Approximately – approx
Cup(s) – c
Degrees Fahrenheit in temperature settings on American ovens & thermometers – ¬įF
Gallon(s) – gal
Hour(s) – hr
Minute(s) – min
Miligrams(s) – mg
Millileter(s) – ml
Pint(s) – pt
Quart(s) – qt
Tablespoon(s) – TBSP
Teaspoon(s) – tsp
With – w/
Without – w/out
AL DENTE Italian for ‘firm’, referring to cooked food such as pasta & vegetables, cooked so that they are just past the ‘firm’ stage, not soft, and they retain their shape & vibrant color.¬† Vegetables¬† prepared al dente have the more flavor than if cooked until¬† soft.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR Rich, savory vinegar from grapes — combining both sweet and sour flavors — and aged for over a decade.¬† Be sure it is made in Modena, Italy to insure it is the authentic, aged product.¬† Balsamic vinegar is a deep brown color, but is also available in a lighter, less intense brown color.
BLANCH Steam tough vegetables such as carrots & broccoli stalks for a minute & plunge into cold water to stop cooking.¬† Drain & served cold.¬† Blanching makes tough vegetables a little more tender & less crunchy than if they were eaten raw.
CARAMELIZE – When saut√©ing onions in butter, cook (stirring frequently) until the natural sugars in the onion begin to brown (caramelize).¬† It will add a sweeter, more developed flavor to your dish.¬†¬† You can use oil, but the cooking temperature will be higher than with butter.
CREAM – Soften ingredients like butter or cream cheese – or blend – by mashing with a wooden spoon or pestle to the consistency of a smooth paste. ¬† Creaming of cold foods is easier if first cut into smaller bits. The same effect cannot be achieved by melting (butter).¬† Cream together two or more ingredients (butter & sugar) by mashing & blending together.
DREDGE – To coat a food with a dry ingredient, such as flour or cornmeal.¬† When dredging with breadcrumbs, food is said to be breaded.¬† The word dredged eliminates the confusion of using breaded when cooking with a food other than breadcrumbs.
EDIBLE ‚Äď You can eat it!¬† INEDIBLE means that you cannot or should not eat it because either your body will not easily digest it (like orange seeds) or it will taste bad (like the skin from beets).
FILTERED WATER – Put a filter on your faucet or use a pitcher to filter water used in cooking. Better and less expensive than bottled water, it doesn’t remove the fluoride (which keep teeth strong) and is environmentally responsible.
FLAMB√Č – Flaming, in French.¬† Gently heat alcohol, usually wine, rum or brandy, ignite it with a match & pour over a preparation, like Coq au Vin or Cherries Jubilee.¬† Impressive for company, and most of the alcohol burns off.
HUMMUS – A Middle Eastern puree of chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, oil & spices.¬† Used to accompany fish & meat & as a dip for vegetables or bread.
LATERAL CUT ‚Äď¬† Process of cutting fruit.¬† Imagine the produce as Earth:¬† the stem area (top) is the North Pole, the opposite end (bottom) is the South Pole.¬† First cut on the line where the equator would be, cutting produce in half.¬† ¬†Best method for slicing tomatoes, onions, etc for sandwiches.
POLAR CUT ‚Äď Process of cutting fruit.¬† Stand produce on end with stem area at the top,¬† imagining the fruit as Earth:¬† the stem area (top) is the North Pole, the opposite end (bottom) is the South Pole.¬† Place knife at the top/North Pole and slice in half towards the South Pole.¬† If a large pit is involved, like an avocado, ease the knife around the pit.
PRIX FIXE – A French term, pronounced pree FIX, is the restaurant habit of charging a fixed price for a specific menu, usually including appetizer, entree & dessert.¬† Sometimes coffee or wine is included.¬† Drawbacks are that you are limited in what you can select, and most restaurants have prix fixe on holidays when they expect to be filled to capacity on holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Thanksgiving & New Year’s Eve.
SAUT√Č – Pan frying, usually in melted butter or oil on medium heat.¬† Three things when saut√©ing:¬† 1 Use enough butter or oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan; you can always add more if needed.¬† 2 Allow the pan to heat before adding the food.¬† Wait until the butter is bubbling.¬† The oil will not bubble, but if you flick a few drops of water into it, it will sputter if it is hot.¬† If it doesn’t talk to you, it’s not hot enough.¬† 3 If you need to add more butter or oil, add it slowly to avoid cooling the pan while the food is cooking, usually around the edges of the pan.
STEAM – Bring to boil on the stove a very little bit of water or other liquid in a pan with a tight-fitting lid.¬† Add food, cover & cook lightly until just tender.¬† Steaming best preserves nutrients of grains & vegetables.¬† Food can also be steamed in an electric steamer, where water boils on the bottom & food is put on a rack over the water.¬† Steam from the water cooks the food.
STIR-FRY – Stir-frying is best done in a wok. The large surface area of a wok allows for cooking vegetables without crowding (which causes them to steam rather than fry). Stir-frying in a skillet, however can be done for a single serving if no wok is available.¬† Like saut√©eing over a higher heat, & using oil rather than butter, stir-frying involves minimal cooking of vegetables. Three things when stir-frying:¬† 1 Stir-frying goes quickly because of the high heat and the fact that .¬† Add oil and allow the pan to heat before adding food.¬† Flick a drop of water into the pan and if it sizzles, it is hot.
TAHINI – Sesame seeds ground into a paste, used in making taratoor and hummus.