Culinary Terms

​Lost in a Fancy Restaurant? Culinary Terms for the Menu-Challenged

á la carte — A list of food items each priced and served separately

en brochette — To cook small pieces of food on skewers

en croûte — Food baked in a crust

en papillote — Enclosing foods (like fish) in parchment paper or foil and cooking in an oven or on a grill

entrée — In the United States, an entrée is the main dish of a meal. The original French term referred to the first course of a meal, served after the soup and before the meat.

flambé — Dramatic presentation of food by sprinkling with alcohol (or other flammable substance) and igniting into flames

florentine — A cookie that contains butter and cream and is often coated with chocolate. Also refers to dishes containing spinach and usually a cream sauce.

ganache — A term used for a very rich chocolate filling or thick glaze made with chocolate, shortening and cream used for filling and frosting

herbes de Provence — A French term for a mixture of dried herbs, usually containing basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, lavender, thyme and fennel seed

mother sauces — A French concept that classifies all sauces into five foundation sauces called “mother” or “grand” sauces. From these five sauces, all sauces can be made. They are:

  1. Espagnol or brown
  2. Velouté or blond
  3. Béchamel or white
  4. Hollandaise or butter
  5. Tomato or red

ragoût — Ragoût is derived from the French verb ragoûter, which means “to stimulate the appetite.” A ragoût is seasoned stew, usually made with meat, poultry, fish and often vegetables.

velouté — (French for “creamy” or “velvety”) A sauce made with white stock (fish, chicken or white veal) and tightened with a white or blond roux. One of the “mother” sauces.