Baking uses prolonged dry heat, normally in an oven. Heat is gradually transferred “from the surface of cakes, cookies, and bread to their center. As heat travels through it transforms batters and doughs into baked goods with a firm dry crust and a softer center. Baking can be combined with grilling to produce a hybrid barbecue variant by using both methods simultaneously, or one after the other. Baking is related to barbecuing because the concept of the masonry oven is similar to that of a smoke pit.
Basting is a cooking technique that involves cooking meat with either its own juices or some type of preparation such as a sauce or marinade. The meat is left to cook, then periodically coated with the juice. Prominently used in grilling, rotisserie, roasting, and other meat preparations where the meat is over heat for extended periods of time, basting is used to keep meat moist during the cooking process and also to apply or enhance flavor.Blanching
Blanching involves plunging a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, into boiling water, removing it after a brief, timed interval, and then plunging it into iced water or placing it under cold running water — known as shocking — to halt the cooking process. Food is blanched to soften it, or to partly or fully cook it, or to remove a strong taste (for example of cabbage or onions).
Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure.
Braising is a combination cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some (variable) amount of liquid (which may also add flavor).
Browning is the process of partially cooking the surface of meat to help remove excessive fat and to give the meat a brown color crust and flavor through various browning reactions. Ground meat will frequently be browned prior to adding other ingredients and completing the cooking process. The process is commonly used when adding ground meat to casseroles or other prepackaged food products like Hamburger Helper, where the final cooking temperature will not be high enough to initiate the Maillard reaction.
Caramelization is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.
Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.
Dry Roasting is a process by which heat is applied to dry foodstuffs without the use of oil or water as a carrier. Unlike other dry heat methods, dry roasting is used with foods such as nuts and seeds. Dry roasted foods are stirred as they are roasted to ensure even heating. Dry roasting can be done in a frying pan or wok (a common way to prepare spices in some cuisines), or in a specialized roaster (as is used for coffee beans or peanuts). Dry roasting changes the chemistry of proteins in the food, changing their flavor, and enhances the scent and taste of some spices. Roasted spices are commonly prepared by adding various herbs, spices and sugars in the frying pan and roasting until brown.
A Dutch oven is a thick-walled (usually cast iron but also ceramic and clay) cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years.
En papillote (French for “in parchment”) is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food. The pocket is created by overlapping circles of aluminum foil and parchment paper and then folding them tightly around the food to create a seal. A papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to smell the aroma when it opens. The moisture may be from the food itself or from an added moisture source, such as water, wine, or stock. This method is most often used to cook fish or vegetables, but lamb and poultry can also be cooked en papillote. Choice of herbs, seasonings and spices depend on the particular recipe being prepared. The pouch should be sealed with careful folding.
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, and the distinction is only made when needed. Foods can be fried in a variety of fats, including lard, vegetable oil, rapeseed oil and olive oil. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g. palm oil and coconut oil, which are solid at room temperature. A variety of foods may be fried, including the potato chip, bread, eggs and foods made from eggs, such as omelettes or pancakes.
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below (as in North America). Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill (an open wire grid such as a gridiron with a heat source above or below), a grill pan (similar to a frying pan, but with raised ridges to mimic the wires of an open grill), or griddle (a flat plate heated from below). Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily via thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. In the United States, when the heat source for grilling comes from above, grilling is termed broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is by thermal radiation. Direct heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma and flavor from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).
Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time (a process often called steeping). An infusion is also the name for the resultant liquid. The process of infusion is distinct from decoction, which involves boiling the plant material, or percolation, in which the water passes through the material (as in a coffeemaker).
Juicing is the process of extracting juice from plant tissues such as fruit or vegetables.
Marination is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origin of the word alludes to the use of brine (aqua marina) in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the ‘marinade’, can be either acidic (made with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine) or enzymatic (made with ingredients such as pineapple, papaya or kiwifruit). In addition to these ingredients, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items. It is commonly used to flavor foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. The process may last seconds or days. Different marinades are used in different cuisines. For example, in Indian cuisine the marinade is usually prepared with a mixture of spices.
Pan frying is a form of frying characterized by the use of minimal cooking oil or fat (compared to shallow frying or deep frying); typically using just enough oil to lubricate the pan. In the case of a greasy food such as bacon, no oil or fats may be needed. As a form of frying, pan frying relies on oil as the heat transfer medium and on correct temperature and time to retain the moisture in the food. Because of the partial coverage, the food must be flipped at least once to cook both sides.
Parbaking is a cooking technique in which a bread or dough product is partially baked and then rapidly frozen for storage. The raw dough is baked normally, but halted at about 80% of the normal cooking time, when it is rapidly cooled and frozen. The partial cooking kills the yeast in the bread mixture, and sets the internal structure of the proteins and starches (the spongy texture of the bread), so that the inside is sterile and stable, but the loaf has not generated “crust” or other externally desirable qualities that are difficult to preserve once fully cooked.
Parboiling is the partial boiling of food as the first step in cooking. Parboiling can also be used for removing poisonous or foul-tasting substances from foodstuffs, and to soften vegetables before roasting them.
Poaching is a type of moist-heat cooking technique that involves cooking by submerging foodstuff in a liquid, such as water, milk, stock or wine. Poaching is differentiated from the other “moist heat” cooking methods, such as simmering and boiling, in that it uses a relatively low temperature (about 160–180 °F (71–82 °C)). This temperature range makes it particularly suitable for delicate food, such as eggs, poultry, fish and fruit, which might easily fall apart or dry out using other cooking methods.
A purée (or mash) is cooked food, usually vegetables or legumes, that has been ground, pressed, blended or sieved to the consistency of a soft creamy paste or thick liquid. Purées of specific foods are often known by specific names, e.g., mashed potatoes or apple sauce. The term is of French origin, where it meant in Old French (13th century) purified or refined.
Reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling. It is performed by simmering or boiling a liquid such as stock, fruit or vegetable juices, wine, vinegar, or a sauce until the desired volume is reached by evaporation. This is done without a lid, enabling the vapor to escape from the mixture. Different components of the liquid will evaporate at slightly different temperatures, and the goal of reduction is to drive away those with lowest points of evaporation. It thus can be seen as a form of distillation, capturing those components that have the highest boiling point. While reduction does concentrate the flavors left in the pan, reducing too much will drive away all liquid in the sauce, leaving a “sticky, burnt coating” on your pan.
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat where hot air envelops the food, cooking it evenly on all sides with temperatures of at least 300 °F from an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting can enhance flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food. Roasting uses indirect, diffused heat (as in an oven), and is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece. Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted. Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in this fashion is called a roast. In addition, large uncooked cuts of meat are referred to as roasts. A roast joint of meat can take one, two, even three hours to cook—the resulting meat is tender. Also, meats and vegetables prepared in this way are described as “roasted”, e.g., roasted chicken or roasted squash.
Sautéing is a method of cooking food that uses a small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. Ingredients are usually cut into pieces or thinly sliced to facilitate fast cooking. The primary mode of heat transfer during sautéing is conduction between the pan and the food being cooked. Food that is sautéed is browned while preserving its texture, moisture and flavor. If meat, chicken, or fish is sautéed, the sauté is often finished by deglazing the pan’s residue to make a sauce.
Searing (or pan searing) is a technique used in grilling, baking, braising, roasting, sautéing, etc., in which the surface of the food (usually meat, poultry or fish) is cooked at high temperature until a caramelized crust forms. Similar techniques, browning and blackening, are typically used to sear all sides of a particular piece of meat, fish, poultry, etc. before finishing it in the oven. To obtain the desired brown or black crust, the meat surface must exceed 150 °C (300 °F), so searing requires the meat surface be free of water, which boils at around 100 °C (212 °F).
Seasoning is the process of adding salt, herbs, or spices to food to enhance the flavor.
Simmering is a food preparation technique in which foods are cooked in hot liquids kept just below the boiling point of water (which is 100 °C or 212 °F at average sea level air pressure), but higher than poaching temperature. To keep a pot simmering, one brings it to a boil and then reduces the heat to a point where the formation of bubbles has almost ceased, typically a water temperature of about 94 °C (200 °F).
A slow cooker, also known as a Crock-Pot (a trademark that is sometimes used generically in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that is used for simmering, which requires maintaining a relatively low temperature (compared to other cooking methods such as baking, boiling, and frying), allowing unattended cooking for many hours of pot roast, stews, soups, “boiled” dinners and other suitable dishes, including dips, desserts and beverages.
Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. This is often done with a food steamer, a kitchen appliance made specifically to cook food with steam, but food can also be steamed in a wok. In the American southwest, steam pits used for cooking have been found dating back about 10,000 years. Steaming is considered a healthy cooking technique that can be used for many kinds of food.
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, peppers and tomatoes), meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used. While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. Seasoning and flavourings may also be added. Stews are typically cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavors to mingle.
Stir frying is a Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok. The technique originated in China and in recent centuries has spread into other parts of Asia and the West. Many claim that this quick, hot cooking seals in the flavors of the foods, as well as preserving their color and texture.
Dicing is a culinary knife cut in which the food item is cut into small blocks or dice. This may be done for aesthetic reasons or to create uniformly sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Dicing allows for distribution of flavour and texture throughout the dish, as well as a somewhat quicker cooking time. Dicing usually applies to vegetables prepared in this way but it can also apply to the preparation of meat or fish and fruit. Brunoise is an especially small size, produced from further cutting of julienne-style food.
Julienne is a culinary knife cut in which the food item is cut into long thin strips, similar to matchsticks. Sometimes called ‘shoe string’, e.g. shoestring fries. Common items to be julienned are carrots for carrots julienne, celery for céléris remoulade or potatoes for Julienne Fries.
Mincing is a food preparation technique in which food ingredients are finely divided into uniform pieces. Minced food is in smaller pieces than diced or chopped foods, and is often prepared with a chef’s knife or food processor, or in the case of meat by a specialised meat grinder.