Cooking Terms

Panbroil
To cook a food in a skillet without added fat, removing any fat as it accumulates.

Panfry
To cook in a hot pan with small amount of hot oil, butter, or other fat, turning the food over once or twice.

Parboil
To partly cook in a boiling liquid.

Parchment
A heavy, heat-resistant paper used in cooking.

Pare
To peel or trim a food, usually vegetables.

Peaks
The mounds made in a mixture. For example, egg white that has been whipped to stiffness. Peaks are “stiff” if they stay upright, or “soft” if they curl over.

Pesto
A sauce usually made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese. The ingredients are finely chopped and then mixed, uncooked, with pasta. Generally, the term refers to any uncooked sauce made of finely chopped herbs and nuts.

Pinch
Same as “dash.”

Pipe
To force a semisoft food through a bag (either a pastry bag or a plastic bag with one corner cut off) to decorate food.

Pit
Using a sharp knife to take out the center stone or seed of a fruit, such as a peach or a mango.

Poach
To simmer in liquid.

Pressure cooking
A cooking method that uses steam trapped under a locked lid to produce high temperatures and achieve fast cooking time.

Proof
To let yeast dough rise.

Purée
To mash or sieve food into a thick liquid.

Ramekin
A small baking dish used for individual servings of sweet and savory dishes.




Reconstitute
To take a dried food such as milk back to its original state by adding liquid.

Reduce
To cook liquids down so that some of the water evaporates.

Refresh
To pour cold water over freshly cooked vegetables to prevent further cooking and to retain color.

Render
To melt down fat to make drippings.

Roast
To cook uncovered in the oven.

Roux
A cooked paste usually made from flour and butter used to thicken sauces.

Sauté
To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat.

Scald
Cooking a liquid such as milk to just below the point of boiling; also to loosen the skin of fruits or vegetables by dipping them in boiling water.

Score
To tenderize meat by making a number of shallow (often diagonal) cuts across its surface. This technique is also useful in marinating, as it allows for better absorption of the marinade.

Sear
Sealing in a meat’s juices by cooking it quickly under very high heat.

Season
To enhance the flavor of foods by adding ingredients such as salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cinnamon, and a variety of other herbs, spices, condiments, and vinegars. Also, to treat a pot or pan (usually cast iron) with a coating of cooking oil and baking it in a 350° F oven for approximately 1 hour; this process seals any tiny rough spots on the pan’s surface that may cause
food to stick.

Seize
To form a thick, lumpy mass when melted (usually applied to chocolate).

Set
Let food become solid. (See also “Jell.”)

Shred
To cut or tear into long narrow strips, either by hand or by using a grater or food processor.

Sift
To remove large lumps from a dry ingredient such as flour or confectioners’ sugar by passing it through a fine mesh. This process also incorporates air into the ingredients, making them lighter.




Simmer
Cooking food in a liquid at a low enough temperature that small bubble begin to break the surface.

Skim
To remove the top fat layer from stocks, soups, sauces, or other liquids such as cream from milk.

Springform pan
A two-part baking pan in which a spring-loaded collar fits around a base; the collar is removed after baking is complete. Used for foods that may be difficult to remove from regular pans, such as cheesecake.

Steam
To cook over boiling water in a covered pan, this method keeps foods’ shape, texture, and nutritional value intact better than methods such as boiling.

Steep
To soak dry ingredients (tea leaves, ground coffee, herbs, spices, etc.) in liquid until the flavor is infused into the liquid.

Stewing
Browning small pieces of meat, poultry, or fish, then simmering them with vegetables or other ingredients in enough liquid to cover them, usually in a closed pot on the stove, in the oven, or with a slow cooker.

Stir-Fry
The fast frying of small pieces of meat and vegetables over very high heat with continual and rapid stirring.

Thin
To reduce a mixture’s thickness with the addition of more liquid.

Toss
To thoroughly combine several ingredients by mixing lightly.

Truss
To use string, skewers, or pins to hold together a food to maintain its shape while it cooks (usually applied to meat or poultry).

Unleavened
Baked goods that contain no agents to give them volume, such as baking powder, baking soda, or yeast.

Vinaigrette
A general term referring to any sauce made with vinegar, oil, and seasonings.

Water bath
A gentle cooking technique in which a container is set in a pan of simmering water. (See also “Coddle.”)

Whip
To incorporate air into ingredients such as cream or egg whites by beating until light and fluffy; also refers to the utensil used for this action.

Whisk
To mix or fluff by beating; also refers to the utensil used for this action.

Zest
The thin, brightly colored outer part of the rind of citrus fruits. It contains volatile oils, used as a flavoring.

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