Common and uncommon cooking terms and what they mean.
A la Carte – A menu item prices separately from the meal.
A la Minute – A food item that is prepared to order rather than ahead of time.
Al Dente – Refers to the doneness of pasta. Doneness is when you bite into the pasta and you feel some resistance and tenderness at once.
Age – Days, weeks, or months in which meat, wines, or cheeses is allowed to get older in controlled conditions to affect flavor and texture of the final product.
Au Jus – A roasted meat served in its own juices.
Au Sec – A liquid that has been reduced until it’s nearly dry.
Bain-Marie – A container filled with hot water that is used during the cooking process, or water bath for creme brulee or cheesecake.
Bake – To cook in dry heat, such as in an oven.
Baste – To moisten the surface or a roasting item (usually meat) with a chosen flavorful liquid periodically during cooking time.
Beat – To mix rapidly until smooth.
Béchamel – A simple white sauce made from milk and roux
Bitters – Alcoholic beverages flavored with herbs, fruit, etc to produce a bitter flavor.
Blanch – To briefly immersed item in boiling water.
Blend – To mix 2 or more ingredients thoroughly.
Boil – When a liquid reaches its highest possible temperature of 212°F, identified with rapid bubbles at the liquid’s surface.
Bouquet Garni – A bundle of herbs and aromatics tied within a leek layer and or with twine to give stock more flavor and aroma.
Brine – A liquid heavily impregnated with salt and other flavorful profiles (or a ratio of salt to meat mixed with herbs in cases of dry brine) used to tenderize and moisten meat for cooking via the process of osmosis.
Broil – To cook an item by exposing it to direct, intense radiant heat.
Capon – A castrated rooster.
Caramelize – When sugars (natural or additional granulated) are heated to temperatures of 300°F or higher, causing them to turn brown.
Clarify – To remove unwanted water or solids from a fat using heat.
Consommé – A flavorful soup made by concentrating and clarifying stock.
Cream – To beat a fat until smooth and airy, often butter for baking. Also a dairy product.
Cure – To preserve meats by drying, salting, smoking, or a combination.
Deglaze – To add liquid to a pan in order to loosen and dissolve food particles or chard bits left on the bottom, usually to make an accompanying sauce.
Degrease – To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock.
Dice – To cut food into small cubes.
Dredge – To coat in flour or bread crumbs.
Drizzle – Gingerly pouring a thin constant stream of liquid into or onto something.
Dust – Sprinkling dry ingredients onto another food item.
Emulsion – A mixture of two liquids that would ordinarily not mix together, accomplished with a slow steady stream of one liquid into another with quick and constant beating.
En Croute – A food wrapped in pastry dough and then baked in the oven.
En Papillote – A cooking method using moist heat with food wrapped with
Espagnole – One of the 5 mother sauces, a brown sauce.
Fillet – A boneless cut of meat.
Flambé – When alcohol is added in a hot pan and set on fire.
Fold – To carefully incorporate delicate, airy ingredients into a batter by not mixing or compromising any air bubbles.
Fricassee – To cook meat in fat at a lower temperature so that it does not brown before braising, creating a white stew.
Fry – To cook in a generous amount of hot fat.
Garnish – To decorate a dish with herbs, cheese, nuts, etc to enhance appearance and flavor.
Glace – A thick syrup-like reduction of stock which is in turn used to flavor other sauces.
Glaze – Combine sugar, water, and other flavors into a consistency thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but thin enough to be liquid, to dip or drizzle on food.
Gratin – “Crust”, referring to baked goods when the surface browns, such as with cheese, bread, cream, etc.
Grill – A piece of cooking equipment which refers to the use of open dry heat to cook and usually slightly char food items.
Grind – To reduce to as tiny as possible, powder, granulate, etc.
Hollandaise – One of the 5 mother sauces, an egg yolk based sauce.
Jus – Pan drippings of roasted meat which may be enhanced by deglazing with stock and then simmering with mirepoix.
Knead – To work dough for the purpose of developing the glutens in the flour.
Liaison – A mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream used to thicken a sauce.
Marinate – To allow food items to sit and soak in dry herbs or flavorful liquid for a period of time before cooking.
Meuniere – Dredged in flour and fried in butter, sauce can be made from this as well.
Mince – To chop food very fine.
Mirepoix – A combination of chopped 25% carrots, 25% celery and 50% onions used to add flavor and aroma to broths and other foods.
Parbroil – To blanch or partially cook, usually followed with ice bath to halt further cooking.
Pare – To remove outer skin.
Peel – To remove outer peel.
Pickle – To preserve in a brine.
Pit – To remove inner pit or seed.
Poach – To cook food straight into liquid at 140°F to 180°F (not boil).
Puree – To mash food into a soft, somewhat liquid consistency.
Reduce – Decrease volume, usually liquid by evaporation, using heat.
Remouillage – A weak stock made by simmering bones already used in a stock.
Render – Using low heat to melt solid fat and remove any unwanted “impurities”, such as any attached meat, into a pure fat for cooking.
Rest – To allow meat to remain untouched after cooking process is over to allow for more juicy results for a period of time. Ideally the rest time for any meat is for as long as it was cooked.
Ripe Test – After a bread’s second rise, indent the dough with a finger. If the dent remains the dough is ready to bake.
Roast – Using dry heat to cook and caramelize the outer layer, skin, etc of food.
Rolling Boil – A boil that does not subside when stirred.
Roux – An equal mixture of fat and flour, used for thickening sauces and soups.
Saute – To cook and brown in a small amount of fat.
Scald – To bring just below boiling point.
Score – To shallowly cut or mark for the purpose of expansion or absorption.
Sear – To brown very quickly in high heat.
Separate – As in eggs, to remove the yolk from the white membrane.
Skim – To gently remove unwanted foam or fat from the surface of a cooking liquid, such as broth.
Slurry – A mixture of cornstarch and liquid to thicken without causing clumps.
Smoke – A dry method of cooking using the smoke from wood to infuse the food with a woody aroma and taste.
Sous Vide – A method of cooking food in air-tight bags in a hot water bath for long periods of time.
Steam – The use of water vapor to cook.
Steep – To extract colors and flavors by allowing an item to rest in a liquid that was brought just below boiling boil, off heat source.
Sweat – To cook an item in a small amount of fat with low heat until it appears glossy and tender.
Truss – To secure with string and help maintain shape.
Whip – To beat until light and fluffy.
Velouté – One of the 5 mother sauces. A white sauce, slightly darker than Béchamel.
Some simple cooking substitutes and DIY formulas to get you through those pantry shortages.
This list is ever growing as I remember/come across substitutes!
Baking Powder – 1 tsp baking soda + 2 tsp cream of tartar, blend well.
Bread Crumbs – Rice Crispy. Crushed Corn Flakes. Crushed Croutons.
Brown Sugar – 1 cup white sugar + 1/4 cup molasses.
Butter – 1 cup = 1 cup lard. 1 cup shortening.
Buttermilk – Just under 1 cup milk (almond, cow, cream, etc) + 1 TBSP white vinegar. Let sit 5 min.
Catchup – 1 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup sugar + 2 TBSP vinegar.
Cheese – For taste = 1 TBSP sun butter + 1 tsp vinegar + 1/2 tsp lemon juice + salt + pinch garlic powder + paprika, mix well and spread. 1 1/2 cups cashew butter + 1 tsp salt + 1/4 cup lemon juice + 1/4 cup water, blend together until smooth.
Corn Syrup (dark) – 1 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup water.
Corn Syrup (light) – 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water.
Eggs – 1 chicken egg = 5 quail eggs. 1/3 cups applesauce. 1 TBSP Flax seed meal + 3 TBSP Water, sit 5-10 min. 1/2 banana, mashed well. 3 TBSP pureed fruit. 1 TBSP gelatin + 3 TBSP warm water. 1 TBSP chia seeds, ground + 3 TBSP water, sit 5-10 min.
Evaporated Milk – Light cream. 2/3 cup powdered milk + 3/4 cup water. 2 cups milk, heat to 155-160°F until reduced by half (overnight in crockpot) OR about 10 minutes on high heat on stove, stir constantly.
Flour (wheat/rye) – No/low carb/gluten free = Almond flour. Buckwheat flour. Coconut flour. Flax meal. Hazelnut flour. Higher carbs/gluten free = Arrowroot powder. Potato flour. Rice flour. Tapioca flour.
Lard – 1 cup = 1 cup butter. 1 cup shortening. 1 cup vegetable oil.
Honey – 1 cup = 3/4 cup agave. 1 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 water. 3/4 cup maple syrup.
Mayonnaise – 1 cup = 1 cup sour cream. 1 cup plain yogurt.
Milk – Almond milk. Soy milk. Hazelnut milk. Flax seed milk. Sun milk. Rice milk. 1 cup = 1/4 cup dry milk powder + 1 cup water. 2/3 cup evaporated milk + 1/3 cup water. For taste = 1/2 cup flax seed milk + 1/4 plain almond milk.
Molasses – 1 cup = 3/4 cup brown sugar + 1 tsp cream of tartar.
Onion – Shallots. Scallion. Leeks.
Rice – Barley. Bulgur. Couscous. Farro. Gluten free = Quinoa. Gluten/Carb free = Cauliflower, grated.
Self-Rising Flour – 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt, mix well.
Shallots – Scallion. Leeks. Onion.
Shortening – 1 cup = 1 cup butter. 1 cup lard.
Soy Sauce – 4 TBSP Worcestershire sauce + 1 TBSP water.
Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1 cup white sugar + 1 1/2 cups milk, mid-high heat until sugar dissolves, lower heat and let reduce until thick.
Syrup – 1 cup water + 1 cup sugar, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Honey. Agave.
I thought I would take a moment to touch on food safety. As a housewife it’s crucial to know how to properly store food and cook them to proper internal temperatures to avoid getting our family sick.
Only cook thawed meat for the “low and slow” method. Higher temperatures (325°F and above) will successfully kill off any bacteria by decreasing the time-span of the “Danger Zone” where bacteria rapidly grows. That temperature is between 40°F and 140°F, which includes room temperature. Do not leave frozen food out of the fridge for more than 2 hours or 1 if room temperature is 90°F and above.
Double the time of cooking frozen food. It will be safe. Slow cooking frozen should be avoided if at all possible.
Safely Thawing Food
This is a very long process. At least 24 hours should be taken into account for every 5lbs of meat. It will take longer if your fridge is set to 35°F rather than 40°F. Avoid areas of the fridge that tend to be colder. For me that is usually a corner in the top shelf.
Allow meat to thaw in it’s own container (such as a glass bowl or Tupperware) to contain any juice that may run off. Thaw below other food to avoid cross contamination. Segregate it as much as possible. Once thawed ground meat, poultry, and seafood will remain safe for 24-48 hours before cooking. Red meat will stay safe for 3 to 5 days before cooking.
This is a faster method than the latter but requires more attention and equipment. You will need a leak proof vessel for this. I use a bucket from home depot and a clean trash liner. You can get a food grade bucket from restaurant supply stores or restaurants around town. Fill the vessel every 30 minutes with cold water. Keep the vessel covered between water changes.
Time 30-60 minutes per pound of flesh.
Refrigerate or freeze left overs within 2 hours after cooking. Don’t consume left overs from the fridge that are over 4-5 days old. Always bring soups and broths to a boil for 5 minutes before serving and other left overs to an internal temperature of 165°F.
In The Fridge
Top Level – Prepared Food
Second Level – Fruits and Vegetables
Third Level – Seafood
Fourth Level – Red Meat
Fifth Level – Ground Meat
Bottom Level – Poultry
Unwashed farm fresh eggs can be stored on the kitchen counter (this is how they do it on farms and in some places in Europe). Commercial eggs are washed so the protective cuticle layer is removed which allows for faster spoilage. Some long term storage tips for eggs it to dip them in wax or lard.
Pay attention to your foods’ shelf life, in the pantry and in the fridge. Expiration, Best By, and Use By dates mean different things.
Expiration is no longer good and should not be consumed.
Best By is a suggested date to ensure freshness of shelf-stable items.
Use By is the same as Best By.
Sell By is for the store to sell items by; assumed to be stored in the home for a maximum of a couple days before consumed. Consume as soon as possible to ensure freshness and try not to consume more than a couple days past the Sell By date.
The shelf life of eggs is about 1 months and some change. If you look at the carton stamp There is a 3 digit code before a 3 letter abbreviation of the month. Those 3 digits are the packages by date (which is within a couple days of having been laid). The month and following numbers are the store’s Sell By date.
Here is a great source for food storage from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
Some much needed ratios to get you through the agony of creating your own unique recipes without messing them up.
3 tsp = 1 TBSP
1 oz = 2 TBSP = 28.34 g
1 packet Active Dry Yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 oz
Volume to Weight
All-Purpose Flour 1 cup = 4.5 oz
Roasting Unstuffed @ 350°F
Roast @350°F 22 minutes per lb.
Cook Pork Shoulder
@325°F for 16-20 minutes per lb until 135°F in center.
For Crispy @400°F for about 20 minutes until golden.
Add enough cold water to cover eggs about 1 inch. Set medium-high heat and as soon as water simmers rapidly, adjust heat to maintain and start timing.