Cooking Topics, Terms, Techniques and Tips for Today’s Home Chefs

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As a very busy businessman I find having a good understanding of business terminology is essential to success. The same holds true to following a recipe or even conversing about cooking.

Below is a list of what I feel are the basics for cooking

This PDF Guide For Soldiers has the basics and is a good place to start

Some Terms with Tips

Bake: to cook in an oven

Basic Cooking Terms

Beat: to mix ingredients together using a fast, circular motion with a spoon, fork, whisk or mixer

Blend: to mix ingredients together gently with a spoon or fork, or until combined

Boil: to heat a food item so that the liquid is hot enough for bubbles to rise and break the surface

Broil: to cook under direct heat

Brown: to cook over medium to high heat until surface of the food item browns or darkens

Chop: to cut into small pieces

Dice: to cut into small cubes

Drain: to remove all liquid using a colander or strainer

Grate or Shred: to scrape food against the holes of a grater to make thin pieces

Grease: to lightly coat with oil, butter, or non-stick spray so food does not stick when cooking or baking

Knead: to press, fold and stretch dough until it is smooth and uniform, usually done by pressing with the heels of hands

Marinate: to soak food in a liquid to tenderize or add flavor to it (liquid= the marinade)

Mash: to squash food with a fork, spoon or masher

Mince: to cut into very small pieces (note- smaller than chopped or diced pieces)

Mix: to stir ingredients together with a spoon, fork, or electric mixer until well combined

Preheat: to turn oven on ahead of time so that it is at the desired temperature when needed (this typically takes 5–10 minutes, but will vary from oven to oven)

Sauté: to cook quickly in a small amount of oil or butter

Simmer: to cook in liquid over low heat (low boil) so that small bubbles just begin to break the surface

Steam: to cook food over steam without putting the food directly in water (usually by using a steamer)

Stir fry: to quickly cook small pieces of food over high heat while constantly stirring until the food is crispy and tender. Measuring accurately is probably the most important cooking skill in the kitchen. Home Economists in test kitchens spend many hours testing recipes with varying measurements in a process called ‘tolerance testing’. A recipe must perform well even though the ingredient amounts are changed; if the recipe fails tolerance testing, it is not published. Even though the recipes in cookbooks are quite ‘tolerant’, the cook still has to follow basic rules of measuring.

To begin, make sure that you have actual commercial measuring utensils. Nested (graduated) measuring cups are used for dry ingredients. Measuring spoons are needed — your stainless coffee spoon just isn’t the correct tool! For liquid ingredients, you need a clear glass or plastic cup with a pouring spout.

Graduated measuring cups are made in 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup, and 2 cup sizes. Liquid measuring cups are usually either 2 cup or 4 cup. Measuring spoons usually range from 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. It’s possible to find other more utensils including 1/8 cup, 2/3 cup, and very small spoons. Some sets even include “a pinch”, “a smidgen”, and “a dash”.

Here is a link for Terms

A Dictionary of Cooking Terms for the Home Cook – Home Cooking

10 Healthy Cooking Tips

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet is by eating at home. Here are some tips to help keep your cooking healthy and satisfying.

When veggies are overcooked, they lose their color and may lose some nutrients. Preserve their nutrients and colors by cooking them quickly with either steaming or stir-frying.

Use herbs, vinegar, tomatoes, onions and/or fat-free or low-fat, low sodium sauces or salad dressings instead of creamy based ones for better health, especially if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Use your time and your freezer wisely. When you cook once, make it last longer by preparing enough for several other meals. Freeze it and have a ready-made healthy treat for the next time you are simply too tired or busy to cook.

A smoothie can cover a multitude of needs. Throw a banana (you can keep them in the freezer for weeks) into your blender along with frozen berries, kiwi or whatever fruit is around, 100% orange or other juice, and fat-free or low-fat yogurt (no added sugars). You can get 4 — 5 servings of fruit in one glass of yummy shake. Try getting your loved one to sip on a smoothie. It’s easy, cool, refreshing and healthy. Just be careful, smoothies can be high in calories when they are made with full fat ice cream or full fat yogurt and sugar.

Prepared seasonings can have high salt content and increase your risk for high blood pressure. Replace salt with fresh herbs and spices or salt-free seasoning mixes. Use lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies to add flavor.

Canned, processed and preserved vegetables often have very high sodium content. Look for “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on canned veggies or try the frozen varieties. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label of similar products (for example, different brands of tomato sauce) and choose the products with less sodium.

Prepare muffins and quick breads with less saturated fat and trans fat and fewer calories. Use three ripe, very well-mashed bananas, instead of 1/2 cup butter, lard, shortening or oil or substitute one cup of applesauce per one cup of these fats.

Choose whole grain for part of your ingredients instead of highly refined products. Use whole- wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal. Whole-wheat flour can be substituted for up to half of all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try 1 cup all- purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour.

In baking, use plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt or fat-free or low-fat sour cream instead of butter, whole milk, or heavy cream.

Another way to decrease the amount of fat and calories in your recipes is to use fat-free milk or 1% milk instead of whole or reduced-fat (2%) milk. For extra richness, try fat-free half-and- half or evaporated skim milk. — American Heart Association

For more information on heart-healthy eating visit

Healthy Eating

or contact the American Heart Association at inquiries@heart.org or (800) 242–8721.

Here’s a basic guide to measuring common ingredients:

Flour: Stir flour in the storage container or bag. Using a large spoon, lightly spoon flour from the container into the measuring cup. Do not shake the cup and do not pack the flour. Using the back of a knife or flat blade spatula, level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup. Don’t use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container. You can end up with 150% of the correct measurement if you do this! One cup of correctly measured flour should weigh about 120 to 125 grams.

Baking powder and Baking Soda:Stir in the container. Using the measuring spoon, lightly scoop out of the container. Use that knife to level off even with the top edge of the measuring spoon.

Sugar: Sugar is measured by scooping the cup or measuring spoon into the container or bag until it is overflowing, then leveling off with the back of a knife.

Brown Sugar: This needs to be packed into the measuring cup. The sugar should retain the shape of the cup when it is dropped into the other ingredients.

Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar usually needs to be sifted to remove small lumps. It is measured by spooning the sugar into the measuring cup from the container, then leveling off with the back of a knife.

Liquid Ingredients: Liquids need to be measured at eye level. Using the liquid measuring cup, pour the liquid into the cup. Then bend over so you are on the same level with the measuring marks. The liquid should be right at the mark, not above or below.

Semi-Liquid Ingredients: Ingredients like sour cream, peanut butter, and yogurt are measured using dry measuring cups because they are too thick to be accurately measured in the liquid cups. Level off sour cream and peanut butter with the back of a knife.

Shortening and Solid Fats: Butter and margarine have measuring amounts marked on the sides of the paper wrapping. One quarter pound stick of butter or margarine equals 1/2 cup. Solid shortening is measured by packing it into a cup so there are no air spaces, then leveling off with the knife. To easily remove fats from baking cups, spray them with a nonstick cooking spray before measuring. You can also use the liquid displacement method for measuring solid fats. For instance, if you want 1/2 cup of shortening, fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/2 cup of cold water. Then add shortening until the water level reaches 1 cup when you look at it at eye level. Pour out the water and use the shortening. Oil is measured as a liquid.

Liquid Ingredients in Spoons: Make sure that you don’t measure small amounts of liquid ingredients over the mixing bowl. It’s just too easy to spill, and you don’t want 2 teaspoons of almond extract when the recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon!

Dry Ingredients in Spoons: Ingredients measured in these small amounts still have to be measured carefully. Overfill the measuring spoons and level off using the back of a knife for the most accurate amounts. Accurate amounts of ingredients like baking soda and powder are critical to the success of any baked product.

Chopped Ingredients: Pay close attention to whether or not an ingredient is to be chopped, diced or minced, and whether they are measured before chopping or after. Then the foods are placed in the measuring cup so the top is level with the surface.

When you bake cookies, cakes, breads, pie crusts, and candies, measuring accurately is critical to the success of the recipe. When you are cooking casseroles, soups, stir fries, and meats, you can vary amounts more and the end result will still be good.

I remember liquid measurements this way: 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon. Memorize that! Using these rules and tips, you can be confident that any recipe you tackle will be a success.

Basic Equivalents in Cooking:

Roger Keyserling

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Cooking Topics, Terms, Techniques and Tips for Today’s Home Chefs was originally published in eCom Tips on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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