Monday, December 21, 2009

Culinary Terminology - A

À la carte: each food and beverage item has been priced separately. It can also mean that food items can be cooked to order instead of cooked in advance. An example of an online à la carte menu can be found here:

À la minute: means food items can be cooked to order.

À la nage: cooking food (usually seafood) in a court bouillon and serving the bouillon and the vegetables as part of the garniture. Click here for an online discussion on "à la nage":

Aboyeur: also called a barker, expediter or announcer. The aboyeur accepts orders from the dining room, relays them to the appropriate stations of the kitchen, and checks each plate before it leaves the kitchen. For a visual reminder, here's an image of royal French aboyeur Firmin:

Al dente: an Italian term, literally meaning "to the tooth", or "to the bite", and usually referring to pasta cooked just before it's done. For steps and a longer definition, click here:

Allemande: a classic sauce made with veal or chicken velouté, thickened with egg yolks and seasoned with lemon juice. Also called sauce Parisienne, but actually meaning German sauce. Confused? Don't be. Here's a video on how to make Allemande sauce:

Allumette: An allumette (French for matchstick) is a vegetable cut, in the shape of a matchstick, 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch x 2 inches, usually potato. A recipe for allumette potatoes can be found here:

Almande: old French for "almond". Not to be confused with "allemande".

Au gratin: a dish with a brown crusted top, usually of breadcrumbs, cheese and/or sauce. Standard fare is potatoes au gratin. Here's a pic of veggies au gratin that will make your mouth water:

Au jus: literally means "with juice". In this case, au jus refers to roasted meat served with its unthickened, natural juices. An easy recipe:,1927,151175-242206,00.html

Au point: means that your steak is perfectly cooked!

Au sec: pretty much the opposite of "au jus". Foods are cooked until virtually no moisture remains. Sec means "dry".

Culinary Terminology - B

Bâtonnet: 1/4 by 1/4 by 2 inches cut food, usually carrots. More on bâtonnets, allumettes and julienne? Here you go:

Bain-marie: nope, not Mary's bath tub, although there is a resemblance. A double boiler in which the water in the bottom pot provides indirect heat for the top one. It allows for slow warming up, or keeping foods warm.

Béchamel: a basic white sauce, made by adding hot milk to a roux of butter and flour. Along with mayonnaise, this is one of the oldest sauces in culinary history, or so I'm told. Either way, they're both brilliant so kudos for whomever invented them!

Beurre: French for butter. Easy, huh!

Beurre blanc: You guessed it: white butter. BB is a white butter sauce, with shallots, white wine and butter as key ingredients. For a step by step preparation, click here:

Beurre noir: French for black butter. Butter is melted over low heat and cooked until the milk solids turn a very dark brown. A type of acid, such as lemon juice or balsamic vinegar is then added. Black butter is often used for vegetables and fish.

Beurre noisette: literally meaning hazelnut butter (are you thinking Nutella too!?), it is known to us as brown butter. Easily made by melting unsalted butter and allowing the milk solids to achieve a brown, nutty flavor, it provides a great base for sauces, baked goods or, in its clarified form, a cooking fat.

Blanquette: a white stew made of white sauce and meat or poultry. The whiteness is achieved by avoiding browning of the foods. For its history and recipes:

Boeuf: Beef. It's what's for dinner!

Bouchées: Small pastry shells or cases filled with creamed meat or game. Bouche means "mouth" in French, so bouchées could loosely be translated as morsels, bites or "cut to fit in the mouth".

Boulanger: A baker, specialized in baking breads and its derivatives. Here's a picture of one:

Bouquet Garni: A bundle of fresh vegetables and herbs to flavor soups, sauces, stocks and stews.,13803,235086-235083,00.html

Brunoise: A cube-shaped cut 1/8 of an inch in size, or dishes garnished with vegetables cut in this size. Take this food quiz at the World Culinary Institute and see how you do!

Culinary Terminology - C

Café: French for "coffee". It is also a type of coffeehouse, prevalent in Europe, that is an odd mixture between bar and restaurant. Tired of drinking your usual coffee? Try some of these recipes!

Canard: French for "duck". Rendered duck fat has a smoke point of 375F, and is a much treasured fat in the chef's kitchen. Here's a great recipe for duck legs!

Carême: Marie-Antoine Carême, known as the "cook of kings and the king of cooks". Read up on him and his major influence on today's cuisine in your "On Cooking book", page 6.

Chef: the chief of the kitchen, a culinary expert, and a title of respect. But let him tell you himself:

Chef de partie: station chef. This job opening explains the requirements for a chef de partie:

Chiffonade: a small chopped pile of thin strips of an ingredient such as leafy vegetables or herbs:

Chinois: an extremely fine meshed conical sieve used for straining soups and sauces to produce a very smooth texture. For a picture:

Commis: an entry-level or apprentice position in the kitchen, usually under the chef de partie, and a great way to find out if this is what you want!

Concassée: a garnish of peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes. How to make concassée, and what to do with all those seeds, skins and whatnots:

Confiseur: French name for those who work with or make confectionery such as petit fours, chocolates and candies:
(check out the blue chocolate!)

Consommé: a clarified, rich broth. For more information on consommé, click here:

Coulis: a purée sauce from vegetables or fruit, with the texture similar to a thin tomato sauce. Can be served hot or cold. An ice cream florentine with raspberry coulis:

Croissant: the word "croissant" means "crescent" in French. Hence the name for this crescent shaped roll. Here's a recipe:

Cuisine: French for "kitchen". Can also refer to cultures, defining the ingredients, seasonings, cooking methods and styles of their foods, like the American cuisine:

Cuisson: literally means "cooking process" in French. In text it refers to the juices left in the pan after the cooking of meat, poultry or fish etc, but can also refer to the liquid used for shallow poaching:

Culinary Terminology - D

Decorateur: the decorateur is in charge of making showpieces and special cakes, such as this one for Disney:

Degraisser: to degrease, removing accumulated fat from the surface of a stock, soup or sauce.

Demi-glace: a "half-glaze" referring to a reduced sauce consisting of half a brown sauce and half a brown stock, and often the base for a myriad of small sauces. Disregarding the faulty spelling of some of these sauces, check here for additional information:

Depouillage: skimming the surface of a stock or sauce to remove scum and other impurities.

Duxelles: a paste made from mushroom and shallots sautéed in butter, and used to flavor and enrich soups, sauces, stews . Check your "On Cooking" on page 755 for a step by step process and pictures. For what it's worth, it is said to have been created for the Marquis d'Uxelles.

Culinary Terminology - E

Émincé: sliced thin, or cut fine. Usually refers to meats (boneless), but can also be used for fruits and vegetables. Here's a great recipe with videos:

En croute: French for "in a crust", and refers to foods wrapped in a crust and baked. Crust can be made of a variety of items such as puff pastry, salt or bread:

En papillote: cooking foods in parchment paper or foil, where the food steams in its own moisture. For recipes and pictures:,1,2968910.story?coll=la-headlines-food

Entrée (am): the main dish, consisting usually of meat, fish, or poultry, and a vegetable and a starch.ée

Entrée (fr): the first course served in a meal, before the main dish.ée

Entremetier: the roles of potager and légumier into the station that prepares the vegetables, starches and sweet courses:

Escoffier: Georges-Auguste Escoffier, who was responsible for the development of the cuisine classique. Click here for more information:

Culinary Terminology - F

Farce: French for "stuffing". Since Thanksgiving is coming up, here's a great recipe:

Filé: a powder made from sassafras leaves, and used for dishes such as gumbo. An in-depth review of filé can be read here:

Filet: a boneless piece of meat, poultry or fish, or the process of cutting such a piece. A filet knife is a knife designed for this purpose.

Flambé: Literally "to set in flames", or "flaming". A dish is garnished with liquor, then ignited in order to add the flavor of the liquor to the dish, but not the alcohol. Here's how to do it:
If you absolutely MUST do this at home, try the backyard first, okay?

Fond: French for "stock" or "base". Can also refer to the juices, drippings and bits of food left in the pan after roasting: sauces made directly in the pan will have enhanced flavors.

Fond lié: the stock, base or leftover juices and drippings, now bound or thickened (lié) with starch to make a brown sauce. Here's a recipe for calfs fond lié:

Fraises: French for "strawberries". Check out these wonderful recipes:

Framboises: French for "raspberries". See here for Pierre Marcolini's chocolate raspberry hearts:

Fricassée: tends to be a chicken stew, light in color, as the meat is cooked without browning before liquids are added. A great story and a recipe:

Friturier: the cook responsible for all the fried foods. Brillat-Savarin on the theory of frying:

Fromage: French for "cheese". Click and salivate......

Fumet: a stock from fish bones and vegetables, wine, water and spices. If you use fish heads, I've been told, you better remove the eyes. Except, ofcourse, if you're Olivia Wu:

Culinary Terminology - G

Galangal: otherwise known as blue ginger, galangal is an Asian plant. Its rhizomes are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It looks like ginger, but has a distinct citrus smell and flavor. Click here for pictures and additional information.

Ganache: a mixture of (heavy) cream and chocolate that is used as frosting, or pastry filling. Also used chilled to make truffles. Yummm!!!!

Gaufrette: thin slices of vegetables with a waffle, or honeycomb, texture. "Gaufrette" literally means "small waffle" or "wafer". This is what one looks like:

Glacier: the glacier makes all chilled and frozen desserts, and may also function as a décorateur (see D): Check out these wonderful ice-cakes from a master glacier:

Gourmet: Somebody who appreciates good food, a connoisseur of fine food and drink:

Grillardin: broiler or grill cook.

Culinary Terminology - J

Julienne: stick-shaped pieces of cut food. See here:

Culinary Terminology - H

Haricots: a French variety of green beans. For recipes, click here:

Culinary Terminology - I

Culinary Terminology - K

Culinary Terminology - L

Légumier: the vegetable station chef, responsible for the vegetables and starches.

Limons: Limes! Lemons are "citrons". Confusing, huh......

Culinary Terminology - M

Mais: Corn.

Maître d': head waiter, dining room staff manager, or a compound butter with lemon juice and parsley:

Mirepoix: coarse chopped onions, carrots and celery to flavor stocks, stews and other foods:

Mise en place: literally means "to have been put in place". In the kitchen, this refers to having all your ingredients, equipment etc in order before you start cooking:

Monter au beurre: finishing a sauce with butter, so as to achieve a rich flavor and velvety texture.

Culinary Terminology - N

Nappe: lightly coating a food with sauce. If a sauce nicely coats the back of a spoon, it's said to be "a la nappe":

Noix: nuts. For example, noix de coco = coconut.

Nouvelle: "new" from "nouvelle cuisine", i.e. the new cuisine, with a new approach to cooking and presentation:

Culinary Terminology - O

Oeuf: Egg. A recipe for oeufs farcis (stuffed eggs: remember farce?) is here:

Oignon piqué: French for "stabbed onion". With a clove, tack a bay leaf with onto a peeled onion. Stabbed onions are used to flavor soups and sauces. 

Oignon brûlé: French for "burnt onion" (think of créme brûlé, and the burnt sugar on top). Charred half onions give color and flavor to stocks and sauces. 

Oblique: this is a type of cut, with two angle-cut sides.

Culinary Terminology - P

Pâtissier: pastry chef, or the person responsible for all breads, pastries and desserts. For a job description, click here:

Prix fixe: a fixed price, or predetermined price for a complete meal, also known as table d'hôte.

Purée: a smooth pulp, or the action of processing food to a smooth pulp. Purée de pommes de terre = mashed potatoes. Seriously.

Paysanne: another one of those cuts that we have to master for the knife skills test. Paysanne is a flat cut.

Poisson: fish. Can also be used for capelin, plaice or poor cod (types of fish). How to remember? Puffer fish = poison.

Poissonier: Ah.....the fishmonger. Or, in our case, the chef occupied with all things fish.

Pommes: Apples.

Pommes de terre: Potatoes, or literally "apples of the earth".

Potage: a thick, often creamy soup. For a recipe, see here:

Potager: the station, or chef, responsible for soups and stocks. Incidentally, a potager is also the name for a French kitchen garden:,14743,613889,00.html

Poulet: Chicken. You'll be surprised, you probably know enough French by now to be able to follow this simple recipe for roast chicken:

Culinary Terminology - Q

Quatre épices: Literally, "four spices". It's a French spice blend consisting of pepper (black, white or both), nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Sometimes cinnamon will be substituted for ginger, or allspice instead of pepper. It's used to season and flavor soups, stews and meats.

Culinary Terminology - R

Remouillage: Literally means "to wet again" and the term is used to describe the process, and product of using bones (that have been used previously) to draw a second stock.

Rondeau: a circular pan with straight edges and a handle on each side.

Rondelle: circular or disk shaped slice. Perfect for those carrots......

Rôtisserie: a cooking device built to rotate meats or foods and grill them evenly.

Rôtisseur: the station in the kitchen, or the chef who is responsible for all items roasted on a spit:

Roulade: a roll. Either meat/poultry or fish around a stuffing, or a filled and spongecake. Here's a lovely recipe for a chicken roulade:,1739,153177-229198,00.html

Roux: a mixture of butter (or fat) and flour, cooked until it forms a thick sauce. It is used as a thickener:

Culinary Terminology - S

Sachet d'épices: this is a satchel, or a little bag, with aromatic ingredients, used to flavor stocks and other foods. A standard sachet usually contains parsley stems, dried thyme, cracked peppercorns, a bay leaf, cloves and sometimes garlic.

Saucier: the sauté station chef is responsible for all sautéed items and sauces.

Sautée: quickly cooking foods in a hot pan with a little bit of fat, it's a high temperature, dry-heat cooking method.

Sel: Salt. Before you think table salt is the only salt, check here:

Sommelier: the "wine-meister" in a restaurant. He/she orders, knows and recommends wines and is the to-go-to guy or girl for all things wine.

Sous chef: "sous" in French means "below" or "underneath". The term sous-chef points to the first chef below the executive chef on the ranks. The sous-chef is usually the one in charge of production. Here's the resume of one:

Speculaas: Dutch cookie that is traditionally served in December and is spiced with a mixture of cinnamon, white pepper, ground cloves and nutmeg. Sometimes cardamom or anise seed is added to the mixture. For a recipe, click here:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Culinary Terminology - T

Table d'hôte: a complete meal at a fixed price. A sample menu:

Tournant: the swing or relief cook, or the chef who replaces chefs on their station.

Tourner: the art of cutting foods into football-shaped pieces with seven equal sides and blunt ends. Not fun.

Toque: a tall, round, pleated, starched, white hat worn by chefs.

Tranche: an angled slice of fish. The key word here is "angle".

Culinary Terminology - U

Culinary Terminology - V

Velouté: white stock thickened with roux. See R for roux.

Vol-au-vent: individual puff pastry shells that hold a savory filling. Served as an appetizer or main course:

Culinary Terminology - W

Culinary Terminology - X

Culinary Terminology - Y

Yuca: also known as manioc or cassava, yuca is an edible root that is similar in structure to potatoes and is therefore often a good substitute. The root has to be cooked appropriately to get rid of certain toxins. Tapioca is flour made of the root.

Culinary Terminology - Z