Culinary Dictionary – D

Linda’s Culinary Dictionary – D

A Dictionary of Cooking, Food, and Beverage Terms


Culinary Dictionary

An outstanding and large culinary dictionary and glossary that includes the definitions and history of cooking, food, and beverage terms.

Please click on a letter below to alphabetically search the many food and cooking terms

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Dagwood – It is a multi-layered sandwich with a variety of fillings.  Used to denote a sandwich put together so as to attain such a tremendous size and infinite variety of contents as to stun the imagination, sight, and stomach of all but the original maker.

History:  For a history of the Dagwood Sandwich, check out History of Hoagies, Submarines, Po’Boys, Dagwood, and Italian Sandwiches.


daikon radish
(DI-kuhn; DI-kon) – The word Daikon actually comes from two Japanese words: dai (meaning large) and kon (meaning root).  Daikon is a root vegetable said to have originated in the Mediterranean and brought to China for cultivation around 500 B.C.  Roots are large, often 2 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 to 20 inches long.  There are three distinct shapes – spherical, oblong and cylindrical.  Radishes have been developed in the Orient which develop very large roots, reportedly up to 40 or 50 pounds, and with leaf top spreads of more than 2 feet (they require a long growing season for such development.  These types are grown in the U.S., mainly by Orientals for use in oriental dishes).  Most of the commonly available Chinese radishes are white, but some are yellowish, green or black.  For more information on the daikon radish, click HERE.


dandelion green – A dark green, thick, jagged-edged leaf from the dandelion plant.  Dandelion greens have a slightly bitter flavor with a bite, which intensifies as the greens age.  The leaves may be served raw, in a mixed salad, or cooked like spinach If you pick your own, make sure that they are chemical free.


dash – A measuring term referring to a very small amount of seasoning added to food.  In general, a dash can be considered to be somewhere between 1/16 and a scant 1/8 teaspoon.
dates – One of the earliest fruits know to man, dates were grown in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago.  Called “the candy that grows on trees,” they served as food for camel caravans making treks across the dessert.


delicata squash (dehl-ih-KAH-tah) – It is a winter squash that grows only 6 to 9 inches long and 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  It has a small seed cavity yielding lots of edible flesh.  The skin is also edible.  It ranges in color from cream to yellow with green stripes.


Delmonico Steak – The meaning of a Delmonico steak has changed over the years and from place to place.  Depending on the place, the name today is regularly used as a synonym for a club steak, a New York strip steak, a boneless rib-eye steak, and several other cuts, as described below.  This is unfortunate because the name originally applied to a very rare, tender and tasty steak that became world-famous in the 19th Century.

History:  The Delmonico restaurant in New York City was a luxury restaurant that was open from 1835 to 1881.  Under the direction of French chef Charles Ranhofer (1936-1899), the restaurant set the standard for gourmet food.  The restaurant’s Delmonico Steak was a tender strip of boneless top loin.  It originated between 1840 and 1850 as the house cut at Delmonico’s Restaurant.


demi-glace (DEHM-ee glahs) – French word meaning “half-glaze.”  A mixture of equal proportions of brown stock and brown sauce that has been reduced by half until it can coat a spoon.  See Espagnole sauce (brown sauce) for more information.



dessert (di-ZERT) – Meaning a usually sweet food served as the final course of a meal.  The word was first recorded in 1600 and it derives from a French word meaning, “to clear the table.”  This etymology is still reflected in current table service, where it is customary to remove everything from the table that’s not being used (salt/pepper shakers, breadbaskets, sometimes even flowers) before serving dessert.


deviled –
(1)  A term describing food that is dark, rich, chocolate, spicily piquant or stimulating it is “deviled.”  Means a highly seasoned, chopped, ground, or whole mixture that is served hot or cold.  Many foods, including eggs and crab, are served “deviled.”

From the Oxford English Dictionary – the 1786 reference is the first use of this word in print:
“Devil…A name for various highly-seasoned broiled or fried dishes, also for hot ingredients. 1786, Craig “Lounger NO. 86 ‘Make punch, brew negus, and season a devil.

(2) The earliest use of this culinary term was typically associated with kidneys and other meats, not stuffed eggs.

(3) The term “deviled” referring to meat, fish, and cheese spreads, is somewhat different.  Spiced potted meats have been popular for centuries.  William Underwood introduced his famous deviled ham in 1867.

James Boswell (1740-1795), Samuel Johnson’s biographer, often referred to partaking of deviled bones for supper.  In a biography published in 1791, James Boswell referred to partaking of a dish of “devilled bones” for supper.  The bones were generally those of cold poultry, game or beef.  The pieces of meat were covered with what was then called devil sauces.   NOTE: This may be the earliest published use of the word “devil” as a cooking term meaning “to cook something with hot spices or condiments.”  Most Food historians believe that the term was adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.



Devil’s Food Cake – A light-textured chocolate layer-type cake with a deep reddish brown color.  The cake generally has more baking soda, a stronger flavor, and a darker color than regular chocolate cake.  Devil’s food cake was the favorite dessert of the early 1900s.

History:  For the history of Devil’s Food Cake, check out History of Cakes.


Devonshire cream (DEHV-uhn-sheer) – Originally from Devonshire County, England, it is a thick, buttery cream often used as a topping for desserts.  It is still a specialty of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, as this is where the right breed of cattle is raised with a high enough cream content to produce clotted cream.  It is also known as Devon cream and clotted cream.  Clotted cream has a consistency similar to soft butter.  Before the days of pasteurization, the milk from the cows was left to stand for several hours so that the cream would rise to the top.  Then this cream was skimmed and put into big pans.  The pans were then floated in trays of constantly boiling water in a process known as scalding.  The cream would then become much thicker and develop a golden crust, which is similar to butter.  Today however, the cream is extracted by a separator, which extracts the cream as it is pumped from the dairy to the holding tank.  The separator is a type of centrifuge, which extracts the surplus cream at the correct quantity so that the milk will still have enough cream to be classified as milk.


dice – To “dice” means to cut food into cubes (the shape of dice in a game), which are more or less even.  The dimension of the dice varies, with recipes calling for ingredients to be cut anywhere from 1/8-inch dice, to a 1/2-inch dice.  If the recipe doesn’t specific the dimension of the dice, then go for a 1/4-inch.


Dijon mustard – (dee-ZHOHN) – “Dijon” is the general term of a style of mustard produced in Dijon, France, and only mustard made there may label itself as such. Grey Poupon mustard is the only exception.  They have been licensed to produce it in the U.S. Dijon and Dijon-style mustard is made from husked and ground mustard seeds, white wine, vinegar, and spices.



dim sum (dihm suhm) – In Cantonese, Dim Sum means “the heart’s delight” or “touch the heart.”  They are also know as Yam Cha.  Dim Sum is Cantonese cuisine that comes mainly in the form of steamed and fried dumplings containing a wide array of fillings.  They are usually served in tiers of bamboo steamers or small to medium-sized plates (so that many different varieties can be sampled) or they are served like “dessert carts”.  That is a cart filled with several different types for people to pick and choose from.  Long before the Spanish created tapas and the Americans discovered finger foods, the southern Chinese were gathering for yum cha (tea) and sampling savory morsels known as dim sum.


Dirty Rice – Dirty rice is a Cajun (South Louisiana) specialty.  Dirty Rice gets its name from the appearance of the finished dish.  The chopped up meats that are added gives it the appearance of “dirt” mixed in with the rice.  It is white rice cooked with chopped or ground chicken livers and gizzards, onions and seasonings.  The ground giblets give the rice a ‘dirty’ appearance, but an excellent flavor.  You can use your favorite meat, poultry or sausage.


disjoint – To separate joints of poultry or break into pieces.


dissolve – To stir a solid food and a liquid food together to form a mixture in which none of the solid remains.  Sometimes heat is needed to form the mixture.


divinity – A delicate, soft-textured candy that is made by slowly beating hot, cooked sugar syrup into beaten egg whites.  Chopped nuts or candied fruit and food coloring can be added.


dolce/dolci – Literally means “sweet.” When found on a menu, the term refers to desserts.


dollop – To place a scoop or spoonful of a semi-liquid food, such as whipped cream, on top of another food.  The term also refers to the scoop or spoonful of food, as in “a dollop of whipped cream.”


dolmades (dol-mathes) – Dolmades derives from the Turkish word “domla” which means “stuffed” or “any stuffed food.”  Today the word “dolmades” means grape vine leaves or cabbage leave that are stuffed. I t also can describe a cooked food which is presented in the shape of a cigar.


dot – To cover the surface of food with small amounts of butter before baking or broiling.


double-creme cheese – A soft cream cheese made in many parts of France.


dragree (dra-ZHAY) – They are tiny round, hard candies used for decorating cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.  They come in a variety of sizes (from pinhead to 1/4-inch) and colors, including silver.  They are not edible and can be found at any specialty party store.  Dragrees can also be almonds with a hard sugar coating that are edible and probably can be found at your local pastry shop.


drawn butter – An American term for butter that has been defatted and cleared of all cloudy residue and impurities.  See clarified butter.


dredge – To lightly coat food that is going to be fried with flour, breadcrumbs, or cornmeal.  The coating helps to brown the food and provides a crunchy surface.  Dredged foods need to be cooked immediately.  Breaded foods (those dredged in flour, dipped in egg then dredged again in breading) can be prepared and held before cooking.


duxelle (dook-SEHL) – Finely chopped mushrooms that are cooked in butter with shallots and wine.  When cooked dry, duxelle make a good filling for omelets, fish, and meat.  They may also be moistened with wine or broth and served as a sauce.  Duxelle are also flavored with fresh herbs and brandy or Madeira wine.

History:  This is the creation of La Varenne, the great chef employed by the Marquis d’Uxelles in 1650.  La Varenne is said to have been the first great French cook of modern time.  His cookbook, called “Le Cuisinier Francois,” published in 1650 is considered to be a primer of the French cuisine.




Culinary Dictionary   

Comments and Reviews

One Response to “Culinary Dictionary – D”

  1. Nick

    Define “double starch”

    A recipe that contains two starches, such as rice&beans; such as rice&potatos; and so on.


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