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Culinary Terms Study Guide

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Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Culinary Terms Practice Exercises

Are you a whiz in the kitchen? Does everyone want to come to your house for dinner? Do you create your own gourmet meals? If so, you may already be quite familiar with all the terms in this lesson. But if you're confused and frustrated when you pick up a cookbook and the recipes ask you to do things you've never heard of, then this lesson should be quite helpful. It presents some of the most common cooking terms and methods; the next time you pick up a cookbook, you'll have a better idea of what you're attempting to do.

DEFINITIONS

  • baste   to spoon or brush food as it cooks with some form of fat (butter, meat drippings, oils) or stock; usually done in order to keep meat from drying out
  • blanch   to plunge food into boiling water briefly and then into cold water to stop further cooking; usually done to loosen skins (fruits and vegetables), heighten color, or concentrate flavor
  • braise   to briefly cook meat or vegetables in fat, then cook in a covered pot with a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time; usually done to tenderize food and develop flavors
  • cruciferous   a group of vegetables that contain antioxidants and are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and turnips
  • cuisine   a French term that means "a specific style of cooking," such as French cuisine or Spanish cuisine; also used in haute cuisine, which means gourmet food
  • dilute   to reduce a mixture's strength by adding liquid such as stock, juice, or water
  • dredge   to lightly coat food before it's fried, usually with flour, cornmeal, or bread crumbs
  • flambé   French term that means flamed; to sprinkle foods with liquor and ignite it right before serving
  • julienne   to cut foods into very thin strips, often used with vegetables to create an attractive garnish
  • marinate   to soak food (usually meat or vegetables) in a seasoned liquid mixture to absorb the flavors and spices; also used to tenderize meats
  • parboil   to partially cook food by boiling it briefly in water, usually done with very hard foods like carrots, which take longer to cook than others
  • poach   to cook food gently in liquid just below the boiling point but hot enough so the water's surface begins to move; commonly stock, salted water, and syrup are used, depending on the type of food
  • reconstitute   to return a dehydrated food to its original consistency or texture by adding a liquid, typically water
  • roux   a mixture of flour and fat cooked slowly over low heat, then used to thicken soups and sauces; typically the roux is white or brown, depending on the type of fat used
  • score   to make shallow cuts on the surface of food for decoration, flavor absorption, tenderizing, or to allow fat to drain
  • sear   to brown meat quickly over very high heat in a skillet or under a broiler; usually done to seal in the meat's juices
  • semifreddo   an Italian term for half cold, it refers to chilled or partially frozen desserts
  • skewer   as a noun, it means a long, thin, pointed stick, usually made of metal or wood and used to hold meat and vegetables in place while grilling; as a verb, to use one of these sticks
  • unleavened   baked goods that contain no agents that cause dough to rise, such as baking powder, baking soda, or yeast.
  • zest   the outermost skin layer of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes, scraped off with a vegetable peeler or zester; used to flavor dishes or as a garnish

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Culinary Terms Practice Exercises

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