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You want me to do what? - cookery jargon explained

You want me to do what? - cookery jargon explained

A handy glossary of commonly used cookery terms, useful for anyone – from absolute beginners to those with a bit of cookery experience!
 

  • Al dente Literally ‘to the teeth’ in Italian! Pronounced ‘al dentay’, it’s used to describe the texture of cooked pasta the way they eat it in Italy – tender on the outside but with a bit of a bite in the middle. It is also used to describe the texture of cooked rice or vegetables
  • Bake Cook in the oven – savouries and desserts, including cakes
  • Baste Spoon oil or liquid over food in the oven, to keep it moist
  • Beat Stir and mix ingredients vigorously with a wooden spoon, balloon whisk, fork or electric cake mixer (NB vegan cakes don't need an electric mixer, quite the opposite from egg-based baking)
  • Béchamel sauce – see White sauce
  • Blend Mix together. Nowadays it tends to mean mixing with an electric blender. This may be a stick blender (one that you can place directly in a pan of food) or a goblet blender – a big jug that fits into the motor, meaning you have to pour cooked food from a pan into the goblet. High speed blenders such as the smaller 'bullet' type or big beasts like Vitamix, Omniblend and the rest have much more powerful engines so can make nut creams and butters and such. 
  • Blind baking This method is used to make sure that the pastry at the bottom of a pie or quiche doesn’t go soggy. The pastry is partially pre-baked with a lining such as greaseproof paper and is weighted with dried beans. This pastry case is then removed from the oven, the paper and beans taken off (but the pastry left in the baking tin) and the filling spooned inside. Then it’s baked again until both filling and pastry are cooked
  • Boil Cook in water that is bubbling (boiling) quite fast
  • Broil The US term for Grill – see below
  • Chop Cut into small pieces with a knife
  • Cream To mix flour, sugar and fat together until they are creamy – usually when making a cake
  • Dice Chop into small cubes with a knife. Cubed is a similar term
  • Dropping consistency The consistency of cake mixes where the mixture isn’t so runny that it falls easily from the spoon but instead, slides off after a few seconds
  • French dressing See Vinaigrette
  • Grate Use a grater to shave food such as carrot or apple into fine slivers. Graters come with different sizes of holes: small, medium and large; round and rectangular
  • Grill Bake under a direct flame or heat. Can be used to heat and brown veggie sausages, burgers and kebabs. See broil
  • Julienne Cut vegetables into thin matchsticks or very fine shreds. They cook very quickly and look nice. Raw vegetables (crudités) to be served with a dip such as hummus are often cut this way or a little larger
  • Knead Work and stretch dough either by hand or using an electric dough hook. Kneading makes the mixture smoother and softer and makes dough more elastic, as well as mixing in air and other ingredients such as oil. It usually takes about seven to ten minutes
  • Marinate Soak ingredients such as tofu or vegetables in a well-flavoured liquid – called the marinade. Marinades may include ingredients such as oil, wine, sherry, soya sauce, lemon juice, garlic, herbs or spices. After the food is marinated you can add the strained liquid to an accompanying sauce – thicken it with arrowroot or cornflour and bring to the boil slowly so it thickens, then allow it to Simmerfor a few minutes
  • Parboil Boil vegetables until they’re just slightly cooked. This technique is usually used to part-cook potatoes and other root vegetables before roasting at a high temperature
  • Peel Remove the outer skin of old or damaged vegetables and fruit such as potatoes, carrots or apples before cooking. Young vegetables such as potatoes or carrots don’t usually need to be peeled, just well scrubbed
  • Roast Bake in the oven with a light coating of oil to achieve a golden brown and crispy coating
  • Rub in Mix in fat and flour together (gently) with your fingers to make a breadcrumb-like mixture, before adding water to make pastry. Rubbing in requires cool, light hands ideally!
  • Sauté Gently fry on a low to medium heat in a little oil (as opposed to shallow or deep frying, which require more oil and at higher temperatures)
  • Simmer Cook food slowly – just below boiling point – so the liquid isn’t boiling but just releases gentle bubbles occasionally
  • Steam Steamers comprise of a saucepan topped with one or two tiers of tight-fitting pans with holes in the base and a tight-fitting lid. A small amount of water is brought to the boil and the veg are cooked in the steam that circulates up to the holey pans! A microwave can also be used but it's not so easy to control. Steaming stops vitamin loss from vegetables and keeps their shape and texture too - instead of boiling. For example, if you have floury potatoes but want to keep them whole, steaming is a good alternative to boiling. Most veg, e.g.carrots, most greens, beans etc benefit from being lightly steamed
  • Stock A flavoured liquid base used in soups, savoury sauces or stews. Home-made stock is made by simmering vegetables in water, often with herbs and garlic. The liquid is strained off and may be either kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen. If kept in the fridge, remember to boil it for a few minutes when you use it for cooking. Many cooks use vegetarian and vegan stock cubes and powder (called bouillon). Good brands include Kallo and Marigold
  • Sweat Cook vegetables very slowly in a covered pan on a low heat – rather like the sauté process, but slower. This technique uses just a little oil so the vegetables – such as onions or peppers – soften but don't brown before other ingredients are added
  • Vinaigrette or French dressing is a salad dressing made from a mixture of olive oil, wine vinegar (red, white or balsamic) and salt and pepper. In addition, you may like to add one or more of the following: herbs; whole chunks of garlic; a natural syrup such as date or agave (or a little sugar); or Dijon mustard. Cider vinegar and other cold-pressed oils may also be used – sesame oil and fresh ginger give a dressing an Oriental twist, for example. Walnut and hazelnut oils are expensive but divine in salads. The usual ratio is three parts oil to one part vinegar but follow our recipes or experiment until you like it! If you are trying to keep off or lose weight, thin the dressing with more vinegar and go easy on how much you use. It’s good used on any salad, including avocado halves. Make it in a clean screw-top jar – give the ingredients a good whisk with a fork then replace the lid and give it all a good shake. If the garlic chunks are removed, vinaigrette dressing will keep in the fridge for weeks
  • White sauce White sauce is made with a roux of oil or vegan spread – this means that flour is fried in the fat for a few minutes until it starts to turn golden. Add soya milk, whisking in well to prevent lumps, bring to the boil and then simmer for at least 20 minutes. Béchamel is a much nicer version and easy. While you are making the roux, heat up the soya milk separately in a pan, adding a small onion studded with about 6 whole cloves, a piece of celery or carrot, a little nutmeg powder, a large bay leaf, salt and pepper. Remove onion and other large ingredients at the end of the cooking process. Whichever version you make, add some of the following to make the sauce tastier: white wine (cooked in with sauce); grated vegan cheese; chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs; cooked chopped mushrooms; or cooked onions
  • Zest is the outer rind of citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and oranges. Prepare it by using a fine grater or even better, a zester – available quite cheaply from kitchen or hardware shops. Avoid removing any of the white pith under the zest, as it is bitter. The zest of citrus fruits is used to flavour all types of dishes, eg cakes and savoury meals; or as a garnish