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Food Allergy Resources

Food and Cooking Glossary for Food Allergy Cooks

July 2007

Al dente: Italian term used to describe pasta cooked until tender but slightly firm to the bite.

Au jus: The natural, unthickened meat juices produced as a result of roasting meat.

Bake: To cook, covered or uncovered, by dry heat (usually in an oven). When applied to meats, poultry, and vegetables cooked uncovered, the process is called roasting.

Baking Dish: A low-sided, heat-resistant dish made out of glass or metal.

Baste: To brush or spoon a liquid (such as pan drippings, melted fat, sauce, or other seasoned liquid) over food while it cooks, in order to add flavor and increase moisture.

Batter: An uncooked, liquid mixture that can be spooned or poured, such as for cakes or pancakes. Batters can also be used to coat foods before deep frying.

Beat: To stir or mix rapidly in a quick, even, circular motion to make a mixture smooth, lighter, or fluffier. When using a spoon or wire whisk, lift mixture up and over with each stroke.

Blanch: To immerse food briefly in boiling water, either to help loosen the skin from some foods that are to be peeled (such as tomatoes and peaches), as a step towards preparing vegetables for freezing, or to set the color and flavor.

Blend: To thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until smooth and uniform in texture, color, and flavor.

Boil: To cook a liquid at a temperature that causes bubbles to form in the liquid and constantly rise to the surface. A rolling boil refers to when the liquid is boiling so vigorously that the bubbles cannot be stirred down.

Bouquet garni: A bundle of several fresh herbs (usually including parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf) tied in cheesecloth. Used to add flavor to soups, stews, stocks, and poaching liquid.

Braise: A wet-heat method of cooking recommended for less-tender cuts of meat. The food is cooked slowly in a small amount of liquid in a tightly-covered pan on the stove top or in the oven, usually after first being seared or browned in a small amount of hot fat.

Bread: To coat with a bread or cracker crumb mixture before cooking, usually after first dipping the food into a liquid so that the crumbs will adhere.

Broil: To cook by direct heat in the broiler of an electric or gas range.

Broth: The strained liquid in which meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, or a combination of these, have been cooked. May be used interchangeably with the term "stock".

Brown: To cook a food in a small amount of fat until browned on all sides.

Butterfly: To split food, such as shrimp or pork chops, down the center without cutting all the way through. The halves are then fanned open and laid flat to cook.

Candied: A food that has been cooked or dipped in a sugar syrup.

Caramelize: To melt sugar by heating it in a skillet or saucepan over low heat, without scorching or burning, until it develops a characteristic flavor and golden-brown color.

Carve: To slice or cut cooked meat, poultry, or fish into serving-size pieces.

Cheesecloth: A thin 100% cotton cloth with a fine weave that is used in cooking to bundle herbs, strain liquids, and wrap rolled meats. Found in the cooking supplies section of supermarkets and specialty cooking stores.

Chill: To refrigerate food or let food stand in ice or ice water until cold.

Chop: To cut food into small pieces.

Coat: To cover a food with a surface layer of another ingredient, such as flour, by sprinkling, dipping, or rolling.

Combine: To stir together two or more ingredients until blended.

Core: To remove the seeded center of a fruit or vegetable.

Cream: To beat with a spoon or an electric mixer until soft, smooth, and fluffy, as in when blending together margarine and sugar.

Cube: To cut a food, such as meat or cheese, into small 1/2-inch cubes.

Cut in: To distribute solid fat, such as margarine, into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives until particles are the desired size.

Dash: A very small amount, usually between 1/16 and 1/8 teaspoon.

Deep-fry: To cook food by immersing it in very hot (usually 375 degrees F) fat or oil.

Deglaze: A process for removing browned bits of food from the bottom of a skillet or roasting pan that has been used to cook meat. A small amount of liquid (such as water, wine, or broth) is heated and stirred in the pan. The resulting mixture often becomes the base for a sauce.

Dice: To cut a food into very small pieces (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch).

Dip: To briefly immerse a food in a liquid or dry mixture.

Dot: To evenly distribute bits of an ingredient, usually butter or margarine, over the surface of a food before it is placed in the oven.

Double boiler: A piece of kitchen equipment consisting of two saucepans, one of which nests partway inside the other. The lower pot is used to hold simmering water that gently cooks or melts the heat-sensitive food that is placed in the upper pot.

Dough: An uncooked thick, pliable mixture of flour, liquid, and other ingredients, such as for cookies. The primary difference between dough and batter is the consistency – dough is thicker and is molded by hand, while batter is semi-liquid and is spooned or poured.

Drip pan: A metal or disposable foil pan placed under food to catch drippings while grilling.

Drippings: The melted fat and juices given off by meat or poultry as it cooks.

Drizzle: To slowly pour a thin stream of liquid, such as powdered sugar icing, in a random pattern over the surface of food.

Dust: To lightly coat or sprinkle a food with a dry ingredient, such as flour or powdered sugar.

Dutch oven: A deep metal cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Egg wash: A mixture consisting of beaten egg(s) and a liquid that is brushed on the top of baked goods before baking, to give the finished product a glossy sheen and crisp outer crust.

Emulsify: To combine two liquid ingredients that do not naturally dissolve into each other, such as oil and vinegar. This is done by slowly adding one ingredient to the other while mixing rapidly with a fork or wire whisk.

Fillet: A boneless piece of meat or fish, or the process of cutting meat or fish into fillets.

Flake: To use a fork to lightly break food into small, flat pieces.

Flour (verb): To coat or dust a food or utensil with flour.

Fold in: To incorporate a delicate substance into another substance. A rubber spatula is used to gently bring part of the mixture from the bottom of the bowl to the top. The process is repeated, while slowly rotating the bowl, until the ingredients are blended.

Food coloring: Edible dye used to tint food.

Fry: To cook food in hot cooking oil or fat, usually until a crisp brown crust forms on the food.

Grate: To rub solid food (such as hard cheeses or vegetables) against a metal object that has sharp-edged holes, reducing the food to fine shreds or small pieces.

Grease: To coat the surface of a utensil, such as a baking pan, with a thin layer of fat or oil in order to prevent the cooked food from sticking to the utensil.

Grease and flour pan: A process for coating a baking pan in order to prevent the finished baked good from sticking to the pan. Using a folded napkin or paper towel, the entire inside surface of the pan is coated with the specified “grease” (such as vegetable shortening). A spoonful of flour is then placed in the baking pan, and the pan is gently shaken in order to coat the entire inside surface with a fine layer of flour. Any excess flour is then shaken from the pan.

Grind: To use a food grinder or food processor to mechanically cut food into smaller pieces.

Ice: To drizzle or spread a thin frosting over cooked baked goods, or to chill a glass or serving dish so that a coat of frost forms on its surface.

Jelly roll: A dessert made by spreading a filling on a thin sponge cake and rolling it up into a log shape.

Julienne: To cut food, usually vegetables, into long, thin strips or match-like strips.

Knead: To work dough with your hands in a fold-and-press motion. To knead dough, first form the dough into a ball. Then use the heel of your palm to press down on the dough, fold it over, rotate the dough, and repeat.

Marble: To gently swirl one food into another. Marbling is usually done with light and dark batters or dough to create two-tone cookies or cakes with an attractive marbled pattern.

Marinate: To soak food in a (usually acidic) liquid in order to tenderize the food or to enhance its flavor.

Mash: To crush, pound, or beat a food, such as cooked potatoes, to remove lumps and make a soft, smooth mixture.

Melt: To heat a solid food over very low heat until it becomes liquid or semi-liquid.

Mince: To chop or cut food into very small pieces.

Mix: To stir or beat two or more ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined and form a uniform mixture.

Mold: To shape food, usually by pouring the liquefied food into a mold. When the food is cooled it retains the shape of the mold.

Packed brown sugar: Brown sugar that has been tightly packed into a measuring cup.

Pan-broil: To cook a food, especially meat, uncovered, over high heat on an ungreased or lightly greased surface, removing any fat as it accumulates.

Pan-fry: To cook a food in a skillet or frying pan in a small amount of fat.

Parboil: To partially cook food, especially vegetables, in boiling or simmering liquid. Parboiling is similar to blanching, but with a longer cooking time.

Parchment paper: A heavy, grease- and heat-resistant paper that is used to line baking pans, wrap foods in packets for baking, or make disposable pastry bags.

Pare: To cut off the outer skin or covering of a fruit or vegetable.

Pinch: The amount of a dry ingredient that can be held between the thumb and forefinger; approximately 1/16 teaspoon.

Pipe: To force a semi-soft food, such as frosting or whipped cream, through a pastry bag to decorate food.

Pit: To remove the seed or pit from a fruit.

Plump: To allow a food, such as raisins, to soak in a liquid, increasing its volume.

Poach: To cook very gently in hot liquid kept either just below or at the boiling point.

Preheat: To heat oven to desired temperature before beginning to cook.

Proof: To allow a yeast dough to rise before baking.

Punch down: To deflate a yeast dough after it has risen by pushing it down with your fist.

Puree: To mash foods until as smooth as possible, usually by whirling in a blender or food processor.

Ragout: A well-seasoned stew made of meat, fish, or vegetables.

Ramekin: A small porcelain or earthenware dish designed to both cook and serve individual portions.

Reconstitute: To bring a concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice or canned soup, to its original strength by adding water. Also a procedure for preparing dried foods, whereby the product is soaked in fresh water.

Reduce: To rapidly boil an uncovered liquid until its volume is decreased due to evaporation. This thickens the liquid and intensifies the flavor.

Roast: To cook meat or poultry, uncovered, by dry heat, usually in an oven. Also refers to a cut of meat cooked by this method.

Roll out: To use a rolling pin to mechanically flatten a food, usually an uncooked dough.

Roux: A cooked mixture of flour and melted fat, used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews.

Salsa: A cold, chunky mixture used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, often made from chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles, and cilantro.

Sauté: To cook food quickly in a pan in a small quantity of hot oil, usually stirring frequently during the cooking process.

Scald: To heat a liquid, usually milk, to just below the boiling point, when tiny bubbles just begin to appear around the edges of the liquid.

Score: To cut shallow slits, often in a pattern, into the top surface of a food.

Scrape down: To take a rubber spatula and run it around the inside surface of a mixing bowl containing batter or dough, in order to ensure that all ingredients of the batter or dough have been fully incorporated. The batter or dough that is “scraped down” from the edges of the mixing bowl is then mixed in to the rest of the batter or dough.

Sear: To brown meat quickly on all sides using high heat, in order to seal in the juices and provide a crisp outer edge.

Season: To enhance a food’s flavor by adding salt, pepper, herbs, and/or other spices.

Section: To separate and remove the membrane and segments of citrus fruits.

Seed: To remove the seeds from fruits or vegetables.

Shish kebab: A Mediterranean dish of cubes of marinated meat threaded on a skewer and then grilled or broiled; often also contains vegetables.

Shred: To cut or grate food into thin, irregular strips. Many cooked meats can be shredded by pulling it apart with two forks.

Shuck: To remove the husks from corn or the shells from seafood, such as oysters and clams.

Sift: To pass dry ingredients, such as flour or powdered sugar, through a sifter or sieve to remove lumps and aerate the ingredients.

Simmer: To cook in liquid just below the boiling point. The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.

Skewer: To spear small pieces of food on long, narrow metal or wooden sticks.

Skillet: A long-handled, round pan with sloping sides used for cooking foods.

Skim: To use a spoon or bulb baster to remove fat or foam from the surface of a liquid.

Springform pan: A round pan with high sides and a removable bottom. A springform pan has a clamp on the side which releases the sides from the bottom, leaving the cake intact.

Steam: To cook in water vapors, on a rack or in a steam basket above boiling water, in a covered pot or pan.

Steep: To allow a food, such as tea, to stand in hot liquid in order to extract flavor and/or color.

Stew: To cook food slowly in a simmering liquid, usually in a covered pot.

Stir: To use a spoon or whisk in a broad, circular motion in order to mix ingredients, prevent ingredients from sticking during cooking, or to cool a mixture after cooking.

Stir-fry: A method of quickly cooking small pieces of food in a small amount of hot oil in a wok or skillet over high heat, stirring constantly.

Strain: To separate liquid from solid food by pouring it through a strainer or fine sieve.

Streusel: A crumbly topping that is sprinkled over the top of baked goods before they are cooked; contains a mixture of butter or margarine, flour, sugar, and other ingredients.

Stuff: To fill a cavity of a food, such as a raw turkey, with another food, such as stuffing.

Tenderize: To make meat more tender, usually by pounding it with a mallet or marinating it in an acidic sauce.

Thicken: To increase the density of a liquid substance by adding a thickening agent, such as flour or corn starch, or by cooking it until some of the liquid evaporates.

Toss: To combine ingredients with a lifting motion, using two utensils.

To taste: To add an ingredient to a recipe in a quantity based on the personal preference of the cook.

Whip: To beat a food rapidly with a wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer, incorporating air into the mixture to lighten it and increase its volume.

Whisk: To beat ingredients together until blended and smooth, using a kitchen tool called a wire whisk.

Zest: The colored outer peel of citrus fruit, or to remove this zest from the fruit using a knife, peeler, or zester.

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Page last updated 7/29/2012

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