Have you ever been confused about terms that are used in a recipe? What is the difference between creaming and beating? How can you tell when egg whites are soft peaks or when they are hard peaks? Here are some common cooking terms and what they mean:
- Al dente – this is a term for pasta that is cooked tender but slightly firm.
- Beat – mixing foods thoroughly to a smooth consistency.
- Braise – to cook gently in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan.
- Cream – to incorporate air into the butter, margarine or vegetable shortening and sugar. When creaming have the fat at room temperature and beat at medium speed until light and airy. The result will be a light fine grained texture.
- Deglazing – adding a liquid (wine, broth etc.) to remove the bits of caramelized pieces left in a pan after cooking meat. This is the start of a great sauce or gravy.
- Emulsify – this means to mix two ingredients together that don’t normally combine well like vinegar and oil. Whisk one ingredient very slowly into the other to emulsify.
- Firm or stiff peaks – continue beating until the volume increases and becomes thick. When the beaters are raised the peaks should stay straight up even if you tilt the bowl.
- Fold – using a rubber spatula and an over and under motion to combine ingredients without knocking out the air. Add the light ingredient like egg whites to the heavier ingredients and gently fold the mixture over top of itself to combine. Rotating the pan as you fold helps to mix the ingredients without over mixing.
- Julienne – to cut food into long thin strips similar to matchsticks. Carrots are quite often julienned.
- Parboil – to cook a vegetable until it is partially cooked.
- Pare – to remove the peeling or skin on a fruit or vegetable
- Pulse – this means to turn a food processor on and off in very short bursts
- Scald – this is to heat a liquid only until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the mixture. Not to boiling.
- Sear – browning the meat in a hot pan quickly to seal in the meat juices.
- Soft peaks – beating on medium speed until the meringue or cream peaks fold over when the beater is lifted out.
If you have a term that you are not sure what it means let us know and we will be glad to explain it to you. We are only a phone call or email away!