Al dente This Italian phrase translates as “to the tooth” and is usually used to describe a desired texture in cooked pasta. Pasta is al dente when it still has a firm, but not crunchy, texture. Pasta that is mushy has been cooked past the al dente stage.
Bake To cook gently at an even heat in the oven.
Baste To brush, pour, or spoon fat or juices over meat while it roasts. It is intended to add flavor and prevent the meat from drying out.
Beat To create a smooth mixture by using a fork, hand mixer, electric, or stand mixer at high speed.
Blackened A popular Cajun method of cooking seasoned food over very high heat in a well-heated skillet until it is charred on the outside.
Blend To mix or combine at least two ingredients until they’re evenly distributed in a mixture.
Boil To cook using water or other liquid that is vigorously bubbling.
Braise To cook meat covered in liquid, usually in an oven or over a low flame, for a long period of time. The desired effect is a tender portion of meat.
Broil To cook food directly under a flame or heat source.
Brown To quickly sauté meat to turn it a darker color and enhance its flavor and texture.
Butterfly To cut a piece of meat open, but not through, and then spread it out so it’s twice as large and half as thick.
Cacciatore This Italian word translates as “hunter” and usually describes a dish cooked with wine, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and is flavored with herbs like rosemary. It was traditionally served the night before a hunt.
Caramelize To brown sugar over a flame or direct heat. Can be sugar added to a dish or natural sugars that exist in an ingredient such as onions.
Char To cook something at either a high heat, or for a long time, so the carbons in the food turn black.
Coat To cover food evenly, and usually lightly, with an ingredient like flour, bread crumbs, or batter.
Combine To blend two or more ingredients into a single mixture.
Confit Either a meat or vegetable that is cooked over low heat for a long time until it is very soft. Meat is often cooked in its own fat.
Cream Usually, to beat fat and sugar until light and fluffy. Often used with cakes, cookies, and biscuits to give a lighter texture to the final product.
Deglaze To add liquid to a pan after cooking food to dissolve the caramelized juices stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Deep-fry To cook food covered in oil.
Deviled Comes from the Italian word “indiavolato” which means “of the devil” and usually refers to a dish that is spicy.
Dice To cut into tiny cubes, about 1/8" on all sides.
Dock Poking tiny holes in dough so it reduces excessive rising or shrinking.
Dredge To drag an item through a powder until it is covered.
Drizzle To pour a liquid over food in a slow trickle.
Drippings Liquid and fond left in the bottom of a pan that is used to make a gravy or a sauce.
Dust To sprinkle lightly with a dry powder, like flour, cornstarch, or spices.
Fold To gently mix a heavy ingredient into a fluffy mixture to keep from losing the air in the mixture.
Fond Caramelized drippings that are left after roasted or sautéed food is removed from a pan.
Fry To cook food in hot oil that usually doesn’t cover it completely until it is crispy brown and a crust has formed.
Glaze A liquid with a shiny surface. Often used to describe a liquid that is brushed over food while it cooks to make the surface of the food shiny, brown, and crispy.
Grate To shred or cut food into small, even pieces by rubbing it over a rough surface, usually a device intended for this purpose.
Grease To coat a pan in a thin layer of oil, shortening, or other fat.
Grill To cook over a heat source, usually over coals. Also a pan that will give even parallel char marks on food as it cooks.
Grind To cut food into small pieces using a mechanical device.
Knead To work dough with the heels of the hands by pressing and folding until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Marinate To cover food in a liquid that has an acidic base that will tenderize and add flavor before cooking.
Mash To beat or press food to remove lumps and make it smooth.
Microplane A device that is used to grate small food items into a fine texture.
Mince To chop food into tiny and irregularly-shaped pieces.
Mix To beat two or more ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Can be done by hand or with an electric or stand mixer.
Moisten To add enough liquid to dry ingredients to dampen but not soak them.
Purée To mash or blend food until it is a thick, smooth liquid.
Reduce To cook a liquid so it evaporates and lessens in quantity.
Roast To cook uncovered in an oven.
Sauté To cook in a small amount of oil in a pan usually over a high or medium-high heat.
Scallopine Thin cuts of meat that are pounded thin and often coated with flour.
Score To make meat tender by making shallow and diagonal cuts across its surface.
Sear To cook meat over high heat to create a desirable texture and to seal in juices.
Shred To cut or tear into long, narrow strips by hand or using a grater or food processor.
Simmer To cook in a liquid over a low heat that slowly bubbles.
Skim To remove the layer of fat from the top of a liquid.
Stew To brown meat and then simmer it in liquids with vegetables and flavoring agents.
Usually done in a covered pan over low heat on the stove or in the oven.
Stir-fry To quickly fry small items over a high heat while stirring continuously.
Tagine A covered dish used in Mediterranean cooking. Often has a cone-shaped lid.
Thin To reduce the thickness of a sauce or gravy by adding more liquid.
Toss To combine ingredients by mixing lightly.
Vinaigrette A sauce made from vinegar, oil, and seasonings.
Whip To beat ingredients so they incorporate air and are light and fluffy.
Whisk To mix or whip to create a fluffy mixture. Also a wire, cage-like device used by hand.
Zest The colored portion of citrus fruits that is removed in small pieces.