Sometimes I have to step back a bit and realize that not everyone has a culinary background like I do. This means not everyone is familiar with some of the terms or techniques that I use on a daily basis. So today, I thought I would help with that, and offer some definitions and pictures of actual cooking terms and techniques we chefs use in the kitchen everyday.
Most cooking terms are in French, or have come from French chefs through the ages. Up until fairly recently, all the cooking gods and goddesses were formally trained in the French arts of the trade. I too have been trained by French chefs, as well as many other fantastic European and American master chefs. When I was in culinary school, I was lucky enough to be trained by a Dutch pastry chef, a couple of German master chefs, and my favorite chef instructor of all, Andre Aversegne, from Avignon, France. So I took what they could teach me and then, of course, I personalized it in my own way. Some of my instructors did not like this particularly much, and I was always in trouble of some kind. For instance, I love my chowders nice and thick. One day we were making chowders, and the chef instructor had us make it on the thin side. I didn’t like it and made it thick instead. He balked and told me that I needed to make it his way and to do what the customers wanted. My response to him was “if it is my restaurant, I will make it any way I like, and the customers either like it or they don’t”. I was punished by having to cut a 10 lb bag of onions, crying heavily the whole time. I was finally released from my duties because Chef Wentz was afraid I was going to cut my fingers off because I was crying so much. But then, Chef Aversegne always had a different approach. He would say ” Non, non Jeanne, dat iz not za way”, but he would let me do my thing to see how it would turn out, then he would say “Jeanne, diz iz good! Tres bien!” So as you can see, I have always been a rebel, and I am going to do what I am going to do. 🙂
Julienne -to cut ingredients, usually vegetables, into thin matchstick shapes, usually no more than a couple of inches long.
Marinating meats – is a way to flavor meats and tenderize them at the same time, usually using some sort of acidic base mixed with seasonings and herbs.
Marinades are often made with variations of salt, sugar, oils and vinegars. The salt reduces the water content plus is form of preserving the meats (especially in the times before refrigeration). Sugar and oil smother the bacteria and the vinegar acts as a hostile environment for bacteria.
Deglazing – When pan frying, as we know, often times, food particles stick to the bottom of the pan. By adding something acidic to the pan, it removes these browned meat and vegetable particles and also acts as a flavor enhancement because it caramelizes them as well. As you know, I use a lot of wine and/or lemon juice when I cook for this very purpose.
Caramelizing – means to cook food slowly which allows the food’s natural sugars to come out and convert into a liquid. This browns the food and adds a sweet taste to it as well.
Stewing – is a method of slow cooking, usually used for tough cuts of meat. The meat is covered in a liquid or broth and is slow cooked over hours to both flavor and to tenderize the meats and/ore vegetables used.
So now you know. I give you free reign to bragging rights. You can show off your cooking knowledge and your new-found skills to your family and friends and say “I learned this from ‘A Jeanne in the Kitchen'”. 🙂
Have fun, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.