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  Cooking Terms

A term used when you are assembling ingredients to make a dish or recipe. Usually a mixing bowl or larger container is selected in the first place to allow the collection of ingredients to combine without spilling.

To mix together ingredients quickly with rapid motion and usually with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer. It is normally in order to trap some air into a mixture and make the end product light and open in texture


Blanching is the immersing of products into freshly boiling water. Sometimes this is carried out pre-freezing to prevent off-colours developing during frozen storage. Peas and runner beans are blanched to retain their lovely green colour when frozen. Some products are blanched to help the removal of their skins such as tomatoes or peaches.

Usually means mixing water with another ingredient. Sometimes it is corn flour that had to be blended with water (when making a sauce) and this means using a wooden spoon or the back of a wooden spoon to crush the lumps and make the mixture smooth. Using a Blender means to use a stick blender or a food processor to make a smooth mixture from one that is initially lumpy such as when making a soup. The amount of blending will cause the result to be partially lumpy or very smooth like a puree.

Using a knife to reduce the size of ingredients such as potatoes or onions. This aids the cooking by reducing the time to cook. The size of chopping is controlled by the terms ‘finely’ for small chopping; or into quarters for products like potatoes. Chop into florets means to cut the natural form such as a broccoli head or a cauliflower into pieces that have the stalk and flower and are as regular in size as is possible. The art of chopping is highly regarded and needs careful practise.

This term can mean the use of a knife or the use of scissors. Cutting means products are reduced in size. This can be to aid quicker cooking or just to portion the product and make it easier to mix with other ingredients. Cut can be helped by instructions such as ‘in half’ or ‘into quarters’. ( also see Snipping)

After slicing the product can be further cut. Each slice can be chopped into strips and the strips cut across to produce small cubes. All sides of diced ingredients can be cooked and will absorb flavours and give out their flavours to other ingredients

Egg and crumb
This is a method of coating food to protect it during cooking giving a crisp and crunchy golden coating to the food. The crumbs can be bread, cornflakes crushed up, oatmeal or semolina.

A slower method of adding flour to a cake mixture usually carried out with a metal spoon or a spatula in a figure of eight style movement.

Food Styling
Making food products appear more exciting and enticing by presenting them in styled containers or with props that are appropriate. Food styling is usually carried out for food photography but the principles apply to serving food in a stylish way

Many products are glazed. Glazing improves the out surface of a product by making is shiny, richer in colour or sweeter. Commonly an egg and milk ‘wash’ can be brushed on to pastry and scones. Water with salt is a glaze that can be applied to bread rolls to give a crunchy crust and apricot jam sieved and made more runny with boiled water can be applied to flans, fruit tarts, currant buns and pastry to give a shine and a gloss that remains after cooking and cooling. Meats can be glazed using gravy and a little sugar and mustard. Glazed roasted ham uses apricot jam to provide the shine and caramelised layer to the surface. Pate often has a glaze of butter to prevent the surface drying out and the colour darkening. Glazes are edible outer layers that make products look more appetising.

A food ingredient can be grated by hand or in a food processor with a grater attachment. Grating is a way of reducing the ingredient into small slivers that will cook quickly, melt, mix or become easier to eat. Graters have different sizing from very fine for lemon zest, parmesan cheese grating or larger sizes for cheddar and carrots or apples. Ready grated products help the consumer and are popular now – ready grated cheeses in particular.

A way of helping to give flavours to an ingredient such as milk. Rose leaves or black peppercorns, bay leaves or vanilla pods can be allowed to stand in milk for a period of time to infuse the milk with their flavours. They are then removed and are not part of the final dish. Fruit infusions are now a popular tea substitute – the flavoured water is infused using a ‘bag’ which is then removed.

A special technique where the knuckles of your hands work a dough to make it smoother perhaps in readiness to roll out. In breadmaking kneading is more vigorous and will stretch the dough and make it elastic.

A method of immersing or soaking food products in a flavoursome mixture known as a marinade. This adds flavour, sometimes colour and sometimes helps the tenderness of the product. For example, you can marinate chicken in yoghurt, sausages in soy and balsamic vinegar.

Traditionally a potato masher is used even if you are mashing peas, parsnips or swede. Some chefs now ’smash’ ingredients using the end of a rolling pin giving a texture mash (soft lumps) rather than a smooth end product.

To combine ingredients together, until they do not separate. Usually using a spoon or wooden spoon and at a steady rate to avoid spillage.

Peeling is a process by which the outer, inedible layer of an ingredient is removed. Historically potatoes were peeled prior to cooking and there are many different types of peelers – fixed blade peelers (the Lancashire peeler) and swivel bladed peelers. A small vegetable knife can also be used for peeling and with improving skill a very thin layer can be peeled from fruits and vegetables to help them cook more evenly or have improved mouth feel.

Even today the rolling pin is still vital in the kitchen. Rolling out make dough thinner so that it can line tins and will cook to crispness

Seasoning is an art that needs to be practised. It marks a great chef from an ordinary cook. Initially salt and pepper were ‘the seasonings’ that every cook used. Seasoning brings out the natural flavour of the food products. It is not the dominant flavour. Now we know about global cuisines the range of seasonings coming from herbs and spices and other ingredients are increasing and ‘non-seasoned’ food is hard to find. Developing seasonings has become a big food industry as flavour additions are created artificially and using natural mixtures and are added to plain flavoured products such as potatoes. Nowadays it is hard to think of having only plain crisps. Understanding and developing skills in seasoning food requires the knowledge and understanding of the effect of many ingredients and how they change and develop on cooking.

To use a utensil such as a spoon to move the ingredients in order to mix them or to prevent sticking on the base of a pan, or to aid thickening to a smooth end result.

To cut across an ingredient such as a tomato. Slices can be thick or thin. Pre-slicing is a way of making food more convenient for the cook and is commonly seen with bread, cheeses, hams and pre-cooked meats.

Snipping is a term that indicates the choice of kitchen scissors. It is an easy way for products such as chives where small pieces can easily be added to salads.

To fry off in butter or oil using a pan on the hob. Sometimes a lid is used after the initial stage to prevent too much moisture loss. Sweating is a newer name for the process of sautéing. It is used when flavours need to be developed and texture needs to be softened but the browning process is not needed.
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