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Glossary of Cooking Techniques
M - R  

It doesn't always occur to those of us who have cooked for a long time that we put terminology in our recipes with which others might not be familiar, so I have decided to create a glossary. These are not typical "dictionary" definitions. I have tried to include tips and explanations that even the novice cook will comprehend.



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Macerate - To add liquid to food, or an ingredient, such as sugar, that causes liquid to form, in order to soften and enhance flavor after it sets for a given amount of time. Usually used in reference to fresh fruits.

Marinate - To add liquid or dry ingredients to food that enhance flavor and/or tenderize after it sets for a given amount of time. Usually used in reference to meats and vegetables. Liquid marinades often include an acid, such as vinegar, wine or citrus juice, mixed with herbs, spices and oil. Dry marinades are usually in the form of spice and herb rubs.

Mince - To cut into extremely fine pieces.

Mix - To combine ingredients with a spoon, beaters or hands until well incorporated.




Pan fry - To brown and cook foods in fat in a shallow pan, where the fat does not completely cover the food. Also known as 'shallow fry'.

Pare - To remove skins and peels from fruits or vegetables with a small knife or peeler.

Parboil - To partially cook for a given amount of time in boiling water as a preliminary step.

Pat - To take the underside of the hand and gently press a food. The purpose might be to pat dry ingredients onto the surface so they will adhere during cooking, or to pat with a towel to remove excess moisture.

Pinch - As much of an ingredient that can be held between the thumb and forefinger. A very small, approximate amount.

Pit - To remove the seed from a piece of fruit by cutting around the sides of the fruit and pulling the seed away from the flesh.

Poach - To cook food in gently simmering, never boiling, liquid.

Preheat - To heat the oven to the specified temperature before adding the foods. Most recipes require preheating of the oven. Usually the recipe will indicate if the oven should not be preheated.

Proof - To activate yeast, or other leavening agent, before using in a recipe. The yeast is normally added to a liquid, possibly mixed with sugar, and allowed to set a given amount of time until it bubbles. If it doesn't bubble, it is old and should be discarded.

Pulse - An action used with processors and blenders. If a recipe tells you to pulse, turn the start button on and off rapidly several times or until the ingredients are appropriately processed.

Punch down - To deflate a risen dough. With your hand, press on the dough until the gas escapes.

Purée - To process foods into a smooth substance of varying degrees of thickness as dictated by the recipe. Usually done with a blender, processor, sieve or food mill.



Reconstitute - To restore condensed or concentrated foods to their original strength with the addition of liquid, usually water.

Reduce - To rapidly boil a liquid until it partially evaporates, leaving a thicker texture and a more intense flavor.

Refresh - To restore by placing in water. Most commonly used in reference to blanched vegetables that are placed immediately in ice water to stop the cooking, set the color and restore the crispness. Greens and herbs that are still very fresh but have gone limp can be restored to the original state by placing in cold (not ice) water and then patted dry.

Ribbon - Used in reference to beating a mixture, usually egg yolks and sugar, until it is thick enough to form a ribbon. Lift the beaters out of the bowl and let the excess mixture drip down into the bowl. When it forms a ribbon shape on top of the mixture in the bowl, it is ready.

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