Just a few of important cooking terms that we've learned!

"Mise en place"
[MEEZ ahn plahs]
is a French culinary term and means having all the ingredients in place before you begin to cook. Literally "mise en place" means "put in place".
(Chef Monkeys don't cook until our Mise en place is in order!)

"The Mother Sauce" Rap  
(to help us remember classic French Sauces!)

Coating a food item in flour. The item is then pan-fried; the flour coating adds a pleasant crispness and taste. Dredging is also the preliminary stage in the breading process.

Sauté [SAW tey]
Sauté means
to quickly cook food in a small amount of fat in a hot pan ("to jump or leap").

Caramelize [KEHR-ah-meh-lyz]
To cook sugar to a point where it turns a golden brown, and changes flavor. Onions taste great when they are caramelized.

Caramelized Onions
A process that consists of recovering the caramelized cooking juices by adding a liquid. In practice, using wine, stock, or just water to a pan that has been used to cook meat; the brown bits in the pan which contain flavor and color dissolve in the liquid, which is then used to make the sauce for the meat.

Vinaigrette [vihn-uh-GREHT]
One of the five "mother sauces," vinaigrette is a basic oil-and-vinegar combination, generally used to dress salad greens and other cold vegetable, meat or fish dishes. In its simplest form, vinaigrette consists of oil, vinegar (usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar), salt and pepper.

The vinegar may be replaced by any citrus juice (like fresh lemon juice) or by a blend of citrus and vinegar. Mustard is also a common add-in with the vinegar and helps to keep the emulsion stable for a bit longer.

[MEHR-ih-nayt] To soak a food such as meat, fish or vegetables in a seasoned liquid mixture called a marinade. The purpose of marinating is for the food to absorb the flavors of the marinade or, as in the case of a tough cut of meat, to tenderize. Because most marinades contain acid ingredients, the marinating should be done in a glass, ceramic or stainless-steel container--never in aluminum. Foods should be covered and refrigerated while they're marinating. When fruits are similarly soaked, the term used is macerate.

Flambé [flahm-BAY]
is a French word meaning "flaming" or "flamed."
Flambé means to ignite foods that have liquor or liqueur added. This is done for a dramatic effect and to develop a rich flavor of the liqueur to the foods without adding the alcohol.

Browning Meat
You should always take time to sear meat to a dark golden brown before braising or stewing it. Searing develops flavor.

To cook a food item partially in a boiling liquid. The purpose is to prepare a food item for cooking later, usually by a different cooking method, so that the cooking time is reduced preventing over-browning or over-cooking. Parboiling potatoes which are then roasted would be a typical example.

In everyday usage a garnish is an edible item used to decorate a plate of food. A sprig of thyme or a mint leaf, for example.
A garnish is also a sprinkling of whatever (chopped parsley, icing sugar, etc.) added just before serving. In professional terms a garnish can also be something between a vegetable accompaniment and a sauce but is neither; a spoonful of salsa on a steak would be a good example.

Torchon [tor-SHAWN]
The torchon (which is French for dish cloth) is used to wipe a dish clean or protect the hands while handling hot pots and pans.

Definition: [mihr-PWAH] A mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sauted in butter. Sometimes ham or bacon is added to the mix. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish.  In Italian it is called "Soffritto" and in Portuguese "Refogado".

Puff Pastry
is a light, flaky pastry made by layering chilled butter and pastry dough, then rolling out and folding the dough repeatedly. This painstaking process yields a pastry made of dozens of layers. The pastry "puffs" when baked because the moisture in the butter creates steam between the layers, causing them to separate. Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry is ready to bake, so you can skip the work and still enjoy perfectly made golden, flaky pastry.

"Quanto Basta" (whatever the chef feels is needed)
The curious abbreviation "q.b." can appear in Italian recipes. A chef explains, "I can hardly think of a dish handed down to me by my mother or father or other Italian cooks that did not include the phrase 'quanto basta.' Quanto basta means 'enough,' or 'the amount that is needed.'.... Q.B. is also a way of saying 'to taste' -- who knows better than you how much you need or like."  

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Courtbouillon (koo-bee-yon)
A courtbouillon is a flavored liquid used to poach fish.

Fondant [FAHN-duhnt]
Used as both candy and icing, fondant is a simple sugar-water-cream of tartar mixture cooked to the soft- ball stage. After cooling, the mixture is beaten and kneaded until extremely pliable.