Diced vegetables added to stews to heighten aromas. Often removed prior to serving.
Wrapping thin sheets of bacon or fat around meat or poultry, even sometimes fish, to prevent it from drying out while cooking. It also adds flavor.
Moistening during the cooking process, in order to add flavor and to prevent the dish from drying out by adding liquid such as water, melted fat, juice, sauce…
A mixture of flour and liquid. In baked preparation, usually combined with other ingredients.
Thickening a sauce or hot liquid by stirring in flour, cornstarch, roux (a butter and flour mixture), egg yolk, cream, butter…
Cooking food (vegetables, meat or fish) in boiling water for a brief moment (often only a few minutes). This reduces the required cooking time of vegetables, to take the grease out of some meats such as lardons (bacon bits).
Tip : To keep the bright color of green vegetables, instantly after blanching and draining put them in iced water for a few minutes. It really works!
Using a second saucepan, known as a “double boiler” or “bain-marie”, when an ingredient has to be melted slowly so that it won’t burn or change its consistency. Specific double-boiler saucepans do exist but you can also put water in a large saucepan, bring it to the boil and add a bowl or a smaller saucepan with the ingredient to be melted on top. This way the bowl will be heated up by the boiling water which is softer than the gas and the perfect temperature for ingredients to melt slowly. This is perfect for butter or chocolate.
Initial browning of meat, poultry, fish or vegetables on all sides with a small amount of fat (oil and/or butter), followed by slow cooking in a covered pan or pot in a small amount of liquid.
In many recipes, the cooking process starts by grilling the ingredients, be it meat, fish or even vegetables, in a hot, oiled and/or buttered pan for a few minutes. Once removed, to start a sauce or the stew for long cooking recipes, deglaze means adding a hot liquid – wine, water, stock… – to take all the juices and flavor that stick to the pan and add flavor to the prep.
The texture of a dough can be verified by lifting a spoon filled in with the mixture and flipping it. The mixture should briefly hesitate before falling into the bowl.
Lightly coating or sprinkling a preparation with a dry ingredient, such as flour, icing sugar or cocoa powder, either before or after cooking.
Preparation of beaten eggs (sometimes with milk or water) used in sealing pieces of dough together or to glaze a pastry preparation before baking.
Flour a mold
Unless you use silicon receptacles, molds have to be prepared before pouring the preparation in, otherwise the cake will stick and will be difficult to remove from the mold. First grease the mold carefully, without missing any spots, with butter (ideally) or with oil, then add a large spoon of flour and shake the mold in all direction so that the flour sticks to the butter and the mold is fully coated.
Finally turn the mold upside down and gently tap it so that the excess is removed.
Using a big spoon or a spatula, gently combining ingredients with a circular motion from underneath curling the utensil as you go. Often used to combine a mixture that needs to keep its incorporated air, such as whipped egg whites.
Coating dough with egg wash before baking so that it will get a nice shiny and glossy brown finish.
Technique used to quickly cool down a hot mixture, placing the preparation bowl over another larger bowl filled in with cold water and ice cubes.
Also used to keep the colour of green vegetables (and prevent them from overcooking) by throwing them directly into the ice bath.
Putting the dough on a clean, floured surface, crushing it with the palm of your hand with a long movement from back to forward. Then reshaping a ball. Repeating this action several times.
This process aerates the dough so it will not shrink in the oven.
Covering the inside of a tin or the surface of a tray with greaseproof paper.
Placing diced fruit in sugar and letting them sit for a certain amount of time (hours or overnight). The sugar will gradually melt in contact with the moisture of the fruit drawing out the juice. This is a base for different recipes such as syrup and even jam.
Letting ingredients stand for a few minutes or hours, even days sometimes, in a marinade which will enrich their flavour and even texture (a typical marinade would be a mixture of oil, lemon juice and spices or herbs for a meat preparation).
The shape of egg whites, when mixed with icing sugar or sugar syrup, which can create a different consistency: soft or stiff. A soft peak will flop down whereas a stiff peak will stay straight. It is called bird beak in French due to the shape.
Peel and Pitch
Mainly used for oranges as on the pictures, actually any citrus –grapefruits, lemons, and limes… – can be peeled and pitched with this technique. It’s the best way to get rid of all the peels and pitches, and obtain nice fruit flesh.
First cut the two edges of your orange. Then, using a sharp knife, cut away the peel of the orange in a round movement, following the curved shape of your fruit. Make sure you cut the peel and the white membrane as well. Proceed this way all around your fruit.
Now you can either collect quarters or cut in thin slices.
There are two ways to prepare tarts: cooking all the ingredients (pie dough and filling) together, or, ideally, prebaking the dough before adding the filling. This action of prebaking the pie dough is called blinding or cuire à blanc (literally “white cooked” in French, white referring to the lack of discoloration) by preparing the pie dough in the mould, covering it with greaseproof paper and filling in with non-edible things such as baking weight or even beans, or apricots or plum kernels. Baked for 15 to 30 minutes at 170°C, the pie dough will not rise as the weight will not permit it to.
This is used for tarts with neatly arranged raw ingredients, such as strawberries, or fillings that can’t be baked too long. The dough will then harden slightly and won’t absorb too much of the liquid from the filling.
Rolling a pastry pie dough on a clean, floured surface. Flattening the dough with a rolling pin by rolling in all directions, then flipping it upside-down, making sure there is enough flour under the dough. Repeating the operation several times to stretch it until you have the proper size and thickness
If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a clean-skin wine bottle (the Bordeaux type is best as it has flat sides from bottom to top).
The operation of moving the rolled-out pastry to place it properly in the mould is not that easy. The best way is to roll it around your rolling pin.
Gently with your fingertips mix the flour, salt and finely-diced butter. The texture should become grainy like sand.
As much as possible try to avoid having your skin in contact with the butter – therefore quickly pour the flour around the butter – and avoid mixing too long with your fingers otherwise the butter will melt and the texture will not become what you want to.
Using a special utensil dedicated to this preparation or utensils you will have in your kitchen: a sieve or a strainer (for small quantities). This ensures that the flour doesn’t have any lumps or helps to finely mix two ingredients (eg. almond powder and flour).
A sieve is called a “Chinese” in French, referring to its shape looking like a Chinese cap.
Removing a substance, such as foam or fat, with a perforated utensil such as a skimmer.
Beating very quickly to incorporate air and increase the volume of a preparation. Often used for eggs or cream.
Removing the outer skin of any citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit…) with a knife, a peeler, a zester or a grater, depending on how thin you want the zests to be.
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I share here quick and easy French homecooking recipes and more traditionnal or festive ones. And give you information on French gastronomy and art de vivre to tell you stories behing French dishes and traditions.