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A French culinary term to describe a pan or oven cooking method which uses no fat.
ail en chemise
Literally, in French, “garlic in its shirt”. It is simply unpeeled garlic.
al dente
An Italian phrase which means « firm to the tooth,” to describe pasta, rice or vegetables cooked only until firm or crunchy.
amaretto di saronno
An Italian liqueur with a flavor of almonds.
argan oil
Argan oil is extracted from the seeds of the argan nut. The argan tree grows in southwestern Morocco, essentially between the cities of Agadir, Essaouira and Taroudant. This oil is a central ingredient in the traditional cooking of this area. It is very rich in vitamin E.
badian anise
Badian anise, or star anise, has a stronger taste than green anise. Badian anise is native to Asia.
bain-marie
A pan of boiling water over which rests a round-bottomed bowl. The bowl must never touch the water.
blanch
To immerse vegetables or citrus peel briefly into boiling water (3 minutes), then quickly cool them with cold water before preparing.
blender
A type of food processor.
bouquet garni
To add flavor to your broths, stock bases and certain sauces: tie together in a bundle the white of a leek, a carrot, a few sprigs of flat parsley, a celery rib, a bay leaf, and a sprig of thyme. Always slice the white of the leek in two before rinsing. “Bouquets garnis” can be prepared ahead of time: place them in a small container and store in the freezer until ready for use.
broth or bouillon
For a quick and easy vegetable broth: clean a leek, cut the green part. Peel an onion and stud with a clove. Peel a carrot. Peel a celery rib, and set a few leaves aside. Collect the rind of a lemon with a peeler. You will also need two or three unpeeled garlic cloves, coarse sea salt (preferably coarse French Guérande salt), bay leaves and/or a couple of sprigs of flat parsley. Place all the ingredients together in a large stockpot, and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer. When the various aromas are well developed, remove from heat. Strain. Do prepare a large quantity of “bouillon” at once, as it can easily be frozen for future use. Synonyms: bouillon, broth
brunoise
In French cuisine, a classic method of cutting vegetables into very fine dice.
bulghur
Bulghur - or bulgur - is a by-product of durum wheat, which has been separated from the bran, parboiled (steamed), dried and crushed.
burrata
Cow’s milk mozzarella from the Apulia region in southern Italy. Inside its casing, you’ll find a soft and creamy heart!
candied orange peel
Collect the zest of an orange with a peeler and cut it into thin strips. Blanch the orange zest strips in boiling water for two minutes, then drain. Place the blanched strips into a small ladleful of sugar syrup in a pan over low heat. Reduce slowly, almost to the point of a caramel. You can do the same with other citrus, lemon or grapefruit.
cardamom
Cardamom takes the shape of a small, grey/green seedpod.It is used either whole or ground. With cardamom, a little goes a long way: it has a pungent aroma, and must therefore be used sparingly. Cardamom is used to flavor coffee in the Orient, and tea in India.
chicken stock
Place a whole chicken in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Heat and bring to a boil. During the first fifteen minutes, impurities will rise to the surface: skim them off with a straining spoon. During that time…. Peel one large onion, and stud it with a clove. Peel one celery rib and one carrot. Wash the white of a leek. Rinse three or four sprigs of flat parsley. Slice an unpeeled head of garlic into two, horizontally. Rinse and halve a tomato. Select a small stick of cinnamon. Place all these ingredients into the stockpot. Add a pinch of coarse sea salt (preferably coarse French Guérande salt.) If you like pepper, add two or three peppercorns to the mixture. Simmer for at least two hours… or more! The longer the stock simmers, the more concentrated and fragrant it will be, as it reduces. Strain through a fine sieve. You can also prepare this broth by using the leftover carcass of a roasted chicken. This stock can be kept in the refrigerator for several days and/or frozen.Synonyms: chicken broth
chinois
A fine-meshed metal conical sieve, used for straining sauces.
clarified butter
Clarified butter – also called drawn butter - never burns during cooking because it is free of impurities. Gently melt butter in the microwave oven or in a small pan over low heat. Skim off the foam. Let it rest for 10 minutes to separate. Slowly pour into a bowl so as not to transfer the white sediment. Clarified butter can be kept several weeks in the refrigerator
coating a spoon
To test the consistency of a sauce or custard, draw your finger across a (usually wooden) spoon, and see if it leaves a clear path.
cocotte
Nowadays, there is a large selection of “cocottes” – braising pans, casseroles or Dutch ovens - on the market. They are made of a lighter material than the traditional cast iron, and they are perfect for the stovetop as well as the oven.
cul-de-poule
A French term which designates a round-bottomed bowl (usually stainless steel,) used in beating a liquid preparation or as the top container in bain-marie applications.
curcuma
Curcuma is said to help prevent and fight cancer. It is one of the main ingredients of curry.
deglaze
To loosen the drippings and browned bits that form at the bottom of the pan during cooking with a deglazing liquid, such as water, wine, or balsamic vinegar. Scrape and heat.
eggnog
A smooth preparation made with milk and beaten eggs. The French call it “lait de poule,” literally “hen’s milk.”
emulsify
To combine an oil-based substance with another liquid.
frothy butter
Froth forms on the surface of butter as it melts.
Gewurztraminer
Gewurztraminer is a pink grape variety, predominantly grown in the Alsace region of France to produce the white wine of the same name. Its aromatic flavors make it especially suitable for drinking with spicy dishes and sweet and sour combinations. It is a good match for foie gras, asparagus or endives, and it goes well with blue-veined cheeses and Munster cheese, as well as desserts that are not too sweet. And of course, it makes a wonderful aperitif!Synonyms: gerwurztraminer
lamb stock
Place lamb bones in the oven to roast. Once golden, place them in a large stockpot. Cover generously with water, and add: two leeks (white part only), two carrots, one celery rib, one halved tomato, one garlic head sliced into two horizontally, one onion studded with a clove, one bay leaf, one fresh sprig of thyme, one small bunch of flat parsley, as well as one good-sized strip of orange peel, and a nice pinch of salt. Simmer slowly for at least two hours. The liquid needs to reduce substantially, and the stock must be very concentrated. Cool and strain through a chinois. This stock can be kept for several weeks in the freezer, or one week in the refrigerator.Synonyms: lamb fond
lardo di colonnata
Lardo di Colonnata is a top quality product, used to cook with fish, or to be enjoyed on toasts! Lardo di Colonnata comes from the town of Colonnata in Italy near Carrara. It cures for six months in a mixture of spices in the marble vats of Carrara.
melting butter
A drop of oil is usually added to butter as it melts in the pan to prevent it from burning or blackening. Clarified (drawn) butter does not burn.
mignardises
Sweet bite-size treats served with coffee at the end of a meal.
nap
To coat a dish with cream, custard or sauce.
papillote
Food placed in a folded sheet or pouch of parchment paper or tin foil, and then cooked in its wrap.
pasta to perfection
Check the cooking time indicated on your bag of pasta – I usually give it one or two minutes less. Bring a large quantity of water to a boil. Then, add a good pinch of salt. Wait for a few seconds, and toss the pasta into the water. Add a sprig of thyme for flavor. Once cooked, the pasta will offer a slight resistance to the tooth: “al dente.” Before straining the pasta, be sure to save a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Rinse the pasta under cold running water; that way, it can be cooked ahead of time and, in due course, reheated in a pan with a sauce of your choice. That is when the ladleful of pasta cooking water comes into play: adding it to the sauce simply means using less fat.
pata negra
The Ibérico ham, “pata negra”, is a type of cured ham produced only in the Salamanca region of Spain. It is the finest, high grade cured ham: It is dried on high grounds, and it is cured for three years at least. It has a distinctive nutty taste, because it comes from free-range pigs that feed on acorns from the oak trees in their environment.
peel to the flesh
To remove the fibers and the seeds of a citrus fruit in order to use the flesh only. To peel a fruit to the flesh, cut both ends of the citrus so that it stands. Use a very sharp knife: the blade must run along the sides of the fruit very smoothly.Synonyms: Peel to the flesh, peeled to the flesh
quatre épices
This is a blend of spices – the name literally means “four spices,” a mix which contains ground white or black pepper, nutmeg, clove, ginger and cinnamon… and that makes it five!
quinoa
Quinoa is considered a “pseudo-cereal.” It is easily digestible as it is gluten-free and low in fat, while nutritionally rich thanks to its high content of iron and protein.
raidir
French for ‘firming’: to subject food to hot fat to firm up the flesh; the food must not take on any color at all.
reduce
To cook a liquid preparation until its quantity reduces, resulting in a thicker consistency and concentrated flavors.
rice pilaf
Try this Middle Eastern recipe: one part rice for two parts water. Brown the rice in butter and a drop of grapeseed oil until translucent. Pour in boiling, salted water and mix. Cook until the water is completely evaporated: small holes will form on the surface. Turn off the heat at that time. Cover the rice with a clean kitchen towel and place the pan lid over the towel. This rice will taste even better when cooked with lamb or chicken stock instead of water!
rucola
The Italian name for arugula greens.
sauce vierge
Literally ‘virgin’ sauce -- uncooked, and prepared using ‘virgin’ olive oil.
scraped vanilla bean
Scrape the inside of one slit vanilla bean with a small knife or a teaspoon to collect its tiny seeds.
sear
To start the cooking process by subjecting food – generally meat or fish – briskly to very high heat in a preheated pan. This gives an appealing color to the food and releases new flavors and aromas.
season
To flavor foods to enhance their taste. Salt is the number one taste enhancer in cooking. Choose from among a wide array of spices for variety.Synonyms: Season
separating
When you can observe droplets of fat detaching from the rest of a liquid.
shelling shrimp
First, cut off the head (set aside with the shells to prepare a fumet.) Then peel, segment by segment, to the tail, which can be removed or left on for presentation purposes. Finally, devein by making a shallow cut lengthwise down the outer curve of the shrimp and remove the “vein” or digestive tract, which tastes bitter. Keep the shrimp whole.
skim
To remove the foam or impurities that rise to the surface when preparing meat stock.
speck
Speck is a lightly cured ham, with a well-balanced taste, milder than the strongly smoked cured hams of northern Europe, yet bolder than the hams of the Mediterranean region.
speculaas cookie
Traditional biscuit or cookie that originates in northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It’s a delicious biscuit to be savored with coffee, or to be served on the side with a scoop of ice cream. Its flavor of cinnamon and clove is incomparable.Synonyms: speculaas biscuit
spider skimmer
A wire web-like skimming spoon, used to gently remove vegetables or meat from their cooking liquid.
sterilizing
Wash a glass jar. Sterilize it by dipping it 10 minutes into boiling water; drip dry on a kitchen towel.
stew
To cook food at a slow simmer for a long period of time.
sweat
To cook pieces of food in an open pan in a small amount of fat to remove excess water.
syrup
Traditionally, equal amounts of water and sugar placed in a stainless steel pan, and brought to the boil. As it starts boiling, the syrup is ready. At this time, the syrup can be flavored with citrus peel, aromatic herbs or spices. Infuse for 15 minutes minimum.
tomato sauce
For a small 14 oz. can of whole, peeled Italian tomatoes: Cook a small, thinly sliced onion until golden in some olive oil, together with a clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme, or with anise seeds. Cut the whole peeled tomatoes in their can with kitchen shears. Pour them into the pan. Add one teaspoon of brown sugar, and some grated orange peel for flavor. Simmer slowly, for at least one half hour.
tonka bean
The heady fragrance of vanilla and almonds, all in one tonka bean! Just like nutmeg, the tonka bean must be grated. The tonka bean has been a long-time favorite of the perfume industry.
ventresca
Tuna ventresca is the richest part of the tuna, but also the fattiest. As its name suggests, this piece comes from the belly of the fish.
vergeoise
Vergeoise and cassonade are not to be confused with one another! The first comes from sugar beet, whereas the second comes from sugar cane. Vergeoise has a soft and slightly sticky consistency. It comes in either a light or dark brown color. It is used in the famous Belgian Speculaas cookies.
young carrots
In springtime, young, slender, tender carrots abound on farmers’ markets. Here’s a little trick to peel them easily: plunge them into boiling water for one minute, then rinse in cold running water. The peel will come right off by itself!