Know the lingo!
Knowing a few new terms can help you better understand recipes and be more comfortable cooking. Here are some of the most common words you will find.
- Bake: cooking in the oven. Usually used to describe the way you cook breads, cakes, cookies, and similar foods.
- Braise: a way to make tough cuts of meat more tender. First, brown the meat in a skillet on the stove. Then add a small amount of liquid, and cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil. Cook using low heat, in the oven, or in a slow cooker with a lid, until the meat is tender.
- Boil: cooking a liquid on the stove, or cooking something in a liquid, until many large bubbles quickly and continuously appear all over the surface.
- Chop: cutting into pieces.
- Cream: stirring or mixing ingredients fast and hard, by hand or with an electric mixer, until they are soft and creamy. You may see this in a recipe for a cake or cookies, which will say to cream the butter and sugar together.
- Dice: cutting into small cubes, about ¼ to ½ inch in size.
- Mince: cutting into tiny pieces, even smaller than dicing.
- Poach: gently cooking on the stove in a liquid like water, milk, wine, or stock (not oil).
- Roast: cooking uncovered in the oven. Usually used to describe the way you cook meat and vegetables.
- Sauté: cooking in a small amount of oil or butter on the stove on medium to high heat, stirring often.
- Simmer: cooking in a liquid just below boiling point on the stove, usually over low or medium-low heat. Small bubbles appear in the liquid, but they don’t appear as quickly or continuously as in boiling.
- Stir-fry: cooking ingredients in a small amount of oil on the stove over high heat. The ingredients are usually cut all the same size so they cook quickly and evenly. You stir-fry by lifting and turning them with a spoon or spatula as they cook.
- Whip: stirring or mixing ingredients together fast and hard, until they are light and fluffy. You can do this with a fork, a whisk, or an electric mixer.