Terms Domestic Queens Should Know

Have you ever followed a recipe and thought, “what in the world does that mean?” Sometimes cooks forget that you might not be a cook when they are writing the cook book you just bought. It happens to the best of us but we want you to effectively navigate your recipes in your kitchen with no problem. It is with this in mind that Modern Domestic has prepared a list of kitchen terms just for you. This will definitely come in handy next time you are cooking a fabulous meal.


Al Dente: Most commonly used in terms of cooking pasta but can be applied to other things as well. When you are in the process of cooking something and the recipe calls for it to be cooked until “al dente.” This simply means firm to the bite. It you are boiling pasta and you aren’t sure if it is done yet feel free to grab a fork and a noodle to see if it is “al dente.”

Baste: Growing up we’ve all heard someone talk about basting a turkey. If your recipe calls for you to baste this means to pour the liquid, juice from the pan, or melted fat over the meat to keep it moist while cooking.

Brine: If you need to brine something this means you need to soak it in heavily salted water. Brining makes the meat more tender before grilling, roasting, or baking for long periods of time.

Broil: Sometimes you just want a little extra grill like effect in the kitchen. This is where the broil setting on your oven comes in handy. The broil setting is very high heat that will brown or toast the dish very quickly so you want to watch it closely when using this setting.

Chiffonade: If your recipe calls for chiffonade of parsley or oregano it’s okay. This means to thinly slice fresh herbs. These fresh herbs can be the ones we just mentioned or any others like mint or chives.

Coat: If your recipe calls for a coating this means to put on a layer or covering of something. You may have to dip your chicken in a layer of bread crumbs or cornmeal before frying. The recipe might say “coat your chicken with bread crumbs.”

Fold: When you fold something you are gently mixing something into another substance. For example if you are making chocolate chip pancakes you might “fold” in the chocolate chips into the cupcake batter with a spoon.

Grate: To grate is to shred against something like a grater or a knife. Often times we hear it with grating cheese. This means to take a block of cheese and shred it so that it looks like those nice neat packages we pick up in the food aisle that say “shredded cheese.” You can grate many things not just cheese. You can also grate fruits and vegetables.

PoachThe word poach is often times used to refer to eggs but if you are cooking and the recipe calls for a poach, it is telling you to simmer something in a small amount of liquid. For example it may say, “poach beef in burgundy wine.”

Sieve: If you are sieving you are separating. A sieve is an apparatus that has plastic or wire mesh that can separate solids and liquids. This comes in handy if you are making gravy from scratch. Nobody wants a lumpy gravy and gravy contains flour. A sieve will help to separate out that flour so your gravy is lump free.

SiftNow that you know what a sieve is, let’s sift. You use a sieve to sift. Sometimes in baking the recipe will tell you to sift the flour before adding other ingredients to it. This is putting the substance through a sieve to remove particles and clumps.

Zest: This is normally the skin of a citrus fruit like a lemon or orange. A recipe might call for a lemon zest. This means the scrapings of the outer peel which add flavoring to the dish.

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