Kitchen Basics Series - What Does That Mean?


illustration via here.

sometimes we can get tripped up or intimidated to try new recipes by all the lingo we see before us. here are some common terms to familiarize yourself with to help make any recipe you come across that much easier to understand.
chopped vs. diced vs. minced
  • chopped: cutting your vegetables into large pieces. typically you will see this for larger vegetables  like squash or potatoes.
  • diced: similar to chopping, dicing means cutting into smaller sized pieces. You likely will see this term used with ingredients like onions or celery.
  • minced: this means cutting the item into the smallest pieces you can. in the case of garlic, a garlic press minces perfectly.

blanching: cooking a vegetable very slightly and then immediately stopping the cooking process by rinsing under cold water. blanching is great if you are planning a big dinner party and you want to precook a vegetable dish to get a jump on your preparation. you can then quickly finish cooking just before serving to ensure the dish is nice and warm.

bouquet garni: this is a tied bunch of fresh herbs that is added to stews, or pots of simmering food for a little while and then taken out before serving.

dash: who has ever really measured a dash? well it turns out someone has and it is equivalent to about 1/16th of a teaspoon. this is a very small amount that is a little more than a pinch.

dust: this term appears often in baking recipes and it refers to lightly spreading a small about of a spice or sugar over the baked dish. most often this is part of a finishing step before serving.

julienne: this means to cut your vegetable or item into very thin slices, kinda like a very skinny french fry.

puree: to mash up or mix together your food until it's completely smooth, ideally in a food processor is easiest.

thin: if you see this term is means adding more liquid to thin out what you are cooking.

sauté: cooking your food in a frying pan with a little oil.

steep: you might often see this term if you are making a tea, or a simple syrup. it means to soak something (like tea leaves) in a liquid almost until boiling for a set amount of time until the flavours come out.

zest: pulling off small sections of the skin of a citrus fruit, in many cases a lemon, lime or orange. This is most often done with a fine grater called a zester so the pieces remain small.


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