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KITCHEN GLOSSARY

This handy guide should help you understand all the weird and wonderful
terms used in cookery! If there’s something we’ve missed off,
please tweet us @kitchen_newbie
Keep coming back, this page is updated daily
A

Al Dente

 

A stage in cooking pasta that is cooked until just before it goes soft. It’s an italian term that means ‘to the tooth’, and suggests it still has a bit of ‘bite’ to it.

 

 

Ageing

 

The slow change in meat when it is left for a period after slaughter. The enzymes soften the meat making it less tough and sweeter. Meat is often aged for 30 + days.

 

 

Allemande

 

A white sauce – known as a German sauce, made from stock, mushrooms, thickened with flour, egg yolks and cream.

 

 

Ambre

 

A French cake flavoured with almonds, chocolate creme and walnuts.

 

Anchovy

 

A small fish up to 20 cm long, usually bought in oil, having been heavily salted.

 

Andouille

 

A French sausage , often with a combination of offal and meat.

 

Angelica

 

A plant whose seeds are used in cakes, often candied. The stalks are also candied and used in various desserts.

 

Angostura bitters

 

An addition to many cocktails such as pink gin, but can also be used on food. Originally used as a malaria aid, contains quinine.

 

Arak

 

A strong aniseed drink popular in the Middle East.

 

Arrowroot

 

The starch is extracted from a number of plants and used as a thickener, but is also useful for treating an upset stomach.

 

Artichoke – globe

 

A large ornamental thistle whose flower bracts are cooked and served with a dipping sauce.

 

Atrichoke – Jerusalem

 

A little like a potato, though with a different flavour, this is a member of the sunflower family and nothing to do with Jerusalem. Tubers are peeled and boiled and eaten as a vegetable.

 

Asparagus

 

This perennial plant throws out stalks each spring, and are collected fresh and cooked – regarded as a real delicacy. The stalks are often referred to as spears.

 

Aspic

 

Often referred to as the jelly used to preserve some foods, as found in a pork pie, but originally was a way of presenting food in a mould, stuck together with jelly.

 

Aubergine

 

A long rounded fruit used as a vegetable. Has a purple skin. Popular with tomatoes and courgettes, it is a delicately flavoured vegetable used in stews such as moussaka.

 

Avocado

 

A green pear shaped fruit used in salads and often cooked with seafood. From South America, but now cultivated all round the world. Used in guacamole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B

Bake

 

Cooking using hot air – usually using an oven. To bake blind is a way of baking pastry with little weights or pasta, so the pastry can take a flan.

 

Baking Powder

 

A powder of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar, mixed with flour. It acts as a raising agent in cakes and soda bread.

 

Baking sheet

 

A metal tray with a slight lip used to bake all kinds of non moulded bakes.

 

Bain Marie

 

A water bath used with hot water to keep cooked food warm, or to cook at a specific temperature, cooking very slowly, or can be used to melt certain ingredients like chocolate.

 

 

Baste

 

The action of adding liquid to food during the cooking process. Most commonly done when roasting meats to ensure it doesn’t dry out. To do it, spoon on pan drippings or a sauce at different stages during cooking.

 

Batter

 

A liquid made from flour and water or sometimes beer, for coating food that is about to be deep fried.

 

Bearnaise

 

A sauce made from egg yolks and reduced vinegar and heated with butter.

 

 

Beat

 

Vigorous mixing, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer. This combines all your ingredients together and gets air into the mixture. Usually used in baking.

 

Bechamel

 

A sauce made from thickened milk with flour (See roux)

 

 

Blanching

 

Placing an ingredient in boiling water, then removed after a short time and plunged into ice or cold water to stop the cooking process. Often used in cooking vegetables to ensure they remain crisp or don’t lose colour.

 

Broiled

 

The American term for grilling.

 

 

 

C

Caramelise

 

To cook something in order to turn the sugars present into caramel. Often done with onions, by heating slowly in a pan until they turn transluscent, sweet and brown. Caramelising sugar melts it and turns it brown, giving it the characteristic flavour.

 

 

Clarify

 

Often done with butter, clarifying is the art of removing the solids from a liquid in order to make it clear. With butter, melt it and spoon off the solids until you have a clear liquid.

 

 

Cream

 

Beating butter (and/or sugar) to change the texture slightly. Creaming butter melts it slightly, giving it a lighter, creamier appearance, hence the name.

D

Deglaze

 

The action of using a little water to loosen any stuck juices or flavour from a pan you’ve been using to cook in. The idea of deglazing is to capture every last bit of flavour, so rather than throwing this away, you use it in the dish, such as adding it to gravy or making a sauce.

 

 

Dice

 

Chopping food into small cubes or chunks.

E

Eclair

 

Small log shaped bun made from choux pastry often filled with cream and topped with chocolate.

 

Emulsion

 

A sauce or dish formed by combining one liquid in another – such as oil and water. Most soups are emulsions.

 

Empanada

 

A pie of meat or fish and spices, popular in Spain and South America.

 

F

Fillet

 

Taking meat from the bones, usually done with fish and meat.

 

 

Flambe

Using an alcohol in a sauce and setting it alight briefly to cook off the alcohol content.

 

 

Fold

Some recipes call for ingredients to be ‘folded’ in. This is a method of mixing in without releasing the air. To do it, take a metal spoon and ‘cut’ through the mixture, lift up and over, covering the ingredient to be incorporated.

G

Galantine

 

A dish made from pieces of meat often mixed with vegetables, wrapped an cooked into a shape. Often made from a boned chicken, rolled.

 

Ganache

 

A cream made with chocolate and fresh cream, used to fill soft centred chocolates and tarts.

 

Garnish

 

A final touch to a dish, often a piece or mix of salad or herbs. Not always eaten (unless you are hungry or greedy or you need to mop up some sauce).

 

Gazpacho

 

A soup mostly served cold often tomato based but usually has other vegetables and garnishes to go with it.

 

Gigot

 

A French cut  of meat that is usually termed a leg of lamb in the UK.

H

Haggis

 

A Scottish sausage made from offal such as heart, lung, liver, with oats and barley and spices. Very tasty, nutritious and inexpensive.

 

Ham

 

A leg of pork that has been cured. Sometimes cooked by boiling and roasting, sometimes air dried over a long period and eaten raw in thin slices.

 

Harissa

 

A sauce made from ground chili, garlic and coriander.

 

Hash

 

A stew of potatoes and meat, sometimes beef, corned beef, sometimes lamb. Can be also made from other meats and fish.

 

Hollandaise

 

A hot sauce made from egg yolks and butter.

 

I

Icing

 

A paste of fine sugar and water to cover cakes and buns.

 

Infusion

 

Soaking an ingredient or a number of ingredients in hot water so their flavour and nutrients dissolve. Tea is an example of an infusion.

 

J

Jambalaya

 

A speciality of New Orleans based on Spanish and French food, a little like a paella.

 

Julienne

 

Any kind of food cut into thin finger sized pieces.

 

Junket

 

A milk sweet dish set with rennet, used to be fed to people with certain illnesses. Flavoured with almonds and sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

K

Kebab

 

Middle Eastern dish of spiced meat on skewers, usually grilled. Sometimes served with salad in bread, sometimes served with soured cream.

 

Kefir

 

A kind of fermented milk drink that is somewhat sharp, a little like yoghurt but mostly more like a drink than a thickened food.

 

Ketchup

 

Various types of sauce, such as tomato, mushroom etc., which are combined with sugar and vinegar and used as a condiment or base for other sauces.

 

Kielbasa

 

A Polish sausage , usually spiced with garlic and herbs.

 

Kneading

 

Stretching and folding dough to make it smoother and make the gluten more elastic so the bread will rise more easily and uniformly.

 

Korma

 

A mildly spiced curry often flavoured with almonds, yoghurt and contains chicken or lamb.

 

 

 

L

Langoustine

 

the French term for Dublin Bay prawns. It is basically a young lobster, and in the UK the tail meat is sold as scampi.

 

Lard

 

Melted pork fat used as a cooking agent and ingredient in certain pastries, particularly pork pies.

 

Larding

 

The process of adding fat to certain cuts of meat to make them more tender and moist. Pieces of fat are pushed into cuts like venison with a long skewer like knife called a larding knife or larding needle.

 

Lardons

 

Pieces of bacon cured pork used to flavour sauces and other ingredients.

 

Loin

 

A cut of meat that includes some of the ribs. Often cut into chops, or served as a rack.

 

Lovage

 

A strongly flavoured herb used frequently in soups, sparingly because it is powerful, and gives a wonderful aroma.

 

M

Macaroni

 

A cylindrical pasta, originating in Naples. The American dish Mac and cheese has made this a world famous ingredient.

 

Macaroon

 

A biscuit about 2 inches round, often with an icing cover, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

 

Marinade

 

A liquid used to tenderise and flavour dishes, mostly meat. The ingredient is steeped in the liquid thus allowing the flavours to infuse and sometimes to change the nature of the meat.

 

Merangue

 

A confection of egg whites and sugar, cooked at very low heat.

N

Naan

 

Indian and South Asian bread, often includes yoghurt.

 

Noisette

 

A small round steak usually of lamb or mutton.

 

Nori

 

A sheet made from seaweed in which rice and fish is wrapped to make sushi.

 

 

 

O

Offal

 

The edible internal organs of an animal from kidneys to liver, heart, lung, brain, sweetbreads and blood.

 

Oregano

 

A herb also known as sweet basil. A favourite with tomato dishes.

 

P

Paella

 

A rice dish from Spain with a complex history. Examples include rabbit, chicken, seafood, prawn, usually flavoured with paprika and saffron.

 

Pancetta

 

Thinly sliced cured belly pork of Italian origin. Some versions are eaten raw, others not – so do be careful which you buy.

 

Paprika

 

A spice made from dried and ground peppers, also known as pimenton, and is used to flavour many dishes of Spanish and European origin.

 

 

 

Q

Queen Scallop

 

A small mollusc like the larger scallop, but much sweeter – often referred to as ‘queenies’.

 

Queso

 

Spanish for cheese, used a lot in Mexican cooking, where the cheese is softer and often spooned onto various foods.

 

Quiche

 

A tart make with beaten eggs and various fillings such as bacon, salmon, other fish.

 

R

Ragout

 

A stew of various meats not browned, but stewed a long time in a stock, with vegetables.

 

Ragu

 

A tomato based sauce with minced meats, usually beef and served with spaghetti all over the world, but with tagliateli in Bologna, the city of origin.

 

Raita

 

An Indian condiment made from yoghurt and cucumber and sometimes other vegetables.

 

Ramekin

 

A small pot for cooking all kinds of sweet and savoury dished to be served in the pot.

 

Ravioli

 

Italian dish of meat and cheese rolled into pasta.

 

Rennet

 

An enzyme used in the making of cheese and junket.

 

Roe

 

The  eggs of fish, some as caviar, some as cod’s roe. Very fishy, served on crackers or neat.

 

Rollmop

 

A herring fillet, boned and pickled in salt and vinegar, a favourite Scandinavian dish.

 

S

Saddle

 

A joint of the two connected loins.

Separating eggs

 

Separating the yolk of an egg from the white. It’s quite simple to do, but tricky when you’ve not done it before. Click here for a video on how it’s done.

 

T

Tabbouleh

 

A Middle Eastern salad which is based around wheat, but sometimes rice, with vegetables and lemon juice as well as various spices.

 

Tagliatelle

 

An egg pasta of thin pieces, sometimes coloured green with spinach. Supposed to resemble the hair of Lucretia Borgia.

 

Tapas

 

Spanish finger food often found in bars in Spain.

 

Tapenade

 

A condiment make from capers, anchovy, black olives and olive oil, crushed in a mortar.

 

 

U

Ugli

 

A tropical fruit from Asia, cooked for a long time because they are quite hard. Eaten with sugar, a citrus plant.

 

V

Vermicelli

 

Pasta in the form of thin strands. Used in soups and other dishes.

 

Vinaigrette

 

A dressing of vinegar, oil, pepper and salt, used on salads.

 

Vol-au-vent

 

A small casing of puff pastry which is then filled and often baked again, and a lid attached.

 

 

 

W

Waffle

 

A batter preparation cooked on hot metal, usually the buttered sides of a waffle iron. Eaten for breakfast with various fillings.

 

Wasabi

 

A japanese plant resembling watercress, whose root is very hot resembling horseradish.

 

Welsh rarebit

 

A Welsh toasted cheese dish of cheese, beer and mustard. Not just cheese on toast.

 

Worcestershire Sauce

 

A condiment made from fruits, spices, anchovies and is used to season all kinds of dishes.

 

X

Xavier

 

A creamed soup  thickened with arrowroot. Contains chicken and often served with small pancakes.

Y

Yeast

 

Single celled fungus which is used as a raising agent in bread and as the producer of alcohol in beer and wine.

 

Yoghurt

 

A milk preparation using bacteria to release acids that thicken the milk. Used in cooking and also eaten as a dessert.

 

Yorkshire Pudding

 

The most important part of a Sunday roast. Made from a flour batter with eggs and  milk, it is then baked in very hot fat – usually lard.

Z

Zabaglioni

 

An Italian dessert of egg yolks, wine and sugar, gently heated.

 

Zuppa Inglese

 

A kind of Italian trifle with sponge, alcohol, confectioner’s custard and cream.