a la (ah lah) - It is French for "in the manner of," "in the style of," and "according to" In
cooking, this phrase designates the style of preparation or a particular
garnish. There is no difference between dishes listed as "a la boulangere"
and "boulangere." Many menus drop the "a la" because it is implied.
a la Anglaise
(ah-la-an-glaz) - It is a French term for English. It refers to
food which has been dipped in beaten egg, and then coated with bread
crumbs and cooked in butter and oil.
a la boulangere
(boo-lan-jair) - Describes a simple dish of stock, potatoes, and onions.
"Boulangere" is French for "baker." In history in France, many homes did
not have an oven, so anything to be baked was taken to a local baker to
be cooked in his oven.
a la Broche - Prepared
on a skewer over a flame. Also called Brochettes.
a la Carte (KART) -
"Carte" was originally a French term for a piece of paper or cardboard
and later a bill of fare or menu. Today the term means according to the
menu and that which is written down as available on the menu. Refers to
meal in which the diner selects individual items, paying for each,
rather than taking a complete meal at a fixed price.
a la Creole - Dishes
prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and onions as the main ingredients.
a la Diable (ah-la-dee-abla) - "Diable"
is French for the devil or satan. The term means food served deviled or
in the devil's style, usually served with a very sharp and hot seasoning.
a la King - Prepared
with a Béchamel sauce containing mushrooms, green peppers, and red or pimento peppers.
a la Lyonnaise
(ah-la-lee-on-az) - In French the term means with onions or served with
Lyonnaise sauce, which is made from onions, white wine, and a meat glaze.
a la Maitre d'Hotel -
Prepared with a sauce of lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, and drawn butter.
A la Marinera (ah-la-mah-ree-neh-rah) -
Common style of cooking in Spanish cuisine, It says that the food is
cooked with white wine, onions and sometimes tomatoes.
a la mode (ah lah MODH)
- A French word for "in the manner of" or "mode or according to
fashion." Desserts a la mode are served with ice cream. Meats cooked a
la mode are braised with vegetables and served with gravy.
a la Nage - A
French term that literally means "in the swim" and refers to the fact
that a some kind of seafood is "swimming" in a flavorful broth.
a la Plancha
(ah-la-plahn-chah) - A Spanish cooking term that refers to the method of
cooking grilled on a metal plate or cast-iron skillet that is used
for cooking by dry heat.
a la Provencale
(prov-on-sal) - Provence is a French maritime province that is famed for
its wines and cuisine. The term is used to describe a dish, which uses
products, which flourish, in the area of Provence, namely tomatoes,
onions, garlic, and olives.
a la Royale - Prepared
in the royal style; typically a velouté sauce with truffles, served on
poached fish or poultry.
a la Russe - Prepared
in the Russian style with sour cream or beetroot or both are added.
ababai - Ababai
comes from the Caricacae family of fruits, which also contains the Mau Mau,
and some forms of papaya. It is considered an exotic fruit in the United
States. It is imported from Chile, as Chile is the only country in the world
that exports this luscious fruit. Very few countries grow Ababai and then
only for their local market. It is a protected fruit in Chile and was only
recently available for export.
Fresh off the tree, ababai has a
thin skin and looks like a small papaya. It is never eaten fresh due to its
high enzyme content. It is first cooked for several minutes and then jarred.
Its pale yellow color turns to a brilliant gold after processing. It is one
of the few fruits that will not dissolve when cooked. It is superb for
sautéing with vegetables, broiling on fish, and grilling on the barbecue
(shish kebob). The seeds look like small raisins. The male and female seeds
of the fruit cannot be distinguished before planting, and there is also a
hermaphrodite seed. Several seeds are planted with the prospect of growing
one successful Ababai tree. Ababai trees grow for 7 1/2 to 8 years and only
bear fruit for 5 years. The tree is then cut down, recycled, and must be
replanted on virgin soil.
– A French term that describes puff pastry that has been rolled very thin or sponge cake
that has been cut very thin for dessert preparation.
abalone - Abalone
are shellfish of the univalve family, meaning they only have one shell,
unlike bivalves such as clams that consist of two shells. This edible
gastropod belongs to the same family as the sea slug and is related to the
snail. Out of its shell, it resembles a large scallop. They are found in
United States, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and Indo-Pacific Region. On the
Pacific coast, they are found on rocky inter-tidal and sub-tidal areas from
Baja California to Alaska, as each species prefers a particular habitat,
which appears related to the local sea temperature. They are also called ear
shells, or sea ears (as their shape resembles the human ear). Also called
Awabi in Japanese cuisine and Loco in South American cuisine. Since the
abalone has been over-harvested, it is very expensive when available.
History: Abalone has
lived along the Pacific coast of North America for millions of years.
Fossilized shells have been found in sediments that are approximately 100
million years old. In more recent times, abalone were important in the
economy of all native American peoples who dwelled in California's coastal
areas. Native Americans were using abalone for food, implements, and
decoration long before the arrival of Europeans in North America
- An anise-flavored liqueur that is made by steeping wormwood and other
aromatic herbs (hyssop, lemon balm, and angelica) in alcohol. The drink is
distinguished by its dazzling blue-green clarity due to its chlorophyll
content. It was traditionally served with water and a cube of sugar; the
sugar cube was placed on an "absinthe spoon" and the liquor was drizzled
over the sugar into the glass of water. The sugar helped take the bitter
edge from the absinthe, and when poured into the water the liquor turned
milky white. Absinthe was believed to raise the drinker’s consciousness,
insights, and emotional experience to another level altogether.
Unfortunately, it also caused terrible hallucinations, permanent neural
damage, as seen in the dazed condition of dedicated drinkers, and even its
own diseases, known as absinthism, recognized as early as the 1850s.
History – Dr. Pierre
Ordinaire as an all-purpose remedy invented Absinthe in 1792. Used as a
cure-all for epilepsy, gout, drunkenness, kidney stones, colic, headaches,
and worms, it was nicknamed “La Fee Verte” meaning The Green Fairy. In 1797,
the heirs of Dr. Ordinaire sold the recipe to Henri-Louis Pernod. Pernod
opened the first absinthe distillery in Switzerland and then moved to a
larger one in Pontarlier, France in 1805. After the Algerian War
(1844-1847), the demand for absinthe rose dramatically. The soldiers had
developed a taste for absinthe, as they were given rations of absinthe along
with their drinking water as a bacterial deterrent, and began drinking it
after the war.
At the beginning of the 20th
century, the drinking of absinthe was so popular that the cocktail hour in
France was called “l´heure verte,” meaning the “green hour.” Absinthe was exported to New Orleans and reached the same popularity in the
United States. It was a drink considered ladylike and women freely enjoyed
it in the coffee houses, where it was commonly served. In New Orleans, as
well as in the rest of the United States, it became banned in 1912. Absinthe
is still available in other areas of the world where it is not illegal.
Read my web page on
Absinthe Drinks - Learn how to make and drink absinthe.
Acetomel - A mixture of honey and vinegar that produces sweet-sour syrup. Traditionally used to preserve fruits.
acidify - To add acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to a culinary preparation to made a dish slightly acid, sour, or piquant.
acidulated water -
It is a solution of 5 to 6 parts water to 1 part acid (typically the acid
ingredient is lemon juice or vinegar). Since the flesh of certain fruits and
vegetables, such as apples and pears, will darken when exposed to air unless
used immediately after cutting, they are dropped into an acidulated water to
stop this process.
aerate (ER-ayt) -
Aerate means the same as "sift." To pass dry ingredients through a fine-mesh
sifter so large pieces can be removed. The process also incorporates air to
make ingredients like flour, lighter.
after taste - Taste
which returns to the mouth after ingestion of certain foods and beverages.
processed seaweed, grayish white in color and comes in sticks, flakes,
granules or powder. It is a vegetarian gelatin. After it is soaked in cold
water, it becomes bouncy, resilient, and crisp. It is used mostly for cold
oriental dishes that contain chicken, meat, and vegetables. In the old days,
before the introduction of gelatin, agar-agar was also used as a thickening
agent in making cold jellied dishes. Once soaked in boiling water, it melts
into a gelatinous substance. The Chinese use this paste to make their famous
delicacy called "bird's nest soup." Agar-agar is commonly referred to as Chinese gelatin.
ahi (AH-hee) - Ahi
tuna is simply yellow fin tuna. It is a term used in Hawaii to describe this variety of tuna, which is
distinguished from the other variety of tuna, known as blue fin.
aiguillette - Long, thin slices of
poultry of fish.
- (French) The French word for garlic is "ail." Aioli is garlic-flavored
mayonnaise made from pounded cloves of garlic, egg yolks, oil, and
seasoning. Just before it is served, lemon juice and a little cold water are
added. It is served as a sauce for a variety of garnishes and main courses. The Italian for aioli is "aglio,"
the Spanish is "ajo" and "allioil."
History: It is believed
to have originated in Provence, France. See "mayonnaise."
akutaq – Also known
as aqutuk, ackutuk, or Eskimo Ice Cream. Not the creamy ice cream as we know
it, but a concoction made from reindeer fat or tallow, seal oil, freshly
fallen snow or water, fresh berries, and sometimes ground fish. Air is
whipped in by hand so that it slowly cools into foam. It is eaten as a
desert, a meal, a snack, or a spread. Traditionally it was made for
funerals, potlatches, celebrations of a boy’s first hunt, and any other
celebration where food is brought. Today it is usually made with Crisco
shortening instead of tallow and with raisins and sugar sometimes added
Alaska Natives have thrived on this delicacy for thousands of years. . The
region lived in usually determines what berry is used, and each family
usually has their favorite recipe. It is said that your choice of berries
used is a lifetime decision. If it okay to eat any flavor made by others,
but if you are caught making more than one kind, you will lose all social
(ahl-DEN-tay) - In Italian the phrase means "to the tooth" and is a term
used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto,
and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting
into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.
al forno (ahl
FOHR-noh) - An Italian term to describe a dish that is "oven
baked" or "oven roasted."
all-purpose flour -
All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high-gluten hard wheat and
low-gluten soft wheat. It is a fine-textured flour milled from the inner
part of the wheat kernel and contains neither the germ (the sprouting
section) nor the bran (the outer husk). By law, in the United States, all
flours not containing wheat germ must have niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin
added. Most all-purpose flours are labeled "enriched," indicating that these
nutrients have been added. All-purpose flour comes bleached and unbleached
and they can be used interchangeably.
Learn all about
Flour - Types of Flour, Buying & Storing Flour
allspice - The
dried, unripe berry of a small tree. It is available ground or in seed form.
Allspice can be used in a variety of dishes such as pickles, casseroles,
cakes, and puddings. Also known as Jamaica Pepper. It is the fruit of the
evergreen pimiento tree. The flavor resembles a blend of cloves, cinnamon,
and nutmeg. This spice is used in both sweet and savory cooking and can be
purchased whole or ground.
AM-und) - It is the kernel of the fruit of the almond tree that is native of
the warmer parts of western Asia and North Africa. It belongs to the same
group of plants as the rose, plum, cherry, and peach. The seed is rounded at
one end and pointed at the other, and covered with a thin brown coat. The
almond belongs to the same group of plants as the rose, plum, cherry, and
peach. There are two types of almonds - sweet and bitter. Today, Americans
give guests at weddings a bag of sugared almonds (representing children,
happiness, romance, good health, and fortune). In Sweden, cinnamon-flavored
rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is a Christmas custom (find it and
good fortune is yours for a year).
History – Almonds were
well know in Greece and Italy long before the Christian era. Explorers ate
almonds while traveling the "Silk Road" between Asia and the Mediterranean.
Before long, almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean (especially in
Spain and Italy). Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious,
ethnic, and social significance. The Bible's "Book of Numbers" tells the
story of Aaron's rod that blossomed and bore almonds, giving the almond the
symbolism of divine approval. The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as
a fertility charm. In the mid 1700s, the Franciscan Padres brought almond
trees to California from Spain.
almond extract - A
solution of oil, bitter almonds, and alcohol (approximately 1%) that is used
for a flavoring in baking.
almond flour -
Almond flour or meal is the residue left after almond oil has been extracted
from the kernels. It is entirely free from starch and is used in making
bread and biscuits for diabetics.
almond paste - A
mixture of sugar, almonds, and egg whites. Also called marzipan. It
is widely used in dessert preparations. Almond paste and marzipan are both
made from ground almonds. They differ mainly in their sugar content.
Marzipan is made from almond paste and sugar and is used primarily in
confections and decorations because it is more moldable and the almond
flavor is less pronounced. Almond paste is used in pastries and other baked
goods. They are not interchangeable in recipes.
amaranth - Amaranth
is from the Greek for "never-fading flower” or "everlasting.” It is an
annual herb, and therefore not a true grain. It has broad leaves and large
flower heads that produce thousands of tiny, protein-rich seeds. There are
hundreds of varieties of amaranth. It is grown for its leaves-some varieties
are good in salad, some are delicious steamed or stir-fried-and its somewhat
peppery seeds. Amaranth can be cooked as a cereal. The seeds are very
tiny-looking, a bit like caviar when cooked, and their lack of substance
makes them rather unsatisfactory as the base of pilaf-type dishes. Amaranth
is most often ground into flour, which has a fairly strong malt-like
vegetable taste and is beige in color. It is the only known food that
contains between 75% and 87% of total human nutritional requirements.
Amaranth is used in several
cultures in very interesting ways, In Mexico, it is popped and mixed with a
sugar solution to make a candy called alegria and the roasted seed is used
to create a traditional Mexican drink called atole. People from Peru use
fermented amaranth seeds to make chichi (beer). During the carnival
festival, women dancers often use the red amaranth flower as rouge, painting
their cheeks, and then dancing while carrying bundles of amaranth on their backs.
History: There is evidence that it has been in Central and South America for nearly
8,000 years. Amaranth was a staple in the diet of pre-Columbian Aztecs. Aztec Indians in Mexico grew it alongside maize as the main ingredient
in their diets. They thought that it gave them supernatural powers
and incorporated it into their religious ceremonies. On religious holidays,
Aztec women ground the seed, mixed it with honey or human blood, then shaped
it into idols that were eaten ceremoniously, a practice that appalled the
conquistadors. After conquering Montezuma in 1519, the Spanish missionaries
forbade its use because of its association with human sacrifice.
In ancient Greece, amaranth was
considered sacred and was used to decorate tombs and images of gods as a
symbol of immortality. The early Christian Church also adopted the amaranth
as a symbol of immortality.
By the middle the 20th
century, the cultivation of this grain had declined to the point where it
was grown only in small plots in Mexico, the Andean highlands, and in the
Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal. It was used to make tortillas even
before the cultivation of corn. It remained in obscurity until the 1950's when its nutritional values were
again recognized through scientific development.
(ah-mah-REHT-tee) - An Italian almond macaroon cookie. The Italian word
"amaro" means "bitter," and the literal translation of "amaretti" is "the
little bitter ones." They are called amaretti because they are flavored with
History - Francesco
Moriodo, pastry chef at the court of Savoy, created them in the mid-17th
(am-ah-REHT-toh) - An Italian almond flavored liqueur (or cordial) that is
made from apricot pits and flavored with almonds and aromatic extracts.
History - It is named
after the town of Saronno Italy. It has been produced commercially since the
(am-BROH-zhah) - (1) The name is sometimes applied to certain beverages. (2)
A traditional Christmas dish in many Southern homes, where the dessert is
served in the best cut-glass bowl from the sideboard. It usually consists of
chilled fruit (usually oranges and bananas) mixed with coconut.
History - In Greek
mythology, this was a balsamic juice, which served as the "food of the gods"
and was said to preserve their immortality, and without this substance, they became
weak. Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, served the Gods Ambrosia and
Nectar. One day she tripped and fell so Zeus dismissed her and in the shape
of an eagle. A human being who took Ambrosia became strong and immortal, and received additional beauty, strength, and swiftness (becoming in some
measure akin to the gods).
Breakfast – It is an restaurant term that usually consists of eggs,
juice, bacon or sausage, toast or hash browns.
(ah-mewz-BOOSH) - Also known as amuse-gueule, amusee, petite amuse, and
lagniappe are used interchangeably to describe these tasty morsels. A French term that
literally means "mouth amusement." These are tiny bites of food served before a
meal to whet the palate and invigorate the appetite. They're more whimsical
than hors d'oeuvres, and smaller than appetizers.
The best restaurants offer a
tiny serving of something interesting (also known as palate teasers) soon
after you sit down, which ideally previews the cooking style of the
restaurant. In some restaurants, it's also a way to present something
luxurious to favored customers. In the United States we think of them as
'hors-d'oeuvre'. Customers regard them as tokens of appreciation. In this
age of frequently getting less than what is expected, gestures like this
make diners feel welcome and can promote customer loyalty.
History: According to the 1992 edition of Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue
Francais (Dictionary of the History of the French Language), the term originated in 1946.
amuse-gueule - See
(ana-a-dam-a) – It is a specialty yeast bread of the New England States that
is made with flour, cornmeal, and molasses.
History: This bread
originated in New England. There are a variety of stories or legends on how
this bread got its name. According to these many legends, a farmer,
fisherman, miner, sailor, or Yankee (depending on what account you read), angry with his wife, Anna, for serving
him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his
porridge and eats the resulting bread while cursing, “Anna, damn her.”
(An-uh-hime) - Mild, long green chile peppers that are named after the area
near Los Angeles where they were first cultivated. Also known as Chile
Verde (green), Chile Colorado (red) or the California Long Green,
the Anaheim Chile is light green in color and slightly bent. It is the most
commonly found variety in the United States. Mild, sweet, and slightly
bitter in flavor, this chile pepper can be used fresh or roasted and is
often available canned. If you buy them fresh, Anaheim Chile peppers can be
stored in the refrigerator for one week.
- Preparing Fresh Chile Peppers, Roasting Fresh Chile Peppers, Preparing Dried Chile Peppers,
Science of Chile Peppers
(AN-choh-vee) - Anchovies are tiny silver fish, about three inches long.
They swim in large schools where the sea is temperate. In modern Italy,
Spain, and Greece, salted anchovies are offered as appetizers. For the rest
of the world, they are usually sold as flat or rolled fillets, salted, and
packed in oil. The most popular and tasty are the ones in olive oil and
anchovy paste - A paste of pureed anchovies with oil and salt. Available
in tubes at most supermarkets and specialty food stores. You can also make
your own using a can of anchovy fillets. First wash them in cold water, then
mash them with a fork, and add just enough olive oil to make a smooth paste.more
Check out Linda Stradley's web page
Anchovy and Anchovy Paste.
(ahn-doo-ee) - (1) Traditionally, the andouilles from France were made from
the large intestines and stomach of the pig (seasoned heavily and smoked).
(2) Andouille is also the Cajun smoked sausage so famous nationally today.
Made with pork butt, shank, and a small amount of pork fat. This sausage is
seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic. The andouille is then
slowly smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane. True andouille is stuffed into
the beef middle casing, which makes the sausage approximately one and a half
inches in diameter. When smoked, it becomes very dark to almost black in
color. It is not uncommon for the Cajuns to smoke andouille for seven to
eight hours at approximately 175 degrees.
History – The finest
andouilles in France reportedly come from the Brittany and Normandy areas.
It is believed that over half of the Acadian exiles that came to Louisiana
in 1755 were originally from these coastal regions. In parts of Germany,
where some say andouille originated, the sausage was made with all remaining
intestines and casings pulled through a larger casing, seasoned and smoked.
It was served thinly sliced as a hors d'oeuvre.
Food Cake – Angel Food Cake is also known as foam-style cake. They are
made with a large quantity of egg whites and no shortening or leavening.
Angel Food or "angel cake" is thought to be a takeoff of the cornstarch cake
and the sponge cake.
For a detailed history of the Angel Food Cake, check out Linda Stradley's
History of Cakes.
Angostura bitters - Named after a town in Venezuela and made in Trinidad
from roots, bark, leaves, and alcohol. It is used in small amounts to lend
an aromatic and slightly bitter element to mixed drinks. It is best known as
the essential ingredient of the popular cocktail called the "Manhattan."
History: In 1824, a
German doctor living in Venezuela mixed this substance to create a tonic for
his ailing wife. Legend says that this creation worked as a cure for malaria
and other tropical diseases. Sailors swore that it cured seasickness
(especially when mixed with rum).
(ahn-tee-PAH-sto) - The term antipasto, usually translated as "appetizer" in
English. It literally means "before the meal" and denotes a relatively light
dish designed to stimulate the palate before the service of more substantial
Antipasti are not essential to
the Italian kitchen; a formal Italian dinner without antipasti would not
betray the traditions of Italian gastronomy. Today, however, it is difficult
to imagine a formal dinner that would not include some dishes classified as
antipasto. In the regional Italian kitchen, antipasti are an important
element, not on a daily basis, but certainly on holidays and special
occasions. Many dishes, served as accompaniments to main courses, are today
considered too rich for such use. So, through the years, many of these
dishes have been adapted to serve as antipasto. Antipasto takes full
advantage of all kinds of different foods not generally regarded as being
substantial enough to be served as main courses. The ingredients may be
varied, but generally they must all be eaten with a fork.
(ah-pear-uh-TEEF) - A French term for an alcoholic beverage served before a
meal as an appetizer to stimulate the appetite. It can be a punch made to
complement the meal, but it is usually a white wine, sherry, champagne, or a
sparkling wine. It can also be non-alcoholic.
(apy-tizer) - It is a small portion of bite-size food which is served before
a main meal as the first course in order to stimulate the appetite. If
served before a meal it should be small. They may be hot or cold, plated, or
served as finger food. If served at a cocktail party, it is usually called
hors d' oeuvres.
apple - Of nearly
8000 varieties known around the world, about 100 are grown in commercial
quantity in the U.S., with the top 10 comprising over 90% of the crop. New
varieties are still being discovered and cultivated, with the best
eventually becoming household words like McIntosh, Delicious, Empire, Rome,
Spartan, Cortland, Granny Smith, etc.
History: Check out
History and Legend of Apples.
apple butter -
Apple butter is a kind of jam made of tart apples, boiled in cider until
reduced to a very thick smooth paste, to which is added a flavoring of
allspice, while cooking. It is then placed in jars and covered tightly.
History: Apple butter was
one of the favorite sweets during the colonial and pioneering historical eras of the United States.
Apple Charlotte - Apple Charlotte consists of layers of cake or
breadcrumbs, sugar, butter, and apples.
For a detailed history of the Charlotte Russe, check out Linda Stradley's
History of Cakes.
apple cider - Most
cider is made from fermented apple juice. Natural cider has nothing added
and relies, for fermentation, upon the wild yeast present in the apples. For
mass-produced ciders, a yeast culture is added in order to achieve
consistency. Although much of today’s cider is produced from apple
concentrate, many traditional cider-makers use only cider apples, cultivated
specifically for the purpose.
History: When the Romans
arrived in England in 55 B.C., they were reported to have found the local
Kentish villagers drinking a delicious cider-like beverage made from apples.
It has been recorded that the Romans and in particular their leader, Julius
Caesar, embraced the pleasant pursuit with enthusiasm! How long the locals
had been making this apple drink, prior to the arrival of the Romans, is
In America, cider was an
everyday drink up until the middle of the 19th century. Anytime was
considered a good time for drinking in the New England Colonies, and upon
rising in the morning, the downing of a mug of cider was considered
customary. Most of the early apple crops were made into cider since the
apples had not yet been perfected into the sweet, juicy, eating apples of
today. By the 1670s, cider was the most abundant and least expensive drink
in New England. It quickly took the place of water, which was considered
unsafe. During the colonial period, hard cider was the most popular beverage
in America and often the measure of a town's wealth was measured by how many
barrels of cider were stored for the winter.
apple juice - It is
the juice squeezed from apples. As long as apple juice (fresh cider) remains
in its natural state and is not sweetened, preserved, clarified, or
otherwise altered, it is apple juice. In sweet cider, fermentation is not
permitted at all. See apple cider.
applejack - A
brandy made by distilling apple cider. The name is also given to a beverage
produced by freezing hard cider.
History: As early as
1698, William Laird began it distill cider for himself and neighbors,
producing apple brandy or applejack. Applejack, because of its power, was
also know as "jersey Lighting." In 1780, a descendant of laird began
commercial production of applejack and the company still distills it today.
apricot - The
apricot derives its name from the Latin world "praecox" meaning
History - The apricot has
a long history of cultivation, starting in China some 4,000 years ago and
traveling along the trade routes to the shores of the Mediterranean. In Iraq
and Iran, apricots are served with lamb, and a regional specialty is
"kamraddin" (a kind of apricot leather). A drink is made from it to mark the
end of a period of religious fasting. The Spanish missionaries introduced
the apricot trees to the Santa Clara Valley in California.
aquaculture - It is
the cultivation of the sea. The term refers specifically to the intensive
production of fish and shellfish in a controlled environment for human food.
It is an ancient practice in Asia but it has only began approximately 20
years ago in the U.S., but in virtually no time has become one of the
fastest growing segments of the United States economy.
offshore farming - It takes place in
deep, navigable waters and involves the use of boats.
onshore farming - It is done in shallow
waters where boats are not necessary.
- It is another form of onshore farming. Tanks, usually made of steel and
reinforced cement, or fiberglass in a variety of shapes, are used to contain
populations of fish in water.
- It is the most widely used method of fish farming. All catfish farming is
pond raised. The farming is done in man-made ponds that are drainable and
often incorporate a system of dikes for harvesting.
- A tray culture involves the use of a permanent structure for mollusks to
attach themselves to. Trays are set underwater in calm bays or estuaries to
stimulate the growth of clams, oyster, and other shellfish. Sometimes ropes
or strings are hung into the water for mussels and scallops to grow on.
(ar-BOH-ree-oh) - An Italian short grain rice that was virtually synonymous
with risotto for many years. It is the best known of the top-grade varieties
of Italian rice. When purchasing arborio rice, the only precaution is to
check the label to be sure it is not precooked.
- Menu items that are stacked for height. Also called Vertical Cuisine.
(ah-ray-pay-rah) - Similar to an English muffins but made from precooked
corn flour, it is a cornmeal patty or pancake that is considered like bread
in other countries. Arepas are popular throughout South America, but
especially popular in Colombian and Venezuelan. It is considered the
national dish of Venezuela (the local equivalent of an American hamburger).
You can find arepas in small restaurants called Areperas. The most famous
arepa is La reina pepiada, made with chopped meat, avocado and cheese. The
favorite way to serve them in Venezuela is to split them open, remove some
of the steaming moist corn meal, and then stuff them with your favorite
ingredients. The arepa is wrapped in a square of slick paper (like butcher
paper), and handed to the purchaser to eat standing up. Very few people make
arepas at home, choosing to buy them at the store or have them delivered
directly to their homes. You can also find arepas all over
Miami, Florida (the traditional arepa served in Miami has two cornmeal
pancakes with a layer of cheese inside).
History: First made by
the Indians of Columbia and Venezuela, an important part of their diet just
like corn tortillas were to the Aztecs. For many centuries, it was
considered a food for the poor. Today they are considered a comfort food for everyone.
aromatic - (1) A
vegetable, herb, or spice used to enhance the flavor and fragrance of food
and drinks. In classic cooking, a reference to "aromatics" most often means
onions, carrot, and celery. (2) It also means spicy, pungent, or having a fragrant aroma.
arracheras - The Mexican term for fajitas or skirt steak.
arrack (Ah-RAK) -
Also called arak. It is an anise-flavored liqueur, often homemade.
It's a popular aperitif in the Middle East. It is a distilled from grapes,
dates, and other fruits. In its countries of origin, it's included in
cooking in some recipes for fish stews.
arrowroot - Also
called arrowhead. A fine, dry white powdered starch made from a
tropical root and exported from the British West Indies. It is named for its
curative properties in treating arrow wounds. It makes exceptionally smooth
sauces, and is a very good last minute thickener (it can be stirred into a
sauce at the last minute without lumping). Arrowroot is slightly stronger in
thickening power than cornstarch. However, if the sauce boils for more than
a few seconds, the starch breaks down and its thickening power is lost.
arroz (AH-roz) -
Spanish word for long-grain white rice. This is a main staple in Mexican
arroz con pollo
(arros kon POH-yoh) - It is a popular chicken and rice Spanish and Mexican
dish that is actually a paella without any shellfish or meat.
- The artichoke is a perennial in the thistle group of the sunflower family
that is native to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. A name
shared by three unrelated plants: the globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke
and Chinese (or Japanese) artichoke. In full growth, the plant spreads to cover an area about six feet in diameter and
reaches a height of three to four feet. The part that we eat is actually the
plant's flower bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms measure up to seven
inches in diameter and are a beautiful violet-blue color. The size of the
bud depends on where it is located on the plant. Larger artichokes are found
on central stems towards the top of the plant, where they receive maximum
sunshine. Smaller or "baby" artichokes are found lower down on the plant
where they are shaded from the sun by the larger buds above.
History of Artichokes.
(ah-ROO-guh-lah) - It is also known as rocket, rulola, Italian cress, and
roquette. It is a delicate salad green that is related to mustard. When the
leaves are young, they are tender and nutty, with a subtle peppery flavor.
The leaves look like radish leaves. The white blossoms are also edible. It
is used as a salad green, as a garnish, and in combination with other
ingredients in sandwiches.
(ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah) - This pungent resinous gum is used widely in Indian
vegetarian cooking. Also called stinking gum and devil's dung because of its
unpleasant smell, this seasoning is obtained from the gum of a plant native
to Afghanistan, Iran, and northern India. A perennial of the carrot family
that grows wild to 12 feet high in natural forests. The whole plant exudes a
characteristic smell, described by some as stink. The milky resin comes from
both the thick stems and the root and it dries into asafoetida.
A popular ingredient in Indian
vegetarian dishes, it imparts a subtle flavor if used sparingly (the odor
does not transmit to cooked food). In the raw state, the resin or the powder
has an unpleasant smell. This completely disappears when the spice is added
to a variety of fish, vegetable pulse, and pickle ingredients. Also used in
the curries and pickles of West and South India. The powdered version is
easier to handle. Buy asafoetida in small quantities. The powder resin is
usually mixed with flour to provide bulk and is sold in bright yellow plastic tubs.
History - Early record
show that Alexander the Great carried this "Stink Finger" west in 4 BC. It
was used as a flavoring in the kitchens of ancient Rome.
(ah-see-AH-go) - Asiago cheese is a semi-firm Cheese from Italy. Also known
as "poor man's Parmesan cheese." It is made from whole or part-skim cow's
milk. It comes in small wheels with glossy rinds and is yellow inside with
many small holes called "eyes." Asiago is rich and nutty in flavor and used
as a table cheese when young; when matured for 6 months or more it hardens
and may be grated.
History - Originally,
this cheese was made from ewe's milk in the village of Asiago in the
province of Vicenza.
asparagus - The
name asparagus comes from the Greek language meaning "sprout" or "shoot,"
and it is a member of the lily family. Plants in the lily family are also
related to various grasses. In the dialects of 18th
and 19th century cookbooks, asparagus was referred to as
sparagrass or sparrowgrass. People throughout Europe, Asia, and the United
States use fresh Asparagus in their favorite cuisine. In China, Asparagus
spears are candied and served as special treats. It is widely popular today
as a scrumptious, fresh, healthy vegetable.
History - Asparagus
cultivation began more than 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean
Region. Greeks and Romans prized asparagus for its unique flavor, texture
and, alleged medicinal qualities. They ate it fresh and dried the vegetable
to use in winter. In the 16th Century, asparagus gained popularity in France
and in England. Asparagus is often called the "Food of Kings." King Louis
XIV of France was so fond of this delicacy that he ordered special
greenhouses build so he could enjoy asparagus all year round.
Learn more about
aspic (AS-pihk) -
In Greek it is called aspis and means a "shield." A clear jelly made from meat stock (or
occasionally from fruit or vegetable juices) thickened with gelatin. Used to
coat foods or it is cubed and used as a garnish. It also refers to a molded,
usually tomato-based, gelatin salad. It is basically the same as jellied consommé, except that more gelatin is added.
au bleu - The
French term for the method of preparing fish the instant after it is killed.
Used especially for trout, as in "truite au blue," when the freshly killed
fish is plunged into a boiling court bouillon, which turns the skin a
metallic blue color.
Au (saw) - It is a
French term that has the same meaning as "a la" meaning "in the
manner of," "in the style of," and "according to" In cooking, this
phrase designates the style of preparation or a particular garnish.
au beurre (bur) -
Made with or in butter
au bleu (blo) -
Means blue and describes the process where freshly killed fish is
plunged into boiling water and poached until the skin of the fish has a
au fromage (from-azh)
- The term means cheese and means made with or in cheese.
au gratin (GRAH-tn)
- To dress up vegetables, meats, and fish with a layer of bread crumbs
and/or grated cheese on top. It is then broiled or baked until a thin brown
au jus (joos) - (1) Is
French and has the same meaning as a la and be translated as "in" or
"with." (2) It also describes meat served in its own natural juices, not with gravy.
Au lait - Contain milk.
au naturel (nat-tur-el)
- Means natural or simple. It refers to foods which are served very
simply or which are uncooked.
au poivre (pwa-vra) -
Means pepper, and means cooked with pepper.
avocado (a-voh-KAH-doh) - The avocado used to be called alligator pear. It is a tropical
fruit native to Central America. Today, this fruit is grown in Southern
California. Avocados do not ripen on the tree and are rarely found ripe in
- Check out
History of Avocados.