Bain Marie: Also called double-boiler. A hot-water bath cooking technique using 2 pans to gently cook foods. Hot water is placed in the bottom pan over the heat source, while the food to be cooked is nestled in the top pan. This allows gentle cooking without scorching.
Beurre manié [pronounced burr mahn-YAY]: A paste made with softened butter and flour (usually in equal parts) that is used to thicken sauces. The beurre manié (French for "kneaded butter”) must be added slowly to a hot or warm liquid, so that the butter melts and releases the flour particles without creating lumps (which would happen if stirring in just the flour).
Blanch: (verb) To plunge raw food into boiling water briefly, then into cold water to stop the cooking process. The purpose may be to do one of the following: to soften or partially cook, to loosen skins, to heighten and set colour and flavour, to reduce a pungent flavour, or to cook completely.
Blender: A small electrical appliance with short rotating blades used to chop, blend, purée and liquefy foods. The hand-held "immersion" type is the most practical, since it may be immersed right into a pot of soup (or other mixture) to chop or purée the contents.
Broth: A flavourful liquid resulting from slowly cooking meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables in water. It is often used instead of water to cook food, or as a base for sauces and soups. The easiest way to prepare a broth is to dilute some concentrated broth or cubes with boiling water: just follow the instructions on the package.
Bulb Baster: A kitchen utensil that assists with basting, which is a method of moistening food during the cooking process. Basting is most often used when cooking meat. The head of the bulb baster is squeezed, creating a partial vacuum, and then the stem is inserted into the juices at the bottom of the pan. When the pressure is released on the bulb, the juices are drawn into the stem so they can be transferred over and around the meat, adding flavour and creating a glaze.
Casserole: Refers to both a baking dish and the ingredients it contains. A "casserole dish" usually is a deep, round, ovenproof container with handles and a tight-fitting lid. It can be made of glass, metal, ceramic or any other heatproof material. A casserole's ingredients can include meat, vegetables, beans, rice, and is often topped by cheese or breadcrumbs.
Chipotle: A chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeño pepper that tends to be brown and shriveled. A key ingredient of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines, chipotle imparts a relatively mild but earthy spiciness to many dishes. It is currently stored in a red sauce (adobo) of tomato puree and onions, and sold in small cans. You can find it in any grocery store that carries ethnic food.
Coat: (verb) To evenly cover food with flour or crumbs. An easy way to do this is to pour some flour or crumbs into a shallow dish or on a paper towel to allow room to turn the food and spread the coating on all sides.
Corer: A knife or other instrument designed to remove the core from fruit or vegetables. It is usually made of stainless steel and comes in different shapes. An all-purpose corer has a medium-length shaft with a circular cutting ring at the end.
Court-bouillon [pronounced: Coor-BOO-Eey-OHN]: A vegetable broth used for poaching fish and seafood. For fish, make sure to add the fish to cold broth. Alternately, seafood is plunged into boiling broth. Ready-to-use dehydrated court-bouillon is available in cubes or bags.
Demi-glace: A rich sauce made of beef stock, vegetables, herbs, and roux slowly cooked (3 to 5 hours over very low heat) until it's reduced by half to a thick glaze. The term comes from the French word glace, which, when used in reference to sauces, meaning icing or glaze. The intense flavour of demi-glace is used as a base for many other sauces. Ready-to-use demi-glace sauce may be bought at the meat counter (refrigerated), or in a packet, which can be found in the non-perishables section of the grocery store. Demi-glace keeps for about 3 months in the refrigerator or up to 9 months in the freezer.
Devein: (verb) To remove the intestinal vein of a shrimp or other crustaceans. The gray-black vein on the back of the shrimp may be removed with the tip of a sharp knife or using a special instrument, called a deveiner. It is important to devein large shrimp because their veins contain grit; for small and medium shrimp, this technique is not necessary but may be done for esthetic purposes.
Fish stock: Also called "fumet" [pronounced: foo-MAY]: A concentrated stock made from fish bones and heads, slowly cooked with aromatic vegetables. It is used to poach fish and seafood or to add flavour to sauces. Ready-to-use fumet is available in concentrated powder or cubes.
Food mill: A kitchen utensil used to mash cooked food such as potatoes or soups. By using a hand-turned paddle to force food through a strainer plate at the bottom, skin, seeds, and fibre are removed.
Garlic press: A kitchen utensil used to press a garlic clove through small holes, extracting both pulp and juice. Cloves do not need to be peeled, but the press must be cleaned right after using it, before any garlic fragments left in the tool dry. Some press models contain teeth that push any remaining fragments back out through the holes, making cleaning much easier.
Julienne: (verb) To cut food into long thin matchlike strips, approximately 3 mm wide and 4-5 cm long; Julienne - Foods that have been cut into thin, matchstick strips (most often used as a garnish or in soups).
Marinate: (verb) To soak meat, fish, or vegetables in a seasoned liquid mixture (marinade) in order to absorb its flavours or, in the case of a tough cut of meat, to tenderize. Because most marinades are acid, this operation should be done in a glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel container — never in aluminum.
Mixer: Any of various electrical appliances used to beat, mix, whisk or whip foods. There are two major kinds: stationary (or stand) and portable (or hand-held). The stand ones are more powerful, but they also take up more counter space. Portable ones can be used anywhere, mainly on smaller tasks, since their motor is small.
Olive Paste: A spread made with pureed olives and olive oil. Good prepared olive paste, imported from Italy, France or Greece, is available at gourmet and specialty stores. The homemade version is made by finely chopping, crushing or blending good quality pitted olives (e.g. Kalamata), then adding olive oil until the mixture becomes a paste. Whether homemade or commercial, olive paste will keep for a couple of months in the refrigerator.
Pastry Blender: A kitchen utensil that is used for combining (cutting) fat (usually butter) into a flour mixture. It evenly distributes the tiny pieces of fat without warming the dough (as hand kneading does). A typical blender consists of 5-6 sturdy steel tines, parallel and U-shaped, both ends of which are attached to a wooden handle.
Pesto: Uncooked sauce made with crushed or finely chopped garlic, pine nuts, and fresh basil, mixed with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese to make a paste. It originated in the Italian region of Liguria, around Genoa. It is used on a variety of dishes, and a favourite on pasta.
Potato ricer: A kitchen utensil resembling a big garlic press, used to mash cooked food such as potatoes. A lever-operated plunger is pushed down against the food, forcing it out through tiny holes in the bottom of the container. The result is food that somewhat resembles grains of rice.
Pressure cooker: A pressurized cooking pot in which food is cooked at temperatures above the boiling point by steam maintained under pressure. Since the food is cooked at a very high temperature, its cooking time is reduced by as much as two-thirds, without destroying its nutritional value. This reinforced metal pot has a locking airtight lid, a valve system to regulate internal pressure and a safety valve, which will automatically vent the steam should there be a malfunction.
Ras-el-hanout: A spice blend, also known as "couscous spice", which is a combination of up to 50 ingredients. It is often used in couscous recipes. «Ras-el-hanout» means «head of the shop», because shop owners create their own unique blend, sometimes also including aphrodisiacs, but most commonly cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, anise, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, dried flowers, mace, and turmeric.
Ribbon: A term used to describe the texture of an egg-and-sugar mixture, that has been beaten until pale and thick. When the whisk or beater is held up over the bowl, the batter falls slowly onto the batter, in a ribbon-like pattern, that disappears after a few seconds.
Sabayon: Foamy dessert made by beating together egg yolks, wine or other spirits, and sugar. This whisking is done over a bain-marie so that the egg yolks cook as they thicken into a light custard. Sabayon is a French name derived from the Italian zabaglione.
Slow Cooker: A countertop electrical cooking appliance that cooks food with low, steady, moist heat. It consists of a lidded round or oval cooking pot made of glazed ceramic or porcelain, surrounded by a housing, usually metal, containing a thermostatically controlled electric heating element. This appliance uses up to 80% less energy than a regular stove. The slow cooker is also known as a Crock-Pot (a trademark often used generically).
Sumac: Dark purple-red berries with a pleasantly fruity, astringent taste (similar to lemon). They are very much present in the Middle-Eastern cuisine, complementing everything from fish to meat to vegetables. Sumac is an essential component of the Fattouche salad. It is sold ground or in its dried-berry form.
Vegetable Oil Spray: A spray form of various types of oils, combined with an emulsifier and a propellant. Since it dispenses a very fine mist of oil, it provides fewer calories per serving than an application of vegetable oil poured from a bottle; hence it is ideal for low-fat cooking. A two second spray provides about 1,6 g of fat compared to 4 g found in one teaspoon of butter. A variety of oils are offered commercially in ready-to-use cooking sprays. As an alternative, one may fill a spray bottle with the preferred oil, or apply a thin coating with a brush or piece of wax paper.
Zest: The thin outermost coloured skin of citrus fruit which can be removed with the aid of a «citrus zester» or a vegetable peeler. Only the coloured portion, which contains aromatic oils, should be removed and used, leaving behind the bitter white pith. The zest is used to add flavour to sweet or savory dishes.