Commentary: Reading Recipes 2
Home Up Contact Us Cooking Skills Recipe Index


Today I want to talk about more terminology that a recipe may contain and some definitions for terms used in recipes:  

  • Optional ingredients: ingredients that aren't critical for the recipe, but can be used for added flavor or change the dish in some way (ie. Chocolate chips added to oatmeal raisin cookie dough)
  • To taste: add as much or as little as you like, carefully adding a little at a time, tasting in between additions.  You can always add more, but canít remove too much.
  • Substitutions: some recipes may suggest ways that you can change the recipe by using different ingredients. This can be helpful if you're out of a certain ingredient or you're allergic to an ingredient.  In the next couple of weeks I will have more information on ingredient substitutions as well as whether the quantities in a recipe may be altered. 
  • Descriptive ingredient lists: preparation information that describes the preparation of the ingredient before combining with other ingredients (ie. 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded)
  • Measuring ingredients: proper measuring of ingredients is important.  The quantity to be measured will be stated before the method of preparation (ie. 1 c walnuts, chopped- measure the walnuts, then chop vs. 1 c chopped walnuts- chop the walnuts, then measure)
  • Preheat the oven:  an important step that allows the oven to sit at its intended temperature for at least 15 minutes for correct pre-heating.  The cooking/baking times will be affected by an improperly preheated oven, as well as some baked items wonít turn out as successfully due to the cooler oven temperatures.


Some definitions for terms used in recipes:

  • Beat/blend: to mix ingredients together until the mixture is smooth. Can be done with a spoon or electric mixer
  • Cream: mixing two or more ingredients, such as sugar and butter, then eggs, together until they become creamy, pale in color, smooth and fluffy. Can be done with a spoon but is easily done with an electric mixer
  • Crimping: a technique used to decorate the edge of a single pie crust or ensuring that the top and bottom crusts are sealed properly when used on a double crust pie. Pinch the outside edge of the crust with the thumb and index finger of one hand, while pressing from the inside with the index finger on the other hand. Repeat at 1/2" intervals.
  • Cut In: combining dry ingredients with solid fat (ie. butter) by cutting the fat into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, two knives or a food processor, creating a coarse texture.
  • Dredge: a light dusting of flour sprinkled on the dough, rolling pin, and work surface to prevent sticking while rolling out the dough.    May also be used to describe the dusting of cakes and other baked goods with powdered sugar.
  • Fold: To combine a light ingredient, such as whipped egg whites, into a heavier mixture of ingredients. The light ingredient is gently combined with the heavier mixture by using a spoon or spatula to turn it over and into the heavier mixture.
  • Glazing: a glaze is applied to the surface of pastries and bread to give them a glossy finish
  • Kneading:  the working of yeast dough to develop the gluten in the flour which assists in the rising of the dough.   Can be done by hand, bread machine or electric mixer.
  • Mix: To combine two or more ingredients, using any method that blends them together evenly.
  • Process: When an ingredient is chopped, grated, blended, or liquefied by the use of a blender or food processor.
  • Puree: create a smooth, thick food by liquefying in a blender, food processor or forcing the food through a sieve
  • Stir: combing ingredients until evenly blended
  • Toss: mixing fragile ingredients, such as lettuce, by using two utensils to gently lift and drop several times until the ingredients are well mixed
  • Whip: to add air to a mixture by rapidly beating the ingredients together with a whisk, hand beater or electric beater. Whipping a mixture will produce a light and fluffy texture and increases its volume.
  • Whisk: to create an evenly blended ingredient (ie. eggs) or blend liquid ingredients together using a whisk or a fork 



Questions or Comments:  Contact Webmaster
Copyright 2006