My definitions for common cooking terms and the “Lacey-isms” you’ll find in my recipes. Refer to this list whenever you see terminology you don’t know.
al Dente: Generally used when describing pasta and rice cooking, but technically includes vegetables and beans too. Al dente is translated as ‘to the tooth’ meaning something cooked but left with a bit of firmness.
Bake: To cook in an oven.
Bake blind: The process of baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling. It is used to keep pie crust from becoming soggy from wet filling.
Bathe: The process by which you bring food (usually yogurt or a whole, raw egg) to room temperature by placing the item in a bowl of warm water as if it were taking a bath.
Beat: To thoroughly combine ingredients and incorporate air with a rapid, circular motion. This may be done with a wooden spoon, wire whisk, electric mixer, stand-up mixer (whisk attachment) or food processor.
Beaten: Ingredients or an ingredient that has been agitated vigorously using a spoon, whisk, electric mixer or fork.
Bind: To add a liquid ingredient to a dry mixture to hold it together.
Blanch: A quick method of cooking food, usually green vegetables, where the item is scalded in boiling hot water for a short period of time and then refreshed in ice cold water. This ensures that the veggie retains its bright color and a good firm texture. Nuts can also be blanched, such as almonds, but I recommend purchasing nuts already blanched versus trying to do it yourself.
Blend: To process food in an electric blender or mixer so that the two (or more) ingredients become smooth and uniform in texture and lose their individual characteristics
Blow–on–it–hot: The hottest temperature your mouth can stand. Some foods taste better fresh out of the pot or pan. Blow on each bite, test with your tongue and eat as soon as it is cool enough for you.
Boil: To cook a liquid at a temperature of at least 212°F
Bone: To remove the bone from a piece of meat. For example, “bone the salmon before serving to your children”.
Broil: Normally a term only used in the United States, broil is known as grilling in other parts of the world. Basically, you preheat the hot rod or grill at the top of your oven until it gets exceptionally hot. Place the food on an oven tray under the preheated grill until it browns and has incredible flavor.
Brown: To cook food until it has a brown-colored appearance, this is usually achieved by grilling, frying or baking.
Burn: To overcook food so that it is black, crispy, smokey or occasionally, still on fire, and very dry. Basically ruining it. It is almost never possible to save burnt food.
It happens…don’t sweat it! Toss the burnt mess in the trash and try again.
Caramelize: To slowly cook food until it turns sweet, nutty and brown. To caramelize chopped onion, gently cook it in butter or oil, for a long time at a low temperature, until the sugars in the onion begin to brown and become very sweet.
Char: To blacken something on the outside, purposefully. To char is not to burn. If you’ve ever eaten a hot dog or hamburger cooked over an open flame, it was charred.
Coat: To cover something with a layer of something else.
Core: To remove the core or center of something. For example, “core the apple”.
Cream: To mix fats and sugar together until creamy in appearance. For example, “cream the butter and sugar to make the frosting”
Crumble: A topping (usually for a baked good) with a mixture of flour, oats, butter and brown sugar.
Crush: To break into uneven pieces.
Cut in: A method of blending, usually for a pastry, where a fat is combined with flour. The method often refers to using a pastry cutter (or pinching fingers) to mix butter or lard into the flour until the mixture is the size of peas.
Dissolve: To mix dry ingredient(s) with liquid until in solution.
Divide: To separate into parts or portions. For example, “6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided” means that part of the ingredient (in this case olive oil) will be used in more than one step over the course of the recipe instructions.
Drain: To remove water from ingredients cooked in liquid or from raw ingredients that have been washed in water by placing them in a sieve or colander.
Dredge: To lightly coat a food in a dry ingredient, such as flour, cornmeal or breadcrumbs.
Drizzle: To pour a liquid over other ingredients usually in a random design or zigzag pattern and often as a finishing, decorative touch.
Dollop: A small amount of soft food that has been formed into a round-ish shape. Yogurt, whipped cream and cauliflower pureé are all examples of foods that can be dolloped.
Dust: To sprinkle lightly with a powder. For example, “dust the profiteroles with powdered sugar”.
Fillet: Most commonly known as a very tender cut of beef, but can also refer to the meat of chicken and fish.
Finger: A piece of fresh root that is approximately two inches long. For example, “a finger of ginger”.
Flake: To break cooked fish into individual pieces.
Fold: A method of gently mixing ingredients. Usually egg whites or whipped cream are folded into a heavier mixture for a souffle, cake or pie filling. The lighter mixture is placed on top of the heavier mixture, then the two are combined by passing a spatula down through the mixture, across the bottom and up over the top. This process continues until the mixtures are combined. This traps air into bubbles in the product, allowing baked goods to rise.
Fry: To cook in hot fat.
Garnish: To add a small decoration, often edible, to a savory dish just before serving to enhance its finished appearance.
Ghee: The butterfat that is left over after the water and milk solids are taken out of butter. The only difference between ghee and clarified butter is that ghee is cooked until the milk solids are slightly browned which adds a nutty flavor to the finished product. It’s basically pure cooking fat.
Glaze: A glaze is used to give foods a smooth and/or shiny finish. It is a sticky substance coated on top of food. It is usually used in baking or cooking meats where a sauce or marinade will be brushed over the food continuously to form a glaze.
Grease: To apply a layer of fat to a surface to prevent food from sticking. For example, grease a baking sheet with butter.
Grill: To cook by direct radiant heat (see to broil).
Grind: To break something down into much smaller pieces. This can be done by hand with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. For example, “grind whole spices”.
Handful: The amount of food (like herbs, leafy greens, nuts or chocolate chips) that a child or parent can grab with one hand. It is generally expected to be ¼ to ½ cup.
Healthy eating relationships: A relationship which includes relaxed eating, choosing preference over pressure and practicing balance and flexibility in the approach to feeding (parent) and eating (child). This relationship is built from the adult-child feeding relationship and grows with social and emotional development.
Healthy feeding and eating habits: A positive, nurturing environment and healthy patterns of feeding and eating which promote eating habits that are built on variety, balance and moderation.
Hull: Refers to the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit. More specifically, to hull a strawberry is to remove the leafy green part of a strawberry.
Infuse: To allow the flavor of an ingredient to soak into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavor of that ingredient.
Knead: To work a dough by hand, using a folding-back and pressing-forward motion.
Lick the spoon clean: So delicious you need to get every last bit by any means possible… even if it includes licking the spoon!
Line: To place a layer of plastic wrap, aluminum foil or parchment paper, often lightly greased, in a baking sheet, cake pan or muffin tin to prevent food from sticking to the surface.
Macerate: The soaking and “mashing” of an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid or in sugar so that the liquid takes on its flavor. Can also be used to soften dried fruit. Maceration is helpful when making marmalades and the kid-friendly mocktails in the drink section.
Marbling: Marbled meat is meat (especially red meat) that contains various amounts of intramuscular fat, giving it a marbled pattern.
Marinate: To impart the flavor of a marinade into food. This usually requires some time to allow the flavors to develop. Twenty minutes up to two hours are enough for the recipes in this book. This process can also be used to tenderize a cut of meat.
Mash: To break down a cooked ingredient such as potatoes into a smooth mixture using a potato masher or fork.
Massage: A quick and effective technique when you’re short on marinating time is to put the protein (usually fish, chicken, meat or pork) and marinade in a resealable plastic bag. With your fingers, massage the protein through the bag for about five minutes to help flavors seep in.
Melt: Use a high temperature to turn a solid into a liquid. For example, melt chocolate chips in the microwave.
Mix: To beat or stir food ingredients together until they are combined.
Moisten: To make something slightly wet.
Paint: To cover food with an even layer of liquid by applying it with a pastry brush or fingers. For example, “paint (or brush) the pastry with beaten egg or milk to glaze.”
Pan fry: To cook food in a shallow layer of preheated oil.
Pat: To lightly tap or slap something with your hands.
Pectin: A natural fruit-based ingredient used to thicken jams and jellies. Raspberries and blackberries are naturally high in pectin.
Peel: To remove the outer layer of a food.
Pinch: The amount you can grab between your thumb and forefinger. When it comes to salt, recipe analysis considers 0.5 grams to be a pinch.
Pith: The spongy, white, bitter tasting tissue lining the rind of oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Avoid the pith when zesting or making twists.
Pour: To transfer a liquid from one container to another.
Press: To apply pressure.
Proof: A bread baking term, proofing means to allow the bread dough to rise. The proofing refers to the fermentation action of the yeast.
Prick: To make a single small hole or several small holes, often with a fork before baking.
Purée: To press, mash or blend raw or cooked food, usually fruit and vegetables, to form
a paste-like consistency.
Reduce: To boil a liquid in an uncovered pan until it thickens. Reducing concentrates the flavor of the liquid.
Rest: The general term for the time you give food to finish its process. Usually used in reference to meats and doughs.
Rinse: To clean under running water.
Roast: To cook in the oven, usually with the addition of fat or oil. Technically defined as a method of dry cooking a piece of meat (oil contains no water), where the hot air envelops the food to cook it evenly and to allow it to caramelize nicely.
Roll out: To reduce the thickness of pastry or dough by applying equal pressure with a rolling pin.
Sauté: Meaning “to jump” in French, sautéeing is cooking food in a minimal amount of oil over rather high heat.
Scant: Meaning “just barely.” An amount that’s just barely enough. In other words, not packed. When a recipe calls for a scant cup or scant teaspoon of something, don’t fill the measuring cup or spoon to the top. Instead, use slightly less than the designated amount.
Scoop: A hand held tool with a small semi-circular bowl at one end to scoop portions of foods such as ice cream, sorbet, mashed potatoes or rice.
Season: To add salt, pepper and/or herbs to a food or dish to enhance its flavor.
Sear (or brown): A method of cooking food over a high heat until caramelization forms on the surface. This is often done before braising or roasting the food, to give it added flavor and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through.
Separate: To divide an egg into its two distinct components: the egg yolk and the egg white.
Sift: To put dry ingredients such as flour or sugar through a sifter or mesh screen to loosen particles and incorporate air.
Simmer: To keep a liquid just below the boiling point, usually in a pan on the stove. For example, “simmer the sauce until it starts to reduce and thicken”.
Skim: To remove a layer of scum or fat from the surface of a food. For example, “skim the foamy layer off the top of the chicken stock”.
Soak: To immerse a solid in a liquid.
Sofrito: a Spanish word that means “gently fried.” The sofrito is a mixture of 2 to 3 sautéed ingredients—usually onions, garlic, peppers, carrots or tomatoes—that give depth of flavor to dishes.
Split: When dairy products such as cream, yogurt or milk curdle or separate into curds and whey. Splitting can occur when cream is added to a sauce and heated close to boiling point. Once the liquid splits it cannot be recovered. Apart from cheesemaking (like Paneer for example), splitting is undesirable.
Spoon Test: Coat the back of a spoon with a sauce and run your finger through it. If your finger leaves a path, the sauce, glaze or curd is ready.
Spread: To apply on a surface in an even layer.
Sprinkle: To scatter a powdered ingredient or tiny droplets of a liquid over a dish.
Steam: To cook food in the steam rising from boiling water.
Stir: To agitate an ingredient or a number of ingredients using a hand held tool such as a spoon or a chopstick.
Straight–from–the–fridge–cold: the temperature of an ingredient, like butter, when it comes out of the refrigerator, about 35°F to 38°F.
Strain: To pass wet ingredients through a sieve to remove lumps or pieces of food. For example, “strain the stock to remove any small pieces of meat or flavorings”.
Taste: The amount of an ingredient (usually salt, pepper or lemon juice) you can add to food in the amount that tastes right to you.
Toast: To cook food (usually nuts) in a hot, dry frying pan (no oil or fat) and stir until they are fragrant and golden brown.
Toss: To lightly mix. For example, “toss the salad in the dressing until well coated”. To toss can also mean to cover food completely in another ingredient.
For example, “toss the fish in seasoned flour.”
Toothpick Test: To see if your baked item is ready to come out of the oven, insert a toothpick into the center or the deepest section. If the toothpick comes out clean or with only a few crumbs, remove the dish from the oven and set it on a cooling rack. If the toothpick comes out with wet dough stuck to it, reset the timer and bake longer. Use the toothpick test when baking cakes, muffins, breads and cookies.
Top and Tail: The action of cutting off the top part and root or pointy side of a food (usually an onion or pepper) to prepare it for another knife cut.
Trim: To remove the edges from something or cut it down to a certain size.
Twist: To cut the peel from a whole fresh lemon (for example) with a small kitchen knife, careful to remove all the pith. To make the twist shape, hold each end of the rind between your fingertips, turn each in opposite directions to make a bent, curled shape.
Well: A method used for incorporating dry ingredients and wet ingredients whereby you make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients, place the wet ingredients in the hole and stir to combine.
Whip: To beat rapidly using a fork or whisk to introduce air into a mixture or single ingredient to increase the volume.
Whisk: To beat or whip a mixture vigorously with a whisk in order to incrporate air into it.
Wrap: To encase one food in another or to encase food in plastic wrap or aluminum foil for safe storage.