Cookery for beginners

Not sure about the current fads for cooking? Don’t know your bain marie from a hole in the ground? Help is at hand! This will set you on the right path.

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Cookery Term What It Really Means

Au gratin

With cheese. Or a cheese sauce. Or something in the fermented milk line. Cheesy.

Ballotine

Apparently a way of serving salmon. Could be a fishy equivalent of a medallion, but more likely to be a fishy equivalent of a quenelle

Balsamic vinegar

Caramelised malt vinegar (or non-brewed condiment as it is now called)

Caramelised

Burnt. See Seared

Charbonnée

Burnt. See Caramelised

Compôte of seasonal vegetables

The sous chef cooked the vegetables too long, so they’ve been mashed up and moulded in a timbale

Crossover

See Fusion cookery

Drizzled

Something has been poured over the ingredients

Drizzled with first pressing virgin olive oil

Oily

En croute

Means ‘in a crust’ ie in pastry, hence posh term for a pie. See Millefeuile, Torte

Excellent plate coverage

Looks more than it really is. Peas are good for this. And anything Julienne

Fusion cookery

Sloppy culinary thinking, masquerading under the guise of exciting combinations of culinary disciplines. Look, be reasonable, bœuf bourgignondoes not need the addition of lemongrass. That does not fall into the category of ‘Adjust the seasoning’, it’s mere cookery navel gazing.

Gratinée

Posh version of Au gratin at first appearance, but it isn’t. Means shredded, so see Julienne. Errr, I think.

Green leaf salad

Dandelion tops, nettles, and other assorted cheap greenery garnered from the grassy verges, served under the pretence that we have somehow lost the taste for true local ingredients. I wonder why we might have done that? Given that proper salad ingredients are more expensive, and dogs wee on nettles. Anybody’s guess really.

Green leaf salad with shaved Parmesan

Dandelion tops with a few slivers of dried out mousetrap Cheddar, drizzled with oil and Balsamic vinegar. Greek salad by another name, but more expensive.

Insalata marinara misto

A few Young’s prawns, some odd offcuts of fish (often North Sea cod with a few more limbs than it should have), and a lot of Green leaf salad in a sauce made of Complan, cochineal, malt vinegar, treacle, and other things you don’t want to think about too hard. Cool Britannia’s version of the much maligned 70’s prawn cocktail. At least with that you knew what to expect.

Jersey Royal new potatoes

Normal potatoes peeled very severely, out of a tin (Note. If all the Jersey Royals actually came from the island it would be standing room only for potato farmers, and John Nettles wouldn’t have room for the Jag*. Or is that Guernsey? Anyway, Nettles work well in a Green leaf salad)

Julienne

Shredded to make it look more. See Excellent plate coverage

Jus

Gravy

Medallions (eg of beef)

Small bits of meat. See Quenelle

Mélange of seasonal vegetables

Like a pithivier, but mixed up

Millefeuile

A posh version of en croute, but using filo pastry. Or puff pastry. Anyway, like a vanilla slice, but with a savoury filling

Mushy peas

Northern staple hijacked by the Anthony Worrell Thompsons of this world. In their true homeland they would never be described as a mélange. They’re overcooked and dyed marrowfat peas. Excellent drizzled with malt vinegar, but not proper food for sober grownups paying 35 quid a head.

Pasta

Not caviar (Dominic can explain this, it’s one of his).

Pithivier of seasonal vegetables

Nowhere near enough carrots, shredded, plus one cauliflower floret

Quenelle

Like a medallion, but derived from poultry or a gamebird. A quenelle of pigeon breast is the size of a matchstick.

Reduction of…

We scrimped on the ingredients, so this is the way we make it taste of something, by boiling things down a bit

Sauce

French invention to conceal the fact their meat was rubbish. And still is, so they buy ours when it isn’t radioactive or mad

Seared

Burnt

Sous chef

Grunt. The guy who does all the graft, and spits on your meal if you make a fuss (or worse)

Spatchcock

Sounds more interesting than it really is. Flattened, eg of a small gamebird, to make it look more and hence give it Excellent plate coverage

Timbale

In a mould. A small mould. Very small.

Timbale of wild rice

Not enough Uncle Ben’s, with bits of grit, in a mould or timbale

Torte

Posh word for a pie. See En croute, Millefeuile.  I won’t go into the technicalities of the differences between a tart and a pie. Both mean some sort of pastry basis.

Tossed salad

Term used in American all-male penitentiaries. Let’s leave it there shall we?

Wilted greens (a bed of)

Ostensibly a posh way of serving lettuce, tossed in warm virgin walnut oil. Actually ‘I found this stuff at the back of the fridge, so I’ll heat it up in Quick’n’Dry’.

 

*Corrigendum I am reliably informed that John Nettles drove a Triumph, not a Jag. Thank you Buzz.

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