Achiote - A hard seed from the annatoo tree, achiote is pounded into a powder or made into a paste. It has a mild, earthy flavor.
Adjust seasoning - To taste the dish before serving to determine the need for salt, herbs, or other seasonings.
Al denté - Describes foods, especially pasta, cooked only until soft enough to eat, but not overdone. The Italian translation is "to the teeth."
Allspice - Usually used in ground form, allspice has a flavor like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice is used in both savory and sweet dishes.
Amaretto - An almond-flavored liqueur, often made with kernels of apricot pits.
Amandine - This French term refers to dishes garnished with almonds. Often spelled Almondine.
Ambrosia - A dessert of chilled fruits combined with coconut. Oranges and bananas are the most common fruits used. Ambrosia may also be served as a salad.
Anadama Bread - A yeast bread made with flour, cornmeal and molasses. The bread originated in New England, and there are a variety of stories about how it got its name. One popular story is that a Massachusetts fisherman's wife named Anna fed her husband nothing but cornmeal and molasses. One night, so the story goes, he mixed the molasses and cornmeal with some flour and yeast, saying to himself, "Anna, damn her!"
Andouille sausage - A spicy sausage made from pork chitterlings and tripe. Andouille is traditionally used in Cajun dishes, like jambalaya and gumbo.
Anise Seed - Related to parsley, this spice has a mildly sweet licorice flavor.
Appetizer - A small portion of food served at the beginning of a meal.
Apple Brown Betty - A dessert with layers of apples and buttered crumbs or oats and spices. The dessert was first mentioned in print in 1864, but the origin of the name is unknown.
Arborio Rice - An Italian high-starch, short-grain rice. Traditionally used for Risotto.
Aromatic Rice - Rices with a nutty or popcorn aroma and flavor.
Arrowroot - A starchy, tasteless powder used as a thickening agent. It should be mixed with cold liquid before it is added to hot mixtures.
Arroz Con Pollow - A Spanish-American dish which means "rice with chicken." The dish was first mentioned in print in 1938.
Au gratin - A dish, such as a casserole, topped with cheese, butter, or bread crumbs, then browned.
Bagel - A round, chewy yeast roll with a hole in the middle which is cooked first in boiling water then baked. Though the origin is unclear, it's believed the word bagel is derived from the Yiddish word beygl, which is from the German bügel, meaning a round loaf of bread.
Bananas Foster - A specialty of New Orlean's Brennan's Restaurant, Bananas Foster is a dessert consisting of lengthwise sliced bananas sautéed in a mixture of rum, brown sugar, and banana liquer, then served over ice cream.
Bannock - A traditional Scottish griddle cake usually made from barley, oatmeal or wheat flour. The bannock may also refer to a nineteenth century New England cornmeal cake.
Batter - The uncooked mixture which is the base for most baked goods. It is usually made from a combination of flour, eggs, and liquid, and is thin enough to be stirred. Batter may also be used to dip foods in before frying or baking.
Basil - A member of the mint family, basil has a flavor similar to bay leaves and oregano, and somewhat minty. It can usually be found fresh or dried. Fresh basil is used to make pesto.
Bay Leaf - An aromatic herb. Bay leaves are added to food during cooking, but removed before serving.
Beaten biscuits - A traditional Southern biscuit, dating back to the 1800s. Beaten biscuits are unlike normal biscuits in that they are hard and stiff. They are made by beating the dough for 30 to 45 minutes with a rolling pin, an old-fashioned beaten biscuit machine, mallet, or other heavy object.
Beau monde seasoning - A combination of herbs sold commercially.
Béchamel Sauce - A white sauce made from butter, flour, and milk.
Beignet - A deep-fried pastry usually dusted with confectioners' sugar. The word beignet is French for "fritter." Beignets are a traditional food item in New Orleans, where they are also called doughnuts.
Benedictine - A green dip or sandwich spread made with cucumber, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sometimes green food coloring. Benedictine is credited to a Louisville, Kentucky caterer.
Biscuit - A small bread made with flour, leavening and fat. In England, the term may be used to describe a cracker or cookie.
Blacken - A method of cooking in which meat or fish is seasoned with a spicy mixture then fried in a hot skillet until blackened on both sides.
Blanche - Blanching is a process in which food is briefly plunged in boiling water for a moment, then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking process. Blanching tomatoes or peaches for about 20 seconds makes them easier to peel.
Bouillon - A base for soup and sauces made by cooking vegetables, poultry, meat, or fish in water, then straining. Also known as broth or stock.
Bouquet Garni - Sprigs and/or leaves of herbs--usually bay leaves, parsley, and thyme--either tied together or placed in a cheesecloth bag. Bouquet garni is used to flavor broth, soups, and stews.
Braise - Braising involves cooking a food in a little fat to brown--usually on the stove top--then covering and cooking slowly until done. This is particularly suited to less tender cuts of meats.
Broil - To cook food directly under or over heat source, usually in the oven under the top broiling element or on the grill.
Brown - To cook food quickly at a moderately high heat to brown the surface. May be done on the stove top or under the broiler in the oven.
Butterfly - To cut a food down the center, but not quite through, leaving both halves attached. The food is then spread to resemble a butterfly.
Cajun - A cuisine with both Southern and French influences.
Caper - Capers are unopened flower buds which come from the caper bush. They are usually pickled, and are peppery in flavor.
Capon - A young, neutered rooster, ranging in size from 4 to 10 pounds.
Caraway Seeds - An aromatic spice with a pungent, licorice flavor. Available whole or ground.
Cardamom - This spice, from the ginger family, has a sweet, ginger-like flavor. Available as seeds or ground.
Casserole - This is actually the name of the baking dish. Casserole recipes may include vegetables, meats, grains, or other combination of ingredients, usually bound by a thick sauce or cream soup.
Cayenne - A small, hot, chile pepper, usually used ground or in pepper sauces.
Chili Powder - A spicy blend of ground chile peppers and spices.
Chive - A relative of onion and garlic, chives have and a mild onion flavor. Available fresh and dried.
Chorizo - A highly spiced, coarsely ground pork sausage, widely used in Spanish and Mexican cooking.
Chunks - Usually bite-size pieces, about 1-inch or larger.
Chutney - A condiment which usually contains fruit or vegetables, sugar, vinegar and spices.
Cilantro - A pungent, leafy herb resembling flat-leaf parsley. Cilantro is sometimes called Chinese parsley, Coriander, or Mexican parsley. It is available fresh or dried.
Clarified butter - Unsalted butter which has been melted and skimmed of milk solids.
Cobbler - A baked dish consisting of fruit covered with a sweet biscuit or piecrust dough.
Comino - Ground cumin seeds.
Compote - Combination of fresh or cooked fruits. May be served hot or chilled.
Conserve - Combination of fruits, cooked with sugar. Nuts and raisins are frequently added.
Court Bouillon - A savory bouillon made from fish stock. Court bouillon is used for poaching fish and as a base for fish sauces.
Crab boil - A mixture of herbs and spices, used to flavor the water for seafood.
Cracklings - Crispy cooked pieces of fatty meat, such as salt pork. Sometimes added to Southern cornbread.
Croquettes - Ground or minced cooked food, such as chicken or salmon, bound with a thick sauce, formed into patties or balls, then fried.
Crush - To mash food or bruise leaves of fresh herbs to release flavors.
Cube - To cut into cubes, about 1/2- to 1-inch. Cube may also mean to tenderize meat with a tenderizing mallet or utensil which makes "cube" imprints.
Cumin - A spice frequently used in Latin American, Oriental, and Indian cooking. Cumin has a warm, salty-sweet flavor similar to caraway.
Cure - To preserve food--usually meat or fish--by pickling, smoking, drying, salting, or storing in a brine.
Curry Powder - A blend of up to 20 herbs and spices, curry powder is widely used in Indian cooking.
Cut in - To incorporate solid fat into dry ingredients using a pastry blender or knives.
Dash - Less than 1/8 teaspoon.
Deep-Fry - To cook in hot fat which is deep enough to completely cover the food.
Deglaze - To add liquid to the pan in which meat or other food was cooked. The liquid--usually broth or wine--is heated to loosen the browned bits left in the pan, and is often used as a base for sauce or gravy.
Degrease - To remove melted fat from the surface of liquid, usually by skimming with a spoon, refrigerating to solidify the fat, or by using a cup or pitcher designed to separate the fat from the liquid.
Dehydrate - To remove moisture from food by drying it slowly in the oven or in an electric or manual dehydrator.
Devein - To remove the vein from the back of shrimp or to remove the interior ribs from peppers.
Dice - To cut food into cubes about 1/8- to 3/4-inch in size.
Dill - Also known as dill weed. Dill is an annual herb which grows to a height of about 3 feet. Fresh or dried, dill is used as a flavoring for a variety of dishes, including meat, vegetables, salads, and sauces.
Dollop - A spoonful of soft food, such as mashed potatoes or whipped cream. It may also mean a dash or "splash" of soda water, water, or other liquid if referring to liquid.
Dot - To scatter bits of an ingredient (usually butter) evenly over the surface of another food.
Dough - A mixture of flour, liquid, and other ingredients. Dough is too thick to pour but thick enough to roll out or work with hands.
Drawn butter - Also known as clarified butter. Unsalted butter which has been melted and skimmed of milk solids.
Dredge - To coat food with a dry mixture (usually seasoned flour or crumbs), either by sprinkling, rolling, or shaking the food in a bag with the flour or other ingredients.
Drippings - The juices or liquified fats left in a pan after cooking meat or other food.
Drizzle - To pour a thin mixture, such as melted butter or thin icing, over food in a very fine stream.
Dumpling - 1) Large of small amounts of dough usually dropped into a liquid mixture such as broth, stew, or fruit. 2) A fruit or fruit mixture encased in sweet dough and baked.
Dutch oven - Combination of fresh or cooked fruits. May be served hot or chilled.
Egg Wash - Egg yolk or white mixed with a small amount of water or liquid then brushed over baked goods to give color and sheen.
Emulsion - A mixture of two liquids which do not normally combine well, such as oil and water. Emulsifying is done very slowly, adding one ingredient to the other while mixing rapidly to disperse droplets. Mayonnaise--an uncooked combination of eggs, oil, and vinegar or lemon juice--is one example of an emusion.
En Croute - Food baked in a crust.
English Pea - This is the common garden pea, also called green pea.
epazote - A pungent herb with a flavor similar to coriander. Epazote is usually found dried and is often added to beans to reduce gas.
Evaporated Milk - A canned, unsweetened milk is homogenized milk from which 60% of the water has been removed. Whole evaporated milk contains at least 7.9 percent butterfat, while the skim version contains 1/2 percent or less.
Extract - Concentrated flavors from various foods, usually derived from distillation or evaporation. Extracts, also called essences, may be solid or liquid.
Farmer Cheese - A form of cottage cheese, pressed to remove most of the liquid. Dry farmer cheese is firm enough to slice or crumble, and may be eaten as is or used in cooking.
Fatback - Fat from the back of a pig. Fatback is often confused with salt pork, which comes from the belly or sides of a pig. Fatback may be used to make lard or cracklings, as well as for seasoning. Fresh fatback may be refrigerated for up to a week, or up to a month if cured.
Filé Powder - A seasoning made of sassafras leaves. Filé is traditionally used to flavor and thicken Creole dishes, such as gumbo.
Fillet - A boneless piece of meat or fish. Also spelled filet (French).
Fines Herbes - A mixture of finely chopped herbs, usually including (but not limited to) chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon.
Five Spice Powder - A Chinese seasoning. Five spice powder contains equal amounts of cinnamon, cloves, ground star anise, fennel, and Szechuan peppercorns.
Flake - To use a fork or other utensil to break off pieces or layers of food.
Flan - A round pastry tart with sweet or savory filling, or a Spanish baked custard.
Flank Steak - A long, fibrous cut of beef which comes from an animal's lower hindquarters. Flank steak is usually tenderized by marinating, then broiled or grilled and cut thinly across the grain.
Flauta - A corn tortilla wrapped around a savory filling and fried.
Florentine - A butter, cream, and fruit cookie, one side is often coated with chocolate. Also may refer to dishes presented on a spinach and topped with Mornay sauce.
Flour - (verb) To lightly sprinkle or coat with flour.
Flute - To press a scalloped or decorative design into the edge of a pie crust.
Fold - To incorporate a light mixture with a heavy mixture, such as beaten egg whites into batter or custard. The lighter mixture is placed on the heavier mixture, and a spatula is used to gently cut down and through the lighter mixture to the bottom of the bowl then up again. This procedure gently turns the mixtures over on top of each other, and is repeated until the two mixtures are combined.
Fondant - A mixture of sugar, water, and cream of tartar, cooked to the soft-ball stage, then beaten and kneaded. Fondant is used as a filling for candy or for decorating cakes.
Formaggio - Italian word for cheese.
Freezer Burn - A loss of moisture in foods when improperly wrapped before freezing. Freezer burn affects both the texture and flavor of food, and is evidenced by dry patches which may be whitish or grayish in color.
French Fry - To deep-fry food, such as strips of potatoes.
Fricassee - To cook or stew pieces of sauteed meat in a sauce, usually with vegetables. Wine is often used as a flavoring.
Frijoles - Mexican word for beans.
Frittata - An Italian dish made of eggs and other ingredients. Similar to an omelet, but the ingredients are combined with the eggs rather than folded into the center.
Fritter - A sweet or savory deep-fried cake. A fritter may incorporate food into the batter or single pieces of food may be dipped in batter.
Frizzle - To fry thin slices of meat or other food until the edges curl.
Fromage - French word for cheese.
Frost - To apply sugar, frosting, glaze, or icing to fruit, cake, or other food.
Frosting - A sugar mixture used on cakes, cookies, pastries, and other baked foods. Also called icing.
Fry - To cook food in fat over moderate to high heat.
Fry Bread - A thin, fried bread made from flour, water or milk, and salt. Fry bread is a traditional bread of many Southwest Native Americans.
Fryer - A size classification for chicken. A fryer is from 9 to 12 weeks old and weighs from 3 to 4 pounds.
Fudge - A semisoft candy usually made with sugar, butter, milk or cream, corn syrup, and flavorings.
Ganache - A rich and creamy chocolate icing, used to frost or fill a cake or torte.
Garam Masala - An Indian term meaning warm or hot. Garam masala is a blend of up to 12 spices, which may include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin cardamom, dried chilies, fennel, mace, nutmeg, and other spices.
Garlic - A bulb made up of sections of "cloves." Closely related to the onion.
Garnish - To decorate food or the dish on which food is served.
Gastronomy - The art and science of fine dining, fine food, and drink.
Giblets - The heart, neck, liver, and gizzard of poultry.
Ginger - A root with a peppery, spicy flavor. Ginger is available in fresh root form, ground, crystallized, and candied.
Glaze - A thin, glossy coating applied to the surface of a food which. A glaze may also add flavor.
Goulash - A Hungarian style stew usually made with paprika, often served with or over buttered noodles.
Grate - To cut food into small shreds or particles, usually with a food grater.
Gratin dish - A shallow baking dish or pan, usually round or oval in shape.
Gravy - A sauce made with a base of meat juices combined with liquid and thickener, such as flour. Gravy may also consist of simply meat juices.
Grease - (verb) To spread fat (or non-stick cooking spray) on a cooking utensil or pan to prevent food from sticking. To grease and flour means to grease the pan then dust with flour. The flour is sprinkled into the greased pan then the pan is shaken to distribute evenly before inverting and discarding the excess.
Grenadine - A sweet red, pomegranate-flavored syrup sometimes made from pomegranate juice, but often made with other fruit concentrates. Grenadine often contains alcohol.
Grill - To cook on a rack directly over hot coals or other heat source.
Grillade - A Creole dish of pounded round steak served in a sauce of tomatoes and other vegetables, and traditionally served with grits. Grillade is also a French word meaning grilled or broiled food.
Grind - To reduce food to small particles, as in ground coffee, ground beef, or ground spices. A variety of instruments may be used, including mortar and pestle, meat grinder, pepper mill, and food processor.
Grits - Though the word "grits" can refer to any coarsely ground grain, it is commonly used to mean hominy grits. Grits may be cooked in water or milk, usually by boiling or baking. Grits are usually eaten as a cereal or side dish.
Guava - A sweet, fragrant tropical fruit. Guavas are oval, about 2 inches in diameter, and color ranges from yellow to bright red. The ripe fruit is often used in jams, preserves, juices, and sauces.
Gumbo - A Creole stew, Gumbo is usually made with tomatoes, okra, and other vegetables and meats. Gumbo usually starts with a roux as the thickener, and filé powder is often added just before serving.
Gyro - A Greek dish consisting of finely chopped meat molded around a spit and roasted. The meat is then sliced and served in pita bread, usually with a cucumber-yogurt sauce.
Habanero Pepper - An extremely hot chile pepper with a slightly "fruity" flavor, ranging in color from green to bright orange. The habanero is often used in sauces. Other C.Chinense cultivars include Scotch Bonnet, Rocotillo, and Red Savina.
Half and Half - A mixture of half cream, half milk. The fat content is between 10 and 12 percent.
Ham Hock - The lower portion of a hog's hind leg, usually used to flavor soups, greens, beans, and stews.
Hash - A dish made up of chopped potatoes, meat, and other vegetables. Hash is often made using leftovers.
Hartshorn - Also known as ammonium bicarbonate, hartshorn was commonly used before baking powder and baking soda were readily available. It may still be purchased in drugstores, but must be ground before using.
Headspace - The amount of space to leave at the top of a container to allow for expansion of food when frozen or processed.
Hors d'Oeuvre - Small, bite-size foods usually served before a meal.
Herbes de Provence - A mixture of dried herbs, usually a combination of basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, lavender, thyme, and fennel seed.
Hermit - An old-fashioned chewy cookie made with chopped fruits, nuts, and molasses or brown sugar.
Hog Jowl - The cheek of a hog. Hog jowl is usually cut into squares before being cured and smoked. It may be refrigerated for up to one week if tightly wrapped. It may be cut into strips and fried like bacon or used to flavor stews, beans, and greens.
Hollandaise Sauce - An emulsified sauce made from egg yolks and butter, usually flavored with lemon juice or vinegar.
Hominy - Dried white or yellow corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been either chemically or mechanically removed. Hominy is often served as a side dish. When ground, hominy is called grits.
Hoppin' John - A dish of black-eyed peas cooked with salt pork or other fatty meat and seasonings. Hoppin' John is thought to have originated with African slaves on Southern plantations. The dish is traditionally served on New Year's day for good luck.
Huckleberry - A wild, dark blue berry which resembles the blueberry. Huckleberries have hard seeds in the center and a thicker skin than the blueberry. They are good eaten plain or in pies, muffins, and other baked goods.
Hushpuppy - A small, fried cornmeal dumpling, usually flavored with chopped green onion. Hushpuppies are a traditional accompaniment to fried catfish. The word hushpuppy is thought to have come from the fact that, to keep dogs quiet, civil war-era cooks would toss scraps of fried batter to them with the admoniton, "Hush, puppy!"
Icing - A sweet mixture used to top or coat baked goods. Icing is another word for frosting.
Indian Pudding - An old-fashioned dessert, Indian pudding is a spicy cornmeal-molasses pudding which may be served with whipped cream, hard sauce, or cream.
Infuse - To immerse tea, herbs, or other flavoring ingredients in a hot liquid in order to extract flavor.
Irish Soda Bread - A traditional Irish quick bread, Irish soda bread uses baking soda as its leavener. It's usually made with buttermilk and may include currants or caraway seed. Before baking, a cross is sliced into the top of the loaf. According to legend, the cross is to "scare away the devil."
Italian Parsley - Parsley with flat leaves. Italian parsley has a stronger flavor than that of curly-leaf parsley.
Italian Seasoning - A blend of dried herbs, usually including oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, and red pepper.
Jalapeño - A small, hot chile pepper, usually green.
Jam - A thick, cooked mixture of fruit, sugar, and sometimes, added pectin.
Jambalaya - A versatile Creole dish, Jambalaya is a combination of cooked rice and a variety of other ingredients. It may include tomatoes, onion, green pepper, meat, poultry, and/or shellfish.
Jell - To congeal, often with the addition of gelatin.
Jelly - A clear, cooked mixture of fruit juice, sugar, and sometimes, added pectin.
Jelly Roll - A cake made with a layer of sponge cake spread with jelly or jam then rolled up. Jelly rolls may also be filled with whipped cream or frosting. The cut slices have a pinwheel design.
Jicama - A brown-skinned root vegetable with a crunchy white flesh and mildly sweet flavor, jicama is good both raw and cooked. Also referred to as the Mexican potato.
Jigger - A liquid measure equal to 1 1/2 fluid ounces.
Johnnycake or Johnny Cake - A flat cake made from cornmeal, salt, and boiling water or cold milk, usually fried like a griddlecake. Today's johnnycakes often include eggs, oil, and baking powder. Some versions are baked in the oven like cornbread. Johnnycake is also called hoe cake or hoecake.
Julienne - To cut food into thin, matchstick strips. Julienne strips are usually about 1/8-inch thick, but the length varies.
Jumble - An old-fashioned, rich sugar cookie.
Kalamata Olives - A dark purple, fruity Greek olive.
Kamut - A high protein wheat variety. Kamut has a higher nutritional value than present-day wheat, but it hard to find, used mainly in pastas, puffed cereal, and crackers. It may be found in health food stores.
Ketchup - A thick and spicy tomato sauce, ketchup is also known as catsup. It may be used as a condiment or an ingredient.
Key Lime Pie - A pie, similar to lemon meringue, made with the tart, yellowish Key limes from Florida.
Kielbasa - Also known as kielbasy, kielbasi, or Polish sausage. Kielbasa is a seasoned, smoked sausage usually made from pork. It is usually sold precooked.
Knead - A technique used to mix and work dough, usually using the hands. Dough is pressed with the heels of the hands, while stretching it out, then folded over itself
Kosher - Food prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.
Kudzu or Kuzu - A Japanese thickener made from the root of the kudzu vine. It produces a light, transparent sauce, and is usually mixed with water before adding to a mixture.
Kumquat - A fruit which looks like a tiny orange. The rind is sweet and the flesh is tart. The fruit can be eaten rind and all, but it's most often found pickled, candied, in preserves or marmalade.
Lady Baltimore Cake - A three-layer white cake with a filling typically made with raisins, pecans, and sometimes other fruits, then covered with a fluffy white frosting. The cake was first mentioned by Owen Wister in his 1906 novel Lady Baltimore. According to legend, a woman from Charleston, SC actually gave Wister such a cake.
Lane Cake - Another popular Southern cake, Lane cake is a white or yellow cake layered filled with a mixture of coconut, fruit, and nuts then covered with a fluffy white frosting. The cake originated in Clayton, Alabama, where creator Emma Rylander Lane won a prize for it in the state fair.
Lard - Rendered and clarified pork fat. As a verb, to lard is to insert strips of fat into uncooked lean meat (such as venison) to tenderize and add flavor.
Leavener - An ingredient or agent used to lighten the texture and increase volume in baked goods. Baking powder, baking soda, and yeast are common leaveners.
Liqueur - A sweet alcoholic drink usually served after a meal. Liqueurs are usually flavored with aromatic ingredients such as nuts, fruits, flowers, or spices, and are frequently used in baked desserts and dessert sauces.
Mace - A sweet spice with a warm flavor. Mace is made from the outer husk of the nutmeg, and has a very similar flavor.
Macerate - To soak fruit or other food in liquid in order to soften and flavor it with the liquid. Brandy is often the soaking liquid.
Madeira - A wine named after the island where it's made, Madeira is a sweet, fortified wine often served as an after dinner drink. Madeira is also a very good cooking wine.
Mahi Mahi - A fish, also known as dolphinfish. Though mahi mahi is a type of dolphin, it is not a mammal. Mahi mahi is a firm, flavorful fish, excellent grilled or broiled.
Malt - A grain that is sprouted, dried, and ground into a powder with a mellow, slightly sweet flavor. The powder may be used in making beer, vinegar, distilling liquor, and is an additive to many foods.
Mandoline - A compact, hand-operated slicing and cutting machine. Mandolines are used to cut fruits and vegetables uniformly.
Marinade - A seasoned liquid in which meat or other food is soaked to flavor and tenderize.
Marinate - To let food soak in a seasoned liquid in order to flavor and tenderize.
Marjoram - An herb with a slight mint flavor, similar to sage or oregano.
Marmalade - A citrus fruit condiment, similar to jam, which includes the fruit peel.
Marsala - A fortified Italian wine, Marsala is used as a dessert wine or after-dinner drink, and is often used in cooking.
Marzipan - A sweet paste made from ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites.
Masa - A flour made from dried corn kernels which have been cooked in limewater, then left to soak overnight. The corn is ground while still wet. The dough is used to make corn tortillas.
Mash - To crush a food until smooth and evenly textured.
Mayonnaise - An emulsified sauce made from oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice.
Mead - A beverage made by fermenting water, honey, and yeast (or hops) with flavorings. Mead dates back to Biblical times, and was a popular drink in early England.
Medallion - A small, round cut of meat, usually pork, veal, or beef.
Melt - Heating a food (such as shortening, butter, or chocolate) until it becomes liquid.
Meringue - A meringue is a mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar. Meringues are often used as a topping--usually lightly browned in the oven--or baked separately.
Mince - To chop food into small pieces, usually 1/8-inch or less.
Mesquite - A hardwood tree grown throughout the Southwest and Northern Mexico, mesquite wood is used in barbecueing and smoking foods.
Mint - An herb with a fresh, peppery flavor. Mint is available fresh, dried, and as an extract.
Mint Julep - A Kentucky drink, the mint julep is made with fresh mint, bourbon, and crushed ice. It's traditionally served at the running of the Kentucky Derby, usually in frosted pewter mugs.
Mix - To blend ingredients.
Mocha - A coffee and chocolate combination.
Molasses - When sugar is refined, the juice squeezed from the plants is boiled until it becomes a syrupy mixture. Molasses is the remaining brownish liquid. The darker the molasses, the more boilings it has been through. Light molasses comes from the first boiling, dark molasses from the second, and blackstrap molasses from the third. Sorghum molasses is made from the cereal grain sorghum.
Mold - To form a food into a shape by hand, or by placing or pouring into a decorative container (or "mold") then refrigerating or cooking until firm enough to hold its shape.
Mole - A Mexican specialty, mole is a dark, reddish-brown sauce, often served with chicken or turkey. Mole is made from a variety of ingredients, including ground seeds, chile peppers, onion, garlic, and chocolate.
Morel - A variety of wild mushroom, the morel is cone-shaped and has a nutty, earthy flavor.
Mornay Sauce - A basic béchamel sauce to which cheese has been added. It is sometimes varied with the addition of eggs or stock.
Mortar and Pestle - A bowl and heavy, blunt instrument used to pulverize--or grind--herbs, spices, and other foods.
Mousse - A sweet or savory dish, mousse is usually made with egg whites or whipped cream to give the light, airy texture. In French, the word means "froth" or "foam."
Mull - To flavor a beverage, such as cider or wine, by heating it with spices or other flavorings.
Muscadine Grape - A thick-skinned purple grape with a musky flavor, muscadine grapes are found in the Southeastern United States. The grapes are eaten as is, and often used to make jelly and wine.
Mustard - A spice with a pungent flavor, available as seeds or ground, or a condiment prepared with it.
Mustard Greens - Leaves of the mustard plant, mustard greens are a very popular vegetable in the South. The leaves have a pungent mustard flavor, and may be found fresh, frozen, or canned. Mustard greens must be washed thoroughly, then may be steamed, sauteed, or simmered. They're usually cooked with seasonings and ham, pork, or bacon.
Nasturtium - All parts of the nasturtium are eaten, except the roots. The leaves and stems are peppery, and may be added to salads or sandwiches. Whole flowers may be used as a garnish, and seeds and buds can be pickled like capers.
Newburg - A rich dish of cooked lobster, shrimp, or other shellfish in a sauce made of cream, butter, egg yolks, sherry, and seasonings. The dish is often served over toast points.
Nonpareil - A tiny hard candy used to decorate cookies, candy, cakes, etc..
Nopales - Fleshy leaves of the prickly pear, or nopal cactus. Nopales have a tart, green bean-like flavor. The thorns are shaved off before using, then they are usually simmered until tender then used in salads, scrambled eggs, and other dishes.
Nougat - A chewy or hard confection made with honey or sugar, nuts, and sometimes chopped dried or candied fruit. White nougat is made with beaten egg white.
Non-Reactive Pan - A nonpourous pan which does not produce a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with acidic foods. An aluminum pan is reactive, while stainless steel, glass, and enamel are not.
Nutmeg - An aromatic spice with a sweet and spicy flavor. Nutmeg is a hard, oval seed about 1 inch long. It's available ground or whole.
O'Brien Potatoes - A dish of diced potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers or pimientos, fried until browned and crisp.
Oeuf - The French word for "egg."
Okra - A vegetable brought to the U.S. South by African slaves. Okra pods are green and ridged. When cooked, okra gives off a viscous substance which may serve as a thickener in some dishes.
On the Half Shell - This phrase usually describes oysters served on the bottom shell, either raw on a bed of crushed ice or cooked on a bed of rock salt.
Orange Roughy - A mild flavored New Zealand fish with white flesh, orange roughy is also low in fat.
Oregano - A pungent herb, similar to marjoram. Oregano can usually be found dried, ground, or fresh.
Orgeat Syrup - A sweet syrup used in cocktails, orgeat syrup is made with almonds, sugar, and rose water or orange-flower water.
Oxalic Acid - Oxalic acid is found naturally in many plants, but is poisonous in excessive amounts. Spinach, rhubarb, sorrel all contain measurable amounts of oxalic acid. It actually forms insoluble compounds with calcium and iron which inhibit their absorption by the human body, thus diminishing the purported nutritional value of some vegetables, particularly spinach.
Oyster Mushroom - A smooth-capped mushroom with a fan shape and mild oyster-like flavor. They're found dried or fresh in many supermarkets and most oriental markets.
Paella - A Spanish dish consisting of rice, saffron, a variety of meat and shellfish, garlic, onions, peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables. It's named for the wide, shallow pan it's cooked in.
Pan-Broil - To broil in a skillet on top of the stove with very little fat. During the cooking, drippings are poured off as they form.
Pancetta - An Italian bacon, pancetta is cured with salt and spices but is not smoked.
Panforte - A dense, flat Italian cake filled with hazelnuts, almonds, honey, candied citron and citrus peel, cocoa and spices.
Papaya - Native to North America, the papaya is a large fruit which is golden yellow when ripe. Ripe papaya has an exotic sweet-tart flavor. The fruit is sometimes called pawpaw.
Paprika - A seasoning powder made from red peppers. The flavor can range from mild to hot.
Parboil - To boil a food briefly, until partially done. A food might be parboiled before adding it to faster-cooking ingredients to insure all ingredients are evenly cooked.
Parchment Paper - A heavy moisture and grease-resistant paper used to line baking pans and wrap foods to be baked.
Pare - To cut the skin from a food, usually with a short knife called a paring knife.
Pareve - A Jewish term which describes food made without dairy or animal ingredients. According to Jewish dietary laws, animal food can't be eaten at the same meal with dairy food, but pareve food may be eaten with either.
Parsley - An herb with a sweet and fresh flavor, parsley is usually available the fresh or dried.
Pasta - Pasta may refer to any of a wide variety of noodles from a variety of countries. Italian pasta is usually made with a dough of durum or semolina wheat flour, liquid, and sometimes egg. Pasta made with semolina flour is generally superior, since it doesn't absorb too much water and stays somewhat firm when cooked al dente.
Pasteurize - To kill bacteria by heating liquids to moderately high temperatures only briefly. French scientist Louis Pasteur discovered the solution while he was researching the cause of beer and wine spoilage.
Pastry Bag - A cone-shaped bag with openings at both ends. Food is placed into the large opening then squeezed out the small opening which may be fitted with a decorator tip. It has a variety of uses, including decorating cakes and cookies, forming pastries, or piping decorative edgings. Bags may be made of cloth, plastic, or other materials.
Pastry Blender - A kitchen utensil with several u-shaped wires attached to a handle. It's used to cut solid fat (like shortening or butter) into flour and other dry ingredients in order to evenly distribute the fat particles.
Pastry Brush - A brush used to apply glaze or egg wash to breads and other baked goods either before or after baking.
Pastry Wheel - A utensil with a cutting wheel attached to a handle. It's used to mark and cut rolled-out dough, and may have a plain or decorative edge.
Paté - An appetizer, paté usually consists of seasoned, finely ground or strained meat, poultry, or fish. Paté is usually cooked in a crust or mold (may be called terrine) and is often served with crackers or toast.
Patty - A thin, round piece of food, such as a hamburger patty or a peppermint patty.
Pectin - Pectin is a natural substance used to thicken jams, jellies, and preserves. Pectin is naturally present in fruits, but most don't have enough to jell. The alternative is to cook the mixture until it's reduced to the desired consistency. Pectin will only work when combined with a specific balance of sugar and acid.
Peppercorn - Peppercorns are small berries from a vine plant. The black peppercorn is picked when it is almost ripe, then dried. Whole ground or cracked, black peppercorns produce our everyday black pepper. The milder white pepper is made from the dried inner kernel of the ripe berry.
Petit Four - Small bite-size cakes, petits fours are usually square or diamond-shaped. They're typically coated with icing and decorated.
Phyllo - A Greek pastry, phyllo is made up of tissue-thin layers of dough. The dough is used for dishes such as baklava and spanikopita. It can usually be found frozen in supermarkets. Phyllo is sometimes spelled filo.
Picadillo - A Spanish dish made up of ground pork and beef, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other foods, depending on the region. In Mexico, picadillo is used as a stuffing.
Pickle - To preserve food in a vinegar mixture or seasoned brine. Cucumbers, cauliflower, onions, baby corn, and and watermelon rind are some of the most popular foods to pickle.
Pickling Spice - A combination of spices usually including mustard seed, bay leaves, cinnamon, pepper, allspice, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom. Pickling spices are used primarily for pickling foods, but may also be used to season certain dishes.
Pilaf - Also known as pilau, pilaf is typically a seasoned rice (or other grain) dish in which the rice is sautéed before the liquid and other ingredients are added.
Pimiento or Pimento - A large red, sweet pepper. Pimientos are usually found diced in cans and jars and are added to dishes to enhance the color and flavor.
Pinch - A small amount of a dry ingredient, generally around 1/16 of a teaspoon. It's about as much as can be held between the tip of the thumb and forefinger.
Pine Nuts - The blanched seeds from pine cones. Other names are: Indian nut, piñon, pignoli, and pignolia.
Pipe - To squeeze icing or other soft food through a pastry bag to make a design or decorative edible edging.
Piquant - A term which generally means a tangy flavor.
Piquante Sauce - A sauce made with shallots, white wine vinegar, gherkins, parsley, and a variety of herbs and seasonings.
Pit - To remove the seed or stone of a fruit or berry.
Pita - A round, Middle Eastern flat bread made from white or whole wheat flour. When a pita is split, the pocket may be filled to make a sandwich.
Poach - To cook food in liquid, at or just below the boiling point. For eggs, meat, or fish, the liquid is usually water or a seasoned stock; fruit is generally poached in a sugar syrup.
Polenta - A mush made from cornmeal, polenta may be eaten hot or cooled and fried. Polenta is a staple of northern Italy.
Pone - A round, flat food, such as corn pone.
Poppy Seed or Poppyseed - Tiny bluish-gray seeds of the poppy plant. Poppy seeds are often sprinkled on food, used as a filling, or added to a variety of foods, such as cakes, breads, and salad dressings.
Porcini - A large wild mushroom with a smooth cap and thick stem. Porcini mushrooms have an earthy flavor.
Portobello - A very large mushroom with a meaty flavor.
Pot Liquor, or Pot Likker - The liquid left after cooking greens, vegetables, or other food. It's traditionally served with cornbread in the South.
Poultry Seasoning - A blend of herbs and spices, poultry seasoning usually contains sage, celery seed, thyme, savory, marjoram, onion, and pepper.
Praline - A confection made with pecans and brown sugar.
Preheat - To allow the oven or pan to get to a specified temperature before adding the food to be cooked.
Preserve - To prepare foods for long storage. Some ways to preserve food are drying, refrigeration, freezing, canning, curing, pickling, and smoking.
Preserves - A thick cooked mixture of whole or cut up fruit, sugar, and usually pectin.
Pressure Cooker - A cooking pot made to cook food under pressure. The pressure cooker has a locking lid and a valve system to regulate the internal pressure. Cooking time may be reduced by as much as 50% without destroying the nutritional value of the food.
Prick - To make small holes in the surface of a food, usually using the tines of a fork. Pie crust is usually pricked.
Primavera - Italian for "spring style," this term refers to the use of fresh vegetables as a seasoning or garnish in a dish.
Proof - 1) To "prove" yeast is alive by dissolving it in warm water and setting it aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes. If it swells and becomes bubbly, it is alive. 2) Proof is an indication of the amount of alcoholic content in a liquor. In the U.S., proof is twice the percentage of alcohol. If a liquor is labeled 80 proof, it contains 40% alcohol
Prosciutto - The Italian word for ham, prosciutto describes a ham which has been seasoned, salt cured, and dried.
Puff Pastry - A rich, multilayered French pastry made with butter, flour, eggs, and water. Puff pastry is made by placing chilled butter pats between layers of dough, then rolling the dough, folding it in thirds and letting it rest. The process is repeated several times, producing a dough with hundreds of layers of dough and butter. When baked, the moisture in the butter creates steam, which causes the dough to separate into flaky layers.
Pulverize - To reduce to powder or dust by pounding, crushing or grinding.
Puree - To blend, process, sieve, or mash a food until it's very smooth and has the consistency of baby food.
Quahog - The Native American name for the (East Coast) hard-shelled clam. Quahog is also sometimes used to describe very large clams.
Quesadilla - A flour tortilla filled, folded, then cooked. The filling usually contains shredded cheese, but may also include ground meat, refried beans, etc...
Queso - The Spanish word for cheese.
Quiche - This dish is a pastry crust filled with a savory egg custard which usually includes cheese, seasonings, vegetables, and other ingredients. It's typically baked in a shallow, straight-sided, fluted baking dish.
Quick Bread - Quick bread is made with baking soda or baking powder, which is why it's called "quick."
Quinoa - Quinoa is a protein rich grain which is also high in unsaturated fat and lower in carbohydrates than most grains. It may be used in any dish in place of rice or similar grains.
Radicchio - A variety of chicory, radicchio leaves are red with white ribs, and are slightly bitter. The leaves are most often used in salads, but may be grilled, sautéed, or baked.
Ragoût - Ragout is derived from the French verb ragoûter, which means "to stimulate the appetite." A ragoût is seasoned stew, usually made with meat, poultry, fish, and often vegetables.
Ramekin - A small baking dish resembling a soufflé dish, a ramekin usually measures from 3 to 6 inches in diameter and is used for individual servings.
Ramp - A wild onion which resembles the leek, the ramp has a strong onion-garlic flavor. It may be used as a substitute for leeks, scallions, or onions.
Rasher - A strip of meat, such as bacon. Rasher may also mean a serving of 2 to 3 thin slices of meat.
Reconstitute - To bring a dried or dehydrated product to its original consistency by adding a liquid.
Redeye Gravy - A southern gravy made by adding water and sometimes hot coffee to ham drippings. It's usually spooned over biscuits which are served with the ham.
Reduce - To boil a liquid until a portion of it has evaporated. Reducing intensifies the flavor and results in a thicker liquid.
Render - To extract the fat from meat by cooking over low heat. Rendered fat is strained of meat particles after cooking.
Ribbon - The term describing the texture of egg yolks which have been beaten with sugar. When beaten sufficiently, the mixture forms a thick "ribbon" when the beater is held up over the bowl. The ribbon makes a pattern atop the batter which disappears into the batter after a few seconds.
Rib - A single stalk of a bunch of celery, also called a stalk.
Rice - (verb) To press cooked food through a utensil called a ricer. The food comes out in "strings" which vaguely resemble rice.
Rind - The tough outer peel of a food.
Risotto - Rice sautéed in butter then cooked and stirred as stock is slowly added in portions. As each addition of stock is absorbed, another is added until the rice is creamy and tender. Vegetables, meat, seafood, herbs, cheese, wine, and other ingredients may be added.
Roast - To cook a food in an open pan in the oven, with no added liquid.
Roaster - A size classification for a chicken about 5 pounds in weight and from 10 to 20 weeks old.
Rock Cornish Hen - A hybrid chicken, Rock Cornish Hens are very small. The average whole hen is from 1 to 1 1/2 pounds.
Roe - Fish eggs. Soft roe is from female fish, and hard (white) roe is from male fish.
Rolling Boil - A very fast boil that doesn't slow when stirred.
Rosette and Rosette Iron - A fried pastry made by dipping a rosette iron into a thin (usually sweet) batter then into hot, deep fat. The fried pastries are then drained and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The rosette iron is a metal rod with a heat-proof handle. Decorative shapes--to be dipped in the batter--are attached to the end.
Rotisserie - A device which contains a spit with prongs. Food (usually meat or poultry) is impaled on the the spit, fastened securely then cooked. Most rotisseries are motorized so they automatically turn the food as it cooks.
Roulade - A thin piece of meat which is stuffed with a filling, secured with picks or string, then browned and baked.
Roux - A mixture of fat and flour which is blended and cooked slowly over low heat until the desired consistency or color is reached. Roux is used as a base for thickening sauces.
Royal Icing - An icing which hardens when dried. Royal icing is made with confectioners' sugar, egg whites, flavoring, and sometimes food coloring.
Saffron - An expensive spice made from the stigmas of the crocus flour. Saffron gives food a yellow color and exotic flavor. The spice can usually be found powdered or as whole threads (stigmas).
Sage - An herb with grayish green leaves, sage has a slightly bitter, musty flavor. Sage is often used in dishes made with pork, cheese, and beans, and in poultry and other stuffings.
Salsa - The Mexican word for "sauce," salsa may be made with a variety of ingredients and may be fresh or cooked. Green salsa, usually made with tomatillos and green chile, is called "salsa verde."
Salt Pork - Salt-cured pork which is essentially a layer of fat. Salt pork is from the pig's belly or sides. It's used to flavor beans, greens, and other dishes.
Sauté - To cook quickly in a pan on top of the stove until the food is browned. Sautéeing is often done in a small, shallow pan called a sauté pan.
Savory - From the mint family, savory is an herb with a flavor similar to thyme and sage. The word savory may also mean a dish which is piquant (rather than sweet) in flavor.
Scald - To heat a liquid such as milk to just below the boiling point. Scald also means to plunge a food into boiling water to loosen the peel.
Scallion - Also known as "green onion,: the scallion is a member of the onion family. The underdeveloped bulb and often part of the green tops are used in dishes.
Scallop - 1) A dish cooked in a thick sauce, such as "scalloped potatoes." 2) To form a decorative edging along the raised rim of pie dough or other food. 3) A mollusk with fan-shaped shells. Bay scallops and the larger sea scallops are the types commonly found in supermarkets.
Scant - As in "scant teaspoon," not quite full.
Score - To cut shallow slashes into a ham or other food, usually for decoration, to allow excess fat to drain, or to help tenderize.
Scrapple - A dish made from scraps of cooked pork mixed with cornmeal, broth, and seasonings. The cornmeal mixture is cooked, packed into loaf pans, chilled until firm, then cut and fried.
Sear - To brown meat quickly over high heat. Meat may be seared under a broiler or in a skillet on top of the stove.
Seasoned Flour - Flour with added seasoning, which may include salt, pepper, herbs, paprika, spices, or a combination.
Semolina - Durum wheat which is usually more coarse than regular wheat flours. Semolina is used to make pasta, gnocchi, puddings, and a variety of confections.
Sesame Oil - An oil made from sesame seed. Light sesame oil has a nutty flavor and may be used in a variety of ways. The stronger flavored dark sesame oil is most often used as a flavoring in oriental dishes.
Sesame Seeds - Crispy little seeds with a nutty flavor. Sesame seeds may be used in savory dishes or desserts, and are often sprinkled on baked foods.
Shallot - A bulb related to the onion and garlic. Shallots have a mild onion-like flavor.
Shiitake - A dark brown mushroom with a large cap and meaty flavor.
Shirr - A method of cooking eggs. Whole eggs, covered with cream or milk and sometimes crumbs are typically baked in ramekins or custard cups.
Shred - To cut food into narrow strips. A grater or food processor may be used to shred. Well-cooked meat can be shredded with forks.
Shrub - An old-fashioned sweetened fruit drink, sometimes spiked with liquor.
Shuck - To remove the shell or husk, such as from an oyster or ear of corn.
Sieve - A mesh or perforated utensil, usually made of metal. Food is pressed or passed through a sieve to remove lumps or strain liquid.
Sift - To pass dry ingredients through a mesh sifter. Sifting breaks coarser particles down or keeps them out of the food. It also incorporates air, which makes ingredients lighter.
Simmer - To cook liquid at about 185°, or just below a boil. Tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface.
Size of a Walnut - Usually referring to butter, equal to about 2 tablespoons.
Skewer - A thin, pointed metal or wooden rod onto which chunks of food are threaded, then broiled or grilled.
Skim - To remove a substance from the surface of a liquid, usually with a spoon or special utensil. Fat, scum, or foam are skimmed from the surface of liquids.
Skin - To remove the skin of a food, such as poultry or fish, before or after cooking.
Sliver - To cut a food into thin strips or pieces.
Soft-Ball Stage - A test for sugar syrup describing the soft ball formed when a drop of boiling syrup is immersed in cold water.
Soft-Crack Stage - A test for sugar syrup describing the hard but pliable threads formed when a drop of boiling syrup is immersed in cold water.
Soft Peaks - A term used to describe beaten egg whites or cream. When the beaters are removed, soft peaks curl over and droop rather than stand straight up.
Sorrel - Sorrel is an herb that may be used in cream soups, omelets, breads, and other foods. Sorrel has a somewhat sour flavor because of the presence of oxalic acid.
Soufflé - A sweet or savory dish in which beaten egg whites are incorporated to make it light and airy.
Springform Pan - A round cake pan a little deeper than a standard cake pan. Springform pans have a clamp on the side which releases the sides from the bottom, leaving the cake intact. It's commonly used for cheesecake.
Star Anise - A star-shaped dry seed pod with a flavor similar to fennel.
Steep - To soak, in order to extract flavor or soften.
Stew - (verb) A method of cooking in which food--usually meat and vegetables--is covered with liquid and cooked slowly for a long period of time.
Stewing Chicken - A size classification for chicken. A stewing chicken is over 10 months old and weighs from 4 to 6 pounds.
Stiff Peaks - A term describing the consistency of beaten egg whites or cream. When the beaters are removed from the mixture, the points will stand up straight.
Stock - The strained liquid in which meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables have been cooked. Stock may also be called "broth" or "bouillon."
Stollen - A German yeast bread traditionally made at Christmas time.
Stockpot - A deep pot with straight sides and handles used to cook stocks.
Strain - To pour liquid through strainer or colander to remove solid particles.
Straw Mushrooms - Small, tan mushrooms with a mild flavor.
Stuffing - Also called "dressing," stuffing is typically a breadcrumb mixture used to stuff poultry, meat, vegetables, or fish.
Sweet Peppers - A term which usually describes a variety of mild peppers of the Capsicum family. Bell peppers, pimientos, and banana peppers are sweet peppers.
Swiss Steak - A dish made with a thick cut of steak--usually chuck or round--which is tenderized by pounding, coated with flour and seasoning, and browned. The steak is then topped with tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables, then simmered or baked for about 2 hours.
Tabasco Sauce - A brand of sauce made from small, hot, red tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt. Tabasco Sauce is used in a wide variety of dishes.
Taco - A Mexican "sandwich," tacos are filled corn tortillas. Typical fillings may include meat, poultry, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, onion, guacamole, refried beans and salsa.
Tahini - A paste of ground sesame seeds and a flavor similar to peanut butter.
Tamale - Tamales are filled softened corn husks. The filling may contain a wide variety of ingredients, which are wrapped in a masa dough then placed within a softened corn husk. The husks are then tied and steamed until the filling is cooked. Only the filling (not the husk) is eaten.
Tapioca - A starch from the root of the cassava plant, tapioca comes in several forms including granules, pellets (pearl tapioca), and flour. The pellets--also called pearl tapioca--are used mainly to make puddings. Instant tapioca and tapioca flour are often used to thicken dishes such as fruit fillings, glazes, soups, and stews.
Tarragon - An aromatic herb with dark green leaves and an anise-like flavor. Tarragon is used in a variety of dishes, including chicken, vegetables, fish, and sauces.
Tasso - A lean and highly-seasoned piece of cured pork or beef, tasso is hard to find outside of Louisiana. It's used like ham or salt pork to flavor pastas, beans, and other dishes.
Terrine - A deep covered baking dish, a terrine is often made of earthenware.
Thicken - To make a liquid more thick by reducing or adding a roux, starch, or eggs.
Thin - To dilute a mixture by adding more liquid.
Thyme - A grayish green herb, thyme has minty, light flavor.
Toffee - A chewy candy made with water, sugar or cream and butter, and sometimes nuts or chocolate. Toffee is cooked to 260° to 310° depending on the recipe.
Tofu - A cake made of bean curd, which is made from soybeans. High in protein, tofu is often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes.
Torte - A decorated cake with several layers. The layers of a torte are often made with ground nuts or breadcrumbs, and very little flour.
Tortilla - An unleavened Mexican bread, tortillas are flat and round. They may be made with flour or masa (corn flour).
Truss - To hold a food together so it will retain its shape. Poultry and some roasts are often tied with twine or held together with skewers.
Turmeric - A yellow spice with a warm and mellow flavor, turmeric is related to ginger. Turmeric is used in prepared mustard and curry powder, and it's a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.
Turnip Greens - A strong-flavored green, turnip greens have long been popular in the South. Turnip greens may be boiled, steamed, or stir-fried. In the South, they're often cooked with salt pork or ham hocks and are almost always served with cornbread.
Turtle Bean - A small black bean, also known as "black bean." The beans have long been popular in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South.
Ugli Fruit - A Jamaican fruit with loose, yellow-green skin. The fruit is thought to be a cross between the tangerine and the grapefruit with a grapefruit-orange flavor.
Unmold - To remove molded food from its container.
Unsalted Butter - Butter which contains no salt. Unsalted butter is more perishable than butter with salt.
Upside-Down Cake - An upside-down cake is generally made by first covering the bottom of the baking pan with butter, sugar, and arranged fruit. A cake batter is then poured over the fruit. The baked cake is inverted onto a serving plate, which makes the fruit bottom the top of the cake.
Vanilla - An aromatic spice with a warm flavor, vanilla is the seed pod of an orchid. It's available dried or as an extract.
Vanilla Sugar - A flavored sugar made by burying vanilla beans in granulated or confectioners' sugar. Vanilla sugar can be used as an ingredient or decoration for baked goods, fruit, and desserts.
Variety Meats - Also known as "offal," variety meats are usually organ meats, such as brains, heart, kidneys, liver, etc.
Vinaigrette - An oil and vinegar sauce usually used on salad greens or other vegetables. Vinaigrette may contain other seasonings, shallots, onions, mustard, etc...
Vintage - A wine term which describes the year the grapes were harvested, but used only if the wine was made only from grapes grown that year. Wines made from grapes harvested in various years is called "non-vintage."
Waldorf Salad - The original Waldorf salad, created at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1890s, contained only apples, mayonnaise, and celery. It was later that walnuts became part of the dish.
Wassail - A drink of ale or wine flavored with sugar and spices, the term "wassail" is from the Norse "be in good health."
Water Bath - To place a container of food in a large pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with heat. The water bath is used to cook custards, sauces, and mousses, and may be used to keep food warm.
Whey - The liquid which separates from the solids when cheese is made.
Whip - To beat ingredients with a whisk, electric mixer, or other utensil, a process which incorporates air into a mixture and changes the texture.
Whisk - (noun) A metal utensil made of looped wires joined at the handle, used to whip foods such as cream and egg whites. (verb) Whipping ingredients with a whisk.
Wok - A pan with a round bottom, the wok is used to stir-fry foods.
Worcestershire Sauce - A condiment used to season meat, gravy, sauces, and other various dishes. Worcestershire sauce is thin and dark with a piquant flavor, named for Worcester, England, where it was originally bottled. Ingredients usually include vinegar, tamarind, onions, molasses, garlic, soy sauce, lime, anchovies, and seasonings.
Xanthan Gum - Xanthan gum is used as a thickener and emulsifier in dairy products, salad dressings, and other foods. It's made from corn sugar.
Yakitori - Japanese term meaning "grilled," it usually refers to skewered chicken pieces.
Yam - A thick vine tuber grown and eaten in South and Central America and parts of Asia and Africa. Sweet potatoes are often called yams, but are from a different plant species. True yams may be found in Latin American markets and may be used in most recipes which call for sweet potatoes.
Yeast - Yeast is a living organism which is used in brewing, winemaking, and baking. The carbon dioxide produced by yeasts is what gives champagne and beer their effervescence, and cause bread doughs to rise. Active dry yeast and compressed yeast are the forms most commonly used for leavening. One package (or 1 scant tablespoon) of active dry yeast granules is equal to one cake of compressed fresh yeast.
Yeast Starter - Yeast starters were commonly used before yeasts and other leaveners were commercially available. Typically, a mixture of water, flour, and sugar, and sometimes commercial yeast are mixed and allowed to ferment, capturing natural airborne yeasts. When the mixture has fermented, a portion is used in a recipe, and the amount taken is replenished with equal amounts of water and flour. A starter may be replenished and kept going indefinitely. Sourdough bread is one of the most popular breads using this method.
Yogurt - Yogurt is milk which has been fermented by keeping it at a temperature of 110 degrees for several hours. The final product is a creamy with a slightly tart taste. Yogurt is available plain, flavored, and frozen.
Yorkshire Pudding - A common accompaniment to British roast beef, Yorkshire pudding is similar to a popover or soufflé. The batter of eggs, milk and flour is baked in beef drippings until puffy.
Zabaglione - An Italian dessert made from egg yolks, wine, and sugar. Zabaglione is beaten over simmering water, which cooks the egg yolks and makes a light and foamy custard.
Zest - The thin, brightly colored outer skin of a citrus fruit (not the white part). A citrus zester or paring knife may be used to remove the thin layer, usually in small shreds. Zest adds a nice citrus flavor to dishes and baked goods.
Zuppa - Italian word for "soup."
Zwieback - Zwieback means "twice baked" in German, and refers to cut up bread which is then cooked in the oven until thoroughly crisped and dry.