I'm still enjoying my holiday and have been following Masterchef Australia for the past few episodes now; also excited to start watching Masterchef South Africa soon. Even watching a few episodes of Hell's Kitchen here and there.
Seems there's so much kitchen lingo flying around and I'm thinking...what about those of us who love to cook but haven't worked in a professional atmosphere...how are we supposed to know what words mean what?! So here's a bit of a Kitchen Lingo breakdown for you. Hope it makes your Food Watching and Making a bit easier; or you can just chuck around these new words you've learned and just sound larny at your next family get-together! *wink wink nudge nudge*.
Al dente: Often found in pasta recipes. It means to cook the pasta just until it's done, not soft or overcooked.
Au gratin: Refers to a baked dish, such as a casserole, topped with cheese or bread crumbs, then browned on top, either in the oven or under a broiler.
Baste: Spooning or brushing food with a liquid -- such as butter, broth, or the cooking liquid -- to help the food stay moist during cooking.
Blanch: Placing food briefly in boiling water and then plunging into cold water to halt cooking. Blanching loosens the skins of fruits and vegetables to help peel them more easily.
Braise: Slowly cooking browned foods in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot.
Butterfly: Splitting meat, poultry, or fish in half horizontally without cutting all the way through. When spread open, the flat piece looks like a butterfly.
Caramelize: Melting and cooking sugar over low heat until it browns. "Caramelization" also refers to the browning that occurs during cooking.
Chiffonade: Thinly sliced strips or shreds of vegetables or herbs.
Cream: Rapidly mixing one or more ingredients with a spoon or mixer until smooth and creamy. When you cream butter or other fats, the mixture also becomes fluffy because air is incorporated during the rapid mixing process.
Curdle: Separation of a mixture into a liquid with solid particles. For example, soured milk curdles.
Deglaze: Adding a liquid to a pan in which food has been browned, and heating it to loosen the cooked food particles. This liquid is usually thickened to make a flavorful sauce.
Dredge: Coating a food lightly with flour, bread crumbs, or cornmeal.
French: Cutting a meat or vegetable lengthwise into very thin strips.
Julienne: To cut a fruit or vegetable into matchstick strips about 2 inches long.
Mince: Cutting food into very fine pieces.
Reduce: Boiling a liquid in an uncovered pot or pan to evaporate some of the liquid. This reduces the volume, concentrates the flavor, and thickens the mixture.
Sauté: Cooking and stirring a food in a small amount of fat over direct heat.
Score: To make shallow cuts in the surface of a food just before cooking or baking.
Sear: Using high heat to quickly brown the surface of a food to seal in the juices. Foods can be seared in a very hot pan or under the broiler.
Simmer: Slowly cooking food in a liquid just below the boiling point. Tiny bubbles may break the surface.
Steep: Soaking dry ingredients in a hot liquid to infuse it with flavor and color, as with tea or coffee.
Sweat: Cooking food over low heat in a small amount of fat in a covered pot or pan so it cooks in its own juices until soft but not browned.
Zest: The peel or colored part of citrus fruit skin, which contains flavorful oils. (The white pith is not part of the zest, and has a bitter taste.)
And there you have some pretty nifty terminology! There are others that I'd like to introduce you to like "bouquet garni" and the different kitchen positions. Will introduce you to that lingo in tomorrow's blog.
Hope these help fellow chefs!
Chef Shants xxxxx