Having a nice meal last night and got chatting with my Dad, and he quizzed me on what I meant by certain “cheffy” words. So I promised him a glossary and here it is! I will add more when I use them in the blog.
Al dente– means firm to the bite. If pasta or rice is under cooked, when you bite into it. you will get a chalky/grainy texture. BUT when cooked to Al dente you will have all the firmness with out that horridness.
Adjust seasoning – all food is made tastier by using salt, this happens by letting the food release the aromas which affect our tastebuds. Also it reduces the bitter taste. When we say adjust seasoning, it simply means to add salt until the food becomes more tasty. The level of adjustment is down to you.
Aromatics – Herbs, spices or vegetables, that are cooked in oil as a base for the flavor of a dish. Cooking them in oil helps to release their flavors and aromas, creating a deeper flavor foundation for dishes.
Blanch – Quickly immersing vegetables or fruit into boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes then into cold water to stop the cooking process. There is a two-fold reason. Firstly, to stop the enzymes action that leads to loss of colour, texture and flavour. Secondly, to kill or the bacteria. This is a must when you are wishing to freeze foods.
Boiling – will involve the loss of water as the liquid is above 100ºC. Used for reducing stocks and sauces.
Caramelize – Heating sugar or foods containing sugar over moderate heat with constant stirring to develop a brown colour. This browning process contributes to the flavour of foods.
Catch or Catching- when the food starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. remove from the heat and stir before putting back on the heat
Deglaze – after you have cooked meats or veggies on a high heat, bit of the meats stick to the bottom of the pan. These bits of browned meats or veggies contain a lot of flavour. Deglazing is simply using water, wine or stock to remove these from the bottom of the pan and return the flavour to the pan. The other reason for doing this is that the brown bits can burn off and give a funky bad taste to the food.
Diced- means to cut into cubes- small classically calls for 1/4 inch cubes, medium 1/2 inch cubes and large roughly 3/4 inch. Most recipes mean medium unless other wise stated
Julienne veg is a classic french cut and means long thin slices approx 1/16 inch thick. This cut means that the veg cookes very quickly and very evenly.
Mirepoix – is the French base of 2 parts onions to one each of carrots and celery that are sautéed in butter This is the base of many dishes. Italians adds tomatoes to this, creole uses green peppers not carrots.
Roux – A cooked mixture of equal amounts of flour and butter, used to thicken many sauces and stews.
rolling boil– very fast . lots of bubbles breaking the surface. Not to be used often for day-to-day foods. I can only think of pasta and boiled eggs. BUT this is what you need to use when doing Jam as it’s the only way to get the jam hot enough.
Sautè – food cooked quickly in oil or butter, some colouring is to be expected
Sear/seal– to quickly brown the outside of the meat in a frying pan or skillet so that the juices stay inside.
Shredded– very thinly sliced so that it will break down during cooking
Simmer– heating food just below the boil, where one or two bubble gently appear. temperature of about 94ºC
Stir-fry – Frying thinly and uniformly sliced food quickly in a small amount of hot oil, stirring constantly. Denser foods, such as broccoli and carrots, may need to be sliced thinner and/or cooked before other ingredients are added.
Sweat– cooking off food in oil or butter slowly so it softens but does not colour. When looks at the food you should see beads of liquid escaping from the food.
Zest- using a zester or peeler, remove the peel of the fruit leaving the pith ( white bit) behind. This will give all the aromatic oils and flavour and no bitterness