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A Handbook on the ABC’s of French Cooking

A Handbook on the ABC’s of French Cooking was written by my grandmother Germaine Allegrina Sharretts over 30 years ago. Enjoy!

Sauce Chasseur

Brown Sauce to Serve with Broiled or Roasted Meat or Poultry

Sauce Demi-Glace

Brown Sauce to Serve with all Meat and a Base for Other Sauces

Sauce Madère

Brown Sauce to Serve with Broiled and Roasted Meat and with Ham

Sauce Périgueux

Brown Sauce to Serve with Broiled or Roasted Meat and with Ham

Sauce Piquante

Brown Sauce to Serve with Boiled or Broiled Beef and Pork Roasts

Sauce Aurore

White Sauce to Serve with Eggs, Sweetbreads, Veal and Poultry

Sauce Mornay

White Sauce to Serve with Eggs, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables

Sauce Nantua

White Sauce to Serve with Fish and Fish Quenelles

Sauce Choron

Hot Emulsified Sauce for Broiled and Roasted Meat

Sauce Maltaise

Hot Emulsified Sauce for Vegetables, Particularly Asparagus


  • A l’algerienne

    Sweet potato croquettes; tomatoes cooked in oil; light tomato sauce.  To serve with meat or chicken.

  • A l’alsacienne

    Sauerkraut; Alsatian sausages; boiled potatoes; fond de veau lié.  To serve with meat, chicken, duck and goose.

  • A l’americaine

    Sliced lobster or rock lobster tails; sauce americaine.  To serve with fish.

  • A l’anglaise

    Boiled carrots and turnips; celery hearts; boiled green beans; butter sauce with capers.  With lamb and chicken.

  • A l’oriental

    Small tomatoes filled with rice pilaf flavored with saffron; peeled braised peppers; okra; light tomato sauce.  With meat, chicken and fish.

  • A la boulangére

    Sliced onions and potatoes cooked with the roast lamb, or chicken.  Juice from the meat.

  • A la bouquetiére

    Glazed carrots and turnips; peas and green beans boiled and tossed in butter; boiled cauliflower coated with butter or hollandaise sauce; potatoes sautéed in butter.  All these vegetables arranged in bouquets around a roast.  Juice from the roast.

  • A la bourguignonne

    Glazed onions; sautéed mushrooms; lardons.  With beef cooked in Burgundy wine.

  • A la catalane

    Diced sautéed eggplants; pilaf rice; demi-glace.  With roast meat.

  • A la clamart

    Artichoke bottoms filled with buttered peas.  Fond de veau lié or demi-glace.  For roast.

  • A la diéppoise

    Mussels cooked in white wine, shrimps; sauce vin blanc.  For fish.

  • A la financiére

    Veal or chicken quenelles; mushrooms; cock’s combs; truffles; olives; sauce financiére.  With meat and chicken, sweetbread, vol au vent.

  • A la florentine

    Buttered chopped spinach laid under eggs or fish.  Mornay sauce.

  • A la francaise

    Small baskets of duchesse potatoes filled with a macédoine of vegetables; asparagus; braised lettuce; cauliflower coated with hollandaise; fond de veau or demi-glace.  With roasts.

  • A la jardiniere

    Similar to a la bouguetiére, omitting the potatoes and adding flageolets (a kind of beans).

  • A la maréchale

    Asparagus tips; truffles; Madeira sauce or beurre maître d’hôtel.  To serve with sweetbread, veal, chicken, lamb and fish, breaded with a mixture of breadcrumbs and chopped truffles and fried.

  • A la milanaise

    Macaroni mixed with ham, mushrooms, smoked tongue, truffles, Swiss and Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and butter; light tomato sauce.  With roasts.

  • A la niçoise

    Small tomatoes cooked in butter; braised zucchini, braised artichoke hearts, rissoles potatoes; pan juices with a little tomato sauce.  With chicken and meat.

  • A la niçoise

    Tomato fondue mixed with tarragon and crushed anchovies; olives; lemon slices; capers.  With broiled fish.

  • A la normande

    Oysters; mussels; mushrooms; shrimps; truffles; crayfish; fried diamond shape bread slices or fleurons made with puff pastry. With fish.

  • A la parisiene

    Potatoes á la Parisienne, artichoke bottoms cooked in butter and filled with mushrooms, ham and truffles or, instead of artichokes, braised lettuce; sauce demi-glace. With meat and chicken.

  • A la piemontaise

    Risotto (mixed with truffles, ham, tongue, mushrooms) croquettes; light tomato sauce.  With meats.

  • A la portuguaise

    Small tomatoes filled with a duxelles; potatoes sautéed in butter; fond de veau or demi-glace flavored with tomato.  With meat or poultry.

  • A la provençale

    Eggplants filled with tomato fondue au gratin; or mushrooms filled with a duxelles flavored with garlic; fond de veau lié flavored with a pinch of tarragon.  For meat.

  • A la strasbourgeoise

    Braised sauerkraut; a chunk of salt pork; slices of foie gras.  For braised poultry, turkey, goose particularly.

  • A la toulousaine

    Chicken quenelles; cock’s combs; lamb or veal sweet breads; mushrooms; truffles; sauce allemande or parisiene with mushroom flavor.  For chicken, vol-au-vent, pies, sweetbreads.

  • Aïoli

    A garlic mayonnaise.

  • Allumettes

    Hors d’oeuvre made of puff pastry dough and cut in the shape of matchsticks about 1 inch long.

  • Anglaise

    A mixture of egg, water, oil, salt and pepper to dip certain foods before frying.

  • Au jus

    Served with natural pan juices.

  • Au naturel

    Served with natural pan juices.

  • Au Vert-Pré

    Matchstick potatoes; French-fried; watercress, uncooked, beurre maître-d’hôtel.   With broiled chicken or meat.

  • À la

    In the manner of; à l’alsacienne, à la grecque, a l’americaine, etc.: in the Alsatian style, the Greek style, the American style, etc.

  • Bain-marie

    A bath of warm water in which sauces blended with eggs or cream like Hollandaise, Bérnaise or Vin Blanc sauces are kept warm; a way of cooking certain delicate sauces, various puddings, custards and pâtes, in 2 pans forming a sort of double boiler with the difference that the water in the bottom pan surrounds the top pan at least half way up its sides.

  • Barder

    To cover with thin strips of fat, meat, fish or fowl in order to protect it and also to provide basting.

  • Barquette

    Oval shaped tarts in “pate brisée: or puff pastry.

  • Bavaroise

    A dessert made of custard cream, gelatin and whipped cream.

  • Bearnaise

    A variation of the Hollandaise sauce (see sauces).

  • Bechamel

    A basic white sauce (see sauces).

  • Beurre


  • Beurre Bercy

    A sauce made with white wine, shallots, butter, marrow, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

  • Beurre blanc

    A warm sauce made with white wine, shallots, vinegar and butter, used for fish.

  • Beurre clarifie

    Clarified butter, obtained by heating the butter and when melted, by scooping out the milk solids.

  • Beurre en pommade

    Butter mixed with a spoon until the consistency of a very thick cream.

  • Beurre maître d’hotel

    A sauce made with butter, chopped parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice, used for grilled fish or meat, fried fish and boiled vegetables.

  • Beurre manie

    Butter kneaded with flour or cornstarch until perfectly smooth for the thickening of sauces.

  • Beurre noir

    Butter cooked until brown, sometimes mixed with parsley, capers and vinegar, used as a sauce for fish, eggs and brain.

  • Beurre noisette

    Butter heated until it starts to color.

  • Bisque

    A kind of soup made with a purée of shellfish, crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimps, etc.

  • Blanc

    The white parts of a fowl: a solution of water and flour for the purpose of blanching food: “cuire au blanc” is the operation which consists in cooking certain food in a court-bouillon: “cuire á blanc” is the operation which consists in cooking a pie shell empty, before filling it.

  • Blanchir

    To blanch in order to give more consistency to certain food: to remove saltiness of certain food, or to peel more easily certain fruit or vegetables. To blanch is not to cook.

  • Blanquette

    A stew, usually of veal, fowl or lamb cooked “au blanc”.

  • Bouquet garni

    A combination of herbs, usually parsley, thyme and bay leaf, tied together.

  • Braiser

    To braise, to cook in the oven in a tightly covered pan, with very little liquid.

  • Brider

    An operation which consists in tying with a special needle and some string the thighs and wings of a fowl to keep it in a nice shape during the cooking.

  • Brioche

    A very buttery yeast dough in the shape of a ring (brioche en couronne), or a ball with a head (brioche parisienne), or a long cylinder (brioche mousseline); served like a Danish pastry for breakfast or tea or used as a crust for coulibiac, or to enclose sausage, foi gras or other fish or meat mixtures.

  • Brunoise (couper en)

    To cut in very small dice.

  • Buerres composes

    Butter “en pomade” mixed with various ingredients like mustard or anchovy paste, etc., used for the preparation of canapés, or to flavor sauces, soups and certain dishes.

  • Bullottine

    A boned meat, fowl, fish, stuffed and rolled like a “ballot”, i.e. a round package.   It is served hot or cold.

  • Canape

    A slice of a special kind of sandwich bread, called “pain de mie” used for open faced sandwich, or fried in butter and used as a base for serving tournedos, squab or kidneys.

  • Cassolette, caisse or caissette

    Is a small container for the preparation of numerous hors d’oeuvre; it is made of porcelain, or Duchesse potatoes or bread.

  • Cassoulet

    A stew from Languedoc made of dry beans, lamb, port and goose.

  • Chantilly

    A heavy cream whipped, sweetened and flavored.

  • Charcuterie

    A butcher shop specializing in pork products.

  • Charlotte

    The Russian charlotte is made with lady fingers and a bavaroise: another charlotte is made with fruit, usually apples, in a mold lined with buttered bread slices.  Both are made in charlotte molds.

  • Chaud-froid

    A dish prepared hot and served cold.

  • Chausson

    Literally a bootie, a turnover.

  • Chemiser

    To coat a mold with crust, with aspic.

  • Chiffonnade (couper en)

    It is to cut in julienne or thin strips soft vegetables like lettuce, spinach, sorrel.

  • Chinoise

    A finely meshed strainer in the shape of a funnel.

  • Chou


  • Chou a la creme

    A round sweet puff filled with pastry cream or Chantilly.

  • Choucroute


  • Clarifier

    To clarify: to make a broth clear; to remove milk solids from butter; to separate the white from the yolk of an egg; to remove the impurities from the sugar during the cooking.

  • Cocotte

    A heavy casserole or Dutch oven in which food is cooked.

  • Compote

    Fresh or dried fruit cooked in a syrup and flavored.

  • Confit

    Preserved; “confit d’oie” is goose cooked in fat and preserved in it; “fruits confits” are fruit preserved in sugar.

  • Coquille

    A shell or ramequin in which food is served; can be of porcelain, metal or pastry dough; “coquilles Saint Jacques” are scallops served in their shells after being prepared in various ways.

  • Coucher

    To lay some dough, purée or filling on a baking sheet with a pastry bag.

  • Court-bouillon

    A seasoned and flavored liquid for cooking , mainly fish.

  • Creme

    Cream; thickened soup; dessert made of eggs, milk and a flavor.

  • Crepe

    A thin pancake made of eggs, flour and milk.

  • Croissant

    A bun made most times in the shape of a crescent.

  • Croquette

    A mixture of vegetables, ground meat, fish, etc., breaded and fried until crisp.

  • Croustade

    A case made of bread, pie crust or pastry dough, fried or baked, and made to be filled with various purées or fillings.

  • Croute

    Crust; crust for pies, timbales, patés, made of pastry dough.

  • Crouton

    White sandwich bread or French bread, diced and fried in butter for the accompaniment of soups, scrambled eggs, omelets, etc.

  • Cuisine

    The art of  preparing food and the locale where it is prepared.

  • Daube

    The braising of larded meat or poultry in a stock generally made with wine and herbs.

  • Deglacer

    To deglaze; to dissolve with a liquid the cooking particles attached to the bottom of a saucepan.

  • Degorger

    To soak in water certain food like brain, sweetbreads, some fish and vegetables in order to reduce the bitterness or remove certain juices.

  • Degraisser

    To remove the fat at the surface of a stock, consommé or sauce.

  • Demi-glace

    A reduced brown sauce (see recipe).

  • Detrempe

    (See puff pastry dough).

  • Duxelles

    A mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and onion cooked until evaporation of all liquid, used to give more flavor to a sauce or a filling.

  • Eclair

    A long cream puff, filled with chocolate or coffee custard cream and glazed with chocolate or coffee fondant.

  • Ecrevisse

    Fresh-water crayfish, used for numerous dishes and sauces like Nantua sauce.

  • Ecumer

    To remove the grey scum on the surface of a boiling liquid, stew, sauce, with an “écumoire” or perforated flat spoon.

  • Eplucher a vif

    To peel a fruit, an orange for example, by removing every bit of skin down to the juicy part of the fruit.

  • Escargot


  • Etouffee, Etuvee

    Two words used to describe a method of cooking in a tightly covered saucepan with almost no liquid, or none at all.

  • Farcir

    It is to fill a meat, fowl or fish with a “farce” or filling.

  • Farine

    Flour; “fariner” is to coat with flour before cooking.

  • Feuilletage

    A very delicate and flaky puff pastry dough made with flour and butter and worked in such a way as to result in hundreds of layers of dough. (see recipe)

  • Fines herbes

    The main herbs are: celery, parsley, tarragon, chervil, fennel, chives, basil, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.

  • Flamiche

    A kind of quiche made of leeks or cheese, from Picardy and Burgundy.

  • Flamri

    A cream of wheat pudding, served cold and usually covered with purée of red fruit like strawberries, raspberries or currants.

  • Flan

    In certain regions a flan is a baked custard; generally, it is a pie filled with fruit, cream or other fillings.

  • Foie

    Liver; “foi gras” is the liver of a fattened goose or duck.

  • Foncer

    The method of covering the bottom, and sometimes the sides, of a terrine, cocotte or mold with thin strips of fat or vegetables, or “páte á foncer” i.e. pie dough.

  • Fondant

    A glaze used for pastry made with sugar cooked until the soft ball and worked with a spatula on a marble until smooth and white.

  • Fonds de cuisine

    Basic stocks for sauces or soups.

  • Fontaine

    A well made in the center of flour where the necessary ingredients are set for making of some dough.

  • Fraisage

    Operation consisting in working some dough with the palm of the hand in order to obtain a perfect mixture.

  • Frangipane

    A panade similar to cream puff dough used as a blending and thickening agent.

  • Frangipane (crème)

    A crème patissiére or custard cream with crumbled macaroons.

  • Frapper

    To cool rapidly some cream or a bottle of wine with crushed ice.

  • Friture

    Deep fat frying.

  • Fruits confits

    Glacéed fruit.

  • Fruits de mer

    Shellfish and mollusks.

  • Fumet

    A concentrated liquid of fish, poultry or game used to enhance the flavor of stocks and sauces.

  • Galantine

    A ballottine of meat or poultry covered with aspic.

  • Galette

    A round flat cake.

  • Garnitures

    Various accompaniments added or placed around a main dish like a roast, some poultry or fish, or served at the same time on different platters. (see garnitures)

  • Gateau


  • Gelee

    Jelly, it can be made with commercial gelatin, but it is best made with food with gelatinous propriety like veal shanks or feet.

  • Glacage

    A frosting or a glaze.

  • Glace

    Ice cream; ice; a reduction of a stock or a dessert cream; a glazing with fondant.

  • Gratin

    The crust formed at the surface of a dish under the action of heat.

  • Grenouille


  • Hacher

    To mince; a “hachis” is a hash, made with leftover meat.

  • Henri IV

    Artichoke bottoms; noisette potatoes; sauce Béarnaise.  With steaks or tournedos.

  • Hollandaise

    A sauce of egg yolks and butter (see sauces).

  • Hors-d’oeuvre

    Means literally, “besides the menu”.  They are delicate and small first-course dishes, cold or hot.

  • Jambon


  • Jardinière de legumes

    A mixture of vegetables; peas, green beans, carrots, turnips cooked  in salted water.

  • Julienne

    A mixture of vegetables cut in thin strips.

  • Lard de poitrine fume


  • Larder

    To push through meat, chicken or other, thin strips of pork fat with a larding needle.

  • Lardons

    Pieces of fat back, diced, blanched and fried.

  • Legumes


  • Liaison

    Operation consisting of thickening a liquid, sauce, cream, soup with flour, cornstarch, egg yolks and cream, beurre manié, butter or blood.

  • Luter

    To close very tightly a casserole, terrine, etc. with a dough made of flour and water.

  • Macedoine

    A mixture of raw or cooked vegetables or fruit.

  • Marinade

    A liquid with condiments to soak meat, fish, poultry, etc.  The purpose is to give flavor and to tenderize.

  • Marmite

    A stock pot.

  • Marron


  • Mignonnette

    Coarsely ground pepper.

  • Mijoter

    To simmer.

  • Mille-feuille

    A Napoleon, pastry made with puff pastry dough, custard cream and glazed.

  • Mirepoix

    Vegetables cut in large dice.

  • Monder

    It is to remove the skin of certain fruit, vegetables or meat by immersion in boiling water or in hot oil, by roasting or by soaking in water with vinegar.

  • Monter

    It is to beat in order to give lightness and volume, like beating mayonnaise, Béarnaise, whites of eggs, etc.

  • Mouiller

    It is to add a liquid in order to cook a preparation.

  • Mousse

    Froth; a light preparation of fish, meat or dessert containing egg whites and whipped cream.

  • Mousseline

    The name given to certain dishes when they are lightened with whipped cream.

  • Moutarde


  • Nantua

    Crayfish around the fish or in small tartlets; sauce nantua.  With fish.

  • Napper

    To coat with a thick element like sauce, cream, aspic, etc.

  • Navarin

    A lamb stew.

  • Noisette

    Hazelnut; a round and small cut of meat; butter heated until it barely colors; a “noisette de beurre” is about 1 tablespoon of butter or the size of a hazelnut.

  • Noix


  • Oeuf


  • Pain


  • Panade

    A bread soup; a mixture of flour or bread or pâte à choux to blend and thicken quenelle batter.

  • Paner

    To coat with fine bread crumbs; “panie à l’anglaise” is to coat with flour, then with a “anglaise” (see word), and last with bread crumbs.

  • Pannequet

    A kind of filled crêpe.

  • Papillote

    A paper frill placed on the bone of a leg of lamb or chops, etc. for decoration.  Also a preparation of meat or fish cooked in paper.

  • Pate

    A mixture of ground meat, poultry or fish baked with or without crust; “paté en croute”: paté in a crust, served hot or cold.

  • Pates

    All the various dough or batter for bread, rolls and pastry.  Examples: pâte brisée is a pastry dough; pâte à choux, a puff dough; pâte feuilletée, a puff pastry dough; and pâte à frire, a fritter batter.

  • Patisserie

    Pastry shop; any dessert made with dough and baked.

  • Paupiette

    A thin slice of meat or fish, filled, rolled and tied.

  • Persil


  • Persillade

    Very finely chopped parsley, generally mixed with finely chopped garlic.

  • Petits fours

    Small fancy cakes; cookies; cakes, cookies or fruit dipped in fondant.

  • Pocher

    To poach, that is to cook in a large quantity of liquid without boiling, at a bare simmer.

  • Poisson


  • Pomme de terre


  • Potage


  • Potee

    A sort of soup made of pork, cabbage, potatoes and other vegetables, cooked in an earthenware pot.

  • Poulet


  • Pruneau


  • Puree

    Food mashed through a fine sieve into a pulp.

  • Quenelle

    Ground meat, chicken or fish blended with eggs, butter and cream, shaped in the form of sausage or egg, and poached.

  • Quiche

    A pie of Lorraine origin, made with lardons, eggs, milk or cream.

  • Ragout


  • Revenir (faire)

    It is to color certain ingredients in butter, oil or other fat before cooking.

  • Richelieu

    Au gratin stuffed tomatoes and mushrooms; braised lettuce; potatoes sautéed in butter; fond de veau lié or demi-glace.  With roast.

  • Rillettes

    A mixture of pork, lean and fat, cut in small pieces, simmered with seasonings, cooled, ground, packed into jars and used as a spread on bread.

  • Rissoler

    It is to color some meat or vegetables in very hot fat.

  • Rossini

    Slices of foie gras; slices of truffles; demi-glace with truffle juice or pan juice deglazed with Madeira.  With tournedos or fillet mignon.

  • Rouille

    A hot red pepper mayonnaise served with bouillabaisse, a fish soup.

  • Roux

    A mixture of flour and butter used to thicken sauces; it is cooked more or less according to the color desired; white (roux blanc), blond (roux blond) and brown (roux brun); brown sauces require a roux brun, white sauces a roux blanc or blond.

  • Sable

    A very buttery pastry dough used to make cookies or pie crust.

  • Saisir

    Is to expose a meat to very high heat in order to seal juices.  It is not to “sauter” or “revenir”.

  • Salpicon

    A mixture of food diced and blended with a sauce.

  • Sauter

    It is like “revenir” but faster and without letting the pieces of food touch each other.

  • Souffle

    Means puffed; mixture of puréed food, mixed with egg yolks and lightened with stiffly beaten egg whites, cooked in a hot oven in buttered soufflé molds.  The puffing is the characteristic of this dish.

  • Suer (faire)

    Literally, to make sweat; that is, to heat food until the first drops of juices are seen; this term is used, particularly for onions.

  • Supreme

    A dish of grand style; the boned chicken breast; a velouté sauce with cream.

  • Tamiser

    To sift.

  • Terrine

    An earthenware dish in which are cooked meat, poultry or game; the word “terrine” means the cooked preparation itself.

  • Tournier

    To cut vegetables in regular shape to facilitate even cooking and for nice presentation.

  • Travailler

    To work a preparation with hand, spoon, spatula or wire wisk until it is perfectly smooth.

  • Truffe

    Truffle, an underground black mushroomlike fungus, used to flavor numerous dishes.  There is also a white truffle.

  • Vacherin

    A cheese; a meringue case filled with whipped cream, fruit or ice cream.

  • Vanner

    To stir a sauce during the cooling to avoid a film at the surface.

  • Vapeur


  • Veloute

    A white sauce; a cream soup.

  • Volaille