Here is a glossary of culinary terms starting with the letter B
Baby Back Ribs
Baby Back Ribs is incredibly juicy and tender, small pork ribs cut from the top of a young animal’s centre loin section.
Bain-marie (or “Water Bath” or “Double Boiler”)
Bain-marie is the French term for a water bath. A water bath protects delicate desserts like custard, cheesecake, sauces, or chocolate from curdling, cracking or over-cooking as they bake. The baking tin containing the mixture is placed inside a larger pan holding a shallow amount of hot water, providing insulation against high heat.
Bake is to cook food, covered or uncovered, surrounded by dry heat in an oven. The term usually describes cooking cakes, other desserts, casseroles, and bread. It’s called roasting when applied to meat or poultry.
A baker’s dozen is a term used to refer to a group of 13 items, typically baked goods, instead of the usual 12. This was originally done as a way to avoid any potential penalties for shortchanging customers. It is believed to have originated in the 13th century in England. Today, the term is still occasionally used to describe a group of 13 items, although it is less common.
Baking Ammonia is a compound also known as hartshorn powder that was once used as a leavening agent. It’s most often used in Scandinavian baking and is available at pharmacies and through mail orders. Cream of tartar is an acceptable substitute, although cookies made with it are less crisp than those made with baking ammonia. If you use baking ammonia, use caution when opening the oven door because irritating ammonia-like fumes may be produced.
Baking Powder is a commercial baking product combining three ingredients: baking soda, the source of the carbon dioxide that causes quick batters and doughs to rise; an acid such as cream of tartar, which, when the powder is combined with a liquid, causes the baking soda to release its gas; and a starch such as corn starch or flour, to keep the powder from absorbing moisture. It is a raising agent that reacts with moisture and heat to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), which allows cakes and other baked goods to rise. The most common type is double-acting baking powder, which acts when mixed with liquid and again when heated.
Baking Sheet (or Cookie Sheets or Sheet Pan or Baking Tray)
It is a flat, rectangular metal pan used in an oven with a raised rim on two sides to remove them from the oven.
Baking Soda (or sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda)
It is the active component of baking powder and the source of the carbon dioxide that leavens many baked goods—also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda. A chemical leavening agent that creates carbon dioxide and is used in conjunction with acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, or fruit juices, to create the bubbles that make the product rise. Always mix with other dry ingredients before adding any liquid since leavening begins as soon as soda comes in contact with a liquid.
It is a heavy, thick round or rectangular stone designed to be used in a gas or electric oven to imitate a brick one. The stone absorbs additional moisture for crispier food, retains the oven’s heat, and promotes even baking. They may be made of ceramic, stone, or, more recently, salt. Food is less likely to burn when using a baking stone than metal or glass bakeware. It is used most frequently for baking pizzas.
It is a vinegar originating from Italy, increasingly popular throughout the world. Syrupy and slightly sweet, this dark brown vinegar is made from the juice of the white Trebbiano grape. It gets its body, colour, and sweetness from being aged in wooden barrels.
Barbecue (or barbeque or BBQ)
It is a cooking method where meat, poultry, or vegetables are cooked slowly over low heat using smoke and heat from an indirect fire. It generally refers to grilling outdoors on a rack or spitting over an open charcoal or wood fire. More specifically, barbecue refers to long, slow direct- heat cooking. Grilling is generally done quickly over moderate-to-high direct heat that produces little smoke. In contrast, barbecuing is done slowly over low, indirect heat, and the smoking process flavours the food.
Barbecue sauce (or BBQ sauce)
It is a sweet, tart and spicy sauce used as a marinade, basting or topping to baste foods or as a condiment for grilled foods, including pork or beef ribs and chicken. It is a ubiquitous condiment and is used in many other foods as well. Although recipes vary widely, common elements include tomato, sugar or molasses, vinegar, and a hot spice like chilli or mustard.
Barding (or bard)
Barding is covering, tying, or wrapping a lean cut of meat or fowl with a layer of fat, such as bacon, before cooking, effectively maintaining the meat’s moisture while it cooks to avoid overcooking. The barding fat bastes the meat while cooking, keeping it moist and adding flavour. It is then removed a few minutes before it is done to allow browning. Barding is necessary only when there is no natural fat present.
Baron is an English term for a large cut of beef, anywhere from 25-50kg. These are generally reserved for celebrations and significant events. In France, it is used to describe the saddle and legs of lamb.
Basil is an aromatic herb used in cooking with a sweet, warm flavour and a fragrant odour, used whole or ground. Good with lamb, fish, roast, stews, ground beef, vegetables, dressing, and omelettes.
Basmati Rice is an aromatic long-grain brown or white rice from India and California. Basmati rice is nutty and fluffy. Use as you would regular long-grain rice.
Baste is to spoon, pour or brush liquid, such as melted butter or pan juices, fat, drippings (cooking juices) or seasoned liquid over food during cooking to promote a moist finished product, to add colour and flavour, to glaze it, and prevent drying out while cooking. Be aware that basting tools, such as brushes and bulb basters, could be sources of bacteria if contaminated when dipped into uncooked or undercooked meat and poultry juices.
Batch cooking is preparing a large quantity of food at once and dividing it into portions for future meals or freezing.
Batter is an uncooked semi-liquid pourable wet mixture of flour, liquid (or milk), eggs and other ingredients, used as a base for baked goods like cakes, pancakes, and muffins. Some thin batters are used to coat foods before deep-frying. It can be thick enough to be poured or spooned (as with muffins) or thin to coat foods before being fried in oil.
Dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive pungent flavour and fragrance. Use the whole leaf but remove before serving. The leaves are not meant to be eaten, although it is safe. The leaves are often used to flavour beans, vegetable dishes, soups, fish and seafood, stews, braises, pickles and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavour until several weeks after picking and drying.
Bean Sauce (or Bean Paste or Soybean Paste)
A thick, dark brown- or black-coloured sauce made from wheat flour, sugar, salt, mantou flour, and fermented yellow soybeans. They are popular in Asian cooking and have a salty bean flavour. Japanese bean paste is called miso.
Bean Threads (or Cellophane noodles or Chinese vermicelli or crystal noodles, or glass noodles)
Bean Threads are thin, almost transparent noodles made from starch (such as mung bean starch, yam, potato starch, cassava or canna starch) and water.
Beat is to stir rapidly to make a mixture smooth and light, briskly whipping or stirring it by incorporating as much air as possible with a spoon, fork, wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer.
Beau Monde® Seasoning Salt
It is an all-purpose spice island seasoning with a perfect balance of celery, onion, and salt with a touch of sweetness. It enhances the flavour of virtually any savoury dish and is excellent as a rub for roasted meats. Use with poultry dishes, Swiss steak, and tomato-based sauces.
Bechamel sauce (or white sauce)
Bechamel is a classic white sauce made with a white roux (flour and butter mixture) and milk, often used as a base for soups, sauces, and gratins. It is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine. It is the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).
Refreshing, slightly bitter spear-shaped leaves, white to pale yellow-green or sometimes red, tightly packed in cylindrical heads, 4-6 inches; also known as chicory or witloof.
Beurre Blanc is a classic French sauce. It is a hot emulsified butter sauce made with butter, grey shallots (or onions), a reduction of vinegar and/or white wine (normally Muscadet), blended off the heat to prevent separation, and usually served with seafood dishes.
Beurre manié (French for “kneaded butter”) is a paste made with softened butter and flour (usually in equal parts) that is used to thicken sauces. The beurre manié must be added slowly to a hot or warm liquid so that the butter melts and releases the flour particles without creating lumps (which would happen if stirring in just the flour).
Bias-Slice (or Cutting “On the Bias” or bias cut or bias-cut or bias cutting or bias-cutting)
Bias-Slice is to slice a food diagonally/crosswise. The most popular angle to cut a piece of food is a 45-degree angle.
Bicarbonate of soda (or Baking Soda or sodium bicarbonate)
Also referred to as baking soda, it reacts as a raising agent in baking. Bicarb is alkaline and needs acidity from other ingredients to react and release CO2.
Bisque is a thick, smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, with a base of strained broth (see coulis) of shellfish or game.
Blackened (or Blackening)
It is a popular Cajun cooking method in which seasoned fish or other foods are cooked over high heat in a super-heated heavy skillet until charred, resulting in a crisp, spicy crust. This is best done outdoors at home because of the amount of smoke produced.
Blanch or Blanching
It is a technique where food is scalded (immersed rapidly) in boiling water to cook slightly and then transferred to ice-cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve colour and texture. It is usually used for fruits, green vegetables, or nuts to intensify and seal in flavour and colour. This ensures the veggie retains its bright green colour and a firm texture. This is an important step in preparing fruits and vegetables for freezing. Blanching also helps loosen the skins of tomatoes, peaches, and almonds.
Blend is thoroughly combining two or more ingredients by hand, with a spoon, whisk, electric mixer, beater or blender until smooth and uniform in texture, flavour, and colour and lose their individual characteristics.
Bleu is a French term (meaning “extra rare”) indicating a barely-cooked meat preparation, cooked only until warmed through, or very rare or very red and cold.
Blind-baking (or baking blind or sometimes called pre-baking)
Blind baking is a technique used for pre-baking an unfilled pastry shell. Before baking with the filling, the shell is lined with parchment paper and filled with ceramic beads, dry rice, or dry beans, and then baked briefly until the pastry is set. The blind-baked pie shell may be baked further after filling depending on the recipe. Blind baking a pie crust is necessary when it will be filled with an unbaked filling (such as with pudding or cream pies), in which case the crust must be fully baked. It is also called for if the filling has a shorter bake time than the crust, in which case it is partly baked. Blind baking is also used to keep the pie crust from becoming soggy due to a wet filling.
Blondir is lightly browning ingredients, such as vegetables or meat, in a pan with a small amount of fat. This technique helps enhance the flavour of the ingredients and adds a subtle caramelized taste. Blondir achieves a golden, slightly browned appearance, but not as deep or dark as when food is fully browned or caramelized. It is commonly used as a starting point in many recipes, providing a flavorful base for soups, stews, and sauces.
Blooming refers to a process where certain ingredients, such as spices or gelatin, are mixed with a liquid to release their flavours or activate their properties. For example, blooming gelatin involves mixing powdered gelatine in a small amount of hot water before adding it to a cold liquid to thicken or set it. Leaf gelatine must be softened in cold water for a few minutes before use. To bloom agar agar it must be soaked in cold water, but, unlike gelatine, it must be boiled for 5 minutes to activate. This allows the ingredients to fully incorporate and have a more significant impact on the overall taste and texture of the dish. Blooming is a technique commonly used in various recipes to enhance the flavour and quality of the final product.
Boil is to cook food submerged in a boiling liquid at 100°C (212°F) and causes bubbles to form in the liquid and rise in a steady pattern, breaking at the surface. A rolling boil occurs when liquid is boiling so vigorously that the bubbles can’t be stirred.
Bolognaise (or Bolognese)
Bolognaise is an Italian term for various dishes based on beef and vegetables or relating to the area of Bologna. See Bolognese (Meat) Sauce Fast2eat recipe.
Bon Appetit is a French term meaning “Good Appetite!”, “I wish you a hearty appetite!”, “Have a good meal,” “Enjoy your dinner,” etc.
Ironically, to bone a piece of poultry, meat, fowl, or fish is to remove the bone or joint from it. A special sharp boning knife is used, and a degree of skill is required to avoid tearing or nicking the flesh, not to damage the end product.
Bonne Femme is a French phrase describing food prepared uncomplicated, simple, or rustic.
Bottom Cuts are cuts of meat from the lower parts of an animal when it is standing. It does not refer to a lesser quality as much as it signifies the second and third-category meats suited for braising or boiling, as opposed to sirloin and other top-end cuts.
Bouillon is the French word for broth. It is a clear, seasoned broth made by simmering meat, poultry, or vegetables. A bouillon cube is a compressed cube of dehydrated beef, chicken, fish, or vegetable stock. Bouillon granules are small particles of the same substance but dissolve faster. Both can be reconstituted in hot liquid to substitute for stock or broth.
Bouquet Garni is a French term for “garnished bouquet.” It is a bundle of herbs, typically tied together with string, used to flavour stocks, stews, soups, sauces, braises, and poaching liquids. It typically contains herbs like thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stems. It is often tied inside two pieces of leek leaf or in a piece of cheesecloth (in a small cloth sack). The bouquet is cooked with the other ingredients but removed before serving.
Braise or Braising
Braising is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heat: Typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature by browning, then gently simmering slowly in a small amount (variable) of liquid (which may also add flavour) over low heat in a tightly covered pan on the range top or in the oven until tender. Braising is recommended for sinewy, less tender and tougher cuts of meat. It usually results in tender and flavorful dishes. Braising meat is often referred to as pot roasting. However, some authors distinguish the two methods based on whether additional liquid is added. The braising liquid keeps meats moist and can be used as a basis for a sauce. Use wine, stocks or water as components in braising liquid.
Breading is the process of coating food, such as meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables, in breadcrumbs, cornmeal or a mixture of flour and spices before cooking.
Brie is a soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese with an edible white rind. Brie from France is considered to be the best in the world. It is pale with a slight greyish tinge under a rind of white mould. The whitish mouldy rind is typically eaten, with its flavour depending largely upon the ingredients used and its manufacturing environment.
Brine is a mixture of salt and water used to soak or preserve food, typically meats, fish, seafood, cheese or vegetables, enhancing flavour and tenderness.
Brining (to brine)
It is the process of soaking something in brine, or heavily salted water, before cooking, similar to margination.
The French term en brochette refers to food cooked and sometimes served on brochettes or skewers. Food served en brochette is generally grilled.
Broil (or Grilling)
Broil is to cook food, on a rack or spit, directly under intense heat, usually from a broiler element in an oven or a grill.
Broth is the strained clear liquid food preparation in which bones, meat, poultry, fish, cereal grains, or vegetables have been simmered with herbs. It is similar to stock and can be used interchangeably. Reconstituted bouillon can also be used when the broth is specified. The broth is used as a basis for other edible liquids such as soup, gravy, or sauce. It can be eaten alone or with garnish. It is generally called soup if other ingredients are used, such as rice, pearl barley or oats.
Brown is to cook or heat food over high heat in a skillet, broiler, or oven until the surface turns brown, often enhancing flavour, aroma and creating an appealing appearance. It develops a rich, desirable colour on the outside and moistness on the inside.
Brown sauce is a traditional condiment served with food in the United Kingdom and Ireland, normally dark brown. The best-known brown sauce is HP Sauce, a spicy and tangy variety. Brown sauce is traditionally eaten with meals and dishes such as full English breakfasts, bacon sandwiches, chips, and baked beans.
Brush is to apply a liquid, like a glaze, to the surface of food using a pastry brush.
Buffet is a self-service meal where a variety of dishes are displayed on a table for guests to serve themselves.
Bulb Baster is a kitchen utensil that assists with basting, a method of moistening food during cooking. Basting is most often used when cooking meat. The head of the bulb baster is squeezed, creating a partial vacuum, and then the stem is inserted into the juices at the bottom of the pan. When the pressure is released on the bulb, the juices are drawn into the stem to be transferred over and around the meat, adding flavour and creating a glaze.
It is a tube-shaped baking pan with decorative curves on the bottom that make a design on the top of the cake when it is unmolded. When greasing a bundt pan, make sure to get oil or butter into all the crevices. The heavier walled construction allows cake batters to rise and bake more uniformly, while the improved heat conduction and hollow centre tube enable the cake to bake evenly, creating a golden crust outside the cake. With the decorative shape of the pan, a pleasing appearance is produced from the baked cake. This pan is generally used for baking coffee and sweet cakes, known as bundt cakes. Other similar cake pans are called tube pans or angel food cake pans. You can also now find bundt pans in silicone and other materials.
Butter is a solid dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk to separate the butterfat from the buttermilk. It is generally used as a spread on plain or toasted bread products, a condiment on cooked vegetables, and in cooking, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying. Butter consists of butterfat, milk proteins and water. For rich flavour, butter is usually the fat of choice. For baking, butter is recommended rather than margarine for consistent results. Salted and unsalted butter can be used interchangeably in recipes; however, if you use unsalted butter, you may want to increase the amount of salt in a recipe.
To butterfly is to cut food, often meat or seafood, in half horizontally without cutting all the way through, then open it like a book. It is to split food, such as shrimp, meat, fish, poultry or pork chops, through the middle to thin it out without completely separating the halves. The two halves are then opened flat and grilled, sautéed or stuffed and rolled to be roasted. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers a variety of culinary terms.
Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms?
If you need more terms or have any other questions, please ask in the comments, and we will update our ever-growing list.
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