Definitions of Culinary Terms

What is torchon?

Torchon is foie gras that’s been formed into a cylinder shape, wrapped in cloth and very gently poached in stock, goose fat or duck fat.  It’s then chilled to set, unwrapped, and sliced – typically for use as an hors
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What is guar gum?

You’ve probably wondered this while looking at the ingredients list of a carton of ice cream, because that’s where most Americans will encounter this substance.  It also shows up in baked goods (especially gluten free ones) & beverages. Guar gum
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What are Pressure Processed (HPP) Lobsters?

Live Maine lobsters are loaded into a high pressure processing machine, which uses pressure at or above 40,000 psi (pounds per inch) to kill the lobsters almost instantaneously. This process also separates the meat from the shell inside the lobster,
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What are Certified Maine Lobsters?

Certified Maine Lobsters have been caught in Maine. Because “Maine lobster” is the name of the species (which is found up & down the East coast of the US & Canada), not all Maine lobsters are actually caught in Maine.
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What is beurre meuniere?

Beurre meuniere (“miller’s butter” or “miller’s wife’s butter”) is an evolution of beurre noisette (browned butter) – a sauce of browned butter with lemon juice (and often parsley) added.  It’s often served with fish, frog’s legs, or scallops cooked “a
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What is the difference between catch weight and net weight?

Basically net weight is exact while catch weight is approximate. Catch Weight refers to an average/approximate weight, typically because the item in question varies in size or there’s some other factor that can make the weight less than precise from
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What is Farro?

This is actually a more complicated question than it first appears.  Because the word “farro” in Italian has a vague meaning (often translated as “a kind of wheat”), the term can refer to multiple types of grain, typically heirloom varieties
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What are gougeres?

Gougeres are cheese puffs (though that name doesn’t do them justice). Imagine the pastry part of cream puffs or eclairs (i.e. no cream and no caramel or chocolate topping) made savory instead of sweet and (typically) flavored with gruyere or
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What does “blind bake” mean?

“Blind baking” is a pastry chef/baker’s term that refers to baking a pie or tart crust before adding filling. Blind baking is typically done when the filling is cooked separately (for example, cream pies, ganache tarts, or custard tarts) or
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What is onion brulee?

Onion brulee (brulé) translates to “burnt onion”. Charred onions are sometimes used as a natural colorant by chefs looking to darken soups, stocks (beef or veal stock), or sauces.  Chefs typically roast bones (often with tomato paste – caramelizing its
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What is irradiation? Why do it to food?

Irradiation is exposing something to radiation.  It’s sometimes used as a preservative method for certain foods to sterilize them, prevent agricultural parasites (insects, spores, etc), inhibit growth (ripening/sprouting) post harvest, etc. The first patents for irradiating food were actually issued
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What are sweetbreads?

Sweetbreads are the thymus glands of a young animal, typically lamb or veal.  They have a mild flavor and a rich, creamy texture.  They’re one of the most prized organ meats (offal) and are a luxury ingredient.  Of the two
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What does it mean when a cocktail is served “on the rocks”?

“On the rocks” cocktails are the opposite of “straight up” cocktails – they’re served in glasses with ice in them. Typically these cocktails are shaken or stirred with ice, then strained and poured over fresh ice in the serving glass.
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What does it mean when a cocktail is served “straight up”?

Cocktails served “straight up” (or “up” for short) have all the ice cubes that they were mixed with strained out of them. Straight up cocktails won’t be further diluted as they sit from ice melting into them, but they’ll also
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What is “Beurre Manie”?

Buerre manie (“kneaded butter”) is a method of using starch to thicken liquids without risking clumps.  Starch (traditionally wheat flour) is pressed into clumps of butter (traditionally in a 1 to 1 ratio) before being added to the pot or
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