I have come to realize that many people are mystified with many of the cooking terms they hear on cooking shows or see within a recipe. I remember the days when I began cooking and stumbled upon a foreign (usually French) term that made me stop in my tracks, and often try to find an alternate recipe. On this page I will take the Cleaver to the Culinary Conundrums….say that 5 times fast! Following are a list of some of the most beguiling of cooking terms. I will be adding to this list often so feel free to check back :)
Affriander- a French term that means to garnish or make something look appealing (say it- you’ll sound astute)
Astute- hahahahh just kidding
Aioli- broken down it is ail (for garlic) and oli (for oil). A homemade mayonnaise in my world.
Al Dente- a term referring to the doneness of pasta. It mean toothsome, which in my world translates into the stage right before the kids can toss it to the ceiling and watch it stick. (you’re thinking about tossing pasta now aren’t you)
Au Gratin- ohhh I shouldn’t love this one, but my tummy tells me too! It is the wonderful act of sprinkling cheese and/or breadcrumbs on a dish before baking.
Blanch- to cook something for a very quick period of time.
Bouquet Garni- yep, this one used to make me turn the pages of my recipe books and search for a different recipe. It’s really nothing more than parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, tied up in a little cheesecloth package and tossed into whatever your cooking. Seasons a dish nicely, and easy to pull the whole shootin-match out by the string.
Chiffonade- an ingredient sliced in very thin strips, usually a garnish.
Coddling- more than just spoiling your baby! This is cooking something very gently right below the boiling point, eggs are the most typical ingredient to coddle.
Coulis- a thin puree of fruit
Deglaze- getting the crud off the bottom of the pan by adding stock or wine.
Haricots Verts- you know when dogs turn their heads sideways and look at you funny? That’s what I used to do when I heard a chef say Haricots Vert (pronounced Air Co Vare)! It’s a green bean, a tiny and thin one, but a green bean nonetheless.
Hor d’ Oeuvre- my kids have grown up calling them Horsey Doovers…Any little appetizer you want to fancy up, call it an Hor d’ Oeuvre
Julienne- to cut vegetables or meat into very thin matchstick pieces.
Jus- Be careful this is not JUS a gravy or sauce. This is something JUS shy of heavenly! It consists of the natural juses (ok ok I’ll stop) JUICES from meat!
Lardons- strips of bacon or salt pork
Mirepoix- the cooking trinity…a base to so many dishes! A combination of diced carrot, onion, and celery- or if you ask me, the best air freshener in the world!
Mise en Place- simply means “everything in place”. This refers to prep work…chopping your vegetables and spices, preparing sauces, and readying all other ingredients for your recipe.
Papillote- cooking of food in a parchment paper package.
Ramekin- a small round or oval baking dish.