Al dente
‘Firm to the tooth’ the degree to which pasta and vegetables are cooked.
Au gratin
A dish topped with cheese or cheese with breadcrumbs which is then browned by grilling (or sometimes baking).
Bain Marie
A roasting tin half-filled with hot water in which to cook delicate food in the oven.
Baste
To spoon over a liquid during cooking to prevent drying out.
Baveuse
Soft texture, used to describe the inside of a perfectly cooked omelette.
Blanch (vegetables)
Parboiling prior to freezing, or so vegetables only have to be reheated before serving. (See refresh)
Boil
To heat a liquid to 100˚C - at which point the liquid boils at a rapid, bubbling pace.
Caramel sauce
Sugar cooked to a toffee colour.
Clarified butter
Butter that has been separated from milk particles to allow it to reach a higher temperature without burning.
Concasser
To chop roughly, or to cut tomato flesh into even squares or diamonds.
Cream
To beat ingredients together, such as butter and fat when making a sponge cake.
Croutons
Small evenly sized cubes of fried bread used as a garnish in soup or salad.
Deglaze
To loosen and liquefy fat, sediment and browned juices stuck at the bottom of a frying pan by adding liquid and stirring while boiling.
Degorge
To extract the juices from vegetables, fruit meat or fish. (i.e. salting aubergines to extract bitter juice.)
Depoiller
To skim off the scum from a sauce or stock: a splash of cold liquid is added to help to bring it back to the surface.
Detrempe
The base of a layered pastry.
Dropping consistency
The consistency where a mixture will drop reluctantly from a spoon.
Flamber
To set alcohol alight to burn off alcohol and excess fat.
Fold
To mix with a gentle lifting motion. Often in a figure of 8 movement.
Glace de viande
Reduced brown stock.
Gratiner
To brown under a grill after the surface has been sprinkled with breadcrumbs, butter or cheese
Infuse
To steep or heat gently to extract flavour. e.g. milk with onion slices
Julienne
Vegetables or citrus rind cut into thin matchstick lengths or very fine shreds.
Knock back (bread)
To knead out the air in a risen dough.
Loosen
When using egg whites, adding a spoonful of egg white to the thicker mixture first, to avoid losing air.
Marinate
To soak meat, fish or veg before cooking in acidulated liquid containing flavourings and herbs to flavour and tenderise the meat.
Napper
To coat, mask or cover, e.g. hardboiled eggs for egg mayonnaise.
Needleshreds
See julienne
Panade
The base of a soufflé.
Paner
To flour, egg and crumb ingredients before frying.
Papillotte
A paper wrapping in which fish, meat or vegetables are cooked to contain the aroma and flavour.
Poach
To cook very gently in a barely moving liquid just below boiling point.
Prove (a pan)
To make a frying pan non-stick by heating with oil and salt, then wiping.
Prove (bread)
To put dough to rise before baking.
Puree
Liquidized, sieved or finely mashed fruit or vegetables.
Rechauffer
A reheated dish made with previously cooked food.
Reduce
To reduce the amount of liquid by boiling rapidly.
Refresh
To cool cooked or blanched vegetables quickly in cold water, to stop the cooking and set the colour.
Render
To melt solid fat.
Roux
Melted butter to which flour is added. Used for thickening sauces.
Scald (milk)
To heat until on the point of boiling.
Sear
To brown meat rapidly, usually in fat, for flavour and colour.
Season
To flavour, generally with salt, pepper or sugar. (Can mean to prove a pan)
Slake
To mix flour, arrowroot or cornflour to a thin paste with a small quantity of cold water.
Sweat
To cook gently, usually in butter or oil, but sometimes the food’s own juices, without frying or browning.
Zest
The skin or a citrus fruit, very thinly pared without any of the bitter white pith.