kitchen lingo recap - The Dietitian Editor

Kitchen Lingo Recap [2022]

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As registered dietitian nutritionists, it’s important for us to have good handle on some basic kitchen lingo when it comes to ingredients, equipment, cooking techniques, and more, regardless of the niche we work in. Earlier this year, I began highlighting one word a week that focused on a variety of kitchen lingo terminology to help expand your knowledge in the kitchen. I hope you found it helpful and I look forward to continuing these types of posts in 2023!

Fold – to combine ingredients lightly by a combination of two motions: one cuts vertically through the mixture, the other slides the spatula across the bottom of the bowl and up the side, turning the mixture over

Braise – to slowly cook meat or poultry in a covered pan or baking dish in a small amount of liquid (Instead of this term, you can say “simmer, covered.”

Sear – to brown the surface of foods, often meat, briefly over high heat to seal in juices

Dredge – to coat or cover food lightly with flour, sugar, or another substance

Pinch – the amount of a substance that can be held between the thumb and forefinger; if possible, avoid using this as a measurement (Instead, 1/8 teaspoon is commonly written out in place of a “pinch.”

Score – to cut shallow gashes across the surface of a food before cooking; this typically applies to meat, fish, or bread

Blend – to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients; this word is best used when using an electric blender or food processor (If such appliances are not used, then try using words like “beat, stir, or mix.” The word “combine” is generic and should be used sparingly.)

Flake – to break into small, thin pieces, usually with a fork; cooked fish is an example of a food that flakes well

Caramelize – to melt sugar over low heat, without burning, until it turns golden to dark brown and develops a caramel flavor; this term also refers to browning during cooking, like with onions and meat

al dente – usually refers to pasta or vegetables that have been cooked until tender but still firm to the bite (or “to the tooth”)

Pilaf – a rice-based dish made by browning uncooked rice in butter or oi, then cooking or steaming in stock or other liquid; meat, seafood, vegetables, herbs, and spices can be added

Risotto – an Italian rice specialty made by stirring hot stock into sauteed rice; resulting mixture is creamy

Deglaze – to dissolve small particles of cooked food remaining in a skillet by adding a liquid, like wine or broth, overheat

Roux – a mixture of melted fat and flour, cooking until bubbly to remove the raw starch taste of flour; used to thick soups and sauces

Au gratin – sprinkled with breadcrumbs or cheese, or both, and browned

Mis en place – a French culinary phrase, meaning to put in place or gather ingredients, like dicing onions or measuring spices, before you begin cooking

Chiffonade – French cooking technique used to finely cut herbs or leafy green vegetables (including basil, sage, mint, spinach, lettuce) into long, thin strips; chiffonades can be used as garnishes in pasta, pizza, salads, and more

Coulis – a thin fruit or vegetable puree, used as a sauce (i.e., tomato coulis or raspberry coulis)

Zest – the colorful outer peel (not the white pith) of a citrus fruit, like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits, which contain flavorful aromatic oils

Moussaka – a famous Greek dish, similar to Italian Parmesan eggplant, with alternative layers of eggplant, ground beef or lamb sauce, local cheeses, and tomato sauce

Ramekins – individual ovenproof baking dishes commonly used in the preparation of custards and other miniature sweet or savory dishes

Galette – catch-all term for a pastry base, topped with either sweet or savory fillings with the edges roughly folded in to create a gorgeous, rustic-looking bake

Panna cotta – means “cooked cream” in Italian, and that’s basically what the base is – heating heavy cream mixed with gelatin powder and flavored with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste; the mixture is then poured into ramekins and chill

Gnocchi – round dumplings made with flour and potatoes, or with semolina or yellow polenta flour; they can be served with a variety of condiments: a simple tomato sauce, meat sauce, pesto, or butter and cheese

Ghee – clarified butter with all of the water and solids removed; ghee will not scorch or burn, and it can be cooked at a higher temperature than any oil; it allows cooking with butter at a higher temperature before it will burn

Tahini – made from 100% crushed sesame seeds; it can be used as a sandwich spread, or mixed with other seasonings like garlic or roasted peppers for a tasty dip or salad dressing

Umami – one of the core fifth tastes including sweet, sour, bitter, and salty; umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese, and its taste is often described as the meaty, savoriness that deepens the flavor of a dish

Chutney – condiment of chopped fruits, vinegar, spices, and sugar cooked into a chunky spread; chutneys are meant to complement other dishes; although it’s best known as originating in India, chutney is famous worldwide, and can be tailored to regional and local flavor profiles

Marzipan – ready-to-eat sweet treat made from ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites; popular in Europe, it is often shaped into various forms, like fruits and vegetables; in the U.S., marzipan isn’t as common, but it is often seen around the holidays; it has a very sweet, nutty almond flavor and its texture is soft, chewy, and slightly rough due to the ground of almonds

Bechamel – also known as white sauce, it’s made with only 3 ingredients: flour, butter, and milk; it’s a quick and easy way to add a rich, creamy element to many pasta, meat, and vegetable dishes; it’s one of the five classes French mother sauces – bechamel, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise, and sauce tomat.

Burrata – soft, fresh Italian cheese made from cow’s milk; the exterior resembles mozzarella, but on the inside, you’ll find a soft, velvety texture made of small cheese curds and cream; it pairs perfectly with some extra-virgin olive oil and crusty Italian bread.

Muddle – a bartending technique that is useful for preparing a variety of drinks; it’s a method of lightly mashing fruit, herbs, or spices for cocktails; a cocktail muddler is a tool like a pestle that released the essence from fresh ingredients, infusing them with the right balance of flavor

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