If you have a term you'd like to see here, please
and I'll be happy to add it.
A - I ~
~ A ~
a la Carte- (French) Each menu item is priced
separately: Foods prepared to order.
a la Mode- (French) Refers to ice cream on top of pie
Al Dente - Refers to pasta and some vegetables cooked
to a barely tender consistency.
Antipasto - A dish of cold meats, hors d´oeuvres and vegetables, which is
served before an Italian meal.
Aspic - Clarified gelatin used to cover cold foods.
Au Gratin - Foods with baked in cheese
Au Jus - Food, usually roasted meat, served in its natural juices.
~ B ~
Baking Powder -A leavening agent of which the most
common is double-acting baking powder, called so because it reacts first with
liquids and secondly, with the heat during baking. A good substitute for 1
teaspoon of baking powder is 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of
tartar. Periodically, check the expiration date on your can as baking powder
loses its leavening power over time.
Baking Soda - A leavening agent, activated by
interacting with something acid. Liquid ingredients like sour milk, sour cream,
buttermilk, yogurt, molasses, and lemon juice help baking soda produce the gases
which in turn make a batter rise. The batter should be baked as soon as possible
after the liquid has interacted with the baking soda.
Bearnaise - A variation of hollandaise sauce. It's made with wine and
vinegar and flavored with tarragon.
Bechamel - A creamy white sauce which is made by adding a hot liquid to a
roux or white sauce.
Bisque - A creamy soup, usually refers to a creamed soup made with
Blanch - To briefly plunge food into boiling water, and then into cold
water to stop the cooking process.
Blind Bake - To bake a pie crust without the filling.
Metal weights or dried beans are usually used to keep the pastry from bubbling.
Bouquet Garni - A bunch of herbs (traditionally
parsley, thyme, and bay leaf) bundled up in a cheesecloth bag that usually
dangles into a stockpot via a string. The herb bundle gives the stew, soup or
stock an aromatic seasoning. The bouquet garni is removed before serving.
Braise - A method of cooking by which food (usually tougher cuts of meat,
large poultry, or vegetables like cabbage, chicory, and artichokes) is first
browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low
heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and
tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done on
top of the range or in the oven.
Bread Flour -Bread flour contains a higher level of gluten, a protein
that provides the structure and elasticity necessary for yeast dough.
Brine - A salt water solution used for preserving foods
Bruschetta - Grilled slices of bread brushed with olive oil and fresh
Buffet - A vast array of hot and cold foods - refers to line of foods
ready to be served (usually self served)
Bulgar - Bulgur is a wheat product sold whole or cracked. It can be used
in many of the same ways as rice. When cooked, it has a nutlike flavor and a
slightly chewy texture.
Butterfly - To split a piece of food down the center, cutting almost
through. The halves are fanned open and laid flat to cook or fry. The fan
resembles a butterfly. ex - butterfly shrimp.
~ C ~
Cake Flour - Flour that's milled from soft wheat with a lower protein and
gluten content than other flours. It has a fine uniform texture, well suited to
lighter baked goods which do not need strong structure.
Candy Thermometer - Usually a large glass mercury
thermometer that measures temperatures from about 40 degrees F to 400 degrees F.
A frame or clip allows it to stand or hang in a pan during cooking.
Capers - Pickled buds from a caper bush, used in sauces and as
condiments. It's used in many Greek and other East European dishes.
Capon - A castrated rooster that makes a good roasting
bird. It ranges in size from four to ten pounds and has plenty of breast and
thigh meat. Its size makes it an ideal choice for serving eight to twelve.
Buying capon may prove to be difficult; try to special order it from your
Cannellini Beans - A large creamy, white bean used
often in Italian cooking. They are sometimes referred to as Northern beans and
make excellent vegetarian substitutes for both fish and chicken.
Caramelize - Under intense dry heat, as in roasting or sautéing, the
natural sugars change to a golden brown color. This is called caramelization.
Carob - Large bean like carob pods are roasted and ground into carob
powder, which has an appearance similar to cocoa. It can be used to replace up
to half the cocoa in a recipe. While carob performs like cocoa, it has a much
lower fat content but a higher natural sugar content. Unlike cocoa, carob has no
caffeine. It has high amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin A, niacin, iron and other
Caster Sugar - Also called superfine sugar. It is
pulverized granulated sugar. It can be purchased or prepared at home by whizzing
some granulated sugar in the blender.
Chateaubriand - A thick slice of beef carved from the center of the
tenderloin, grilled or sautéed and sauced.
Chiffonade - French for 'made from rags.' In cooking
it refers to a small chopped pile of thin strips of an ingredient. Usually it is
raw, but sometimes sautéed. Mostly used to garnish.
Chipotle - Smoked dried jalapeno chiles. The
distinctive smoky heat of chipotles is used to flavor Southwestern and Mexican
dishes. They are sold both dried and in cans, in a vinegary sauce called adobo.
Most big supermarkets carry them, but a Latin-American market is your best bet.
Chop - To cut food into nearly uniform bite size or smaller pieces.
Chorizo - Highly seasoned hog link sausage.
Cilantro - Also known as Coriander and Chinese
Parsley. This herb is often used in Chinese and Mexican cooking. It resembles
and is often used like parsley. The seeds of this aromatic plant are often dried
and used as spices (whole or ground). Its flavor is reminiscent of slightly
Chowder - A milk based soup, usually containing seafood.
Chutney - An Indian relish made with fruits, vegetables and spices.
Clearjel™ - A modified corn starch originally developed for commercial
bakeries and used mainly as a thickener for fruit pie fillings. The USDA
considers Clearjel™ safe to use in making home canned pie fillings. The
shelf-life of canned foods made with Clearjel™ is excellent. They retain a
smooth texture with no separation or curdling during storage. Buy clear jel in
some candy making supply stores, and in ag centers and farm supply stores that
carry other home canning supplies.
Clarify - To remove fat and impurities from stocks and broths.
Cobbler - A baked fruit dish, usually topped with pastry and served with
whipped cream or ice cream.
Cocoa Powder - There are two basic types of cocoa:
regular (or American) and Dutch process (sometimes labeled 'European process').
Dutch process cocoa has a slightly stronger flavor and richer color than regular
cocoa: It's been treated with a mild alkali, such as baking soda, which
neutralizes its acidity. Both regular and Dutch process cocoa have far less fat
and fewer calories than baking and eating chocolate because the cocoa butter has
been removed. This also means cocoa tastes less rich, so when you're cooking
with it, you have to find another way to put the moisture and richness back in.
Coconut Cream - Coconut cream is made by combining 1
parts water and 4 parts shredded fresh or desiccated coconut meat and simmering
until foamy. The mixture is then strained , squeezing as much of the liquid as
possible from the coconut meat. Milk can be substituted for water for an even
richer result. Coconut cream comes canned and may sometimes be found frozen in
Asian markets and some supermarkets.
Coconut Milk - Coconut milk is made by combining equal
parts water and shredded fresh or desiccated coconut meat and simmering until
foamy. The mixture is then strained , squeezing as much of the liquid as
possible from the coconut meat. The coconut meat can be combined with water
again for a second, diluted batch of coconut milk. Coconut milk comes canned and
may sometimes be found frozen in Asian markets and some supermarkets.
Compote - Spiced fruit cooked in syrup.
Concassée - roughly chopped or pounded food, usually refers concassée
made from chopped tomatoes.
Consomme - A clarified broth used in sauces and soups.
Cornstarch - A white, powdery thickener finer than
flour. It is extracted from the starch endosperm of wheat or corn. It must be
dissolved in a cold liquid before it is added to a hot mixture or it will lump.
It results in a glazy, opaque finish.
Cream - Beating butter or shortening either alone or with added sugar,
until it's light and fluffy.
Cream of Tartar - The common name for potassium
bitartare, a by-product of wine-making. Its is a major ingredient in baking
powder and is used to stabilize beaten egg whites.
Creme Fraiche - A matured, thickened cream that has a
slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. The thickness of creme
fraiche can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as
room-temperature margarine. In France, where creme fraiche is a specialty, the
cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken
it naturally. In America, where all commercial cream is pasteurized, the
fermenting agents necessary for creme fraiche can be obtained by adding
buttermilk or sour cream. To make your own: combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2
tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room
temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well
before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. Creme fraiche is the ideal
addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling. It's
delicious spooned over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or
Croquette - A thick patty made up of finely chopped, diced or ground
poultry, fish, or meat and vegetables. The patties are breaded then fried,
sauteed or sometimes baked.
Croustade - Pastry shells filled with meat or chicken.
Croutons - Bread cubes which have been dried, toasted or fried.
Cryovac - A trademark for a process in which meats are sealed in a
plastic vacuum pack.
Cube - Foods such as meat, cheese or bread, cut into small square pieces.
Curd - The coagulated substance produced when milk is soured.
Cut-In - To mix a solid fat such as butter or shortening into a dry
ingredient such as flour, using a pastry blender, a fork or two knives.
~ D ~
Deglaze - A process of adding a liquid such as wine,
vinegar or stock to a hot pan to collect the bits of food left on the pan during
cooking. Deglazing is most common with sautéed and roasted foods.
Devein - To remove the dark brown or black vein running down the back of
a shrimp. In smaller shrimp, the vein can be eaten, but in large shrimp, the
vein should be removed.
Dice - To cut food into tiny, 1/4" or smaller pieces or cubes.
Dijonnaise - This is a name given to dishes that contain a sauce mixed
Dock - To pierce pastry dough before baking, allowing the steam to escape
and preventing blistering of the dough.
Double Boiler - A double broiler is a vessel for cooking without using
direct heat. It usually consists of two saucepans that fit together. The bottom
sauce pan is filled with water and the top one with the mixture to be cooked,
such as custard, chocolate, etc.
Drawn Butter - Butter that has been melted over low
heat allowing the solids to go the bottom. Pour off the clear liquid - that's
the drawn butter. Lasts a long time in the refrigerator - also
Dredge - To lightly coat food with dry ingredients like flour, cornmeal,
or bread crumbs...the usual preparation for frying.
Dress - To prepare poultry for cooking. Could also refer to adding
dressing to a salad
Dry Aging - A process usually referring to beef. This process not only
adds flavor but tenderizes the beef. Maximum flavor and tenderness is achieved
in about 21 days
Duchess - A potato puree that's mixed cream, piped into decorative
shapes, then browned in an oven.
Dumpling - A starchy mixture or dough. cooked in and served with a stew.
Also can refer to pastry wrapped baked fruit, such a apple dumplings.
Durum Semolina Flour - Products of Durum wheat, a high protein, hard
wheat. Semolina flour is granular with a sugary texture. It makes the best
quality spaghetti, macaroni and other pasta. Durum flour is a by-product of
semolina milling which is used to make noodles. Both semolina and durum flour
are enriched with B-Vitamins and iron.
Dutch Cocoa Powder - An alkalized cocoa. It has an
intense flavor. Droste is a good and widely available brand.
~ E ~
Emince - (French) Cut fine, or sliced thin.
Emulsify - The process of combining ingredients like water and oil with a
binder. The blended product is an emulsion. These blended combinations can last
from a few minutes to a few days depending on the ingredients. Mustard and egg
yolks are two common emulsifiers.
Entree - A single prepared dish served as the main meat item.
Escalope - A very thinly sliced food, can be meat,
fish, or vegetables
Evaporated Milk - A preserved milk that has much of
the water content removed via evaporation. It is similar to condensed milk,
although not as sweet.
~ F ~
Farina - Farina is a coarsely ground flour made from
of hard wheat. Farina is used in breakfast cereals.
Fettuccine - Long, flat pasta meaning "Small Ribbons".
Perfect for heavier sauces, like cheese, meat and tomato sauces. For variety,
try breaking in half and putting in soups, or use for a salad.
Finnan Haddie - Smoked haddock
Fish Sauce - A pungent, salty liquid made from fresh
anchovies that is essential in Thai cooking.
Five-spice Powder - A fragrant, pungent, slightly
sweet and hot Chinese spice mixture. The blend traditionally includes star
anise, cinnamon, Szechwan peppercorns, cloves and fennel. Five-spice powder is
used in marinades, as a spice rub for meats and in dipping salt mixtures.
Flake - To shred or teat into small pieces, usually with a fork.
Flan - A pastry tart, filled with cream and topped with fruit. Flan is
used in Spanish and Mexican cooking to describe an egg custard that is baked in
a shallow dish, and flavored with caramel.
Flambe - To add alcohol to a dish, then ignite it to sear the outside of
Fold - To gently add other ingredients to a beaten mixture. To lightly
and carefully stir in.
Fondant - A creamy white substance created by kneading cooked sugar syrup. It is
used often as a filling for chocolates, frosting for cakes, petit fours or
pastries. It can also be flavored and made into individual sweets.
Fondue - A sauce of cheese into which cubes of bread or other bite size
foods are dipped. Can also a chocolate based sauce into which pieces of fruit
are dipped just before eating.
Fricassee - A stew prepared without first browning of the meat. Chicken
is the most common form of this type of stew.
Frittata - An open-faced Italian omelet.
Fritter - Food that has been mixed with a batter and deep fried or
sauteed. Fritters may be made with vegetables, fruit, or sometimes meat or
Fruit Pectin - A natural substance found in fruit, especially citrus
fruit, used in jam and jelly making because it can gel liquids. Pectin is
available in powder or liquid form, sold as Certo®, Sure-Jel®, etc.
Fusilli - Literally means "Twisted Spaghetti". This
long, spiraled shaped pasta can be topped with any sauce, broken in half and
added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad. Fusilli also bakes well in
~ G ~
Garbanzo Beans - Medium size, round, beige, firm beans with a nutty
flavor, also known as chickpeas. A popular salad bar ingredient; also used in
Mexican foods and a main ingredient in hummus - a Middle Eastern favorite.
Gazpacho - A Spanish cold vegetable soup. It's usually made with tomatoes
an other diced raw vegetables. A light gazpacho is made with cucumbers and
served with avocadoes, croutons and other garnishes.
Ginger Root - This knobby, light beige-colored rhizome
comes in two varieties: young and mature. Young ginger is more tender and milder
in flavor and can be used with its skin on. Mature ginger has a more assertive,
peppery bite. Both should be firm and free of wrinkles. Grated, slivered, minced
and sliced ginger can be used in a range of dishes - from marinades and
stir-fries to curries and soups.
Glaze - A greatly reduced stock. Or...A light glossy coating added to
foods, anything from melted chocolate to thin icings covering pastries or cakes.
Gluten - The elastic material in grains which contributes to light
Gnocchi - Small dumplings made from flour, potatoes, eggs; sometimes with
parmesan, ricotta cheese, and herbs added. Gnocchi are cooked in boiling water
and tossed with melted butter or served in sauce. Gnocchi is also the name of a
small round or shell shaped hollow pasta.
Graham Flour - Another name for whole wheat flour, a course flour ground
from the entire wheat kernel.
Gratin - A savory dish baked or broiled so its topping forms a golden
Green Onions - Onions of any variety that are pulled before very early,
before they mature and bulb; sometimes called spring onions. There are also
onions especially raised for bunching that do not bulb.
Grits - Cornmeal and hominy grits are made from mature white or sometimes
yellow corn from which the bran and wheat germ have been removed. Hominy are
kernels of corn broken into particles. Grits are grains of hominy broken into
smaller uniform particles. Grits are a Southern breakfast tradition.
Guacamole - Mashed avocadoes seasoned with onions, tomatoes, chiles, and
cilantro, mostly served as a dip with tortilla chips. It's sometimes served with
burritos and tacos, taco salads and other Mexican dishes.
Gumbo - A thick soup, usually containing a mixture of poultry, meat, or
seafood and vegetables.
~ H ~
Half-and-half - A mixture of equal parts of whole milk and cream; cannot
be whipped like heavy cream (whipping cream).
Hazelnuts - Hazelnuts are used as snacks, in bakery items and in various
other recipes. They are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber and
low in sugar and sodium with no cholesterol.
Hoisin Sauce - A Chinese cooking sauce made from soybean flour, red
beans, chiles and various spices; used for marinades and as a basting sauce.
Hummus - Hummus is made from cooked chickpeas, and various combinations
of sesame, garlic, dill, and other spices and seasonings. It's typically served
as a dip with crackers or vegetables, as a sandwich spread, or as a vegetable
~ I ~
Infusion - The extraction of flavor from a food in a hot, but not boiling
liquid. Usually refers to tea and coffee, but can also apply to cooking, such as
oils that are infused with herbs.