You can tell when an avocado is ripe by placing it in your palm and with a little squeeze, if the avocado gives to a small amount of pressure it’s ripe. Don’t worry about being a perfectionist with them, it’s a messy business!
- Cut the avocado in half using a sharp knife, slicing lengthwise until the knife touches the pit. Rotate the avocado, keeping the knife steady until you have cut the whole way around the avocado. Then twist the two halves apart.
- To remove the pit, rest the knife between the pit and the flesh and pull up enough until the pit pops out.
- Use a metal spoon to loosen the skin away from the avocado flesh, then you can easily remove the flesh out whole. Then place this on a chopping board and slice.
- If dicing the avocado, score the flesh in its skin with your knife, making even squares, then remove the flesh with a metal spoon.
- Al dente
I like pasta and most vegetables to be cooked ’al dente‘ – an Italian expression meaning ’to the bite‘ or ‘to the tooth’, used to describe pasta/vegetables that are cooked until they offer a slight resistance to the bite.
- Bain Marie
A way of heating food gently at an even temperature using a saucepan filled with 2 to 4 inches of gently simmering hot water, with a heatproof bowl placed on top. This method is used to cook custards, sauces, savoury mousses, to melt chocolate and prevent curdling.
- Bake Blind
Pre-baking the pastry case before adding your filling to prevent the base becoming soggy.
- Baking beans
Small ceramic balls that weigh the pastry down when blind baking.
I use uncooked rice or dried beans, which work just as well. My method of use: once you have lined the baking tray with rolled out pastry, cover it with a layer of greaseproof paper (so the beans/rice do not sink into the pastry as it cooks), place the baking beans gently on top spreading them out evenly. If using dry rice or beans once they have been used as ‘baking beans’ cannot be used for food, so I keep them in a jar to reuse.
The action of mixing and beating together eggs, flour and milk thin enough to pour but smooth and thick.
To incorporate two or more ingredients, to create a smooth liquid or sauce.
To sear a food at a high temperature, then finish in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in a liquid stock.
The browning of sugar and vegetables (Mirepoix) -carrots, onions, celery
The separation of milk solids and water from butterfat.
To cut fruit or vegetables into small uniform cubes.
To remove seeds from fruits or vegetables, this is best done with a small sharp knife.
Is a process for the separation of mixtures. One airs wine by this method, decanting the wine allows it to breath.
A method of mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid, and sometimes includes yeast or other leavening agents as well as other ingredients such as fruits, fats or flavourings. When making my gnocchi or similar ingredients I call for a dough-like consistency.
- Egg Whites
- Have two bowls ready and crack the egg gently on the side of one of the bowls (this will be your egg white bowl) and separate so you have two halves with the yolk in one half. Let any egg white fall into the bowl when you open the egg but not any egg yolk.
- With the two halves touching, carefully til the half with the egg yolk in into the other half of the shell, capturing the egg yolk only and letting the white fall into the bowl below as you transfer the yolk from one half of the shell to the other.
- Continue to move the egg yolk from one half of the egg shell to the other, letting the white fall into the bowl, until you have no egg white left in either shell and only the yolk remains.
- Place the yolk in the second bowl.
- If you get any yolk in the egg white bowl, the egg whites will not set so you will need to start again. But you can keep the egg yolks even if there is a bit of white in them.
- Finely chop
To cut vegetables into small pieces, using a sharp knife.
The tops of flowering vegetable heads i.e. broccoli and cauliflower. For larger florets cut above the thick stem. For smaller florets, cut closer to the head of each smaller stem.
Cooking food in fat over moderate to high heat. There two kinds of frying: shallow frying and deep frying. Shallow frying is to cook food in fat that only partially covers the food. Deep frying is cooking food by covering it in fat.
- Fold in – to “fold”
The term used for gently combining a lighter mixture into a heavier textured, thicker mixture that ensures both mixtures are properly fused, ensuring the air bubbles in the lighter mixture are not burst by the heavier.
- Glycemic Index (GI)
A number that is linked with a food type that advises the food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar.
- Gentle boil
To slowly bring water to the boil, keep at a low boiling point.
Is a mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains, especially wheat, barley and rye which some people are intolerant or allergic to.
- Gluten Free
A gluten-free diet excludes a protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains which some people are intolerant of allergic too.
A dish that has been topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese, egg and/or butter then browned off.
This is an approximate measure, usually used when adding spinach, nuts or seeds.
Vegetables cut into long thin strips.
This is the term used to work dough either with your hands or in a food processor with a dough hook until it’s smooth and elastic.
- Leave to prove
This is a bread making term; traditionally bread is left to rise twice during the process and the second time is usually called leave to prove, this is when the dough doubles in size, then it is ready to be baked.
The process of soaking foods in seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking.
Partly boiling vegetables, to finish cooking them off by another method i.e. boiling potatoes then finishing them off in the oven for a roast potato.
- Peppers (How to skin)
- Pre-heat the grill to medium-high
- Place the whole pepper on a baking tray and place under the grill
- Allow the skin to blacken then turn it until all the skin is charred.
- Let the peppers cool enough to handle then carefully peel away the charred skin leaving the juicy flesh.
- Cut the pepper in half and cut away all the seeds and woody stem, and prepare the pepper flesh following the recipe instructions.
A smooth cream of liquidised or crushed fruits or vegetables.
- Rolling boil
A continuous rapid boil that does not stop or slow when stirred. Adding vegetables that have been grown above ground at this point.
As a note: always cook Root vegetables from cold water – I like to remember it, as it’s cold underground!
A cooked mixture of butter or other fat and flour used to thicken sauces, soups, etc. It is also the starting point for the humble cheese sauce.
A method of cooking vegetables in a shallow pan over a relatively high heat covered with a little oil. Usually onions and garlic are sautéed in butter or oil with a pinch of salt.
To add salt, pepper or herbs to taste used to bring out flavours in a dish.
To cook vegetables in a liquid at or just below the boiling point.
A blend of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and powders mixed in a food blender until smooth.
- Smoke Point
The temperature when butter, fats or oils starts to burn.
A small piece of a herb, e.g. sprig of thyme
A method of cooking vegetables using the steam of boiling water. Note: if you don’t own a steamer the best way is to put a colander over the pan of boiling water, let the steam rise up and cook the vegetables.
A dish that is cooked slowly in liquid, either by boiling or simmering for several hours in a closed pan.
A Chinese cooking method in which ingredients are fried in a little hot oil while being stirred in a frying pan or wok.
- Tomatoes (How to skin)
- Using a small, sharp knife, cut a shallow X into the bottom of each tomato
- Heat a large pan of water to a rolling boil
- Carefully place the tomato(es) in to the water for 1 minute or until you see the skin around the X start to split open. Do not leave in for any longer or the tomatoes will start to cook!
- Take the pan off the heat and run cold water into the pan until the water is completely cold and the tomatoes are cool.
- Using your fingers or a knife, gently peel the skin away from each tomato starting at the X
- Tomatoes (How to de-seed)
- Once you have peeled the tomatoes, cut into quarters.
- Using a small, sharp knife cut through the flesh at the top and pull out the seeds, or use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.
To combine several ingredients by mixing lightly.
Is when a food is exposed to heat until limp or drooping i.e. spinach or rocket.
Used in food preparation to blend ingredients into a smooth consistency, or to incorporate air into a mixture.
The process of beating an ingredient vigorously to add air creating a frothy form i.e. egg whites are whipped until they form stiff peaks and heavy cream becomes whipped cream.
To grate or cut the outer layer of the skin of unwaxed citrus fruits i.e orange, lemon or lime.