Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.
Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?
Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.
Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!
Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.
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A Polish dish of de-boned stuffed meat, most commonly poultry or fish, that is poached in gelatin stock, pressed, coated with aspic, and served cold with aspic or its own jelly. Galantines are often stuffed with forcemeat and pressed into a cylindrical shape. Since deboning poultry is thought of as difficult and time-consuming, this is a rather elaborate dish, which is often lavishly decorated, hence its name, connoting a presentation at the table that is gallant, or urbane and sophisticated.
Flat, round cakes of pastry, often topped with fruit, or food prepared in, such as “a galette of potatoes”. Galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes, or, in the case of a Breton galette, a pancake made with buckwheat flour usually with a savoury filling. Of the cake type of galette, one notable variety is the galette des Rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany. In French Canada, the term galette is usually applied to pastries best described as large cookies. This terminology is also used in Brittany, context-providing differentiation with the Breton galette.
Any wild animal or bird that is hunted for the purpose of human consumption.
A rich cake or chocolate filling made by melting chocolate in heavy cream. The mixture is stirred or blended until smooth, with liqueurs or extracts added if desired. Butter is traditionally added to give the ganache a shiny appearance and smooth texture. When the mixture is completely cold it can be whipped to lighten it, then pouring it over chopped chocolate of any kind. Ganache (from the French word for “jowl”) is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream.
A strongly scented, pungent smelling bulb of a plant related to the onion used in cooking and medicine. Garlic clove is one of the several small segments that make up a garlic bulb. Elephant garlic is larger, milder, and more closely related to the leek. Store firm, fresh, plump garlic bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place; leave bulbs whole because individual cloves dry out quickly. This robust flavouring is available as garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic chips, garlic seasoning powder, and garlic juice, in a huge variety of dishes. In case using the convenient substitutes, such as a powder or bottled minced; for each clove called for in a recipe, use 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic.
Garlic press (also known as a garlic crusher in Australia and New Zealand)
A kitchen utensil used to crush a garlic clove efficiently by forcing them through a grid of small holes, usually with some type of piston, extracting both pulp and juice. Cloves do not need to be peeled, but the press must be cleaned right after using it, before any garlic fragments left in the tool dry. Some press models contain teeth that push any remaining fragments back out through the holes, making cleaning much easier.
To add visual appeal to a finished dish. To decorate a dish both with complementary attractive food, to enhance its appearance and to provide a flavourful foil. Parsley, lemon slices, raw vegetables, chopped chives, and other fresh herbs are all forms of garnishes.
Gazpacho (or gazpacho in Portugal)
A Spanish (originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia) dish of cold, uncooked vegetable soup made of raw vegetables, usually with a tomato juice base or meat broth, which typically contains cucumbers, onions, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Gazpacho is widely eaten in Spain and Portugal (spelling gaspacho), particularly during the hot summers, as it is refreshing and cool.
Gelatin (or gelatine)
A dry, translucent, colourless, brittle (when dry), flavourless ingredient derived from collagen made from natural animal protein (made of boiled animal bones and ligaments) used as a gelling agent that can thicken or set a liquid. Gelatin for recipe use comes in the form of sheets, granules, or powder. Instant types can be added to the food as they are; others need to be soaked in water beforehand. Gelatin is available in unflavoured and flavoured forms. When using, make sure the gelatin powder is completely dissolved.
Unflavoured commercial gelatin gives delicate body to mousses and desserts. Sold in envelopes holding about one tablespoon each of which is sufficient to gel about two cups. To dissolve one envelope of unflavoured gelatin: Place gelatin in a small saucepan and stir in at least 1/4 cup water, broth, or fruit juice. Let it stand 5 minutes to soften, and then stir it over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved.
Do not mix gelatin with figs, fresh pineapple (canned pineapple is OK), fresh ginger, guava, kiwifruit, and papaya, as these foods contain an enzyme that prevents gelatin from setting.
Some recipes call for gelatin at various stages of gelling. “Partially set” means the mixture looks like unbeaten egg whites. At this point, solid ingredients may be added. “Almost firm” describes gelatin that is sticky to the touch. It can be layered at this stage. “Firm” gelatin holds a cut edge and is ready to be served.
The edible trimmings from internal organs of poultry, or fowl, including the liver, heart, gizzard, and other visceral organs. Although sometimes packaged with the giblets, the neck is not part of the giblets. Giblets are sometimes used to make gravy.
Ginger (or gingerroot)
The fresh, pungent root of a semitropical plant that adds a spicy-sweet flavour to recipes. It may be found fresh, dried, crystallized or candied, ground or as a syrup. Ginger should be peeled before using. To peel, cut off one end of the root and use a vegetable peeler to remove the brown outer layer in strips. To grate ginger, use the fine holes of a grater. To mince ginger, slice peeled ginger with the grain (lengthwise) into thin sticks. Stack the sticks in a bundle and cut them finely. Ginger stays fresh two to three weeks in the refrigerator when wrapped loosely in a paper towel. For longer storage, place unpeeled ginger in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Ginger will keep indefinitely when frozen, and you can grate or slice the ginger while it’s frozen. In a pinch, ground ginger can be used for grated fresh ginger. For 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
A confection made from pieces of ginger (gingerroot) cooked in a sugar syrup, then coated with sugar. Also known as candied ginger. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
A muscular digestive pouch found in the lower stomach of poultry used to grind the fowls food with the aid of small stones swallowed for this purpose.
The French term for “glazed” or “frozen.” In the United States, it describes a candied food.
It is applied to a precooked or cooked surface to make it shine or to help it colour when cooked, such as an egg wash for uncooked pastry and an apricot glaze for fruit tarts. Used as an essence added to sauces to fortify their flavour. Savoury glazes are made with reduced sauces or gelatin; sweet glazes can be made with a thin sugar syrup, melted jelly or chocolate.
The technique of applying a glossy surface to food. This can be done by basting the food with a sauce while it is cooking or by putting a glaze on it and placing briefly under the broiler. To glaze cold foods, apply a coat of aspic, gelatin, or dissolved arrowroot.
A veined Italian creamy blue cheese. , made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty, with a “bite” from its blue veining. Other creamy blue cheeses may be substituted.
A popular commercial brand of orange-flavoured liqueur distinguished by its pure cognac base. It is made from a blend of Cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. Aside from Cordon Rouge, the Grand Marnier line includes other liqueurs, most of which can be consumed “neat” as a cordial or a digestif and can be used in mixed drinks and desserts. In France, this kind of use is the most popular, especially with Crêpes Suzette and “crêpes au Grand Marnier”.
To rub food, such as hard cheeses, vegetables, or whole nutmeg or ginger, across a rough, serrated grating surface, usually on a grater, to make shredded very fine pieces. A food processor, fitted with the appropriate blades, can also be used for grating. Foods may also be grated in rotating graters or mills. The food that is being grated should be firm. Cheese that needs to be grated can be refrigerated first for easier grating. (See also Shred.)
Grater (or shredder)
A kitchen utensil with round, sharp-edged holes used to grate foods into fine pieces.
From the French word for “crust.” A term used to describe any oven-baked dish on which a golden brown crust of bread crumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter, or creamy sauce is formed. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.
To coat a utensil, such as a baking pan, a cooking dish or pan or skillet, with a thin layer of fat or shortening, oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking to it. A pastry brush works well to grease pans. Also refers to fat released from meat and poultry during cooking.
Pomegranate-flavoured non-alcoholic bar syrup used as flavouring and sauce. Characterized by a flavour that is both tart and sweet, and by a deep red colour. It is popular as an ingredient in cocktails, both for its flavour and to give a reddish/pink tint to mixed drinks.
A special flat pan or cooktop designed to cook foods like pancakes and hamburgers. Some have long handles or two handles, non-stick, aluminium or cast iron. Consisting of a broad flat surface that may be heated using a variety of means and has both residential and commercial applications. In industrialized countries, a griddle is most commonly a flat metal plate, but in non-industrialized countries or more traditional cultures, it may be made of a brick slab or tablet. Often confused with grilling.
A device composed of parallel metal bars or wires on which meat is roasted; meat cooked on a grill; restaurant serving grilled foods.
Grilling (or Broiling)
To cook food on a grill or a rack under or over a radiant direct intense dry heat, such as gas, electricity, charcoal, or wood, as on a barbecue or in a broiler. The intense heat produced seals in the juices by forming a crust on the surface of the food. The grill or grate itself must be heated before the food is laid on it and must be constantly cleaned and seasoned with oil so that food does not adhere and the distinctive grill marks may show predominantly for presentation. The food can also be basted and seasoned.
To process by hand or mechanically to cut solid food into smaller tiny pieces, usually using a food grinder or food processor, for example, coffee beans or whole spices. Food can be ground to different degrees, from fine to coarse. A mortar and pestle is prefered by many Chefs and Pharmacists alike.
Coarsely ground hominy (corn with the hull and germ removed which has been boiled and then fried). It is commonly made by boiling ground maize (also known as corn) and served with other flavourings for breakfast or as a dinner side dish, usually savoury. It is popular in the Southern United States.
Gruyère cheese (or German: Greyerzer)
Variety of Swiss cheese with a firm, yellow smooth texture, containing numerous cells, small holes and a strong, tangy flavour. French Gruyère style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort. It is also known in the United States as Schweitzerkase.
The word gumbo is from an African word meaning “okra”. This creole stew consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, such as shrimp, chicken, or sausage, a thickener, and the Cajun holy trinity of vegetables, namely okra, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, and onions. It is thickened with a roux.
A Greek specialty consisting of meat and spices cooked on a vertical rotisserie, normally beef, veal, mutton, chicken or pork, or other alternatives such as feta or halloumi cheese, and usually is sliced and served in a pita or sandwich, with tomato, onion, and tzatziki (cucumber) sauce
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