al dente: “To the tooth,” in Italian. Pasta is cooked just to a firm texture.
allemande: In French cooking it means “in the German style.” Sauce Allemande is made from veal stock, cream, egg yolks, and lemon juice.
aromatics: Seasonings to enhance the flavor and aroma—usually herbs and spices.
au jus: The natural pan drippings or juice that comes from a roasting pan after deglazing.
bain-marie: A “water bath.” Food is placed in a container that is placed in a shallow dish filled with hot water, then heated in an oven or on the stovetop.
baste: To brush or spoon liquid fat or juices over meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables during cooking to help keep moisture on the surface area.
beat: Briskly whipping or stirring with a spoon, fork, wire whisk, beater, or mixer.
bias: To slice a food crosswise at a 45-degree angle.
bind: To thicken a sauce or hot liquid by stirring in ingredients such as roux, flour, butter, cornstarch, egg yolks, vegetable purée, or cream.
blanch: To partially cook vegetables by parboiling them, then cooling quickly in ice water.
blend: Mixing together two or more ingredients to obtain a distributed mixture.
bouquet garni: A bundle of seasonings, such as bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. It's used to season braised foods and stocks.
braise: To cook slowly in liquid in a covered pot.
brown: A quick sautéing/searing done either at the beginning or end of meal preparation.
brush: To coat food with melted butter, glaze, or other liquid using a pastry brush.
butterfly: To cut food down the center without cutting all the way through to open and then spread it apart.
caramelize: The process of cooking sugar until it begins to color. Also, while slowly cooking some vegetables (e.g., onions, root vegetables), the natural sugars are released and the vegetables will caramelize in their own sugars.
chiffonade: Cutting lettuces and other leafy vegetables or herbs into julienne strips.
chinoise: A very fine, conical wire-mesh strainer. Using a chinoise removes small impurities from the liquid that is strained.
chop: To cut into irregular pieces with no set size.
coat: Cover evenly.
confit: Pieces of meat slowly cooked in their own gently rendered fat until very soft and tender.
cure: Marinating to preserve an ingredient with salt and/or sugar and spices.
cut in: Working butter into dry ingredients for equal distribution. This is done with the help of a pastry blender and is an important step in making flaky pie crusts.
dash: A measure approximately equal to teaspoon, a pinch or less.
deglaze: Adding liquid to a pan in which foods have been sautéed, fried, or roasted to dissolve the bakedon bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
dice: To cut food into cubes.
dredge: Completely coating in flour and shaking off the excess.
drippings: The liquids and bits of food left in the bottom of a roasting or frying pan after meat is cooked.
drizzle: Pouring a liquid, such as melted butter, olive oil, or other liquid, in a slow trickle over food.
dust: Sprinkling flour to lightly and evenly coat.
egg wash: A mixture of beaten eggs, yolks, whites, or both with milk or water used to coat baked goods to give them a shine when baked. Also may be used as a sealant for pieces of dough.
fillet: A boneless and skinless piece of meat cut away from the bone, usually fish.
fillet: To remove the bones from fish or meat for cooking.
flambé: To ignite liquid that contains an alcoholic substance so that it flames.
fleure de sel: A very high-quality French sea salt.
foie gras: A fattened duck or goose liver.
fold: To gently combine two or more ingredients using a bottom-to-top or side-to-side motion with a spoon or spatula.
fritter: A deep-fried sweet or savory food coated or mixed in a batter.
ganache: A chocolate filling or coating made with chocolate, egg yolks, and heavy cream. Most often used as a filling for truffles and as a coating for cakes such as Boston Cream Pie.
garnish: A decorative piece of an edible ingredient placed as a finishing touch to dishes or drinks.
glaze: A liquid that gives an item a shiny surface.
grate: To shred food into fine pieces by rubbing it against a coarse surface, usually a grater.
herbes de Provence: A French blend of herbs consisting of chervil, tarragon, chives, rosemary, and lavender.
infusion: Extracting flavors by soaking them in liquid heated in a covered pan.
jointed: Something, such as chicken, cut at the joint.
julienne: To cut into thin strips about 2 inches long.
jus: The natural juices released by roasting meats that have collected on the bottom of the roasting pan.
knead: To work dough with the heels of your hands in a pressing and folding motion until it becomes smooth and elastic.
marinate: Submerging a food in a seasoned liquid in order to tenderize and flavor the food.
medallion: Small round or oval pieces of meat (sometimes lightly pounded), such as chicken, tenderloin, pork, and veal.
mince: To chop or dice food into tiny irregular pieces.
mirepoix: A mixture of vegetables: 2 parts onions, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots. It may also contain leeks and mushrooms (in which case the amount of onions would be less).
pan-broil: Cooking food in a heavy-bottomed pan without added fat, then removing any fat as it accumulates so it doesn't burn.
parchment: A nonstick, silicone-coated, heat-resistant paper used in cooking.
pare: To peel or trim food of its outer layer of skin, usually vegetables.
pinch: A small inexact measurement, about of a teaspoon.
poach: To simmer in liquid that is just below the boiling point.
ramekin: A small ovenproof dish used for individual servings.
reduce: To slowly or rapidly cook liquids down so that some or most of the water evaporates.
reduction: Simmering a sauce so that moisture is released, causing the remaining ingredients to concentrate, thickening and strengthening the flavors.
render: Cooking something greasy, such as bacon, to release the fat
roast: A method of cooking in an oven where the item isn't covered, allowing the dry heat to surround the item.
roux: A cooked mixture of equal parts flour and oil, fat, or butter used to thicken liquids.
sauté: To cook food quickly in a small amount of fat in a pan over regulated direct heat.
score: To tenderize meat, fish, or shellfish by making a number of shallow, often diagonal cuts across its surface.
sear: Frying meat quickly over high heat to seal in the juices.
season: To enhance the flavor of foods by adding ingredients such as salt, pepper, and a variety of other herbs and spices.
simmer: Cooking food in a liquid at just below the boiling point so that small bubbles rise to the surface.
steep: To soak dry ingredients in liquid until the flavor is infused into it.
stir-fry: Quickly frying small pieces of meats and vegetables over very high heat with continuous stirring in a small amount of oil.
stock: The liquid that results from simmering bones, vegetables, and seasonings in water or another liquid.
sweat: Cooking vegetables over low heat to release their natural juices.
zest: The thin outer part of the rind of citrus.