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Ever read a recipe and have no idea what it was asking? In this episode of How to Adult Hank and Rachel explain the difference between baking powder and baking soda, separate the whites from the yolks of an egg, and define a bunch of tricky cooking terms.

Huge thanks to Sarah Manuel for supporting us on Patreon!

Glossary:
Cooking 0:32
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder 0:49
Clove, Head, and Bulb of Garlic 1:19
Condensed vs. Evaporated Milk 1:50
Measurements by Volume 2:12
Measurements by Mass 2:25
Pat of Butter 2:35
Scant & Heaping 2:49
Baking Blind 3:20
Blanching 3:33
Simmer, Low Boil, Full/Rolling/Roiling Boil 3:50
Braising 4:35
Broiling 4:43
Deglazing 5:02
Double-Boiler (not Double-Boiling, our mistake!) 5:20
Dredging 5:51
Mise en Place 6:19
Poaching 6:46
Sautéing 7:02
Sifting 7:10
Sous vide 7:40
Separating Eggs 7:47

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Sitting down to eat or share a good meal that you’ve just made in the kitchen can feel like getting a gold medal in adulting.

But getting to that point can be tricky, and often requires a bit of knowledge in the language of cooking. Learning that language can be overwhelming, so we put together a short glossary for a few of those tricky cooking terms to get you fired up for crafting your own culinary masterpieces!

[INTRO MUSIC]

First off, it seemed important to start with the basics: what does ‘cooking’ really mean?

Well, it’s simple. Cooking just means applying heat. But before you can apply heat, you need an understanding of what it is you’re trying to accomplish, which ingredients to choose, and how to prepare those ingredients.

So let’s start with looking at some tricky ingredients. Like, what’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda? So when you put baking soda or powder into a recipe, you’re probably trying to get some sort of baked good to puff up.

The difference between the two is that baking powder has an ingredient that activates the chemical processes that make your cakes and breads fluffy, whereas baking soda needs an additional ingredient to get that fluff. Powder’s got power to rise, soda will result in something so-darn flat. When we asked around the office for ideas, we found one common ingredient conundrum involved garlic.

Okay, so this is definitely garlic. Yes. Um, there’s the little bits inside–I’m just going to break one out.

And I–this is a clove, and this is a head, but there’s a third word: a bulb. And I’m like, I’m always like, ‘which one is that? Do you want a bulb?

Or do you want a bulb?’ Well, a bulb is just a head. So the bulb is this. Yes.

This–the big thing. The mothership. Condensed and evaporated milk are both just milk with the water taken out.

The difference between the two is that condensed milk is sweetened and evaporated milk is not. Knowing how much of an ingredient to put in, is just as important as what the ingredient is. There are three main ways to measure your ingredients: by count (like two eggs), by volume, or by mass.

A cup, tablespoon, teaspoon, pinch, milliliter, fluid ounce, pint, liter, quart, and gallon measure volume, or how much space an ingredient takes up. An ounce, lb, gram, or kilogram are measures of how much mass an ingredient has, or how much physical stuff exists and can be measured with a zeroed-out scale. Sometimes a recipe will ask for just a 'pat' of butter.

And it's like... what is that? It's like a single serving... like when you're at the diner. And it varies from country to country, but roughly this.

Finally, a recipe calling for a scant tablespoon or scant cup is calling for an amount just shy of the specified measurement.

So: a little less than a full tablespoon or cup. There’s another thing that’s like scant, except when they say ‘heaping’. It’s a ‘heaping teaspoon’, and it’s like a teaspoon, but a little bit more than a teaspoon. And I’m like, ‘are you kidding me right now? Just tell me how much!’ After you know what your ingredients are, and how much of it you need, you’ve gotta do stuff to it to change its chemistry and make it taste the way you want it to.

Baking Blind means baking or partially baking the crust of a pie before putting the filling in. You’d do this for pies that you don’t want to bake the filling in, like a meringue, or for a pumpkin pie that could potentially get the soggy crust.

Blanching is exposing food to boiling water for a brief period, then (usually) putting it in a cold water bath. You might blanch something in order to loosen or remove skin, soften veggies, preserve nutrients for canning, or to extract liquids or undesired flavors. Okay, so boiling makes sense. It’s when liquid starts transitioning to steam. Bubbles bubbling up and all that jazz. Well, next time you boil water, note that not all boiling is the same. As you heat up the water, you’ll notice that it’s starting to kind of twitch. There’s no bubbles, but something’s going on. This is the temperature where you’ll want your liquid to be when poaching, which we’ll talk about later. After that you’ll get bubbles that reach the surface, but don’t break. That’s a simmer. If you wait a little longer, a few bubbles will start to break the surface. A couple bubbles escaping the pot every once and awhile is a low boil. A Roiling (or rolling or full) boil is when your water is enthusiastically spitting up bubbles every which-way, and you can’t make it go any faster.

Braising means cooking a thing in a small layer of liquid in a pot with a snug lid. If it’s a big piece of meat, sometimes it’s called a pot roast.

Broiling means cooking with dry intense heat on one side. Your oven manual will have more information on how your particular broiler works. In most cases, though, the broiling element is in the top of your oven, and can be used kind of like an upside-down grill, except the food doesn’t actually touch the heating element. You know when you’re done cooking your steak or chicken and there’s a bunch of stuff left in the pan? Well, after removing any fat from the top, deglazing is when you add a liquid (usually a wine or a stock) to those leftovers and heat to a brief boil to make a delicious pan sauce. It’s like scrumptious recycling! When you’re cooking something really sensitive like eggs, cream, or chocolate, double-boilers protect your ingredient by indirectly heating it. A double boiler looks about what it sounds like, a bottom pot for the water, and a top pot for the ingredients. The top pot is nested inside the bottom pot, which has a small layer of water in it. When you heat the water to a boil, the steam heats the thing inside the top pot. You can make a double boiler at home out of a sauce pan and a bowl made out of Pyrex, glass, or metal like this!

Dredging also known as breading! In places other than the kitchen the word dredge sounds kind of gross. Like scraping up the mud at the bottom of a river bed, or bringing up (again) the story about that time that Cousin Ben left potatoes behind the microwave and no one found them until New Years Eve. But this dredging is the good kind. Dredging in a cooking-sense is coating a wet or moist ingredient with a dry powder. It’s like coating a piece of meat in flour before frying it.

Mise en Place is a french term for getting your stuff all in place before you cook. Get your veggies washed and chopped, your ingredients measured out, your butter room-temperatured, your oven pre-heated, and so on. Nothing is worse than starting into a recipe and then having to run around the kitchen trying to gather your ingredients while your pot boils over or something catches on fire. If you prep your kitchen before-hand, you’re more likely to get all of the portions correct, and you’re less likely to burn something.

Poaching is a gentle method for cooking food in a liquid that is just under simmering- that twitchy water we talked about earlier. Poaching is good for delicate meats that easily break apart like fish, or for eggs that still have their yolks intact and runny.

Sautéing is a method of cooking where your ingredients, in constant motion, are heated over high heat in an open pan with some fat.

Sifting is a way to prep flour for use by lightening it up, getting rid of clumps, and sometimes mixing it up with other dry ingredients. You can use a fancy sifter that will force the flour through a fine mesh, but you can also just use a strainer to help remove clumps. Flour these days is a little better at not clumping than the flour of yore, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have a sifter. I don't have a sifter. That's beautiful. It does look nice. So soft.

Sous vide is a method of cooking with ingredients in a vacuum seal submerged in hot water or heated with steam Finally, sometimes a recipe will call for just the egg yolk or the egg whites.

We’re going to try and demonstrate one way to separate the two.
[laughing] Try.
[Hank] I have no confidence in my ability to do this. I think the trick to this, is to get, like, a thousand eggs.
[Rachel makes a suspenseful noise]
[Hank] Oh, did I do it? Ah, oh— I just go back and forth—I broke the yolk. I did break the yolk. But I feel like I—feel like I did pretty good. [Laughing] I didn't do great.
[Rachel] All right. Oh fudge...
[Hank] Do you have a different way than I do?
[Hank] Good... good... good... Pretty good...
[Hank] I think you did better than me.
[Rachel chuckles]
[Hank] You did WAY better than me! This is really, like, the only thing that I know what to do is practice. Like, get... three dozen eggs...
[Hank] Oh! It's so beautiful! Look at you!
[Rachel, delighted] Oh, it's so cute! Ah, I feel like a failure...
[Rachel, laughing] I am more adult [laughing]
[Hank] Oh my god, it's gorgeous.

Thanks for joining us on this tasty journey! We hope we cleared up a few tricky cooking terms, and fired up the ovens of your imagination. There were many great suggestions for cooking terms that we didn’t have enough space for, so let us know in the comments if you liked this glossary, and we'll make another one! So much to cover! So much.

[Hank makes an eating noise]
[Rachel makes a grossed-out noise] Noooo Do you not like butter? Well... I don't like the idea of putting a giant thing of it... I love butter SO MUCH. Needs to be spread. [Sniffs] OH MY GOSH I WANT A BAGEL You know how, like... Oh no. Never mind. Just kidding. [Laughter] Good outtake, Rachel. For pumpkin pie that could potentially get suh—get the soggy crust. You want to put the salt... On the butter and eat it? Uh huh. [Rachel shudders] Oh boy. It doesn't help that my sharp tooth is like... [soft dinosaur hiss?] Is it like a chip? No, it's just a really sharp molar. I only just realized why cookies are called cookies. Why are they called cookies? 'Cause you cook them. I mean... They should be called bookies. They should be called bakies. We should make our own cookie dough. Bakie dough. [laughter] Hank & Rachel's Bakies!