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Glossary

Al Dente

An Italian term meaning “to the tooth” used to describe pasta that is cooked but still firm.

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Arborio Rice

A medium grain rice used for making risottos. In risottos, this rice has a creamy texture with a chewy center.

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Aromatic Rice

Also known as fragrant rice, aromatic rice has natural ingredients that are responsible for their aroma and fragrant taste. Each type of aromatic rice has its own cooking characteristic. Basmati,…

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Au Jus

Natural, unthickened juices that collect while roasting meats.

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Baby Back Ribs

Ribs that come from the blade and center section of the pork loin. They are called baby back ribs because they are smaller than spareribs.

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Bake

To cook in an oven surrounded by dry heat. When baking, it's important to preheat the oven before placing the food inside.

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Baste

To moisten foods while cooking by brushing with pan juices, butter, margarine, oil or a reserved marinade.

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Basted or Self-Basted

Chicken or turkey that has been injected or marinated with a solution of water, broth or stock that contains a fat (such as butter), spices and flavor enhancers.

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Batter

A mixture made of flour and a liquid such as milk. It may also include other ingredients such as sugar, butter, shortening or oil, eggs, leaveners and flavorings. The consistency of batters ranges…

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Beat

To rapidly mix with a spoon, fork, wire whisk or electric mixer.

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Betty

A baked fruit dessert that alternates layers of sweetened fruit with cake, cookies or bread crumbs.

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Bias cut

To cut foods diagonally into slices. Most often used in stir-fries.

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Blanch

To cook for a few minutes in boiling water. This technique is used to help remove peels, to partially cook foods as a preparation step in a recipe or to prepare foods for freezing.

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Blend

To combine several ingredients with a spoon, electric mixer, blender or food processor.

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Blue-Veined Cheeses

Cheese that has been sprayed with or inoculated with mold spores and aged. The veins can be blue or green. These cheeses have a piquant flavor.

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Boil

To heat liquids until bubbles form that cannot be stirred down. In the case of water, the temperature will reach 212° at sea level.

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Bone

To remove raw or cooked meat from bones.

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Braise

To cook slowly in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan on the stovetop or in the oven. Generally used for less tender cuts of meat.

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Breading

A coating of fine bread crumbs or crackers used on meat, fish or vegetables.

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Broil

To cook foods about 4 to 6 inches from a heat source.

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Broiler/Fryer Chicken

A chicken about 7 weeks old that weighs 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 pounds.

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Broth

Made from simmering meats, poultry, fish or vegetables, broths have less body than stocks. However, stocks and broths often are used interchangeably.

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Brown

To cook foods in a small amount of fat over medium to high heat until the food becomes brown, sealing in the juices and developing rich pan drippings.

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Brown Bits

Little flecks of browned food that is left in the bottom of a pan after browning or cooking meat or poultry.

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Brown Rice

Rice that has had the husk removed but not the bran layer. The bran layer retains more vitamin, mineral and fiber content than white rice. When cooked, the grains are separate and have a chewy…

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Buckle

A baked, cake-like fruit dessert made with berries. Named because the cake sometimes buckles under the weight of the topping.

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Butt End

The round end of a ham.

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Butterfly

To split foods, such as chicken breast, boneless meat or shrimp, lengthwise in half, leaving the meat attached along one side.

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Capon

A castrated male chicken between 4 and 8 months old that weighs 4 to 7 pounds.

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Caramelize

To heat sugar in a skillet or saucepan over low heat until melted and golden brown. Also refers to cooking onions in butter until soft, caramel-colored and rich in flavor.

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Chicken Leg

The attached drumstick and thigh.

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Chicken Quarter

A quarter of the chicken and may be the leg or breast quarter. The leg quarter contains the drumstick, thigh and portion of the back. The breast quarter contains the breast, wing and portion of…

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Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cakes are moist, light and airy, with a springy texture similar to a sponge cake and the rich flavor of a butter cake. Although prepared similarly to a butter cake, a chiffon cake uses oil…

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Chili

A hearty dish usually made with tomatoes and chili powder, but some chili dishes are white. The variations on chili seem endless. A chili can be mild or hot, have ground beef, stew meat, sausage,…

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Chill

To cool foods to below room temperature (40° or less) by placing in the refrigerator, freezer or an ice bath.

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Chop

To cut foods into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces.

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Chowder

A chunky, thick, rich soup frequently made with seafood or vegetables (such as corn), but it can be made with other meat. Chowders have a milk or cream base and may be thickened with flour.

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Clarify

To remove sediment and suspended particles from a liquid. Clarified butter has the milk solids removed, which allows the clarified butter to be heated to a higher temperature without smoking.

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Coat

To dip or roll foods in flour, sugar or a sauce until covered.

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Coats Spoon

To leave a thin, even, smooth film on the back of a metal spoon. This is a doneness test for stirred custards.

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Cobbler

A fruit dessert with a biscuit topping. The topping can be either in a single layer or dropped over the fruit to give a cobblestone effect.

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Combine

To place several ingredients in a single bowl or container and thoroughly mix.

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Consomme

A completely degreased, clarified stock. It has a rich flavor and, due to its high gelatin content, will set up when chilled.

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Converted Rice

Also known as parboiled rice, this rice has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling. This gives it a firmer grain and cooks up fluffy and separate.

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Cooking In Liquid

To simmer meat covered with liquid for a long time. Generally used for less tender cuts of meat to tenderize the meat.

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Cool

To bring foods to room temperature (about 70°).

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Core

To remove the seed area of an apple or pear using a coring tool or a small knife.

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Cornish Game Hen

A small broiler/fryer that is less than 30 days old and weighs 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.

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Country-Style Ham

Also known as old-fashioned or Southern-style ham, this type of ham has been dry-cured with salt, sugar and spices and may be smoked. No water has been added to the ham. This type of ham can be…

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Country-Style Ribs

Meaty ribs from the rib end of the pork loin. They are sold (with and without bones) both in slabs and individually.

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Cream

To beat softened butter, margarine or shortening alone or with sugar using a spoon or mixer until light and fluffy.

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Creamed Soups

Pureed soups with a smooth, silky texture. The main flavor is frequently a single vegetable, such as asparagus or carrot. They may be thickened with flour or potatoes and can be made without…

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Crimp

To seal the edge of a double-crusted pie by pinching or pressing the crusts together with your fingers, fork or other utensil.

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Crisp

A baked fruit dessert that has a crumb topping over fruit. The topping generally has flour, sugar and butter and may or may not have oats, nuts and spices. The topping gets crisp while baking.

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Crisp-Tender

A stage of vegetable cooking where the vegetables are cooked until they are crunchy yet tender enough to be pierced with a fork.

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Crush

To reduce foods to crumbs, paste or powder. Herbs can be crushed in a mortar and pestle. Garlic cloves and fresh gingerroot can be crushed with the side of a knife.

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Cube

To cut foods into 1/2-inch to 1-inch square pieces.

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Cured Ham

Infused with a solution of sugar, salt and nitrite to enhance flavor and shelf life. A cured ham can also be smoked.

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Cut In

To break down and distribute cold butter, margarine or shortening into a flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives.

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Cut-Up Chicken

A broiler/fryer that has been cut into two breast halves, two thighs, two drumsticks and two wings. It may or may not have the back.

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Dash

A measurement less than 1/8 teaspoon that is used for herbs, spices or hot pepper sauce. This is not an accurate measurement.

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Deep-Fat Fry

To cook foods in enough hot oil so that the food floats in the oil.

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Deglaze

To add water, broth or wine to a pan in which food, usually meat, has been cooked to remove the browned drippings to make a rich gravy.

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Dice

To cut foods into small cubes (1/8-inch to 1/4-inch cubes).

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Direct Heat

To cook foods on an outdoor grill directly over coals or heat source.

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Dissolve

To stir a solid food with a liquid until none of the solid remains, such as yeast with warm water or gelatin in boiling water.

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Dollop

A small mound of soft food such as whipped cream or whipped topping.

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Dot

To break up butter into small pieces and distribute over the top of a pie or dough.

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Dough

A thick mixture made of flour and a liquid that is not pourable. It may include ingredients such as sugar, butter, shortening or oil, eggs, leaveners and flavorings. It may be stiff enough to be…

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Dredge

To lightly coat foods with flour or bread crumbs.

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Dress

To toss salads with salad dressing. Also, to remove the internal organs of fish, poultry or game.

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Dressed Fish

Ready to cook; has been gutted and scaled. It still has its head and tail.

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Drippings

The juices and melted fat that collect in the bottom of the pan as meat is cooked. The juices and some of the fat from the drippings can be used in gravies and sauces.

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Drizzle

To slowly spoon or pour a thin stream of an icing, melted butter or other liquid over food.

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Drumette

The first section of a chicken wing.

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Drumstick

The lower portion of the leg of chicken or turkey.

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Dust

To lightly sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, baking cocoa or flour.

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Dutch Oven

A multipurpose cooking pot that can range in size from 5 to 8 quarts and is used to roast meats, cook soups and stews, boil pasta or steam vegetables.

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Egg Wash

A mixture of beaten egg, egg yolk or egg white and water that is brushed over breads, rolls, pastries or pie crusts before baking. Egg washes give the final baked product a shiny brown finish.

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Emulsify

To combine through a whisking action two liquids that traditionally separate, such as oil and vinegar, into a uniform mixture.

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Extracts

The distilled essential oils from plant materials, which are then dissolved in alcohol. Common examples are vanilla and almond.

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Fell

A thin membrane that covers the fat on a cut of meat. To remove, use a sharp knife to loosen the fell and peel off.

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Fillets

Taken from the side of the fish and are boneless. They may or may not be skinless.

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Flake

To separate foods into small pieces. The term is frequently used when describing the doneness.

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Flatfish

Have both eyes on top of a flat body. Flounder, sole, turbot and halibut are flatfish. Generally flatfish are sold as fillets, but halibut is typically sold as steaks.

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Flavorings

Chemical compounds that replicate the flavor of a particular food or plant and do not originate from the plant material. Common examples are maple, banana and coconut.

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Flute

To make a V-shape or scalloped edge on pie crust with thumb and fingers.

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Fold

A method of mixing to combine light or delicate ingredients such as whipped cream or egg whites with other ingredients without beating. A rubber spatula is used to gently cut down through the…

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Food Coloring

Used to tint foods and is available in liquids, gels or pastes.

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Free Range or Free Roaming

The poultry was not confined to a chicken house but was allowed outside to forage for food.

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Freeze

To store foods in the freezer.

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Frenching

Refers to when about 1-1/2 in. of the meat is removed from the bones. This treatment is frequently done with rack of lamb.

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Fresh Cheeses

Those that have not been cured, such as cottage or cream cheese.

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Fresh Ham

Ham from the hind leg and has not been smoked or cured.

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Fresh Poultry

Uncooked poultry that has never been commercially stored below 26°.

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Freshwater Fish

From streams, rivers and freshwater lakes.

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Frost

To cover a cake, cupcake or cookie with a spreadable frosting.

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Fry

To cook foods in a small amount of fat over medium to high heat.

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Full Rolling Boil

To boil a liquid in which the bubbles created by the boil cannot be stirred down.

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Fully Cooked Ham

Ham that is cooked and smoked and/or cured. It can be eaten without heating but is generally heated to 140° for optimal flavor.

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Garnish

A decorative and edible accompaniment to give a dish more eye appeal and sometimes a flavor boost.

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Gazpacho

An uncooked cold soup. The most common version uses tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, onion and garlic.

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Giblets

The heart, liver, neck and gizzard of a chicken, turkey or other fowl.

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Glaze

To coat the exterior of sweet or savory foods with a thin, glossy mixture.

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Grate

To rub ingredients such as citrus peel, spices and chocolate over a grater to produce very fine particles.

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Grease

To rub the inside of a baking dish or pan with shortening, butter or oil, or to coat with nonstick cooking spray to keep the contents from sticking.

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Grease and Flour

To rub the inside of a baking dish or pan with a thin layer of shortening, butter or oil, or coat with nonstick cooking spray and then dust with flour. The excess flour is shaken out of the pan.…

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Grill

To cook foods outside on a grid over hot charcoals or a gas flame. Also refers to an indoor countertop electrical appliance.

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Grind

To transform a solid piece of food into smaller pieces using a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle.

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Gumbo

A hearty, stew-like soup usually served with rice that starts with a dark roux of flour and oil or butter. It may contain shellfish, chicken, sausage, ham, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sweet peppers…

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Hard Cheeses

Aged cheeses that have a hard, dry texture.

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Headspace

An area left unfilled between the top of the food in a home canning jar or freezer container and the bottom of the lid.

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Hen or Tom Turkey

Indicates whether the turkey was female (hen) or male (tom). Tom turkeys are usually larger than hen turkeys. A hen or tom turkey should be equally tender.

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Hull

To remove the green stem and leaves of strawberries.

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Husk

To remove the outer leaves from an ear of corn.

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Ice

To spread a thin frosting over cakes or cookies.

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Indirect Heat

To cook foods on an outdoor grill over a drip pan with the coals banked (or other heat source) on one or both sides of the drip pan. Indirect heat is used for cooking larger cuts of meat or less…

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Instant Rice

Has been precooked, dehydrated and packaged and takes just minutes to prepare.

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Jelly Roll

A dessert made by spreading a filling of jelly, cream or whipped cream over a sponge cake baked in a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan and rolling into a log. Jelly-roll style is used when any food…

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Julienne

To cut foods into long, thin matchstick shapes about 2 inches long and 1/8 inch thick.

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Knead

To work dough by using a pressing and folding action to make it smooth and elastic.

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Lamb

Meat from a sheep that is less than 1 year old.

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Lean Fish

Has a low fat content—it can be as low as 2.5 percent fat. Lean fish has a delicate texture and mild flavor. Due to the low fat content it dries out easily during cooking and is best cooked with…

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Line

To cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper or foil to prevent sticking.

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Marble

To swirl light and dark batters in a cake, bar cookie, pie or cheesecake. The batters should not be combined into one color; there should still be two distinct batters after marbling.

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Marinate

To tenderize and/or flavor foods, usually meat or raw vegetables, by placing in a liquid mixture of oil, vinegar, wine, lime or lemon juice, herbs and spices.

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Mince

To cut foods into very fine pieces no larger than 1/8 inch.

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Mix

To stir or beat two or more ingredients together with a spoon or a fork until well combined.

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Moderately Oily Fish

Has a fat content around 6 percent. They have a firmer texture than lean fish and a neutral flavor. These types of fish can be baked, broiled, grilled, pan-fried or poached.

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Moisten

To add enough liquid to dry ingredients while stirring gently to make a wet, but not runny, mixture. Often used in the preparation of muffins.

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Mutton

Meat from a sheep that is over 1 year old.

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Oily Fish

Has a fat content of more than 6 percent and can be as high as 50 percent. Due to the high fat content, these fish have a firm, meaty texture and a strong rich flavor. These fish stay moist during…

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Pan-Broil

To cook tender cuts of meat, uncovered, in a skillet on the stovetop without the addition of any fat or liquid.

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Pan-Dressed

Fish or small game with the internal organs and head removed, making it ready for cooking.

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Pan-Dressed Fish

A dressed fish with the head and tail removed.

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Pan-Fry

To cook tender cuts of meat, uncovered, in a skillet on the stovetop with the addition of fat but no liquid.

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Parboil

To boil foods, usually vegetables, until partially cooked. Most often used when vegetables are finished using another cooking method or chilled for marinated salads or appetizer dips.

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Partially Set

The consistency of chilled gelatin (resembles unbeaten egg whites) before fruits, vegetables and nuts can be added without floating.

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Pasta Filata

An Italian cheese-making technique that gives cheese, such as mozzarella and provolone their elasticity. These cheeses stretch or string when they are cooked or melted.

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Peel

To remove the skin from fruits and vegetables. To remove the peel, use a small sharp knife, a grater, a vegetable peeler or zester. Also, the outer portion of a citrus fruit is known as the…

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Picnic Ham

Not considered a true ham because it is from the foreleg not the hind leg. It also has a portion of the shoulder.

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Pinch

A measurement less than 1/8 teaspoon of a seasoning or spice that is easily held between the thumb and index finger. This is not an accurate measurement.

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Pipe

To force a soft mixture such as whipped cream, frosting or meringue through a pastry bag for a fancy shape.

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Pit

To remove the seed from fruit. Also refers to the seed in cherries, peaches, nectarines and avocados.

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Plump

To soak dried fruit such as raisins and cherries in liquid until softened.

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Poach

To cook meat, fish, eggs or fruits in simmering liquid. The liquid can be flavored with salt, bay leaves, onion, celery and white wine if desired.

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Preheat

To bring an oven up to the baking temperature before baking.

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Press

Often called a cookie press. Used to extract cookie dough in decorative shapes.

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Prick

To pierce food or pastry with the tines of a fork to prevent them from bursting or rising during baking. Also used when roasting ducks and geese to remove excess fat under the skin.

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Process

To combine, blend, chop or puree foods in a food processor or blender.

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Proof

To check the quality of yeast before using. To proof yeast, dissolve yeast and a little sugar in warm water (110° to 115°) and let stand for 5 minutes. If the yeast is alive, there will…

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Prosciutto

A thinly sliced, Italian-style ham that is salt-cured and air-dried for 10 months to 2 years. It is not smoked.

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Pulse

To process foods in a food processor or a blender using short bursts of power. This is accomplished by quickly turning the machine on.

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Punch Down

To use a fist to deflate risen yeast dough after the first rising.

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Puree

To mash solid foods into a smooth mixture using a food processor, food mill, blender or sieve.

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Quick-Cooking Rice

Rice that has been partially precooked so it takes less time to cook than its regular-cooking counterpart.

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Reduce

To thicken sauces and gravy by boiling down and evaporating a portion of the liquid in an uncovered pan.

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Refrigerate

To place in the refrigerator to chill.

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Rind

The outer surface of a cheese, which varies in thickness and texture. Some cheeses don’t have rinds, such as brick and Colby.

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Ripened Cheese

Cheese that has been aged or cured.

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Roast

To cook meat or vegetables with a dry heat as in cooking in an oven without the addition of liquid. Also refers to large cuts of meat that are intended to be roasted.

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Roaster

A chicken between 3 and 5 months old that weighs 5 to 7 pounds.

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Rounded Teaspoon or Tablespoon

To mound dough slightly in measuring spoon.

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Roundfish

Have eyes on both sides of its head and a round body. Roundfish are sold dressed or pan-dressed and as steaks or fillets.

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Roux

A French term for a mixture of flour and fat that is cooked together until golden brown and used to thicken gumbo soups and sauces.

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Saltwater Fish

Fish from seas or oceans.

For healthy oceans, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program recommends buying chinook, coho, chum, keta, king, pink, silver, sockeye and sake salmon from…

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Saute

To cook or lightly brown foods in butter, margarine or oil until tender.

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Scald

To heat milk or cream over low heat until just before it boils. Look for small bubbles around the edge of the liquid.

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Score

To make thin slashes on the surface of breads to decorate and allow steam to escape during baking.

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Seed

To remove seeds from fruits and vegetables.

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Seize

To become thick and lumpy. Seizing refers to when a small amount of liquid comes in contact with melted chocolate.

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Self-Basted or Basted

Chicken or turkey that has been injected or marinated with a solution of water, broth or stock that contains a fat (such as butter), spices and flavor enhancers.

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Semifirm Cheese

Aged cheese with a firm texture but not crumbly like hard cheese.

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Semisoft Cheeses

Cheeses that have a sliceable, soft texture (like Monterey Jack).

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Separate

To remove the egg white from the egg yolk.

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Shank End

The narrow end of a ham.

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Shred

To cut or tear foods into long, thin strips, such as cooked chicken. In the case of soft cheese, carrots or potatoes, a metal shredder is used.

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Shuck

To remove the meat of oysters, clams, etc. from their shells. Also refers to removing the husk from an ear of corn.

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Sift

To pass dry ingredients such as flour or confectioners' sugar through a fine-mesh strainer or sifter to remove lumps, add air and combine several dry ingredients.

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Simmer

To cook liquids alone or a combination of ingredients with liquid just under the boiling point (180° to 200°). The surface of the liquid will have some movement and there may be small…

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Skim

To remove with a spoon a layer of fat or foam that rises from the top of cooking liquids.

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Smithfield Ham

Ham that is processed in the Smithfield area of Virginia. This seasoned, hickory-smoked ham is usually aged for 6 to 12 months. The ham is dark in color, lean and salty. Prepare according to…

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Smoked Ham

Processed by being exposed to smoke or by having Liquid Smoke applied to the surface. A smoked ham can also be cured.

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Snip

To cut herbs into small pieces using a kitchen shears.

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Soft Peaks

The stage of beating egg whites or heavy whipping cream when the beater is lifted from the mixture and the points of the peaks curl over.

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Soft-Ripened Cheeses

Cheese ripened with bacteria, which may have a creamy—and sometimes spreadable—consistency.

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Soften

To bring butter, margarine or cream cheese to a soft consistency by holding at room temperature for a short time.

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Spareribs

Curved ribs from the pork belly. While they are the least meaty of the ribs, they have a meaty pork flavor.

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Spice Bag

A container made out of cheesecloth to hold whole spices and/or herbs. The bag makes it easy to remove and discard the spices or herbs before serving.

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Split Chicken

A broiler/fryer that was cut lengthwise in half.

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St. Louis-Style Ribs

Spareribs with the breastbone removed.

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Steaks (Fish)

A cross-section of large roundfish and contain part of the backbone. They can be from 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.

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Steam

To cook foods covered on a rack or in a steamer basket over a small amount of boiling water. Most often used for vegetables.

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Steep

To place dry foods, such as tea leaves, in hot water to extract flavor and/or color.

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Stew

To cover food with liquid and slowly cook over low heat in a tightly covered pot. This cooking method tenderizes tough cuts of meat and allows flavors to blend.

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Stiff Peaks

The stage of beating egg whites or heavy whipping cream when the beater is lifted from the mixture and points of peaks stand straight up.

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Stir

To blend a combination of ingredients by hand using a spoon in a circular motion.

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Stir-Fry

To quickly saute meats and vegetables while stirring constantly in a wok or skillet.

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Stock

A long-simmered broth made from meat, poultry, fish and/or vegetables with herbs and spices.

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Stocks

Soups usually made with meaty bones (possibly roasted), meat and vegetables. Stock should be clear and free of grease and have a subtle flavor.

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Strain

To separate solids from liquid by pouring through a sieve or colander.

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Stud

To insert seasonings like whole cloves into the surface of food, such as a ham.

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Stuff

To fill a cavity in fish, poultry or pork chops with a bread or rice, vegetable, fruit or nut mixture.

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Tear

To use your hands to pull food apart into unevenly sized pieces, such as when tearing salad greens.

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Thread

To place pieces of meat and vegetables onto skewers as when making kabobs.

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Toss

To quickly and gently mix ingredients with a spoon or fork. Often done with flour and candied fruit in baked goods.

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Truss

To tie the legs and wings of poultry close to the body before roasting. If poultry is stuffed, the openings are closed with skewers that are tied or closed with string.

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Warm

To hold foods at a low temperature, usually around 200°, without further cooking.

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Water Bath

To place a baking dish containing food, such as a custard or souffle, in a large dish. The larger dish is filled with hot or boiling water. The food is then baked in the water bath to promote even…

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Weave

To thread food on a skewer using a back and forth motion. The term is also used to describe the action when making a lattice top for a pie.

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Whip

To beat rapidly by hand or with an electric mixer to add air and increase volume.

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Whisk

A multi-looped, wire mixing utensil with a handle used to whip sauces, eggs, cream, etc. to a smooth, airy consistency. Also means to whip ingredients together.

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White Rice

Rice that has had the hull and bran removed during the milling process. Long, medium and short grain refers to the length of the grain. Long grain has a long, slender kernel and it is separate,…

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Whole Fish

Needs to be gutted and scaled before cooking.

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Wild Rice

A dark-hulled, aquatic grass native to North America. It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. Grains expand 3 to 4 times their original size and some of the kernels may pop, allowing you to see…

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Zest

To remove the outer layer of skin from fruits using a grater or zester. (See Peel.)

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