.
Coat a spoon – A doneness test for custards and other cooked egg-thickened mixtures; when the egg has thickened (cooked) sufficiently, it will leave a thin, custard-like film on the back of a metal spoon.
Confit – Confit (pronounced cone-FEE) is a technique for preserving meats such as duck, goose or pork that involves cooking the meat in its own fat, and then storing the meat in this fat in a covered container. Confit is an effective method for preserving meats because the fat seals off the oxygen that bacteria need to reproduce.
Correct seasoning – to taste as the recipe proceeds, to decide whether the taste is satisfactory or would be improved by the addition of, say, a little more salt, a smidgen of pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Couscous – The couscous that is sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried; the package directions usually instruct to add 1.5 measures of boiling water or stock and butter to each measure of couscous and to cover tightly for 5 minutes. The couscous swells and within a few minutes it is ready to fluff with a fork and serve. Pre-steamed couscous takes less time to prepare than regular couscous, most dried pasta, or dried grains such as rice.
Creme Fraiche – (crem-fra-shay) French cream is matured cream with a butterfat content of at least 30 per cent. American heavy whipping cream may be used in any French recipe calling for creme fraiche if it is allowed to thicken with a little buttermilk. American sour cream cannot be substituted.
Crouton – (kroo-tahn) (1) A smalll cube of bread fried with herbs and spices, used as a garniture for soups and salads. (2) A buttered bread shape baked in the oven until brown and crisp, used as a canape base.
Double Broiler – A double boiler consists of a bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water. The bowl does not touch the water, but creates a seal with the bottom pan to trap the steam produced by the simmering water. The trapped steam keeps the top bowl going at just about 212F (100C), the temperature at which water turns to steam and a far lower temperature than could be achieved by putting the bowl directly on that burner. Inside the top bowl, you can melt chocolate without worrying that it will stick and burn.
Fats and oils – Characteristic components of meats. poultry, some fish, many dairy products, nuts and a few vegetables; used as a cooking medium in frying and as ingredients in recipes, especially in baking.
Filet, fillet – (fil-lay) (1) Meat: A boneless cut from the tenderloin. (2) Fish: A full-length segment removed from the bones. A fillet of a round fish is an entire side; a flatfish fillet is half a side. To Fillet a fish is to remove the fillets from the bones.
Flaming or Blazing – Flaming or blazing with brandy is done by warming the brandy in a small saucepan and setting it alight with a match. Pour the flaming brandy, a little at a time, into the frying pan with one hand while you shake the frying pan gently back and forth with the other; shake it until the flame has burnt itself out.
Flatfish – A type of fish that is flat and compressed from side to side. It is pale on the underside and dark on the other upper side, with both eyes on the dark side. Its backbone runs down the middle of the body instead of along the top under the fins, as on a round fish. Halibut, sole and flounder are typical flatfish.
Flavor – (1) The way a food tastes, through a combination of sweet, sour, bitter and salt tastes perceived by the tongue and the aromas perceived by the nose. (2) To flavor is to add an ingredient whose distinctive taste complements the predominant flavor of a dish without masking that flavor or losing its own identity. Compare with Season.
Fond – (fawn) (1) Stock. In French, fond de cuisine (fawn da kwee-zeen – literally, base of cooking). Fond blanc (fawn blahnk) is veal stock. Fond brun (fawn brun) is brown beef stock. Fond de poisson (fawn da pwasone) is fish stock. Fond de volaille (fawn da vol-eye) is chicken stock. (2) Pan drippings and food bits clinging to the bottom of a pan in which food was cooked, which are incorporated during deglazing to enrich a sauce.
Galantine – (gal-un-teen) A showy meat creation from classical cuisine, made of a special meat filling ground to a smooth paste, with special decorative garniture, wrapped in skin and poached in stock; served chilled and sliced.
Gelatin – A semisolid jellylike substance, or jel, used as a binding agent
in salads, desserts and cold entrees. (2) The dry powder or leaves that are dissolved to produce the gel. Powdered fruit-flavored gelatin has sugar added.
Holy Trinity – The holy trinity, Cajun holy trinity, or holy trinity of Cajun cooking is the Cajun and Louisiana Creole variant of mirepoix: onions, bell peppers, and celery in roughly equal quantities. This mirepoix is the base for much of the cooking in the regional cuisines of Louisiana.
Hors d’oeuvre – A small appetizer, usually having a major ingredient, that is served whole and eaten with a pick or cocktail fork; served from a buffet or passed on a tray. Hors d’oeuvre in Hawaii is known as “PuPus”
Herbs de Provence – Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs considered typical of the Provence region of southeast France. Herbes de Provence contain savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Lavender leaves are also included in products in the North American market. The herb mixture is typically used with grilled foods and stews.
Imu – Hawaiian oven. A hole dug about 3 ft. deep and 5 feet round, lined with rocks..a fire is built on the rocks until the rocks are hot. A pig dressed on a wire rack is placed in the hole, covered with banana leaves, canvas and dirt and allowed to cook for 8 to 12 hours
Kombu – Kombu, a kelp seaweed with a robust flavor, thrives off the coasts of China, Japan and Korea. It is different from other seaweed in that it produces Dashi (stock). No other seaweed has that gift. This exclusive characteristic of kombu kelp is extremely important and is indispensible to Japanese cuisine. Dashi is the base of several dishes and valued as a vital and rich ingredient.
Mirepoix – (mee-ra-pwah) A standard flavor builder for stocks, soups and sauces made up of 50 percent onions (or onions and leeks), 25 percent celery and 25 percent carrots, usually cut concasser. A light mirepoix omits carrots; a dark mirepoix may add tomato.
Nouvelle cuisine – French, “new cuisine”, is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine. In contrast to cuisine classique, an older form of haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine is characterized by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation. It was popularized in the 1960s.
Piece de resistance – (pyess da ray-see-stahns) The main dish on a classical menu, consisting of a large, elaborately presented piece of poultry, meat, or game such as a roast suckling pig or a saddle of venison.
Reduction – A product reduced in volume by boiling or simmering. In classical sauce-making, the term refers to a mixture of highly flavored ingredients that are reduced by 70-80 percent and added to a sauce to provide its major flavor.
Roaster – A young bird tender enough to roast but less tender than a fryer. A roaster chicken is usually three to five months old; a roaster duckling or fryer-roaster turkey is usually under 16 weeks old.
Roux – (roo) A thickening agent of fat and flour in a 1-1 ratio by weight, made by blending and cooking over low heat. A white roux is one that is cooked only until thick and foamy. A blond roux is one cooked until its color is blond. A brown roux is one cooked until it looks brown and tastes and smells nutty.
Scald – To heat a liquid, most frequently milk or cream, just short of the boiling point until bubbles begin to gather around the edge of the pan. Also, to plunge tomatoes or peaches, etc., into boiling water to loosen their skins; to blanch.
Simmer – To cook food submerged in liquid just below a boil or to cook the liquid itself, at temperatures of 180 degrees F. (85 degrees C.) to just below the boiling point. A simmering liquid has bubbles floating up slowly from the bottom and the surface is fairly quiet.
Simple syrup – A solution of sugar in water, used to thin fondant, flavored to become a dessert syrup or cooked through various stages from thread (230 degrees F./110 degrees C.) to caramel (320 degrees F/160 degrees – 170 degrees C.) for syrups and candy.
Stock – A flavored liquid used in making soups, sauces and sauce-based entrees. A light stock is made from bones of veal (or beef), chicken, or fish. A dark stock, or brown stock, is made from the browned bones of beef or veal or both.
Veloute – (ve-loo-tay) A sauce made from a light stock and blond roux. Chicken veloute is made from chicken stock, veal veloute from veal stock and fish veloute from fish stock or fumet. The veloutes are mother sauces for many small sauces.
Yield – (1) The quantity of finished product a given recipe will produce, often expressed in number of servings of a specified size. (2) Edible portion of a raw product, usually expressed as a percentage.