If you have a term you'd like to see here, please
email me and I'll be happy to add it.
Letters A - I
~ J ~
Jalapeno - A small green chile pepper that is mildly
hot. They are named after Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz. Serrano peppers are a
good substitute when there are no jalapenos on hand.
Jasmine Rice - A fragrant long grain rice from
Thailand that is distinctly aromatic, soft and sticky when cooked. The length of
each grain four to five times its width.
Jicama - A bulbous, brown root with a crunchy white
interior used in Latin American cooking. The sweet and nutty interior is great
for crudite platters and salads. It can be found from May to November in many
Julienne - Foods that are cut into very thin, match-stick like strips.
Jus - A lightly reduced stock used as a sauce for roasted meats.
~ K ~
Kosher - Foods that are prepared in accordance with Orthodox Jewish law.
~ L ~
Larding - Salt pork strips inserted into meat with a special needle. Used
to add flavor and moisture to meat.
Lardons - Julienne of bacon. Strips of salt pork used
Larder - To insert thin strips of fat into meats
Leeks - A member of the onion family which does not form a bulb. Leeks
are a thick stalk that resemble a large green onion without a bulb. Select Leeks
that are about 1" thick with clean, bruise-free white bases and fresh green
tops. Leeks are frequently used as an ingredient in soup or sautéed and served
as a side dish.
~ M ~
Macerate - Soaking vegetables in salt, sugar or syrup to remove a bitter
taste before canning or using in a recipe.
Marinate - To let food stand in a mixture called a marinade - a liquid,
dry rub, or a paste before cooking. Some marinades are for added flavor.
Marinades that contain an acid such as lemon, wine, or vinegar are for
tenderizing and some marinades are meant to do both.
Marzipan - An almond paste mixture is used to wrap cakes, cookies and
candies. Marzipan is also formed into fruit and vegetable shapes and sold in
Mascarpone Cheese - An Italian cream cheese most often
used in desserts. It is said to have originated in Lombardy in the 16th century.
The name comes from the Spanish 'mas que bono' (better than good). It has a soft
and buttery consistency, resembling stiffly whipped cream. Mascarpone goes well
with savory dishes as well as fruit and desserts. It is found in most
supermarkets and Italian groceries. It can be expensive. Here is a recipe for a
good substitute from the Stars Desserts cookbook. 4 cups heavy whipping cream,
1/4 teaspoon tartaric acid. Line a mesh strainer with a dish cloth folded over
to make a double thickness. Rest the strainer over a bowl, making sure the
strainer does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream in a
double boiler over medium high heat. When the cream reaches 180 degrees F, add
the tartaric acid and stir for 30 seconds. Remove the cream from the stove and
continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Pour the cream into a lined strainer and
refrigerate. When it is cold, cover it with plastic wrap. Let the cream sit in
the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours. It will become very thick and firm. The
mascarpone will keep for a week in the refrigerator. Makes 2 cups.
Milk Chocolate - This is the most popular form of
eating chocolate in the United States, probably because of its mild, mellow
flavor. It has only 10% chocolate liquor and usually contains about 12% milk
solids. Milk chocolate has a less robust flavor than sweet or semisweet.
Mince - To cut food into very small pieces. The terms "finely chopped"
and "minced" can be interchangeable.
Miso - A paste made from fermented soybeans used in Japanese cooking,
mostly in soups and sauces.
Mochi - A Japanese food made from pounded brown rice. It's sold
refrigerated, in flat squares. Mochi can be broiled.
Molasses - A syrup made from natural sugarcane juices, clarified,
reduced, and blended. To produce table sugar, raw sugar is processed into
refined sugar. The remaining syrup is the sweetest molasses. Additional
processing results in darker and stronger tasting molasses called black strap.
Mole - Thick Mexican cooking sauces made with chiles and flavored with
cumin, coriander, cinnamon, herbs, and other ingredients.
Mousse - Sweet, light whipped dessert mixtures usually made from cream
and flavored with fruit or chocolate.
~ N ~
Napa Cabbage - This oval-shaped broad-leafed head has
very crisp, pale green crinkled leaves and a sweet, delicate flavor. It is used
extensively in stir-fried dishes and soups, and absorbs flavors beautifully.
Nicoise - Italian dishes made with tomatoes; Nicoise
olives, garlic, beans, anchovies, etc, prepared "Nice" style. Salad Nicoise is
made with potatoes, olives, beans, and a vinaigrette dressing.
Nougat - A confection made from sugar and honey, sometimes mixed with
fruit and/or nuts.
Nutella - A commercial brand of a creamy paste made of chocolate and
hazelnuts. Nutella is used in making candy, flavored milk, and in spreads.
~ O ~
Olive Oil - Grades of olive oil are determined by the method of
extraction and the acid content. Extra virgin is the finest olive oil, with a 1%
acid content. Superfine has a 1.5% acid content, fine has a 3%. Virgin olive
oil, from the first pressing of the olives with no further refinement, has a 4%
acid content. Store olive oil, tightly sealed, in a cool dark place, since it
quickly becomes rancid when exposed to heat or light.
~ P ~
Paella - A Spanish dish containing rice, shellfish, chicken and ham.
Pancetta - An Italian cured meat made from the belly (pancia)
of the big (the same cut used for bacon). It is salted but lightly spiced, but
not smoked. You can buy it at Italian delis
Pannetone - An Italian cake traditionally served at Christmas time. It's
made from dough that's studded with raisins, candied fruit, and pistachios.
Papillote - (French) Cooked in foil or parchment paper
to seal in flavor, then served and cut open at table.
Parchment Paper - A paper that can withstand high heat, especially good
to use as a liner or covering when making foods such as candies or chocolate
because they will not stick to it.
Pareve/Parve - Under kosher dietary laws, a category of food made without
meat or milk products.
Pate - Very finely chopped meat, poultry, or liver which has been baked
and is served cold, often as a spread.
Penne - Small smooth pasta tubes. Pasta tubes with ridges are penne
rigati, also known as mostaciolli. Manicotti are large pasta tubes.
Pesto - A tasty pasta sauce made with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic,
and fresh basil; It sometimes contains nuts and other herbs.
Poach - To gently cook food in water or a broth, just below the boiling
Polenta - Coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, cooked and flavored with
onions, garlic, and cheese. Polenta is sometimes served as an Italian mush, with
soups or stews. It's also spooned into a greased baking pan; allowed to set;
then sliced, sauted, and topped with cheese and tomato sauce.
Praline - A confection containing nuts, made from a syrup.
Proof - Swelling or expanding. When yeast swells and becomes bubbly, it
"proofs". Dough proofs when it swells and rises to twice its original size.
Proscuitto - The Italian word for ham, used in the
names of raw hams coming from Italy, in particular Proscuitto di Parma and
Proscuitto di San Daniele.
Puree -To press through a sieve or process in a blender to a smooth
- Return to Top -
~ Q ~
Quesadilla - A corn empanada filled with meat and deep fried. Quesadillas
served in many restaurants are simply made with flour tortillas, filled with
cheese, folded over and cooked.
Quiche - A dish that is a light custard mixture of eggs, cheese and
sometimes a meat or vegetable fillings, baked in a pastry shell.
~ R ~
Radicchio - A salad green with red and white leaves; varieties range from
mild to bitter.
Ragout - A stew made from poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables cut into
pieces seasoned with herbs and spices and cooked in a thick liquid. In a brown
ragout, the meat is browned, sprinkled with flour, and cooked in water or broth.
In a white ragout, , the meat is cooked but not browned, then sprinkled with
flour and cooked in broth.
Ramekin - A small baking dish usually ceramic or earthenware, often used
as a baking dish in a water bath.
Reduce - Boiling a liquid until its volume is reduced by evaporation,
thickening and condensing the liquid and intensifying the flavor.
Render - Melting animal fat over low heat to separate it from any
connective tissue, turning this tissue crisp and brown. The clarified fat is
then strained. Cooking fatty meats, such as bacon or spare ribs, until the fat
Resting - Meat juices are driven from the surface as it cooks. Allowing
meat to "rest" before slicing lets the juices return to the surface, resulting
in more flavorful meat.
Ricer - A kitchen gadget that looks like a large garlic press. Also
called a potato ricer, it forces cooked foods such as potatoes or turnips
through tiny holes.
Risotto - An Italian rice and cheese dish served as either a main course
or as a side dish.
Roasted Garlic - Process: Cut the top third of the
garlic head off and discard it. Drizzle the remainder with olive oil and put it
in aluminum foil. Bake in a 400° F oven until edges of the garlic are
caramelized (about 40 min.).
Roasting, Peeling, and Seeding a Bell Pepper - Many
methods exist for roasting peppers. Among them are roasting them atop a stove,
in an oven broiler, on a grill, and in hot oil. Using the broiler to roast
peppers is a preferred method.
Roasting: Preheat the oven broiler for 15 minutes. Place the
peppers on the top rack (3-4 inches away from flame). Once a side has
blackened., turn (with tongs, fork, towel, or other utensil). Repeat until all
sides are blackened. If you are using this method for chili pepper, other than
the bell pepper, you have to monitor closely so as only the skin and not the
flesh of the pepper is charred. The bell pepper has a hardier skin and does not
burn so easily.
Peeling: Two different methods can be employed to peel a
charred pepper. Place the peppers in a plastic or paper bag. Fold over the top
of the bag, so no steam can escape. This way the steam will build up between the
flesh and the skin, making peeling even easier. When the pepper is cool enough
to handle (20 minutes), take out of the bag and peel the rest by hand. OR
Submerge the charred pepper into a bowl of ice cold water. This will stop the
cooking process and aid in the removal of the skin. Once the pepper is cool
enough to handle, peel off the rest of the skin. Seeding: If you are going to be
using the peppers whole, make a slit down one side, leaving a small space at
both ends. Carefully remove the inside with a knife or small spoon. Otherwise,
just remove the stem, remove the seeds and veins with your fingers, and rinse
the pepper under water.
Roulades - Slices of meat or pastry, stuffed with cheese.
Roux - A mixture of flour and fat such as butter or margerine, used to
thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and stews. Rouxs can also be made with bacon or
meat drippings or poultry fat. After thickening, rouxs are cooked for a short
time. In Creole cooking rouxs are cooked for a longer time, until they are a
dark brown color.
~ S ~
Salt - Canning Salt - Canning or pickling salt is made without additives
that could produce a cloudy brine. Table salt contains iodine plus an
anti-caking agent which would cause pickling brine to be slightly cloudy and
make home-canned foods unattractive.
Salt - Sea Salt - Salt comes either from the sea or from mining deposits
left by prehistoric salt lakes. Sea salt is the compound remaining when sea
water is evaporated. This natural salt product dissolves quicker, has more
minerals and does not have a very strong salt flavor. It has a sweet, more
palatable flavor that enhances the natural flavors of food.
Salt - Table salt - Sodium chloride plus iodine plus an anti-caking agent
to make it free-flowing.
Samosas - Indian deep fried dumplings stuffed with curried vegetables.
The most common fillings are potatoes or cauliflower with peas.
Scald - To heat milk almost to the boiling point just as tiny bubbles
start forming on the inside edge of a pan.
Scone - A lightly sweetened English pastry, similar to but more dense
than biscuits; Scones usually contain raisins or currants.
Score - Making shallow cuts in meats before cooking, making the meat more
Sear - Frying meats quickly to seal in the juices.
Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate - This is the
chocolate most often called for in cake and cookie recipes. 'Bittersweet' and
'semisweet' are often used interchangeably, though bittersweet generally has
more chocolate 'liquor' (the paste formed from roasted, ground cocoa beans).
Most semisweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, while some fine
bittersweets contain 50% or more. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate have a
deep, smooth, intense flavor that comes from the blend of beans used rather than
added dairy products. Sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter are added to the liquor
to lend an even richer taste.
Semolina Flour - A coarsely ground flour made from durum wheat, which is
the hardest wheat variety. It has the highest protein of all flours. It's the
best flour for making pasta because it retains its shape and firmness and
doesn't become mushy or sticky while cooking.
Sesame Oil - Used extensively in Japanese and Chinese
cuisine, this highly aromatic and richly flavored oil ranges in hue from golden
to dark brown. It is sometimes used as a cooking oil, but most often is used as
a seasoning accent in stir-fries, dressings, sauces and marinades.
Shallots - An onion variety that produces clusters of
bulbs. Their flavor is slightly less intense than that of onions. Shallots are
excellent for pickling.
Simmer - To slowly cook a liquid at just below the boiling point.
Skim - To remove fat and other substances from the surface of cooked or
Shallots - Shallots are part of the onion family, with mild,
Season - To coat a pan or other metal cooking surface with oil and then
heat it. This prevents sticking by sealing tiny pits on the surface.
Smorgasbord - A commonly used term for a buffet of many dishes served as
a single course or a complete meal. Smorgasbord is actually a Swedish word for a
buffet that would include such foods as pickled herring, marinated vegetables,
smoked and cured salmon, and other appetizers.
Spatzle - A coarse German noodle made from flour, eggs, oil, and water.
Spatzle are cooked, then fried in butter. They may also be sprinkled with herbs
or grated cheese.
Steam - To cook foods in a perforated container suspended over boiling
Stew - A long cooking method in a covered pot using liquid. A stew is a
one dish meal produced by cooking a combination of meat, fish or poultry and
vegetables by this method.
Stir Fry - To rapidly saute or fry while stirring chopped meat, poultry
or fresh vegetables over high heat.
Stock - A broth from cooking meats, fish, shellfish, and vegetables, the
basis for soup making.
~ T ~
Tahini - An oily paste made from ground sesame seeds.
A sweetened dark variety also exists. It can be found in health food stores and
the ethnic section of most grocery stores.
Tamarind Paste - A vitamin-rich, tangy, prune like
pulp from the pods of a tropical Asian tree. It is used as a seasoning in
curries and chutneys or made into drinks, jams, or sorbets.
Tart - A covered or uncovered pastry shell filled with
Tartare - A term used to describe a seasoned paper thin raw steak dish
called steak tartare. Also, Tartare sauce is a mayonnaise based sauce frequently
served with seafood.
Temper - To slowly add a hot liquid to to an egg mixture or other food
being prepared to raise the temperature without making them curdle or begin to
Tofu - Tofu, or soy bean curd, is a soft cheese-like food with a
naturally mild flavor. It's found in several varieties, from soft to extra-firm.
Soft tofu can be used to make cake frostings, dips and spreads. Firmer tofu is
used in stir-fries, soups, and many other dishes. Tofu can be found in the dairy
section in most stores. It's an excellent source of calcium, low in sodium, low
in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol.
Tiramiso - An Italian dessert made of sponge cake, typically soaked with
an espresso syrup and layered with a sweet cheese and chocolate sauce.
~ U ~
Ugli - A citrus fruit hybrid created from a grapefruit and a tangerine.
Unbleached Flour - Bleaching is a term referring to the whitening of
flour. Because newly milled flour may not make the best quality baked goods, it
is stored for a few months. During this time, oxidation occurs and produces a
whiter flour with a finer texture and improved baking quality. The nutritional
value of unbleached flour is the same as bleached flour.
Unsweetened Chocolate - (also called baking
chocolate): You don't eat unsweetened chocolate. It has no added sugar and is
generally composed of 55% cocoa butter and 45% chocolate mass from the bean. It
has an intense chocolate flavor that has to be tempered by sugar and other
~ V ~
Vermicelli - This pasta literally means "Little Worms". It is slightly
thinner than Spaghetti and looks like fine strands. Angel hair pasta is a very
fine form of vermicelli. Vermicelli is good topped with any sauce, or as a salad
or stir-fry ingredient. It is versatile enough to also be used in certain
puddings and souffles. Variations include Chinese vermicelli (made with soya
flour) and Far Eastern vermicelli (made with rice flour).
Vichyssoise - A chilled soup, commonly made with
potatoes and leeks. Some recipes also use zucchini, apples, and carrots.
Vinaigrette - A dressing made with oil and vinegar, commonly used on
salads. Vinaigrettes may also contain mustard, citrus juices or wine.
Vindaloo - The spiciest of all curry dishes. Vindaloos
primarily come from central and southwestern coastal India . They are composed
of a complicated roasted spice blend which includes mustard seeds, cumin seeds,
ginger, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cloves, coriander seeds, and tamarind
concentrate. One must include red chilies in the mix. Vindaloo sauce is usually
served with meat over rice. You can purchase commercial vindaloo pastes and
sauces in most Indian grocery stores or the ethnic food aisle in larger grocery
~ W ~
Wasabi - Japanese horseradish, a root that is dried and ground to a fine
powder. The powder is reconstituted and used with soy sauce as a dipping sauce
for sushi and sashimi.
Welsh Rarebit - A cheese sauce made with ale and seasoned with mustard,
black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. It's traditionally served on toast,
sometimes with bacon bits. It can also be used as fondue.
Whipping Cream - Also called heavy cream. Fat content is around 40
percent; Will double in volume when whipped.
Whisk - A kitchen tool with strands of looped wire used for beating. To
whisk means to mix or beat with a wire whisk.
White Chocolate - White 'chocolate' doesn't contain a
drop of chocolate. But it does have cocoa butter, from which it gets its faintly
chocolaty flavor. The cocoa butter is blended with milk and sugar to form the
creamy confection, which is used for both eating and cooking.
~ Y ~
Yeast - A leavening agent used in doughs and batters. Bread yeast is
available as a dry granulated powder and as fresh yeast cakes. It is best
activated at a temperature of 110 degrees F to 115 degrees F (the temperature of
a baby bottle or a comfortable bath). Anything too cold won't activate it, too
hot will kill it. Past it's expiration date, yeast may rise slower, but it is
still safe to use.
~ Z ~
Zest - The colored skin of citrus fruit - not including the white layer.