HOW TO FOLLOW A RECIPE
By Barbara H. James, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
Before You Begin
Recipes are guides to help you cook. Beginning cooks, have the best results when
they use tested recipes from well-known cookbooks or other reliable sources such as this
letter study course. Before you start:
- Make sure you have all the ingredients.
- Gather the equipment and ingredients together in one place.
- Always read a recipe from beginning to end before you start to cook.
- Wash your hands and clean your fingernails.
Parts of A Recipe
A recipe is usually made up of two parts--a list of ingredients and directions for
combining ingredients to make the dish you are preparing. A well-written recipe lists
ingredients in the order they will be added. Many recipes spell out how much of each
ingredient to use. However, you may find the following abbreviations:
c means cup
t or tsp means teaspoon
T or Tbs means tablespoon
If the food is to be baked, the recipe will give you the size of the pan to use. It
will also tell the baking temperature and give baking time. This time may need to be
adjusted depending on the accuracy of your oven.
Terms Used in Cooking
Sometimes the methods described in a recipe can be confusing. Here are some
common food preparation terms and their meanings.
Bake – To cook in an oven. Blend – To mix two or more Chop – To cut into pieces
When applied to meats in ingredients thoroughly. with a knife or other sharp
uncovered containers, it is tool, blender, or food
generally called roasting. Boil – To cook in a liquid processor.
that is at boiling temperature.
Baste – To moisten the foods Bubbles will rise continually Coat – To spread food with
during cooking to add flavor and break on the surface. or dip it into a substance such
and to prevent drying of the as flour or a sauce until it is
surface. The liquid is usually Bread – To coat a food with covered.
melted fat, meat drippings, bread or cracker crumbs or
fruit juice, sauce, or water. other food. The surface may Combine – To stir two or
first be coated with beaten more ingredients together
Beat – To stir a mixture egg or other liquid. until the mixture looks
using rapid, regular motions, uniform.
use a wire whisk, spoon, Broil – To cook by direct
hand beater or mixer. heat on a rack or spit. Cream – To mix fat and
Method incorporates air and sugar with a spoon or mixer
makes mixture light, fluffy or Brown – To cook food with until soft and smooth.
smooth. moderate or high heat until
brown in color. Cube – To cut food into
Cut – To divide food with a
knife or scissors. Grease – To rub the surface Saute – To cook in a small
of a pan or dish with a small amount of fat.
Cut In – To mix fat amount of fat to prevent food
throughout with dry from sticking. Use a brush or Scald – To heat liquid to just
ingredients using two knives a bit of waxed paper or use below the boiling point.
or a pastry blender until fat cooking spray.
has coated the dry Score – To cut shallow slits
ingredients. Pieces should be Grill – To cook food on a on the surface of food.
the size of peas. rack with direct heat.
Simmer – To cook food over
Dice – To cut into small Macerate – To soak foods in low heat in a liquid just
cubes. a liquid to soften them and to below the boiling point.
absorb flavor. Bubbles will form slowly and
Dredge – To cover or coat break apart just below the
with flour or other fine Marinate – To let food stand surface.
substances such as bread in a liquid.
crumbs or corn meal. Steam – To cook food in
Mince – To chop or cut into steam over boiling water in a
Fold – To combine one very small pieces. closed container.
ingredient with another by
gently turning the mixture Pare – To cut off the outside Stew – To simmer food in a
with a spoon. covering such as skins of liquid.
vegetables or fruits.
Fry – To cook in fat. A Stir – To mix ingredients
small amount of fat is used Peel – To remove the outer with a circular motion.
for pan-frying, sauteing, or covering of foods such as
stir-frying; deep-fat fried oranges or bananas. Stir-fry – To fry thinly sliced
foods are submerged in fat. food quickly in only a little
Pinch – The amount of a oil, continuously stirring with
Glaze – To coat with a glossy substance that can be held a tossing motion.
mixture that adds to flavor between the thumb and
and appearance. forefinger and is smaller than Toast – To brown by direct
¼ teaspoon. heat or in a hot oven.
Grate – To produce pieces of
a specific size by rubbing Reduce – To decrease Toss – To mix foods lightly
food (such as carrots or volume of liquid by rapidly with a lifting motion.
cheese) on a grater or boiling.
chopping in a blender or food Whip – To beat food to
processor. Roast – To cook uncovered incorporate air and increase
in an oven. volume.
Sources: Adventures with Food, 4-H Bulletin 460, The Ohio State University, 1995. American
Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, Handbook of Food Preparation, Kendall/Hunt Publishing