Active dry yeast
This is a small plant that has been preserved by drying. When rehydrated, the yeast activates and begins producing carbon dioxide and alcohols.
A term used in Italian cooking that refers to the texture of cooked pasta. When cooked “al dente,” the pasta is tender, but still firm in the middle. The term literally means “to the tooth.”
To cook in dry heat, usually in an oven, until proteins denature, starches gelatinize, and water evaporates to form a structure.
To combine two mixtures and to incorporate air by manipulating with a spoon or an electric mixer until fluffy.
Blanching is a means of cooking food by immersing it in boiling water. After blanching, the cooked food is immediately placed in cold water to stop the cooking process. Always drain blanched foods thoroughly before adding to a dish.
A natural fat obtained by churning heavy cream to consolidate and remove some of the butterfat.
A unit of measurement in nutrition, a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. The number of calories in a food is measured by chemically analyzing the food.
Cholesterol is not a fat, but a sterol, an alcohol and fatty acid, a soft, waxy substance used by your body to make hormones. Your body makes cholesterol and you eat foods containing cholesterol. Only animal fats have cholesterol.
Chopping consists of cutting food into small pieces. While chopped food doesn’t need to be perfectly uniform, the pieces should be roughly the same size.
This sugar is finely ground and mixed with cornstarch to prevent lumping; it is used mostly in icings and frostings. It is also known as powdered sugar and 10X sugar.
An oil obtained from the germ of the corn kernel. It has a high smoke point and contains a small amount of artificial trans fat.
Coarsely ground corn, used to make polenta, also to coat foods to make a crisp crust.
Very finely ground powder made from the starch in the endosperm of corn; used as a thickener.
To fry in a large amount of oil or melted shortening, lard, or butter so the food is completely covered. In this dry-heat method of cooking, about 10 percent of the fat is absorbed into the food.
Dicing consists of cutting food into small cubes, usually ¼ inch in size or less. Unlike chopping, the food should be cut into even-sized pieces.
To immerse a solid in a liquid and heat or manipulate to form a solution in which none of the solid remains.
Draining consists of drawing off the liquid from a food. Either a colander (a perforated bowl made of metal or plastic) or paper towels can be used to drain food.
To dip a food into another mixture, usually made of flour, bread crumbs, or cheese, to completely coat.
The word for edible soybeans, a green pea encased in a pod.
To combine an oil and a liquid, either through manipulation or the addition of another ingredient, so they remain suspended in each other.
A fatty acid is a long chain of carbon molecules bonded to each other and to hydrogen molecules, attached to an alcohol or glycerol molecule. They are short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain, always with an even number of carbon molecules.
A word describing food texture, usually a pie crust or crust on meat, which breaks apart into flat layers.
This small oil-rich seed is used primarily to make linseed oil, but is also a valuable source of nutrients like calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
To cook food in hot oil, a dry heat environment.
A protein in flour made by combining glutenin and gliadin with a liquid and physical manipulation.
The color of food when it is browned or quickly sautéed.
High-density lipoproteins, the “good” type of cholesterol that carries fat away from the bloodstream.
The aromatic leafy part of an edible plant; herbs include basil, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon, oregano, and mint.
A combination of puréed chickpeas with garlic, lemon juice, and usually tahini; used as an appetizer or sandwich spread.
The process of adding hydrogen molecules to carbon chains in fats and fatty acids.
Italian salad dressing
A dressing made of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice, combined into an emulsion, usually with herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme.
A congealed mixture made from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin.
To julienne food (also called matchstick cutting) consists of cutting it into very thin strips about 1½–2 inches long, with a width and thickness of about 1/8 inch. Both meat and vegetables can be julienned.
Meats, fruits, and/or vegetables threaded onto skewers, usually barbecued over a wood or coal fire.
A legume, either white or dark red, used for making chili and soups.
To manipulate a dough, usually a bread dough, to help develop the gluten in the flour so the bread has the proper texture.
The fat from pork, used to fry foods and as a substitute for margarine or butter.
Low-density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol, which carries fat from the liver and intestines to the bloodstream.
A fatty substance that is a natural emulsifier, found in eggs and legumes.
Lipids are organic molecules insoluble in water, consisting of a chain of hydrophobic carbon and hydrogen molecules and an alcohol or glycerol molecule. They include fats, oil, waxes, steroids, and cholesterol.
Long-chain fatty acids
These fatty acids have 12 to 24 carbon molecules bonded to hydrogen molecules and to a glycerol molecule.
A fat made by hydrogenating polyunsaturated oils, colored with yellow food coloring to resemble butter.
To coat foods in an acidic liquid or dry mixture to help break down protein bonds and tenderize the food.
An emulsification of egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar, and oil, blended into a thick white creamy dressing.
A thermometer specially labeled to read the internal temperature of meat.
Medium-chain fatty acids
These fatty acids have 6 to 12 carbon molecules bonded to each other and to hydrogen molecules. Coconut and palm oils contain these fatty acids and they are used in infant formulas.
Mincing consists of cutting food into very small pieces. In general, minced food is cut into smaller pieces than chopped food.
A fatty acid that has two carbons double-bonded to each other, missing two hydrogen molecules. These very stable oils are good for frying, but can have low smoke points. Examples include olive, almond, avocado, canola, and peanut oils.
Mortar and pestle
A mortar is a bowl-shaped tool, sometimes made of stone or marble, and a pestle is the round instrument used to grind ingredients in the mortar.
A food science term that describes the action of food in the mouth; descriptors range from gummy to dry to slippery to smooth to chewy to tender.
The edible fruit of some trees, consisting of a kernel in a hard shell. Most edible nuts are actually seeds and are a good source of monounsaturated fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A polyunsaturated fat named for the position of the first double bond. The body cannot make Omega-3 fatty acids; they must be consumed.
Omega-6 fatty acids
A polyunsaturated fat name for the position of the first double bond. Too much of this fatty acid in the body can cause heart disease. Like HDL with LDL cholesterol, works in concert with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Food that has been grown and processed without pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, or additives.
To quickly fry in a small amount of oil in a saucepan or skillet.
A fatty acid that has more than two carbon molecules double-bonded to each other; it is missing at least four hydrogen molecules. Examples include corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils.
Any food that has been manipulated by chemicals or otherwise treated, such as frozen food, canned food, enriched foods, and dehydrated foods.
Fats can become rancid over time and through exposure to oxygen. The fats oxidize, or break down, and free radicals form, which then exacerbate the process. Rancid fats smell and taste unpleasant.
Quickly boiling or simmering liquid to evaporate the water and concentrate the flavor.
An Italian rice dish made by slowly cooking rice in broth, stirring to help release starch that thickens the mixture.
To cook food at relatively high heat in an oven. This is a dry-cooking method, usually used for vegetables and meats.
A mixture of flour and oil or fat, cooked until the starches in the flour can absorb liquid. It is used to thicken sauces, from white sauce to gumbo.
A fatty acid that has no double-bonded carbons, but has all the carbons bonded to hydrogen molecules. Butter, coconut oil, and palm oil are all high in saturated fats.
To quickly cook food in a small amount of fat over relatively high heat.
Searing meat consists of quickly browning it over high heat before finishing cooking it by another method. Searing meat browns the surface and seals in the juices.
To change the flavor of food by adding ingredients like salt, pepper, herbs, and spices.
Short-chain fatty acid
A fat that contains 2 to 6 carbon molecules; examples include lauric and octanoic acids.
A partially hydrogenated oil that is solid at room temperature, used to make everything from frostings to cakes to pastries and breads.
Shredding food consists of cutting it into thin strips that are usually thicker than a julienne cut. Meat, poultry, cabbage, lettuce, and cheese can all be shredded.
Simmering food consists of cooking it in liquid at a temperature just below the boiling point.
The temperature at which fats begin to break down under heat. The higher the smoke point, the more stable the fat will be while frying and cooking. Butter’s smoke point is 350°F, olive oil 375°F, and refined oils around 440°F.
Aromatic seasonings from seeds, bark, roots, and stems of edible plants. Spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, and pepper, among others.
Latin word means “across,” referring to the positioning of the hydrogen molecules on the carbon chain of a fatty acid.
A specific form of fatty acid, where hydrogen molecules are positioned across from each other, in the “trans” position, as opposed to the “cis” position.
Oils from plants grown in the tropic region; the most common are coconut oil and palm oil. These oils are usually fully saturated and are solid at room temperature.
Sometimes known as “sweet butter,” this is butter that contains no salt or sodium chloride. It’s used for greasing pans, since salt in butter will make batter or dough stick.
Fatty acids that have two more carbon molecules double-bonded to each other; an unsaturated fat is missing at least two hydrogen molecules.
The highly aromatic seeds contained in a long pod, or fruit, of the vanilla plant, a member of the orchid family.
Oils made by pressing or chemically extracting lipids from a vegetable source, whether seeds, nuts, or fruits of a plant.
Vitamins are molecules that are used to promote and facilitate chemical reactions in the body. Most vitamins must be ingested as your body cannot make them.