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abalone
a GASTROPOD MOLLUSK (see both listings ) found along the coastlines of California, Mexico and Japan. The edible portion is the adductor muscle, a broad foot by which the abalone clings to rocks. As with any muscle, the meat is tough and must be pounded to tenderize it before cooking. Abalone, used widely in Chinese and Japanese cooking, can be purchased fresh, canned, dried or salted. Fresh abalone should smell sweet, not fishy. It should also be alive — the exposed muscle should move when touched. Choose those that are relatively small and refrigerate as soon as possible. Cook abalone within a day of purchase. Fresh abalone is best sautéed and should be cooked very briefly (20 to 30 seconds per side) or the meat will quickly toughen. Abalone is known as ormer in the English Channel, awabi in Japan, muttonfish in Australia and paua in New Zealand. Its iridescent shell is a source of mother-of-pearl.
abbacchio
Italian for a very young lamb.
a blanc
A French term meaning "in white" and identifying foods, usually meats, that aren't browned during cooking.
acetic acid
Acetic acid is formed when common airborne bacteria interact with the alcohol present in fermented solutions such as WINE, BEER or CIDER. Acetic acid is the constituent that makes vinegar sour.
acidulated water
Water to which a small amount of vinegar, lemon or lime juice has been added. It's used as a soak to prevent discoloration of some fruits and vegetables (such as apples and artichokes) that darken quickly when their cut surfaces are exposed to air. It can also be used as a cooking medium.
acorn squash
A somewhat oval-shaped winter squash with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. The most common method of preparation is to halve them, remove the seeds and bake. Acorn squash may then be eaten directly from the shell
adzuki bean
A small, dried, russet-colored bean with a sweet flavor. Adzuki beans can be purchased whole or powdered at Asian markets. They are particularly popular in Japanese cooking where they're used in confections such as the popular YOKAN, made with adzuki-bean paste and AGAR.
age; aged
To let food get older under controlled conditions in order to improve flavor or texture or both. 1. Aged meat has been stored 3 to 6 weeks at an optimal temperature of 34°F to 38°F and in low humidity. During this time it undergoes an enzymatic change that intensifies flavor, deepens color and tenderizes by softening some of the connective tissue. The longer meat is aged, the more quickly it will cook. The cryovac method of aging involves vacuum packing the meat with a vapor- and moistureproof film so the so-called aging takes place in transit from slaughterhouse to the consumer's home. 2. Aging cheese refers to storing it in a temperature-controlled area until it develops the desired texture and flavor. 3. Wine is aged both in the barrel and in the bottle. Generally, red wines benefit from long bottle-aging more than white wines.
aglio e olio
Italian for "garlic and oil," referring to a dressing of garlic and hot olive oil used on PASTA.
agneau
The French word for lamb.
agnolotti
Italian for "priests' caps," describing small, crescent-shaped stuffed PASTA.
aioli
A strongly flavored garlic MAYONNAISE from the Provence region of southern France. It's a popular accompaniment for fish, meats and vegetables.
à la
A French idiom meaning "in the manner (or style) of"; the full phrase is à la mode de. In cooking, this phrase designates the style of preparation or a particular garnish. A la bourguignonne , for example, would mean "as prepared in Burgundy."
à la carte
A menu term signifying that each item is priced separately
à la king
A dish of diced food (usually chicken or turkey) in a rich cream sauce containing mushrooms, pimientos, green peppers and sometimes SHERRY.
à la mode
French for "in the manner (or mode) [of]," referring to the style in which a dish is prepared. The term has been Americanized to also mean pie topped with ice cream.
à la provençal
Containing olive oil, garlic, and often tomato. Normally flavoured with mixed provençal herbs.
albacore
All tunas have a distinctively rich-flavored flesh that is moderate to high in fat, firmly textured, flaky and tender. The high-fat albacore weighs in the 10- to 60-pound range, has the lightest flesh (white with a hint of pink) and is the only tuna that can be called "white." Its mild flavor and prized white flesh make it the most expensive canned tuna.
al dente
An Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth," used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.
al forno
Italian for "baked" or "roasted."
Allemande sauce
A classic VELOUTÉ SAUCE thickened with egg yolks.VELOUTÉ SAUCE is one of the five "mother sauces," velouté is a STOCK-based white sauce. It can be made from chicken or veal stock or fish FUMET thickened with white ROUX. Enrichments such as egg yolks or cream are sometimes also added. Velouté sauce is the base for a number of other sauces.
allspice
The pea-size berry of the evergreen pimiento tree, native to the West Indies and South America, though Jamaica provides most of the world's supply (allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper ). The dried berries are dark brown and can be purchased whole or ground. The spice is so named because it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
allumettes
1. Thin strips of PUFF PASTRY spread or filled with different savory mixtures (such as shrimp butter or grated cheese) and served as an HORS D'OEUVRE. A sweet filling turns this pastry into a dessert. 2. Allumette , the French word for "match," also refers to potatoes that have been cut into thin "matchsticks" and fried.
amandine
The French term meaning "garnished with almonds." It's often misspelled "almondine."
amaretti
Intensely crisp, airy MACAROON cookies that are made either with bitter-ALMOND PASTE or its flavor counterpart, apricot-kernel paste. In the United States, pairs of paper-wrapped Amaretti di Saronno (made with apricot-kernel paste) are sold under the label of Lazzaroni. Amarettini are miniature cookies with the same flavor.
Anaheim chile
Named after the California city, the generally mild Anaheim is one of the most commonly available CHILES in the United States. It is usually medium green in color and has a long, narrow shape. The red strain is also called the chile Colorado. Anaheim chiles can be purchased fresh or canned and have a sweet, simple taste with just a hint of bite. Anaheims are frequently stuffed and commonly used in SALSAS.
anchovy
Though there are many species of small, silvery fish that are known in their country of origin as "anchovies," the true anchovy comes only from the Mediterranean and southern European coastlines. These tiny fish are generally filleted, salt-cured and canned in oil; they're sold flat and rolled.
andalouse, à l'
A French term describing dishes using tomatoes, pimientos and sometimes rice PILAF or sausage. Andalouse sauce refers to mayonnaise mixed with tomato puree and pimiento.
angel hair pasta
Italian for "angel hair" (which this PASTA is also called), this term describes a long, delicate, extremely thin noodle. Because they are so fine, capelli d'angelo must be served either in a very light sauce or in a simple broth.
angler fish
The angler takes its name from the method by which it lures its prey: it lies partially buried on the sea floor and twitches a long filament that grows from its head. The filament resembles a worm and attracts smaller fish that are soon engulfed by the angler's huge mouth. Also known as monkfish, lotte, bellyfish, frogfish, sea devil and goosefish , this large, extremely ugly fish is lowfat and firm-textured, and has a mild, sweet flavor that has been compared to lobster. Indeed, shellfish are an important part of the angler's diet. The only edible portion of this impressive fish is the tail, which is suitable for almost any method of cooking.
anise
Known as far back as at least 1500 b.c., this small annual plant is a member of the parsley family. Both the leaves and seed have a distinctive, sweet licorice flavor. The greenish brown, comma-shaped anise seed perfumes and flavors a variety of confections as well as savory dishes. It's also used to flavor drinks such as PASTIS, ARRACK, ANISETTE and OUZO. Anise seed plays an important role in the cooking of Southeast Asia. Chinese cooks are more likely to use STAR ANISE than anise seed.
appetizer
Any small, bite-size food served before a meal to whet and excite the palate. Used synonymously with the term HORS D'OEUVRE, though this term more aptly describes finger food, whereas appetizer can also apply to a first course served at table.
apple butter
A thick, dark brown preserve made by slowly cooking apples, sugar, spices and cider together. Used as a spread for breads.
Arborio rice
The high-starch kernels of this Italian-grown grain are shorter and fatter than any other short-grain rice. Arborio is traditionally used for RISOTTO because its increased starch lends this classic dish its requisite creamy texture. See also RICE.
Arrowroot
The starchy product of a tropical tuber of the same name. The rootstalks are dried and ground into a very fine powder. Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent for puddings, sauces and other cooked foods, and is more easily digested than wheat flour. Its thickening power is about twice that of wheat flour. Arrowroot is absolutely tasteless and becomes clear when cooked. Unlike cornstarch, it doesn't impart a chalky taste when undercooked. It should be mixed with a cold liquid before being heated or added to hot mixtures. Some English and early American cookie recipes call for arrowroot flour , which is the same product.
Arroz con pollo
Literally "rice with chicken," this Spanish and Mexican dish is made with rice, chicken, tomatoes, green peppers, seasonings and, sometimes, saffron.
Artichoke
A name shared by three unrelated plants: the globe artichoke, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE and CHINESE (OR JAPANESE) ARTICHOKE. Considered the true artichoke, the globe artichoke is cultivated mainly in California's midcoastal region. It's the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal-shaped leaves. To eat a whole cooked artichoke, break off the leaves one by one and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to remove the soft portion, discarding the remainder of the leaf. The individual leaves may be dipped into melted butter or some other sauce. Once the leaves have been removed, the inedible prickly choke is cut or scraped away and discarded. Then the tender artichoke heart and meaty bottom can be eaten. Globe artichokes are available year-round, with the peak season from March through May.
Arugula
Also called rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, arugula is a bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavor. Though it has long been extremely popular with Italians, American palates often find its flavor too assertive.
Asiago
A semifirm Italian cheese with a rich, nutty flavor. It's made from whole or part-skim cow's milk and comes in small wheels with glossy rinds. The yellow interior has many small holes. Young Asiago is used as a table cheese; aged over a year, it becomes hard and suitable for grating.
Asian pear
There are over 100 varieties (most of them grown in Japan) of this firm, amazingly juicy pear whose season is late summer through early fall. In size and color, they range from huge and golden brown to tiny and yellow-green. In general, ripe Asian pears (also called Chinese pears and apple pears ) are quite firm to the touch, crunchy to the bite (unlike the pears we're used to), lightly sweet and drippingly juicy.
Aspic
A savory jelly, usually clear, made of CLARIFIED meat, fish or vegetable stock and GELATIN. Tomato aspic, made with tomato juice and gelatin, is opaque. Clear aspics may be used as a base for molded dishes, or as glazes for cold dishes of fish, poultry, meat and eggs. They may also be cubed and served as a relish with cold meat, fish or fowl.
Atlantic oyster
Also called Eastern oyster, this species has a thick, elongated shell that ranges from 2 to 5 inches across. It's found along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico and is considered ideal for serving ON THE HALF SHELL. Atlantic oysters are sold under different names depending on where they're harvested. The most well known is the BLUEPOINT; others include Apalachicola, Cape Cod, Chesapeake, Chincoteague, Indian River, Kent Island, Malpeque and Wellfleet.
Au jus
A French phrase describing meat served with its own natural juices, commonly used with beef.
Avgolemono
A Greek soup as well as a sauce, both of which are made from chicken broth, egg yolks and lemon juice. The main difference is that the soup has rice added to it. The sauce is thicker than the soup.
Baba
Also called baba au rhum , this rich, light currant- or raisin-studded yeast cake is soaked in a rum or KIRSCH syrup. It's said to have been invented in the 1600s by Polish King Lesczyinski, who soaked his stale KUGELHOPF in rum and named the dessert after the storybook hero Ali Baba. The classic baba is baked in a tall, cylindrical mold but the cake can be made in a variety of shapes, including small individual rounds. When the cake is baked in a large ring mold it's known as a SAVARIN.
Baba ghanoush
A Middle Eastern puree of eggplant, TAHINI, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. It's garnished with pomegranate seeds, chopped mint or minced pistachios and used as a spread or dip for PITA or Middle Eastern FLAT BREAD.
Babka
Hailing from Poland, this rum-scented sweet yeast bread is studded with almonds, raisins and orange peel.
Bacalao
The Spanish term for dried salt cod.
Bagel
A doughnut-shaped yeast roll with a dense, chewy texture and shiny crust. Bagels are boiled in water before they're baked. The water bath reduces starch and creates a chewy crust. The traditional water bagel is made without eggs and, because it doesn't contain fat, is chewier than an egg bagel. Bagels are the cornerstone of the popular Jewish snack of bagels, lox and cream cheese.
Baguette
A FRENCH BREAD that's been formed into a long, narrow cylindrical loaf. It usually has a crisp brown crust and light, chewy interior.
Bain-Marie
The French call this cooking technique bain marie . It consists of placing a container (pan, bowl, soufflé dish, etc.) of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked in this manner either in an oven or on top of a range. This technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. It can also be used to keep cooked foods warm.
Baking Powder
A LEAVENER containing a combination of baking soda, an acid (such as CREAM OF TARTAR) and a moisture-absorber (such as cornstarch). When mixed with liquid, baking powder releases carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause a bread or cake to rise.
Baking soda
Also known as bicarbonate of soda , baking soda is used as a LEAVENER in baked goods. When combined with an acid ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt or molasses, baking soda produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles, thereby causing a dough or batter to rise. Because it reacts immediately when moistened, it should always be mixed with the other dry ingredients before adding any liquid; the resulting batter should be placed in the oven immediately. At one time, baking soda was used in the cooking water of green vegetables to preserve their color. That practice was discontinued, however, when it was discovered that baking soda destroys the vitamin C content of vegetables.
Baklava
Popular in Greece and Turkey, this sweet dessert consists of many layers of butter-drenched PHYLLO pastry, spices and chopped nuts. A spiced honey-lemon syrup is poured over the warm pastry after it's baked and allowed to soak into the layers. Before serving, the dessert is cut into triangles and sometimes sprinkled with coarsely ground nuts.
Ballotine
Meat, fish or fowl that has been boned, stuffed, rolled and tied in the shape of a bundle. It is then braised or roasted and is normally served hot but can be served cold. Often confused with GALANTINE, which is poached and served cold.
Bamboo shoot
The tender-crisp, ivory-colored shoot of a particular edible species of bamboo plant. Bamboo shoots are cut as soon as they appear above ground while they're still young and tender. Fresh shoots are sometimes available in Asian markets; canned shoots can be found in the Asian or gourmet section of most supermarkets.
Barley
This hardy grain dates back to the Stone Age and has been used throughout the eons in dishes ranging from cereals to breads to soups (such as the famous SCOTCH BROTH). Most of the barley grown in the Western world is used either for animal fodder or, when malted, to make beer and whiskey. Hulled (also called whole-grain ) barley has only the outer husk removed and is the most nutritious form of the grain.
Basmati rice
Literally translated as "queen of fragrance," basmati has been grown in the foothills of the Himalayas for thousands of years. Its perfumy, nutlike flavor and aroma can be attributed to the fact that the grain is aged to decrease its moisture content. Basmati is a long-grained rice with a fine texture.
Bass
A general term for any of numerous (often unrelated) freshwater or saltwater fish, many of which are characterized by spiny fins.
Baton
1. Culinarily, this French word describes a white loaf of bread that's somewhat smaller than a BAGUETTE. 2. The term can also refer to various small, stick (baton) shaped foods — such as vegetables or pastries — that may or may not have a filling.
Béarnaise sauce
A classic French sauce made with a REDUCTION of vinegar, wine, tarragon and shallots and finished with egg yolks and butter. Béarnaise is served with meat, fish, eggs and vegetables.
Béchamel sauce
Also called by its Italian name, balsamella , this basic French white sauce is made by stirring milk into a butter-flour ROUX. The thickness of the sauce depends on the proportion of flour and butter to milk. The proportions for a thin sauce would be 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour per 1 cup of milk; a medium sauce would use 2 tablespoons each of butter and flour; a thick sauce, 3 tablespoons each. Béchamel, the base of many other sauces, was named after its inventor, Louis XIV's steward Louis de Béchamel.
Beef Tartare
A dish of coarsely ground or finely chopped high-quality, raw lean beef that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. It's thought to have originated in the Baltic provinces of Russia where, in medieval times, the Tartars shredded red meat with a knife and ate it raw. Today the seasoned raw meat is usually shaped into a mound with an indentation in the top, into which is placed a raw egg yolk. Beef tartare (also referred to as steak tartare ) is usually served with capers, chopped parsley and onions.
Beef Wellington
A FILLET of beef that has been covered with pâté de FOIE GRAS or DUXELLES, wrapped in pastry and baked.
Beggar's Purse
The name for an APPETIZER made popular by Barry and Susan Wine at their New York restaurant, the Quilted Giraffe. A beggar's purse consists of a mini CRÊPE topped by a teaspoon of the finest CAVIAR and then a dab of CRÈME FRAICHE. The edges of the crêpe are pulled up in pleats
Belon Oyster
Though indigenous to France, this tender, sweet oyster is now being aquacultured in California, Maine and Washington. The belon is small, ranging from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches across, and has a slightly metallic flavor. It's considered superior, especially for eating ON THE HALF SHELL.
Buerre Blanc
Meaning "white butter," this classic French sauce is composed of a wine, vinegar and SHALLOT REDUCTION into which chunks of cold butter are whisked until the sauce is thick and smooth. It's excellent with poultry, seafood, vegetables and eggs.
Buerre compose
The French term for "COMPOUND BUTTER."
Buerre Noisette
The French term for "brown butter," referring to butter cooked to a light hazelnut (noisette) color. It's prepared in the same manner as BEURRE NOIR.
Blackened
A cooking technique made famous by New Orleans's chef Paul Prudhomme by which meat or fish is cooked in a cast-iron skillet that's been heated until almost red hot. Prudhomme's original specialty was blackened redfish. The food is customarily rubbed with a CAJUN spice mixture before being cooked. The extra hot skillet combined with the seasoning rub gives food an extra crispy crust.
Blanquette
A rich, creamy stew made with veal, chicken or lamb, button mushrooms and small white onions. The name comes from the French word blanc , meaning "white."
Bolognese
Named after the rich cookery style of Bologna, Italy, Bolognese refers to dishes served with a thick, full-bodied meat and vegetable sauce enhanced with wine and milk or cream. The term alla Bolognese (in French, à la Bolognese ) on a menu designates a pasta or other dish sauced in this manner. The Italian term for this sauce is ragu Bolognese , or often simply ragu .
bonne femme, à la
Literally translated as "good wife," the term bonne femme describes food prepared in an uncomplicated, homey manner. Sole bonne femme is a simply poached fish served with a sauce of white wine and lemon juice, and often garnished with small onions and mushrooms.
bordelaise, à la
A French term meaning "of or from Bordeaux" and referring to dishes served with BORDELAISE SAUCE. A French sauce made with red or white wine, brown stock, bone MARROW, shallots, parsley and herbs. It's usually served with broiled meats.
Bouillabaisse
A celebrated seafood stew from Provence, made with an assortment of fish and shellfish, onions, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, garlic, saffron and herbs. The stew is ladled over thick slices of French bread.
bourguignonne, à la
The French term for "as prepared in Burgundy," one of France's most famous gastronomic regions. Meat (usually beef, as in boeuf bourguignonne ) is braised in red wine and usually garnished with small mushrooms and white onions. For information on fondue bourguignonne see listing for FONDUE.
Braise
A cooking method by which food (usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done on top of the range or in the oven. A tight-fitting lid is very important to prevent the liquid from evaporating.
Brandade
The famous brandade de morue of Provence is a pounded mixture of salt COD, olive oil, garlic, milk and cream. This flavorful puree is served with CROÛTES and often garnished with chopped black truffles. Other salted or smoked fish can also be used to make brandade.
Bream
The name applied to any of several freshwater or saltwater fish such as the American porgy , the Japanese sea bream and the French daurade . In general, bream can be grilled, baked or fried.
Bresaola
Originating in Lombardy, Italy, bresaola is air-dried salted beef FILLET that has been aged about 2 months. Bresaola is usually thinly sliced, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and served as an ANTIPASTO.
Brioche
This French creation is a light yeast bread rich with butter and eggs. The classic shape, called brioche à tête , has a fluted base and a jaunty topknot. It also comes in the form of small buns or a large round loaf. Special fluted brioche molds, available in metal, glass or ceramic, are necessary for the brioche à tête. Brioche dough is also used to enclose foods such as sausage or cheese.
broche, à la
French for "spit-roasted."
Brunoise
A mixture of vegetables that have been finely diced or shredded, then cooked slowly in butter. The brunoise is then used to flavor soups and sauces.
B'Steeya
A Moroccan dish of PHYLLO dough surrounding a melange of shredded chicken, ground almonds and spices. The "pie" is baked until a crisp golden brown, then sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Also spelled bastela, bastila, bisteeya and pastilla .
Buckwheat
A native of Russia, buckwheat is thought of as a cereal, but is actually an herb of the genus Fagopyrum. The triangular seeds of this plant are used to make buckwheat flour, which has an assertive flavor and is used for pancakes and as an addition to some baked goods. The famous Russian BLINI are made with buckwheat flour. Buckwheat groats are the hulled, crushed kernels, which are usually cooked in a manner similar to rice. Groats come in coarse, medium and fine grinds. Kasha, which is roasted buckwheat groats, has a toastier, more nutty flavor.
Bulghur wheat
A nutritious staple in the Middle East, bulghur wheat consists of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried and crushed. It is often confused with but is not exactly the same as cracked wheat. Bulghur, also called burghul , has a tender, chewy texture and comes in coarse, medium and fine grinds. It makes an excellent wheat PILAF and is delicious in salads
Burrito
A flour TORTILLA folded and rolled to completely enclose any of several savory fillings including shredded or chopped meat, refried beans, grated cheese, sour cream, lettuce, etc.
Butterfish
Found off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the small (average 8 ounces), high-fat butterfish has a tender texture and a rich, sweet flavor. It is usually sold whole and is sometimes smoked. Butterfish can be broiled, baked, grilled or sautéed. Depending on the region, they're also known as dollarfish, Pacific pompano and pomfret .
Butternut squash
This large, cylindrical winter squash looks rather like a pear-shaped bat. It's 8 to 12 inches long, 3 to 5 inches at its widest point and can weigh from 2 to 3 pounds. The color of the smooth shell ranges from yellow to camel; the flesh is sweet and orange. It can be baked, steamed or simmered. See also SQUASH.
carbonnade à la flamande
Beer, bacon, onions and brown sugar flavor this thick Belgian beef stew from Flanders. Also referred to as carbonnade of beef .
Cardoon
Tasting like a cross between artichoke, celery and SALSIFY, this delicious vegetable is very popular in France, Italy and Spain. The cardoon resembles a giant bunch of wide, flat celery. Cardoons can be found from midwinter to early spring.
Celeriac
This rather ugly, knobby, brown vegetable is actually the root of a special celery cultivated specifically for its root. It's also called celery root and celery knob . Celeriac tastes like a cross between a strong celery and parsley. It's available from September through May and can range anywhere from the size of an apple to that of a small cantaloupe.
Cervelat
A style of sausage that combines chopped pork and/or beef with various mixtures of herbs, spices and other flavorings like garlic or mustard. Cervelats are uncooked but perfectly safe to eat without cooking because they have been preserved by curing, drying and smoking. They can range from semidry to moist and soft. Many countries make cervelats; two of the more well known are Germany's THURINGER SAUSAGE and Italy's MORTADELLA. These sausages can be sliced and served with bread or cut into pieces and used in a variety of other dishes.
Ceviche
An appetizer popular in Latin America consisting of raw fish marinated in citrus (usually lime) juice. The action of the acid in the lime juice "cooks" the fish, thereby firming the flesh and turning it opaque. Onions, tomatoes and green peppers are often added to the marinade. Only very fresh fish should be used for this dish. POMPANO, red SNAPPER and SOLE are the fish most often selected for seviche (which is also spelled ceviche and cebiche ).
Chapati
An UNLEAVENED pancakelike bread from India, usually made from a simple mixture of whole-wheat flour and water. The dough is rolled into thin rounds and baked on a griddle. Pieces of chapati are torn off and used as a scoop or pusher for many East Indian dishes
Chasseur sauce
1. French for "hunter," chasseur sauce is a hunter-style brown sauce consisting of mushrooms, shallots and white wine (sometimes tomatoes and parsley). It's most often served with game and other meats. 2. Dishes prepared in a chasseur style are garnished with sautéed mushrooms and shallots.
Cherries Jubilee
A dessert of pitted BING or other dark red cherries, sugar and KIRSCH or BRANDY, which are combined, flambéed and spooned over vanilla ice cream. The cherries are usually prepared in a CHAFING DISH at the table and flamed with great flourish.
Chiffonade
Literally translated, this French phrase means "made of rags." Culinarily, it refers to thin strips or shreds of vegetables (classically, sorrel and lettuce), either lightly sautéed or used raw to garnish soups.
Chimichanga
This specialty of Sonora, Mexico, is actually a BURRITO that is fried or deep-fried. It can contain any number of fillings including shredded chicken, beef or pork, grated cheese, refried beans and rice. To prevent the filling from spilling out during frying, the flour TORTILLA must be rolled around it, with the ends tucked in. Chimichangas are often garnished with SALSA, GUACAMOLE, sour cream and shredded cheese.
Cacciatore
Italian for "hunter," this American-Italian term refers to food prepared "hunter-style," with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, various herbs and sometimes wine. Chicken cacciatore is the most popular dish prepared in this style.
Cajun Seasoning
There are many Cajun seasoning blends on the market today, all with their own distinct characteristics. Most are boldly flavored and sassy and representative of CAJUN COOKING. In general, a Cajun seasoning blend might include garlic, onion, CHILES, black pepper, mustard and celery. However, you can count on the fact that each Cajun seasoning blend on the market will be a little different from another.
Canape
Small, decorative pieces of bread (toasted or untoasted) that are topped with a savory garnish such as anchovy, cheese or some type of spread. Crackers or pastry may also be used as a base. Canapés may be simple or elaborate, hot or cold. They're usually served as an appetizer with COCKTAILS. The word "canapé" is French for "couch."
Cannelloni
Large PASTA tubes (or squares of pasta that have been rolled into tubes) that are boiled, then stuffed with a meat or cheese filling and baked with a sauce.
Cannellini Bean
arge, white Italian kidney beans, available both in dry and canned forms. Cannellini beans are particularly popular in salads and soups. See also BEANS.
Cannoli
An Italian dessert consisting of tubular or horn-shaped pastry shells that have been deep-fried, then filled with a sweetened filling of whipped RICOTTA (and often whipped cream) mixed with bits of chocolate, candied citron and sometimes nuts.
Caper
The flower bud of a bush native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. The small buds are picked, sun-dried and then pickled in a vinegar BRINE. Capers range in size from the petite nonpareil variety from southern France (considered the finest), to those from Italy, which can be as large as the tip of your little finger. There are also the Spanish-imported stemmed caperberries that are about the size of a cocktail olive. Capers are generally packed in brine but can also be found salted and sold in bulk. Capers should be rinsed before using to remove excess salt. The pungent flavor of capers lends piquancy to many sauces and condiments; they're also used as a garnish for meat and vegetable dishes.
cappelletti
Small, stuffed squares of PASTA, similar to ravioli. The stuffing is usually ground meat, but can also be made from cheese or vegetables. The name is taken from the plural of the Italian word cappelletto , which means "little hat."
alla carbonara
The Italian term describing a PASTA dish of spaghetti (or other noodles) with a sauce composed of cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bits of bacon. The sauce is heated only until it begins to thicken (2 to 3 minutes). It's important that the pasta be very hot so that when the sauce is poured over it, the eggs will briefly continue to cook. Fresh green peas are sometimes added for flavor and color.
cardamom
A member of the GINGER family, this aromatic spice is native to India and grows in many other tropical areas including Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands. Cardamom seeds are encapsulated in small pods about the size of a cranberry. Each pod contains 17 to 20 tiny seeds. Cardamom has a pungent aroma and a warm, spicy-sweet flavor. It's widely used in Scandinavian and East Indian cooking. Cardamom can be purchased either in the pod or ground. The latter, though more convenient, is not as full-flavored because cardamom seeds begin to lose their essential oils as soon as they're ground. The seeds may be removed from the pods and ground, or the entire pod may be ground.
Carpaccio
Italian in origin, carpaccio consists of thin shavings of raw beef FILLET, which may be drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice or served with a mayonnaise or mustard sauce. The dish is often topped with capers and sometimes onions. It's generally served as an appetizer.
Casaba melon
Though it was first cultivated in Persia thousands of years ago, the casaba melon wasn't introduced to the United States until the late 19th century when it was imported from Kasaba, Turkey. A member of the MUSKMELON family, this large, round melon has a thick yellow rind with deep, rough furrows. The creamy-colored flesh is extremely juicy and has a distinctive yet mild cucumberlike flavor. Casabas are now grown in California and are most readily available from September through November.
Cassoulet
A classic dish from France's Languedoc region consisting of white beans and various meats (such as sausages, pork and preserved duck or goose). The combination varies according to regional preference. A cassoulet is covered and cooked very slowly to harmonize the flavors.
Caudle
A hot drink once popular in England and Scotland, especially with the elderly and infirm because of its purported restorative powers. Caudle was generally a blend of wine or ALE, GRUEL, eggs, sugar and spices.
Caul
A thin, fatty membrane that lines the abdominal cavity, usually taken from pigs or sheep; pork caul is considered superior. The caul resembles a lacy net and is used to wrap and contain PÂTÉS, CRÉPINETTES, FORCEMEATS and the like. The fatty membrane melts during the baking or cooking process. Caul may be ordered and purchased through your local butcher. To prevent tearing, it may be necessary to soak the membrane in warm salted water to loosen the layers before using.
Caviar
This elegant and expensive appetizer is simply sieved and lightly salted fish ROE (eggs). Sturgeon roe is premium and considered the "true" caviar. The three main types of caviar are beluga, osetra and sevruga. The best (and costliest) is from the beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Russia and Iran. Caviar production is a major industry for both countries. Beluga caviar is prized for its soft, extremely large (pea-size) eggs. It can range in color from pale silver-gray to black.
Chafing dish
Chafing dishes found in the ruins of Pompeii prove that this style of cookery is nothing new. Used to warm or cook food, a chafing dish consists of a container (today, usually metal) with a heat source directly beneath it. The heat can be provided by a candle, electricity or solid fuel (such as Sterno). There's often a larger dish that is used as a water basin (like the bottom of a double boiler) into which the dish containing the food is placed. This prevents food from burning.
Challah
Served on the Sabbath, holidays, other ceremonial occasions and for everyday consumption, challah is a traditional Jewish yeast bread. It's rich with eggs and has a light, airy texture. Though it can be formed into many shapes, braided challah is the most classic form.
Chanterelle
A trumpet-shaped wild mushroom with a color that ranges from bright yellow to orange. The chanterelle (known in France as girolle ) mushroom has a delicate, nutty (sometimes fruity) flavor and a somewhat chewy texture.
Char
A fish belonging to the genus Salvelinus and related to both the TROUT and SALMON. The Dolly Varden trout and the Mackinaw trout (or lake trout ) are actually members of the char family. Char live in the icy waters (both fresh and marine) of North America and Europe. The arctic char , which has become more commercially available in recent years, is now raised on government-sponsored fish farms in Iceland. It has a pink flesh with a flavor and texture that's a cross between trout and salmon.
Charcuterie
Taken from the term cuiseur de chair , meaning "cooker of meat," charcuterie has been considered a French culinary art at least since the 15th century. It refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such as PÂTÉS, RILLETTES, GALANTINES, CRÉPINETTES, etc., which are made and sold in a delicatessen-style shop, also called a charcuterie .
Chard
Also referred to as Swiss chard , this member of the beet family is grown for its crinkly green leaves and silvery, celerylike stalks. The variety with dark green leaves and reddish stalks (sometimes referred to as rhubarb chard ) has a stronger flavor than that with lighter leaves and stalks. There's also a ruby chard , which has a bright red stalk and a deep red (tinged with green) leaf.
Châteaubriand
Contrary to popular belief, Châteaubriand is actually a recipe, not a cut of beef. This method of preparation is said to be named for the 19th-century French statesman and author, François Châteaubriand. It's a succulent, thick cut of beef (usually taken from the center of the tenderloin) that's large enough for two people. The Châteaubriand is usually grilled or broiled and served with BÉARNAISE SAUCE and château potatoes (potatoes trimmed into olive shapes and sautéed in butter).
Chervil
A mild-flavored member of the parsley family, this aromatic herb has curly, dark green leaves with an elusive anise flavor. Chervil is one of the main ingredients in FINES HERBES.
Chickpea
Slightly larger than the average pea, these round, irregular-shaped, buff-colored LEGUMES have a firm texture and mild, nutlike flavor. Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans and ceci ) are used extensively in the Mediterranean, India and the Middle East for dishes such as COUSCOUS and HUMMUS. They've also found their way into Spanish stews, Italian MINESTRONE and various Mexican dishes, and are fast becoming popular in many parts of the Western and Southwestern United States. Chickpeas are available canned, dried and in some areas, fresh. They're most commonly used in salads, soups and stews.
Chipotle chile
This hot chile is actually a dried, smoked JALAPEÑO. It has a wrinkled, dark brown skin and a smoky, sweet, almost chocolaty flavor. Chipotles can be found dried, pickled and canned in ADOBO SAUCE. Chipotles are generally added to stews and sauces; the pickled variety are often eaten as appetizers
Chorizo
A highly seasoned, coarsely ground pork sausage flavored with garlic, chili powder and other spices. It's widely used in both Mexican and Spanish cookery. Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork, while the Spanish version uses smoked pork. The CASING should be removed and the sausage crumbled before cooking.
Choucroute
This French word for "sauerkraut" describes it when cooked with goose fat, onions, juniper berries or caraway seeds and white wine. It can be served as a side or main dish. Choucroute garni is sauerkraut garnished with potatoes and a variety of meats such as sausages, pork, ham or goose.
Chowder
A thick, chunky seafood soup, of which clam chowder is the most well known. The name comes from the French chaudière , a caldron in which fishermen made their stews fresh from the sea. New England-style chowder is made with milk or cream, Manhattan-style with tomatoes. Chowder can contain any of several varieties of seafood and vegetables. The term is also used to describe any thick, rich soup containing chunks of food (for instance, corn chowder).
Cilantro
The bright green leaves and stems of the CORIANDER plant. Cilantro (also called Chinese parsley and coriander ) has a lively, pungent fragrance that some describe as "soapy." It is widely used in Asian, Caribbean and Latin American cooking and its distinctive flavor lends itself to highly spiced foods.
Chutney
From the East Indian word chatni , this spicy condiment contains fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. It can range in texture from chunky to smooth and in degrees of spiciness from mild to hot. Chutney is a delicious accompaniment to curried dishes. The sweeter chutneys also make interesting bread spreads and are delicious served with cheese.
Clarified Butter
Also called drawn butter , this is unsalted butter that has been slowly melted, thereby evaporating most of the water and separating the milk solids (which sink to the bottom of the pan) from the golden liquid on the surface. After any foam is skimmed off the top, the clear (clarified) butter is poured or skimmed off the milky residue and used in cooking. Because the milk solids (which make butter burn when used for frying) have been removed, clarified butter has a higher SMOKE POINT than regular butter and therefore may be used to cook at higher temperatures. Additionally, the lack of milk solids prevents clarified butter from becoming rancid as quickly as regular butter. It also means that the butter won't have as rich a flavor. GHEE is an East Indian form of highly clarified butter.
Cock-a-leekie
A Scottish soup made with chicken broth, chicken, leeks and, sometimes, oatmeal or cream.
Coddle
A cooking method most often used with eggs, though other foods can be coddled as well. There are special containers with tight-fitting lids called "egg coddlers" made specifically for this purpose. Coddling is usually done by placing the food in an individual-size container that is covered, set in a larger pan of simmering water and placed either on stovetop or in the oven at very low heat. The gentle warmth of this WATER BATH slowly cooks the food. Coddling can also be done by gently lowering the food into water that's come to a boil and removed from the heat.
Confit
This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d'oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.
Consommé
A clarified meat or fish broth. Consommé can be served hot or cold, and is variously used as a soup or sauce base. A double consommé has been reduced until it is half the volume (and has twice the flavor) of regular (or single) consommé.
Coquilles St. Jaques
Classically served in a SCALLOP shell, this special dish consists of scallops in a creamy wine sauce, topped with bread crumbs or cheese and browned under a broiler.
Coriander
Native to the Mediterranean and the Orient, coriander is related to the parsley family. It's known for both its seeds (actually the dried, ripe fruit of the plant) and for its dark green, lacy leaves.
Cornichon
French for "gherkin," cornichons are crisp, tart pickles made from tiny gherkin cucumbers. They're a traditional accompaniment to PÂTÉS as well as smoked meats and fish.
Coulibiac
This French adaptation of the Russian original (kulebiaka ) consists of a creamy melange of fresh salmon, rice, hard-cooked eggs, mushrooms, shallots and dill enclosed in a hot pastry envelope. The pastry is usually made with BRIOCHE dough. Coulibiacs can be large or small but are classically oval in shape. They can be served as a first or main course.
Couscous
A staple of North African cuisine, couscous is granular SEMOLINA. Cooked, it may be served with milk as porridge, with a dressing as a salad or sweetened and mixed with fruits for dessert.
crème anglaise
The French term for a rich custard sauce that can be served hot or cold over cake, fruit or other dessert.
crème brûlée
The literal translation of this rich dessert is "burnt cream." It describes a chilled, stirred CUSTARD that, just before serving, is sprinkled with brown or granulated sugar. The sugar topping is quickly caramelized under a broiler or with a SALAMANDER. The caramelized topping becomes brittle, creating a delicious flavor and textural contrast to the smooth, creamy custard beneath.
crème fraîche
This matured, thickened cream has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. The thickness of crème fraîche can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room-temperature margarine. In France, where crème fraîche is a specialty, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally.
Creole cooking
In the 18th century, the Spaniards governing New Orleans named all residents of European heritage Criollo. The name, which later became Creole , soon began to imply one of refined cultural background with an appreciation for an elegant lifestyle. Today, Creole cookery reflects the full-flavored combination of the best of French, Spanish and African cuisines.
Croquembouche
French for "crisp in mouth," this elaborate dessert is classically made with PROFITEROLES (tiny, custard-filled cream puffs), coated with CARAMEL and stacked into a tall pyramid shape. As the caramel hardens, it becomes crisp. For added glamour, the croquembouche can be wreathed or draped with SPUN SUGAR.
Croquette
A mixture of minced meat or vegetables, a thick white sauce and seasonings that is formed into small cylinders, ovals or rounds, dipped in beaten egg and then bread crumbs, and deep-fried until crisp and brown.
Culatello
A lean, rosy red, raw Italian ham that has been cured and soaked in wine during aging. Considered superior, culatello has a clean, delicate flavor.
Cellophane noodles
Also called bean threads, these gossamer, translucent threads are not really noodles in the traditional sense, but are made from the starch of green MUNG BEANS. Sold dried, cellophane noodles must be soaked briefly in hot water before using in most dishes. Presoaking isn't necessary when they're added to soups. They can also be deep-fried. Cellophane noodles can be found in the ethnic section of many supermarkets and in Asian grocery stores. Other names for cellophane noodles include bean thread vermicelli (or noodles), Chinese vermicelli, glass noodles and harusame .
Celsius
A temperature scale (also called centigrade ) in which 0° represents freezing and 100° represents the boiling point. The scale was devised by the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius. To convert Celsius temperatures to FAHRENHEIT, multiply the Celsius figure by 9, divide by 5 and add 32.
Daikon
From the Japanese words dai (large) and kon (root), this vegetable is in fact a large Asian radish with a sweet, fresh flavor. The daikon's flesh is crisp, juicy and white, while the skin can be either creamy white or black. It can range from 6 to 15 inches in length with an average diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Some exceptional daikon are as fat as a football.
dhal
A spicy dish made with lentils (or other PULSES), tomatoes, onions and various seasonings. Dal is often pureed and served with curried dishes. In India, the term "dal" refers to any of almost 60 varieties of dried pulses, including peas, mung beans and lentils.
Deglaze
After food (usually meat) has been sautéed and the food and excess fat removed from the pan, deglazing is done by heating a small amount of liquid in the pan and stirring to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. The liquid used is most often wine or stock. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan.
Demi-glace
A rich BROWN SAUCE that begins with a basic espagnole sauce, which is combined with beef stock and MADEIRA or SHERRY and slowly cooked until it's reduced by half to a thick glaze that coats a spoon. This intense flavor is used as a base for many other sauces.
Devil
To combine a food with various hot or spicy seasonings such as red pepper, mustard or TABASCO sauce, thereby creating a "deviled" dish.
Dim sum
Cantonese for "heart's delight," dim sum includes a variety of small, mouth-watering dishes such as steamed or fried dumplings, shrimp balls, steamed buns and Chinese pastries. Dim sum — standard fare in tea houses — can be enjoyed any time of the day. Unlike most dining establishments, servers in a dim sum eatery do not take orders, per se. Instead, they walk among the tables with carts or trays of kitchen-fresh food. Diners simply point to the item they want, which is served on small plates or in baskets. Each item usually has a set price. At the end of the meal, the check is tallied by counting the dishes on the table. Some dim sum restaurants add the price of each dish to a check that remains on the table, clearing dishes as they are emptied.
Dolce
Italian for "sweet," referring culinarily to desserts, candy or other sweets.
Dolma
From the Arabic word for "something stuffed," referring to grape leaves, vegetables or fruits stuffed with a savory, well-seasoned filling. Among the most popular dolmades are grape leaves stuffed with a filling of ground lamb, rice, onion, currants, pine nuts and various seasonings. Other foods used as casings include squash, eggplant, sweet peppers, cabbage leaves, quinces and apples. Dolmades are usually braised or baked. They may be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature, and served as an appetizer or entrée.
Double-cream cheese
Any of various cow's-milk cheeses that have been enriched with cream so that they contain a minimum of 60 percent milk fat. Triple-cream cheeses must have at least 75 percent milk fat. Both double- and triple-creams can be fresh or ripened. They share the distinction of being seductively soft and creamy in texture with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. BOURSIN is an example of a triple-cream cheese, whereas CREMA DANIA is a double-cream. Because of their natural sweetness, these cheeses are perfect when served with fruit for dessert.
Drizzle
To slowly pour a liquid mixture in a very fine stream over food (such as a sweet glaze over cake or bread, or melted butter over food before baking)
Dumpling
Savory dumplings are small or large mounds of dough that are usually dropped into a liquid mixture (such as soup or stew) and cooked until done. Some are stuffed with meat or cheese mixtures. Dessert dumplings most often consist of a fruit mixture encased in a sweet pastry dough and baked. They're usually served with a sauce. Some sweet dumplings are poached in a sweet sauce and served with cream.
Duxelles
A mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs slowly cooked in butter until it forms a thick paste. It's used to flavor sauces, soups and other mixtures, as well as for a garnish.
Earl Grey Tea
This popular black tea was named for Charles Grey, the second earl in his line, who was also prime minister to King William IV in the early 19th century. An amalgamation of Indian and Sri Lankan teas, Earl Grey gets its elusive flavor from oil of BERGAMOT. The Earl is said to have been given the recipe by a Chinese mandarin with whom he was friends.
éclair
A small, oblong, cream-filled pastry made with CHOUX PASTRY (cream-puff pastry dough). Unlike CREAM PUFFS, éclairs are usually topped with a sweet icing.
Edamame
The Japanese name for fresh SOYBEANS. Edamame, which are usually bright to dark green, are available fresh in Asian markets from late spring to early fall. They're also available frozen.
Eggs Benedict
A breakfast or brunch specialty consisting of two toasted English muffin halves, each topped with a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg and a dollop of HOLLANDAISE SAUCE. The most popular legend of the dish's origin says that it originated at Manhattan's famous Delmonico's Restaurant when regular patrons, Mr. and Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, complained that there was nothing new on the lunch menu. Delmonico's maitre d' and Mrs. Benedict began discussing possibilities and eggs Benedict was the result.
Emmentaler cheese
Switzerland's oldest and most important cheese, Emmentaler has a distinctively nutty-sweet, mellow flavor that makes it perfect for almost any use — from snacks to an après-dinner fruit-and-cheese plate. This cow's-milk cheese is light gold in color, with marble-size holes and a natural light brown rind. It was named for Switzerland's Emmental valley and is exported in giant wheels weighing from 150 to 220 pounds each.
Empanada
Empanar is Spanish for "to bake in pastry," and these Mexican and Spanish specialties are usually single-serving turnovers with a pastry crust and savory meat-and-vegetable filling. They can also be filled with fruit and served as dessert. Empanadas range in size from the huge empanada gallega , large enough to feed an entire family, to empanaditas — tiny, ravioli-size pastries.
En croûte
En croûte describes a food (usually partially cooked) that is wrapped in pastry and baked.
Endive
Endive is closely related to and often confused with its cousin, CHICORY. They're both part of the same botanical family, Cichorium. There are three main varieties of endive: Belgian endive, curly endive and escarole. Belgian endive, also known as French endive and witloof (white leaf), is a small (about 6-inch-long), cigar-shaped head of cream-colored, tightly packed, slightly bitter leaves. It's grown in complete darkness to prevent it from turning green, using a labor-intensive growing technique known as BLANCHING.
English mustard
An extremely hot powdered mustard containing ground mustard seeds (both black or brown and yellow-white), wheat flour and turmeric. The most well-known brand of powdered mustard today is Colman's, named for its 19th-century British developer, Jeremiah Colman.
Enoki
The cultivated variety of these crisply delicate mushrooms comes in clumps of long, spaghettilike stems topped with tiny, snowy white caps. (In contrast, the wild form has orangy-brown, very shiny caps.) Enokitake have an appealingly crunchy texture and mild — almost fruity — taste, unlike the bosky flavor of most mushrooms.
étouffée; à l'étouffée
This popular CAJUN dish is a thick, spicy stew of CRAYFISH and vegetables served over white rice. Its rich, deep color and flavor come from the dark brown ROUX on which it's based. The word étouffée comes from the French étouffer , which means "to smother" or "to suffocate." The term à l'étouffée refers to the method of cooking food in a minute amount of liquid, tightly covered and over very low heat. This method is also called à l'étuvée .
Fahrenheit
A temperature scale in which 32° represents freezing and 212° represents the steam point. The scale was devised by Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, an 18th-century German physicist. To convert Fahrenheit temperatures to CELSIUS, subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit reading, multiply by 5 and divide by 9.
Fajitas
SKIRT STEAK that has been marinated in a mixture of oil, lime juice, red pepper and garlic for at least 24 hours before being grilled. The cooked meat is cut into strips that are then usually wrapped (BURRITO-style) in warm TORTILLAS, accompanied by a variety of garnishes including grilled onions and sweet peppers, GUACAMOLE, REFRIED BEANS and SALSA.
Falafel
A Middle Eastern specialty consisting of small, deep-fried CROQUETTES or balls made of highly spiced, ground CHICKPEAS. They're generally tucked inside PITA bread, sandwich-style, but can also be served as appetizers. A yogurt- or TAHINI-based sauce is often served with falafel.
Farce
Farce is the French word for "stuffing." Farci means "stuffed".
Farfalle
PASTA shaped like small butterflies or bow ties. Farfallini are the smallest butterflies, farfallone the largest.
Fennel
There are two main types of this aromatic plant, both with pale green, celerylike stems and bright green, feathery foliage. Florence fennel, also called finocchio, is cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and in the United States. It has a broad, bulbous base that's treated like a vegetable. Both the base and stems can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in a variety of methods such as braising, sautéing or in soups. The fragrant, graceful greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill and used for a last-minute flavor enhancer. This type of fennel is often mislabeled "sweet anise," causing those who don't like the flavor of licorice to avoid it. The flavor of fennel, however, is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, when cooked, becomes even lighter and more elusive than in its raw state. Common fennel is the variety from which the oval, greenish-brown fennel seeds come. The seeds are available whole and ground and are used in both sweet and savory foods, as well as to flavor many LIQUEURS.
Fettucine
Egg noodles cut into flat, narrow (about 3/8-inch) strips.
Fiddlehead fern
A young, edible, tightly coiled fern frond that resembles the spiral end of a violin (fiddle). It is also referred to as ostrich fern and pohole. The shoots are in their coiled form for only about 2 weeks before they unfurl into graceful greenery. Fiddlehead ferns are a rich, deep green color and are about 2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. They have a flavor akin to an asparagus-green bean-okra cross and a texture that's appealingly chewy. Fiddleheads can be found throughout the eastern half of the United States, ranging from as far south as Virginia north to Canada.
Filet mignon
This expensive, boneless cut of beef comes from the small end of the tenderloin. The filet mignon is usually 1 to 2 inches thick and 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. It's extremely tender but lacks the flavor of beef with the bone attached. Cook filet mignon quickly by broiling, grilling or sautéing.
Fine herbs
A mixture of very finely chopped herbs. The classic quartet is CHERVIL, CHIVES, PARSLEY and TARRAGON, though BURNET, MARJORAM, SAVORY or WATERCRESS are often used as part of the blend. Because they quickly lose their flavor, fines herbes should be added to a cooked mixture shortly before serving. Unlike BOUQUET GARNI, they're not removed from the dish before serving.
Five-spice powder
Used extensively in CHINESE COOKING, this pungent mixture of five ground spices usually consists of equal parts of CINNAMON, CLOVES, FENNEL seed, STAR ANISE and SZECHUAN PEPPERCORNS. Prepackaged five-spice powder is available in Asian markets and most supermarkets.
Flageolet
These tiny, tender French kidney beans range in color from pale green to creamy white. They're rarely available fresh in the United States but can be purchased dried, canned and occasionally frozen. Flageolets are usually prepared simply, in order to showcase their delicate flavor. They're a classic accompaniment to lamb.
flambé
French for "flamed" or "flaming," this dramatic method of food presentation consists of sprinkling certain foods with liquor, which, after warming, is ignited just before serving.
Flan
1. A round pastry tart that can have a sweet filling (such as CUSTARD or fruit) or savory filling (vegetable, meat or savory custard). The pastry is usually formed and baked in a special flan ring, a bottomless metal ring with straight (about 1 1/2-inch-high) sides. The flan ring is set on a baking sheet before the dough is baked. 2. A famous Spanish baked custard coated with caramel. See also CRÈME CARAMEL.
Florentine
Though Austrian bakers are credited with inventing these cookies, their name implies an Italian heritage. They're a mixture of butter, sugar, cream, honey, candied fruit (and sometimes nuts) that is cooked in a saucepan before being dropped into mounds on a cookie sheet and baked. The chewy, candylike florentines often have a chocolate coating on one side.
Flounder
Members of this large species of FLATFISH are prized for their fine texture and delicate flavor. Some of the better known members of the flounder family are DAB, ENGLISH SOLE and PLAICE. In America, flounder is often mislabeled as fillet of sole — a misnomer because all of the fish called "sole" (except for imported European DOVER SOLE) are actually varieties of flounder. Flounder is available whole or in fillets. It can be baked, broiled, poached, steamed or sautéed.
Foccaccia
This Italian bread begins by being shaped into a large, flat round that is liberally brushed or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Slits cut into the dough's surface may be stuffed with fresh ROSEMARY before the bread is baked. Focaccia can be eaten as a snack, or served as an accompaniment to soups or salads.
Foie Gras
Although the literal translation from French is "fat liver," foie gras is the term generally used for goose liver . This specialty of Alsace and Perigord, is in fact, the enlarged liver from a goose or duck that has been force-fed and fattened over a period of 4 to 5 months. These specially bred fowl are not permitted to exercise — which, combined with the overeating, creates a huge (up to 3 pounds), fatty liver. After the bird is killed, the liver is soaked overnight in milk, water or port. It's drained, then marinated in a mixture usually consisting of ARMAGNAC, PORT or MADEIRA and various seasonings. The livers are then cooked, usually by baking. The preparation, of course, depends on the cook. In general, goose liver is considered superior to duck liver; all foie gras is very expensive. At its best, it is a delicate rosy color with mottlings of beige. The flavor is extraordinarily rich and the texture silky smooth. Pâté de foie gras is pureed goose liver (by law, 80 percent) that usually contains other foods such as pork liver, TRUFFLES and eggs. Mousse or puree de foie gras must contain at least 55 percent goose liver. Foie gras should be served chilled with thin, buttered toast slices. A SAUTERNES is the perfect accompaniment.
Fondue
From fondre , the French word for "melt," the term "fondue" has several meanings. The first three definitions pertain to food cooked in a central pot at the table. 1. Fondue au fromage is a classic dish of Swiss heritage consisting of cheese (usually EMMENTALER and GRUYÈRE) melted and combined with white wine, KIRSCH and seasonings. Bite-size chunks of French bread are dipped into the hot, savory mixture. 2. Fondue bourguignonne is a variation whereby cubes of raw beef are cooked in a pot of hot oil, then dipped into various savory sauces. 3. Another version is chocolate fondue, a combination of melted chocolate, cream and sometimes LIQUEUR into which fruit or cake may be dipped. 4. In French cooking, the term "fondue" refers to finely chopped vegetables that have been reduced to a pulp by lengthy and slow cooking. This mixture is often used as a garnish, usually with meats or fish.
Forcemeat
A mixture of finely ground, raw or cooked meat, poultry, fish, vegetables or fruit mixed with bread crumbs and various seasonings. The ingredients are usually ground several times to obtain a very smooth texture. A forcemeat can be used to stuff other foods or by itself, such as to make QUENELLES.
frappé
1. A mixture made of fruit juice or other flavored liquid that has been frozen to a slushy consistency. It can be sweet or savory and served as a drink, appetizer or dessert. 2. An after-dinner drink of LIQUEUR poured over shaved or crushed ice.
Fricassee
n. A dish of meat (usually chicken) that has been sautéed in butter before being stewed with vegetables. The end result is a thick, chunky stew, often flavored with wine. fricassee v. This word is also used as a verb, as in to "fricassee a chicken."
Frijoles
The Mexican word for "beans."
frisée
A member of the CHICORY family, frisée has delicately slender, curly leaves that range in color from yellow-white to yellow-green. This feathery vegetable has a mildly bitter flavor and is often used in the special salad mix, MESCLUN.
frisée
A member of the CHICORY family, frisée has delicately slender, curly leaves that range in color from yellow-white to yellow-green. This feathery vegetable has a mildly bitter flavor and is often used in the special salad mix, MESCLUN.
Frittata
An Italian OMELET that usually has the ingredients mixed with the eggs rather than being folded inside, as with a French omelet. It can be flipped or the top can be finished under a broiling unit. An omelet is cooked quickly over moderately high heat and, after folding, has a flat-sided half-oval shape. A frittata is firmer because it's cooked very slowly over low heat, and round because it isn't folded.
Fritter
A small, sweet or savory, deep-fried cake made either by combining chopped food with a thick batter or by dipping pieces of food into a similar batter. Some of the more popular foods used for fritters are apples, corn and crab
fumé
French word for "smoked," referring culinarily to foods that are prepared in this manner.
Fumet
A concentrated STOCK, particularly one made from fish or mushrooms, used to add flavor to less intensely flavored stocks or sauces. See also FOND.
galangal
A rhizome with a hot, ginger-peppery flavor, galangal is used primarily as a seasoning. Greater galangal, also called Laos ginger , Siamese ginger and Thai ginger , is the best known and most widely available. It grows throughout Southeast Asia and is particularly popular in Thai cooking. This creamy white-fleshed rhizome is often used as a substitute for GINGER. Laos is the name given to the powdered form of greater galangal, which is slightly more intense than the fresh form. Greater galangel can be found in Asian markets. Lesser galangal has an orangish flesh and a much stronger, hotter flavor. It's not as well known and is seldom seen in the United States.
Galantine
A classic French dish that resembles a meat-wrapped PÂTÉ. It's made from poultry, meat or fish that is boned and stuffed with a FORCEMEAT, which is often studded with flavor- and eye-enhancers such as pistachio nuts, olives and TRUFFLES. The stuffed meat roll is formed into a symmetrical loaf, wrapped in CHEESECLOTH and gently cooked in stock. It's then chilled, glazed with aspic made from its own jellied stock and garnished with items (such as pistachios, olives and truffles) that have been included in the filling. Galantines are normally served cold, cut in slices.
galangal; galanga root; galingale
A rhizome with a hot, ginger-peppery flavor, galangal is used primarily as a seasoning. Greater galangal, also called Laos ginger , Siamese ginger and Thai ginger , is the best known and most widely available. It grows throughout Southeast Asia and is particularly popular in Thai cooking. This creamy white-fleshed rhizome is often used as a substitute for GINGER. Laos is the name given to the powdered form of greater galangal, which is slightly more intense than the fresh form.
galantine
A classic French dish that resembles a meat-wrapped PÂTÉ. It's made from poultry, meat or fish that is boned and stuffed with a FORCEMEAT, which is often studded with flavor- and eye-enhancers such as pistachio nuts, olives and TRUFFLES. The stuffed meat roll is formed into a symmetrical loaf, wrapped in CHEESECLOTH and gently cooked in stock. It's then chilled, glazed with aspic made from its own jellied stock and garnished with items (such as pistachios, olives and truffles) that have been included in the filling. Galantines are normally served cold, cut in slices.
game animals
A term applied to wild animals that are deemed suitable for human consumption. Some species are now domesticated and because their diets and activity levels are changed, their meat has a different flavor than that of field animals. Game animals are categorized as large game and small game. The most common large game meat is venison, which, though commonly thought of as deer, is a term that broadly includes the meat from elk, moose, reindeer, caribou and antelope. Other popular large game animals include BUFFALO, wild boar and, to a lesser degree, bear. Additionally, there are even rarer varieties eaten around the world such as camel, elephant, kangaroo, zebra and wild sheep and goats. The most common small game animal is RABBIT.
Game birds
Any wild bird suitable for food, including the larger species (such as wild turkey and goose), medium-sized birds (including PHEASANT and wild duck) and smaller game birds (such as the coot, dove, grouse, hazel hen, lark, mud hen, PARTRIDGE, pigeon, PLOVER, QUAIL, rail, snipe, thrush and woodcock). Except for the few raised on game farms (which are usually expensive), game birds are not readily available.
Garam masalas
Garam is the Indian word for "warm" or "hot," and this blend of dry-roasted, ground spices from the colder climes of northern India adds a sense of "warmth" to both palate and spirit. There are as many variations of garam masala (which may contain up to 12 spices) as there are Indian cooks. It can include BLACK PEPPER, CINNAMON, CLOVES, CORIANDER, CUMIN, CARDAMOM, DRIED CHILES, FENNEL, MACE, NUTMEG and other spices.
Garlic
Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane.
Garni
The French word for "garnish" when used as an adjective describing a food. For example, "steak garni" usually means it's accompanied by vegetables and potatoes.
Garnish
n. A decorative, edible accompaniment to finished dishes, from appetizers to desserts. Garnishes can be placed under, around or on food, depending on the dish. They vary from simple sprigs of parsley or exotically carved vegetables on plated food, to CROUTONS in soup, to chocolate leaves on top of chocolate mousse. Garnishes should not only be appealing to the eye, but should also echo or complement the flavor of the dish.
Gateau
The French word for "cake," which can refer to those both plain and fancy.
Gazpacho
A refreshingly cold, summertime soup hailing from the Andalusia region in southern Spain. This uncooked soup is usually made from a pureed mixture of fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumber, bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and sometimes lemon juice. Gazpacho can be a meal in itself, particularly when extra fresh vegetables such as sliced celery, green onion, cucumber and green pepper are added. Popular garnishes include croutons and diced hard-cooked eggs.
Gelato
The Italian word for "ice cream," gelato doesn't contain as much air as its American counterpart and therefore has a denser texture. An Italian ice cream parlor is called a gelateria .
Ghee
Butter that has been slowly melted, thereby separating the milk solids (which sink to the bottom of the pan) from the golden liquid on the surface. This form of CLARIFIED BUTTER is taken a step further by simmering it until all of the moisture evaporates and the milk solids begin to brown, giving the resulting butter a nutty, caramellike flavor and aroma. This extra step also gives ghee a longer life and much higher SMOKE POINT than regular clarified butter. Because the smoke point is raised to almost 375°F, ghee is practical for a variety of sautéing and frying uses. Although it originated in India, the best commercially available ghee comes from Holland, followed closely by products from Scandinavia and Australia.
Gigot
French for "leg of mutton." The term is also used to refer to a leg of lamb, in which case the French call it gigot d'agneau .
Ginger
A plant from tropical and subtropical regions that's grown for its gnarled and bumpy root. Most ginger comes from Jamaica, followed by India, Africa and China. Gingerroot's name comes from the Sanskrit word for "horn root," undoubtedly referring to its knobby appearance. It has a tan skin and a flesh that ranges in color from pale greenish yellow to ivory. The flavor is peppery and slightly sweet, while the aroma is pungent and spicy. This extremely versatile root has long been a mainstay in Asian and Indian cooking and found its way early on into European foods as well. The Chinese, Japanese and East Indians use fresh gingerroot in a variety of forms — grated, ground and slivered — in many savory dishes.
Glace de viande
French for "meat glaze," glace de viande is made by boiling meat juices until they are reduced to a thick syrup. It's used to add flavor and color to sauces.
Glass noodles
Also called bean threads, these gossamer, translucent threads are not really noodles in the traditional sense, but are made from the starch of green MUNG BEANS. Sold dried, cellophane noodles must be soaked briefly in hot water before using in most dishes.
Gnocchi
Italian for "dumplings," gnocchi can be made from potatoes, flour or FARINA. Eggs or cheese can be added to the dough, and finely chopped spinach is also a popular addition. Gnocchi are generally shaped into little balls, cooked in boiling water and served with butter and Parmesan or a savory sauce. The dough can also be chilled, sliced and either baked or fried. Gnocchi are usually served as a side dish and make excellent accompaniments for meat or poultry.
Goma
Japanese for "sesame seed." Shiro goma is unhulled white SESAME SEED, muki goma is hulled white seed and kuro goma is black sesame seed. Goma abura is sesame seed oil. All four products are available in Asian markets.
Goulash
Known as gulyás in its native Hungary, goulash is a stew made with beef or other meat and vegetables and flavored with Hungarian PAPRIKA. It's sometimes garnished with dollops of sour cream and often served with buttered noodles.
Gravlax
This Swedish specialty of raw salmon cured in a salt-sugar-dill mixture is prized around the world. It's sliced paper-thin and served on dark bread as an appetizer, on an open-faced sandwich or as part of a smorgasbord, often accompanied by a dill-mustard sauce. Gravlax can usually be found in gourmet markets or specialty fish markets. It can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to a week
Greek coffee
A rich, intensely strong brew made by boiling finely ground coffee and water together in a long-handled, open, brass or copper pot called an ibrik . Sugar and spices are sometimes added to the grounds before brewing begins. Greek coffee is often brought to a boil three times before it's considered ready. It's poured directly into tiny DEMITASSE cups, which means that each cup gets its share of fine coffee grounds. Let the coffee sit for a few moments to allow the sediment to settle.
Greengage plum
A small, round, tangy-sweet plum with a greenish-yellow skin and flesh. It's good for both out-of-hand eating and cooking.
Gremolata
A garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic. It's sprinkled over OSSO BUCO and other dishes to add a fresh, sprightly flavor.
Grouper
Although some weigh 1/3 ton, the average size of this fish is from 5 to 15 pounds. Groupers are found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the North and South Atlantic. They're marketed whole as well as in fillets and steaks. They have a lean, firm flesh that is suitable for baking, broiling, frying, poaching or steaming. The grouper's skin, which is very strongly flavored, should always be removed before cooking. The most popular members of this sea bass family are the black grouper, Nassau grouper, red grouper and yellowmouth (also called yellowfin ) grouper. See also FISH.
Guinea fowl
Thought to have originated in Guinea, West Africa, this small bird is a relative of the chicken and partridge. The meat of the guinea fowl is dark, somewhat dry and has a pleasantly gamey flavor. Guinea hens are more tender than the male of the species. The hens range in size from 3/4 pound (called guinea squab ) to about 4 pounds.
Gyro
A Greek specialty consisting of minced lamb that is molded around a spit and vertically roasted. The meat is usually sliced, enfolded in a PITA and topped with grilled onions, sweet peppers and a cucumber-yogurt sauce.
Habanero chile
This distinctively flavored, extremely hot CHILE is small and lantern-shaped. It's native to the Caribbean, the Yucatan and the north coast of South America. The habanero ranges from light green to bright orange when ripe. It's generally used for sauces in both its fresh and dried form.