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Glossary of Cooking Terms

Au gratin
Flavored with grated cheese or brown crumbs.

White sauce made with milk or cream. Named for a famous cook.

1. A thick soup, usually made with shellfish.
2. An ice cream with chopped macaroons.

Partial cooking to prepare food for use or storing. Usually refrs to heating vegetables to lessen enzyme activity before the vegetables are frozen (as in 3, 4 and 5 below). After harvesting, enzymes cause nutritional loss and altered flavors and colors. The traditional methods for blanching vegetables uses steam or boiling. Most vegetables may be blanched either way. The exceptions are leafy vegetables, which should be boiled to reach all parts quickly, and watery vegetables (e.g. cucumber, squash, corn) which should be steamed because they loose flavor when boiled. Blanching in the microwave saves more nutritional value in the vegetables but may not be as effective in slowing enzyme activity.
1. Pouring boiling water over vegetables or nuts to remove the outer coating. Used for almonds, peaches, tomatoes to aid removing the outside skin.
2. Parblanching - Food is placed in cold water, slowly brought to boil in an uncovered pot, then simmered. Use to remove excess salt from cured meats.
3. Parboiling - Food is slowly added to a large amount of rapidly boiling water, so as not to disturb the boiling. Used to set color, preserve nutrients and frim vegetable tissues. Plunge vegetables into cold water or cover with ice cubes to halt cooking if they are to be stored. This method is often used to prepare food for freezing.
4. Steam blanching - Partially cooking foods with steam. Also used for preparing food for freezing.
5. Microwave blanching - Partial cooking in the microwave.

Bouquet of herbs
Sprigs of different varieties of herbs, used for flavoring soup or stew, are tied together or placed in a cheesecloth bag, making them easy to remove. Typical herbs used are a parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, celery.

Cooking foods in water or other liquid that is hot enough to have bubbles emerge from the surface. Boiling toughens proteins and causes a loss of nutrients in vegetables. The stock from boiling can be used in making soups, etc. Steam escapes when liquids are boiled and therefore boiling thickens liquids.

Cooking meat in a covered pan in the oven with a little water. Usually the meat is on a rack over the water which may also contain vegetables.

Cooking with high heat from above. Tip: When broiling in the oven, remember to leave the oven door partially open.

Small slices of bread, toasted or sauteed and covered with a spread of meat, fish or vegetables. Served hot or cold as an hors d'oeuvre or appetizer.

Baked main dish with a combination of ingredients, often starch (pasta or potato), vegetable, meat and sometimes egg. There are many opportunities for using your creativity here to substitue ingredients in recipes.

Fruit stewed in syrup.

Cornell Flour Formula
Nutritious substitute for bleached wheat flour which may be used in any recipe. This formula was developed by Clive McCay at Cornell University. Place in the bottom of a 1 cup measure:

  • 1 T soya flour
  • 1 T dry milk powder
  • 1 t wheat germ
  • Fill the cup with unbleached flour

Double boiler
Cooking vessel consisting of two nested pots with one cover. Water is boiled in the outside pot and food is cooked in the inside pot, over - not in - the boiling water. A double boiler is recommended for cooking foods that are easily ruined by high heat, especially egg, chocolate or cream dishes. Glass pots are easiest to work with because you can see the water level without disturbing the cooking. Glass double boilers usually come with a metal protector (trivet) to place on the burner when using an electric stove. Cooking this way is sometimes called dry steaming because the steam never actually touches the food, but the heat from the steam cooks the food.

Cooking pieces of meat by sauteing then stewing (for tender meats) or stewing then sauteing (for tough meats). Usually the meat is served with a white or brown sauce.

Cooking food by immersing it in hot fat. Fried food is less digestible and high in calories. Vegetable oils do not burn as easily as animal fats. To reduce the amount of oil absorbed by the food, prepare it according to directions, fry it quickly and place it on absorbent paper after frying.

Hors d'oeuvre
Appetizer to be served with drinks, usually before sitting down to the meal, but can be used as a first course.

Left overs
Food prepared for a meal, but not served and saved for another time. Left overs provide inspiration for the creative cook. I often look in the refrigerator to see what's there that can be combined to make a new dish. Tips: Change the left overs when serving a second time. Consider color and texture to keep it interesting.

Liquid used to flavor and tenderize meat or fish. Usually contains vinegar, fruit juice of other acidic liquid.

Pan broiling
Searing meat in a hot pan, without additional fat, then cooking more slowly over lower heat while turning often.

Cooking meat or vegetables in the oven without a cover. Originally, cooking over an open fire, including a fireplace, with a reflector to reflect the heat.

Thickening agent made with butter and flour. Used for sauces, gravies, soups and stews.

Browning food in a shallow pan on the top of the stove in a small amount of fat. Turn the food frequently during the cooking. The food absorbs much of the fat, making it less digestible and adding calories. Meat that is pan broiled and allowed to sit in it's own melted fat is really sauted.

Cooking foods in liquid just below the boiling point, where the water is moving gently, but without bubbles erupting. Good for tenderizing tough meats and vegetables. Also called stewing.

Frozen dessert made with fruit juice. Tip: This is great for those allergic to dairy products.

Cooking by steam in a closed container. The container may have separate perforated sections for food above the boiling water. Steaming retains flavor and nutrients.

Egg dish for main course or dessert. Egg whites are beaten, combined with yolks, sauce and other ingredients and baked in a straight sided dish. Serve immediately, because it falls quickly. Tip: Add a little cream of tartar to the egg whites before beating them with a wire wisk.

Cooking foods in liquid just below the boiling point, where the water is moving gently, but without bubbles erupting. Good for tenderizing tough meats and vegetables. Also called simmering.

Foudation liquid for soup made by cooking meat, fish, bones and/or vegetables.

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