A list of culinary terms you might see in my blog and elsewhere. This list is constantly being updated and edited as my kitchen world expands.
À la carte – A menu term signifying that each item is priced separately.
Al dente – pasta, rice or beans that have been cooked to be firm but not hard
Albumin – The protein portion of the egg white. It’s also found in milk, plants, seeds, and animal blood.
Allemande – Veloute sauce thickened with egg yolks
Au jus – Roasted meats, poultry or game served with their own natural juices
Bain Marie – A hot water bath, used for cooking or storing hot foods
Baton – A knife cut with the dimensions 2″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″
Batonnet – A knife cut with the dimensions 2″ x 1/4″ x1/4 ”
Béchamel – One of the 5 mother sauces; it consists of white roux, milk, a pinch of nutmeg and half an onion garnished with a bay leaf held in place by a clove
Beurrage – butter inside of puff pastry
Beurre – French for “butter”
Blanc – French for “white”
Blanching – When food is added to boiling water for a short time and them moved immediately to an ice bath to halt the cooking process.
Blind Baking – “Full” or “Partial” blind baking cooks dough in advance of adding ingredients that cook at a different temperature (such as quiche). Dried beans are often used when blind baking to hold the dough in place.
Bouquet Garni – Fresh thyme, bay leaf and parsley, often tied together with butchers twine or cheesecloth.
Braising – A combination cooking method using both wet and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with liquid
Brunoise – Cut from a julienne; 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″
Caramelize – The process of cooking sugars. The browning of sugar enhances the flavor and appearance of food.
Cartouche – A lid made from parchment paper cut to the size of the pot and placed directly against the food. A cartouche allows food items to steam (etuve). Often lined with butter.
Cheesecloth – a light, fine mesh gauze used to strain liquids and make sachets
Chiffonade – Thin strips or shreds of vegetables used as a garnish
Chinois – A cone-shaped, fine mesh strainer used for straining and pureeing foods
Clarified Butter – Butter with the milk solids removed. Clarified butter has a high smoke point, while regular butter will burn at lower temperatures.
Choron – Bearnaise sauce with tomato puree
Concassé – A mixture that is coarsely chopped or ground, the classic version comprising of tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and chopped
Confit – An ancient method of preserving meat (usually duck, pork or goose) in its own fat. Confit can be refrigerated for up to 6 months. A variation, fruit confit, is preserved in sugar.
Deglaze – After food has been sauteed and removed from the pan along with excess fat, a small amount of liquid (usually stock, wine or water) is added to the pan and stirred to remove browned bits of food (aka glaze/fond). The glaze is often then used in a sauce that accompanies the food.
Détrempe – puff pastry dough
Egg Wash – Eggs beaten and mixed with a bit of milk or water, used to coat doughs before baking to add shine and color
Emulsion – A mixture of two un-mixable liquids, such as oil and vinegar
Espagnole – One of the 5 mother sauces; brown stock thickened with brown roux and seasoned with mirepoix, bouquet garni and tomato puree. Often the base of demi-glace
Etuve – To steam
Fabricate – To cut a larger portion of raw meat, poultry or fish into smaller, more manageable pieces
Fraisage – Taking small amounts of dough and pushing it thin against a surface to incorporate butter
Fumet – Fish stock
Glaze – The brown bits of food that build up on the bottom of the pan when caramelizing. Glaze, also known as fond, is the base for many French sauces
Gratin – Any dish topped with cheese and/or breadcrumbs and baked in the oven to achieve a brown crust on top
Gruyere – A delicious Swiss cheese used frequently in French cooking
Haricot verts – French for green beans. French green beans are longer and thinner than most American varieties. They are also more tender and have a more complex flavor.
Hollandaise – One of the 5 mother sauces; made from egg yolk, clarified butter, lemon juice and seasoning
Homogenization – A process that prevents milk fat from separating out of milk products
Julienne – A knife cut with the dimensions 2″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″
Lardon – diced bacon
Liason – A mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream used to thicken sauces at the end
Meunière – both a sauce and a method of preparation. To cook something à la meunière means to cook it by first dredging it in flour. A meunière sauce is brown butter, chopped parsley, and lemon.
Mirepoix – A mixture of 50% onion, 25% carrots and 25% celery, used to flavor an assortment of dishes
Mise en Place – A French term meaning “Everything in it’s place.” It’s the process of organizing and measuring out ingredients before cooking
Monter Au Beurre – Adding whole butter to a sauce to give it shine, flavor and richness
Mornay – Cheese sauce made from Béchamel
Mouthfeel – How a food or liquid feels in the mouth
Nappe – A consistency of sauce that covers the back of a spoon
Oignon Pique -A bay leaf tacked with a clove to half a peeled onion. Used for seasoning soups and sauces.
Oeufs – French for “eggs”
Panade – A thick dough
Peler a Vif – To remove the peel and pith from a citrus fruit
Pith – The pale, spongy inner layer of citrus rind, located just below the zest
Potage – A formal soup
Quenelle – A dumpling, shaped by using 2 spoons
Remoulade – A mayonnaise-based sauce
Robert Sauce – Reduced sauce of sweated chopped onions, white wine, vinegar, pepper
Roux – A thickening agent made from equal parts by weight flour and fat (usually clarified butter). There are 3 classic types of roux: white, blond, and brown. You should combine hot roux and cold liquid or cold roux and hot liquid.
Sautoir – A saute pan with flat sides and a single, long handle
Smoke Point – The stage at which heated fat begins to smoke. The higher the smoke point, the better the fat is for frying
Tempering – Gradually incorporating a hot liquid into a cold ingredient (such as eggs or chocolate)
Tomato Sauce – One of the 5 mother sauces; it is made from white stock thickened with blond or brown roux, with mirepoix, bouquet garni and tomatoes
Tourner – To cut football-shaped pieces with equal sides and flat ends
Umami – The 5th element of flavor after bitter, salty, sour, sweet. It’s loosely translated from Japanese as “savory” or “delicious.” Sources of umami are typically high in glutamate. Some examples are cheeses, meats, soy sauce, stocks and mushrooms.
Veloute – One of the 5 mother sauces; it is made from white stock thickened with white roux
Zest – The thin outer layer of a citrus fruit