French Cuisine Glossary
Cooking terms and techniques
Aioli: A strongly flavored garlic mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France.
Beurre blanc: Butter sauce, a reduction of white wine and butter.
Bouquet garni: An assortment of whole herbs and spices secured in a cheesecloth bag and used to flavor soups, stews, and stocks. Typically, it includes fresh thyme, bay leaves, and parsley stems, but it can also include other aromatics like celery and leeks.
Cassoulet: Classic bean dish that includes duck or goose and usually pork.
Deglaze: To add a small amount of liquid (usually water or wine) to a pan after sauteing food and stirring to loosen the browned bits. This mixture is then used to make a sauce or reduced and served with the food.
Gratin (or tian): Any dish topped with cheese and/or breadcrumbs, then heated in the oven or broiler until melted and browned.
Haricots verts: A variety of tender, thin green beans, cousins to pole and bush green beans.
Haute cuisine: A style of cooking that emphasizes elaborate meals with many courses. Today, it usually refers to fancy, fussy French fare.
Herbes de Provence: An assortment of dried herbs that usually includes thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, basil, and savory.
Poivre: Pepper. In France, pepper is almost always freshly ground black, but occasionally it's white or pink.
Pommes frites: French fries.
Potage: Pureed vegetable soup.
Roux: A combination of cooked butter and flour that is used to thicken soups and sauces.
Saute: To cook food quickly in a small amount of fat in a skillet.
Scalloped: Prepared by layering food with cream or a creamy sauce. (Usually applies to potatoes.)
Vinaigrette: One of what the French refer to as the five "mother sauces." Traditionally, a combination of three parts oil to one part vinegar, seasoned with salt and pepper.