Need help reducing, deglazing, or basting? Our handy guide shows you how.
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Cooking should be as easy as one-two-three when you're following a recipe. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Before you can master a recipe, you have to learn the lingo. Here are nine terms you need to know before cracking open any cookbook.
To moisten food as it cooks. Typically accomplished with meat drippings, stock, egg, or any other liquid. Basting can be done with a spoon, a brush, or a bulb baster. It will not only prevent your food from drying out but will also add flavor and color. Basting is most commonly associated with a Thanksgiving turkey.
To stir rapidly in a circular motion. Commonly used with eggs, salad dressings, and baked goods. Beating can be done with a spoon, a fork, or a specifically designed wire whisk, as well as an electric mixer. As a general rule, 100 circular strokes of beating without an electric mixer are equal to one minute of beating with one.
To cook food quickly over high heat, causing the surface to turn brown. Browning helps keep moisture in while giving the food an appetizing flavor and color. It's most commonly associated with meats and vegetables. You can brown your food in a pan on top of the stove or under a broiler.
A very small measurement, considered to be between 1/16 and 1/8 of a teaspoon. Typically used in association with seasonings (can be accomplished by adding the seasoning to your food with a quick, downward stroke of the hand). Often used interchangeably with the word "pinch."
To loosen browned bits of food from the bottom of a pan with a small amount of liquid, which creates the base for a sauce. Typically done after cooking meat and usually accomplished with wine, broth, or water. To deglaze a pan, add the liquid and stir over medium-low heat.
To gently combine a lightweight mixture (such as beaten egg whites) with a heavier mixture (such as whipped cream). To do so, place the light mixture on top of the heavy mixture and move a rubber spatula in a down-across-up-and-over motion to carefully combine the two mixtures. To achieve a consistent mix, rotate the bowl slightly with each stroke.
A decoration added to a finished dish. Garnishes can be as simple as a piece of parsley, or as complicated as a carved vegetable. Garnishes are usually, but not always, edible; their typical purpose is to enhance both the visual appeal of the dish and the flavor.
To prepare food for cooking by soaking in a seasoned liquid mixture. Marinating enhances the flavor of food. Most marinades contain at least one acidic ingredient (such as vinegar or lemon juice or wine) that serves to tenderize tough meat. Common marinade ingredients include garlic, reduced-sodium soy sauce, salt, pepper, and ginger.
To boil a liquid until the volume is cut down by evaporation. Typically done with stock, sauce mixtures, and stews. Reducing both thickens and intensifies the flavor of the mixture. When reducing, pay close attention to the mixture to prevent burning.
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