Glossary of Cooking Terms

On this page I will be developing a glossary of cooking terms, slowly adding more and more terms, to explain some of the words and phrases used in recipes. If you have anything that you’d like to see added, just drop a comment below and I’ll add it straight away.

Bain Marie Translates directly as Bath of Mary, although I’ve never heard anyone say that. This is a cooking technique which uses indirect heat, to cook gently and prevent burning. It is normally achieved by heating a saucepan full of water and placing a bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. Most often found in recipes that call for melted chocolate.

Handful (measurement) A handful is an intentionally non-specific measurement of an ingredient. By using this, the author is noting that the specific quantity of this ingredient used in the recipe does not matter. Effectively it is asking you to adjust to your tastes, if you like that ingredient, then add a large handful, if it’s less favoured, then just a small one. If you are unsure then take it at face value, close your eyes and grab a handful.

Julienne A preparation of vegetables where they are cut into long, thin pieces like matchsticks.

Level (measurement) When used in conjunction with measurements such as tablespoon or teaspoon this refers to the measure being filled flat with the top edge of the measuring spoon.

Litre or l (measurement) A litre is a unit of liquid measurement made up of 1000ml. A litre is equal to 1kg of water, and most liquids can also be measured by weight rather than in a jug, as their density is close enough to water to not cause any problems. Always use the same equivalent of 1 litre = 1kg or 1ml = 1g. 1 litre is equal to 0.219969 Imperial gallons.

Mise en place A french term which means “Set up”. It refers to the procedural idea that when cooking anything, you should weigh, measure, peel and chop all of your ingredients before beginning cooking or making the recipe. Think of those studio based cooking programmes, where the chef has everything ready in bowls. That’s because they’ve done their mise en place.

Quenelle A rugby ball shaped serving of soft foods such as ice cream, sorbet or mashed potato. Traditionally created by moulding the food using one or two spoons into the desired shape.

Rounded (measurement) When used in conjunction with measurements such as tablespoon or teaspoon this refers to the over-filling of the measure, so that it is heaped on top of the measuring spoon.

Tablespoon or tbsp (measurement) A unit of measurement equivalent to 15ml, or 0.53 fluid ounces. When using a tablespoon measure, the contents should be filled level with the top edge of the spoon. Worth noting that a table spoon, such as one you would eat with, is unlikely to hold the same amount as a dedicated measuring tablespoon.

Teaspoon or tsp (measurement) A unit of measurement equivalent to 5ml, or 0.18 fluid ounces. Again, a teaspoon, as in a spoon with which you would stir your tea, is unlikely to hold 5ml, the same as a specific measuring teaspoon.

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