5 Kitchen and Cooking Terms You Need To Know
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Cooking lingo can be confusing sometimes, we admit. From all the big French words to the unusual use of common words, the world of culinary linguistics can become baffling for newbies.
If you can’t tell the difference between "julienne" and a "Chateaubriand", don’t worry because we’re here to help you figure the wonderful world of cooking lingo:
This fancy-sounding French word actually refers to thinly slicing anything, most often vegetables, into very thin batons. Julienne is most often used as a verb (“Please julienne that carrot”).
mise en place
This commonly used kitchen term literally means “to put in place” in English and for good reason. Mise en place refers to the preparation stage in cooking, such as chopping the vegetables, organizing the kitchen equipment and cleaning up your work station before the actual cooking process. Any good cook should practice their mise en place in order to keep things nice and orderly in the kitchen.
a la minute
This term (again, French) is usually used in restaurants to talk about food that is prepared to order, or “right this minute.” Most restaurants often prepare many of the components of their dishes ahead of time (think braises, pickles and dressings) and a la minute dishes often take the most practice to get right because of the timing involved. Dishes that are often cooked a la minute usually involve fish, grilled meats and pan sauces.
Blooming in the kitchen has less to do with flowers and more to do with ingredients like gelatin. Blooming is the process by which a cook or baker lets a particular ingredient, say cocoa powder or gelatin, sit in a liquid (most often water) to be able to rehydrate and fully activate before being added to the final mix. Blooming allows for the ingredients to reach their fullest potency and allows for easier mixing later on.
In cooking, tempering refers to gently changing the temperatures of certain heat-sensitive ingredients in order to prevent them from overcooking or to allow them to achieve a certain chemical structure. When a custard recipe requires you to temper eggs, for instance, you need to slowly introduce eggs to a hot liquid before adding them to a hot pot or pan in order to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Similarly, tempering chocolate involves slowly introducing cool solid chocolate to an already melted mix in order help the chocolate develop a chemical structure conducive to solidifying into a glossy, brittle mass.