10 Handy Terms to Advance Your Cooking

It’s happened to us all, you’re watching a cooking show or looking at a recipe and you run across a term you’ve never heard before.  Most people at least know a few terms that are the basis for most recipes.  However, with cooking at home becoming more and more popular, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an instruction that might get you stumped.  To save you time and frustration, we’ve compiled a list of 10 useful cooking terms along with their definitions, where you’ll hear them and a recipe for each.  And just in case you’re missing the perfect tool we’ve thrown in some suggestions for great products from Central that will get you on the path to becoming a great chef! 

1)    Term: Al dente628-043

Definition: “To the tooth,” in Italian. Pasta
is cooked just to a firm and chewy texture.
(from goodcooking.com)
Where you might hear it: Italian
Tool: Pasta Cooker and
        Vegetable Steamer 
Recipe: Pasta Puttanesca
(from epicurious.com)


2)      Term: Bain-marie  (or double boiler)

          Definition: A bain-marie is a pan of water that is used to help
mixtures such as custards bake evenly and to protect them from the
direct heat of the oven or, in some cases, the stove.
(from newitalianrecipes.com)
Where you might hear it: Desserts (custard/cheesecake) or Sauces
Tool:  Bain Marie Pot 
Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake (from food.com)

 3)    Term: Blackened

        Definition: Method in which
seasoned foods are cooked over
high heat in a super-heated
heavy skillet until charred on the
outside.  (from
Where you might hear it:
Cajun cooking
Cast Iron Skillet
Blackened Salmon Filets
(from allrecipes.com) 


4)      Term: Blanch         

        Definition: To boil briefly to loosen the skin of a fruit or a vegetable.
After 30 seconds in boiling water, the fruit or vegetable should be
plunged into ice water to stop the cooking action and then the skin
easily slices or peels off.  (from
Where you might hear it: Vegetable/fruit dishes or cooking before
freezing a fruit/vegetable
Stock Pot 
Stuffed Peppers for Two (from allrecipes.com)   

5)      Term: Braise535-298

       Definition:  A cooking technique
that requires browning meat in oil
or other fat and then cooking slowly
in liquid. The effect of braising is to
tenderize the meat.
Where you might hear it:
When cooking tougher cuts of meat
Stout-braised short ribs
(from epicurious.com) 

  6)      Term: Caramelize

         Definition: Browning sugar over a flame with or without the addition
of some water to aid the process. The temperature range in which
sugar caramelizes, approximately 320° to 360°.
Where you might heart it: Desserts (Crème Brule or meringue) or
preparing onions
Butane Torch
Lemon Meringue Parfait  (from kitchendaily.com) 


7)      Term: Confit

Definition: Slowly cook pieces
of meat in their own gently
rendered fat until very soft and
tender. With seasonings,
brandy/wine and sometimes
vegetables. Duck and pork are
two popular meats to be used in
confit. When cooked and cooled
the meat is keep submerged in
its cooking fat as a preservative
and as a seal against oxygen.
Where you might hear it: Preparing goose or duck
Roasting Pan  
Duck Confit (from epicurious.com)

8)      Term: Deglaze          

        Definition: To add liquid to a pan in which foods have been fried or
roasted, in order to dissolve the caramelized juices stuck to the bottom
of the pan. (from
Where you might hear it: When sautéing or roasting
Saute Pan  
Chicken Saute with Mango Sauce (from kitchendaily.com) 

 9)      Term: Score

           Definition: To tenderize
meat by making a number of
shallow (often diagonal) cuts
across its surface. This
technique is also useful in
marinating, as it allows for
better absorption of the

Where you might hear it: Tenderizing or flavoring meat 
Paring Knife
 Recipe: London Broil (from allrecipes.com)  

 10)   Term: Sweat

        Definition: Cooking vegetables over low heat in a small amount of fat
to release their moisture, flavor and to have them look translucent.
Where you might hear it: Cooking aromatic vegetables (ex: onions,
celery, carrots) 
Non-stick fry pan  
Curried Parsnip Soup (from grouprecipes.com)

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