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Cooking Glossary

 
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A
Abalone
A delicious, edible conch-like shellfish. Native to America, it is found in Pacific waters off the coast of California.
Acerbic taste 
Usually a tangy flavor that sharpens the palate; can be sour or bitter; and often defines the addition of vinegar in a recipe.
Adobo sauce 
A Mexican seasoning paste or sauce made from ground chili peppers, vinegar and herbs.
Adzuki
Reddish-brown beans frequently used in Japanese desserts to add sweetness. Also known as aduki.
Al dente 
From the Italian phrase to the tooth, meaning chewy. Usually applied to the cooking of pasta, but can also apply to vegetables that are not fully cooked.
Anisette
Made with anise seed, this sweet liquor has a strong licorice taste and a thick, clear consistency.
Arugula
A salad green with a very strong, peppery tang, nice mixed with other lettuces; also called rocket.
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B
Bain-marie
Also called a water bath, it cooks delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. A pan, bowl, souffle dish, etc. of food is placed in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked either in an oven or on top of a range.
Baklava
A cross between cake and a cookie, this Grecian dessert consists of phyllo dough layered with chopped nuts, spices, and honey syrup.
Beignets
A French word for fritter, beignet refers to a doughnut or fried pastry famous to New Orleans cuisine. It can be served either sweet with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or savory, stuffed with seafood or vegetables.
Bind
To add an ingredient, such as an egg, which holds the other ingredients together.
Blanch
Blanching a vegetable means plunging it into boiling water for a few seconds to bring out its color and loosen the flesh of firm skins such as those of tomatoes and peaches. The cooking process is stopped by plunging vegetables into a bowl of cold water. This also heightens the color of the food.
Blintz
Similar to a crepe or pancake, a blintz is a small circle of thin batter fried on the stovetop and either rolled over and filled with cheese or used as a disk to hold meat, cheese, caviar, or other creative hors d'oeuvre fillings.
Bomba rice
A variety of rice grown in the Mediterranean region, mainly in Spain. Its creamy texture makes it ideal for serving with paella.
Bouquet garni
a bundle of herbs; usually bay, thyme, parsley and chervil ? tied together with string and dropped into a pot to flavor soups, or meat, fish or poultry stocks. The bouquet is removed and discarded after cooking is done. The grain is also made by using just the leaves of the herbs, enveloped in a piece of cheesecloth.
Boxty
Irish potato pancakes are called boxty and made by simply grating potatoes and sauteing in butter with the starch from the potato holding it all together.
Braise
A cooking method by which food (usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers.
Breadfruit
Related to the fig family, this large spherical fruit, grown in the West Indies, has a cream-colored flesh with the texture of fresh bread. It is baked, grilled, fried or boiled, depending on whether served as a savory or dessert.
Brioche
The classic brioche shape has a fluted base and a lofty knot at the top. It comes in the form of small buns or a large round loaf, and often encloses foods such as sausage or cheese.
Broccolini
Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and a Chinese vegetable. Broccolini has smaller florets and its stems are more tender than traditional broccoli. The vegetable is new since the late 1990s and costs more, but there is far less waste.
Butterflied
When a recipe calls for butterflying a meat, fish, or chicken, it means to cut the food down the center, but not all the way through, so that the meat opens up like a butterfly, flat and with two distinct halves.
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C
Caponata
Eggplant stars in this Sicilian cooked relish that also includes onions, olives, capers, tomatoes, anchovies and vinegar.
Canola
A Canadian oil that is lower in saturated fat than most other cooking oils and contains Omega-3 fatty acids, reputed to lower cholesterol and serve as an antioxidant.
Caramelize
To heat sugar (preferably with water) until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.
Carbonara, alla
Alla carbonara is the Italian term describing a pasta dish of spaghetti (or other noodles) with a sauce composed of cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bits of bacon.
Cardamom
This native Indian spice is a member of the ginger family and has a warm, spicy- sweet flavor that is great in everything from bread to desserts and is also found in tea from India called chai.
Carpaccio
Italian in origin, carpaccio is an appetizer of thin shavings of raw beef fillet which may be drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice or served with a mayonnaise or mustard sauce. Carpaccio also refers to any dish that is made with something thin and raw.
Cavatappi
One of many shapes of pasta, this curly macaroni is great in casseroles where the sauce or meat can get caught in its curves.
Celery root
Also known as celeriac, this is the root of a celery cultivated specifically for its root. Celery root gives a dish a refreshing celery/parsley taste. It is splendid grated into salads or cooked in soups, stews and purees. It can also be boiled, braised, sauteed and baked.
Chanterelles
Spot a chanterelle on the forest floor and you might mistake it for a piece of light topaz or a glistening little trumpet. Chanterelles are firm and dense, and require a bit more cooking time in soups, stews, and sauces.
Charger
Larger than a dinner plate, this base plate plays host to the stacked place-setting of dinner, salad, and soup plates. The charger can also be set without the china and just silverware, napkins and stemware. The table can be set in advance and the dishes brought to the table as the food is ready for serving.
Cheesecloth
Open woven fibers form a cloth which acts like a very fine sieve for draining foods such as cottage cheese and yogurt. Although lightweight, cheesecloth is a strong cotton that remains sturdy when wet.
Chive Stalks
The long green stems of the chive blossom herb. Stems are thin and are great for using in presentation of finished dishes. For example, use a stalk as a ribbon to tie up plated asparagus.
Ciabatta
In Italian, ciabatta means slipper. Ciabatta was created by a baker who formed dough in the shape of a slipper which he oven-baked to a crust. Ciabatta may be found in artisan bakeries and specialty food stores. The bread's chewy character makes it an ideal dipper for a flavored olive oil.
Clafouti
Classic French dessert of fruit smothered with batter that is baked. Is also served as a morning coffee cake. Cherries are most commonly placed in a clafouti, but peaches plums or pears are also used.
Clarified butter (or drawn butter)
Butter that has been removed of milky solids. Used for cooking at higher temperatures and often for dipping, such as for seafood.
Clementines
These sweet fruits are a hybrid of the tangerine and Seville orange, but have a seedless, juicy flesh. Clementines are much smaller than an orange and rounder than a tangerine. This fruit is only available during the winter months.
Cloche
Dome-shaped, a glass cloche is ideal for covering cheese and other finger foods for the pre-dinner hour. Also known as a bell jar, it can be used for keeping plants from drafts and creating a hot-house environment.
Clotted cream
Also known as Devonshire cream, this cream is made from unpasteurized milk that is gently heated until a semisolid layer of cream forms on the surface. Only recently has this traditional cream for scones been imported from England to the United States.
Coarse salt
A Kosher salt whose coarse grains are additive free.
Coriander
Available in both leaf and seed forms, each with its own distinctive flavor. Seeds are used mainly for cooking and baking. Leaves are also known as cilantro, and are used in many ethnic specialties.
Couscous
An African grain of hard-wheat semolina. Couscous is prepared by simply constituting the hard grain with boiled water until the grain absorbs all of the water, and becomes similar to a tiny pasta or pastina.
Courgette
Popular in Mediterranean cookery, the word comes from the French and refers to a variety of squash, usually eaten when young and immature. But the term is often used loosely, meaning any kind of a summer squash can be used.
Cream
To mix a softened ingredient, like butter, alone or with other ingredients, such as sugar, until well blended and completely soft.
Creme fraiche
A thick cream (like the thickness of sour cream) with a tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. It is the ideal addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling, and it is delicious spooned over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or puddings. A pricey American facsimile of France's authentic creme fraiche is sold in some gourmet markets. However, it can be made at home. Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature from 8 to 24 hours or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.
Creme patissiere
Eggs and flour are carefully cooked to create a thick custard filling for cakes and pies. Literally translated, it means pastry cream and fills such traditional favorites as eclairs and cream puffs.
Crimini
Medium-brown in color, these mushrooms have a rich flavor and can be substituted in recipes that call for white button mushrooms. They make for an attractive garnish on a platter.
Crostini
In Italian, crostini means little toasts. Small pieces of toasted crusty bread usually form the base for a canape of savory spreads or chutney.
Cruciferous
Usually refers to vegetables that are in a certain family of plants, which actually help prevent cancer because of high antioxidant value. They range from mustard greens to cress, cabbages, chards, kale, broccoli, and other similar vegetables that are also high in fiber.
Crudities
Often served as an appetizer with a dip, crudities are simply raw vegetable, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Crystallized ginger
Ginger is soaked in a thick sugar syrup, heated to a candy-making consistency and then dried, leaving sugar crystals on the ginger. Crystallized ginger is frequently used in baking.
Cuppa
British and Australian slang meaning a cup of tea.
Cuttlefish
Common in Mediterranean countries, cuttlefish is a close relative of squid used to color pasta.
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D
Daikon
Usually creamy white and looking like a chunky carrot, daikon is in the radish family. Commonly found in supermarkets, you might pick up turnips instead, but don’t be fooled as this vegetable does not taste like a turnip at all. You can use the radish raw in salads or cooked in soups and stir-fried recipes.
Dasheen
Related to taro, dasheen is a root vegetable with a nutty flavor that is used in recipes, especially to enshroud foods for cooking.
Deglaze
A two-pan configuration used to gently cook heat-sensitive foods, such as chocolate, eggs for custard, and sauces. One smaller pan rests over another larger one that is filled with hot water to cook the contents of the upper pan.
Dredge
To lightly coat food with dry ingredients like flour, cornmeal or breadcrumbs. This is a usual preparation for frying to help brown the food.
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E
Edible flowers
Many flowers may be eaten and popular are in cooking for adding flavor and color to a recipe. Consult a cooking source for flowers that are edible. Only use flowers that you know are chemical-free.
Egg wash
A yolk or white of an egg that is lightly beaten with a little water, then brushed onto the surface of an item to be baked. It imparts a glaze or golden glow to breads and other baked items.
Emmenthaler
This nutty, sweet cow's milk cheese was named for Switzerland's Emmental valley. Giant wheels of the cheese are shipped to the United States and sold in wedges.
En croute
A French term meaning to bake in a crust. Also referred to foods that encrust through baking, such as cheese or potatoes.
Enoki
Milky white, enoki mushrooms have very thin stems with tiny caps. Cooks use enoki mostly to add crunch to salads and sandwiches. They make great garnishes for the center of an elegant bowl of soup.
Ensalada mista
A mix of salad greens from dandelion leaves to baby spinach and oak and radicchio leaves. Found in gourmet markets, it is usually a help-yourself bin full of the lettuces.
Escarole
A member of the chicory family, this hearty green serves up well in soups when added to the pot towards the end of the cooking time. Escarole is a great source of many vitamins and minerals and calcium.
Evaporated milk
Canned, unsweetened milk that is fresh, homogenized milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed, serves to enrich custards or add a creamy texture to many dishes. When mixed with an equal amount of water, it can be substituted for fresh milk in recipes. When slightly frozen, evaporated milk can be whipped and used as an inexpensive substitute for whipped cream.
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F
Fajita
This Mexican-American dish is made with marinated, seared meat and other Southwestern ingredients which are wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
Fennel
An aromatic plant with pale green, celery-like stems and bright green, feathery foliage. Florence fennel also called finocchio is cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and in America. It has a broad, bulbous base that is treated like a vegetable. Both the base and stems can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in a variety of methods such as braising, sauteing, or in soups. The fragrant, graceful greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped-like dill and used as a flavor enhancer. Fennel is rich in vitamin A and contains a fair amount of calcium, phosphorous and potassium.
Flan
Literally it means a creme caramel, flan refers to a sweet dish of custard baked over a layer of caramelized sugar and inverted when served.
Flat-leaf parsley
Also known as Italian parsley, this herb adds a fresh clean taste to sauces, soups, and stews. Its taste is similar to that of cilantro, but it is not good for garnish as it wilts quickly. Substitute with its cousin, curly-leaf parsley.
Flaxseed
An edible seed containing omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed contains unsaturated fat said to reduce inflammatory changes in the body and possibly protect against cancer. Flaxseed is not a flavor enhancer but it does add crunch to cereals, salads and marinades, breads and baked crusts.
Focaccia
An Italian bread used for making pizza.
Foie gris
The enlarged liver of a duck or goose, served as a delicacy at fine restaurants in Europe and the United States.
Fold
A technique used to inflict minimum trauma to an airy substance incorporated into a heavier mixture. The lighter ingredient is gently added with a repeated turning-over motion with a rubber spatula.
Fontina
Mild and nutty in flavor, this is a good melting cheese that does well in sandwiches and fondue.
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G
Garam malasa
The word garam means hot or warm in Indian. Garam masala is a blend of dry-roasted and ground spices. There are many variations of garam masala, some containing up to 12 spices. It can include black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cardamom, dried chiles, cumin, fennel, mace, cinnamon, and other spices.
Garde-manger
The person in charge of salads, appetizers and some dessert items, and all decorative work, is still referred to by this classic French name that translates as the keeper of the food.
Gelato
An Italian ice cream that is centuries-old. It has a smoother consistency than American ice cream and not as hard.
Giblets
The edible inner parts of poultry including the gizzard, heart, liver, kidneys, and neck.
Glace
French for glaze, glace usually refers to a cake with a shiny sweet surface or a fruit that has been dipped in a syrup that hardens.
Glaze
Shiny, sweet or savory mixture that coats food; usually formed by reducing liquid ingredients.
Gluten
When a dough or batter has gas, which helps dough or other baked goods rise.
Gnocchi
Literally translated, gnocchi in Italian means dumplings. Made with flour or more popularly with potatoes, gnocchi are served as you would a plate of pasta with a red sauce or olive oil and herb sauce.
Goat cheese
Most often a soft cheese with a tangy flavor that is made from goat's milk. There are many fine goat cheese farms today in the United States. Goat cheese makes a great filler for cooked foods and when warmed, makes a tasty addition to salads.
Gorgonzola
The blue-green veins in this cheese suggest its flavor, similar to Bleu cheese. Gorgonzola is often used with pasta and as a melting cheese, but it is delicious paired with fruits such as apples and pears.
Grainy mustard
Contains non-pulverized mustard seeds, whole or crushed. So it has a nice consistency for marinades and salad dressings. But it’s just as easy to glide on a slice of sandwich bread as the smoother variety of mustard.
Granite
Usually a fruit juice that has been cooked down to a syrup and then frozen. Loosely, the term is used to mean an intermezzo, a palate cleanser.
Grappa
Grape solids, that are left after wine-making, are turned into one of Italy's most sophisticated and renowned after-dinner beverages called grappa.
Grapeseed oil
Extracted from grape seeds, most of this oil comes from Italy, France or Switzerland, with a few sources now in America. The oil's high smoke point makes it great for cooking and for use in salads.
Gratin
A finished dish topped with grated cheese or breadcrumbs, drizzled with oil or butter, baked in a shallow gratin dish, and browned under a broiler.
Gremolata
A hearty garnish or butter, usually made of lemon peel, garlic and parsley, is often added to seafood for a tingling, refreshing taste.
Gruyere
Similar in flavor to nutty Emmenthaler cheese, Gruyere is made in France as well as Switzerland and is great for melting.
Guinness
This popular beer, with a head that’s creamy like an ice cream float, was originated in Dublin by Arthur Guinness in the mid-1700s. When poured from a tap into a pint glass, the beer almost appears to flow upwards. The deep color and dry-stout flavor come from roasted barley that remains unfermented.
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H
Haricot vert
French term for green bean.
Habanero
One of the hottest of the chili peppers, the habanero ranges from bright green to orange when ripe.
Herbes de Provence
An assortment of dried herbs for meat, commonly used in Provence with southern-France's basil, rosemary, marjoram, fennel seed, lavender, sage, and thyme.
Hoisin
Oriental cooks use this dark, red-brown sauce as a seasoning in cooking and for a dipping sauce.
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I
Intermezzo
Can be any refreshing food served as a palate cleanser between the appetizer and the entrees, such as sorbet, sherbet, or flavored ice.
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J
Jarlsberg
Hole-filled Swiss cheese is close to Jarlsberg. But Jarlsberg is buttery and richer than Swiss.
Jellyroll pan
Just like a baking pan, only with 1-inch sides, this pan is used for making sheet cakes or sponge cakes, often forming the outer shell for a roulade. A pan coated with DuPont SilverStone® non-stick best assures that the resulting flat cake will release easily from the surface.
Jicama
Sweet and nutty, this potato-like root vegetable is delicious raw or cooked. Jicama has a water-chestnut texture and a brown papery skin that is best peeled before using.
Julienne
To cut fresh vegetables or other foods very thinly.
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K
Kahlua
A coffee-flavored Mexican liqueur.
Kalamata
Black olives with a purple tint are slit so that the vinegar they are packed in can penetrate the flesh. They are the olive of choice in Greece and offer a strong contrast to a salad built with lettuce and Feta cheese.
Kamut
Usually only found in health food stores, the wheat called kamut (coming from the Egyptian word for wheat) is now more widely available. The grain is larger than most sizes of wheat, and is now being incorporated into many mass-market cereals because of its high-protein value.
Kebabs
Also spelled kabobs, these are grilled skewers of meat, chicken, fish or vegetables.
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L
Locatelli
An Italian grating cheese with a sweet flavor that some Italians insist is better tasting than the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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M
Macerate
To soak foods (usually fruit) in liquid so that the liquid's flavor infuses into the food. Brandy, rum or a liqueur is often the liquid.
Mache
Also known as lamb’s lettuce, mache is a familiar leafy green in European markets and only became popular in recent years in the States. The plant grows in a cluster of leaves like a nosegay and is most commonly harvested in spring. Great in soups and salads.
Macrobiotic
The absence of animal proteins in a diet consisting of fish, fruits, cereal, and vegetables.
Mafalda
A newer pasta shape that is a very thin, short ribbon version of lasagna. It is perfect for casseroles.
Manchego
A cheese from Spain that is semi-soft with a medium sharpness. This cheese is delicious with fruit and desserts, but can also double as a shaved cheese for salads.
Mandoline
Made of wood, metal, or plastic, a mandoline is a hand-operated kitchen tool that, although spelled differently than the musical instrument, operates very much like the musical mandolin. A culinary mandoline allows very fast, uniform slicing of fruits and vegetables from apples to potatoes. A cook's hand is protected as it moves a carriage containing the food, along an angled platform that houses a slicing blade, very much as a bow across a mandolin.
Marjoram
Also known as sweet marjoram, this intensely flavored herb is in the mint family and often used in Mediterranean dishes. Marjoram is also great in meatloaf.
Mascarpone cheese
Think of this as cream cheese, but with triple the cream in it so that you get a delicious, buttery cow's milk cheese that is soft and delicate. It can be used with either savory or sweet food as a topping or a filling.
Mesclun
A potpourri of young greens for salad which include arugula, chicory, escarole and mustard greens.
Meze
In Greece, people enjoy meze as a pre-dinner assortment of little foods, or, sometimes take the place of a meal.
Micro Greens
Micro greens are not sprouts, but older leaves and much larger. They usually come from radish, beet, and clover plants and offer salads nice texture, pungent flavor, and vibrant color. They can also be sprinkled onto entrees as garnish.
Mirin
Becoming more available, mirin is a very light Japanese cooking wine, much like the country's rice wines.
Miso
Fermented soybean paste that has a stronger flavor than most soy products.
Mise en place
A recipe's ingredients measured out and prepared for cooking.
Miso
A thick paste made of soybeans, rice, and yeast, used as a thickener in Japanese dishes.
Molten chocolate
Often refers to soft, liquid chocolate – either inside a baked cake or used as a topping.
Moussaka
A dish that began in Greece and has spread throughout the Near East, moussaka is made of eggplant and usually lamb layered and baked in a potato crust. Many versions exist and there is no one way to prepare this entree.
Muesli
A cereal made of raw grains such as oats and barley, plus dried fruits, wheat germ, and dried milk solids.
Mung beans
Dried, yellow beans that are often used in salads or ground into flour and made into Oriental noodles.
Mustard seeds
These are the white seeds which are the main ingredient in American mustard. The mustard seed dates to biblical times when it was considered the least of seeds but, when full grown, the greatest.
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N
Napoleons
Foods that are stacked with layers of sweets or savories.
Nasturtiums
One of the most popular edible flowers. The have a peppery flavor, perfect for salads or stuffed with cream cheese.
New Potatoes
Contrary to popular belief, new potatoes are not just those bright ruby small red-skinned potatoes or small, silky white potatoes. New potatoes have not had as much time before picking to convert their sugars to starch. Their skin will be thinner and not as well developed. New potatoes are shipped from field to market without being dug, so sometimes you can’t find them, since they aren’t kept in storage.
Nonpareil
A candy consisting of chocolate disks covered in white candy dots. May also be called capers in recipes.
Nori
Paper-thin sheets of compressed dried seaweed taste like the ocean and are a typical wrap for sushi ingredients. Nori is rich in vitamins, calcium, iron, protein, and many more minerals.
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O
Okra
When this tapered, oblong green vegetable is sliced, its inner spokes are exposed. Okra, which emits a thickening substance when it cooks is often used in gumbos and other dishes of the deep South to thicken and give it a tangy flavor.
Old Bay
A combination of many hot spices used to enhance seafood, particularly crabs and other foods of the Chesapeake Bay region where it originated.
Omega 3 oils
A particular class of fatty acids found in the tissues of sea life. These polyunsaturated oils are beneficial to coronary health as well as brain growth and development. In order of importance, popular fish that are good sources of this oil include sardines, herring, mackerel, bluefish, tuna, salmon, pilchard, butterfish and pompano. High cooking temperatures can destroy almost half the Omega 3 in fish, but microwave cooking does not.
Orzo
Shaped just like a football, orzo is a rice-sized pasta, which can be substituted for rice or used in pasta salad.
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P
Paella
One of Spain's most famous dishes, paella is a rustic dish of seafood and sausages blended with chicken and vegetables, seasoned with saffron, and served with rice.
Pancetta
Although this Italian meat is a bacon, it actually comes in thin slices and is often tucked into dishes to give the recipe salt and spice.
Panini
Means sandwich in Italian and is popular today more as a sandwich that is grilled and pressed, usually with cheese and other meats or vegetables.
Panzanella
Growing out of a need to use up stale bread, panzanella became a popular staple in Central Italy from Florence down to Rome. The bread absorbs the juicy oil and vinegar dressing made by the cook. There are hundreds of ways of making this salad.
Parboil
To partially cook in boiling water or broth. Often vegetables are parboiled and finished off with a quick saute.
Parchment paper
A grease-resistant paper with multiple culinary uses such as lining pans, cooking food "en papillote" (in paper), or using as a piping bag.
Pastry blender
Although this kitchen tool sounds like it should be something electric, a pastry blender has stiff steel U-shaped wires attached to both ends of a wooden or plastic handle.
Pastry wheel
A small, somewhat sharp cutting wheel attached to a wooden handle. It is used to mark and cut out rolled pastry dough for cookies, pies, pasta, etc.
Peel
The rind or skin of a fruit or vegetable, such as a tomato or potato peel. Also, a flat, hardwood board with handle used to slide pizzas and yeast breads into the oven.
Pesto
An uncooked sauce that is usually made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. But these days, other herbs are also being made into pesto. Pesto can be served over pasta or incorporated into a cooked sauce. Served alone, it can be paired with cheese and crackers for an appetizer.
Phytochemicals
Plant chemicals with disease-preventing properties found naturally, and important in fighting against harmful bacteria and infection. There are many phytochemicals in organic and other natural foods that are important in combating human diseases.
Phyllo
In Greek, phyllo literally means leaf, an appropriate way to describe the tissue-thin dough. It is used in both sweet and savory dishes. You may also see it spelled as filo on supermarket packages.
Pink peppercorns
Pink peppercorns are not true peppercorns but actually the dried berries from the Baies rose plant. They're cultivated in Madagascar and imported via France, hence their expense. These berries are pungent and slightly sweet. They are used as colorful, flavorful additions to a variety of sauces and meat and fish dishes.
Piping bag
Usually a plastic-coated bag with a decorative tip on the end used for fancy food presentation, such as decorating cakes, piping mashed potatoes, etc.
Pistou
Pistou is more or less the French version of the Italian pesto. It is a condiment from Provence made of basil crushed (usually with a mortar and pestle), olive oil, and garlic. The French often add tomatoes and sometimes Parmesan cheese.
Plantain
Although this is a banana, it is used very differently. The Latin Americans use this as Americans use potatoes. The plantain is heavier than a banana and firm with a mild, squashlike flavor.
Poaching liquid
Usually water or broth, this liquid is heated very high, then food, such as chicken, is submerged into it for cooking.
Polenta
Hailing from Northern Italy, this very traditional, cornmeal-like grain is becoming popular in modern cuisine. It may be served either hot and soft (like grits) for breakfast or for a dinner sidedish with added flavor from cheese or herbs. When cooled, polenta may be cut into squares and fried to form the basis of many towering presentations on the plate.
Porcini
Known as the caviar of mushrooms, this Italian variety has stupendous flavor and is worth its lofty price tag. Just one or two of these mushrooms will elevate the gourmet value of a recipe. Porcini are usually sold dried and need to be soaked before using.
Potatoes, Yukon Gold
These plump, yellow potatoes cook up creamier than other potatoes. They are terrific in soups that must be pureed, and when used to make mashed potatoes.
Poussin
This word is from the French meaning squab or petit chicken. Recipes often refer to small chickens as poussin.
Proofed
When yeast bubbles, proves that it is alive and therefore can be used in a bread recipe to make the dough rise.
Prosciutto
In Italian, prosciutto means ham that is salt-cured and air-dried. This ham is usually available at the deli counter, where it is sold in very thin slices. Prosciutto is a nice substitute for bacon in many recipes and adds an intense salty flavor to dishes.
Provolone
Aged provolone cheese comes in sharp or mild balls that taste smoky and intensify in flavor as the cheese ripens. It is used most often as a snacking cheese.
Puffy pastry
Hundreds of layers of dough and butter comprise this chilled pastry. When baked, moisture in the butter creates steam, allowing the dough to separate and puff into flaky layers.
Pumpernickel
The addition of molasses helps this coarse bread attain color and flavor. A large amount of rye flour gives this bread its desirable, slightly sour taste.
Purses
In culinary terms, to make a purse means using a dough to cover a filling. Bring the sides of the dough around the filling and gather in the center to form a bundle or a purse that is usually tied with a roasted red pepper or chives. quenelle. A quenelle is a meat-filled dumpling. In culinary terms, anything shaped like a quenelle is similar to a football shape.
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Q
Quick bread
Simply a sweeter loaf made without yeast so it takes two-thirds or so less time to prepare and bake.
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R
Radicchio
Red-leaf Italian chicory used as a salad green or as a garnish for its rich cranberry and white color.
Rainier cherries
Usually in season with red bing cherries, rainier cherries are a blushing blond color with crispy flesh. Since they are rare, they tend to be much more expensive than the bing cherry.
Ramps
Wild onions that resemble scallions, with broad leaves.
Ratatouille
A quick stew of vegetables with a tomato base. Originating in Provence, this French dish has also taken on the ingredients of other Mediterranean countries.
Reconstitute
In culinary terms, this applies to taking a dehydrated food, such as a tomato or mushroom, and bringing it back to its original consistency by drenching it in water.
Reduce
To boil a liquid (usually stock, wine or sauce mixture) rapidly until the volume is reduced by evaporation, thickening the consistency and intensifying the flavor.
Render
To cook fatty meats, such as bacon or spareribs, until the fat melts.
Rice flour
Made from rice, this is a fine powdery flour used in baking, as opposed to heavier rice that may be more glutinous and starchy.
Ricer
Also known as a potato ricer, this kitchen utensil resembles a large garlic press. Cooked foods are pushed through numerous tiny holes in the bottom of the container. The resulting food somewhat resembles rice.
Roulade
Usually meat, sweet cake, or thin bread rolled around a filling.
Roux
A mixture of flour and fat that, after being slowly cooked over low heat, is used to thicken soups and sauces.
Royal icing
An icing made of confectioners' sugar, egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice. Often enlivened with food coloring, royal icing hardens when dry, making it good for durable decorations (such as leaves and flowers) and decorative lettering.
Rusk
A (thick or thin) slice of yeast bread that is baked until dry, crisp and golden brown. Some breads used for this purpose are slightly sweetened. Known in Germany as zwieback and in France as biscotte, rusks are found in most grocery stores.
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S
Sabayon
A classic thick French sauce, usually for desserts. The sauce has a custard base made with eggs, sugar and wine, and cooked over low heat.
Sapsago
A type of sharp and pungent Swiss hard cheese, green in color and powdered with clover leaves.
Saffron
Although this is the world's most expensive spice, you usually only need one or two of the tiny threads from the stigma of a purple crocus flower in order to add aroma and color to a recipe. In most recipes, you can substitute the flavor of saffron with turmeric.
Scallions
Also known as green onions or spring onions, scallions have white bulb-like bottoms and green tops. Scallions are lighter in taste than most other onions.
Sear
To brown the surface of meat very quickly in a hot oven, under a broiler, or in a pan over high heat on top of the stove to seal in juices.
Sea salt
This salt is obtained through the evaporation of filtered sea water and is said to have healing properties. Sea salt is sold in granular form and also comes as tiny rock crystals that can be ground fresh through a salt mill.
Seed sprouts
These edible seeds sprout in a warm environment and are sold in grocery stores for use in salads or sandwiches. Lentils, peas, soybeans, alfalfa, clover, and broccoli are among the sprouts available.
Shank
The front leg of veal, beef, lamb, or pork. This cut is tough and sinewy, but when cooked long and slow, the result is a tenderized meat. The shank is often used in stews such as the Italian osso bucco.
Sherried
Meaning sherry is used as a major flavor enhancer in a recipe.
Shiitake
Picturesque, these earthy-tasting mushrooms are most complementary to Asian dishes.
Shoyu
A Japanese term for soy sauce, shoyu is a word you will hear more often as Japanese sushi becomes more a part of the Western diet.
Sieve
A strainer with tiny perforated holes.
Silken tofu
This common variety of soybean curd has a higher moisture content than other forms of tofu and is great for desserts or sauces.
Soba noodles
These brownish-grayish Japanese noodles look like spaghetti and are made with buckwheat flour, and sometimes even with green tea.
Soda bread
Irish soda bread is the best known of breads that are not made with yeast but are quick breads, made with baking soda and usually buttermilk to develop a nice, coarse texture inside and out.
Softball stage
A test for sugar syrup: the point at which a drop of boiling syrup immersed in cold water forms a soft ball that flattens of its own accord when removed.
Springform pan
A springform pan is most often associated with cheesecakes. It is a two-part pan consisting of a detachable bottom and side. The pan's versatility, allows you to decorate and slice the cake with ease. Using a springform pan coated with DuPont SilverStone® non-stick assures an even easier release from the sides of the pan.
Stock
A clear liquid made by cooking beef, poultry, fish (bones and meat), or vegetables, along with seasonings in water. Many soups begin with a base of stock.
Superfine sugar
Also known as castor sugar, superfine sugar has even finer grains than the usual table sugar. Therefore, it dissolves more quickly and easily, making it perfect for beverages and for use in the preparation of many desserts such as meringues. It can be substituted cup for cup for regular granulated sugar. Superfine sugar should not to be confused with confectioner's sugar that is crushed into a fine powder.
Sweat
To saute vegetables over a gentle heat, so that they release their juices, locking in moisture.
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Table d'hote
This French term refers to a complete meal of several courses for the price of the entree.
Taleggio
Although this cheese has been made in Italy for a very long time, it is only now becoming popular in the United States for its versatility as a melting cheese or a semisoft cheese to enjoy with dessert.
Tapas
Bars and restaurants in Spain serve these appetizers, which usually accompany sherry or other cocktails and can often make up the meal.
Tapioca
A pudding made of starch extracted from the root of the cassava plant. Tapioca may be eaten alone or used as a thickening agent.
Tapioca pearls
Tapioca is a starchy substance from the cassava plant and comes in many forms, including pellets called pearls. The pearls are used to thicken puddings.
Tandoori
Cooking in a tandoor oven is an old method from India that is increasingly popular today. Meat, fish, poultry, and bread are baked in a brick-and-clay oven over a smoky fire. Some Indian bread is baked directly on the clay walls of the oven.
Taro
The term Caribbean cabbage is often used to refer to this root vegetable that grows in shallow water paddies in tropical climates and is often used in cooking after pulverizing to make it tender.
Tatsoi
This Asian vegetable is available year round and tossed with salads and stir-frys to liven the flavor of other calmer-tasting greens. Similar to bok choy, it’s hearty and full of antioxidants.
Tempeh
Tempeh is made from fermented whole soybeans, and is richer in flavor and nutrients than tofu, which is also made from beans. Tempeh can be found in the refrigerator section of health food stores and many supermarkets. Tempeh comes in many forms, the most common of which is bacon and burgers.
Tenderloins
When referring to chicken, the tenderloin (or tender) is a piece of flesh on the inside of the breast next to the bone.
Timbales
Usually referring to a shape (cup-like), timbales are made of food such as rice molded in a cup and turned out when plated, or a pastry shell made with a special timbale iron.
Tiramisu
An Italian dessert, made with layers of liqueur-soaked sponge cake, Mascarpone cheese, chocolate shavings and whipped cream.
Tomatillo
Resembling a green tomato, the tomatillo belongs to the same family, yet has a papery parchment husk. A favorite ingredient in Mexican and Southwest cuisine, the tomatillo imparts the flavor of lemons, apples and herbs.
Treacle
Used often in recipes from Ireland, England, and Scotland, treacle is a byproduct of sugar refining, usually made from molasses.
Trebbiano Grape
The main white grape in Italy, the Trebbiano has a neutral flavor; so it’s a great base for mixing with other Italian white and even red wine grapes.
Tuber
Refers to most root vegetables that grow underground with the swollen fleshy part usually being the edible part, as it is with the potato.
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U
Udon
A type of Japanese noodle, very different from the cellophane or soba noodles.
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V
Vidalia onion
Hailing from Vidalia, Georgia, these large yellow onions are known for their exceptional sweetness and juicy texture.
Vanilla bean
A vanilla bean contains tiny black seeds which have a more intense vanilla flavor than extract. Vanilla beans are available in gourmet stores or in the spice section of supermarkets.
Vinaigrette
A dressing made from a mixture of vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Mustard, garlic, shallots, anchovies, or egg can also be added. Used as a dressing for salads and other cold dishes.
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Wasabi paste
Somewhere between a dry mustard and a horseradish, wasabi paste is used in flavoring a variety of sauces.
Well
When flour is pushed to the sides of the bowl creating a well in the center. Eggs are usually dropped into the well allowing you to gently incorporate into the flour.
Whole-wheat pastry flour
This is a fine-textured, soft wheat flour with a high starch content that makes it particularly tender for cakes and pastries.
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Zest
To remove in fine strips the outermost colored peel, or zest, of citrus fruits, being careful not to incorporate the bitter white pith just underneath the surface.
Zwieback
In German, the word means twice-baked, and in culinary terms it refers to bread that is baked, sliced and baked again. Loosely, the result is referred to as cookies because of the hint of sweetness.