Glossary
This alphabetical list explains many of the terms, tools and ingredients you will want to know when you are cooking.

a
angel hair pasta
Extra-thin spaghetti. Also called "capellini."

avocado
A buttery, rich fruit that is the primary ingredient in guacamole. Look for Haas avocados that feel slightly soft when gently pressed.

b
bake
To cook with hot, dry air in an oven.

baking dish
A deep glass or ceramic dish used for baking or roasting.

baking potato
A potato with starchy flesh. Russet or Idaho potatoes are the most common.

baking sheet
A rimmed rectangular metal pan used for baking.

balsamic vinegar
Aged Italian vinegar made from wine grapes.

basil
An herb tasting faintly of licorice, commonly used in Italian cooking.

bean sprouts
The sprouts of mung beans. They add a fresh flavor and crisp texture to Asian dishes.

beat
To mix ingredients vigorously, stirring with a spoon, fork or beaters in a circular motion.

blend
To combine two or more ingredients thoroughly. Also, to mix ingredients in an electric blender.

blender
Small appliance used for blending different types of foods, including dips and smoothies.

boil
To heat a liquid until bubbles constantly rise to its surface and break. A gentle boil is when small bubbles rise and break slowly. A rolling boil is when large bubbles rise and break quickly.

box grater-shredder
A tall, 4-sided metal tool covered with different-size holes; used for grating citrus zest and shredding cheese.

broth, chicken
A liquid rich with the flavor of chicken and vegetables.

c
cayenne pepper
Very hot ground red pepper.

chickpeas
Large, beige beans with a firm texture, these are the primary ingredients for hummus. Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are easy to find in cans.

chop
To cut food into pieces using a sharp knife. Finely chopped pieces are small; coarsely chopped pieces are large.

cilantro
A distinctly flavored herb used in Mexican and Asian cooking.

cinnamon
The bark of a tropical evergreen tree, cinnamon has a mildly sweet flavor. To make cinnamon sugar, combine 1 part ground cinnamon with 3 parts granulated sugar.

citrus juicer
A shallow bowl with a deeply fluted, inverted cone that fits into a citrus half to easily extract the juice.

colander
A metal or plastic bowl with 2 handles and many perforated holes; used to rinse raw foods and to drain cooked foods such as pasta and vegetables.

cooling rack
Made of heavy-duty wire, these square, rectangular or round racks have small feet that raise them above the countertop. Hot items are placed on top so that the air circulates on all sides to help the items cool quickly.

coriander seed
A dried spice that adds an exotic flavor to foods, including sauces.

cornmeal
Ground dried corn used to make dough and other bread-like dishes.

cream cheese
A soft, spreadable cheese with a mildly tangy flavor; made from cows milk. It can be found in a block, or whipped and sold in a tub.

crosswise
In the opposite direction, or perpendicular to, the longest side of a piece of food or a pan.

cumin
A dried spice that adds a smoky flavor to foods.

curry powder
A blend of ground exotic spices commonly used in Indian food.

d
dice
To cut food into pieces that are roughly cubes in shape. The uniform shape helps the food cook evenly.

Dijon mustard
A pungent, yellow-brown mustard that originated in Dijon, France. It can be smooth or coarse-grained, depending on whether the mustard seeds are finely ground or left mostly whole.

dill
An herb with a distinct, sharp flavor. It goes well with salmon and other types of seafood.

dot
To top foods with small bits of butter before cooking. The butter should be scattered evenly over the food for best results.

drain
To pour boiled food, such as pasta or vegetables, into a colander to remove the water. Also used to describe blotting the grease from fried foods on paper towels.

drizzle
To pour a liquid, such as oil, back and forth lightly over food in a thin stream.

dust
To cover a food, your hands or a work surface lightly with flour.

e
egg noodles
Noodles made with a high proportion of eggs to flour. Perfect for using in soups.

elbow macaroni
Small, short pasta shapes with curves that look like elbows.

f
farfalle pasta
Pasta shaped like bite-size butterflies or bow ties.

fillet
A boneless piece of fish, meat or poultry.

flour, all-purpose
The most common type of flour available, composed of a blend of wheat. It works well for a variety of dishes.

fontina cheese
An Italian cheese that melts well and tastes slightly nutty.

fry pan
A shallow pan with sloping sides that is used for sautéing or frying food on the stovetop.

g
ginger
Fresh ginger looks like a brown, gnarly root and has a refreshing, sweet flavor. Ground, dried ginger has a peppery flavor.

grate
To slide an ingredient, such as citrus zest, across a surface of small, sharp-edged holes on a box grater-shredder to create tiny pieces.

grease
To rub a baking pan or dish evenly with butter or oil to prevent sticking.

green onion
Long, thin young onion with a narrow white base and long, flat green leaves. Also known as a scallion, it has a flavor that is milder than a regular onion.

Gruyère cheese
A type of Swiss cheese commonly used to make cheese sauce.

h
heatproof
Dishes, utensils or surfaces that can come in contact with high heat without damaging them.

heavy cream
Also called heavy whipping cream, heavy cream has a thick, rich consistency because it contains a high percentage of milk fat.

herbs
Available fresh or dried, herbs are the fragrant leaves and tender stems of green plants.

hull
The tough, white center of a strawberry. Also refers to the process of removing the hull by pulling or cutting it out.

i
instant-read thermometer
A probe-like tool that instantly reads the temperature of a liquid or solid.

k
knead
To work dough with your hands, using pressing, folding and turning motions. When dough is fully kneaded, it is smooth and no longer sticky.

knife, paring
A small sharp knife used for a variety of different tasks, including peeling and coring.

knife, serrated
Also called a bread knife, this has a serrated edge that works like a saw to easily cut through the tough crusts of bread or the delicate skins of tomatoes.

knife, sharp
Tool used for slicing, dicing and chopping all sorts of ingredients. Handle with care!

l
ladle
A small bowl attached to a handle, this tool is useful for serving liquid items like soup or sauce.

lasagna noodles
Large, flat ribbons of dried pasta for layering, sometimes with a ruffled edge.

lavash
Flat, Middle-Eastern bread used to make wrap-style sandwiches.

lengthwise
In the same direction as, or parallel to, the longest side of a piece of food or a pan.

line
To cover the bottom of a pan or dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil to prevent sticking.

m
marinade
Highly flavored, acidic mixture used to flavor and tenderize foods.

marinate
To soak a food in a marinade to add flavor and help tenderize.

meat fork
A large, 2-pronged fork used to steady meat while carving.

mint
A refreshing herb, commonly used in Asian cooking.

n
nutmeg
A fragrant spice ground from the seed of a tropical tree.

o
oil, olive
Flavorful cooking oil pressed from green olives.

oil, vegetable
Bland-tasting cooking oil made by blending vegetable-based oils.

oregano
A pungent herb commonly used in Mexican and Italian cooking.

oven mitts
Thick, heavy-duty cotton gloves that protect hands when handling hot pots or pans.

p
paprika
Spice made from ground dried red pepper, used as a flavoring and for decorating.

parchment paper
A nonstick, burn-resistant paper used for baking.

parsley
A refreshing, faintly peppery herb that is used in a wide variety of dishes.

parsnip
Similar in size and shape to a carrot, this off-white vegetable has a slightly sweet flavor.

pastry brush
Small brush used for brushing oil on different types of food.

peel
To strip or cut away the skin or rind from fruits and vegetables.

pesto
Italian paste or sauce made from fresh basil, cheese, nuts and garlic.

pie dish
Shallow round glass or ceramic baking dish.

pinch
The amount of a dry ingredient that you can pick up, or pinch, between your thumb and forefinger; less than 1/8 teaspoon.

pita bread
Flat, round bread with a large pocket in the center.

pith
The bitter white part of citrus peel.

pizza cutter
A tool consisting of a rotating wheel attached to a handle that easily and safely cuts pizza and other flat foods into serving pieces.

potato masher
Specialized tool that makes it easy to smash boiled potatoes and other soft fruits or vegetables.

preheat
To heat an oven to a specific temperature before use.

r
red pepper flakes
Also called crushed red pepper, this spice adds hotness to dishes.

rice noodles
Noodles made from rice flour and water, popular in Asian cooking. They can be found in a variety of different widths.

ricotta cheese
A loose, mild, cows milk cheese commonly used to make lasagna. It is sold in plastic tubs.

rise
What happens to a dough or batter when it becomes bigger as a result of the gas released by the yeast the dough contains.

roast
To cook with hot, dry air in an oven.

roasting pan
A large rectangular metal pan with handles for cooking in a hot oven.

rolling pin
A long wooden tool used for rolling out dough.

roll out
To flatten dough with a rolling pin until smooth, even and usually thin.

room temperature
The temperature of a comfortable room. Recipe ingredients are often brought to room temperature so they will soften and blend easily.

rosemary
An herb with a strong, fragrant, slightly woodsy flavor, commonly used in poultry and meat dishes.

s
saucepan
A pan with tall sides used for cooking on the stovetop, such as simmering soups and boiling pasta.

sauté
To cook food over high heat in a small amount of oil or butter using a shallow pan.

sauté pan
A shallow pan with straight sides used for cooking food on the stovetop.

season
To add salt, pepper or other seasonings to food little by little, stopping and tasting until it is to your liking.

sesame seeds
Pale tan, small, flat seeds used as a topping or coating.

set aside
To put ingredients to one side while you do something else.

shallot
A small, mild, onion-like vegetable with bronze or reddish skin.

shred
To cut an ingredient, such as cheese, on the medium or large sharp shredding holes on a box grater-shredder.

simmer
To heat a liquid to just below boiling. The surface of the liquid should be steaming and a few tiny bubbles may form.

sizzle
A vigorous bubbling of oil accompanied by a hissing sound, which signals that the heat in a pan is sufficient for cooking.

slice
To cut food lengthwise or crosswise with a knife, forming thick or thin pieces.

soy sauce
A popular Asian sauce that adds deep, salty flavor to food.

spatula, metal
A thin metal tool attached to a long handle used for turning food as it cooks.

spatula, rubber
A flexible rubber tool attached to a wooden handle for scraping the sides of mixing bowls. Also available are heatproof spatulas made from silicone for scraping hot foods.

spread
To apply a soft item, such as mayonnaise or butter, over another food in an even layer.

stir
To move a spoon, fork, whisk or other utensil continuously through dry or wet ingredients, usually in a circular pattern.

sugar, brown
A moist blend of granulated sugar and molasses. Brown sugar is sold in two basic types: light (also known as golden) and dark.

sugar, granulated
Small, white granules that pour easily. When a recipe calls for just sugar, always use granulated sugar.

sweet potato
Sometimes called a yam, this sugary vegetable has either yellow-brown skin and yellow flesh or dark reddish or purplish skin and dark orange flesh.

t
tahini
A paste made from sesame seeds often used in Middle Eastern cooking.

tartar sauce
A sauce used to accompany fish and shellfish made from mayonnaise, pickles and other flavorful ingredients.

tender
Describes food that is cooked until it is soft enough to cut and chew easily, but is not mushy.

Thai fish sauce
An extremely pungent, highly flavorful condiment used in Southeast Asian cooking.

thicken
When a food changes from a loose, liquid consistency to a thick, firmer one.

tongs
Scissor-like tools with blunt ends for grasping food.

trim
To cut food so that it is uniform in size and shape. Also, to cut away any unneeded or inedible part.

v
vegetable peeler
A small tool used for stripping peels off vegetables and fruits.

w
whisk
A whisk is made of loops of sturdy wire that are attached to a handle. To whisk something means to stir a liquid vigorously with a whisk, adding air and thereby increasing its volume.

Worcestershire sauce
A dark, thin, pungent sauce used to flavor sauces and meats.

work surface
A flat space, such as a kitchen counter or a kitchen work table, used for cutting, mixing or preparing foods.

y
yeast, dry
Microscopic plants that, when activated, make pizza and bread dough rise.

z
zest
The thin, brightly colored outer layer or peel of a citrus fruit.