EVER READ A WORD IN A RECIPE INSTRUCTION AND NOT KNOWN WHAT IT MEANT?
RELAX, HERE’S THE LOWDOWN
The garlic-flavoured mayonnaise known as the ‘butter of Provence’ which is an essential accompaniment to many of the fish and vegetable dishes from that region.
Vegetables, meat and fish prepared in a plain, straightforward way. Reflects the traditional French view of English cooking.
Italian for ‘to the tooth’, this describes food which has been cooked just to the point where it gives slight resistance to the bite. Often misinterpreted by cooks to mean ‘a chalky consistency’. Properly reserved for dried pasta and rice, but now commonly used to refer to vegetables.
An Italian term for cold hors d’oeuvres. Usually an assortment of hams, salami, cheeses and marinated or dressed vegetables.
Savoury jelly made from clarified stock used to coat meats, poultry, fish and vegetables
A deep tray of hot water into which dishes requiring cooking at a low even temperature are placed prior to being put in the oven. In a professional kitchen the term is also used to describe a large water tray on top of the stove for keeping sauces stable and warm.
Cooking a pasty case or shell for a tart before adding the filling (if there is to be little or no further cooking). It is normal to line the case first with baking paper and weight it with beans, either kidney beans kept for the purpose or ceramic ones.
Cushion or ball-shaped roll made from birds or cuts of meat that have been boned and stuffed.
A white sauce made by combining hot flavoured or seasoned milk with a flour and butter roux
Equal proportions of butter and white flour worked to a paste and stirred in small pieces into a hot sauce or a stew at a late stage to thicken it. The flour does not taste raw even after brief cooking. See also ‘roux’
A brief preparatory cooking of food in copious quantities of boiling water (to fix colour, remove pungency or excess saltiness, or partially cook), followed by immediate refreshing in cold water
Plain unclarified broth made by boiling meat and/or vegetables usually used for making soups and sauces.
A small bunch of mixed fresh herbs, either tied with string or wrapped in a muslin or paper sachet and used to flavour soups, stews and stocks, then removed before serving.
A method of cooking which involves browning meat (usually tough cuts) and/or vegetables then adding a small quantity of liquid before covering the pot and slowly simmering until tender.
The French term means ‘burnt’. The process of caramelizing a sugar topping by applying heat with a blowtorch or placing the dish under a hot grill.
Small dice of celery, carrot, onions and, sometimes, leeks used in soups and stews. The vegetables are usually consumed with the meat, not strained out.
Fifteenth-century Venetian painter! Alternatively, a dish invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice using thinly sliced raw beef accompanied by a yukky mayonnaise-based sauce. Now extended to mean thin slices of raw meat or fish, particularly salmon or tuna, with or without sauce.
The lacy lining of an animal’s stomach, used to line terrine moulds and to wrap patties, sausages, and, occasionally, stuffed joints of meat.
A preparation of salad leaves or herbs such as parsley made by cutting them into even shreds or strips
A soup of near stew-like consistency believed to be Breton in origin but re-imported into Europe from North America. Made with fish, clams and other seafood and often sweetcorn, the liquid content is usually milk and it is thickened with potatoes. From chaudière, the name of the vessel chowder was originally cooked in
Expensive and time-consuming process whereby egg white, chopped vegetables and finely minced meat (or fish) are added to a cold stock, which is then slowly heated and simmered for one hour. The egg white attracts all the impurities in the stock, forming a thick crust on the surface. After careful straining, the result is crystal-clear consommé.
A liquid is said to have a coating consistency when it will coat the back of a metal spoon and a finger run across it will leave a clear channel. Mainly used when describing sauces and custards.
Lightly salted duck or goose cooked slowly in its own fat and then preserved in that fat (originally a by-product of foie gras production). The term is now widely misapplied on restaurant menus to practically anything.
A puréed savoury or sweet sauce with one predominant ingredient, such as tomatoes or raspberries.
Japanese stock made from dried tuna, seaweed and soy sauce. It is the basis of many Japanese dishes and may be bought ready-made in packets. Many brands are high in MSG.
French wine-enriched stew, almost always beef in red wine.
dauphinoise (à la)
A simple classic method of cooking potatoes where they are cut into taillons (round slices) and baked with single cream in a gratin dish that has been rubbed with garlic and butter. A variation, gratin dauphinoise is often made by pouring a mixture of eggs, milk and cream over the slices and sprinkling the dish with grated cheese. Not to be confused with
Potatoes reduced to a purée, added to choux paste then rolled into balls and fried in very hot fat.
A small deep round mould with sloping sides, or the preparation cooked in such a mould.
After sautéing, frying or roasting meat, poultry or fish, the cooked food is removed from the pan and a little wine, sherry, spirits or stock added to the juices. The residue is boiled vigorously while scraping the pan to incorporate the browned bits stuck to the base of the pan. The process produces a tasty sauce.
A French term meaning to soak meat, poultry or offal in cold water to eliminate impurities and blood for ‘white dishes’ or, in the case of fish, to dispel muddy flavours
The name given to dishes with a piquant or hot marinade, spice mixture or sauce, usually based on mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and paprika, Tabasco etc.
A large heavy cooking pot with a close fitting lid, authentically made of cast iron.
A preparation obtained by dispersing one kind of liquid in another with which it will not mix – oil and vinegar being the common case. These will only blend chemically with the use of an emulsifier such as egg yolk.
An oft misunderstood term, many people think it’s the ‘starter’. Today it is usually the main course of a meal but in a full French menu it is the third course, following the hors d’oeuvre or soup and the fish course and preceding the roast.
A thin slice of meat or fish, usually cut across the grain. Originally referred to veal, now extended.
Literally ‘base’, this is the French word for any stock.
A flavoured cream made with chocolate and fresh cream, sometimes with butter added. Used for desserts and in truffle making. Created in Paris, circa 1850.
One of the most misunderstood of culinary terms and nothing to do with ‘grating’. It is food cooked in a sauce in a shallow dish and finished in the oven or under a grill to produce a crust. The process usually involves the use of breadcrumbs or grated cheese.
A flavouring mixture consisting of finely chopped garlic and parsley combined with grated lemon zest.
A cold sauce based on mayonnaise in which the raw egg yolk is replaced by hard-boiled egg yolk. Capers, fines gherbes and chopped cooked egg white is often added.
Any food cut into matchstick-sized strips, most usually vegetables or citrus peel, and then used as a flavouring or garnish.
Short for jus de viande (meat juices), this term is used for a dressing that is halfway between a gravy and a sauce. It offers the speed of the former with the complex flavours of the latter. In recent years this simple graphic term has been sorely abused and such monstrosities as ‘garlic’ jus, ‘aubergine jus’ appear on restaurant menus everywhere.
The process by which a dough is made smoother. A firm pressing, turning and stretching with the handdevelopes the gluten in the flour and traps gas released by fermenting yeast, making the dough lighter. But over-kneading can toughen dough.
Briefly kneading, folding or punching down a yeast dough after the first proving or rising.
Strips of bacon, salt pork or pancetta which are usually blanched to remove excessive salt then either sautéed until crisp for salads or added to casseroles.
Cubed vegetables or fruit), most often seen as a salad. Also used to describe a bigger version of brunoise.
Immersing food in a liquid (usually wine or oil/vinegar, seasonings and herbs) to flavour, tenderize and prevent food drying out when it is cooked. Occasionally marinades are used to ‘cook’ raw food like ceviche or gravlax.
Literally ‘thousand leaves’ – a pastry consisting of thin layers of puff pastry separated by layers of cream or other fillings, sweet or savoury. Now frequently distorted by chefs to embrace any layered preparation.