Raclette - The traditional Swiss Raclette is lesser known than fondue in
the United States, but much beloved in many countries. Raclette is a staple
of wintertime in Switzerland. Slices of Raclette cheese are melted in the
individual trays of a raclette machine, and then served over sliced little
red potatoes, seasoned with ground pepper, and paprika. To round out this
dish one serves Cornichons, mini corn and pearl onions with the Raclette.
History: - It is
believed that Raclette began on the hillsides of the Valais region in
Switzerland at the end of the 19th century, in the fall when the wine
harvest was coming to an end. Grape gatherers took from their sacks a small
loaf of brown bread, some cheese, and a bottle of wine. Legend has it that
one of the men stabbed a piece of cheese with a large buck knife, and
approached a crackling fire made from vine branches to warm himself while he
ate. As the cheese made contact with the fire, it started to melt and run
with a crisp, golden texture. As he slowly scraped the melting cheese, the
others tasted this novelty. It was indeed excellent. And there begins "Raclette."
Raclette has a long tradition in both Switzerland and France.
radicchio (rah-DEE-kee-oh) - A
member of the chicory family with red and white leaves. The round Verona
variety is the most common in the US. Radicchio is used most often in
salads, but is quite suitable to cooked preparations. It is available
year-round with a peak season from midwinter to early spring. Choose heads
that have crisp, full-colored leaves with no sign of browning. Store in a
plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Besides being used in
salads, radicchio may also be cooked by grilling, sautéing, or baking. They
can range in taste from mild to extremely bitter.
Radicchio is also know as Treviso (which is a longer, thinner, and looser version of tight-headed radicchio).
It is quite an involved process where the
plants are harvested in late fall, tied together in bunches, and kept in
cold dark chambers, where they are sprayed continuously until it comes time
to prepare them for market. At this point the temperature is raised to 68
degrees and the leaves of the plants take on the pronounced wine-red color
that distinguishes them. At this point the farmer unties the bunches, strips
away the outer leaves, and trims the root (the tender part that's just below
ground level is tasty), and sends the radicchio to the market.
History: Francesco Van Den Borre, a
Belgian agronomist, who applied the techniques used to whiten Belgian endive
to the plants grown around Treviso, developed the modern radicchio in the
ragout (ra-GOO) - This is a
French word, which means stew, usually one made of meat or poultry and which
is rather thick. In recent years, this word has become a rather clever
restaurant menu marketing term because it describe just about any mixture
that is somewhat soupy or stew like.
Ramen (rah-men) - Asian
instant-style deep-fried noodles that are usually sold in cellophane
packages. Ramen is Japanese, or at least a word born in Japan.
History: Although the true origin of
the word is not yet identified, there are two theories: (1) Hokkaido, the
northern most island of Japan, where Sapporo-Ramen speaks for itself of its
fine "al dente" noodles and rich soup often enhanced with "miso," fermented
bean paste, and butter. (2) Another bunch of people insist that the word was
born in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo, where many Chinese people landed
around the turn of the century and mostly engaged in port labor of shipping
yards. The Chinese created the style of noodle to be cheap and nutritious
enough to sustain the hard labor. Among countless types of noodles, or Mien,
throughout China, the type of noodle was called "Lao-Mien" or "Liu-Mien"
representing the noodles thin willow like appearance. It was adopted in
Japanese society as "La-Men."
ramp - Ramps, also known as wild
leeks, are wild onions, which resemble scallions with broader leaves. They
can be found in specialty produce markets from March to June and grow from
Canada to the Carolinas. Although the garlicky-onion flavor of ramps is a
bit stronger than leek, scallion, or onion, it can often be used as a
substitute for any of those three.
- The word, of uncertain origin, came to denote almost any alcoholic and
aromatic 'water'. Flavorings varied widely, from the original ratafia of
morello cherry kernels to such herbs as angelica. Some ratafias were
distilled, others were made by infusion of spices, herbs and fruits in
brandy or eau de vie. There are actually several meanings for the term:
A cordial or
liqueur flavored with the kernels of peaches, apricots, or cherries.
An almond-based drink
similar to a cordial. The word indicates a flavor of almonds.
and biscuits may be similarly flavored; or they may be so called because
they are intended to be eaten with the liqueur. Trifle is a popular English
cake that is soaked in some ratafias.
History: The legend is that a vine grower probably poured
by error the grape must in a barrel containing brandy. By tasting it much
later, it would have been astonished by quality by this beverage.
Perpetuated by generations of vine growers, Ratafia became the typical
aperitif. American homemakers have been making ratafias, cordials and
liqueurs since colonial times.
ravioli (rav-ee-OH-lee) - Small
3 inch squares (pillows) of pasta dough filled with meat, cheese, or
vegetables to form little cushions. They are served with various sauces.
History: According to legend, sailors
in Northern Italy invented ravioli. They did not want food to go to waste on
the boat so they ground up their leftover dinner and stuffed them in pasta
A recipe is a set of
instruction used for preparing and producing a certain food, dish, or drink.
The purpose of a recipe is to have a precise record of the
ingredients used, the amounts needed, and the way they are combined.
Check out my
What is a Recipe.
Learn how to follow a
recipe, and why some recipes do not work.
Red Velvet Cake – Also know as
Red Devil’s Cake, Waldorf Astoria Cake, and $100 Dollar Cake. A beautiful
mild chocolate flavor cake that is startlingly red. The cake is
traditionally complemented with a thick white frosting with different
regions of the country using different types of frosting. The cake gets this
bright red color from the large amount of red food dye used in the
preparation. It is particularly popular in New Orleans.
History: To learn about the history of Red Velvet Cake, check out
History of Cakes.
rennet (ren-et) - A natural
enzyme obtained from the stomach of young cows. It is used to curdle milk
when making cheese. The need to coagulate milk has been well recognized
since Roman times, and this can be achieved by the selective use of certain
plants or by extracting the enzyme rennet (chymosin and pepsin) from the
fourth stomach of the milk-fed calf.
History: Records for the making of
rennet go back to the 16th century. The farmer or smallholder cheese maker
would select and slaughter a milk-fed calf, remove and wash the fourth
stomach carefully. He would then hang this out to air-dry in which case it
would become known as a "vell." There was a regular market for dried vells.
It is difficult to ascertain how these vells were first used. However, it is
most likely that dried pieces of vells were added directly to the milk, and
at later times vell extracts in salt solution were used. Basically, sliced
or mascerated vells were soaked in salty water to provide a solution of
enzymes. Filtration may have been used for the purification of the final
rennet solution. Storing the rennet in a salt solution keeps it in good
condition and suppresses any bacteria that might cause deterioration in
quality. Such rennets are known as "calf rennets."
Residual Heat or "Carry-Over Cooking" -
Have you ever noticed that the internal temperature of
foods (such as meats, fish, vegetables, pasta, and eggs) continues to rise
after removing it from your stove, grill, or oven? This is called
Your meats, fish, vegetables, pasta, and even eggs will continue to
cook after being removed from the heat source.
Understanding how this
works and using it carefully can greatly improve the quality of your foods
Carry-over cooking is caused by residual heat transferring from the hotter
exterior of the meat to the cooler center. As a general rule, the larger and
thicker the cut of meat, and the higher the cooking temperature, the more
residual heat will be in the meat, and the more the internal temperature
will rise during resting due to carry-over cooking. This means the meat must
be removed from the heat at an internal temperature lower than your desired
final internal temperature, allowing the residual heat to finish the
When cooking meats and
fish, use a thermometer to check your meat’s temperature, and remove it from
the heat when it’s 5 to 10 degrees away from where you want it to be when
you eat it. When cooking vegetables and eggs, remove from heat source just
before you think it is about done.
Reuben Sandwich – A grilled
sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian
dressing on rye bread.
To learn about the history of the Reuben Sandwich, check out
History and Legends of Sandwiches.
rhubarb (ROO-barb) - Also known
as pie plant (this was to designate its major use). It is a perennial form
of "buckwheat," cultivated for its stalks. The roots and leaves of the
edible rhubarb contain oxalic acid and are considered toxic or poisonous.
The varieties include Canada red, crimson red, flare, MacDonald, valentine,
History: By the late 1700s, this
plant, known for over 200 years as only a gardener's curiosity in England,
first appeared in America. It is rumored that Benjamin Franklin, a scientist
and America's ambassador to France, sent the first rhubarb plants back to
America for his relatives to cultivate. Rhubard officially became a fruit in
1947, when the U.S. Customs Court of New York, declared it so. Most
scientists still consider it a vegetable.
rice - (1) To push cooked food
through a perforated kitchen tool called a ricer. The resulting food looks
like rice. (2) Rice, throughout history, has been one of man's most
important foods. Today, this unique grain helps sustain two-thirds of the
world's population. It would be hard to imagine Japanese cooking without
rice. In fact, it would be downright impossible, for the two are linked even
more tightly than Italian cooking and pasta. So vital is rice to the
Japanese diet that the word for rice, "gohan," also means "meal." And that
"meal" is not quite like the rice eaten in the West. For while Americans
prefer long-grained rice, Japanese lean strongly towards short-grained,
rather stubby rice, that emerges from the rice cooker in a slightly sticky
state -- the better for the making of sushi.
History: Archeological evidence
suggests rice has been feeding mankind for more that 5,000 years. The first
documented account is found in a decree on rice planting authored by a
Chinese emperor about 2800 B.C. From China to ancient Greece, from Persia to
the Nile Delta, rice migrated across the continents, eventually finding its
way to the Western Hemisphere.
Enterprising colonists were the first to
cultivate rice in America. It began quite by accident when a storm-battered
ship sailing from Madagascar limped into the Charleston South Carolina
harbor. The ship's captain made a gift of a small quantity of "Golden Seed
Rice" (named for its color) to a local planter. By 1700, rice was
established as a major crop for the colonists. That year, 300 tons of
American rice, referred to as "Carolina Gold Rice," was shipped to England.
Colonists were producing more rice than there were ships to carry it.
ricotta cheese - (ri-COT-tah) -
It was first made in Italy and is classed as an Italian cheese. It is now
made in all the countries of Europe and also in the United States. It is a
soft, spoonable cheese that resembles cottage cheese with a very fine curd
that should not be frozen. It is made from whey from other cheeses such as
provolone, pecorino, and mozzarella. Widely used in Italian cooking, used as
a filling for ravioli and many lasagna and cannelloni dishes as well as for
Riesling (REESE-ling) - A
classic German white wine.
risotto (rih-SAW-toh) - Risotto
is actually an Italian cooking technique used for native Italian rice,
Arborio. This old world method involves stirring hot liquid little by little
into the rice for about 20 minutes, which will create a dish unlike any
other rice recipe you have tried. Risotto is prepared this way and served
immediately to preserve the unique, gourmet texture of a very creamy sauce
around al dente, pasta-like rice kernels. The center of rice cooking is in
the Po Valley in the Northeastern corner of Italy. It is where the arborio
rice is grown. It is considered the classic rice dish of Piedmont, Lombardy,
and Veneto regions of Northern Italy.
(1) It is not known where the first risotto
was created. Because of its similarity to Near Eastern pilaf, some
historians think that it originated near Venice, a city known as a
crossroads for merchants and explorers.
(2) Other historians contend it was a
Southern Italian invention dating back to the 11th century when the
Saracens, Moslems from North Africa, ruled Sicily and much of Southern
Italy. The short-grained variety of rice (arborio) used in making
risotto today was brought to Italy from the Far East.
(3) The legend of the creation of the dish
risotto dates back to 1574 in Milan when their great cathedral was under
construction. It is said that the master glassworker on the job, who was
known for using saffron to enhance his paint pigments, added saffron to
a pot of rice at a wedding party. The response of the guests was "Risus
optimus," Latin for "excellent rice." It was later shortened to risotto.
Romano cheese (ro-MAH-noh) - It
is sometimes called incanestrato cheese and it is one of the most popular of
the very hard Italian cheeses. It was first made from ewe's milk in the
grazing area of Latium, near Rome, but it is now also made from cow's and
goat's milk. It is a creamy white cheese that is granular with a hard rind.
Grated Romano browns quickly when heated. When made from ewe's milk, it is
called Pecorino Romano; from cow's milk, Vacchino Romano; and from goat's
milk, Caprino Romano.
Roquefort cheese (ROHK-fuhrt) -
Roquefort was mentioned in the ancient records of the monastery at Conques,
France, in 1070. The Romans, Charlemagne, François the 1st, and even Louis
XIV appreciated this cheese, which became "king of the cheeses". It was born
in Southern Aveyron in Roquefort village. It is said that a young shepherd,
who was sheltering in a cave, left his snack, which was composed of
gingerbread and ewe cheese in a cave crack to join his beloved shepherdess.
Forty days after, when he came back, he saw that the bread and curd were
covered with mold. He hesitated for a while but as he was very hungry, he
had a bite. To his great astonishment, he found it delicious! The veins
marbled with mold had transformed his curd into an aromatic and smooth
cheese with a flavorsome taste.
rosti (RAW-stee, ROOSH-tee) - In
Switzerland, the term rosti means "crisp and golden." The term refers to
foods (usually shredded potatoes) sautéed in butter and oil on both sides
until crisp and browned. A lot like American hash browns.
Rosti, a staple dish in the area of
Switzerland bordering Germany, consists of potatoes that are boiled, grated,
fried, then baked or grilled into a golden hash, and topped with (of course)
cheese. It is considered the national dish of German Switzerland.
roux (roo) - Classical cookbooks
written as far back as the mid-1500s state that roux is derived from the
French word "rouge" meaning "red" or "reddish" in color. Thus, the origin of
the name. A roux describes a mixture of equal amounts of fat (butter, meat
drippings, or fat) and flour, which are cooked together at the very start of
the recipe before any liquid is added. It is used as a basis for thickening
sauces. A roux is the basis for many Louisiana dishes, particularly gumbo,
but also etouffees, sauce piquantes, and more. Preparation of a roux is
dependent on cooking time; the longer you cook, the darker the roux. Roux
must be stirred constantly to avoid burning (constantly means not stopping
to answer the phone, let the cat in, and if you've got to go the bathroom
... hold it in or hand off your whisk or roux paddle to someone else). If
you see black specks in your roux, you've burned it; throw it out and start
Runza Sandwich – Also called
Bierocks. They are a yeast dough (a bread pocket) with a filling of beef,
cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various
shapes like half-moon, rectangle, round, square, triangle, etc. The Official
Nebraska Runza is always baked in a rectangular shape, and the Bierocks of
Kansas are baked in the shape of a bun.
To learn about the history of the Runza Sandwich, check out
History and Legends of Sandwiches.
Russian dressing - Consists of
the mixture of mayonnaise, pimientos, chives, ketchup, and spices.
History: The name comes from the
earliest versions that included a distinctly Russian ingredient, caviar.