Making chefs from scratch

Experts and store owners provide the basics
for how to make great recipes happen
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:37 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Simmer or sauté? Braise or broil? For beginner cooks, it might be

difficult to know the differences. Learn these basic terms and techniques found in recipes and make your cooking ventures a little easier.


Julliene: Cutting food into long, thin strips about a quarter-inch by 2 inches.

Al dente

This term describes foods, especially pasta, cooked only until soft enough to eat, but not overdone. The English is “to the teeth.”


To spread, brush or spoon water, melted fat or other liquid over the surface of food to keep it moist and to add flavor.


A process in which food is plunged in boiling water for a


Dice: Cut food into cubes about 1/8 to 3/4

of an inch in size.

moment and

then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking process. It makes vegetables easier to peel and helps preserve their color.


This involves cooking food in a little fat to brown it, usually on the stovetop, and then covering and cooking slowly until done. This process is usually suited to less tender cuts of meats.



Butterfly: Cut a food down the center, but not quite through, leaving both halves attached.

To cook food directly under or over the heat source, usually in the oven under the top broiling element or on the grill.


To cook food quickly at a moderately high heat to brown the surface. Food may be browned on the stove top or under the broiler in the oven.


Less than 1/8 of a teaspoon.


Cube: Cut into cubes, about 1/2 to 1 inch. It may also mean to tenderize meat with a mallet

or utensil that make cube imprints.


To coat or sprinkle lightly with flour or sugar until food is well covered.


To incorporate a light mixture with a heavy mixture, such as beaten egg whites into batter. The lighter mixture is placed on the heavier mixture, and a spatula is used to gently cut down and through the lighter mixture to the bottom of a bowl and then up again.


To let food soak in a seasoned liquid to flavor


Pare: Cut the skin from a food, usually using

a paring knife.

and tenderize.


A small amount of a dry ingredient, usually around 1/16 of a teaspoon. About as much as can be held between the tip of the thumb and the forefinger.


To boil a liquid until a portion of it has evaporated. This technique intensifies the food’s flavor and results in a thicker liquid.


Mince: Cut or chop a food into very fine pieces. First, you must slice the onion to begin the mincing process. Then, make thin slices across the onion. Finally, you slice it the opposite direction.


To cook food in an open pan in the oven with no added liquid.

Rolling boil

A very fast boil that doesn’t slow when stirred.


To cook briskly in a small amount of fat, usually in a skillet on top of the stove.


To cook just below a boil.



To cook a small covered amount of boiling liquid so the steam in the pan does the cooking.


To beat ingredients with a whisk, electric mixer or other utensil, incorporating air into a mixture and changing its texture.


Sources:; Mark Sulltrop, executive sous-chef at MU’s University Club

Part II Making chefs from scratch: Cookware

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