Lecture 101 – Do You speak kitchen?

The following is my biggest problem. I am a beginner chef, (funny that I call myself chef, but let’s be optimistic for the future) who decided that will teach herself how to cook. So simple Saturday afternoon…I am watching cooking channels. Oh those kitchens always look amazing…they all have kitchen islands in it…I love them and I want one, but right now my whole kitchen is as big as a smaller kitchen island. So I am watching the show. She is nice, explains easily what she is going to make and actually how easy it is (they always say it’s easy). She starts, I keep up….still keeping up, aaand I lost it. My general problem is not the usual one. I am not trying to follow her while she is making it and complaining that it is not 5 mins but rather 55. No. My problem is that I am not familiar with the expressions, definitions of culinary words, name of the different techniques, moves…etc. in English. So usually unknown words jumping here and there, but I am concentrating because the photos look so great, they make you think that if the photos look that good how awesome the food must taste.

So this post is to people whose first language is not English and to people whose first language is English but still not sure what is what in the culinary world. As a beginner I find it important, so several similar posts will follow. Let’s start from A-K:

  • Al dente: I like this phrase and already used it in my previous Three words that match: pasta, besamel and cherry tomato post . It’s Italian and means “to the tooth”. Means that you cook the foods (usually pasta) until it still has some resistance, tender but a bit chewy, not too soft. So pastas should be cooked al dente.
  • Baste: put fat or juices over (usually) meat while cooking or baking it. Especially essential when you cook with dry heat, for example oven roasting or grilling.
  • Batter: it is a mixture consisting mainly flour, egg and thin enough to pour…and tastes amazing:)

  • Beat: you have to mix rapidly in order to make to mixture you are working with smooth and light by incorporated as much air as possible.
  • Blanche: cooking technique where food (usually vegetables) is briefly immersed into boiling water and allow to cook it slightly in order to soften it, loosen its skin…it softens them just enough so they can be quickly cooked over high heat. These vegetables are usually plugged into cold water after the cooking process for a short time.
  • Blend: to incorporate, mix two or more ingredients.
  • Caramelize: to heat the sugar until it melts and turns brownish.
  • Chop: cut food into small pieces. If it says finely chopped it means to cut it into even smaller pieces. Roughly copped means a bit bigger pieces.
  • Creaming: is the technique of blending ingredients — usually granulated sugar — together with a solid fat like shortening or butter. Butter and sugar are often creamed together.
  • Cure: technique to preserve food (usually meat) by drying and/or salting, smoking.
  • Degrease: To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock. Usually cooled in the refrigerator so that fat hardens and is easily removed.
  • Dice: To cut food in small cubes of uniform size and shape.
  • Dissolve: To cause a dry substance to pass into solution in a liquid. Completely incorporate it.
  • Dredge: technique used to coat wet or moist foods with a dry ingredient  (usually with flour) prior to cooking.
  • Drizzle: To sprinkle drops of liquid lightly over food in a casual manner.
  • Dust: To sprinkle food with dry ingredients.
  • Fillet: As a verb, to remove the bones from meat or fish. A fillet (or filet) is the piece of flesh after it has been boned.
  • Flambé: is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames.
  • Fold: is a more gentle technique than mixing and stirring. Usually used for items where something has previously been whipped (such as egg whites or cream). Cut down through mixture with a whisk or a spatula, go across bottom of bowl, up and over, close to surface. Note that if an airy mixture such as egg whites or whipped cream start to go from soft and billowy to more liquid-like, you are overworking it and need to stop.
  • Fry: To cook in hot fat.
  • Garnish: to decorate a dish.
  • Glaze: A glaze in cooking is a coating of a glossy, often sweet, sometimes savoury, substance applied to food to make them look smooth and shiny.
  • Grate: to rub cheese, vegetables etc. against a grater in order to cut them into small pieces.
  • Gratin: this term is used to describe any oven-baked dish, which is usually cooked in an oval gratin dish, on which a golden-brown crust of bread crumbs, creamy sauce or cheese is form.
  • Grind: to process solids by hand or mechanically to reduce them to tiny particles.
  • Julienne: to cut vegetables, fruits or cheeses into thin strips.
  • Knead: oh that is a hard one. You have to work hard by folding, pressing and stretching the dough with your hands/or mechanically. You have to do this to distribute the yeast and develop gluten for a good mixture. I will post a video about it later for better understanding how to do it.

I will continue in my next post, keep up till than!:)


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