Tag Archives: Cooking Tips & Recipes

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)

5 Healthy Alternatives to Your Holiday Cookie Recipes

Cookies; Image from MorgueFileWith the holiday season in full swing, sweets are virtually unavoidable.  While most people don’t go looking for the healthy stuff this time of year (or heaven’s forbid turn down a cookie), it is nice to know that if you’re about to start baking there are some nutritious alternatives to the old favorites and classic standbys.  There’s no need to skimp on flavor this holiday, but if you try these five recipes, your waistline will thank you come January.

Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookies provide a great base for decoration and (as seen in the blog post included with the recipe) are a big hit with both kids and adults.   These delicious treats will not only give you a chance to experiment with the wide world of vegan without going too far outside your comfort zone, but also give you a chance to try out some new alternative ingredients such as egg replacements and vegan cream cheese that could be incorporated into other recipes.

Healthy Brownie Cookies let you have a little fun with chocolate (because who doesn’t crave it?) without all that added guilt.  Everyone likes a good brownie and with these you’ll get a chance to stay on your diet because they are low-fat and incorporate fiber with added bran.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies are always a crowd favorite, but this recipe adds in a little something extra…tofu.  While this may seem totally unorthodox to the chocolate chip cookie purists, tofu is a great way to keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol.  As if that wasn’t enough reason to add tofu, the yummy chocolaty goodness of these cookies actually prevents you from even knowing it’s in there, which means all the benefits with the same great taste.

 Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies give you a way to control your portions without missing out.  These goodies can often be high in fat due to the large amounts of butter.  However, this take on the classic swaps out some of that badness that makes the cookies so moist for a fruity alternative.  By just mixing up some hot water, pureed apples and a small amount of butter the cookies maintain their texture and add in a little more of a daily food group.

If you’re really feeling the health kick this season, you may even want to try Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe.  This one may be just a bit out of your normal comfort zone, but promises to be rich, hearty and “macaroon-eque.”  An extra bonus to the cookie is that it contains no butter, sugar or eggs and can also be made as a gluten-free option for those with allergies.

Happy 4th of July! How Are You Celebrating?

234 years ago we claimed our independence from Great Britain, today we spend the day celebrating with fireworks, cookouts, visits to the nearest lake, camping and more. How will you celebrate this year?

Many restaurants opt to close down for the 4th of July while others stay open so their customers can eat and enjoy late night fireworks. If you choose to close for the holiday will you have special menu items before or after? If you choose to remain open, what will you be doing?

Here are some festive ideas from Food Network:

Firecracker cocktails: these cocktails are like a festive party in your mouth with the red drink and blue pop rocks. Pour this in a hurricane glass for a really festive look.

Try the Outside-in Burgers for the main course. Serve these in a Red oval baskets that are great for easy cleanup and match the 4th of July theme.

For dessert consider an individual portion of Red, White and Blue trifle cake. Serve in a blue swirl bowl for a more eye catching display.

Mixing and matching these great recipes is sure to liven up your 4th of July specials. Celebrate and enjoy!

Fun With Food

Here’s a list of links to some fun, food-related articles I’ve found over the week…a great mix of trivia, recipes and fun photos!  Enjoy!

Check out this list of Top 10 Food Songs…bet you can’t guess all ten!

Art that gives “playing with your food” a whole new meaning.

What they’re eating at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Recipe ingredient:  Girl Scout Cookies?

10 food trends to watch in 2010.

10,000 chocolate-chip cookies

Ever wanted to make 10,000 cookies? You’ll want to start out with a really big bowl.


  • 165 pounds of flour
  • 500 eggs
  • 100 pounds of granulated sugar
  • 87 pounds of shortening
  • 75 pounds of brown sugar
  • 12 pounds of butter
  • 3 pounds of salt
  • 3 cups of vanilla extract
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1.5 pounds of baking soda


  • Cream the shortening, white sugar and brown sugar
  • Add the eggs
  • Mix flour, salt and baking soda
  • Add flour mixture and water alternating into sugar mixture
  • Add vanilla
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Bake at 375°F until golden brown

Find this recipe and more at CentralRestaurant.com/Recipes.


Knowledge base

We have a new resource on the website that I hope will be a helpful tool for our visitors– the Central Knowledge Base has foodservice industry news, recipes, press releases, training videos and other helpful hints for foodservice operators. Let us know what you think, or if you have something you’d like me to add.