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Edward Bottone: DictionaryEdward Bottone
A Cook’s Book Shelf
Classic French Sauces




Acorn squash, a giant version of their namesake, are a deeply ridged, green skinned, winter squash that can be as big as 6 inches in diameter and have an appealing orange flesh.

Active dry yeast, used to leaven dough, is sold in packages containing 2 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce/7 grams) and in bulk. Quick-rising yeast works in about half the time required for regular yeast. Also available in fresh cakes. A two ounce (60 g) cake, or compressed yeast is the equivalent of 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Store dry yeast in a cool, dry place; refrigerate cake yeast.

Adobo Sauce is a tangy sauce whose basic ingredients include vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper and chiles. It is what tinned Chipotles invariably come packed in and is a national dish in the Philippines. It is also a cooking style and is happy in preparations of chicken, pork, fish and vegetables.

Adzuki beans, native to China, are reddish brown beans with a subtle sweet flavor. Commonly purchased in their dried form, they are used in savory dishes and are an ingredient in sweet preparations in China and Japan. Adzuki bean paste is found in Asian markets.

Alfalfa sprouts are the thread-like germinating form of alfalfa seeds. They require no soil, only water and cool temperatures. They emerge in two to seven days, depending on the type of seed or bean. Crunchy and tasty on salads and in sandwiches or as a snack.

All-purpose flour (or A.P, flour) has a medium protein content that makes it suitable for most baking and cooking uses. Store all-purpose flour in an airtight container for up to 1 year. Other flours include: bread, buckwheat, cake, corn, gluten, oat, rice, rye, seven-grain, and whole-wheat.

Allspice, available as whole dried berries or ground, is a sweet spice of Caribbean origin with a flavor said to resemble a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Essential to a proper West Indian Jerk sauce, it is called pimento, after the tree on which it grows, in those islands. The leaf emits the same appealing aroma.

Almond extract, a flavoring, is made by dissolving the essential oil of almonds in an alcohol base. Use products labeled “pure” or “natural” almond extract.

Almonds are oval nuts with a mellow, sweet flavor, sold whole or cut into slivers or slices, or ground into meal and are available blanched (skinless).

Amaretti are crisp, sweet Italian biscuits flavored with apricot kernels and almond.

Amaretto is a syrupy Italian liqueur combining essences of apricot and almond, said to have originated in Saronno.

Amchoor is made by pulverizing sun-dried, unripe wild green mango into a fine powder. This pale beige to brownish powder has a slightly bitter and refreshing taste which can be used by itself or in a mixture. This tangy seasoning has a slight tropical aroma, and is similar to tamarind in flavor.

American cheese, generically speaking, is a processed, mild, Cheddar-style cheese.

Anchovies, tiny saltwater fish related to sardines, have an intense, briny taste. They are most commonly available as canned fillets that have been salted and preserved in oil. Imported fillets packed in olive oil are the best, most commonly available choice for most recipes. Anchovies packed in salt are sold in delicatessens; the bones need to be removed before the fish are used in recipes.

Anchovy paste is made from preserved anchovy fillets combined with oil. The smooth paste is sold in tubes and jars.

Andouille sausages are spicy Creole-Cajun smoked pork sausages that are aggressively seasoned with red pepper and garlic.

Aejo cheese is an “aged” white Mexican cheese with a dry, crumbly texture and a salty flavor. Grated romano or feta can be substituted.

Angostura bitters, used to flavor cocktails or food, is a distillation of aromatic herbs, barks, roots and plants. They are also a digestive aid or appetite stimulant. Bitters have a high alcohol content and are, as the name implies, bitter to the taste. Angostura Bitters is the brand name for a line products made in Trinidad (including rums). Angostura refers to the place name in Venezuela where the product was originally made.

Anise extract, a flavoring with a sweet licorice taste, is made by dissolving the essential oil of aniseeds in an alcohol base. Use products labeled “pure” or “natural” anise extract.

Aniseeds, a spice of Mediterranean origin, are small, crescent-shaped seeds from a plant related to parsley. They have a sweet licorice flavor. Generally sold whole, they may be crushed with a mortar and pestle to release volatile oils.

Apple brandy is a strong eau de vie, or brandy, distilled from apples, which preserves the fruit’s distinctive aroma and sweet flavor. Calvados, from the Normandy region in France, is the best and best known.

Applejack alcoholic fermented apple juice, somewhat less refined than apple brandy.

Apple cider is pressed from the pulp of apples. It makes a refreshing drink and is also used as a cooking ingredient. Unfermented cider is called sweet cider. Fermented cider, with an alcoholic content of three to seven percent, is known as hard cider.

Apples are versatile tree fruits sold in many varieties for cooking or eating raw. Among the most popular are the slightly tart, red-skinned Rome; the slightly tart, green-skinned pippin and Granny Smith; the mildly tart, red-skinned Jonathan; and the sweet, yellow-skinned Golden Delicious. Controlled storage ensures a supply of apples the year around. Choose firm, unblemished fruit; store in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place.

Applesauce consists of apples that have been cooked until soft and often flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg. Commercially produced applesauce comes in smooth or chunky, sweetened or unsweetened, and is widely available.

Apricot brandy has the color and taste of the fruit from which it is made. Other fruit brandies include apple, blackberry, calvados, framboise, kirsch, and marc de Champagne, marc de Bourgogne, grappa.

Apricots are early-ripening summer fruits, that are native to China but grown worldwide. They are available fresh, canned, or dried. Buy fairly firm, blemish-free fresh apricots, avoiding any tinged with green. Complete ripening at room temperature.

Arrowroot flour is made from the fleshy rootstock of the tropical arrowroot plant. It’s white, fine and powdery texture is very similar to cornstarch but it has no flavor at all. It is typically used as a thickener for puddings, sauces and other cooked foods.

Artichokes, related to thistles, are native to the Mediterranean and grown in other parts of the world. These large flower buds have a tightly packed cluster of tough, pointed, prickly leaves that conceal pale green inner leaves and a gray-green base, which together make up the heart. Only the fleshy base of the leaves and the meaty base are eaten; the rest of the leaves and the fuzzy choke inside the heart are discarded. Artichokes are sold fresh year-round in sizes ranging from very small, or ’baby’-about 1 1/2-2 inches (4-5 cm) in diameter-to very large, or globe. Select compact, heavy artichokes with tightly closed leaves; refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 4 days.

Artichoke hearts, the tender inner portion beneath the leaves, and bottoms are available canned, in jars, marinated and frozen.

Arugula, also known as rocket, is a green leaf vegetable with slender, multiple-lobed leaves that have a peppery, slightly bitter flavor.

Asadero cheese, a Mexican cheese meaning literally a “roasting” cheese, is a mild, soft white variety typically used for melting. It is sold in Mexican markets and well-stocked grocery stores. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack may be substituted.

Asafetida (asafoetida) stong flavoring used sparingly in Mid-Eastern cuisines, produced predominantly in India and Iran. Asafetida is derived from a milky sap found in the stalk of a large fennel-like plant. The sap is reduced to a resin and sold either in lumps or, more commonly, in powdered form. Sulphur compounds in the sap explain its rather unpleasant smell. The taste is bitter, but when heated it releases an oniony flavor. Asafetida is commonly used in harmony with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. In Indian foods, it is frequently used to flavor vegetable and legume dishes, sauces and pickles. Available in Indian and Mid-Eastern grocery stores, asafetida should be stored in a dry, cool cabinet, in an airtight jar and out of direct light.

Asian noodles, fresh or dried, are available in Asian markets and some grocery stores. Types include: cellophane noodles, Chinese egg noodles, rice stick noodles, rice vermicelli, and wheat-flour Soba noodles.

Asian pears are a variety developed by crossbreeding pears and apples, combining the mild flavor of the former with the crispness of the latter.

Asparagus are long, slender vegetables that grow as shoots and are best in spring and early summer. The most common variety is green and sometimes tinged with purple at the bud. White asparagus are favored in France and Germany and are increasingly more available in the US. The straight, firm stalks, which range from thin as a pencil to as thick as a cigar, the tender tips have a particularly delicate flavor and texture. Look for crisp, straight stalks, tight bud heads, and a moist, not woody stem end. Trim ends, store in water like flowers and refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 4 days. Trim ends and peel the stalks to just below the bud head before preparing.

Avocado leaves come from the avocado tree and are used both as a garnish as well as for seasoning. The leave’s slightly bitter taste adds flavor to various Mexican dishes like simmered meats and soups.

Avocados are pear-shaped fruits with smooth or textured skin and rich-tasting, smooth, light green flesh. The finest-flavored variety is the Hass, which has a thick, bumpy, dark green skin and buttery flesh. The bland Fuerte has thin, smooth skin. Select avocados that yield to gentle pressure and store in the refrigerator for several days. If an avocado is too firm, ripen at warm room temperature or, more quickly, in a closed paper bag.


Baby corn refers to whole, entirely edible cobs of immature corn, no more than 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) long. They are sold canned, packed in water. Rinse well before using.

Bacon, a cured cut of pork from the belly or flank, smoked, then cut into thin strips. The best bacon has more lean meat than fat. Rendered bacon fat is used for sautéing, in Creole roux and in dressings.

Baguette, the traditional French “daily loaf” a yeast bread made with wheat flour, long, narrow, about 24 inches (60 cm) in length, no more than 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.

Baking potatoes, also known as russet or Idaho potatoes, are oval tuberous vegetables with thick brown skins and white flesh that has a dry, mealy texture when cooked. Baking potatoes are also ideal for mashing or frying.

Baking powder is an integral component to the chemistry of baking. A commercial product used to leaven baked goods, it consists of three ingredients: baking soda, the source of the carbon dioxide gas that causes the dough or batter to rise; cream of tartar, calcium phosphate, or sodium aluminum sulphate (and cornstarch to keep it dry).

Baking soda is another integral component to the chemistry of baking. Also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate, it supplies the carbon dioxide gas that leavens batters and doughs.

Balsamic vinegar, a centuries-old specialty of Modena, Italy, is made from reduced grape juice and is aged and blended for many years in a succession of casks made of different woods and gradually diminishing in size. The result is a thick, tart-sweet, intensely aromatic vinegar. There are today, many levels of quality of Balsamic vinegar; even a white balsamic. Naturally some are better than others. The finest, and oldest, are traditionally served as a condiment with fresh strawberries.

Bamboo shoots are the crisp, mild-flavored, white to ivory shoots of the bamboo plant. They are a popular ingredient in stir-fries and other Asian dishes. Bamboo shoots are sold canned, packed in water.

Bananas are tropical fruits with sweet, soft, creamy flesh and yellow peels. The most common variety, the large Cavendish, can be purchased when the peel is still green and ripened at room temperature. Other varieties include red skinned, tiny finger or strawberry bananas.

Barbecue sauce is a spicy, sweet-tart sauce used to baste foods during grilling or as a condiment for grilled foods. Basic ingredients often include tomatoes, sugar or molasses, vinegar, and a hot spice such as chili or mustard. There are many, many recipes, each one of them “Original”. Barbecue sauce is the definition of theme and variations.

Barley, one of the earliest cultivated grains, is available in three preparations. Whole barley with the two outer inedible hulls removed (rich in fiber, B vitamins and protein). Pearl barley: with the nutritious layer called the aleurone removed. Barley grits: the whole barley grain toasted and cracked. Barley is also ground to flour and barley sprouts turn up in salads. Barley was first introduced to the United States for beer brewing, and is still used for that purpose.

Barolo wine is produced in Piedmont, Italy. It is made from Nebbiolo grapes and has a deep, rich color and robust body. Can be among the finest wine experiences.

Basil is an intensely aromatic green-leaved herb popular in Italian and French cooking. Its sweet, somewhat spicy flavor enhances tomato-based dishes and sauces, and essential to pesto Genovese. Freshly cut stems of basil should be stored like flowers, in water, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate for several days. Thai basil, a highly aromatic variety with dark green leaves and purplish stems, is sold in Asian markets and some well-stocked produce markets.

Basmati rice is a delightful type of long-grain fragrant white rice that cooks to form fluffy, individual kernels and is common to Indian cuisine. Brown basmati rice is also available. Texmati rice is American grown basmati.

Bay leaves are the fresh or dried whole leaves of the bay laurel tree, used to add a pungent, spicy flavor to savory dishes. The French variety, available in specialty-food shops, has a milder, sweeter flavor than California bay leaves. Discard the leaves before serving. Store dried bay leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use within 1 year.

Bean sauce is a Chinese condiment made from salted, fermented soybeans. Yellow bean sauce, known in Thailand as dao jiow and in Malaysia as tau cheo, is a lighter variation of the more common, stronger-flavored brown bean sauce from China.

Bean sprouts are small, immature shoots sprouted from a wide variety of seeds and beans. Among the most popular are delicate, mild-tasting alfalfa sprouts and larger, crisp, and succulent mung bean sprouts, spicy radish sprouts, and broccoli sprouts.

Beef is the red meat from cattle raised for market. The standard cuts are: from the shoulder section: chuck steak, chuck roasts, and stewing beef, (best braised or stewed). The rib-cage section: rib and rib-eye roasts, rib-eye steaks, and short ribs . From the plate: short ribs and stew beef, skirt steak. The short loin: T-bone, porterhouse, top loin, tenderloin, filet, and strip steaks and tenderloin roasts. The flank: flank steak. Sirloin: sirloin steaks.. The round: round or rump roasts and round steaks.

Beef marrow is the soft, fatty tissue found in the hollow center of the leg or shank bones. Veal marrow is considered a delicacy in many European countries and is tasty component in the enjoyment of Italy’s, osso buco. Beef and veal marrow can be purchased at meat markets and is typically baked or poached.

Beets are round root vegetables known for their deep red colored bulbs and their long, dark green stalks and leaves. The vegetable is enclosed by a dark, papery skin that is peeled away before eating. Other varieties have golden yellow, light orange, or creamy white flesh. Both roots and greens are edible. Store beets with roots and greens intact. Enclosed in a plastic bag for up to 1month in the refrigerator; the greens for 3 to 5 days.

Belgian endive is a leaf vegetable with spear-shaped cylindrical heads of tightly packed leaves that are white to pale yellow-green (sometimes red in color) and are 4-6 inches long. Refreshing, slightly bitter in taste, Belgian endive is known to some as chicory or witloof.

Bell peppers, part of the large group of sweet and hot capsicums. Somewhat bell-shaped they are sweet-fleshed and most commonly found as green (unripe) and red (ripened) varieties. Yellow, orange, and purple-black types are also available and increasingly popular. Italian peppers are slightly sweeter and more slender than regular peppers.

Bel paese, made from whole milk, is a soft-textured, delicately flavored (some say bland), pale yellow, Italian cheese, created in 1929 by Galbani to cater to those who were in the thrall of mild cheeses coming from France.

Bibb lettuce is a type of butter head lettuce with loosely formed leaves and soft, buttery texture. Also known as Boston Bibb, and butter lettuce.

Bird’s-eye chiles, common in Southeast Asian cooking, are intensely hot, fresh, red or green chiles that are under 1 inch in length.

Biscuit comes from the Latin panis biscotus, meaning bread twice cooked. Usually a small, quickbread, levened with baking soda or powder. Generally savory, but may be sweet. In Britain a biscuit is what is referred to in the US as a flat thin cookie or a cracker.

Biscotti like the word biscuit, biscotti also comes from the Latin panis biscotus meaning bread twice cooked. For a long time these twice baked treats were sweet anise flavored, baked hard and meant for dipping in coffee. Today the varieties, like their cousin the cookie, are endless.

Bitters are infusions made from plants of several different classes and might include: wormwood, gentian, germander, hops and the peel of bitter orange. Of the appetite stimulating bitters, or aperitifs, the most common are Campari, Amaro. They are also used as a digestive aid. Bitters usually have a high alcohol content and a very bitter taste. Angostura bitters, made in Trinidad, are a proprietary name and is a common bar item used in mixed cocktails. Orange bitters and Peychaud bitters (from New Orleans and essential to the Sazarac cocktail) appear on well stocked bars.

Bittersweet chocolate is a lightly sweetened, eating or baking chocolate that generally contains about 40 percent cocoa butter. For superior quality, look for bittersweet chocolate with at least 50 percent (or greater) cocoa butter. Store chocolate well wrapped in a cool, dry place for up to 4 months. The white powder that appears on improperly stored chocolate is called bloom, and does, in spite of what maufacturers tell us, affect the flavor but does not render it inedible.

Black beans are small beans with deep black skins, an earthy flavor, and a meaty texture. Also called turtle beans, they are available dried and precooked in cans. Black bans are popular in Mexican, southwestern American, South American and Caribbean cooking.

Black mustard seeds are the most intensely pungent, and are the main ingredient in Chinese and European mustards. They are also used as a pickling spice and sold whole, ground or powdered.

Black olives are the ripe, small fruits of trees that are native to Mediterranean Europe. Familiar types include: French Nicoise, Greek Kalamata, or Italian Gaeta varieties and may be cured in salt, seasonings, brines, vinegars, and oils as well as dry cured and packed in oil. Large pitted black olives are available canned. Cured black olives are sold loose by the pound and in bottles. Tinned olives are usually green olives darkened by ferrous oxide and are not very nice.

Black-eyed peas are dried peas that are beige in color with a small black “eye” in their centers. When cooked, the peas have an earthy flavor. They are sold packaged or in bulk.

Blackberries are juicy, lustrous, tart-sweet purple dark berries that are at their best in mid to late summer. Store unwashed and loosely covered in a single layer on a tray or platter lined with paper towels in the refrigerator.

Blackberry brandy is a sweet and dark-colored brandy flavored with blackberries.

Black currant liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage made from tiny black berries that are related to the gooseberry. The most familiar, and best, black currant liqueur is from France called creme de cassis.

Blanched almonds are almonds briefly plunged into boiling water to remove their skins. They are commonly used in baked items like cakes and cookies.

Blood oranges are a variety of orange with a mottled orange skin blushed with red and deep red flesh within. This aromatic red juice is sweet, yet pleasantly astringent. Moro and sanguinella are names Italian vareties.

Blue cheese refers to blue-veined cheeses of many varieties with rich, tangy flavor and creamy to crumbly consistency including: Stilton(Eng.), Roquefort (Fr.), Gorgonzola (It.), Maytag blue (US), and Cambazola (Gr.) are among the best and best known.

Blue crabs are one of many varieties of crab. This delicious crustacean has blue tipped claws and succulent white meat. Hard-shell blue crabs from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are available year-round.

Blueberries are small, round berries with smooth, dark blue skins. They are in season from late spring to summer. Select unbruised, slightly soft berries with a deep color and an inviting fragrance. Store unwashed and loosely covered, in a single layer if possible, in the refrigerator. (Also known as bluettes.)

Boiling potatoes are medium-sized usually of the Fir or White Rose varieties. These tubers have thin, tan skins and flesh that ranges from white to ivory to yellow. The texture of cooked boiling potatoes is finer than that of baking potatoes. Store in a dark, dry place for several weeks.

Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, has elongated, crisp white stalks, dark green leaves, and a peppery flavor. Both stalks and leaves are used raw or cooked. Full-size and smaller “baby” bok choy are available in Asian markets, farmer’s markets and better stocked super markets.

Bonito, a type of tuna, is a member of the mackerel family, and an important fish in Japanese cuisine. Rarely eaten fresh, the dark, oily meat is dried into hard cubes, which are ground or shaved into flakes. Bonito shavings are the base for many Japanese sauces and stocks like dashi, made with bonito and seaweed. Also available in strong, salty flakes, known as katsuobushi, which are sprinkled over soups or vegetables.

Borage is an herb with a flavor profile reminiscent of cucumber. The gray-green leaves are used finely chopped as a seasoning, the violet flowers as a garnish. Store fresh borage like flowers, in water and enclosed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Borlotti beans, an Italian variety of medium-sized beans, are kidney shaped with pink or beige skins speckled in burgundy. They are available fresh (late summer early autumn) dried and precooked in cans. Freshly shelled borlotti need no soaking, as they do when dry. Instead, care must be taken to cook them until they are tender and no more. If borlotti beans are unavailable, cranberry beans, pink kidney beans or pinto beans can be substituted.

Boston lettuce is a type of butter head lettuce. Slightly larger than its close relative Bibb and often called Boston Bibb, with similar soft, buttery leaves. Also known as butter lettuce.

Bouillon cubes are a concentrated form of broth or stock. Beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetable cubes are commonly available. Some brands better than others; OK in a pinch.

Bouquet garni, from the French, is a mixture of herbs used to impart flavor to soups and other simmered dishes. Enclosed in cheesecloth, or tied in a bundle with string, the herbs usually includes bay leaves, parsley, thyme, chervil, but can be more elaborate.

Bourbon is an American whiskey distilled from fermented grain mash that is at least 51 percent corn, plus other grains. Aged for 2 years or more in charred white oak barrels, it has a smoky, slightly sweet flavor and a rich caramel color and is 80 to 125 proof.

Bourekia is a Greek hors d’ouvre or meze, made with phyllo pastry stuffed with a variety of fillings and fried.

Boysenberries, sweet tart, large, reddish black berries that are hybrids of the raspberry and blackberry and are in season during the middle and late summer. Store unwashed and loosely covered in a single layer on a tray lined with paper towels.

Boza is a Turkish spirit fermented from grain, usually millet.

Bra is an Italian hard cheese made from skimmed cows milk with an off white interior and a sharp salty tang.

Braciole is Italian for escallop, and also the term used for a stuffed, braised meat roll.

Bran is the outer coating or “shell” of the endosperm of various grains such as wheat or oats. Bran is often removed in milling. It is rich in fiber, B vitamins, and carbohydrates. Foods that contain bran include numerous baked goods and cereals.

Brandy refers to a range of dry-to-sweet spirits distilled from grapes or various fruits with a minimum of 60 proof. Usually oak cask aged, the finest grape derived brandy is Cognac, from the French region of the same name.

Brandza is a Romanian cheese made from ewe’s milk. It is whitish, salty and rich and can be soft or firm depending on age.

Bratwurst is a stoutish German sausage made from pork and veal and flavoured with nutmeg, coriander or caraway seeds.

Brazil nuts, large nuts (actually a seed) encased by a hard, triangular brown shell with white meats within thin brown skins native to Brazil. Also known as a cream nut

Bread crumbs, fresh or dried, coarse or fine, are used as a coating for fried foods, a topping for baked foods and to add body and texture to both sweet and savory preparations. Dried bread crumbs, usually fine-textured, are sold prepackaged. Stylish Panko crumbs are Japanese bread crumbs made from crustless bread.

Bread flour, the best flour for bread making, is ground from hard wheat, which has a high protein and low starch content.

Breadfruit is a large spherical fruit of a tropical tree related to the fig. It has a bumpy green skin with a white fleshy interior that has the texture of soft bread. Baked, grilled, boiled and fried it is used in preparations both sweet and savory.

Brickbat is a firm cow’s milk cheese made in Wiltshire, England.

Brie is a popular soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese from France. Brie has a delicate and creamy texture and its rich, sweet salty taste can vary from buttery to mushroomy. Brie has a high butterfat content (60% or higher) and a thin, edible rind. As the cheese ages the smell of ammonia from the rind increases. Once cut the cheese will not ripen further. Like most cheeses, best served at room temperature.

Brillat-Savarin is a triple fat French cheese made from cow’s milk with a down white rind and a rich buttery interior. Named for the great gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. He’d have been proud.

Brining is the process of using a salty marinade (20%salinity) to preserve the flavor of certain foods and can include other herbs and spices.

Brioche is a French cake like yeast bread enriched with eggs. Usually baked in fluted pans and topped with a small dough ball (brioche a tete). Can also come in the form of small buns or a large round loaf. Makes terrific French toast and bread pudding.

Brisket, cut from the cow’s breast, is tough and flavorful and benefits from long slow braising. Corned beef is made from the brisket.

Broccoli, a member of the cabbage family, is green to purple-green in color and has tightly clustered flowers, or florets, born on sturdy stalks. The florets are the most tender part. The stems, if peeled, can also be used. Choose firm stalks and closed heads with deep color and no yellow areas. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 4 days.

Broccoli raab (rapini or Broccoli di rape) look like thin, leafy, budding broccoli stalks. It has a very bitter and pungent taste and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and is high in calcium and iron. Most plentiful from late fall to spring, although it is available year round. The greens can be braised, steamed or fried and are good in soups and salads. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Brochette, derived from the word broche, meaning pointed tool, it is the French term for any skewered foods. Not to be confused with brochet as in Quenelles de brochet (mousseline of pike), a Lyonnaise classic served with sauce Nantua.

Bromelin is that enzyme found in pineapples used to tenderize meats.

Brood are seed oysters between 1 and 3 years old and ready to spawn.

Broth, also known as stock, is a liquid derived from slow simmering of poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables in water, along with herbs. Some broths such as veal, beef, chicken, and fish, are available canned, frozen, or in concentrated forms like demi-glace and Glace (which see).

Brousse de brebis is a mellow-flavored cow’s milk cheese usually sold in small squares. The French verb brousser means to beat or stir in Provençal. The curd of this artisanal cheese is called Brousse because its is beaten before being drained.

Brown bean paste is the same as soybean paste. Best known as miso. There are hundreds of varieties in Japan. The darker varieties are saltier and more pungent; the lighter are sweeter and milder. Commonly used in soups.

Brown rice is processed with only the tough outer husk removed retaining the tan colored bran. It has a nutty flavor and is pleasantly chewy. Short, medium, or long-grain brown rice is available.

Brown Sugar is soft refined sugar with a coating of molasses and is sold as dark or light brown.

Brunswick Stew was originally made from squirrel and onions and was a Brunswick County, Virginia Specialty. These days rabbit, or chicken, coupled with corn, okra, lima beans, tomatoes and onions.

Bruschetta (pronounced b_u’sketta NOT brushet’ta ) are popular Italian toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic, sometimes topped with tomatoes and basil and increasingly with more diverse ingredients and date from the 15th century.

Brussels sprouts, are a member of the cabbage family and available fresh or frozen. Small, spherical and green, usually 1-2 inches in diameter, they look like tiny cabbages. Store for up to 5 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Bubble and Squeak is a traditional British dish of chopped cabbage, mashed potatoes and boiled beef. Said to sound that way when eaten (or while being digested).

Bucatini, also known as perciatelli, are hollow, spaghetti-like pasta shapes.

Bucheron is a French goat’s milk cheese with a rich, soft, white interior and is sold in logs.

Buckle is a old fashioned, deep-dish, fruit dessert made with a layer of batter under the fruit that rises to the top as it is baked to form a crispy crust. Not to be confused with a slump.

Buckwheat flour, ground from the seeds of an herbaceous plant originating in Asia, has an earthy, slightly sour flavor that is usually tempered in commercial products by the addition of a little wheat flour.

Bulgur is made from wheat berries that have been washed, parboiled, dried, partially debranned, and cracked into coarse particles. Cooked bulgur has a nutlike taste and chewy texture and is used in salads, stews and is cooked like rice. Available in bulk and in packages in grocery stores and health food stores, it is essential to making tabbouleh.

Butter brickle is a rich, golden brown, buttery hard candy used in baking. It is available in the baking section of most supermarkets and is often called “toffee bits.”

Buttermilk is the tangy, butter-flecked liquid left over when whole milk has been churned to make butter. Most commercial buttermilk sold in food stores is a cultured form made by adding lactic-acid bacteria to low-fat or nonfat milk.

Butternut squash, also known as pumpkin squash, is one of the most popular winter squash. It is large and elongated in shape, with one end that is almost spherical. The tan skin covers bright orange, slightly sweet flesh.

Butterscotch is a flavoring used in desserts, sauces and candies. This confection is made from two primary components, brown sugar and butter.

Button mushrooms are mild-flavored cultivated white mushrooms in their smallest form, with their caps still closed. Select firm, plump mushrooms that are not slimy or bruised. Store in the refrigerator, unwashed, loosely wrapped in paper towels or in a paper bag, never in plastic.


Cabbages are large heads of light or dark green, red, or white leaves-round or elongated in shape, compactly formed around a thick core. Varieties include: Chinese cabbage or bok choy, napa cabbage, and savoy cabbage.

Cabernet Sauvignon, called by some the “king” of red wine grapes is known for its high level of tannins, deep ruby color and medium to full body It is the primary grape of the great wines of Bordeaux and is cultivated world wide.

Cabrales is a Spanish blue cheese made with sheep, cow and goat’s milk – available in 5-9lb wheels.

Caciotta a creamy, slightly tangy, semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk or a blend of sheep’s and cow’s milk. Varieties include: Sardinian dolce sardo, caciotta toscana from Tuscany, and pientino from Pienza.

Cake flour, or soft-wheat flour, is a very fine-textured, bleached, low in protein flour used for making cakes, pastries and other tender baked goods.

Calvados is a dry French aged brandy distilled from apples and made in Calvados.

Campari, an Italian aperitivo, invented by Milanese Gaspare Campari in the 1860s, is a secret infusion of herbs, bitter orange peel and other aromatics steeped in an alcohol base. Usually served with club soda or citrus juice and is essential in a Negroni cocktail (+ gin + sweet vermouth).

Canadian bacon is taken from the leaner pork loin, unlike bacon strips, which are taken from the flank or belly.

Candied citron, or peel, is made by candying (boiling) thick peel from the citron fruit (which resembles a knobbly large lemon) in sugar syrup and then drying them.

Candied orange peel, is made by candying (boiling) pieces of orange peel in sugar syrup and then drying them.

Candied pineapple, an ingredient used in baked goods, is made by candying (boiling) pieces of fresh pineapple in sugar syrup and then drying them.

Candlenuts, similar in shape to hazelnuts, are small, white, waxy nuts, called buah keras in Malaysia and Indonesia, and are used primarily as a thickening agent for spice pastes.

Canela is Spanish for cinnamon.

Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are oval, thin-skinned white beans with a mild flavor, available dried and canned.

Cannoli shells are delicate, deep-fried pastry tubes about 4 inches long. The traditional Sicilian and southern Italian dessert calls for the shells to be filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, candied peel and chopped pistachios.

Canola Oil is made from rape seed, and is also known as rape seed oil or lear oil. Lower in saturated fat than any other oil, Canola oil has a mild (almost flavorless) flavor and a high smoke point.

Cantaloupes are melons named for the town outside of Rome called Cantaloupe, where they were said to have been first cultivated in Europe. Small, round fragrant and delicious, the outer skin is often indented into segments. The most delightful of these melons is the Charentais from France with a yellow skin and sweet orange flesh.

Capers are the unopened buds of a Mediterranean bush, pickled in brine and used whole as a piquant flavoring or garnish. The tiny variety called nonpareil is considered the finest. but huge stem on caper berries have become popular as well.

Caponata is a Italian vegetable melange (not unlike French ratatouille) of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, celery, bell pepper, onion, olives, capers, cooked in olive oil, seasoned with herbs, a little sugar and vinegar (agra-dolce) and often sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.

Caramel, the French term for burnt sugar. In its most basic form, caramel is made from melting sugar until it is liquefied taking on varying degrees of color from blond to dark, to bitter. It is most commonly encountered in creme caramel.

Caramel candies are small, square dusky brown confections made of butter, cream, and sugar. They can be melted for use in desserts that call for a caramel coating (as in caramel apples).

Caraway are tiny, dark crescent-shaped dried seeds from the caraway plant. They are used whole or ground and add a subtle anise flavoring to baked goods, savory dishes and flavor the liqueur called Kummel.

Cardamom is a sweet, exotic and highly aromatic spice common in Indian cookery. The small, round seeds, which grow inside husk like pods, are best purchased whole and ground when needed.

Catfish is an American freshwater river fish is named for its distinctive appearance, having long whisker-like feelers. A popular fish (now mostly cultivated) because of its reasonable cost, mild flavor, firm flesh and small number of bones. Best fried and served with hush puppies.

Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family has a solid white head of tightly clustered flowers, or florets – available year-round.

Cayenne Chiles, commonly used in their ground, dried form (cayenne pepper), are very hot chiles. They are a brilliant red color and measure about three inches.

Celeriac, also known as celery, is a brown root vegetable that comes from a variety of the celery plant that has been bred specifically for its root. It has a distinct celery flavor.

Celery long, slender green stalks that surround a pale green central heart, joined at the bulbous base. Dried celery seeds are used whole as a seasoning.

Celery salt is a seasoning blend made of celery seeds and salt, used in soups and stews.

Cellophane noodles, also called bean thread noodles, are thin translucent noodles made with mung bean starch.

Challah is an egg-rich, slightly sweet, braided yeast bread served on the Jewish Sabbath and when the heart desires. Makes extraordinary Frenc toast and bread pudding.

Champagne is the name for the naturally carbonated dry white wine made from the Pinot Noir grape made only in the Champagne region of France.

Champagne vinegar is a pale vinegar with the subtle flavor of champagne from which it is made.

Chanterelles are deeply flavorful, trumpet-shaped, ribbed mushrooms with wide, flat, medium brown caps 2-3 inches in diameter.

Chayote, a pear-shaped member of the squash family, has smooth, pale green skin, a mild flavor and a moist texture reminiscent of cucumber.

Cheddar, a firm, smooth-textured, whole-milk cheese, ranges in color from pale yellow-white to deep yellow-orange and in taste from mild and sweet when fresh to sharp and tangy when aged. Widely produced in a vast range of quality the cheese takes its name form the ton of Cheddar in Somersetshire, England where the method of cheddaring, and the cheese, was first made.

A paste or cake composed of the roasted seeds of the Theobroma Cacao ground and mixed with other ingredients, usually sugar, and cinnamon or vanilla. From the 17th Century Spanish from Aztec xocolatl (xococ sour, bitter + atl water).

Cherries, a drupe, are small, round, juicy tree fruits related to the plum. Dark or light in color and sweet or sour in flavor are best eaten out of hand.

Cherry liqueur is a spirit which has been sweetened and flavored with cherries, the best known is Cherry-Herring.

Chervil, an herb with small leaves resembling flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, has a subtle flavor reminiscent of both parsley and anise. Essential in a classic bouquet garni of parsley, chives, chervil, bay leaf, thyme, tarragon.

Chestnut flour is made from dried, ground chestnuts.

Chestnut leaves come from the chestnut tree and are used for decorative purposes, commonly on cheese trays.

Chestnut puree is a paste made from the sweet nuts. The puree is available in both its sweetened and its unsweetened forms in cans or jars in specialty-food shops. Sweetened chestnut puree is also known as chestnut cream.

Chestnuts, the edible fruit of a tree in the beech family, have glossy brown shells and dark fuzzy membranes that must be removed before use. Often referred to by the French “marrons,” these sweet nuts are sold raw or roasted, whole or in pieces, candied, chocolate covered or puréed.

Chicarron is twice deep fried pork rind typically eaten as a snack and available in ethnic markets.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or ceci beans, are round, tan-colored members of the pea family and have a firm texture and a mildly netlike flavor. Available dried or precooked in cans.

Chicory, also known as curly endive, is a green leaf vegetable with loosely packed, curly leaves characterized by a slightly bitter flavor.

Chihuahua cheese is a white cow’s milk bland cheese that comes from Oaxaca, Mexico. Also known as asadero which means roaster or broiler because it has good melting properties. Extensively used in Mexican cooking.

Chilaca chiles are fresh chiles (pasillas, when dried), dark green to black in color and 5-6 inches in length. They are moderately hot, with a hint of berry flavor. Chilaca chiles are sometimes labeled.

Chiles de arbol come from a tree-like, (arbol is Spanish for tree) lush plant with thick woody stems. Arbols are closely related to the cayenne chiles. Bright brick-red, elongated and pointed, measuring about 2 to 3 inches long and 1/4 to 3/8 inch across. The flesh has a tannic, smoky, and grassy flavor, and searing, acidic heat on the tip of the tongue. Primarily used in powdered form in sauces, soups and stews.

Chili oil is a commercial made Asian product made by infusing hot red chiles in vegetable or sesame oil, yielding a red, fragrant, spicy seasoning.

Chili paste with garlic, an Asian seasoning, combines crushed red chiles and puréed fresh garlic.

Chili powder refers to any of a wide variety of commercial spice blends for seasoning spicy dishes and can include: ground dried chiles, cumin, oregano, cloves, coriander, pepper, and salt.

Chili sauce is a commercial bottled blend of hot and mild chiles, vinegar, sugar, and other flavorings, (some varieties include tomato) and is used as a seasoning or condiment..

Chinese black mushrooms are dried mushrooms with brown caps, used in many Chinese dishes.

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale and gai lan, is mostly stem and leaves and virtually no floret, as is the traditional broccoli grown in the United States. The plant is a white flowering broccoli, with green leaves and is used widely in Chinese cooking.

Chinese cabbage, also known as Bok Choy, is an Asian variety with long, crisp, mild-flavored, pale green to white leaves.

Chinese dried mushrooms include a wide variety of mushroom and are used extensively in Asian cooking for their flavor and aroma.

Chinese eggplants are a variety of the sweet vegetable-fruit distinguished by their long, slender shape and pale purple color and prized for their tender skin and lack of seeds.

Chinese five-spice powder, is reddish brown mix that combines star anise, fennel cloves, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns.

Chinese gooseberries, the proper name for Kiwi fruit, are brown furry egg shaped, sweet strawberry tasting fruits with electric green flesh now grown extensively in New Zealand.

Chinese pickle, also known as tea melon, sweet tea pickle, is a small yellow fruit that is shaped like a cucumber and has a crisp texture, and a mild sweet flavor preserved in honey and spices and sometimes soy sauce. Primarily used as a condiment. Chinese radishes are a cylindrical, stout, white variety of radish with a mild flavor. Commonly used in simmered dishes and soups.

Chinese red vinegar is a flavorful, sharp red vinegar made from rice and used as a dip or in sauces.

Chinese rice wine is made by fermenting rice (and other grains) soaked in water. Sake is a Japanese rice wine.

Chinese sausages, called lop cheung in Cantonese, are slender, aromatic, dried pork sausages, sold in linked pairs in plastic packages or hanging from strings in Asian markets.

Chipotle chiles are ripened jalapeno (mildly hot) chiles that are smoke-dried. They are the chile in thick tinned adobo sauce.

Chives, the long, thin green shoots of the chive plant used as an herb, have a mild flavor reminiscent of the onion, to which they are related (Alium family). Available fresh, dried and frozen.

Chocolate is a paste or cake composed of the roasted seeds of the Theobroma Cacao ground and mixed with other ingredients, usually sugar, and cinnamon (esp. in Mexico) or vanilla. From the 17th Century Spanish from Aztec xocolatl (xococ sour, bitter + atl water).

Chorizo (also Choriço) sausages are zesty Spanish, Portuguese or Mexican style coarse-textured fresh pork sausages spiced with chiles, garlic, paprika and other seasonings.

Choux pastry, a moist dough of flour, butter, eggs, and water, is piped into various shapes and baked. Used most commonly in desserts such as cream puffs, éclairs, and profiteroles.

Chutney is the spiced East Indian-style relishes (Chatni in Hindi) used as a condiment or a seasoning ingredient. Most common are fruit-based-apricot, plum, peach, and mango chutneys.

Cider vinegar is a pale, golden vinegar with the fruity flavor and tang of apple cider from which it is made.

Cilantro, or fresh coriander, a leafy green herb resembling flat-leaf (Italian) parsley in appearance only. Also called Chinese parsley it has a sharp, aromatic, somewhat astringent (some say soapy) flavor.

Cinnamon is a sweet, aromatic spice is used both in ground form or in “sticks” of coiled bark from a tree in the laurel family. True cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamon zelancium, which grows only in Ceylon. Most cinnamon used today is actually from Cassia, another tree in the laurel family. The bark of the Cassia has a less delicate flavor and is thicker and more coarse than that of the Cinnamon tree.

Cippolini are small bittersweet bulbs that come from the grape hyacinth that look and taste like small, white onions.

Clarified butter is unsalted butter with the milk solids removed melting the butter and skimming off the froth from the top and carefully pouring off the clear liquid into a jar, leave the milky residue behind. Also known as drawn butter or ghee in Indian cuisine.

Cloves, a rich, highly aromatic, tiny spike shaped East African spice, are used whole or ground to flavor sweet and savory recipes.

Coconut, the large round fruit of the coconut palm, has a hard, fibrous brown shell, a thin brown skin, and white flesh that can be used fresh or dried, flaked or grated.

Coconut milk is a rich, creamy liquid made from water and coconut pulp. It is a staple ingredient in Thai curries and in beverages, sauces, soups, and desserts throughout Southeast Asia. Do not substitute cream of coconut.

Cod is a saltwater fish with lean, mild-flavored, flaky white flesh. It is available as fresh frozen and dried. Some say that the history of the world (especially the New World) was changed because of the desire for the fish and the fishing rights for cod. It was the first fish to be traded globally before anyone was completely convinced that there was a globe; and cod had everything to do with the French and American Revolutions. To the French Cod is morue (cabillaud for fresh), baccala to the Italians, bacalao to the Spanish, bacalhau to the Portuguese; Scandinavians know it as lutefisk, and to the Norwegians it is torsk. Cod is nearly fat free, when fresh is a high 18% protein; and when dried the concentrated protein rises to 80%. There is little waste to the fish. The head is more flavorful than the body, throat and cheeks being the most desirable. The air bladder, called a sound, is used to produce isinglass, an industrial clarifying agent. Cod roe is eaten both fresh and smoked.

Cognac, is made in the town in western France of the same name, made from Folle Blanche, St. Emilion and Colombard grapes, and is one of the world’s finest brandies. Aged for at least 3 years (and as long as 50) in special Limousin oak barrels, Cognac’s quality is strictly rated and labeled directly on the bottles. V.S.O.P. stands for Very Special Old and Pale. X.O. For Extra Old, V.S. is just right for cooking.

Cointreau is a colorless French liqueur made with alcohol and bitter and sweet orange peel. It is typically consumed as an after dinner liqueur or used in mixed drinks.

Colby cheese, invented in Colby Wisconsin, also known as Longhorn, is a firm, mild-flavored, unaged cow’s milk cheese that is light orange in color.

Collard greens are dark-green, broad, flat leafy greens that resemble kale and cabbage. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and are believed to possess anti-oxidant, cancer-fighting properties.

Conchiglie, literally “conch shells,” is a shell-shaped pasta that come in a variety of sizes.

Condensed milk is whole milk from which approximately 60 percent of the water (moisture) has been removed, resulting in a concentrated flavor and thick consistency. Although similar to evaporated milk, it cannot be substituted for evaporated milk.

Confectioners’ sugar, also known as powdered or icing sugar, is a finely pulverized sugar that dissolves quickly and is often used to provide a thin, white decorative dusting or as royal icing (mixed with beaten egg white).

Confit is a method of preserving meats in their fat, especially poultry and more especially goose and duck, popular in southwestern France. Confit of duck or goose leg is an essential ingredient in a proper cassoulet.

Coppacolla (or Coppa) is a type of dried Italian salami (salumi) made from various cuts of pork and prepared in sweet and hot varieties.

Coriander is a close relative to parsley and can be used for its perfumed seeds as well as its fragrant leaves and the two taste nothing like each other. The leaves, also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, are widely used in Latin American and Asian dishes.

Corn husks are primarily used for tamales and require softening by soaking in water prior to use.

Corn oil is made from the germ of the corn kernel. It has a high smoke point and is extremely high in polyunsaturated fats. Corn oil is used in salad dressings, mayonnaise and is a main ingredient in some margarine.

Corn syrup is a sweet syrup extracted from corn and sold as light – sweet and bland, or molasses like dark and is widely used in confectionery. Genetically modified high fructose corn syrup is the sweetener of choice in the soft drink business and elsewhere.

Corned beef, is a beef brisket, that has been cured in a brine with large crystals (or “corns,” an Old English term) of salt, sugar, spices, and preservatives. Slow simmering in water develops a moist, tender texture, a mildly spiced flavor, and a bright purplish red color.

Cornichons are tiny French-style sour pickles made from cucumbers immersed in vinegar, brine and pickling spices that are usually no more than 2 inches in length. Cornichons are the essential accompaniment to charcuterie of any style.

Cornish game hen, also known as Rock Cornish game hen, is a small hybrid bird, raised (not really game), sold fresh or frozen.

Cornmeal, a granular flour ground from dried kernels of yellow or white corn, has a sweet, robust flavor available in fine or coarse grinds. Stone-ground cornmeal, made from whole kernels, produces a richer flour.

Cornstarch, also known as corn flour, is a fine, powdery flour ground from the endosperm, or heart, of the corn kernel. Lacking gluten, it is used as a neutral thickening agent for as sauces and fillings.

Cotija cheese is a salty, white Mexican cheese with a dry, crumbly texture It resembles añejo cheese.

Court bouillon, French for “short broth”, is a quickly prepared cooking liquid of aromatic vegetables and herbs simmered in water for about 30 minutes and used for poaching fish or seafood.

Couscous, tiny pellets of semolina, the ground endosperm of durum wheat, are a type of pasta used throughout North Africa, especially in Morocco and Tunisia.

Cranberries are tart, round, deep red berries, grown primarily in wet, sandy coastal lands, or bogs, in the northeastern United States. They are available fresh autumn through early winter and frozen year-round.

Cranberry beans are full-flavored, mealy-textured beans with mottled cranberry-and-tan skins. They are available dried and precooked in cans.

Cranberry sauce is a traditional sauce typically eaten during the holiday season. This classic sauce, or more precisely relish, can be easily made at home or purchased pre-made in tins.

Cream is classified by its butterfat content. Heavy, Double or whipping cream is 36 percent butterfat. Light cream, sometimes called coffee cream, is 18-30 percent butterfat.

Cream of tartar, an acidic powder extracted during wine making, is used to stabilize egg whites and increases their heat tolerance. It also prevents sugar syrups from crystallizing and is combined with baking soda to make commercial baking powder.

Crema is a Mexican-style cultured cream that resembles the crème fraîche of France. It is used as an enrichment and garnish for both sweet and savory dishes.

Crème de cacao is a sweet chocolate liqueur made by percolating or steeping cocoa beans. It is available in clear and colorless or brown forms, usually flavored with vanilla.

Crème fraîche is a French-style lightly soured and thickened fresh cream, generally used as a topping or garnish for savory or sweet dishes.

Cremini mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), similar in size and shape to common cultivated white button mushrooms but at a more mature stage, have a more pronounced woodsy flavor and a handsome brown skin concealing creamy tan flesh.

Crookneck squash are summer squash with yellow skin and pale flesh with a slightly sweet flavor. They have a bulbous flower end and a slender, curving stem end.

Crystallized ginger, also called candied ginger, is made of small pieces of fresh ginger-the rhizome, or underground stem, of a semitropical plant- that are first preserved by boiling in sugar and then coated with granulated sugar. It lends an intriguing hot-sweetness to baked goods and desserts.

Cucumbers are long, slender vegetables with smooth or slightly textured green skin and soft, moist, light-colored flesh. The long English, or hothouse, cucumber has thinner skin and fewer seeds than the shorter, broader variety. Small cucumbers (Kirby) are used for pickling.

Cultivated mushrooms are common mushrooms with smooth, white circular caps. They are also called white or Kennet Square mushrooms named for the town in Pennsylvania that is the major US producer.

Cumin is a dusky, aromatic spice with a strong, distinctive flavor essential to Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Southwestern. It is sold ground or as whole, small, crescent-shaped seeds.

Curaçao is a sweet liqueur flavored with orange peel and named for the Dutch Caribbean island where it originated.

Currants are soft raisin-like dried fruits (also seen fresh) produced from a small variety of grapes. They resemble tiny raisins but have a stronger, tarter flavor. Red currants are used in juices, jellies and purees. Black Currants have a characteristic highly esteemed aroma, are astringent, and suitable for culinary uses. Black currants (Fr. Groseille) are the flavoring agent in the French liqueur, Cassis. And Cassis is the essential ingredient in a Kir (white wine and cassis) and a Kir Royale (champagne and cassis).

Curry paste is a blend of ghee (clarified butter), curry powder, vinegar and other seasonings. It can be substituted for curry powder. There are many varieties.

Curry powder is a generic term for blends of spices used to flavor East Indian-style dishes. Most include coriander, cumin, ground dried chili, fenugreek, turmeric, and cloves. Blends labeled Madras are often hotter than others.

Custard is a thick, rich, sweet mixture made by gently cooking together egg yolks, sugar, milk or cream, and sometimes other flavorings. Flan, creme brulé, creme caramel (and ice cream) are just a few popular custard dishes.


Dates, the sweet, deep brown fruit of the date palm tree, have a thick, sticky consistency resembling that of candied fruit. They are sold with pits, pitted or chopped.

Demerara sugar, commonly found in Great Britain, refers to highly refined amber crystals that have been treated with steam to remove impurities. It can be used in recipes calling for raw sugar.

Devonshire cream, also known as clotted cream, originally from Devon, England, is a thick, buttery cream often used as a topping for scones or desserts.

Dijon mustard, named for the city in France from which it originated, is made from brown or black mustard seeds and has a pale yellow color and smooth (or whole grain) consistency. It is delightfully salty and can range from mild to hot.

Dill is an herb with fine, feathery leaves and a sweet, aromatic flavor available fresh as sprigs or dried. Crush dried dill in the palm of the hand to release its flavor.

Dried lily buds, also called golden needles and tiger lily buds, are dried flower buds used to impart a subtle texture and flavor to some Chinese dishes.

Dried lotus leaves are fragrant, large (about 12 inches) leaves used as natural wrappers-and flavoring agents-for steamed Asian dishes.

Dried mangoes, are deep orange pieces of dried, usually sugared fruits, sold diced or in small chunks or strips. They are eaten out of hand or used as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes and in baking. When green, and dried and ground, they are also called am choor and am chool respectively in Indian cuisine.

Dried shrimp are tiny dried shrimp, either whole or ground into a powder, used as a seasoning to give a subtly salty, briny taste to Asian dishes.

Dried shrimp paste is a thick Southeast Asian seasoning of salted and fermented shrimp, ranging in color from light brown to purplish black. It is sold in blocks or packed in small plastic tubs.

Dried tomatoes, or sundried, are popular chewy and intensely flavored versions of their fresh counterparts. They are available dried in packets and in jars, packed in oil.

Dubonnet is the proprietary name for a bittersweet fortified, wine-based beverage, flavored with herbs and quinine. Dubonnet rouge is made from red wine, and Dubonnet blanc is drier and made from white wine. French sounding, but a popular US apertif.

Dungeness crabs are a variety of crab that comes from the Pacific coast and is available fresh from October through May.


Eggplants are tender, mildly earthy, sweet vegetable-fruits covered with tough, shiny skin; may be peeled or left unpeeled and grilled, sautéed, fried or stewed. They vary in color from the familiar purple to red and from yellow to white. Eggplants are also known as aubergine in England, France and elsewhere, and melanzana in Italy. Other varieties include: small, shiny Chinese eggplants and pale purple, elongated Japanese eggplants.

Emmenthaler cheese, a popular variety of Swiss cheese, has a firm, smooth texture, large holes, and a mellow, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor.

Endive, Belgian endive, curly endive, and escarole Belgian endive, available October through April, are bundles of tightly packed, spear-shaped leaves that are white to pale yellow-green or sometimes red in color and is used in salads, for hors d’oeuvres and garnish. Curly endive and escarole can be purchased all year round with a peak season from June through October and are used in salads, cooked as a vegetable, added to soups, and pasta. Both have curved green leaves with curly endive being a bit prickly and slightly bitter.

English toffee is a candy made from a sugar syrup, usually lightly caramelized, enriched with a generous amount of butter.

Epazote, also known as wormseed, pigweed, Mexican tea, Jerusalem oak and stinkweed, is a pungent jagged-leafed herb with a strong flavor, used in Mexican cooking, available dried and occasionally fresh and is easily grown from seed and is self-sowing. It is essential to many Mexican bean dishes for its unique flavor and because it is said to reduce intestinal gas.

Escarole is a variety of chicory with refreshingly bitter, broad, bright green leaves. Also known as Batavian endive, it is used raw in salads or can be steamed or braised.

Evaporated milk is whole milk from which approximately 60 percent of the water has been removed. Unlike condensed milk, it is heat-treated for sterilization. Available canned, evaporated milk can be combined with an equal amount of water to yield whole milk.


Farmer cheese, similar in appearance to ricotta, is a small-curd, cow’s milk cheese that is low in fat and has a fairly dry consistency.

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, resemble oversized lima beans. They are sold fresh or dried. Fresh fava beans are sold in their long, plump, flattened pods and are easily shelled. The tough but edible skin can be removed.

Fennel, also called by its Italian name, finocchio, is a crisp, mildly anise-flavored vegetable with tubular celery like stalks, feathery leaves and a creamy or greenish white bulb. Superb in salads or braised, use the fine, feathery fronds as a fresh herb.

Fennel seeds are small, crescent-shaped seeds from a variety of fennel related to the bulb vegetable of the same name. As a spice, they are prized for their mild anise flavor.

Fenugreek seeds have been used as a medicinal herb as well as a dye and a seasoning for centuries. Ancient Egyptian medical documents state that fenugreek seeds were used as early as 1550 BC in anointing oils and herbal ointments. During the Middle Ages in Europe, monastery accounts indicate that gardens were designated with beds of herbs and spices including fenugreek. This seed is triangular in shape and yellow-brown and are often roasted and then crushed to bring out their full flavor. Found in Indian curries and pickles and, used in breads in Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt.

Fermented black beans are a traditional Chinese seasoning made by fermenting cooked black-skinned soybeans with brine and ginger, orange peel, or Chinese five-spice powder.

Feta cheese, a traditional brine-cured Greek sheep’s milk cheese, is white, salty, and sharp tasting and has a consistency that ranges from creamy to crumbly and dry. Real Feta has a minimum of 70% sheep’s milk (can have some goat’s milk) and is made in Greece, as well as France, Denmark and Bulgaria, is fresh curd, cured in brine and cut in rectangles. A one dimensional, but enjoyable cheese Feta, like vodka now also sold in flavors; peppered, with herbs, sun dried tomatoes, etc.

Figs are fruits characterized by their many tiny edible seeds, sweet, slightly astringent flavor, and soft, succulent flesh that ranges from gold to deep red.

Filo, also spelled “phyllo,” refers to tissue-thin sheets of flour-and-water dough, generally measuring 10 X 14 inches, used as wrappers for savory or sweet fillings. The name derives from the Greek word for “leaf.” Essential to making Greek pastries like Baklava and savory spinach and feta turnovers called spanikopita.

Fines herbes is the name of a classic French flavoring bundle of fresh herbs, usually including parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, thyme and chervil.

Fingerling Potato, an unusual potato named for its unique finger-like appearance, is grown predominantly in the U.S. and in Mexico. Its flavor is slightly sweet but similar to regular potatoes. It is a good source of fiber, potassium and Vitamin C.

Fish sauce is a popular Southeast Asian seasoning prepared from salted, fermented fish, usually anchovies. The thin amber sauce is known as nuoc mam in Vietnam, nam pla in Thailand, and patis in the Philippines.

Five-spice powder is a pungent pleasant blend of ground star anise, clove, cinnamon, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns.

Flageolet beans are small, dried, greenish beans popular in French cooking. The classic accompaniment to a proper Gigot d’Agneau (leg of lamb).

Focaccia is an Italian low-rise bread that might be topped with olive oil, coarse salt, herbs, garlic, raw tomato or cheese. Focaccia can be eaten as a snack, or served as an accompaniment to soups and salads.

Foie gras, is the iconic elegant, rich, creamy goose liver associated with Toulouse and Strasbourg. The out-sized livers are the result of force-feeding (Fr. gavage) geese, or ducks with corn until their livers swell to a weight of as much as 2 pounds (1 kg) or more. In France, the liver is sold in several forms: raw; freshly cooked; partially cooked and tinned; preserved in its own fat; puréed and tinned.

Fontina cheese, made from cow’s milk, is a firm, creamy, delicate Italian cheese with a slightly nutty taste. Fontina from the Aosta Valley (Fontina D’Aosta) of northwestern Italy is considered the best.

Fraises des bois, or strawberries of the woods, native to France and elsewhere in Europe, are tiny wild strawberries prized for their fine flavor and intense aroma — available for only a few weeks in late spring / early summer.

Framboise is a clear brandy, or eau-de-vie, flavored with the essence of raspberries.

Frangelico is an Italian sweet liqueur flavored with wild hazelnuts and herbs.

Fresh chiles are, like bell peppers, capsicums that grow as thick pods. They are prized for their mild to hot spiciness used to season a wide range of dishes. The heat producing volatile oils, ranging from mild to incendiary, resides primarily in the ribs and seeds. A wide variety of chiles: red, yellow, or green in color are available. Popular types of fresh chiles include Anaheim, arbol, bird’s-eye, pequin, chilaca, habañero, jalapeño, poblano, serrano, and yellow chiles.

Frijoles is the generic Spanish name for beans (pinto, black, etc.).

Frisée is variety of endive, closely related to chicory but with a more delicate flavor and slightly more tender leaves. The pale green leaves with spiky edges form a loose head.

Fusilli is a thin, spiral shaped pasta that can range from about 1-1/2 inches to 12 inches long. Fusili is best used with thick, heavy sauces.


Gaeta Olives are plump, dark purple Italian olives with a tender texture and slightly sour taste. They are used in appetizers, salads and pastas.

Galangal in India is also called Siamese ginger, kha in Thailand, and lengkuas or laos in Indonesia and Malaysia. This rhizome, related to and resembling ginger, have a mildly mustard like, somewhat medicinal taste and are available fresh and dried in slices.

Galettes are round thin French cakes made from puff pastry or a yeast dough, sprinkled with sugar before baking. A savoury galette may be made from potatoes. Buckwheat crepes in Normandy are called galettes.

Gallo Nero is the “black rooster” that appears on the neck seal of Chianti classico used by vintners to identify their self imposed standards that are higher than DOC (Denominazione Origine Controlata) standards.

Ganache is a rich, velvety paste of chocolate, cream, and sometimes butter, used as the basis for truffles and as a filling for chocolate cakes and pastries.

Garam masala is a popular Indian household aromatic blend of spices, differing from region to region, and may include some (or all) of the following: peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, mustard seed, and turmeric.

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas or ceci, are round, tan-colored members of the pea family that have a firm texture and a mild nutlike flavor.

Garbure, a Spanish dish from the Basque region is an extraordinary soup of carrots, potatoes, green beans, cabbage, and garlic cooked with salt pork and preserved goose. The meat is removed and prepared as a second course.

Garganelli are a pasta shape that looks like small, ridged, folded tubes.

Garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives (gau choy fa), are slender green stalks that resemble common chives and possess a distinct, pleasant garlic aroma.

Garni is the French word for “garnish”.

Gastrique is a new, but not new, term describing a syrupy reduction sauce of caramelized sugar, win eor vinegar and most often a fruit. Not unlike Italian agro dolce (sweet-sour) sauces.

Gaucho is an firm Argentine cheese with a buttery flavor made from skimmed cow’s milk.

Gavi and Gavi di Gavi, is a popular dry white wine made from Cortese grapes in the Piedmonte region of Italy.

Gazpacho is a refreshing, cold Spanish uncooked soup made of a melange of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, onions and seasoned with olive oil and vinegar.

Gelatin, in its unflavored form, gives delicate body to mousses and parfaits. It is available both in thin, clear leaves and as a powder.

Gelato, the Italian equivalent of “ice cream” but with a taffy like texture, more dense than American ice cream with less air is incorporated and made with milk and not cream.

Gemelli, from the Italian for “twins,” are a pasta shapes comprised of two strands entwined around each other.

Genievre is French for the juniper berry and for gin (flavored with the juniper berry).

Ghee, the common cooking fat of India, is a type of clarified butter (butter from which the milk solids have been removed). Unlike clarified butter ghee is slowly simmered to eliminate moisture, in a process that fat lightly browns imparting a nutlike flavor.

Gherkins are a variety of small, dark green cucumbers grown to make pickles. Gherkins are typically sold packed in pickling brine. The French version of gherkins are tart cornichons.

Gianduja is a heavenly blend of chocolate and hazelnuts that is usd for flavoring in Italian, Spanish and Mexican confectionery and pastries.

Giardineria, alla is Italian for gardener’s style, and refers to dishes of or served with mixed sliced vegetables.

Gin is an un-aged spirit distilled from grains (barley, oats and wheat) flavored with juniper berries and other aromatics. Styles of gin distilling vary in their concentrations of aromatics. London type gin is the most common and is considered “dry”. The name gin is derived from the Middle Dutch Geniver (Genever), from Old French for juniper, geneivre.

Ginger is an underground stem, or rhizome, of a semitropical plant that has lively, hot flavor and pleasantly peppery aroma. Available fresh, candied in sugar and preserved in syrup.

Ginger ale, a non-alcoholic sweetened carbonated beverage flavored predominantly with extract of ginger. Ginger Beer is a more intensely ginger version of ginger ale.

Ginkgo nut is the center of the inedible fruit of the maiden-hair tree, a native of China. The olive-sized, orange-yellow colored nut has a mild resinous flavor, and turns green when cooked. Fresh ginkgo nuts are available during fall and winter and also available dried or tinned in brine.

Ginseng is the root of an plant in the ivy family with a fennel like flavor and is used in restorative (aphrodisial?) infusions and teasans.

Girolle is French for a chanterelle mushroom.

Glacé Fruit, also known as candied fruit, are dried fruits that have been boiled or dipped in sugar syrup. The most common candied fruits include citrus rind, pineapple and red and green cherries. These fruits are used in cakes (fruitcake especially) and breads.

Glace de Viande (volaille, poisson) is the thick, syrupy result of long cooking a meat, poultry or fish stock and are used to flavor sauces.

Glaze describes a shiny, flavorful coating that forms on food as it cooks, usually as a result of basting. It also refers to a light, sweet coating-usually made from reduced fruit jelly applied as a glistening and flavorful finish to fruit tarts and desserts.

Gluten flour, made from hard wheat, contains a higher percentage of gluten, the protein in wheat flour that gives dough an elastic quality, helping it rise. It may be used in combination with lower gluten flours.

Glutinous rice, also known as sticky or sweet rice, is a short or medium grain variety whose kernels stick together when cooked. Used in Chinese and Japanese cuisines for savory and sweet preparations.

Gnocchi are usually made from riced potato or ricotta and flour, and shaped into a small dumpling-shaped pasta.

Goat cheeses, made from goat’s milk, have a creamy consistency and a distinctive salty tang.

Golabki are meat, rice and vegetable filled cabbage wrapped Polish dumplings.

Gooseberries, native to Northern Europe, are large, plump round berries with smooth or furry skins. Sharp-flavored green gooseberries are best suited to cooking; sweeter red ones may be eaten out of hand, are in season early to midsummer and also available dried and as preserves.

Gorgonzola cheese is one of the world’s great blue-veined cheeses. A specialty of Lombardy, named for a town just outside of Milan, it is made from fresh cows’ milk and is a mild, creamy, pale yellow , aromatic and marbled with blue veins. Gorgonzola dolcelatte, Italian for “sweet milk,” is a mild, creamier variety of blue-veined Italian Gorgonzola.

Gouda cheese, a popular cows’ milk cheese from the Netherlands, varies in flavor from mild to sharp, depending upon the age. Soft-textured when young, the cheese is sold in rounds covered in a wax rind, is salty and agreeably mild. Aged varieties, yellow to deep orange, are more piquant and complex.

Gourmandise is a soft creamy cows’ milk dessert cheese flavored with Kirsch(cherry). (In French Gourmandise also means greedy as well as delicacy.)

Graham crackers, named after 19th-century American nutritionist Sylvester Graham, are crisp, sweet, flat crisps made from coarsely ground whole-wheat flour and honey. They are eaten out of hand or are crumbled or crushed and used to add texture and subtle sweetness to batters, crusts, and toppings.

Grana cheese refers to a group of granular, finely-grained hard Italian cheeses that are used grated as well as table cheeses. The best known, most widely acclaimed Grana cheeses are: Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano.

Grand Marnier is proprietary name for an orange-flavored liqueur with a Cognac base most commonly available version is cordon rouge (aged 18 months). Cordon Jaune is paler and of somewhat lesser quality.

Grape leaves are used as edible wrappers in Greek and Middle Eastern dishes. Available fresh or packed in brine.

Grapefruits are large, round citrus fruits with thick or thin peels and sweet-tart white or pink flesh and are available year-round.

Grapeseed oil extracted from grape seeds, has light fruity flavor good for salad dressings, and a high smoking point ideal for sautéing.

Grappa is a colorless Italian spirit distilled from grape skins and seeds left behind after pressing for wine. High in alcohol content, grappa is used as an after-dinner drink on its own or added to coffee or espresso. Once a rather raw eau-de-vie, more refined grappa have become popular as more mellow single grape varieties, as well as their extravagantly lovely hand blown glass bottle.

Great Northern beans are small or large, kidney-shaped white beans with a mild flavor. They are available dried or pre-cooked in tins.

Green beans, also called string beans and snap beans, are long, slender, edible fresh green seeds containing pods available in many varieties. They are at their peak season in summer. The small tender, Blue Lake are particularly prized as are the small delicate French bean, or haricot vert.

Green lentils are a variety of the small, disk-shaped dried legume. The French Puy lentil, from the Auvergne town of Le Puy, is considered one of the finest.

Green olives are the small unripe fruits of trees that are native to Mediterranean Europe.

Green onions also known as scallions or spring onions, are a variety of onion harvested immature, before the bulb has fully formed. Both the green leaves and white bulbs are used raw or cooked.

Gremolata is an Italian garnish made from minced fresh parsley, lemon zest, and garlic sprinkled over Osso Buco (braised veal shanks) and other dishes to add a fresh, zesty flavor.

Grenadine syrup is a sweet, vivid scarlet colored syrup originally decocted from pomegranates on the island of Granada. It is used to add flavor and color to cocktails and desserts. Most grenadine syrups no longer contain pomegranate and are made from sugar syrup, fruit flavors and red food coloring. Authentic grenadine syrup made from pomegranates is a great source for potassium.

Grits refers to any coarsely ground grain including corn, oats or rice. Grits are very popular in the Southern United States and are typically prepared as hot cereal or as a side dish.

Gros Sel is French unrefined, crystalline sea salt, gray in color and rich in flavor.

Ground beef, commercially referred to as hamburger, is beef ground from various cuts including the shoulder, loin, haunch, or brisket. The percentage of fat in ground beef typically ranges from about 11% for ground “sirloin” up to 30% for regular hamburger or “chuck”.

Grouper, a member of the sea bass family, is a firm white fish found in coastal waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The average size of a grouper ranges from 5-15 pounds.

Gruyere cheese, a variety of Swiss cheese with small holes, has a firm, smooth texture and a pleasantly pronounced flavor. Essential for a proper quiche, nice on sandwiches or on a cheese plate and Gruyere featues in many dishes gratinée — sprinkled with grated gruyere and then baked or passed under the broiler.

Guajillo chiles, are a type of dried chile, are long, tapered, deep orange-red with a sharp, slightly sweet, mildly hot taste.

Guar Gum is a food stabilizer and thickening agent derived from guar seeds used in baking mixes, milk, fruit and vegetable products.

Guavas are sweet, tropical fruit native to South America. The fruit may be round, ovoid or pear shaped, 2-4 inches in diameter, range from yellow to dark purple skinned with flesh that ranges from pale yellow to bright red. Found fresh in regions where they are grown and available in tinned, as jam, paste or sauce.


Haggis is a Scottish specialty made by stuffing a sheep’s (or other animal’s) stomach lining with a minced mixture of offal (heart, liver, lungs), onion, suet, oatmeal and seasonings, then simmering the sausage in water for about 4 hours. Often served with a splash of scotch tossed over it. It is said to be an acquired taste. Haggamuggie is a ‘simplified’ version of haggis made with fish liver.

Hake is a cousin to the Cod. This saltwater fish makes its home in the Atlantic and northern Pacific Oceans. Ranging in size from 1 to 8 pounds, Hake is available whole or in fillets and steaks and is delicately flavored and may be prepared in any way suitable for cod.

Halibut is a member of the flat fish family, abundant in northern Atlantic and Pacific waters, ranging between 50 and 100 pounds and up to half a ton. The finest are the 2 to 10 pound chicken halibut. Halibut meat is low in fat, white, firm and mild flavored and is available year-round (most abundant from March to September).

Halvah (halva) is a Middle Eastern confection made from ground sesame seed and honey, with pistachios or chopped dried fruit occasionally added. It’s available in bar shape and in specialty food shops and delicatessens in long loaves from which slices are cut.

Hamantaschen are small triangular pastries with a sweet filling, either of honey-poppy seed, prune or apricot. They’re one of the traditional sweets of Purim, a festive Jewish holiday. They are named for Haman, the prime minister of Persia who unsuccessfully plotted the extermination of Persian Jews.

Handkäse cheese or “hand” cheese, made from skimmed, sour cow’s milk, has a sharp, aggressive flavor and very strong aroma, It has a gray rind and an off-white, soft interior and is sold in hand-shaped irregular rounds, cylinders or other forms.

Hangtown Fry is said to have been created during the California Gold Rush in a place then called Hangtown (now Placerville) because of the town’s frequent hangings. It consists of fried, breaded oysters cooked together with scrambled eggs and bacon.

Hard sauce is made by beating butter, confectioner’s sugar and flavoring together until smooth and creamy and is the traditional accompaniment for plum pudding. Although vanilla or other extracts may be used, the flavoring is generally brandy or rum. The mixture is refrigerated (sometimes in a decorative mold) until “hard” – the texture of butter.

Hardtack, also called ship biscuit, originated in the nineteenth century as a staple for long voyaging sailors. Made with an unsalted, unleavened flour and water dough, this large, bland, hard biscuit is baked and then dried to prolong shelf life.

Haricot (dried) is French for bean. Dried haricots are essentially dried green beans which, when fresh are a deep green color and range from three to five inches long. The beans are straight, round, and slender. The pronounced grassy taste and soft skin that characterize this French bean is altered when dried.

Haricot vert is the French term for green (string) bean.

Harissa sauce is a Tunisian/Moroccan hot sauce made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It’s the traditional accompaniment for couscous and is also used to flavor soups, stews and other dishes. Harissa can be found in jars and tins.

Havarti is a mild semi-soft and ivory colored cheese with small irregular holes, named for the Danish experimental farm where it was developed. Havarti is available in loaves and slices .

Hazelnuts, also called filberts and cobnuts, are rich, about the size of a grape and encased in a thin papery brown wrapper. They are usually roasted and used whole, chopped, ground and in all manner of sweets and add flavor and texture to savory items such as salads and main dishes. Hazelnuts grow wild and are cultivated in temperate zones around the world – Italy, Spain, France and Turkey are the leaders. They’re also grown in Oregon and Washington.

Hazelnut oil is pressed from toasted hazelnuts, has a distinctive hazelnut flavor that is used to enhance salad dressings, vegetables, and other preparations.

Heavy cream, also known as double cream and whipping cream, is a rich dairy product with a butterfat content of at least 36 percent.

Herbes de Provence is a blend of dried herbs typical of the Provence region of southern France. It may include some or all of the following; rosemary, thyme, savory, oregano, basil, sage, marjoram, fennel, mint, and lavender.

Hoisin sauce is a thick, reddish brown sauce of fermented soybeans, chiles, garlic, vinegar, sesame seeds, and Asian spices used as an ingredient, a seasoning, basting or dipping sauce. Sold in bottles, it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Hog maw is the pig’s stomach, and is commonly stuffed with a sausage mixture, simmered until done, then baked until brown.

Hollandaise sauce is the classic, golden, smooth, rich, creamy emulsion sauce generally used to enrobe eggs Benedict, and embellish vegetables and fish. It’s made with egg yolks, butter, and lemon juice, beaten over simmering water and served warm.

Honey is the extraordinary product that honey bees make from extracting nectar from flowers. Flavor ranges from mild such as clover and orange, to more distinctively aromatic varieties, such as buckwheat, lavender, thyme. It is sold filtered, unfiltered and in the comb.

Honey mustard is made from mustard seed powder, vinegar, honey and various herbs and spices. Many commercial varieties of this sweet, tart condiment are available.

Honeydew melons are large, round fruits with smooth, greenish ivory skin and sweet, juicy, light green flesh. They are sold whole or in pieces.

Hoppin’ John is a mongrelization of the creole pois pigeon or pigeon peas. A Southern plantation dish, of black-eyed peas cooked with salt pork and seasonings and served with cooked rice. Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is eaten on New Year’s day to ensure good luck in coming year.

Horehound is a member of the mint family that yields a juice that is only used to make horehound candy – a brittle, sugar-drop confection with a slightly bitter taste, cough syrup and lozenges.

Hors d’oeuvre translates from the French as dishes “outside the work “ or main meal. Once accompaniments to the main dishes they are now, bite sized, cold or hot savory appetizers served before the meal, with apértifs or cocktails. The word “hors d’oeuvre” without an “s” is proper for both the singular and plural forms. Today, however, the plural is often spoken and written as hors d’oeuvres.

Horseradish a member of the mustard family, is a pungent, hot-tasting root sold fresh and whole, but more often found grated and bottled as a prepared sauce, creamy or in vinegar.

Hot bean paste is made from fermented soybeans and crushed chiles, used to season Asian foods and as a condiment. It is sold in jars or cans in Asian markets or specialty grocery stores.

Hot chili bean paste (Doubanjiang ) is a paste made of fermented soy beans, flour, red chilies, salt and garlic and used to season Asian foods and as a condiment. Pixian is a well-known variety named after the town in Sichuan province where it is produced.

Hot cross buns are small, sweet yeast buns with raisins or currants and sometimes chopped candied fruit, that are traditionally served on Good Friday. Before baking, a cross is slashed in the top of the bun then decorated with a sugar icing cross symbolic of the season.

Hotpotch is a rich, layered, vegetable and meat stew that has several variants. The English Lancashire hot pot contains mutton, sheep’s kidneys and, if available, oysters, covered with a layer of potatoes. Scots add barley and mutton or beef, occasionally grouse or rabbit. Beef is the preferred meat in the Dutch hutspot, in France and Belgium the dish is called hochepot and include pig’s ears and feet.

Hot-pepper sauces are made from hot, fresh or dried red chiles, vinegar, and salt and other herbs and spices and are used as an ingredient, seasoning and dipping sauce. There are many, many commercial brands available of widely varying intensity (measured in scovil units) and formulations. The best known is red-pepper sauce is Tabasco®.

Hubbard squash is a large winter squash (available from early September to March) with a thick, bumpy, hard shell ranging in color from dark green to bright orange. A fine source of vitamin A and iron and riboflavin, Hubbard squash is best boiled, baked or as a soup. The pretty yellow-orange flesh is often mashed or pureed and mixed with butter and seasonings.

Huevos rancheros is Spanish for “rancher’s eggs,” and are corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and accompanied with a piquant tomato salsa.

Hundred-year old egg (thousand-year egg, Ming Dynasty egg), are eggs that are preserved by coating with lime, ashes and salt and buried for 100 days. The petrifying process is supposed to make the egg look like it’s been buried for a century. The black outer coating and shell discarded and the egg, amber-colored has white and creamy interior with jade green yolk. The flavor is pungent and cheese like. Preserved eggs are usually eaten uncooked, either for breakfast or as an appetizer, often accompanied by soy sauce or minced ginger. Chickens eggs are commonly used, though duck and goose eggs are also preserved in this manner.

Hush puppy is a small, fried cornmeal dumpling. Hushpuppies are a Southern specialty and a traditional accompaniment for fried catfish. Their name is said to come from cooks who tossed scraps of the fried batter to the hungry begging pets and telling them to “Hush, puppy.”

Hydroponics is the science of growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution rather than in soil that dates from the 1930s. The air and light in a hydroponic enclosure is strictly controlled to insure optimal production. Vegetables can be planted much closer together than in the field and hydroponic farms are not besieged by weeds and pests, which means crops are pesticide free. Hydroponics are ideal in areas where the climate is inhospitable or the soil is unsuitable to conventional farming.

Hyssop is a member of the mint family with aromatic, dark green leaves and deep blue or pink flowers that have a minty or licorice flavor. Hyssop is used in salads, fruit dishes, fish and with fatty meats. It’s also used as flavoring in the liqueur of Monastic origins, Chartreuse.


Induction cooking is a fairly recent technology whereby cookware is heated using magnetic energy. It requires a special smooth ceramic cook top with induction energy coils directly beneath the surface. These coils produce high-frequency alternating current from regular low-voltage direct current.
When cookware made of a magnetic-based material is placed on this special stove top, the molecules in the vessel begin to move so rapidly that the pan (not the stove top) becomes hot. Removing the pan from the cooking surface produces an immediate slowdown of the gyrating molecules, which means the pan begins to cool. This gives a cook immense control over what’s being heated.
Although most steel and cast-iron-based vessels work well, those made of aluminum, copper and some stainless steel can’t be used on an induction cook top because they aren’t magnetic. Special pans designed for induction cooking are available.

Infusion is the flavor that’s extracted from an ingredient such as tea leaves, herbs or fruit by steeping them in a liquid (usually hot). In contemporary culinary parlance, sauces that have been variously flavored (as with herbs) may also be called infusions.

Insalata, Italian for salad, insalata mista being a mixed salad and insalata verde referring to a salad of tossed greens. The word derives from Latin for salt.

Invert sugar is created by combining a sugar syrup with a small amount of acid (such as cream of tartar or lemon juice) and heating. This process breaks down, or inverts, the sucrose into its two components, glucose and fructose reducing the size of the sugar crystals. Because of the finer crystalline structure, invert sugar produces a smoother product and is used in making candies, fondant, and some syrups. The process of making jams and jellies automatically produces invert sugar by combining the natural acid in the fruit with granulated sugar and heating the mixture.

Italian green beans, also known as romano beans, are flavorful, fresh green beans that are longer, wider, and flatter than most other varieties.

Italian Parsley, also known as flat leaf parsley, has a slightly peppery flavor and beautiful dark green color. More flavorful than its sibling curly parsley, Italian parsley can be used to garnish as well as add depth of flavor to a wide variety of preparations.

Izarra is an herb-flavored liqueur based on Armagnac, and is available in yellow and green varieties, the latter being the more potent of the two.


Jackfruit is a relative of the breadfruit and fig and can weigh up to 100 pounds. When green, both its flesh and edible seeds are included in curried dishes. Ripe jackfruit has a bland, sweet flavor and is generally used for desserts. Spiny and oval or oblong-shaped, this tropical fruit grows in parts of Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia. In the US. jackfruit is mostly available canned.

Jalapeño chiles or peppers are broad, tapering, thick-fleshed chiles that measure about 2 inches long, are dark green, although ripe red ones are also available. They are mildly hot with a distinctively sharp flavor. Jalapenos are sold fresh or canned and pickled. Smoked Jalapeños are called chipotles.

Jagermeister (means “hunt master”) and is a masterful blend of 56 herbs, fruits and spices into a 70-proof potent German liquor. Traditionally served icy cold and knocked back in one go. Its enormous, sudden popularity in the U,S, is a monument to marketing.

Jam is a combination of the pulp of a single fruit (rather than a combination), juice of said fruit and sugar, cooked until the mixture has an intense flavor, bright color, smooth, spreadable consistency. Jam is not to be confused with a jelly, marmalade, fruit butter, preserve or conserve. Apricot, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, peach, sweet and sour plum, raspberry, and strawberry are among the many prepared varieties of jam available. Berry jams such as blackberry and raspberry are available seedless.

Jamaican jerk is both a Caribbean dry seasoning blend and a process. Used primarily in the preparation of grilled meats like pork and chicken (referred to as “jerk pork” and “jerk chicken,” as well as fish even lobster.The often fiery rub ingredients can vary, but include chiles (Habaneros, allspice and cloves, thyme, garlic and onions). Jerk seasoning can be either rubbed directly onto meat, or blended with a liquid to create a marinade. The slowly cooked meat is then hacked from or “jerked” off the bones and eaten with rice and Ackee, or on soft bread.

Jambalaya is a cornerstone of Creole cookery. A versatile dish that combines cooked rice with a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, onion, green peppers (the holy Creole trinity) and almost any kind of meat, poultry or shellfish. The name derives from the French jambon, or “ham,” the main ingredient in many of the original jambalayas.

Jambon, French for “ham.” Jambon fumé is smoked ham, jambon cru is raw ham.

Jambon persillé A terrine of strips of cooked ham and chopped parsley held together with a meat-wine gelatin. It is served chilled and, when cut into slices, resembles a colorful red-and-green mosaic.

Japanese eggplants are a variety of the tender, sweet vegetable-fruit distinguished by their long, slender shape, pale purple color, fine flesh, and relative absence of seeds.

Jardinière, a la is the French culinary term referring to a dish garnished with vegetables set in parcels around the main dish.

Jarlsberg cheese is a popular low fat Norwegian cheese that resembles Swiss Emmenthaler, but has a slightly sweeter, nutty flavor.

Jasmine rice is a pleasantly fragrant rice from Thailand that recalls the blossoming Jasmine flower.

Jelly is a combination of fruit juice and sugar that has been cooked, usually with pectin, to make a clear, thick preserve. Jelly can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. Jelly is made by a similar process to jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. A cloth “jelly bag” is traditionally used as a filter to create the stained glass clarity. Cherry, grape, red currant, and strawberry are among those commonly available as are mint and hot pepper. Jellies are often used to make glazes.
The USDA treats jam and preserves as synonymous, but distinguishes jelly from jams and preserves.

Jerusalem artichoke, is not truly an artichoke but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that often resembles a ginger root. It also has nothing to do with Jerusalem but is derived instead from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. Because of its confusing moniker, modern-day growers have begun to market Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes, which is how they’re often labeled. The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet and crunchy. They are in season from October to March. Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw in salads or cooked by boiling or steaming and served as a side dish. They also make a delicious soup and are a good source of iron.

Jicama is a sweet, crunchy tropical tuber that resembles a radish in texture and a water chestnut in taste, and is enjoyed raw in salads and other cold dishes. Peel away the thin brown skin from the crisp white flesh before using.

John Dory is an odd-looking fish with an oval, flat body and a large, spiny head found in European waters, The John Dory’s flesh is delicate and mild and can be cooked in a variety of ways including grilling, sautéing and poaching.

Johnnycake dates back to the early 1700s and may be the original pancake. It’s a flattish griddle cake made of cornmeal, salt and either boiling water or cold milk; (strong advocates of both versions exist). Today’s johnnycakes often have eggs, oil or melted butter and leavening (such as baking powder) added. Some renditions are baked in the oven, more like traditional cornbread. Also called hoe cake remembering the time when they were cooked on a blazing hot hoe blade.

Jordan almonds are large, plump almonds, imported from Spain and sold plain as well as encased in hard pastel candy coatings of various colors and silver and gold foil called Dragees.

Julienne are foods that have been cut into thin, match stick strips. Or the verb, julienne, to cut food into very thin strips.

Juniper berries are the aromatic, small dried berries of a prickly evergreen bush commonly used in pickling mixtures, marinades and to season poultry and game. These astringent blue-black berries are native to both Europe and America. In Germany and Alsace they are used in sauerkraut, and in the Northern regions of France juniper is used in pates and with game. Juniper berries are too bitter to eat raw and are usually sold dried and generally are crushed before use to release their flavor. They provide the hallmark flavor and aroma of gin. The name is derived from the French for juniper berry, genièvre, which is the French name for gin.


Kaffir lime is a small, round, gnarled variety of lime indigenous to Southeast Asia-known as limau perut in Malaysia and makrut in Thailand. The leaves and rind are used in curry pastes and other dishes as a source of intense, citrusy aroma and flavor. The leaves are most common in their dried form, although they can also be found fresh or frozen.

Kahlúa is the proprietary name for a popular commercial Mexican brand of coffee liqueur.

Kalamata olives are almond-shaped, dark purple to nearly black, Greek olives (also spelled calamata) that range in length from about 1/2 to 1 inch, and are rich in flavor of the fruit. Often encountered as slit, to allow the wine vinegar marinade in which they’re soaked to penetrate the flesh. They are marketed packed in either olive oil or vinegar.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, has ruffled dark green leaves and has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. Kale has a mild, cabbage flavor and comes in many varieties and colors – most commonly available in the United States is deep green, variously tinged with shades of blue or purple. It is eaten fresh or cooked, or used as a decorative garnish. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable providing ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron and is best during the winter months, though it’s available year-round in most parts of the country

Kalonji, also known as black onion seed or nigella, is a small black seed similar in appearance to poppy seed, but much different in flavor. Although most commonly found in Indian cooking, kalonji was found in the spice gardens of monasteries during the Middle Ages in Western Europe. At that time, the seeds were roasted, wrapped in cloth, and used in a poultice believed to restore the sense of smell. In the Northern part of India, kalonji are baked into many of the breads (naan), used to flavor legumes (dals) such as lentils or peas and is found in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Kasha in America are oven-toasted, hulled grains of buckwheat-either whole or coarse, medium or finely ground with a full, nutlike, slightly sour flavor. In Russia, the word kasha includes various cooked grains as buckwheat, millet and oats.

Kasseri cheese is a Greek sheep’s or goat’s milk cheese with a semi-hard consistency similar to a cheddar, punctuated by a few tiny holes, and a taste reminiscent of feta or a young pecorino.

Kaymak is a Turkish thickened cream used mostly in desserts not too dissimilar from English-style clotted cream or French crème fraîche.

Kedgeree is a popular English breakfast based on an East Indian preparation of rice, lentils and onions, Anglicized in the 18th century with the addition of added flaked smoked fish, hard-cooked eggs, peas and cream sauce.

Kefir, reminiscent in both taste and texture of a liquid yogurt was once made from camel’s milk from high in the Caucasus-a 750-mile-long mountain range between the Caspian and Black seas. Today it’s more commonly a slightly sour brew of fermented cow’s milk with about 2 1/2 percent alcohol.

Key lime pie is a custard pie very similar to a lemon meringue pie, with a crumb or pastry crust made with the yellowish, very tart Key limes from Florida.

Kefalotiri cheese is a hard, yellow common Greek grating cheese, made from unpasteurized sheep’s or goat’s milk.

Ketchup, has a long history but is today a bright red all-American condiment whose main ingredient is tomatoes flavored with onions, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and spices.

Kibbeh; kibbi is a fried snack that combines ground meat (usually lamb), Bulghur wheat and various flavorings and spices and is popular in Lebanon and Syria.

Kidney beans, named for their kidney shape, are dried beans with a robust flavor and a slightly mealy texture. Both red and white kidney beans are available dried or precooked in cans.

Kielbasa, is a Polish smoked precooked sausage usually made of pork, though beef can also be added, about 2 inches in diameter and sold in a long ring. Kielbasa can be served separately or cut into pieces as part of a dish (nice in a choucroute garni). Kielbasa tastes best when heated.

Kimchee; kimchi spicy-hot, extraordinarily pungent condiment made of fermented vegetables such as cabbage or turnips that have been pickled before being stored in tightly sealed pots or jars and buried in the ground. Kimchee is served at almost every Korean meal.

Kir is a white wine that is flavored with a soupçon of cassis, usually served as an aperitif. When made with champagne, it’s referred to as a kir royale.

Kishke; kishka are Jewish-American sausages made with flour, matzo meal, fat, onions and the cook’s choice of ground meat. The mixture is stuffed into a beef casing before being steamed, then roasted.

Kissel comes in second only to ice cream as Russia’s favorite dessert. It’s a sweetened fruit puree thickened with either cornstarch or potato flour giving it a soft-custard texture. Can be served hot or cold, usually topped with cream or a custard sauce.

Kiwano, also called a horned melon, is an oval fruit from New Zealand ranging in length from 3 to 5 inches with a bright yellow skin studded with stubby “horns.” The kiwano’s sweet-tart pulp is a pale yellow-green color with a jellylike texture and a flavor evocative of bananas and cucumbers.

Kiwi fruit; kiwifruit, properly known as the Chinese gooseberry, is an odd-looking furry named for the flightless bird of the same name also from New Zealand. Inside there is hidden brilliant green flesh, with tiny edible black seeds with a flavor combining nuances of pineapple and strawberry and are a good source of vitamin C. The kiwi is cultivated in both New Zealand and California and is pretty much available year-round. New Zealand’s popular Pavlova dessert features this fruit’s beauty and flavor.

Knockwurst come from the German knack (“crack”) referring to the sound the sausage makes when bitten into. They are found in short, thick links of precooked beef and/or pork sausage that is well flavored with garlic and may be boiled or grilled before serving, often with sauerkraut.

Kobe beef is an exclusive grade of pampered beef cattle raised in Kobe, Japan. Massaged with sake and fed a special diet that includes plentiful amounts of beer, results in meat that is extraordinarily tender and full-flavored and extravagantly expensive.

Kohlrabi, also called cabbage turnip, is in fact a member of the turnip family. Like the turnip, both its purple-tinged, white bulb like stem (under 3 inches in diameter are the most tender) and its greens are edible. Available from mid-spring to mid-fall. Tastes like a mild, sweet turnip. Rich in potassium and vitamin it is best steamed, but can also be added to soups, stews and stir fires.

Kosher salt is a coarse salt, containing no additives, dissolves quickly and is preferred by many professional chefs for its texture and flavor. It is also known as pickling, rock or just coarse salt.

Kourabiedes are popular buttery-rich melt-in-the-mouth Greek cookies that are served on festive occasions such as christenings, weddings and holiday celebrations. Kourabiedes come in various forms from balls to ovals to S-shapes, may contain nuts or not, and are always rolled in confectioner’s sugar after baking. At Christmas time, a clove inserted in the top symbolizes the rare spices brought to Christ by the Magi.

Kreplach are small noodle dumplings filled with chopped meat or cheese and simmered in broth or as part of a soup.

Kudzu, a fast-growing legume-family plant and a popular food in Japan and China for thousands of years, was introduced to the United States in 1876. Here it is used primarily as pasturage and for erosion control. Most of the plant , however, can be eaten. It’s the tuberous roots (which have been known to weigh up to 450 pounds and reach 7 feet in length) that offer this plant’s real premium. These roots are dehydrated and pulverized, and it is this starchy kudzu powder that is high in fiber, protein and vitamins A and D and is used in myriad ways from thickening soups and sauces to dredging foods for deep-frying.

Kugel is a baked pudding usually made with potatoes or noodles, though meat, vegetables, and other ingredients are sometimes included. Traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath. Generally served as a side dish, a sweet version with raisins and spices is equally delicious as dessert.

Kugelhopf; kugelhupf is a molded light yeast cake filled with raisins, candied fruits and nuts, and generally embellished with a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Bakers from Austria, Alsace, Germany and Poland all claim credit for this regional treat traditionally baked in a special fluted kugelhopf ring mold.

Kummel is a sweet, colorless liqueur flavored with caraway seed, cumin and fennel.

Kumquat is the diminutive member of the citrus family resembling a tiny oval orange. Cultivated in China, Japan and the United States the edible golden orange rind is sweet, the dry flesh very tart. Although Kumquats are a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C, and the entire fruit -skin and flesh – may be eaten, only very ripe fruit can be sliced and served raw in salads. Best use is as a garnish. It is found cooked, candied or pickled whole or in preserves or marmalades. Fresh kumquats are available from November to March.


Langouste is a spiny lobster in French

Langoustine is a variety of small lobster found in the North Atlantic. To the French this is the word for a Prawn (Langoustino to the Spanish).

Langues de Chat are finger shaped sweet biscuits so named because they resemble cat’s tongues.

Lard is rendered pork fat. Best to use real lard rather than a processed hydrogenated product.

Lasagne are broad, flat noodles used to make the dish known as lasagna. They are available fresh and dried and in a “no-boil,” pre-cooked and re-dried, version. See more under the Curious Cook’s Glossary.

Latkes are potato pancakes that are a fundamental dish of Jewish cuisine often served with apple sauce.

Lavash is a soft, very thin, oblong or square flat bread of Armenian origin.

Lavender is an ancient herb with pale purple spikes of aromatic flowers that has been used for centuries as an essential oil in soaps and sachets and is dishes sweet and savory. It is essential to mixture called herbs de Provençce.

Laver, or purple laver, is a dried seaweed sold in thin squares used in soups, baking or deep fried.

Leeks, members of the onion (alium) family, are long and cylindrical with a pale white root end and dark green leaves and are sweet, moderately flavored. Grown in sandy soil, they tend to collect grit between their tightly layered leaves; clean thoroughly before use.

Legumes are groups of plants that have double seamed pods containing a single row seeds. Legumes is French for vegetables.

Lemon curd is a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, butter, and egg yolks. The creamy mixture are thickened by slow cooking, and is spreadable once cooled.

Lemon grass is a stiff, reed like grass with a sharp, lemony flavor. It’s aromatic, citrus like flavor is essential to traditional Southeast Asian and Asian fusion recipes.

Lentils are small, disk-shaped seeds of dried legumes, available in several colors, including brown, red, green and yellow, and have a rich, earthy flavor when cooked.

Lentin is French Shiitake.

Light cream typically contains between 18 and 30 percent fat. Also known as table cream.

Lima beans are flat, greenish white kidney-shaped beans with a mild flavor and a soft texture available fresh in the shell, or shelled and dried or frozen.

Lingcod, also known as buffalo cod, a saltwater fish, is a member of the greenling family common to the Pacific Ocean and the North American coast. Lingcod is lean, mild-flavored, flaky white flesh.

Linguica, is a Portuguese dried sausage with a distinctive garlicky flavor.

Linguine, Italian for “little tongues,” are long, narrow ribbons of pasta resembling flattened spaghetti.

Liptauer Cheese is an Hungarian cheese made from ewe’s milk and is seasoned with paprika, garlic, onion, and occasionally anchovies, capers and other herbs and spices.

Liqueurs, also known as cordials, are alcoholic beverages often made from an infusion of a spirit, high in alcohol, ranging from 50 to 110 proof, with a flavoring agent, such as fruits or nuts.

Litchis (Lychee) are the small, plump, slightly cylindrical fruits of the litchi tree of southern China. They have a brittle brown skins encasing sweet, perfumed, moist white flesh. Fresh litchis are best and may be found in early summer; also available tinned in water or syrup.

Littleneck clams are small hard-shell clams (less than 2 inches in size), with tan-grey shells and chewy, tasty meat typically prepared, raw and eaten on the half shell.

Lobsters are fascinating ancient crustaceans of several varieties found in saltwater areas worldwide. Firm, sweet, white tail meat and pink (when cooked) claw meat are prized succulent delicacies. Significant varieties are the Main (homard Américaine to the French) spiny lobster and the Norway lobster.

Loganberries, hybrids of the blackberry and raspberry, resemble long, shiny raspberries but have a sharper flavor. Available in early to mid summer.

Long-grain rice can be divided into two broad categories; brown and white. Its length is 4-5 times its width, and separates easily when cooked due to low starch content.

Loquat, or the Japanese medlar plum, is a small medium sized pale apricot colored fruit with two to four dark brown pips and is sweet and juicy when fully ripened. They are native to Japan and china and grow in wild profusion all over Bermuda where they are treated as a take as you go snack.

Lotus root is an underwater dark reddish brown root that grows to be as long as four feet and must to be peeled before using. The flesh is a creamy white and tastes similar to coconut and is available fresh, canned, dried or candied and is used as a vegetable and in dessert dishes.

Lotus seeds, also known as hasu and renkon in Japanese have a sweet, delicate flavor and are eaten both fresh and dried eaten out of hand or used in desserts.

Loukanika is a fresh Greek pork sausage traditionally flavored with orange zest, marjoram, coriander, and allspice.

Lumpia is a Philippine take on the egg roll.

Lumpfish roe are the eggs that come from the lumpfish species of fish. The eggs are harvested, dyed, and market the same as more expensive caviar.


Macadamia nuts, are the spherical nuts of an Australia evergreen tree. They have a very rich, buttery flavor and a crisp texture and are grown intensively in Hawaii and Central America. Packaged shelled macadamias are roasted and sold salted or unsalted as a snack food. Macademia contains approximately 22% Omega-7 palmitoleic acid. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.

Macaroon is a small cookie traditionally made of almond paste or ground almonds mixed with sugar and egg whites. Macaroons can be flavored with various ingredients such as chocolate and glazed. Coconut macaroons are a sticky variation substituting coconut in place of almonds.

Mace is the lacy red outer net like covering of the nutmeg, is ground and has more mild aroma that the kernel that it covers.

Macédoine (It. Macedonia) a colorful melange of fruit (or vegetables) cut in small cube and served raw or cooked.

Mache, also called lamb’s lettuce, is a tender, vivid salad greens with a slightly nutty flavor.

Mackerel is a saltwater fish, related to tuna, with oily, rich-tasting, pale flesh.

Madeira is a sweet, amber-colored fortified white dessert wine that originated on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Solera-ized it is baked in its cask imparting a slightly caramelized flavor.

Madelaines are tiny, fluted French sponger cakes taken with tea of coffee and immortalized by Marcel Proust in his serial novels, “Remembrance of Things Past”.

Madrilene is a consommé flavored with tomatoes and may be served hot, chilled or jellied.

Mahi Mahi, the Hawaiian name for dolphin fish, is a fat fish with firm, flavorful flesh.

Magret, is French for a duck breast, usually prepared boneless.

Malted milk powder is a blend of dry milk and malted cereal; also available in chocolate flavor.

Maltose, also known as malt sugar, is a disaccharide that plays an important role in the fermentation of alcohol by converting starch to sugar.

Manchego is a classic hard, tangy Spanish cheese made from cow’s milk. The black tire tread rind is an identifying characteristic.

Mango is an oval-shaped tropical fruit with very juicy, aromatic orange flesh and yellow skin tinged with orange when ripe. There are more than 500 cultivars, the most commonly seen in US produce markets are: Haden, Keitt, Kent, Tommy Atkins.

Manila Clams are a type of bivalve, edible mollusks which live in sand and are generally found at low tide common to the Pacific Northwest. They were accidentally introduced in the 1930’s with oysters brought from Japan.

Maple extract is made by dissolving maple flavoring in an alcohol base. Look for products labeled “pure” or “natural” maple extract.

Maple syrup, made by boiling the sap (40 ltrs sap = 1 ltr syrup) of the maple tree, has a rich, sweet complex flavor and deep caramel color. Pure maple syrup contains a single ingredient: maple syrup. Maple syrup is 89% sucrose, with a small portion of glucose and fructose. A tablespoon of maple syrup contains 50 calories. Grades of Maple syrup are: Grade A – The highest grade divided into Light, Medium, and Dark Amber. The darker the color, the more intense the flavor. In Vermont, the official designation for Grade A Light Amber is Fancy; Grade B – Dark, strongly flavored syrup with good maple flavor and hints of caramel; generally used for cooking.; Grade C – Commercial grade, very dark, used in commercial cooking, often found in the table syrup blends.

Marc de Champagne is a clear, colorless powerful brandy made by distilling the residue of skins, seeds, and stalks left from the pressing of grapes in the first stage of making Champagne.

Margarine is a vegetable fat, emulsifiers, preservatives and coloring processed by hydrogenation to resemble the taste, texture, and appearance of butter. It is 80% fat and 16% water.

Marinara sauce, sailor’s style sauce, is a simple Italian tomato sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, oregano and often basil and capers.

Marjoram, a member of the mint family, is a pungent, aromatic herb used fresh or dried to season meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and eggs.

Marmite is a tall ceramic covered pot used by the French for slow stewed items like pot-au-feu. Marmite is also the propriety name for a sticky meat based yeast extract favored by the British.

Marsala an amber colored wine made in Sicily (and elsewhere) in sweet (fine) and dry (Superiore) versions. Enjoyed as an apertif, as a cordial and used in cooking.

Mascarpone cheese is a thick, bland, rich Italian creamy cheese that is similar to French crème fraîche. It is used to enrich sauces or desserts and may be sweetened and flavored.

Matzo meal is a fine-textured meal ground from matzo, the Jewish unleavened bread. It is used as the main ingredient in matzo balls as well as in baking, as a breading for fried foods, and as a thickening agent.

Maui onions, have brown skins and remarkably sweet flesh and are grown in Hawaii.

Mayonnaise is a rich, creamy dressing made with egg yolks, oil, mustard, and vinegar or lemon juice. It has multiple uses-as a condiment, as a seasoning ingredient, and as a thickener. Mayonnaise vert is flavored (and colored) with one or all of the following: tarragon, parsley, watercress and basil. See the Curious Cook’s Glossary for more.

Maytag cheese is a superb American blue-veined cheese, with a fairly firm consistency.

Melba a fruit sauce made from pureed raspberries and a component of Peche Melba named for the Opera Star Dame Nellie Melba. The Peach Melba is a classic dessert, invented in 1892 or 1893 by Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London. It was served in an ice swan to pay homage to Melba’s triumph in Wagner’s Lohengrin.

Meuniere is French for Miller’s Wife and describes a simple preparation in which food (e.g., fish) has been dusted with flour and sautéed in butter.

Merlot is a red-wine grape grown in France, California, and the Pacific Northwest. The wine produced is similar in flavor to cabernet sauvignon, but tends to be softer and more mellow. Merlot is often used as a blending grape.

Mesclun is a mixture of young, small salad greens, especially baby lettuces such as mache (lamb’s lettuce), arrugula (rocket) oak leaf lettuce, endive, radicchio, less often purslane, dandelion. Traditionalists say they must be grown and picked together, and should number nine varieties. Mesclun can be found in specialty produce markets and in most supermarkets. Not to be confused with mescaline the psychedelic methoxylated amphetamine from the button or bud of the Peyote cactus (Lophophora Williamsii).

Mezes are Greek (and Turkish) hors d’oeuvres.

Mezzeluna is an Italian double handled with half round single or double bladed knife for chopping or mincing.

Mezzelune are filled egg pasta is formed into half moons.

Milanaise, a la is a French preparation with a nod towards Milan style cuisine in which the food is dipped in egg and coated with flavored Parmesan flavored bread crumbs and sautéed.

Milk chocolate, which is enriched with milk powder (or condensed milk), is primarily an eating chocolate. Best quality is European. Latest trend — dark milk chcolate.

Mincemeat is a pie, tart or cookie filling made with raisins and dried currants, apples, candied citron, sweeteners, and spices macerated in rum or brandy. Once upon a time finely ground meat (and suet) was part of the recipe.

Minestrone, mean big soup, but the classic recipe is for a vegetable soup flavored with herbs sometimes garnished with pasta and has many “authentic” variations.

Mint is a refreshing, aromatic green sweet herb (Mentha) available in many varieties, spearmint being the most common. It is used to flavor sweet and savory dishes and is sold fresh in sprigs or dried.

Mirabelles are small round plums grown in Great Britain and in Europe with a skin that ranges from golden yellow to red. Used in tarts, preserves, sauces and from which the French make a fine eau-de-vie.

Mirin also referred to as rice wine or sake, is a low-alcohol, sweetened rice wine used for dressings, sauces and glazes.

Miso, a staple of Japanese cuisine, is a thick paste of salted soybeans, rice or barley fermented with yeast and aged up to three years. This wide variety of colors, tastes and textures exists – the lighter the color the sweeter the flavor. Miso soup is made from a dried fish stock, with tofu, miso and green onion.

Mizuna are pointed, feathery green leaves that have a delicate, flavor. It is most often used in a salad with other greens.

Mochi is a sweet, short-grained, glutinous rice with a high starch content used to make rice cakes. It is pounded in large tubs until it becomes extremely sticky and is then formed into balls or squares, also used in confections and made into rice flour called mochiko.

Molasses, a by-product of sugar refining is a thick, robust-tasting syrup that may or may contain sulfur. Light molasses results from the first boiling, dark molasses from the second.

Monkfish, also known as angler, is a saltwater fish with lean, mild-flavored, firm white flesh. The large tail is cut into fillets – available fresh or frozen.

Monterey jack cheese, made from whole, partly skimmed, or skimmed cow’s milk, is a semi-soft white melting cheese with a mild flavor and buttery texture. This California specialty was developed in the mid-19th century by Monterey farmer David Jacks as his own version of a cheese made by the friars in the Spanish missions. Pepper jack is a Jalapeño pepper flecked variation.

Montrachet cheese, a creamy white goat cheese from Burgundy with a mild tangy flavor. Montrachet is best when quite young and fresh. It’s sold in log shape plain, with herbs or covered with vegetable ash. Any goat cheese worth having should have some aromatic reminiscences of the barnyard about it.

Morbier is a mild semi-soft French cow’s milk cheese with an ivory interior with a center line of edible ash.

Morel is an edible buff to brown colored cone-shaped wild mushroom with a spongy or honeycombed appearance ranging in size from 2 to 4 inches, high and a hollow stem. Its color ranges from a tan to an extremely dark brown. It has a woodsy, smoky, nutty flavor. Available dried, tinned and fresh.

Morello Cherries are dark mahogany red in color and quite sour. Available dried, in preserves, tinned and packed in syrup – the juice is used in liqueurs and brandies.

Mortadella is a huge, mottled pork sausage that has a mildly spicy, smoky flavor and a fine texture and is a specialty of Bologna, Italy. The name is derived from “mortaio per carne di maiale,” the mortar in which the pork was ground.

Mostaccioli are pasta in the shape of “little mustaches,” often ridged (rigati) and cut on the diagonal.

Mostarda di Frutti is an Italian variant on a sweet and hot fruit chutney.

Mousse is French for foam, and by extension is applied to foods, sweet or savory, in which the overall dish is lightened by the addition of whipped egg whites. whipped cream or both. It can be applied to anything frothy — even laughter.

Mozzarella cheese, a rindless white, mild-tasting Italian cheese, is traditionally made from water buffalo’s milk and sold fresh. Commercially produced cow’s milk mozzarella is more common and sold immersed in water or brined milk. Small, bite-sized balls of fresh cheese are called bocconcini. Mozzarella is also found smoked (affumicata) with firmer texture and a tan color. Processed mozzarella is the ubiquitous pizza cheese and is the most commonly found variation.

Mui Choi are large, slightly bitter tasting mustard leaves preserved in spicy Sichuan pepper sauce and used as a condiment.

Muffineer is a British term for that table item used to sprinkle sugar on muffins that resembles an out-sized salt shaker.

Mulato chiles, similar to anchos, are a variety of dried poblano chile. They tend to have a darker color than ancho chiles and a fuller, slightly bitter taste.

Muli is Chinese for Oysters.

Muscat wine or muscatel wine is a sweet dessert wine made from muscat grapes grown throughout the Mediterranean. Made from black and white grape varieties, so the color varies from golden to a darker amber, the sweet fortified wine has a distinctive fruity slightly musty flavor.

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a superb sweet fortified dessert wine made near the village of Beaumes de Venise in France.

Mushrooms are any species of wild or cultivated fleshy fungus and are available in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, and colors – smooth, velvety, crenellated and honeycombed.

Musli is a cereal made from raw or toasted cereal gains like oats, barley, wheat, millet combined with dried fruits, nuts, bran, wheat germ, sugar and dried milk solids.

Mussels are bivalve mollusks with blue black shells and soft pale orange-colored flesh that is eaten raw or cooked.

Mustard is made from the seeds of the mustard pant a member of the cabbage family. Available as whole seeds; powdered and prepared smooth and coarse-grained. There are myriad variations from American bright yellow “Ballpark” mustard to searingly hot Chinese, to English, Dark German and popular pale, hot, and sharp French Dijon mustard made in Dijon, France.

Mustard oil is mainly derived from the seeds of a strain of mustard plant found in India. In Indian cuisine, it is used in vegetable stir-fry as well as a medium to deep-fry certain wafers and crackers. Raw it has therapeutic uses such as a salve for arthritis or to treat congestion (the venerated ‘mustard-plaster’).

Myrrh, also known as chervil is composed of dried sweet cicely seeds and has a mild anise flavor. Like frankincense, in whose company it is so often found in literature, is one of the most recognized substances from biblical times. It is however, much older, dating from some 3700 years ago.

Myrtille is French for blueberry as well as the name for the eau-de-vie made from blueberry, whortleberry or bilberry.

Mysore are Arabica coffee beans grown in India.

Mysost is a boiled cow’s milk Scandinavian cheese made from caramelized lactose with a light brown color and buttery taste. Varieties exist flavored with cinnamon, cloves, cumin and brown sugar available.


Naan is an Indian flat bread made with wheat flour and sourdough starter baked against the wall of the clay tandoor oven and emerging slightly puffy with a chewy texture.

Nachos are crisp tortilla chips and, by extension, the dish of chips topped with melted cheese, chiles , sour cream, salsa and refried beans.

Naip-kin is Hindi for napkin.

Nakiri-botcho is an elongated 8-inch Japanese cleaver type knife used to cut produce.

Nam Pla is Thai fermented fish sauce; Nuoc Mam to the Vietnamese

Nantua Sauce is a classic French sauce made by combining béchamel sauce with crayfish butter, creme fraiche and garnished with minced lobster or crayfish tails.

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage and Bok Choy, is an Asian variety with long, crisp, mild-flavored, pale green to white leaves.

Napoleon is a term that applies to Cognac and Armagnac that is at least 5 1/2 years old. It is also a dessert comprised of baked puff pastry (mille-feuille) inter layered with pastry cream. In contemporary cuisine almost any alternatively layered dish, sweet or savory, has been described as “a Napoleon of …”

Nasturtium is a perennial herb with edible leaves, flowers, and buds. Leaves and stems add a peppery accent to salads and sandwiches. The flower blossoms may be minced and used to flavor butter, cream cheese, or vinegar and whole flowers are a colorful and zesty addition to salads or as a garnish. In Victorian times the pickled buds have been used in the stead of capers.

Naval Rum is a generic term for spirits blended from West Indian rums. The reference is to the tradition of rum in the British Royal Navy.

Navy Beans, also known as Boston and Yankee beans, are white oval-shaped legumes whose name derives from its historical use as a staple in the U.S. Navy since the mid-1800s. Navy beans are the beans in pork and beans.

Nebbiolo is the predominant grape of Italy’s Piedmont region. Nebbiolo wine is full bodied and high in alcohol and tannins. Barolo is 100% Nebbiolo.

Nectarine is a smooth, rosy skinned, relative of the peach. Like the peach it is available in freestone and clingstone varieties.

Neeps are the Scottish or Old English term for root vegetables; today almost exclusively referring to turnips.

Negoçiant are French wine traders who buy and sell to wholesalers and exporters.

Negroni is a cocktail made with Campari, gin, sweet vermouth and a twist of lemon or orange.

Neige, French for snow, and used to describe egg whites whipped to firm peaks. When poached and served in creme anglaise they’re called ouefs a la neige or ile flotant.

Neufchatel, produced since the Middle Ages, are soft, ripe and un-ripened cows’ milk cheeses from Neufchatel-en-Bray in Normandy. The ripned version resembles Camembert. Available in a variety of shapes including heart-shaped, called, Coeur de Bray American cream cheese is sometimes imprecisely called by this name.

New potatoes are small and immature, red-skinned potatoes harvested in early summer. Yellow-skinned new potatoes are also available.

Niacin is another name for Vitamin B3.

Niçoise Olives are small black olives native to southern France and the Mediterranean region. Any dish a la Niçoise means in the manner of the cuisine of Nice and is characterized by the inclusion of tomatoes, garlic, onions, olives and anchovies. A Niçoise salad is composed of tomatoes, green beans, olives, boiled potato, tuna, hard cooked egg, anchovy dressed with olive oil garlic vinaigrette.

Nigella seeds come from the annual herb Nigella sativa and are tiny, black and slightly peppery and are common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Sometimes called black cumin to which they bear no taste resemblance. They are the black specks in string cheese.

Noble Rot is a wine term for Botrytis cinerea, the desirable mould that forms on grape skins reducing the moisture and concentrating the sugar responsible for sweet wines like Sauternes, Barsac, Tokay and Beerenauslese.

Noisette is French for hazelnut. The term also applies to a small round slice of meat taken from the tenderloin of veal, lamb or beef.

Noix is French for walnut.

Noix de Coco is French for coconut.

Nondairy topping, a whipped topping containing no dairy products. It is high in saturated fat and made from coconut oil, palm oil or hydrogenated oil, sweeteners, emulsifiers and preservatives.

Non-reactive means cooking utensils or vessels that do NOT react with acids or brine to discolor foods or form toxins. Non-reactive items include any undamaged non-stick interiors, flameproof glass, stainless steel, enameled iron or steel. Reactive metals are uncoated iron and copper (which can produce toxins when used with highly acidic foods); and aluminum (which will darken some fruits and become pitted with salty mixtures).

Nopales are the edible pads or paddles of the prickly pear cactus.

Norway Lobsters are found in the Northern Atlantic, have claws and elongated tails and are salmon to brick red in color growing to a maximum length of 9-inches.

Nori are a paper-thin sheet of seaweed used as a wrapper for sushi and as a flavoring or garnish.

Nouilles is French for noodles.

Nutmeg, is the hard, brown (when dried) seed of the fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans) native to the East Indies. Highly aromatic, best freshly grated and used extensively in sweet and savory preparations and beverages.


Oak Leaf Lettuce so named because of its resemblances to the leaves of an oak tree are tender, mild and have edges tinged with red.

Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat kernel or bran, a fine source of dietary fiber often consumed as a cereal and used to add flavor and texture to baked goods.

Oat flour, a fine flour ground from dried oats, has a characteristic nutlike flavor. It is used in combination with wheat flour.

Oatmeal, a cereal ground from hulled oats, is available in three textures: coarse, medium, and fine. Old-fashioned rolled oats have been flattened into flakes and are preferred over quick-cooking oats for baking. Steel cut oats, also known as Irish and Scotch oats, are toasted oat groats cut into two or three pieces per grain and requires a longer cooking time than rolled oats.

Oatmeal Stout a dark, rich flavored stout produced by the addition of oatmeal to roasted malt during the brewing process.

Oaxaca Cheese, also known as Chihuaha, is a bland, white cows’ milk cheese that comes from Oaxaca, Mexico and is known for its excellent melting properties.

Oaxaca chocolate is made from Cacao that is grown in Oaxaca and Chiapas, where it is ground, usually mixed with cinnamon, sugar and almonds, and pressed into tablets.

Obst is German for fruit.

Oca is Italian and Spanish for goose.

Occhi du lupo meaning wolf’s eyes, are meant to describe large tubular shaped pasta.

Oeuf is French for egg.

Oeufs a la Neige means snow eggs, whipped egg whites floating in creme Anglaise, also known as floating island.

Oie is French for goose.

Oka is a mild, cows’ milk cheese that closely resembles Port Salut and is made by Canadian Trappist monks.

Okra are mild, slender, green, 2-3 inch seed pods, of a tropical plant of the hollyhock family native to Africa. Popular in southern US cuisine, when cooked, okra releases a viscous substance that can serve as a thickening agent. Okra is essential to authentic New Orleans Gumbo. Okra in swahili is ‘nGumbo.

Old Bay Seasoning is the proprietary name for a spice blend that includes paprika, dry mustard, celery seed and other spices that is superb for preparing shellfish and has found favor sprinkled on french fries.

Olive oil is pressed from the fruit of the olive tree. Olive oils range in flavor from mild to intensely fruity, even peppery. Extra-virgin olive oil, extracted from olives on the first pressing without use of heat or chemicals, is prized for its pure, fruity taste and golden to pale green hue and is preferred over other types of olive oil for use in salad dressings and as a condiment in other dishes. Virgin olive oil has a somewhat less-refined flavor. Olive oil labeled “pure” is less aromatic and flavorful and may be used for general cooking purposes.

Olive paste, also called tapenade, when it is made from black olives, anchovies, capers (tapeno in Occitane), and olive oil, often seasoned with garlic and herbs.

Olivet is a soft French 45% fat cows’ milk artisinal cheese available in three varieties: Bleu (blue), Cedré (ash) and au foin (in the hay of Olivet). The cheese is named for the town of its origin, Olivet, in the Loire Valley.

Oloroso is a type of medium sweet, full bodied sherry that has an amber to dark walnut color.

Onglet is a popular French cut of beef that consists of two small muscles and the connective membrane and is also called hanger steak.

Orange roughy is a fish from New Zealand and Australia that has become popular in the United States. It has a bright orange skin, firm white flesh, a mild flavor and can be poached, baked, broiled or fried.

Orange spice tea consists of leaves of black tea flavored with dried orange peel, cloves, and other spices — Constant Comment by Bigelow is the best known.

Orange-flower water, made from the distillation of bitter-orange blossoms, has an alluringly sweet perfume. Used in Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in baked goods, various sweet and savory dishes and a variety of beverages.

Orecchiette, means “little ears” in Italian and are pasta shapes that vaguely resemble them. They are wonderful for catching the sauce.

Oregano, also known as wild marjoram, is an aromatic, pungent, peppery herb, popular in Greek, Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine and sold as fresh sprigs or chopped dried leaves.

Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rosewater.

Orzo is a very small pasta the shape and size of rice.

Osetra Caviar are highly prized, medium sized, golden yellow to brown eggs (roe) of a Caspian sturgeon.

Osso Buco is an Italian casserole of braised veal shanks.

Oursin is French for sea urchin.

Ouzo is an unsweetened, strongly anise-flavored liqueur from Greece that turns cloudy when water is added much like Pastis or Pernod.

Oxtail is a fabricated cut of beef. Primarily the round portion of the tail which contains many bones, but is quite flavorful. Depending upon the age of the animal, it can be tough, and requires long, slow braising. It is most commonly found as oxtail soup. Originally from ox, the term today often refers to beef tail or veal tail or leg.

Oyster mushrooms are Asian mushrooms with a flavor reminiscent of oysters, have a tender texture and are white, gray, or pink in color.

Oyster sauce is a popular bottled Chinese seasoning made by blending steamed oysters with soy sauce and salt.

Oysters are a large family of bivalve mollusks found in saltwater regions the world over. The size, shape, and flavor vary greatly from area to area. A delicacy eaten raw or cooked, they are available live in the shell or already shucked and sold with their liquor.

Oyster plant, also known as salisfy, is a root vegetable with white flesh and a delicate flavor reminiscent of oysters.


Pad Thai is a popular Thai stir-fried dish containing noodles, tofu, peanuts, bean sprouts, nam pla (fish sauce), garlic and chiles.

Paella is a well known Spanish dish of rice with sausages, shellfish, poultry and vegetables, seasoned with saffron.

Paglia is a cows’ milk, semi-soft Gorgonzola like cheese made in Switzerland.

Paillarde is a French culinary term for a slice of meat or poultry that has been pounded to a certain thinness and usually grilled.

Pain complet is French for whole wheat bread.

Pain d’epicé is French for spice cake or gingerbread.

Palmier is a French cookie, also called elephant and pig’s ears, made from puff pastry pressed in granulated sugar before baking.

Palm sugar, also known as jaggery, is derived from boiling the sap of the Palmyra and other varieties of palm tree. Brown in color, it is coarse with a sticky texture and is used in Asian and Indonesian dishes. Available in logs, tubs, or cans.

Palomino is a Spanish white wine grape principally used in the manufacture of sherry (also grown in Australia, South Africa and California).

Pompano is a small dolphin fish.

Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit.

Panage is a French culinary term for coating foods with breadcrumbs before frying.

Pancetta is a mild, spicy-sweet Italian-style pork bacon cured with salt, pepper and other spices. Most commonly found un-smoked, rolled into a large sausage shape and sliced to order.

Panch Puran is a Bengali five-spice powder containing mustard, fenugreek, cumin, kalajeera (black cumin) and fennel seed.

Panda is a cocktail made from gin, Slivovitz (plum brandy), Calvados and orange juice.

Panela is a fresh Mexican cheese with a soft, slightly spongy texture.

Panforte, a Sienese specialty, combines nuts, honey, candied fruit and spices into a dense round cake coated with confectioner’s sugar.

Panko are large flake Japanese breadcrumbs made from crustless white bread.

Panna cotta, cooked cream in Italian, is a molded custard dessert not unlike a creme caramel or flan.

Papaya is a tropical pear-shaped fruit, with a smooth, yellow skin and, when ripe, a soft, mild, sweet orange custardy flesh. Scoop out shiny black seeds before peeling and eating.

Pappadams are very thin East Indian flat breads made from lentil flour.

Pappardelle are flat ribbons of pasta, up to 1 1/4 inches wide, often served with a game sauce.

Paprika is a powdered spice derived from the dried, red skinned, paprika chiles available in sweet, mild, and hot forms. Hungarian paprika is more pungent than Spanish.

Pareve is a labeling term indicating a food made without animal or dairy ingredients and, according to Jewish dietary law, may be combined or eaten with either in the same meal.

Paris-Brest is a ring-shaped French pastry made with pastry creme filled, crispy baked, pate a choux sprinkled with toasted almonds and confectioner’s sugar. The name derives from the bicycle race held in 1891 between Paris and Brest.

Parmentier is a French culinary term used to describes dishes that include potatoes, recalling the 18th century popularizer of the potato, Antoine Augustine Parmentier.

Parmigiano-Reggiano, produced only in Parma and the surrounding region (Bologna, Mantua, Modena), is a hard, sharp cows’ milk cheese considered by many to be among the finest cheeses in the world. Primarily used in grated form, when fully aged (2-3 years), it is delightful table cheese when still somewhat young. All other so called Paremsan cheeses pale by comparison.

Parsley is a bright green herb, used as both a seasoning and a garnish, which adds a clean, fresh flavor and a decorative color. Available in two varieties – mild curly-leaf, and flat-leaf Italian parsley, which resembles cilantro in appearance, and has a more pronounced pungency.

Parsnips are root vegetables similar in shape and texture to carrots with a creamy white skin and flesh and an appealingly sweet flavor. Unlike carrots, they are always eaten cooked.

Pasilla, are dried chilaca chiles with a rich, spicy flavor with hints of fruit measuring up to 6 inches, and are also known as “chiles negros.”

Passion fruit is native to Brazil but it is now grown in Australia, California, Hawaii and Florida. The fruit is available from February through November. This round, dark purple fruit is best when wrinkled and soft. The outer shell must be cut carefully to extract the runny juice and seedy pulp inside. The pulp and seeds are edible, but are generally used in sauces, sorbet and exotic fruit drinks.

Pasta, “paste” in Italian, refers to the dough made by combining durum wheat flour and semolina with a liquid, usually water or milk, and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in both dried and fresh forms. There are hundreds of pasta shapes, sizes, thicknesses and colors. Here are a few of the best known: angel hair, bucatini, cappelletti, conchiglie, farfalle, fedelini, fettuccine, fusilli, gemelli, gnocchi, lasagne, linguine, mezzelune, mostoccioli, orzo, pappardelle, penne, radiatori, ravioli, rigatoni, rotini, ruote (wheels), spaghetti, tagliarini, tagliatelle, tortellini, tubetini, ziti.

Pastry Flour has a protein level of 9-10% (as opposed to 12-13%) found in bread flour. Protein gives structure and strength to baked goods by the amount of gluten that develops. Depending on the finished product, different amounts of this protein are desired. Most pastries require the lower levels of protein found in a softer flour such as pastry flour; whereas bread demands a higher level.

Pasta frolla is rich, sweet Italian pastry dough.

Pastille is French for any lozenge shaped candy, usually a hard candy but can be chocolate as well.

Pate is generic for any dough, paste of batter. Paté is a savory meat (fish, shell fish, vegetable) filled pastry wrapped loaf, served hot or cold. Terrines prepared without pastry are often imprecisely called paté. To further confound and confuse, there is pate en croute which is a paté baked in a pastry crust.

Pate sablée is a French sweet, short dough used to make pies, tartlets and cookies.

Pattypan squash are medium sized, round, flattened summer squash with a fluted or scalloped edge and pale green color and flesh.

Pavlova is a well known Australian/New Zealand dessert of a crisp meringue shell filled with whipped cream and Kiwi or passion fruit, named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Peanut, also called Goobers (from the African ‘nGuba) is a legume not a nut that grows underground and has a nut like flavor. They are available in the shell or shelled; raw or roasted; unsalted or salted. The Virginia peanut is longer, larger and more oval than the small, round red-skinned Spanish variety.

Peanut oil is derived from peanuts, and is pale gold and tastes subtly of peanuts. Its high smoking point makes it suitable for deep-frying and sautéeing.

Peanut sauce is made from peanut oil, garlic, onions, hot chiles, soy sauce and peanut butter or ground peanuts. A popular sauce in Asian and Indonesian cuisine, it is served with dishes such as satay andgado-gado.

Pearl barley are whole kernels of the mild-tasting grain (barley) that have been polished to a smooth surface and a pearl-like, lustrous gray finish making it easier to cook and digest.

Pearl onions are tiny white onions about 3/4 inch in diameter, added whole to stews and other dishes as much a garnish as a vegetable. They are also known as pickling and cocktail onions.

Pearl sugar is coarse granulated sugar polished to a pearl-like sheen and used as a decorating pastry and confections.

Peck is a unit of measurement equal to 1/4 bushel or 8 dry quarts.

Pecorino cheese is any Italian sheep’s milk cheese. Most have a pale ivory to yellow color and a pungent flavor. Two of the most popular aged forms are pecorino romano and pecorino sardo.

Peel is a large, smooth wooden paddle used to place, shift and remove pizza and yeast breads from the oven. Peel is also the skin or rind of a citrus fruit, in which resides most of the aromatic essential oils providing lively flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Peel is also the term referring to candied peel (including chopped candied fruits) used in baking.

Peking sauce, also known as Hoisin, is a reddish brown thick sticky sauce made from soybeans, chiles, garlic and spices used as a condiment and flavoring in Chinese (Mandarin) cuisine.

Pekoe are the medium sized grade of whole black tea leaves.

Pemmican is a mixture of buffalo and/or venison, fat, and berries compressed into a cake and dried. Native American cuisine— the original jerky.

Penne,“quills” in Italian, are tubes of pasta that have angled ends resembling pen nibs and are available smooth or ridged (rigate).

Pepato is an aged, hard, southern Italian (and Sicilian) salty-tangy ewes’ milk cheese with whole peppercorns incorporated. Great for grating.

Pepitas are edible pumpkin seeds used in Mexican cooking. Available salted, roasted or raw; with or without hulls.

Pepper, are the fruit of the large capsicum genus common to the western hemisphere. They exist in a wide range of sizes, colors and shapes and can be sweet, to searingly hot. Also called chiles.

Peppercorns (piper nigrum) are fully ripened, dried berries of a climbing vine native to Indonesia and India. The most common of all savory spices, once a coveted rarity, it is best freshly ground from whole and is available black, green (un-ripened, brined, pickled or freeze dried) or white (dried, skin removed). Pink Peppercorns are the dried berry of a South American rose plant available dried or pickled.

Pepper jack cheese is a variation of Monterey jack cheese made from whole, partly skimmed, or skimmed cows’ milk, to which chile peppers have been added.

Peppermint extract, a flavoring, is made by dissolving the essential oil of fresh peppermint leaves (Mentha piperita) in an alcohol base. It has a pleasant menthol aroma and flavor used in sweet dishes.

Pepperoncini, also known as Tuscan peppers, are dried, orange red, wrinkly, 2- to 3-inch long peppers with a medium hot flavor. Also available pickled.

Pepperoni is a cured Italian sausage made of pork and beef, highly seasoned with black and red pepper.

Pequin chile is a small conical, orange-red, dried chile that is intensely hot with a slightly sweet, smoky flavor.

Perciatelli, meaning pierced, are a long, thin, hollow form of spaghetti.

Perdix is French for partridge.

Perlage refers to the bubbles in a glass of champagne and how long they last.

Pernod is a proprietary name of anise flavored liqueur devised to take the place of Absinthe when it was outlawed. A revised formula Absinthe has recently been approved for sale.

Persimmons are aromatic autumn fruits with a smooth pale orange skin, and mild, very sweet, reddish orange, jelly-like flesh.

Pesto, a specialty of Genoa, is a traditional melange made of puréed basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano cheese, and olive oil often served with linguine of other pasta.

Petite Marmite is a rich, almost stew like, dish of meat and vegetables served in an earthenware pot, which is also a petite marmite.

Petrushka is Russian for parsley.

Pfeffernusse are hard, round spicy German cookies, traditionally served at Holiday time, made with honey, black pepper and rolled in confectioner’s sugar.

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid as well as a food additive used as a nutrient source to improve the biological quality of total protein in foods containing naturally occurring proteins.

Phoebe Snow is a cocktail made with cognac, Dubbonet rouge and Pernod.

Phyllo, leaf in Greek, are tissue-thin sheets of flour-and-water dough, (commercially made are 10 by 14 inches), used as wrappers for savory or sweet fillings (e.g., spanakopita, baklava) available fresh or frozen.

Picante is Spanish for spicy, and also is a Mexican red sauce (salsa) comprised of tomatoes, peppers and onions.

Pickles are cucumbers that have been preserved in brine or vinegar and pickling spices. Sour Jewish Deli pickles are preserved in brine, often with fresh dill. Sweet bread and butter pickles are prepared in vinegar with sugar added. Gherkins are sweet-flavored pickles made from small pickling cucumbers. Cornichons are tiny tart French pickles in vinegar.

Pico de Gallo, Spanish for rooster’s beak, is a sauce or relish of chopped jicama, onions, sweet peppers, orange, jalapeños and cucumber.

Pierogi are Polish dumplings stuffed with pork, onions, cabbage, mushrooms potatoes or rice that may be boiled baked or fried.

Pignon is French for pine nut.

Piment D’Espelette, a dried, small red pepper used as seasoning in French dishes grown in Espelette, in Labourd province. The peppers are sun and oven dried and ground into a fine, red powder with a complex sweet, fruity, mildly spicy aroma and taste.

Pimientos, Spanish for peppers, are large, red, heart-shaped sweet (capsicum) peppers. Used in making paprika and to stuff olives. In the Caribbean, pimento is another name for Allspice and the tree on which it grows.

Pimm’s cup No. 1 is a British gin-based spirit infused with herbs and spices, usually mixed with soda or ginger ale. No. 2 has a Whiskey base; No. 3. Brandy; No. 4 Rum.

Pine nuts, also called pignoli and pignon, are small, ivory-colored seeds extracted from the cones of a variety of pine trees (genus Pinus). Use in both savory and sweet dishes, they are essential to pesto Genovese.

Pinto beans are full-flavored, mealy-textured beans with distinctively mottled or “painted” brown-and-tan skins, are available dried and pre-cooked in tins.

Piperade is a Basque dish of cooked tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic in olive oil (or goose fat) and mixed with beaten eggs.

Pipo creme is a soft French blue veined cows’ milk cheese with an ivory interior and salty tang created to compete with Gorgonzola..

Pistou is a French provençal melange of basil, garlic, olive oil and sometimes cheese (like pesto without the pine nuts). It is also the title ingredient in the vegetable Soup au Pistou.

Pitu is Portuguese for prawns. It is also the proprietary name for a brand of cachaça.

Pizzelle is a crisp Italian cookie made from butter or oil, eggs, sugar, flour, and vanilla or anise. The batter is cooked in a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron, then usually dusted with powdered sugar.

Plaki is a Greek culinary term for braising fish with vegetables.

Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) is a large variety of banana often referred to as a cooking banana. It has a squash like flavor and is used, in various stages of ripeness in Mexican and Caribbean cooking.

Plum sauce is a sweet-tart, Chinese sauce of dried plums and apricots, sugar, vinegar, and spices. Sold in bottles, it is used as a condiment. Look for plum sauce in Asian markets and well-stocked food stores.

Plum tomatoes, also called Roma tomatoes, are egg-shaped tomatoes available Fresh, year-round and tinned whole in their juice, sometimes with basil leaf added for flavor. Imported Italian plum tomatoes, from San Marzano, are the most flavorful.

Poblano chiles are medium to hot, dark green chiles that resemble a triangular bell pepper up to 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. Mulatos are the smoked, dried version of this chile.

Poires Belle-Helene is a dessert of pears poached in vanilla syrup served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Poivre is French for pepper.

Polenta is Italian for ground cornmeal as well as the dish into which it is made. The cornmeal is long cooked and often enriched with butter, cream, cheese or eggs. Eaten hot or cooled, it may also be cut in shapes and grilled.

Pomegranates, (punica granatum), are fruits shaped like large oranges, with a leathery red skin concealing hundreds of glistening, crunchy ruby seed kernels. The juicy, sweet seeds are eaten on their own, used as a garnish, or squeezed to yield juice. Once the main ingredient in Grenadine, now a popular juice due to anti-oxidant claims.

Pomfret is a lean, delicate fish found in the North Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

Pommes is French for Apple.

Poppy seeds are small, spherical, blue-black seeds of a form of poppy with a rich, nutlike flavor used in baking and processed into oil.

Porcini mushrooms, in French cèpes,(also boletes), have a rich, meaty flavor and are available fresh or dried.

Pork meat is butchered from hogs into a variety of individual retail cuts. The most common are: bone-in and boneless shoulder roasts; front blade, roasts and bone-in blade chops; center loin, tender center-cut chops and baby back ribs; tenderloin and fillets; rib bones from the front portion of the belly become pork spareribs; bacon from the belly; top or butt portion of the leg for roasts.

Port (or Porto), is a sweet, fortified wine that originated in northern Portugal. There are many styles of port, but most fall into two broad Categories, bottle aged and cask aged. Port is served after meals, white port is a popular French apertif.

Portobello mushrooms are mature cremini mushrooms noted for their rich flavor and meaty texture. The wide, flat, deep brown caps grow as large as 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. Select firm, plump mushrooms that are not slimy or bruised. Store mushrooms, unwashed, lightly wrapped in paper towels or in a paper bag, never in plastic-in the refrigerator.

Potassium bisulfite/potassium metabisulfite are added to food as preservatives.

Posole is thick Mexican soup made from pork meat (or chicken), hominy, onions, garlic, dried chiles and cilantro, usually garnished with shredded lettuce, onions, cheese, and cilantro.

Pot stickers are a type of Chinese dumplings made of won ton skins filled with ground meat or vegetables and may be steamed or fried and served with various dipping sauces.

Potato flour, also known as potato starch, is a gluten-free flour made from cooked, dried and ground potatoes used as a thickener.

Potato starch, also known as potato flour, is fine-textured flour ground from potatoes that have been cooked and dried.

Pound Cake, a rich dense yellow cake that was traditionally made with one pound of each flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Many variations now exist that include other leavening agents, sour cream and flavorings.

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioner’s, or icing sugar, is a finely pulverized sugar that dissolves quickly and is often used to provide a thin, white decorative dusting. It is mixed with egg whites to make icing or glace royale.

Praline, a brittle confection made by mixing almonds with boiling sugar syrup. It may be eaten as candy, or ground as dessert filling or garnish. In the American southwest it is a fudgy, patty-shaped confection made with cream, brown sugar and pecans.

Preserves of fruit have larger chunks or whole pieces of fruit (raspberries, strawberries, apricots) while fruit jellies are clear as colored glass and jams thick but with a smoother, consistent texture.

Prosciutto, a specialty of Parma, is an Italian-style raw (crudo) ham, cured by dry-salting for one month, followed by air-drying in cool curing sheds for 6 months or longer. Served cut in tissue-thin slices on their own, with fruit, or as part of a recipe.

Prosecco is a simple, refreshing, light and swinging bubbly from the Veneto, with peach and toast overtones. Makes a fine apertif and, with white pear purée or nectar added, is a Bellini cocktail.

Provolone, an Italian, firm, pale yellow whole-milk table cheese made from cows’ or water buffalos’ milk ranging in flavor from mild and slightly sweet to sharp and tangy. Aurecchio is a superb maker.

Prunes are dried Italian plums, with a rich-tasting, dark, fairly moist flesh. They are eaten out of hand or used as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes and in baking.

Puff pastry, also known as pâte feuilletée or feuilletage, is a light, flaky dough made by repeatedly layering with butter and folding and refolding, rolling and buttering until a dough is made that will puff in the oven into many crispy layers.

Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of spices meant for pumpkin pie that includes: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace, and cloves.

Pumpkins are large, round winter squashes with orange skins and flesh. The variety known as the sugar pumpkin has sweet flesh. It is commonly used in baking but is also used in savory dishes. Tinned pumpkin purée is widely available and can easily be made from fresh pumpkin.

Purslane is a small plant (Portulaca oleracea) with stiff, reddish stems and smooth rounded leaves that have a crisp texture and mild flavor. Can be eaten raw or cooked.


Quaglia is Italian for quail.

Quahogs are large Atlantic hard shell clams, great for a chowder or stew.

Quail are small non-migratory birds related to the partridge

Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete is a legally defining term in German law denoting a good quality wine that meets minimum alcohol and natural grape sugar content produced in a specified region from a specified grape.

Quark is a soft central European skimmed cow’s milk cheese with a mild flavor and somewhat runny consistency.

Quasi is a French butcher’s term for a cut taken from the rump end loin of veal, sometimes called the cul.

Quatre-épices are the French “four spices” nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon (and often pepper, sometimes allspice).

Quatre-quarts is French for pound cake – four quarts or pounds: one each of butter, flour, eggs and sugar.

Queijo is Portuguese for cheese.

Quenelles are small egg-shaped dumplings made of well seasoned ground veal, fowl, game or fish bound with a panade of egg and poached in stock and served with a rich sauce, or floating as in a soup.

Quenelles de brochette are light dumplings specifically made from ground pike (usually served with sauce Aurore).

Queso Anejo is a firm, pressed Mexican cheese, rolled in paprika, commonly used as a topping or stuffing for tacos enchiladas, and burritos.


Rabaçal is a firm Portuguese goats’ milk cheese with a rustic, barn yard aroma/flavor.

Raclette is a firm Gruyere like, Swiss cows’ milk cheese used in the dish of the same name. The cheese is heated by an open fire, scraped as it melts and served with boiled potatoes, cornichons and brown bread.

Radicchio, a salad leaf, also called red leaf chicory, has a spherical head, reddish purple leaves with creamy white ribs, and a somewhat bitter flavor. Radicchio di Treviso is milder and has a tapered head and are pink to dark red. Radicchio di Verona is a small loose leaf head of deep burgundy leaves with white ribs.

Radici is Italian for radishes.

Radishes, a member of the mustard family, are crisp pungent, peppery root vegetables usually eaten raw. White radishes, also known as Daikon, are finger shaped or conical with a white-tan skin and peppery flavor. Radish sprouts are peppery shoots of just germinated radishes used in salads and sandwiches.

Raffinade is French for refined sugar.

Raisins are dried grapes, available dark or white, packaged or in bulk, eaten out of hand or used in sweet and savory dishes. Raisin is also French for grape while raisin sec is for a dried grape.

Raita is an East Indian condiment comprised of yogurt, cucumber (or other vegetable or fruit) and dill (or other appropriate herbs spices).

Raki is a strong, Turkish, anise flavored liqueur made from fermented raisins, dates or figs. Raki is also the generic term for spirits in the Balkans.

Ramekin are small porcelain soufflé dishes usually 4-ounce capacity, but come in many sizes.

Rape, also Broccoli raab and rapini, is a vegetable related to the cabbage and turnip with tall, leafy, green stalks and broccoli like florets with a bitter flavor.

Rapeseeds are used to make rapeseed oil, a cooking oil marketed as canola oil.

Ratatouille is a Provençal vegetable ragout made with tomatoes, eggplant, courgettes, onions, garlic bell peppers and herbs cooked in olive oil.

Ravigote is a cold French sauce made from a simple vinaigrette garnished with capers onions and herbs.

Reblochon is a superior French soft – ripening cows’ milk cheese with a golden rind and yielding ivory interior.

Recette is French for recipe.

Rechaud is French for re-heat, but most commonly refers to a chafing dish or tableside heating device.

Red currant jelly is a translucent (like all proper jellies) mixture made from cooked red currants, members of the gooseberry family, sugar and pectin.

Red curry paste is a classic Thai blend of red chiles, garlic, onions, lemongrass, cilantro, and galangal. It is sold in Asian markets.

Red onions, are medium to large maroon colored onions with red-tinged white flesh and mild flavor.

Red potatoes are spherical, medium-sized tuberous vegetables with thin red skins, crisp, waxy-textured white flesh and a high moisture low starch content.

Red snapper is a lean, mild-flavored, white fleshed, saltwater fish found along the US east coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Refried beans, frijoles refritos, are a popular Mexican side dish of cooked mashed and then refried red or pinto beans.

Rehoboam is a single oversized bottle of wine equivalent to six 750 ml bottles.

Reine Claude is the French term (commemorating the wife of François I) for greengage plums.

Relish refers to any savory-sweet preserve of vegetables or fruits pickled in vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices for use as a condiment.

Remoulade is a French mayonnaise based sauce that includes mustard, capers, chopped gherkins, anchovy and herbs and is an accompaniment to cold fish, shellfish or meats.

Rhizomes are the creeping underground branch or stem storage systems for plants that send up leafy shoots. Gingeroot is a rhizome.

Rhubarb is a perennial plant with large, long stalks ranging in color from greenish pink to dark red. Although a vegetable, Rhubarb is eaten as a fruit, cooked and sweetened, in sauces and pies often combined with strawberries. The leaves of the plant are toxic.

Rice is the starchy seed of a semi-aquatic plant divided into three categories by size: long, medium and short grained. All types of rice are available in various degrees of processing such as brown or white rice.

Rice flour is a very fine powder made from pulverized long-grain or glutinous rice, used to make noodles and breads as well as a thickener for cakes and puddings and in the production of cosmetics.

Rice noodles, also known as rice vermicelli and rice stick noodles, are made from rice flour and water and are available in various shapes and sizes.

Rice paper wrappers are thin, brittle, translucent, edible paper like sheets made from the rice paper plant or a dough of rice flour and water. Softened in water before use, they are used as wrappers for spring rolls.

Rice vinegar, made from rice wine, is available natural and sweetened; the Japanese sweet and mellow and the Chinese sour and sharp.

Rice wines, made from fermented glutinous rice, are used in Asian cooking. Chinese rice wine has a golden color, and a sweet, nutty taste, not unlike dry sherry. Sake is a clear rice wine served hot or cold for drinking. Mirin, a Japanese cooking rice wine, has a mild, sweet flavor.

Ricotta cheese is a light-textured, bland, fresh Italian whole or part-skim cows’ milk cheese with a soft texture.

Riesling, often called the wine grape of Germany, is also produced in the Alsace and in some parts of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The wine of the same name is crisp, fruity and has a high acidity.

Rigatoni are large ridged tubular pasta.

Rijsttafel is the Dutch name for the Indonesian inspired “rice table.” It usually consists of spiced rice augmented by a variety of small dishes of curried fish, shellfish vegetables and chutneys to be added to the rice.

Rillettes are a French dish of cooked, potted pork, poultry (esp. duck) or fish mashed and preserved in its fat, usually served cool and spread on bread.

Rioja is wine producing area and name for the wine grown in Spain near the French border.

Ris is French for sweetbreads; and Swedish and Norwegian for rice.

Risotto is the Northern Italian dish made from slow cooking arborio rice to which anything from cheese, to vegetables to seafood may be added near the end of the cooking time.

Roe is the term for female fish eggs (hard roe) or the milt of male fish (soft roe). Most fish roe is edible including sturgeon (caviar), carp, herring, mackerel, lumpfish, perch, salmon, and whitefish.

Roly-poly is a British steamed “pudding” made with jam filled suet pastry dough.

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, have been steamed, then flattened by steel rollers into flakes.

Romarin is French for Rosemary.

Roma Tomato, also known as a Italian, plum, pear and paste tomato, is widely grown throughout Italy, Mexico and the U.S.

Romaine lettuce grows in a long head of sturdy, crisp leaves which have a firm rib down their centers and a mild flavor. It is cultivated as green, red and baby romaine. This is the lettuce of choice for Caesar salad.

Romano (Pecorino romano).cheese is an aged pale yellow to white Italian sheeps’ milk (also made from goats’ or cows’ milk) cheese

Romesco is a Spanish sauce made from tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, almonds and olive oil and served as an accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken.

Ropa Veija is Spanish for “old Clothes” and refers to a Cuban and South American dish of shredded meat stewed with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano and jalapeño peppers.

Roquefort cheese, is a French, blue veined, sheeps’ milk cheese, has a creamy texture and a rich, sharp taste, and ranks amongst the world’s greatest cheeses.

Rose water is water that has been infused with the flavor of rose petals and is used in confectionery and baking, especially in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb with silver green, needle like leaves with a strongly aromatic, resinous quality, reminiscent of lemon and pine. Available in fresh sprigs or dried leaves.

Rum refers to spirits distilled from sugar cane or molasses, mostly from the Caribbean. Light or white rums are clear and have a very light flavor. Dark or Demerara rums are often cask aged, can have a light to dark caramel color (to almost black) and distinctive flavors. Aged darker rums drink like cognac.

Russet potatoes, also known as a Burbank potato, are ovoid in shape with a low moisture high starch content and a brown skin and white mealy interior.

Rutabagas are root vegetables that resemble a large turnip and have sweet, pale yellow-orange flesh and tan, green, or purple skin. They are also known as Swedes or Swedish turnips.

Rye flour is a fine flour, ground from grains of rye grass, used in breads and rolls and has a slightly sweet-sour flavor.


Sablé is the French term for both a crumbly butter, flour, sugar dough and the cookie that can result from it that is often flavored with citrus zest, vanilla or almonds.

Sack was the term during Elizabethan times for sweet, fortified wines (like sherry).

Safflower oil, a clear, almost flavorless oil, high in polyunsaturated fat, made from the seeds of safflowers. It has a high smoking point, does not solidify when chilled and is used in salad dressings and deep frying.

Saffron is an intensely aromatic spice, golden orange in color, made from the dried stigmas of the purple crocus (Crocus sativus). Harvested by hand, Saffron is the world’s costliest spice – a pound requires at least 225,000 stigmas. Unlike anything else, saffron is used to impart a pungent perfume and rosy golden hue to dishes in which it is used. Sold as threads in tiny vials or powdered.

Saganaki is a Greek appetizer (Meze) of fried Kasseri cheese, sprinkled with lemon juice and often flamed with brandy.

Sage is an herb native to the Mediterranean with gray-green leaves that have a slightly bitter flavor and a pleasant musty-minty aroma. It is widely used with lamb, poultry, pork, veal, sausage and in traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Sold as fresh sprigs or dried “rubbed” leaves.

Saint Andre is a French triple cream cows’ milk cheese with an ivory interior, bloomy rind and a rich texture and mild taste.

Sake is an aromatic, dry, clear, 30-proof Japanese rice wine that is actually brewed like beer. It is drunk hot or cold and is used in cooking.

Salé is French for salted.

Salmanazar is a large wine bottle (usually sparkling) that holds the equivalent of 10-12 regular 750 ml bottles; named for the 8th Century BCE King of Assyria.

Salmon roe are large, round, bright red eggs from chum and silver salmon, preserved with salt, that are enjoyed like Caviar as well as a garnish for hors d’oeuvre. Quite delightful.

Salsa is Spanish for sauce and refers to a variety of preparations fresh or cooked, mild to very hot. Cooked salsa often include tomatoes, onion, garlic, chile peppers and cilantro or other herbs and spices. Fresh fruit salsa usually include lime juice, salt, chile pepper, onion and cilantro. Salsa is also Portuguese for parsley.

Salsify, also known as the oyster plant, is a long, thick root vegetable with white flesh and a flavor that resembles oysters.

Salt is a common table seasoning resulting from the interaction of an acid base, usually sodium and chloride. Available in several forms — common table salt with additives to prevent caking, is the only rock that we eat. Sea salt (of which there are many, see below) is the result of the evaporation of sea water with a pleasant flavor that is more pronounced but not necessarily “saltier” than common table salt. Sea salt is available damp and dry in fine-grained crystals, coarser crystals and as flakes as well as flavored. Sea salt has become a popular culinary fetish. Here are but a few: when weather conditions are ideal, Fleur de sel, (flower of salt) blossoms on the surface of salt ponds, which is then raked and dried – often regarded as the world’s finest salt, it has a superior texture. Many are the trendy including; Peruvian pink, and Australian Murray River, Hawaiian Red, Mexican Benequenes. British Maldon, and Danish smoked among others. Kosher salt, a coarse-grained salt without additives, less salty than common table salt, good for basic cooking.
Salt merchants cite 14,000 uses for salt including ice melting, fertilizing fields, water softening, textile and soap manufacture as well as the more homely like putting out a grease fire, removing stains and rust, making candles dripless and prolonging the life of cut flowers.

Salt cod are codfish that have been preserved by salting and drying. The once astonishingly abundant cod was preserved to get it overland and for long winters. A staple in the Old World, the quest for fishing rights and the desire for cod trade controlled the course of history for 200 years. Many popular traditional dishes exist in the cuisines of Portugal, Spain, and France. Read more about salt cod in Great Cod Almighty.

Saltimbocca is Italian for jump in the mouth and is a Roman dish of veal slices, topped with prosciutto and sage, sautéed in butter or oil, and finished with white wine.

Salt pork, also called white bacon, is a form of salt-cured, un-smoked slab bacon consisting largely of pork belly fat, used as a cooking fat to enrich and flavor savory dishes. Before the days of refrigeration all cuts of pig not consumed were slated, dried or smokes to preserve them.

Salvia is Italian for sage.

Sambals are piquant chile based relishes used in Indian and southeast Asian cuisine as a condiment and flavoring.

Samosas are an East Indian savory snack food comprised of a deep-fried, triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables often served with a dipping sauce.

Sapsago is a small, hard Swiss cows’ milk and buttermilk cheese, from the Canton of Glarus, with a pungent flavor (from fenugreek) and light green color (from wild clover) and is sold in truncated cones (called stockli) and is used for grating.

Sardines is the generic name for several small salt water fish (pilchard, herring, sprat, alewife) with edible bones. Available fresh where they are caught but more often smoked, pickled, cured in brine, packed in tomato sauce or preserved whole in olive oil, soy oil, or water and sold in tins.

Sashimi are a Japanese delicacy of sliced raw fish served with a variety of condiments such as; soy sauce, daikon, wasabi and pickled ginger.

Sassafras comes from the leaves of Native American sassafras tree, a member of the laurel family. Dried sassafras leaves are used to make Cajun filé powder and sassafras tea and the root bark is used to flavor root beer.

Saucisse is French for a small sausage.

Saucisson is French for large sausage.

Saucisson sec is French for dried sausage or salami.

Saurbraten (Sauerbraten) is a German “sour” roast of marinated braised served with potatoes or spatzele (little dumplings).

Sauerkraut is of German origin and is made from finely shredded salted and fermented cabbage often flavored with juniper berries.

Saumon is French for salmon. Saumon Fumée for smoked salmon.

Sauternes is the grape growing district of Bordeaux that produces the dessert wine of the same name. The wine is made from over ripe Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes affected by the fungus botrytis, called “noble rot”, the flavor is smooth, honeyed, and complex.

Sauté pan, is the basic sloping sided frying,

Sauteuse is French for the heavy straight-sided, lidded, double handled pan/pot.

Sautoir is French for a round, straight sided frying pan.

Savory or Summer Savory is an herb with small, thin green leaves with a pungent aroma reminiscent of rosemary and thyme and rather milder than winter savory — available fresh and dried.

Savoy cabbage is a flavorful, firm, round variety of cabbage with dark green leaves, the outermost of which are curled and have by a fine lacy pattern of veins.

Sbrinz is a hard, Alpine cow’s milk cheese with a brownish yellow rind and a dark yellow interior and a mellow flavor.

Scallions, also known as green and spring onions, are the slender stalk and bulb of an immature variety of onions.

Scallops are a family of bivalve saltwater mollusks with rich, sweet flesh. They have rounded fan like shells with little ears at the hinge end. The abductor muscle (the edible part) is ivory or pinkish gray when cooked. Large sea scallops may be as large or larger than 2 inches in diameter. Bay scallops, increasingly more rare, are considerably smaller. In the US both are usually sold already shucked.

Scampi is Italian for a prawn. It is also the name for a popular dish in the US of shrimp cooked in garlic, lemon, olive oil and butter called shrimp scampi (i.e., shrimp shrimp).

Schinken is German for ham.

Schmaltz is the Yiddish term for rendered chicken fat, often spread on bread.

Schnecken is German for snail as German-Yiddish for the snail shaped sweet pastry.

Schnitzel is German for cutlet and is often used to describe the dish of a breaded and fried veal cutlet.

Schokolade is German for chocolate.

Scotch Bonnet chiles is a medium sized red or yellow round pumpkin shaped very hot capsicum pepper — essential for Caribbean “jerk” recipes. If you can get past the searing heat, some say they have a fruity smoky flavor. Scotch Bonnets are among the highest Scoville (which see) rated peppers at 300,000 units

Scotch eggs are a British delight of hard cooked eggs wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and fried.

Scoville units were created in 1912 by chemist Wilbur Scoville. and are the standard for measuring the heat in a chile pepper. The piquancy of any pepper is due to capsaicin, a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially mucous membranes. The Scoville method of measurement adds sugar water to a solution of pepper extract until one can no longer taste the pepper. The more sugar, the higher the Scoville units. This is the popular unit of measure in the (consumer related) food industry.

Scrapple is a Pennsylvania Dutch dish and is a loaf comprised of boneless pork pieces, cornmeal flavored with sage and other spices. It is sliced and fried before serving usually as a breakfast meat. Nice with some Maple syrup.

Scungilli is Italian for the large sea snail gastropod mollusks —whelk or conch. Scungilli salad made with garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil is a delightful dish.

Scuppernong is a large native American grape cultivated in the southeastern US and from which wine has been made since Colonial days.

Sea bass is a saltwater fish with flavorful, moderately oily white fleshed fish that, when cooked, has firm flakes.

Sedano is Italian for celery.

Seitan is protein-rich food made from wheat gluten with a firm, chewy texture and a bland flavor. It adopts the flavor of other foods with which it is cooked. Seitan is also sold as a powdered form of wheat gluten, that can be mixed with water.

Selenium is a trace mineral found in fish, shellfish, grains and meat and acts as an anti-oxidant.

Self-rising flour is generally an all-purpose flour to which leavening agents of salt and baking powder have been added. This is the type of flour used in many packaged cake mixes. For one cup of self-rising flour you may substitute one cup of all-purpose + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt.

Semifreddo is Italian for half frozen and is a soft, airy frozen dessert that most resembles frozen mousse or custard.

Semisweet chocolate, an eating or baking chocolate, with modest amounts of sugar and up to 35% cocoa liqueur; sometimes a tad sweeter than bittersweet chocolate.

Semmel is a Pennsylvania Dutch yeast roll usually served at breakfast.

Semolina is coarsely ground, pale yellow, highly glutinous (hard) durum wheat, primarily used for pasta dough and breads.

Senate Bean Soup is a long-lived menu item served in the US Senate dining Room, made from white beans, potatoes, ham hocks, onion and garlic.

Sendwichi is Swahili for sandwich.

Senf is German for mustard.

Serrano (“mountain”) chiles are small, slender-green or red capsicum up to 2 inches long and can be hot to very hot.

Serrano Jamon, a superb Spanish cured ham not unlike Italian prosciutto, with a chewier texture.

Serviette is French for napkin and is in common British English usage.

Sesame oil is cold-pressed oil obtained from sesame seeds used almost exclusively as a seasoning. Asian sesame oil, from China and Japan, is made from roasted seeds and has an amber color and a full, rich flavor.

Sesame seeds, also called benne seeds, are tiny, ivory-colored seeds from a plant native to India with a mild, nutty flavor most often used as a flavoring and as a garnish on sweet and savory dishes. Red, brown and black sesame seeds are also available. Thomas Jefferson grew, and was fond of, them and their oil.

Seven-grain flour is a commercial blend commonly made up of millet, rye, corn, wheat, barley, oats, and flax or triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).

Seven spice powder is a Japanese seasoning mixture containing anise pepper, flax, rape, poppy and sesame seeds, nori and dried orange peel.

Shallot is the small member of the onion family, with papery brown skin, purple-tinged white flesh, and a flavor resembling a cross between sweet onion and garlic. Look for firm, well-shaped heads that are not sprouting. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. Vinegar pickled shallots figure prominently in Asian recipes.

Sevruga is a small member of the sturgeon family from which the roe or caviar is harvested; the eggs are light to dark gray and small when compared to Beluga.

Sfoglia is Italian for leaf and for the thin flat sheet of dough from which is made the ricotta filled flaky pastry, sfogliatelle, that originated in Naples.

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish wherein diners cook their own meat or vegetables in a communal broth later served as an enriched soup.

Shad is a North American member of the herring family with a green-silver skin and an annoyingly bony flesh and grow up to 28-inches in length. Like salmon, shad are (anadromous) found in both salt and fresh water, ascending rivers for spawning. Shad Roe is the egg sac of the shad served as a separate dish.

Shashlyk is a Russian dish of marinated lamb and onions, skewered and grilled.

Shelf life is that period of time for which a food or processed food product is suitable for consumption.

Shelf stable refers to products that can be stored at room temperature for an extended (not indefinite) period of time.

Sherbet is a frozen dessert made with fruit juice and water and may also contain milk, cream, egg whites or gelatin.

Sherry, a fortified, cask-aged wine, made primarily from the Palomino grape in southern Spain in and around the area of Jerez de la Frontera. Ranges in taste from dry to medium dry to sweet called Amontillado, Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso and cream. Sherry vinegar, made from sherry, has a rich, nutlike flavor.

Shiitake mushrooms, also known as forest and winter mushroom, are meaty-flavored mushrooms native to Japan (now widely grown) that have flat, dark brown caps, usually 2-3 inches in diameter and a slim, tough stem that is usually discarded. Shiitakes are available fresh or dried.

Shiro miso is a light colored Japanese bean paste.

Shortbread, a rich crumbly, originally British, cookie made of butter, flour, and sugar baked in a round and cut it into wedges after baking called petticoat tails.

Short cake is a dish comprised of sweet crumbly biscuits, split and filled with whipped cream and fruit, usually fresh strawberries.

Shoyu, also known as soy sauce, is a thin, salty, brewed brown sauce made from nearly equal parts of soy bean and wheat flour. Chinese soy sauce is often lighter in color and saltier and used in cooking and as a condiment. Dark soy is more often used in cooking. Typically high in sodium, there is a low-sodium form of shoyu available.

Sikes is the system of measurement for the alcohol content in beverages in Great Britain.

Simnel cake is a rich, decorated British spice cake made with candied fruit and almond paste.

Sirop of French for syrup.

Siu Mai are steamed, open topped dumplings filled with minced shrimp or pork and shrimp.

Skate, also known as ray, is kite-shaped, salt water fish found world wide, of which the pectoral fin is used in cooking the traditional dish of skate in brown butter and other preparations.

Skiver pan, also called aebelskiver pan, is the cast iron pan with round indentations needed to make the doughnut like Danish breakfast treat known as aebelskiver.

Slivovitz is a dry, potent plum brandy made in Poland and the Balkans.

Smetena is Russian for sour cream.

Smoked salmon is salmon that has been brined and heat-smoked (cold or hot) over aromatic woods to give it a distinctive smoky flavor and delicate texture. Scottish smoked salmon is thought to be among the finest.

Smoked trout is trout, either fillets or whole fish, that has been brined and heat-smoked (cold or hot) with aromatic woods to give it a mild, sweet flavor and a moist, yielding texture.

Smoking, or smoke curing, is an ancient technique of food preservation that influences and enhances flavors. Cold smoking (at a temperature from 70-90 degrees F.) does not involve cooking the food. Hot smoking on the other hand, partially or completely cooks the food involved and uses a temperature ranging from 100-200 degrees F. Meat, poultry, cheese and fish can be smoked with delightful results.

Smoking point refers to the temperature at which a cooking oil begins to break down, emitting gas and various by-products and at which time, its flavor can be adversely affected.

Smørbord is Norwegian for open-faced sandwich.

Snickerdoodle is traditional cake with a crackled surface flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Some say Snickerdoodles are a Dutch creation — the “snick” being a reference to St. Nicholas. Others claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German Schneckennudeln or “snail noodles”.

Snow peas, also called sugar peas and to the French, mangetouts, are a flat pods containing tiny, immature peas that may be eaten whole or unshelled.

Soba noodles are thin, Japanese noodles made from buckwheat and wheat flour, and are a grayish-brown color.

Sodium nitrate (and sodium nitrite) is an antibacterial and stabilizer commonly used in preserved, cured and smoked meats or fish.

Sodium Sorbate is used as a common food preservative.

Sole is a common saltwater fish with lean, mild-flavored, flaky white flesh. Dover sole is a sought after member of this family, caught in the English Channel and North Sea. Sole Veronique is a dish of baked sole in cream sauce garnished with skinned green grapes.

Sopa is Spanish and Portuguese for soup.

Soppressata is an Italian all-pork dry salami.

Sorbet, is a French smooth, frozen dessert made from puréed fruit or fruit juice and sugar and sometimes flavored with wine or liqueur. Sorbet is sometimes served as a ‘palate cleanser’ between courses. Unlike sherbet, sorbet does not contain milk.

Sorbital is a food additive used as a sweetener as well as an anti-caking agent, stabilizer or thickener in processed foods.

Soubise is a French sauce made by the addition of cooked onions to béchamel sauce.

Sour cream is a commercial dairy product made from pasteurized light cream, fermented by bacteria and with a tangy flavor and thick consistency.

Sourdough bread is leavened with a starter of fermented flour, sugar, and water, which supports a culture of natural yeast and gives the resulting bread a sour tang.

Soybeans are the beans of tremendously versatile legumes used to make a variety of products from soy milk, flour and jam, to miso and tofu, to oil, soy sauce, as well as emulsifiers in many processed foods, and in non-food items such as soaps and plastics. Soybean pods are covered with a fine fuzz and range in color from tan to black while the beans themselves can come in a variety of colors from red, yellow or black. Presoaked soybeans, high in protein and low in carbohydrates, can be added to stews, soups, casseroles.

Soy milk is made from pressed cooked soybeans, has a slightly bitter taste and may be flavored with vanilla, honey or carob. Soy milk is high in protein, rich in iron, low in calcium, fat, and sodium and cholesterol free, is an excellent non-dairy substitution for people with milk allergies (lactose intolerant).

Soy sauce is an Asian seasoning and condiment made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. Light soy sauce is fairly thin in texture and light in flavor. Dark soy sauce often has added caramel and is darker in color, sweeter in flavor, and thicker in texture. Japanese soy sauces have a milder, sweeter, less salty taste than Chinese. Indonesian soy sauce, also known as ketjap manis, is dark and sweet. Low-sodium soy sauce is also available.

Spaghetti squash, also known as vegetable spaghetti, are large winter squash that are oval in shape with yellow skin. When cooked it can be separated into spaghetti like strands.

Spanakopita is a Greek dish of spinach and feta cheese, inter layered or encased in flaky phyllo pastry.

Sparkling wine is the term for naturally carbonated wines that resemble Champagne but are produced outside the Champagne district of France.

Speise is German for food.

Spelt is the hard wheat kernel with the husk attached and is prepared as a side dish or as a thickener in soups.

Spickgans is a German dish of cured smoked goose breast.

Spinacio is Italian for Spinach.

Spinazie is German for spinach.

Spotted dick, also known as spotted dog, is a steamed British pudding made with suet and raisins.

Spring rolls are smaller, more delicate versions of egg rolls, utilizing a rice paper wrapper and traditionally eaten on the first day of spring.

Squab is an immature pigeon with tender flesh and a somewhat gamy flavor.

Squash are the edible fleshy fruits of the gourd family (Curcurbitaceae) and are divided into two categories: winter and summer. Summer squash such as zucchini, pattypan and crookneck have thin skins, edible seeds, and require shorter cooking times. Winter squash such as butternut, turban, acorn, and spaghetti, have thicker skins, tough seeds, and dense flesh that require long cooking.

Squash blossoms are the edible blossoms of both summer and winter squash and come in varying shades of yellow and orange, with a flavor that hints of the squash to which it is attached. Squash blossoms are soft and somewhat limp, and may be used as a garnish to add color and flavor to a dish soup or salads or stuffed and deep-fried.

Squid is a member of the cephalopod group of mollusks. Squid have torpedo-shaped bodies, a transparent inner shell, eight arms and two tentacles with sweet, tender flesh. Only the beak and transparent inner shell (quill) are not eaten; the ink is a flavor delicacy. As a menu item, calamari (Italian, calmares in Spanish), is a term that has come into common English usage. Most commonly enjoyed cut in pieces (rings and tentacles) breaded, or battered, and deep-fried, also stuffed, cooked in its ink, cold in a seafood salad paired with octopus and shellfish. In Korea dried squid is a bar snack.

St. John’s Bread is another name for carob pods

St. Peter’s fish is another name for John Dory, Nile Perch and Tilapia.

Stamp and Go are spicy fritters made from salt cod and chiles, popular as a snack food in the Caribbean.

Star anise is a small, hard brown, seed pod of the fruit of the Chinese magnolia and are shaped like an eight-pointed star. It is used whole or broken to lend its distinctive anise flavor to savory or sweet dishes. The spokes of the star contain small seeds.

Star fruit, properly called carambola, is a segmented fruit that grows in tropical and subtropical climates, that when it is cut crosswise has a star shape. The skin is thin, glossy, golden yellow and its juicy and fragrant flesh is nearly translucent, dotted occasionally with dark seeds.

Stilton cheese is a hard, slightly crumbly, traditional English, blue-veined cows’ milk cheese with a salty, rich, pungent flavor and among the finest “blues” in the world.

Stock, also known as broth, is a clear, un-thickened liquid derived from slowly simmering poultry, meat, fish, with vegetables and herbs in water, used as a primary base for soups and sauces. Beef, veal, chicken, fish, and vegetable stock are all available in concentrated forms, powdered, tinned and frozen.

Stollen is a German sweet yeast bread incorporating dried fruits and topped with confectioner’s sugar and candied cherries.

Stout is a dark, bittersweet, heavy bodied, top fermented, beer made with roasted malt and a high hops content.

Stracciatella is an Italian soup made with a rich chicken broth into which is added beaten egg to form strands and garnished with parmigiano cheese.

Stravecchio is 3-year old parmegiano reggiano cheese (the term can be applied to other long aged Italian cheeses).

Straw mushrooms, also known as umbrella mushrooms, have a conical cap over a bulbous stem and are named for the beds of straw on which they’re grown. They are gray-brown in color, silky in texture and resemble closed Umbrellas. They are most often sold canned and should be rinsed before using.

Sturgeon are a anadromous fish found in the Black and Caspian seas, the Pacific ocean, and the Northwest coast of the US and in the southern Atlantic. Sturgeon have a fatty firm flesh with a rich, delicate flavor and are the source for isinglass (the clarifying or fining collagen from the swim bladder not the sheets of mica used as substitute window panes) and, of course, precious caviar.

Sub gum is comprised of bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and fresh mushrooms and is the base for many Chinese dishes.

Suet is the hard, crisp fat found fastened to the kidneys of cattle and other animals that is used as an ingredient and cooking fat.

Sumac is a purple powder derived from the dried berries and fleshy petals of a non-poisonous species of a sumac shrub native to Turkey. The ground spice is sour with overtones of lemon and pepper.

Sugo is Italian, both for fruit or vegetable juice and for meat sauce.

Sunchoke is a marketing term for Jerusalem artichoke (which see).

Surimi is a processed food made from white-fleshed fish such as Alaskan Pollack and then flavored, shaped and colored to resemble crab or shrimp.

Sweet Cicely is an herb from the bushy perennial plant (Myrrhis odorata) with fern-like leaves and a scent reminiscent of sweet anise.

Sweet potato is a starchy tuber of a morning glory plant native to Central America with a sweet taste. The darker skinned variety is often incorrectly called a yam.

Sweetbreads are the thymus glands of the young calf or lamb. The thymus gland consists of two parts, the elongated throat gland and the heart gland or bread and has a delicate, mild flavor.

Swiss chard, also known as chard or silver beet, is a leafy, dark green vegetable, related to the beet, with thick, crisp white or red stems and ribs. Young leaves, trimmed from the stems and ribs, are used raw or cooked.

Swizzle is a cocktail made from any spirit (often rum) mixed with citrus juice, bitters, sugar and ice and made frothy by means of a pronged swizzle stick.

Szechuwan pepper are the dried berries of a type of ash tree and have a hot, peppery flavor and are an ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder.


Tabasco are small tapering peppers, originally from Tabasco in Mexico, from which the proprietary sauce of the same name, developed by the McIlhenny family on Avery island in Louisiana over 125 years ago, is made.

Taco a Mexican dish comprised of a corn or flour tortilla filled (crisp or soft) with beef, chicken, pork or fish and refried beans, tomato lettuce, cheese, onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

Tabil is a Tunisian spice blend of coriander, garlic and chiles.
Tagliarini are thin, narrow flat ribbons of pasta about 1/8inch wide.

Tagliatelle are very thin flat ribbons of pasta about 1/4 inch wide, usually “cut” by hand, hence the name form the Italian verb to cut, taglia..

Tahini is a smooth, rich, oily paste of ground sesame seeds, used in Middle Eastern cooking in both savory and sweet dishes.

Tajine is both the conical two-part earthenware cooking apparatus and the name for any dish cooked therein; indigenous to North African cuisine.

Taleggio, sometimes called Talfino, is a superb soft-ripening, smooth textured, cows’ milk cheese from Lombardy with a pale yellow interior, ranging from slightly piquant to strong flavored depending upon age.

Tamale is a Mexican dish comprised of chopped, meat or vegetables and spices with masa (corn) dough wrapped in a corn husk and steamed.

Tamari, similar to soy sauce, is made from soybeans but is wheat free. Thicker than soy, tamari has a smoother flavor because it is brewed over time – as long as six months. Used as a condiment for basting and in cooking.

Tamarind is the fruit of a tall shade tree (Tamarindus indica) native to India, Asia and northern Africa. The large pods contain small seeds and a sour-sweet pulp that is sour when dried. Tamarind pulp concentrate is used as a flavoring agent in East Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines in chutneys, curry dishes, and pickled fish. Tamarind is an integral ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and steak sauces.

Tamarillo is the small ovoid fruit native to South America with a tough, smooth skin than can range from red to purple to amber with a red or yellow flesh with black seeds and a sweet-tart flavor.

Tamis is a drum shaped sieve usually made of wood with a fine screen stretched across one end. To achieve a velvety smoothness to a sauce, soup or paté the ingredients are often laboriously passed through the tamis.

Tamu is Swahili for sweet.

Tandoor oven is an large Indian barrel-shaped coal fired clay oven whose temperature can reach to 800 degrees and is used to sear meats, kabobs and flat breads that are baked against the walls.

Tang is Chinese for soup. A tang is also that part of a knife blade embedded in, or attached to, the knife handle.

Tango is Swahili for cucumber.

Tannins are a group of organic compounds found in plants. Wines acquire tannin from grape skins, seeds and stems that impart structure, flavor, texture and complexity and is an antioxidant that assists in aging.

Tansy is a bitter herb with a musky odor rarely used in cooking, but is used in the manufacture of medicinals.

Tapas are Spanish appetizers as simple as a bowl of olives or diced ham (Jamon serrano) or cheese (often Manchego), to an entire meal of exquisite small tastes usually accompanied by a glasses of sherry. Read more about tapas.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the tropical manioc or Cassava plant. Dried, pellet-sized balls known as pearl tapioca are soaked before they are made into pudding of the same name.

Taramasalata is a Greek creamy, salty appetizer made from a compound of salted tarama (mullet roe), lemon juice, milk soaked bread, garlic and olive oil.

Tarragon is a fragrant, distinctively somewhat sweet herb native to Siberia and is sold as fresh sprigs preserved in vinegar, or dried with a distinctive aroma and a sage and anise like flavor. Used to season seafood, chicken, eggs, vegetables, salad dressings, Tarragon (L’estragon, ‘little dragon’ to the French) is essential to sauce Bearnaise and is an icon of the French kitchen.

Tartaric acid is the principal acid in wine which occasionally throws off tasteless crystals of potassium bitartrate crystals (cream of tartar) which are insoluble and often mistaken for sugar. It is also used as a food additive as a firming and flavoring agent.

Tartine is French or Italian for a snack of bread topped with any number of sweet or savory spreads.

Tartufo is Italian for truffle; usually Italian tartufo bianco or white truffle from Alba.

Tartufo gelato is that chocolate coated, concentrically layered ice cream treat made to resemble a giant truffle.

Tastevin (lit. wine taster) is a shallow, silver, saucer shaped cup used by sommelier’s and others to sample wine. This wine accoutrement has become very collectable.

Tavolo is Italian for table.

Tea is the aromatic infusion of dried, cured leaves from the shrub Camellia sinensis. Black tea is the term for leaves that have been fully fermented before drying. Familiar black varieties include: Darjeeling, Assam; bergamot scented Earl Grey; mild Ceylon; thick-bodied Keemun; and smoky Lapsang Souchong.
Green teas are steamed and dried but not fermented. Oolong teas are partially fermented and are said to combine the characteristics of both black and green tea. Other hot water infusions are called tisanes. Read more about tea.

Tee is German for tea.

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans (and other legumes) and has a yeasty, nutty flavor and a tofu-like texture. Popular in Asian and vegetarian cooking as a meat substitute.

Tempi is Japanese for oven.

Tenuta is an Italian estate that produces and bottles its own wine.

Tequila, the best-known Mexican spirit, has a high alcohol content, is clear or golden in color and is distilled from the juice of the maguey plant, blue agave or century plant. There are today, many varieties of varying age and finesse.

Teriyaki is a dish of grilled sautéed or broiled beef, chicken, pork or fish marinated in teriyaki sauce made from soy sauce, sake (or sherry), ginger, sugar and seasonings.

Terrior is French for soil and refers to the distinctive aspects of a grape growing environment – soil, site and climate that affect the final product. Terroir can be also be applied to other items grown in the earth or made from them. ‘It tastes of the Terroir’ is a vague, but knowing comment, often heard in certain circles.

Thai Green curry paste is a very hot combination of ingredients including fresh small green chilis called Phrik Khi Nu, salt, galangal (a peppery, ginger like rhizome), lemon grass, dried kaffir lime, coriander, peppercorns, shallot, garlic and shrimp paste. Yellow curry paste is the mildest and red somewhere in between.

Thuringer sausages are a German delicacy made of pork, beef or a combination of the two, seasoned with garlic, coriander, spices and flavorings and are dry cured and smoked with a soft texture.

Thyme is a highly aromatic herb (Thymus vulgaris) with small gray-green leaves and purple flowers and a strong lemony aroma used to season poultry, lamb, seafood, eggs and vegetables. Available as fresh sprigs or dried leaves.

Tian is a square or rectangular dish used to prepare gratins or baked dishes of the same name.

Tilapia, once a Nile river fish, is the generic name for several species of aqua farmed fresh fish with a gray skin and firm mild white flesh.

Tilsit is a firm cows’ milk cheese made since the 19th century in the Thurgauer area of Switzerland with a firm, supple texture, yellow color and buttery flavor. Danish made Tilsit is called Havarti.

Timo is Italian for thyme.

Tirebouchon is French for corkscrew, literally pull cork.

Tiropita is a Greek appetizer (Mezes) made with eggs and cheese baked in phyllo dough.

Tisane, or herbal tea, is an infusion of herbs, flowers, spices of other plant matter consumed as a beverage for refreshment or medicinal purposes.

Tobiko is the roe of flying fish.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a bland, custard like curd, made from the milky liquid extracted from fresh soybeans that takes on the flavors of that with which it is cooked. Also available smoked.

Tomatillos, also called tomates verdes, are members of the nightshade family and are small green fruits resembling the tomato but related to the Cape gooseberry. Fresh tomatillos are encased in papery brown outer skin, the flesh has a tart, lemony flavor and is often used in southwestern and Mexican cuisines.

Tomatoes, categorized botanically as fruits (Lycopersicon esculentum), are eaten as a vegetable. A member of the nightshade family, they are at their best during summer, although fresh varieties are available all year. Colors vary from red to yellow to green and purple and sizes range from the large beefsteak to the small cherry and grape varieties.

Tonno is Italian for tuna.

Toor dal is Hindi for red lentils.

Torte is German for cake.

Tortellini are a variety of filled pasta formed into small rings said to resemble Venus’ navel. Tortelloni are the larger version.

Tortilla masa is dried corn dough made from dried corn kernels that have been soaked in lime used to make corn tortillas.

Tortillas are a thin, flat, round, unleavened Mexican bread made from finely ground cornmeal or wheat flour, used as edible wrappers for meat, poultry, seafood, cheese, and other foods.

Totopos are Mexican deep fried, small triangles of tortillas.

Treacle is the syrupy by-product created during sugar refining, not unlike molasses, common in Great Britain. Light colored treacle is called golden syrup.

Tree ear mushrooms, also known as cloud ear, wood ear, black fungus, and by the Chinese wun yee or muer, are crinkled, black, dried mushrooms.

Trenette is a long, narrow, ribbon like noodle associated with Liguria, similar to tagliarini.

Triple sec is a clear, strong orange-flavored liqueur used in baking and to make cocktails such as a side car and margarita.

Trippa is Italian for tripe (usually calf’s tripe).

Trompette is French for the horn of plenty mushroom.

Trout refers to a freshwater fish belonging to the salmon family, some of which are anadromous, many of which are now aqua farmed. Trout are mild-flavored, lean, and have a flaky flesh that ranges in color from white to pink or orange. Lake, rainbow, brook and steelhead are among the common varieties.

Truffles, one of the rarest and most expensive foods, is a highly aromatic, subtly flavored wild fungus that grows underground near the roots of trees, usually oak trees. They are difficult to find, and are routed out by animals, such as pigs and dogs, that have been specially trained. The truffle’s appearance is round and irregularly shaped. The P’erigord region of France is the source of what are considered the finest black truffles. There are dozens of varieties of truffles, the most prized is the black truffle; the most popular – the Italian white truffle (tartufo bianco) from Alba. Fresh truffle season is late autumn and early winter; they are also sold in jars and cans, whole or in pieces. It is also the name given to rich, creamy chocolate balls dusted with cocoa to resemble the fungus of the same name.

Truffle oil is olive oil pungently flavored with truffles and used to flavor pastas, meats, risotto, or bruschetta (as well as some inappropriate applications). Many commercially produced oils are artificially flavored and over used.

Tuile is French for tile and is a thin, crisp wafer cooked then usually shaped by draping over a slender rolling pin while still hot.

Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been cleaned by steam to make it edible, light brown in color the coarse crystals taste subtly of molasses.

Turbot is large diamond shaped fish found in European waters from Iceland to the Mediterranean that can reach up to 30 pounds, has firm, lean, white flesh and a mild flavor. Turbot is served grilled or poached. A diamond shaped, lidded Turbotière is required to poach the whole fish. Very nice, indeed, with a tangy béarnaise sauce.

Turmeric is a dried, powdery, pungent, spice that made from the rhizome of a tropical plant related to ginger and, like saffron, adds a vibrant yellow color to any dish.

Tybo is a hard cows’ milk cheese made in Denmark with an ivory interior dotted with holes, a yellow rind and mild flavor (sometimes with caraway seeds added).

Tyrolienne, a la is a French culinary term describing a preparation for fried fish served on a concassé of tomato, garnished with fried onion rings.

Tyrolienne sauce is a made in the same manner as Bearnaise but substituting olive oil for clarified butter.

Turnips are small, creamy white root vegetables, tinged purple or green at the crown. They have firm, pungent, yet slightly sweet flesh that is generally cooked by boiling, braising, or stewing. Choose smaller turnips that feel heavy for their size and are firm to the touch.

Tzimmes is a dish of root vegetables with dried or fresh fruit and meat (brisket) flavored with honey and cinnamon and is a mainstay of Jewish cuisine.


Uccelleti is Italian for any small edible bird as well as veal rolls meant to resemble small, edible birds.

Udon is a thick long Japanese wheat flour noodle and can be round or squared. Udon is available in Asian markets – dried or fresh.

Ugli fruit is a large edible hybrid citrus combining the orange, grapefruit and tangerine with a loose yellow green skin and yellow orange flesh tasting of mandarins and pineapple.

Umeboshi are Japanese pickled plums.

Underberg is the proprietary name for a German headache and hangover remedy.

Uva is Italian, Spanish and Portuguese for grape.

Uva passa is Italian for raisin.

Uva spina is Italian for gooseberry.


Vacherin are rich cows’ milk cheeses made in France and Switzerland usually 50% butterfat. It is also the name for the French dessert made from crisped meringue filled with ice cream or whipped cream and fruit.

Valpolicella is a light bodied red wine from Italy’s Veneto region made from the Corvina and Milinara grape with a fruity aroma and flavor and low alcohol content.

Vanilla beans are from the aromatic pods of the tropical orchid, Vanilla planifolia. The long, leathery sun dried aromatic pods (called beans) contain seed (called beans) that are used for flavoring. Vanilla extract, the most popular of all flavorings, is made by dissolving the essential oil of the dried vanilla pod and seeds in an alcohol base. Extract from Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti are of a higher quality and all have distinctive taste profiles.

Veal, is the meat from young calves. Shoulder, arm, and blade roasts for roasting, braising, as well as for cubed stewing veal (for blanquette de veau). The boned and rolled whole breast is for stuffing and braising. The whole rib is used for a rib roast for roasting or cut into individual chops for grilling. Both the hind shank and the fore shank are cut crosswise for traditional Italian osso buco. The loin yields whole loin roast for roasting or individual loin chops for broiling, grilling, or braising. The sirloin is sold as sirloin roasts for roasting or sirloin chops for grilling or broiling. The tip is the source of veal scallops for quick sauté (dishes like saltimbocca a la Romanna, which see). The round yields rump or round roasts for roasting or round steaks for braising. It is also the source for boneless leg of veal (great for stuffing). Veal bones are essential to prepare a proper veal stock, that is the beginning of sauce espagnole, demi-glace and glace de viand, the foundations of many classical French and contemporary sauces.

Vegemite is a commercially prepared salty vegetable based paste made and popular in Great Britain.

Vegetable oil refers to oils extracted from numerous sources including corn, soybean, peanut, cottonseed, safflower, canola, and sunflower. Pale in color and somewhat neutral in flavor, they can be heated to high temperatures.

Velouté is a ‘velvety’ roux (flour and butter) based sauce that may be made with chicken stock, fish fumet of veal stock.

Velvet Hammer is a cocktail made by combining Tia Maria, heavy cream, brandy and Cointreau.

Vendage is French for vintage or harvest.

Vendemmia is Italian for vintage (vendimia in Spanish).

Ventresca is a Sardinian delicacy of grilled Tuna stomach.

Vermouth is a dry or sweet wine enhanced with aromatic herbs and barks, enjoyed as an aperitif and widely used in cooking.

Verdura is Italian and Spanish for vegetables.

Verjus is the unfermented, acidic juice of not fully ripened grapes.

Vermicelli is Italian for little worms and is used to describe very thin spaghetti.

Vermouth is made from white wine infused with herbs, spices and fortified to 16% alcohol. Dry vermouth is clear and 2-4% sugar. Sweet vermouth is caramel colored and a minimum of 14% sugar.

Veronique describes any dish garnished with peeled, seedless white grapes.

VSOP is an acronym for Very Superior Old and Pale and applies to the best of cognacs.

Vialone Nano, an Italian variety of rice, short, plump grains that, like those of Arborio rice, are high in starch content and, when cooked, have a creamy, sauce like consistency.

Vidalia onions, only grown in the delimited are of Vidalia, Georgia, are flattened globes that can have pale yellow skins and sweet, juicy white flesh. Maui and Walla Walla onions are other sweet onion varieties.

Viennoisse. a la, refers to the French preparation, in the Viennese style, of veal escallops, chicken or fish, dipped in egg and bread crumbs before frying and garnished with chopped hard-cooked egg, capes, parsley, olives, buerre noir and lemon slices.

Villeroy sauce is a French compound sauce made form an allemeande (veloute sauce fortified with egg yolk and heavy cream) flavored with ham and truffle peelings or essence.

Vinaigrette is a simple French emulsion dressing composed of vinegar and oil often seasoned with herbs, salt and pepper.

Vindaloo, in Indian cuisine indicates a dish that is particularly hot and spicy (but t is much more than just that).

Vin du Pays is French for local wine; not to be confused with vin de pays which is the AOC (Appelation d’Origin Controllé) designation for third tier quality wines.

Vinegar, from Latin vin aigre meaning literally “sour wine,” results when wine or another alcoholic liquid is allowed to ferment a second time, turning it acidic. Vinegar always retains some of the taste profile of that from which it has been distilled. Those sources and flavors today are many: from aged, somewhat sweet, balsamic, to those made from champagne, sherry, and apple cider, to Chinese red, rice, raspberry, blueberry, as well as red and white wine vinegars.

Vin gris is a very pale French rosé often made from pinot noir grapes.

Vinho Branco is Portuguese for white wine.

Vino Verde is Portuguese for light, young white or red white.

Vino Vermelho is Portuguese for red wine.

Vino Bianco is Italian for white wine

Vino Blanco is Spanish for white wine.

Vino da Tavola is Italian for table wine. Vino de mesa is Spanish for table wine.

Vin Ordinaire is French for ordinary wine or wine for everyday consumption.

Vino Rosso is Italian for red wine. Vino Tinto is Spanish for red wine,

Vin Rouge is French for red wine.

Vintage port is made from grapes from a single harvest, bottled after at least two years aged in wood and bottle aged for 10-20 years. Read more about port.

Visciola is Italian for wild cherry.

Vitello is Italian for veal.

Volaille is French for poultry or fowl.

Volatile oils are those elements which evaporate or vaporize easily and often give off distinctive aromas.

Vol-au-vent is a deep, puff pastry case often filled with a savory, creamy filling and topped with a pastry lid.


Wakame is a chewy, mild flavored, dark green seaweed that is sold dried or pickled and eaten as is or added to Japanese salads and Miso soup. When re-hydrated dried Wakame yields nearly four times its volume.

Waldorf cocktail is a drink comprised of bourbon, Pernod, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters.

Waldorf salad is made with apples, celery and walnuts with a mayonnaise dressing atop greens.

Walla Walla onions, grown in the state of Washington, have brown skins and relatively sweet white flesh when eaten raw. Maui and Vidalia are other sweet onion varieties.

Walnuts are rich, crisp-textured nuts with crinkled surfaces and a rich, somewhat astringent flavor. English walnuts are the most familiar and available variety found in the shell, out of the shell as whole, halves or pieces). American black walnuts have a stronger, earthier flavor and are more rare and an acquired taste. Walnut oil, is used as in a seasoning in dressings and cooking imparting the rich woodsy taste of the nuts from which it is pressed.

Wasabi is the sharp, pungent green condiment derived from a root plant similar to horseradish and is sold fresh, and as powder or prepared paste.

Wassail is an ancient British toast meaning ‘to be well’ and is also the punch of mulled wine garnished with roasted apples. Read More in the Curious Cooks Glossary.

Water chestnuts are the brown skinned, walnut-sized bulbs of an Asian aquatic plant. Once peeled water chestnuts reveal a crisp, slightly sweet, fresh tasting white flesh. Available fresh in Asian markets or whole, sliced, or chopped in tins.

Watercress is a commercially cultivated slightly peppery, dark green leaf plant (Nasturtium aquaticum) also found wild in freshwater streams. Use as a garnish, in salads, sandwiches and as a soup.

Watermelon is one of two broad categories of melons. There are hundreds of watermelon varieties, but America’s most popular is the large Citrullus lanatus variety. The big, ovoid, green striped, Jubilee, or picnic watermelon, may weigh in at over twenty five pounds. There are smaller, rounder Crimson Sweets and the even smaller, dark green, perfectly round, ‘Sugar Baby’ melons. The first ‘seedless’ watermelon came out in 1948. It has small, white, edible underdeveloped seed pods, costs more, but seedless it isn’t. Read more about watermelon.

Wehani rice is a native American light brown rice that splits slightly when properly cooked and has an aroma reminiscent of popped corn.

Weisse is Northern German wheat beer.

Weisswurst (lit. white sausage) is German veal sausage.

Wensleydale cheese is a firm, cows’ milk English cheese with a white flaky interior and mild flavor. It also comes in a blue veined sharp variety.

Wheat berries are the whole wheat kernel; the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat.

Wheat bran is the papery brown coating of a whole grain of wheat, removed during milling and sold packaged and in bulk.

Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat kernel, removed during the milling of white flour but left intact in whole-wheat varieties.

Wheat-flour noodles are an Asian noodle called mein.

Whey is the liquid portion of coagulated milk and usually used as live stock feed where as the curds make go on to become cheese.

Whipping cream, also called heavy cream, has a milk fat content of between 36 to 40 percent. When whipped, it doubles in volume.

Whiskey is an alcoholic distillate made from a fermented mash of grains such as barley, rye or corn.

White bait are small silvery variety of smelt high in fat and rich in flavor; nice breaded and deep-fried and eaten whole.

White chocolate is a made from cocoa butter, other oils, sugar, milk solids, and sometimes vanilla used in confectionery and baking.

White mustard seed comes from an annual herb (Sinapsis alba) that is a member of the cabbage family used whole or in pickling spices as well as the main ingredient in American-style mild mustards.

White peppercorns are fully ripened peppercorns with the reddish brown outer husk removed and have a mild-flavored.

White potatoes are medium-sized tuberous vegetables with thin tan skins and a texture finer than that of a baking potato but somewhat coarser than that of red potatoes. They are a good all-purpose choice for cooking. Choose firm, well-shaped potatoes, without sprouts or a greenish cast. Store in a dark, dry place for several weeks. Read more about Potatoes.

White Sapote is a small wild fruit common in Central America with a pale yellow skin an flavor reminiscent of pear.

Whole-wheat flour is derived from whole, unbleached wheat berries, from which neither the bran nor the germ has been removed.

Whoopie Pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch confection made from chocolate cake inter layered with fluffy white icing.

Wild rice is not really rice but rather is a grain of a reed like plant native to Minnesota (Zizania aquatica) and cultivated in other regions of the US and Canada. The unpolished dark brown kernels split slightly when properly cooked and have a rich nutlike flavor.

Wintergeen is an evergreen plant (Gultheria procumbens) whose leaves produce a pungent oil used to flavor candies, syrups and medicinals.

Winter squashes-include spaghetti squash, butternut squash and pumpkins and unlike soft-skinned summer squashes, are harvested ripe and after their skins have hardened. Only the interior flesh that varies from pale yellow to bright orange is eaten.

Wishniak is a Polish wild cherry liqueur made from wishniak cherries found in Eastern Europe as well as the name applied to black cherry soda.

Wonton wrappers are thin round or square sheets of dough) usually about 3 1/2 inches) made from a wheat-based dough used for making Asian appetizers, dumplings, and other dishes.

Wood ear fungus, also known as cloud ear or tree ear, is a mild-flavored mushroom usually found dried, when re-hydrated will increase5 to 6 times in volume and resemble small ears.

Worcestershire sauce, is an intensely flavored blend including soy sauce, molasses, tamarind, garlic, onion, and anchovies and is used as a seasoning or condiment. In 1835, Lord Marcus Sandys, an ex- governor of Bengal, approached Worcester chemists/grocers John Lea and William Perrins, to replicate his favorite sauce. They did and hated it. The over run was stored in a basement. After a year the sauce, when tasted, had mellowed and hate become love and big business.


X-cat-ik chiles are light yellow fresh chiles that come from the Yucatan. They are very hot and typically left whole to flavor prepared meat and fish dishes.

Xanthan gum powder, a natural carbohydrate food additive derived from corn syrup, used as a thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer.

Xeres is French for Sherry and the former name for Spanish city Jerez de Frontera.

Xin xiande is Chinese for fresh.

Xouba is a small sardine like fish found off the coast of Spain.

Xylitol is sugar alcohol derived from fruits or glucose.


Ya is Chinese for duck.

Yakinori are sheets of toasted nori.

Yaki soba are instant soba noodles.

Yakitori is chicken marinated in soy sauce, ginger and sake before being skewered and grilled.

Yokan is a Japanese cake made from agar, adzuki beans and sugar.

Yam is a tuber that grows mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and America unrelated to the sweet potato. The yam has a flesh that ranges in color from pale white to a deep orange and can be prepared much like a potato or sweet potato, however, its flesh is less sweet than a sweet potato.

yanagi-ba-botcho is the 10-14 inch slender blade knife used to prepare sushi.

Yard of Flannel is a hot beverage (purported to cure colds) comprised of ale, eggs, brown sugar and nutmeg.

Yeast is a microscopic fungus microorganism that exists all around us—in soil, on plants and in the air responsible for fermentation, a process that is essential to bread, beer and wine.

Yellow chiles are fresh varieties of the Hungarian wax chile, banana chile, or Santa Fe Grande’ slightly sweet, moderate to hot flesh.

Yellow fin grouper is a variety of Atlantic grouper.

Yellow fin tuna is a Pacific Ocean variety weighing up to one hundred thirty pounds with a yellowish skin and ivory pink flesh.

Yemissis is Greek for stuffing.

Yenji is a Chinese cooking method is which marinated ingredients are wrapped in grease proof paper and roasted in a pot of preheated salt.

Yerba Buena is Spanish for mint (good herb), specifically the mint used to make a proper mojito.

Yezi is Chinese for coconut.

Yogurt is a dairy product fermented by bacterial cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Thermobacterium bulgaricum or T. jogart) that has the same milk fat content as the milk from which it is made and has a mildly acidic flavor and custard like texture.

Yuca is Spanish for the cassava root, or manioc, a staple starch throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Yunnan is a black tea grown in China’s Yunnan province with a sweet, delicate flavor.

Yuzu is a small citrus native to Tibet and china with a thick bumpy yellow-green skin and pale yellow acidic flesh and lots of seeds.


Zabaglione is an Italian dessert made from whipping together egg yolks, sugar and Marsala over a moderate heat until thick and foamy and often served over fresh fruit of on its own with sweet biscuits.

Zafferano is Italian for saffron.

Zaffran is Spanish for saffron

Zampa is Italian for the leg of an animal.

Zampone is a dish of pork trotter stuffed with highly seasoned pork sausage. A specialty of Florence served with lentils.

Zebrine is a purple and white striped variety of eggplant grown in France.

Zest is both a verb and noun – the action of removing thin strips and is the thin strips from outermost layer of the peel of a citrus fruit that contain most of the aromatic oils and the bit of peel itself. Citrus zest provides lively flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. A zester, a tool with tiny little holes, is often used to accomplish this task.

Zhu is Chinese for pork.

Zucchero is Italian for sugar.

Zuccato is a dome shaped Italian dessert made with liqueur soaked lady fingers, sweetened whipped cream, hazelnuts and layers of cake and dusted heavily with cocoa when unmolded,

Zucchini, also known as courgettes, are slender, tube-shaped summer squash, have edible green, yellow, or green-and-cream skin and pale, tender flesh. The delicate Zucchini blossoms can be used in pasta sauces or stuffed and sautéed.

Zuppa is Italian for soup.

Zuppa Inglese (lit, English soup) is a trifle like dessert of rum moistened layers of cake with custard, whipped cream, candied fruit and nuts.

Zwieback is a twice cooked German bread that is baked, sliced and returned to the oven to crisp. Not unlike a rusk or unsweetened biscotti.

Zythos is Greek for beer.