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 Common Guide to Cooking Terms

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PostSubject: Common Guide to Cooking Terms   Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:05 pm

(From The New Food Lover's Companion)
In alphabetical order

Bake: To cook food in an oven, thereby surrounding it with dry heat. It's imperative to know the accurate temperature of an oven. Because most of them bake either hotter or cooler than their gauges read, an oven thermometer is vital for accurate temperature readings.

Blackened: A cooking technique made famous by New Orleans's chef Paul Prudhomme by which meat or fish is cooked in a cast-iron skillet that's been heated until almost red hot. Prudhomme's original specialty was blackened redfish. The food is customarily rubbed with a Cajun spice mixture before being cooked. The extra hot skillet combined with the seasoning rub gives food an extra crispy crust.

Boil: "Bring to a boil" refers to heating a liquid until bubbles break the surface (212 degrees F for water at sea level). The term also means to cook food in a boiling liquid. A "full rolling boil" is one that cannot be dissipated by stirring.

Braise: [BRAYZ] A cooking method by which food (usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done on top of the range or in the oven. A tight-fitting lid is very important to prevent the liquid from evaporating.

Brochette: [broh-SHEHT] The French word for "skewer." En brochette refers to food cooked on a skewer.

Broil: To cook food directly under or above the heat source. Food can be broiled in an oven, directly under the gas or electric heat source, or on a barbecue grill, directly over charcoal or other heat source.

Chiffonade: [shihf-uh-NAHD; shihf-uh-NAYD] Literally translated, this French phrase means "made of rags." Culinarily, it refers to thin strips or shreds of vegetables (classically, sorrel and lettuce), either lightly sautéed or used raw to garnish soups. To chiffonade basil, stack leaves, roll into long thin roll and slice across.

Chop: Using quick, heavy blows of a knife or cleaver to cut food into bite-size (or smaller) pieces. A food processor may also be used to "chop" food. Chopped food is more coarsely cut than minced food.

Deglaze: After food (usually meat) has been sautéed and the food and excess fat removed from the pan, deglazing is done by heating a small amount of liquid in the pan and stirring to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. The liquid used is most often wine or stock. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan.

Fold: A technique used to gently combine a light, airy mixture (such as beaten egg whites) with a heavier mixture (such as whipped cream or custard). The lighter mixture is placed on top of the heavier one in a large bowl. Starting at the back of the bowl, a rubber spatula is used to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl and up the nearest side. The bowl is rotated a quarter turn with each series of strokes. This down-across-up-and-over motion gently turns the mixtures over on top of each other, combining them in the process.

Grill: To prepare food on a grill over hot coals or other heat source. The term barbecue is often used synonymously with grill.

Julienne: [joo-lee-EHN; zhoo-LYEHN] n. Foods that have been cut into thin, matchstick strips. The food (such as a potato) is first cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices. The slices are stacked, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips. The strips may then be cut into whatever length is desired. If the object is round, cut a thin slice from the bottom so it will sit firmly and not roll on the work surface. Julienne is most often used as a garnish.

Mince: [MIHNS] To cut food into very small pieces. Minced food is in smaller pieces than chopped food.

Poach: To cook food gently in liquid just below the boiling point when the liquid's surface is beginning to show some quivering movement. The amount and temperature of the liquid used depends on the food being poached. Meats and poultry are usually simmered in stock, fish in court-bouillon and eggs in lightly salted water, often with a little vinegar added. Fruit is often poached in a light sugar syrup. Poaching produces a delicate flavor in foods, while imparting some of the liquid's flavor to the ingredient being poached.

Roast: To oven-cook food in an uncovered pan, a method that usually produces a well-browned exterior and ideally a moist interior. Roasting requires reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry. Tougher pieces of meat need moist cooking methods such as braising.

Saute: [saw-TAY; soh-TAY] To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat. (A saute pan, by the way, is a wide pan with straight or slightly curved sides that are generally a little higher than those of a frying pan. It has a long handle on one side; heavy sauté pans usually have a loop handle on the other side so the pan can be easily lifted. Sauté pans are most often made of stainless steel, enameled cast iron, aluminum, anodized aluminum or copper. As the name suggests, a sauté pan efficiently browns and cooks meats and a variety of other foods. For purposes of 6WBMO, you'll be using either broth, wine or water to sauté your foods.

Simmer: To cook food gently in liquid at a temperature (about 185 degrees F) low enough that tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface.

Stew: A method of cooking by which food is barely covered with liquid and simmered slowly for a long period of time in a tightly covered pot. Stewing not only tenderizes tough pieces of meat but also allows the flavors of the ingredients to blend deliciously.

Stir-fry: To quickly fry small pieces of food in a large pan over very high heat while constantly and briskly stirring the food. This cooking technique, which is associated with Asian cooking and the wok, requires a minimum amount of fat and results in food that is crisply tender. For purposes of 6WBMO stir-fries must be done using broth, water, or wine instead of fat.

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