Last month my husband and I decided that we want to write a cookbook that will help people transition to eating more real foods. We brainstormed a list of recipes and ideas for how we’d like to format the book, and we’ve gotten pretty excited about this project. Then I remembered how annoyed I get by unclear recipes, so I decided to research how to write recipes so they are easy to follow.
That led me to read The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker. While I’m confident in the kitchen now, I’m definitely learning a few things about cooking from these ladies. They reference a survey of cooking terms that are most often confused and I have to say that I was unsure of most of these until a few years ago. If you’re learning to cook (aren’t we always really?), these commonly used terms and their definitions might help you out.
9 Commonly Confused Cooking Terms:
- Braise – to cover and cook slowly with liquid just below the boiling point, and generally over low heat. This can also be referred to as “cover and simmer.” This was one I still wasn’t clear on.
- Dash – less than 1/8 teaspoon of an ingredient. So, when you need less than the smallest measuring spoon that’s commonly available it will call for “a dash.”
- Deglaze – this technique dissolves small bits of cooked food that are stuck on the bottom of a skillet. After meat or other food is removed from the skillet, add a small amount of liquid (usually broth or wine) and then heat and scrape it to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is generally used to make a sauce.
- Dice – cut in to very small pieces, usually smaller than ½ inch.
- Fold – combine ingredients together lightly in order to keep the air in a mixture. Run a rubber spatula down through the center of the bowl, then across the bottom and up the side, gently turning the mixture over toward the center. This is often used when you beat eggs whites separately until they are fluffy, and then need to mix them with heavier ingredients, like in a GAPS™ pancake. At some point I’ll make a video to show you how to do this because it’s difficult to describe.
- Mince – to cut or chop into tiny pieces.
- Poach – to cook gently in a hot liquid so that the food retains its shape. Most often used with eggs or fish.
- Sauté – to cook or brown food in a small amount of fat. Cook and stir is a simpler way to say this.
- Sear – to brown the surface of a food (usually meat) quickly over high heat, to seal in its juices.