If you know the difference between a roux and a buerre-manié, then this page isn’t for you! For the rest of you amateur cooks, like me, I’ve put together this list of terms that can sometimes be confusing.

Al Dente – cooked until firm but not hard. Vegetables should be crisp but tender.

Amuse-Bouche – literally means in French a ‘mouth amuser’. A small appetizer served between courses.

Baste – the process of spooning the juices of a roasting meat back over the skin to keep moist.

Caramelise – to heat sugar until it turns brown and sticky.

Clarified Butter – the yellow, clear liquid separated from it’s butterfat, by melting and decanting.

Cream – usually refers to ‘creaming’ butter and caster sugar, by vigorously beating the mixture until the consistency becomes creamy, and the colour lightens.

Deglaze – using alcohol to remove the caramelised bits of food from the pan when making a sauce.

Flambé – adding alcohol to a pan to create a burst of flames. Be very careful!

Fold – usually referred to when mixing flour into a batter with a metal spoon. Literally means to fold the mixture on top of itself to keep the air in.

Knead – use your hands to fold, stretch and press a mixture into a uniform texture.

Medium Rare – when referring to meat, the center should be red and warm.

Par-Boil – the process of boiling food prior to cooking, to soften a little or to remove unwanted flavours.

Quenelle – an oval or egg-shaped way of presenting food, created by turning spoons over each other.

Reduce – heat a liquid without a lid on so that excess water can evaporate, condensing the liquid down.

Sauté – to lightly shallow fry in oil.

Simmer – heat water/sauce so that bubbles rise to the surface, but not to a full rolling boil.


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