Blanch: To plunge food (usually vegetables and fruits) into boiling water briefly, then into cold water to stop the cooking process.
Chiffonade: Thing strips or shreds of herbs or leafy greens accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.
Compote: A chilled dish of fresh or fired fruit that has been slowly cooked in a sugar syrup (which may contain liquor and sometimes spices).
Deglaze: After food (usually meat) has been sautéed and the food and excess fat removed from the pan, deglazing is done by heating a small amount of liquid in the pan and stirring to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. The liquid is most often wine or stock. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan.
Leavening Agent: Agents that are used to lighten the texture and increase the volume of baked goods such as breads, cakes, and cookies. Baking powder, baking soda, and yeast are among the most common leaveners.
Mirepoix: A mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery. The ratio is 50% onion to 25% carrot to 25% celery. It is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish.
Mother Sauces: A methodology by which hundreds of sauces are classified: Espagnole (brown stock-based) – think port wine sauce, Velouté (white stock-based) – herb seafood sauce, Béchamel (milk-based) – cheese sauce, Tomato sauce – think creole cooking, Hollandaise, an emuslified sauce – like the sauce on top of eggs benedict.
Quick Bread: Bread that is made quick because it doesn’t require kneading or rising time. Uses baking powder or baking soda as a leavener (see leavening agent), which when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately.
Render: To melt animal fat over low heat so that it separates from any connective pieces of tissue, which, during rendering, turn brown and crisp.
Roux: A mixture of flour and fat that, after being slowly cooked over low heat, is used to thicken mixtures such as soups and sauces. The three classic are white, blond, and brown.
Supreme: To remove the skin, pith, membranes, and seeds of a citrus fruit and separate into wedges.
Umami: The fifth element of taste in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. It does not have a literal English translation, but may be loosely interpreted as delicious or savory.
Velouté: A white stock, typically chicken stock, thickened with a white roux. One of the four original mother sauces (see mother sauces).