I’ve wanted to do a series of posts for a while highlighting more technical cooking and food terms. Some of these you may never see in an actual recipe. But understanding the concept will make you a better cook. Others you will see in a recipe, so it is always good to have an idea what these terms really mean (although recipe authors may have their own meanings). Some may make you a more savvy shopper at the grocery store.
-al dente – Italian for “to the tooth”. This is the term usually used to refer to the correct way to cook pasta. Pasta should be tender, but not soggy. There should be a little resistance when you bite into it.
-beurre – French word for butter. You see this word in sauce names, such as beurre blanc. You know that it is a butter based sauce.
-binder – an ingredient used to thicken. Eggs, roux, flour, and cornstarch are common binders.
-bouquet garni – a bundle of herbs tied together with kitchen twine or wrapped in cheesecloth. You place it in a soup or stew to flavor while cooking. By bundling, it is easy to remove your stems/large leaves when ready to serve.
-chop – This is a generic term for cutting food into bite size pieces. It generally means a coarser or larger cut than say mince or dice.
-cobbler – a baked fruit dessert with a biscuit like crust
-crisp – a baked fruit dessert with a pastry like crust
-cocoa powder – usually sold as unsweetened cocoa powder, this is the product from the grinding of cocoa liquor. Dutch process cocoa powder has been treated with an alkali. Cocoa powder is naturally acidic. You have to be careful substituting Dutch cocoa for regular cocoa if the recipe needs acidity of cocoa.
-convection oven – An oven equipped with a fan to circulate the air. Products will cook more evenly and up to 25% faster. It is generally recommended that you can decrease the temperature by 25 degrees when using a convection oven.
-dash – Refers to a small amount of seasoning, generally considered somewhere between 1/16 and ⅛ teaspoon.
-deglaze – Removing the brown bits from a pan after browning another ingredient (usually meat). You add a small amount of liquid to the hot pan, then scrape the pan to remove the bits. This is useful for adding flavor to a dish. However, you could also use this same technique with water to help clean a pan that has a lot of burnt bits on the bottom.
-dice – to cut food into small cubes. I often use dice as something between chop and mince.
That’s all for now. Hope you find these helpful!
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!
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