When you are first learning how to cook, you are likely using recipes. And in those recipes, perhaps some of the lingo has thrown you off a little bit. Knowing what these useful cooking terms mean and how to master them will help you grow into a fantastic home cook with a little practice. Here are seven cooking terms that every gal out there should know so she can find her way around any kitchen.
Unless it is listed under your list of ingredients for a recipe, “cream” does not mean that thicker, richer milk. The term “cream” simply means taking a soft ingredient and blending it with a dry one.
For example, in many baking recipes, you will see things like, “Cream the butter and sugar.” You will simply be employing your mixer to take those two ingredients and blend them together until they create a smooth paste.
If “fold” makes you think of laundry, then you would better read this. In cooking terminology, folding is very different from mixing. When you fold something in cooking, you are taking a heavier substance, such as a batter and then folding it into something much lighter, like a mixture of beaten egg whites. Folding helps produce layers and is done so gently, while stirring and mixing brings everything completely together.
Saute by definition means “to fry quickly in a little bit of hot fat.” This is done in a very shallow pan that ideally should have a heavy bottom. Your stovetop should be set to a high heat. This is not the same as frying food. For frying, the food needs to become crispy. For sauteing, the food needs to be softened, like onions, celery, and garlic as the base for a soup.
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Sear is not the same as the store in the old mall. It is the process of quickly cooking meat or fish over high heat. It is not meant for completely finishing the dish, but rather, to lock in the juices prior to baking or roasting. With meats, it is especially important for that perfect flavor. When you sear your meats first, you will wind up with a juicier and tastier culinary creation.
Braising is one method that follows searing. After searing your meat, you will braise it, or cook it until it is finished in a broth or sauce. The result renders a moist and flavorful offering, and is quite common in the preparation of French cuisine.
No, I am not talking about that saucy Golden Girl. Blanching simply means that you start the cooking of an item in a hot liquid. Just quickly dipping your asparagus into hot water will blanch it, giving it a greener color and making it tender. To remove skins from tomatoes, blanching is an easy way to accomplish this.
Ever have Eggs Benedict? The eggs are poached, which means they are added, sans shell, into boiling water. You can do this with fish as well by cooking it in sauce or broth as opposed to frying it or baking.
Are there any cooking terms that confused you in the beginning of your cooking adventures that are not on this list? Tell us!