Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry, Heston Blumenthal, Michel Roux Jr and Ina Garten are all amongst the people I would most definitely invite to my fantasy dinner party. Not just because that would be the feast to end all feasts but because they’ve got an extensive knowledge of all things edible that I could only dream of acquiring. I would be content in watching their shows back-to-back, on a loop for weeks solid but I’ve got to be honest, I don’t always know what the devil they’re talking about when they start spouting what I’m dubbing foodie lingo for the purpose of this blog post.
So if you’re looking to get into cooking or just expand your culinary vocabulary, here is just a handful of the types of things you might hear on a food channel or see in a recipe book and think WTF. Do let me know if you find this useful and I can expand on this dictionary of foodie lingo for you.
Believe it or not, there’s more to melting chocolate than just slapping it in the microwave for 2 minutes, especially if you want to achieve that glossy, polished finish you’d find in a professional patisserie. Tempering chocolate involves melting the chocolate at a controlled temperature so that it maintains its hydration level rather than heating it too fast, too soon and letting all that essential moisture evaporate.
Closely related to ‘tempering chocolate’ is something called lamination. Nope, this isn’t something you would lay on your floor or wrap your school notebooks in – it’s that glorious, glorious sheen left on melted chocolate when an expert has been at work. This ultra shine comes from tempering the chocolate perfectly and is most definitely a skill that comes with time and practice (one I do not possess… yet).
Folding a mixture means to carefully mix it, not whack it around in the bowl like a game of Bop It. Think of adding whipped egg whites to a mixture – you don’t want to lose all that air and fluffy puffiness you have just worked hard to achieve, so you literally have to fold the mixture with your spoon or spatula until it is completely mixed through. It’s slower and harder than throwing it onto your electric mixer, but the outcome will be worth it. Promise.
Spaghetti, Penne, Macaroni
One of the most common misconceptions is that words like macaroni, spaghetti and penne dictate the type of dish that is being served up. Wrong. What these actually are are the types of pasta that the plate will be structured around. They join the plethora of Italian words including our good friends Fusilli and Tagliatelle in naming the shape or style of pasta and not necessarily any of the other ingredients included in the overall recipe.
To put it simply; Penne is the tube with angled ends, Fusilli is the three pronged twist, Conchiglie is the she’ll shaped one and perfect for catching sauces in, and Farfalle are those cute little bows. Spaghetti is often mistaken for Linguine (which is flatter and has a longer cook time) and both are often called noodles by Americans.
To remove fat or other impurities and sediments from a liquid (e.g. melted butter) to make it a beautiful, clear substance instead of a greasy looking swap in the pan. Some people do this by adding egg whites to the liquid as they draw in the unwanted particles which can then be strained after simmering for a few minutes.
Halal meat is often mistaken as a cultural term for a type of meat – which in a way it is, but what makes a halal steak ‘halal’ is actually the way in which it’s prepared. Halal is dictated by the Koran and is essential to Islamic practices but I’ll leave you to do your own further research on that and form your own opinions.