Do You Know Terms Every Cook Should Know?



By: J.P. Naomi

6 Min Quiz

Image: Rawpixel/Pexels

About This Quiz

When it comes to cooking in the kitchen, it's not just about how hot the stove is or how salty your brine tastes. It's so much more. It's an art. It's a language. Actually a universal one! Did you know that cooking terms are a compilation of various cultures and languages? Mise en place, al dente, au gratin, gazpacho, oh my! So we want to know just how well you know these terms. Can you ace this quiz in no time? Or will you let your thoughts steep as you ponder each answer? It's time to dig in!

You see, any well-respected cook knows that you can't just cook the steak, you've got to sear it. And to get the crispiest bacon known to mankind, you've got to render it with all your might! Take it from some of the best chefs - Joel Robuchon, Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Yoshihiro Murata, to name a few - no matter where in the world they come from, these cooking terms lead them all to one place: culinary heaven!

The time has come: we're about to put you to the test. Are you kitchen-savvy enough to name these cooking terms? It's time to find out if you can julienne with the best of them, or if your leavening agent will fall flat. Good luck and bon appetit!

Do you know the French word for a boneless piece of meat?

Also spelled "filet," as in "filet mignon," a fillet can refer to poultry or fish. A beef fillet is often seared in a hot pan and finished in the oven.


If you want to cook the fat out of food, what should you do?

To "render" is to cook the fat out, typically on a stovetop. Crispy bacon anyone? Synonyms for render include "melt down" or "clarify."


Can you name the term for adding alcohol to a hot pan to create a burst of flames?

"Flambe" is a French word meaning "flaming" or "flamed." It is performed by cooks, using brandy, cognac or rum, and helps to develop rich flavors.


What is it called when you leave your tea bag in the pot to help the liquid reach its peak flavor?

Did you know that teabags often have a suggested steeping time on the package? For a delicious eight-ounce cup of tea, generally steep your teabag for about three to five minutes.


What is the term for cutting food into long, thin strips?

"Julienne" is also known as the "French cut." Foods that are often julienned into matchstick-like strips include carrots, celery, onions and potatoes.


What is the act of partially cooking food so that it can be finished later?

Par-cooking is a great way to save flavors and time! It allows food to be prepared ahead of time and is a way to ensure that various dishes finish cooking at the same time. Did you know that most frozen prepared foods are par-cooked?


Which term best describes the act of treating food with a high concentration of salt water in advance of cooking?

Did you know that brining is similar to marinating, except brining focuses on salt while marinades generally focus on vinegar or citrus juice? Brining is most popular with meats, fish and turkey.


Baking bread without yeast makes what kind of bread?

While yeast is the most popular leavening agent for baking bread, there are other methods. These include air, steam, baking powder and baking soda.


What is the method of incorporating air into food by using a whisk or mixer?

When transforming cream into whipped cream, it is important that both the cream and the equipment are cold! Did you know that whipping cream dates back to the 16th century?


What is the name of the cooking utensil used to blend ingredients?

Whisks come in a variety of sizes and can be manual or attached to a hand mixer. They are used to combine ingredients while ensuring a smooth consistency.


What is the French term for "with juice"?

Au jus is a light gravy or broth. Did you know that it is made from the very juices given off by meat as it is cooked? Pouring au jus on top of cooked meat keeps the meat moist and adds great flavor.


What is the cooking term for adding oil and vinegar to salad or other dishes?

The best time to dress a salad is right before serving. Don't want it to get soggy now! In a bowl mix three tablespoons of olive oil to one tablespoon of vinegar, whisk with salt and pepper, and add your greens to toss!


Which of the following terms refers to boiling briefly, then plunging into ice water?

Boiling and then cold shocking foods, typically vegetables or fruit, helps to stop the cooking process quickly! This process is called "blanching." By doing so, you preserve the quality and color of the food and prepare it optimally for freezing, drying or canning, or for tossing in a salad.


Which of the following terms means to pour juices or melted fat over meat while cooking to keep it moist?

If you've ever watched Gordon Ramsay sear a filet, he constantly bastes the meat by spooning butter over the top of it! Another example of basting is drizzling the cooking juices over the turkey on Thanksgiving!


What is the process of soaking foods in seasoned acidic liquid before cooking?

Marinating is similar to brining, but it involves the use of more acidic ingredients. It is also closely related to pickling, with respect to the acid, but marinating takes much less time.


Similar to a julienne, what is the slicing technique for cutting leafy green vegetables into long, thin strips?

Did you know that chiffonade means "little ribbons" in French? Therefore, chiffonading works best with large leafy vegetables, such as spinach, Swiss chard, basil or sorrel.


Can you name the term for cooking and tossing food in a shallow pan on high heat?

Sauteed onions are the greatest example of this cooking term. They are thin-sliced for even cooking, tossed in a small amount of oil and cooked on a stovetop until lightly browned. Their flavor is not only maintained but also enhanced by this method of cooking!


What term refers to chopping food into tiny pieces?

Mincing is performed with a chef's knife, or better yet... a food processor! Anything from garlic to meat can be minced and makes for even cooking across many cuisines.


What is the name of the term for ordering or serving individual dishes from a menu?

If you order steak "a la carte," you can be sure it is coming by itself! You must order side dishes separately. The concept of a la carte menu items dates back as far as 1816.


To place food on a hot surface until a crust forms is to do what to it?

Getting a nice sear, or crust, on a piece of meat creates great flavor, although it does not actually seal in the juices. After searing, pop the pan in the oven to finish cooking the inside to your desired temperature.


What is the act of raising the temperature of a cold ingredient by slowly adding hot liquid to it?

The act of tempering is often done when eggs are involved. For example, it is important not to let your eggs cook in the cake batter if you add hot melted butter!


What is the term for grating bits of orange, lime or lemon rind into a recipe for enhanced flavor?

Did you know that the skin of lemons, limes and oranges contains oils that provide rich flavors and aromas to our food? A fine grater can be used to zest these fruits, or you can purchase a zesting tool at your nearest kitchen gadget store.


Which of the following terms refers to a cold soup of raw, blended vegetables?

Gazpacho originated in the southern region of Andalusia. It is widely eaten in Spain and Portugal and consists mainly of bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and garlic.


What is the term for removing the middle of an apple or other produce?

The core of a fruit or vegetable contains the seeds and typically tougher flesh. Most people core an apple, although it is feasible to eat the whole thing!


Which of the following foods originated in Northern Italy?

Polenta is cornmeal, used most commonly in Italian cooking! It is typically boiled and then fried or baked, and served with a protein.


This is the cooking term for sprinkling with breadcrumbs or grated cheese and browning... what is it?

Potatoes au gratin, anyone? A nice golden brown topping is typically achieved under the broiler. Be careful not to burn your topping!


What is the word for frying lightly and then slow-cooking?

The word "braising" comes from the French word "braiser." It combines dry and wet heat to cook through foods, most popularly meat. The food is first seared on high heat, then finished with liquid in a covered pot on low heat.


What is the term for removing browned bits of food from a hot pan using wine or other liquid?

After searing meat, a good cook will often deglaze their pan, using wine, stock or other liquid. Pouring liquid into the hot pan allows the browned bits or "glaze" to loosen and dissolve into a gravy, soup or sauce to serve with the meal.


What is it called when you prepare your ingredients before you start cooking?

To gather your mise en place is to be prepared! Chopping your vegetables, measuring out your spices, having everything in its place before you start cooking makes for a clean and organized cooking experience!


Which of these techniques uses bacon as a main component?

Barding is the technique in which chefs wrap strips of bacon over a roast or other lean meat before cooking. Doing so enhances the flavor of the meat, but also increases the fat content of the meal!


Pepper steak in a French restaurant may take on which of the following terms?

Steak au poive is filet mignon or other steak coated with freshly cracked peppercorns and seared at high heat. A crust of pepper forms and creates incredible flavor. Top with a peppercorn sauce and you are in for a real treat!


What is the term for softening food by soaking it in a liquid?

Did you know that maceration is the key to producing flavored alcoholic beverages? When raw, dried or preserved foods are left to soak in a liquid, their flavors are absorbed into the liquid.


Which cooking term best describes food cooked in grease, oil or syrup at a low temperature?

Confit comes from the French word "confire," meaning "to preserve." It is not the same as deep frying, which occurs at 325 - 450 degrees for a short period of time. Confit is done at around 200 degrees for much longer!


Which of these terms means to rough chop an ingredient?

"Concasse" comes from the French word "concasser," meaning "to crush or grind." If you are unfamiliar with the term but familiar with Italian bruschetta - tomato concasse (roughly chopped tomatoes) are mixed with olive oil and basil and spread on a crostini!


Which word best describes removing fat from food?

Degreasing is also known as defatting or fat trimming. This process is easiest to do when liquids such as soups cool, and a layer of fat solidifies at the top.


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