So you’ve been watching the Food Network and the Cooking Channel for years, trying to gain some wisdom from Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Soufflé. But you’ve reached a block in the road and your culinary expertise seems to have plateaued. Spice up your cooking vernacular with these six French cooking terms.
1. Mise-En-Place (meese-on-PLAS)
For starters, mise-en-place is translated to mean “everything in place.” Mise-en-place is when you take out and measure all of your ingredients before you start putting everything together. Think of it as the outline of your essay before you start writing.
2. Roux (ROO)
Had creamy Eggs Benedict at brunch last weekend? Or made a batch of homemade mac and cheese recently? You’ve made a roux already and you didn’t even know it. Both of these creamy sauces, as well as many others, start with a roux. Basically a roux is the base of a sauce use to thicken it. It’s a combination of flour plus a particular fat (such as butter or oil).
To blanch is to cook a vegetable in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or so and then quickly submerge it in a bowl of icy water. Submerging it in the water ensures that the vegetable cools completely, preventing it from cooking further.
4. Julienne (JOO-lee-en)
Julienne is a specific type of cut and is usually used when slicing vegetables. This cut is of a matchstick size, about 1/8 inch wide and 2 inches long. When cutting vegetables, you want to make sure are exactly the same in size so that they finish cooking at the same time. Think French Fry!
5. Demi-Glace (DEH-mee-glas)
Demi-Glace is the method in which you simmer stock in order to reduce it in half and then combine it with Espagnole sauce, one of the 5 French Mother sauces. It can be used as a sauce on its own, or added to other sauces.
6. Bain-Marie (bon-muh-REE)
A bain-marie, or “water bath,” is when you place a small bowl on top of a pot of water on the stove. It is a method used to ensure that the food item you are preparing doesn’t burn while you are cooking it. A bain-marie is oftentimes used when cooking delicate foods such as custard or melting chocolate.