Linda’s Culinary Dictionary

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


A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    Y   Z

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 Bechamel 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 veloute 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 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 sauteing 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 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


(AB-sinth) – 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.  Read my web page on Absinthe Drinks – Learn how to make and drink absinthe.

  • 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 “lheure 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.


A mixture of honey and vinegar that produces sweet-sour syrup.  Traditionally used to preserve fruits.


 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.


(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.


(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.


Long, thin slices of poultry of fish.


(eye-YO-lee) – (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.”


 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, pot latches, 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

  • History:

    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 standing.  Learn more about the history and culture of Akuta or Eskimo Ice Cream.

al dente

(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


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.


 (AH-mund, 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.  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 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 bitter almonds.

  • History:

    Francesco Moriodo, pastry chef at the court of Savoy, created them in the mid-17th century.


 (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 19th century.


(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).

American 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 are 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 is 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.


  • History:

    See “amuse-bouche.”

Anadama Bread

(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.”

Anaheim chile

(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.  Learn all about Chile Peppers (Preparing Fresh Chile Peppers, Roasting Fresh Chile Peppers, Preparing Dried Chile Peppers),  Science of Chile Peppers

ancho chile peppers

 (AHN-choh) – A dried deep reddish brown chile pepper about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long with a sweet hot flavor.  When fresh they are referred to as poblanos.  They look like small bell peppers.  Anchos are flat, wrinkled, and heart shaped.  They range in color from very dark red to almost black. Anchos are mild to moderately hot and often soaked and ground for use in sauces.

ancho powder

It is ground ancho (pablano) chile peppers.  In other words, it is a chile powder.  Ancho Chili is a dark Smokey chili with a deep rich flavor and mild to medium heat.  Their flavor is somewhat sweet and a little raisin like.  This pepper is the most commonly used in authentic Mexican cooking and is a staple in red chili and tamales.  Ancho Powder is a terrific choice for those who are looking for a “milder” taste in their cooking.  Use Ancho Powder just as you would salt or pepper.  Sprinkle on pasta, baked potatoes, vegetables, soups, pizza, popcorn and more.  Also try it to season chicken, stews, potatoes, vegetables and, of course, Mexican dishes.


(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 salt.

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.


(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.

Angel 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.

  • History:

    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 courses.

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.


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.

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.

  • History:

    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 anybody’s guess.

    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.


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.


The apricot derives its name from the Latin world “praecox” meaning “precocious.”

  • 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.


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.

  • tank culture

    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.

  • pond culture

    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.

  • tray culture

    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.

arborio rice

(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.

Architectural Cuisine

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. T he 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.


(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.


The Mexican term for fajitas or skirt steak.


(Ah-RAK) – Also called arak. It is an anise-flavored liqueur, often homemade.  It is a popular aperitif in the Middle East.  It is a distilled from grapes, dates, and other fruits.  In its countries of origin, it is included in cooking in some recipes for fish stews.


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.


(AH-roz) – Spanish word for long-grain white rice.  This is a main staple in Mexican cooking.

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.


(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.

asiago cheese

(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.


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.  Learn more about Asparagus.

  • 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.


(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 bluish tinge.

  • 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 crust forms.

  • 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

    Contains 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.

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.


(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 the markets.


(BAH-bah) – Baba is called babka in Poland and Babas Au Rhum in France.  In French, the word baba meaning, “falling over or dizzy.”  These are small cakes made from yeast dough containing raisins or currants.  They are baked in cylindrical molds and then soaked with sugar syrup usually flavored with rum (originally they were soaked in a sweet fortified wine).  After these cakes were soaked in the wine sauce for a day, the dried fruits would fall out of them.

  • Baba Au Rhum

    In the 18th century, French chef, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826),created a cake that he served with a rum sauce that he called Baba Au Savarin.  The dessert became very popular in France, but the people called it Baba Au Rhum and soon dropped the name Savarin.

  • History:

    For a history of Baba and Baba Au Rhum, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Cakes.

Baby Gouda

 It is usually coated in red wax coating.


Bacon comes from the fatty parts of the pig, especially the sides.  The most desirable bacon is cut from the breast of the hog.  It is cured with either sugar or salt, which gives it a sweet or salty taste.

  • History:

    Bacon has played a prominent role in the history of superstition.  It was considered a sacred food by the pagans and was regarded as a symbol of prosperity.  It was frequently used as an offering to the Gods, and was believed to have curative properties.  If a knife, which caused a wound, was stuck into bacon afterwards, it was supposed to prevent infection.


(BAY-guhl) – Bagel derives from the Yiddish word beygl, which comes from the German word beugel meaning a “bracelet.”  Bagels are bread rolls in the shape of a doughnut or an old-fashioned curtain ring.  The brown crust is obtained on the rolls by first boiling them in water and then baking them in an oven.

  • History:

    According to legend, the world’s first bagel was produced in 1683 as a tribute to Jan Sobieski, King of Poland.  The king, a renowned horseman, had just saved the people of Austria from an onslaught by Turkish invaders.  In gratitude, a local baker shaped yeast dough into the shape of stirrup to honor him and called it the Austrian word for stirrup, “beugel.”  The roll soon became a hit throughout Eastern Europe.

    Over time, its shape evolved into a circle with a hole in the center and its named was converted to its modern form, bagel.  In the 1880s, hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews immigrated to America, bringing with them a love for bagels.  In 1927, Polish baker Harry Lender opened the first bagel plant outside New York City in New Haven, Conn.  The bagel’s popularity began to spread in the United States.

bagna cauda

(BAHN-yah KOW-dah) – Bagna Cauda is an Italian term that means “hot Bath.”  It is like a Swiss fondue except that it has a much more boisterous flavor.  The original recipe called for walnut oil, but olive oil is now used and is considered the key to a successful sauce.  The sauce is made up of anchovy fillets, olive oil, garlic, cream, butter, and vinegar.


(bag-EHT) – Is French for a “rod,” “wand,” or “stick.”  Baguette is the name for anything long and skinny, including drumsticks, strips of wood, etc.  The baguette is generally known as a French white bread due to its popularity in that country.  Baguettes are formed into a long, narrow, cylindrical loaf.  It usually has a thin, crisp brown crust and an open-holed, chewy interior.

  • History:

    The shape for which it is famous was developed by an Austrian baker and brought to France in the middle of the nineteenth century.  At first French bread was all shaped round, but when bakers realized that their crusts were so tasty, they gave the bread more crust by making them long.


 (bahn mah-REE) – (1) A hot water bath that is used to keep food warm on the top of a stove.  It is also to cook custards and baked eggs in the oven without curdling or cracking and also used to hold sauces and to clarify butter.  (2) The term is also used for a cooking utensil, which is a fairly large pan (or tray) which is partly filled with water.  The food to be cooked is placed in another container in order that the food is not cooked too quickly or harshly.

  • History:

    Most authorities think that it was named after Maria Prophetissa.  Maria Prophetissa was also known as “Miriam,” “Maria the Jewess” or simply “Maria” and lived during the first century A.D.  She is called The Jewess because Zosimos, Egyptian alchemist and historian, called her a Sister of Moses.  It is held that Mary Magdalene and the noted first century alchemical author known as Mary the Jewess was one and the same individual.  Whoever she was, Mary the Jewess was an accomplished practical alchemist and the inventor of a series of technical devices still in use today, such as the hot ash box for steady heat, the dung box for prolonged heat and the double boiler, still called the “bain-marie” in French and Marienbad in German.  Although no complete works by her have been found, enough fragments exist to establish her as a historical fact.  Yet her personal information, even her birthplace, remains a mystery.

bake blind

It is the technique used for baking an unfilled pastry shell.  The pastry shell is first pricked with a fork to prevent puffing, covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and then weighted with rice or beans.  It is then baked for a short period of time, about 10 to 15 minutes.

bake stone

A bake stone is a flat, round iron plate, usually with an attached semicircular iron loop, which allows it to be hung over a fire from a crane.  It can also be set down directly on hot embers.  Before baking ovens, and even after them, this was a common utensil for baking simple quick breads.

Baked Alaska

A dessert that consists of a sponge cake that is covered with ice cream, then with a layer of stiffly beaten egg whites, and lastly put in a hot oven to be browned.  Also known as omelette la norvienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette surprise, and glace au four.

Baked Apple a la Josephine

The soaked, pruned apples are boiled for 15 minutes.  Boiled milk is mixed with rice, salt and sugar are added, and then it is cooled down and divided into four portions.  The cores of the apples are removed and are covered with butter and sprinkled with sugar.  They are placed in a pre-warmed oven and baked for 20 minutes.  The apples are served in the middle of the rice pudding, sprinkled with sugar, and toppled with raspberry syrup.

baker’s scale

Baker’s scales are scales used by bakers to measure ingredients by weight, not volume.  That is how the master bakers and chefs of the world get great results every time.  They are also called Dough Scales.  A Baker’s Scale or Kitchen Scale should be an essential tool in every kitchen.  Most American kitchens have a set of measuring cups, but do not have a kitchen scale.  A scale is more accurate in baking than using measuring cups

baker’s dozen

The “baker’s dozen” refers to providing 13 baked items for the price of 12.  This originated as a way to avoid shortchanging the customer. Bakers who shorted (cheated) customers could be punished severely-such as losing a hand to an axe!  This allowed that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen.  The practice can be seen in the Baker Guild codes of the Worshipful Company of Bakers in London, 12th century.

bakers’ ammonia (ammonia carbonate)

It is also called hartshorn.  It is an ammonia compound and not harmful after baking.  However, do not eat the raw dough.  Your kitchen will stink of ammonia while the cookies bake – but once baked, the cookies will not taste of it.  Can be substituted for equal amount of baking powder in any cookies recipe.  It is an old-time leavening favored for cookies, such as German Springerle.  It is said to give a “fluffiness” of texture baking powder can’t.  Its leavening is only activated by heat, not moisture (such as baking powder).

baking powder

It is a leavener that consists of a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber (like cornstarch).  It has the action of yeast but it acts much more quickly.  It is used in batters where there is no acid present.  Baking powder acts immediately upon addition of water, therefore a filler (usually cornstarch) is added to absorb the moisture and prevent premature activity.  Various baking powders were sold in the first half of the 19th century.  Check out the History of Baking Powder.

baking soda

Baking soda, which is the alkaline element bicarbonate of soda, is used solely as a chemical leavener in baking.  Because it is not premixed with an acid, as is baking powder, it is used alone in baked goods where other ingredients, which also contain acid, are present (yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, or sour cream).  When the baking soda and acid are combined, they neutralize each other, causing carbon dioxide gas bubbles to form.  The bubbles make the dough or batter grow bigger, or rise.  Baking soda is more volatile than baking powder because it begins to act the minute you moisten it with the wet ingredients. You must put whatever you are baking right in the oven once the baking soda has been activated.  See also bicarbonate of soda.

  • History:

    Baking soda was previously known as saleratus, a combination of the Latin “sal” (salt) and “aeratus” (aerated).  John Dwight of Massachusetts and his brother-in-law, Dr. James A. Church of Connecticut, started the manufacture of bicarbonate of soda in this country in 1846.  The first factory was in the kitchen of his home with baking soda put in paper bags by hand.  A year later, in 1847, the firm of John Dwight and Company was formed, and subsequently Cow Brand was adopted as a trademark for Dwight’s Saleratus (aerated salt) as it was called.  The standard package at that time weighed one pound.  The cow was adopted as a trademark because of the use of sour milk with saleratus in baking.

    In 1867, James A. Church began marketing sodium bicarbonate as baking soda under the Arm & Hammer label.  He formed a partnership known as Church & Company, doing business under that firm name with his sons James A. Church and E. Dwight Church.

baking stone

Also referred to as a pizza stone.  Unglazed ceramic, clay, or stone tiles that allows for high temperature and dry heat, which is necessary for crisp crusts when making breads and pizzas.  A stone can be placed in the oven (and kept there when not in use) where it retains heat and makes an ideal surface for baking breads.  A baking stone is invaluable for getting the “perfect” crust and it can also help your oven to run more efficiently because of its heat retaining properties.  They should only be washed with clear, plain water, as these stones are actually molded sand, which is tightly compacted under high pressure.  Like sand on the beach, they will suck in any liquid exposed to the surface.


(BAHK-lah-vah) – A popular middle eastern (especially Greece and Turkey) pastry that is made with buttered layers of phyllo dough.  How it is traditionally made depends on the region.  In some areas, it is made with walnuts; in other areas, it is made with pistachios or almonds.  Sometimes dried fruit is added between the layers.  Baklava consists of 30 or more sheets of phyllo dough brushed with lots of butter, and layered with finely chopped nuts.  After baking, a syrup of honey, rose water and lemon juice (sometimes spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc) is poured over the pastry and allowed to soak in.  This dessert is known as baglawa in Syrian and Lebanese.

  • History:

    Most historians agree that the first people, the Assyrians, in the 8th century B.C. were the first to put together thin layers of bread dough, with chopped nuts in between those layers, added some honey and baked it in their primitive wood burning ovens.  This earliest known version of baklava was baked only on special occasions.  Baklava was considered a food for the rich until mid-19th century.  In Turkey the sheets of pastry for baklava are rolled out so thinly that when held up the person standing behind can be seen as if through a net curtain.  In Turkey, to this day one can hear a common expression often used by the poor, or even by the middle class, saying:  “I am not rich enough to eat baklava and boerek every day”.

    The Greek seamen and merchants traveling east to Mesopotamia soon discovered the delights of Baklava and brought the recipe to Athens.  The Greeks’ major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Assyrian dough.  Phyllo means “layer” or “leaf” in the Greek language.

    The Armenians, located on ancient Spice and Silk Routes, integrated for the cinnamon and cloves into the baklava.  The Arabs introduced the rose water and cardamom.  The taste changed in subtle nuances as the recipe started crossing borders.

blue cheese

Blue, blue-mold, or blue-veined cheese is the name for cheese of the Roquefort type that is made in the United States and Canada.  It was not until about 1918 that attempt to make Roquefort-type cheese in the United States met with success.  See bleu cheese.


(1) Bocconcini means “a mouthful” and refers to small nuggets (about 1-inch in diameter) of fresh mozzarella.  They are usually sold packed in whey or water. (2) It can also describe tempting Italian dishes.


To cook submerged in a boiling liquid at or above the boiling point of water.  Check out my article on How To Boil Water – Boiling Points of Water.

boiled peanuts

These are green or raw peanuts that are boiled in salty water for hours over open flames.  Green peanuts must be obtained at just the right time to ensure their high quality.  One of the drawbacks of boiled peanuts is that they are a low-acid food and highly perishable.  Because of this, they have a very short shelf life unless refrigerated or frozen.  Boiled peanuts are considered a traditional southern snack in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, northern Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.  They are an acquired taste, but according to Southerners, they are totally addictive. In the months of May through November, you will see roadside stands that can range from woodsheds to shiny trailers offering fresh boiled peanuts.  A traditional way that old-timers like to eat boiled peanuts is to drop the shelled peanuts into a bottle of cold RC Cola and gulp the combo down.

  • History:

    The origin of who first boiled peanuts remains a mystery.  It is known that boiled peanuts have been a southern institution since the Civil War (1861-1865) when General Sherman led his troops through Georgia.  When troops of the Southern Confederacy were almost with food, peanuts suddenly became very important.  Soldiers roasted the peanuts in a campfire and boiled them.  Check out history of Boiled Peanuts.


(bahm) – Bombe is French for a “bomb” which was used in a cannon.  In France, they had at one time, a spherical mold for food shaped like a round bomb.  Originally it was made of copper and had a tight lid so that it could be buried with its contents in salted ice to keep the contents frozen.  It is a dessert made with two different ice cream mixtures.  The first is a simple plain ice cream, which is used to line a mold. T he second is a more elaborate ice cream mixture (usually with a strong flavoring), which, is used as a filling.  The bombe is usually decorated when it is complete with crystallized fruit.  It is then frozen and served cold as a dessert.

Bon Appeti Seasoning Salt

Bon Appetit Seasoning is a spice, put out by McCormick Company.  Bon Appetite is a very mild blend of Celery, Onion, Salt, and MSG.  Its light color makes it ideal for chicken, fish, white sauces and vegetables, tossed salads and baked potatoes.  Check out the web page on Bon Appetit Seasoning.

bon appetit

(bon a-pet-tite) – A French phrase that literally means “good appetite” or “enjoy your meal.”

bonne femme

A French phrase indicating that a dish has been cooked simply (with vegetables and stock).


Also known as borsch and borsch.  A beef soup that originated in Ukraine and is considered their national soup. his delicious soup is served in many variations with up to 25 different ingredients, which usually contain either beef, cabbage, or chicken with dumplings stuffed with meat, mushrooms, or vegetables. The best known of these soups is a cold version based on beets and served with sour cream, but hot versions are also very common.

  • History:

    Ukrainian cuisine stems from peasant dishes based on grains and staple vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, beets and mushrooms.  Meat is typically boiled, fried or stewed.  This soup was so popular with the American Jewish people in the 1930s to 1950s, that the popular resorts in the Catskill Mountains of upper New York State became know as the “Borscht Belt,” due to their largely Jewish clientele.

Boston baked beans

Beans baked slowly over a long period of time.

  • History:

    When the first colonist arrived, the local Indians were cultivating several types of beans that they baked in small holes in the ground lined with stones. The colonist called the holes “ban holes.”  This was the first way of baking beans and every colonial family had a bean hole until fireplaces with brick ovens were built in their homes.  The Pilgrims baked their beans on Saturday because of the religious mandate that dictated Sunday as a day of rest.  The beans were baked overnight in brick ovens.

Boston Cream Pie

It is really a cake, not a pie.  Two layers of sponge cake are filled with thick vanilla custard and topped with a chocolate glaze or a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.  It is cut in wedges like a pie.  The Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official Massachusetts State Dessert on December 12, 1996.  A civics class from Norton High School sponsored the bill.

  • History:

    For more detailed history of the Boston Cream Pie, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Cakes.


Also known as bottarga di muggine.  It is salted Mediterranean salted tuna or mullet roe.  Bottarga is made with gray mullet in Sardinia and tuna in Sicily.  The term Bottarga, from the Arabic bot-ah-rik, means “raw fish eggs.  This delicacy is a specialty of the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.The mullet’s eggs, after being extracted, in their protective sacs, are washed and purified, put under salt, rinsed and laid to dry.  The aging process takes four to five months.  The dried eggs are then pressed and vacuum packed.  The color of the roe goes from yellow-gold to dark amber; the change of color does not affect the quality or taste.  The Sardinians serve it simply, with spaghetti, extra-virgin olive oil, and chopped garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes.  The bottarga was once the fishermen food but nowadays it is served in restaurants as delicious hors’ d’ouvre.


A food-borne illness caused by toxin (called botlinus toxin or botulin).


Puff pastry shells, used for holding fillings and stuffings.  Large bouchees are called voul au vents in France, and patty shells in the United States.

boudin blanc

(boo-DAHN BLAHN) – (1) Also called white boudin, it is a wonderful Cajun sausage stuffed with pork and rice.  It is one of those food products that originated in frugality; the rice was meant to stretch the meat.  Now, it’s a unique and delicious treat all its own. 2) This term in French means, “white pudding.” It is a delicate sausage made with pork, chicken, fat, eggs, cream, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.

boudin noir

A blood sauce that is sometimes called “black pudding.”  It is served grilled and usually accompanied with mashed potatoes.

boudin rouge

Also called red boudin, it is a blood sausage.


(BOO-yuh-BAYS or Boo-yuh-BAYS) – The name probably derives from the French phrase bouillepeis, meaning “bubble of fish.”  Although called a soup, this is really a main dish or a stew, a full meal in itself.  Bouillabaisse has many regional variations based on the different local fish.  The favorite place for bouillabaisse in Marseilles, France is the cabanon, a modest shed erected along the seashore by local people who used it for fishing, and gatherings with family and close friends.

  • History:

    Bouillabaisse is a soup that came from the Provence region of France in and around Marseilles, the seafood capital of Provence, France.  The soup was based on local fish, usually those unsold at the daily market, with other local shellfish added. It was a “fisherman’s” dish, and never contained any expensive ingredients such as lobster.


(BOO-yahn) – It is the French word for broth.  It is a clear soup made from cooking meat, vegetables, poultry, or fish in water.  The liquid that is strained after cooking is the bouillon, which can form the base for soups and sauces.  Bouillon is available on the market in the liquid, cube, granule, and packet forms.

  • court bouillon

    A poaching liquid for fish whose ingredients usually include water, vinegar or wine, diced vegetables, and seasonings.

  • History:

    The Duke of Godefry, who was born in 1061 and died in the year of 1100, in his castle at Bouillon, Belgium, invented this clear, delicious soup, which is now called bouillon.  He became the first European King of Jerusalem.

bouquet garni

(boo-KAY gahr-NEE) – It is generally a triad of herbs.  The literal translation from the French is “nosegay trimmings.”  It is a small bunch of herbs, which traditionally consist of a bay leaf, sprig of thyme, and a sprig of parsley.  When fresh herbs are used, the three herb sprigs can be tied together with kitchen twine and tossed into the sauce “as is”.  When the cooking is done, the bouquet is removed and discarded.  If the herbs are dried, they can be crushed and added directly to the pot in roughly equal proportions.  In Britain it is sometimes called an herbal faggot.


(brayz) - Braising is basically a slow-cooking method for tough cuts of meat or poultry and even stringy vegetables.  They are cooked slowly in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan.  Stews and pot roasts are among the dishes prepared this way.  Braising may be done in a covered container in the oven, on the range, or in a covered steam kettle or fry pan.  In all the moist-heats methods of cooking, the moisture or liquid not only conducts heat to a product, but it interacts with the food being cooked and can influence the final taste and texture of a product.

Brazil nut

Although referred to, as nuts these are actually the seed of a South American tree that grows in the Amazon jungle.  The tree yields 3 to 4 pound pods with thick shells that must be broken open with a machete. Inside are 12 to 20 three-sided Brazil nuts.  Their extremely hard shells are dark brown and triangular in shape and can be very hard to break.  The kernel is white and has a rich flavor.


Bread is the name given to the oldest, commonest, and cheapest form of human food.  Bread is made of the flour or meal of one or more kinds of cereals, which can be obtained from some grasses, seeds, and root stocks other than cereals.

  • History:

    Grain cultivation most likely began around 10,000 B.C, and bread was baked on hot stones into loaves of flatbread.  Evidence of ovens was found dating back as far as 25,000 B.C. in the Ukraine.

    Historians think that the first combination of bread ingredients and yeast happened by accident.  Probably when an alcoholic drink or fermented honey was accidentally added to flatbread dough.  This more likely happened in a brewery in ancient Egypt where archaeologists have found ruins and drawings of bakeries and breweries.  The Egyptians had supplies of mead, beer, and primitive wines.

    By the third century B.C., Romans had created ovens made from dried and hardened mud, and by 200 B.C. there were more than 200 bakeries in Rome.  Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.) founded the first bakers’ school in Rome.  Once a man became a baker, he was not allowed to change work.  They taught their sons the trade, passing baking secrets down from generation to generation.

    There are many stories of wars being won or lost and favors being granted by the barter of freshly baked bread.   French soldiers demanded white bread to give them courage, and Greek women were said to have tucked a piece of bread into their husbands’ clothing as he went off to war.  Bakers in local communities celebrated political victories or “saved a country” by introducing a specific shape or type of bread.

bread pudding

A pudding that dates back to earlier times.  It originated as a way to use stale bread and avoid throwing it away.


Although it is a fruit, it’s light yellow flesh has the starchy consistency of unripe potatoes, which makes it seem more like a vegetable weighing between two to five pounds.  As the breadfruit ripens it softens to about the consistency of a mango but without the sweetness.  The reason for the name “breadfruit” is that when eaten before it is ripe, breadfruit not only feels like fresh bread, but also tastes like it.  Not only are breadfruit trees in the Pacific prized for their fruits but their wood is also highly valuable.  In Hawaii, the wood of breadfruit trees was made into fine quality canoes, drums, and surfboards.  In Guam and Samoa, the bark was used for making tapa cloth.  A starchy staple of the Caribbean and Pacific islands, breadfruit is fried, baked, boiled, and sometimes mixed with coconut milk to make a pudding.  It is used like a potato – in stews, whipped, and diced, and in a salad resembling potato salad.

  • History:

    Probably native to the Malay Archipelago, breadfruit either drifted on the sea or was carried by early peoples to the Pacific Islands well before written history.  The plant has been cultivated there for thousands of years.  Breadfruits were traditionally baked with hot stones in pits dug into the ground.  The wood of the trees—which grew as high as 60 feet—was also used for canoes, and the bark was made into cloth on Guam and the islands of Samoa.  In Hawaii the wood was prized for making drums and surfboards.

    In the 1700’s the British began to establish breadfruit crops in the West Indies, as a staple with which to feed the African slaves who worked the huge sugar plantations.  During his voyage to Tahiti in 1769, Captain James Cook was introduced to breadfruit when he brought it back to England. King George III was convinced of the necessity of transporting breadfruit from the Pacific to the Caribbean and in 1787 Captain Bligh and his ship HMS Bounty was sent to Tahiti with the mission of delivering the breadfruit trees to the Caribbean.  Records indicate that 347 breadfruit trees arrived on the HMS Providence on the fifth of February 1793, and were distributed throughout the island.

brie cheese

(bree) – One of the most popular of imported cheeses, brie has been called the “king of all cheeses.”  This cheese is made from whole, skim, or partially skim cow’s milk (the quality varies with the kind of milk used).  It is described as creamy, smooth, and very delicate.  The natural white rind of the brie cheese is edible; so do not discard it when serving brie as an appetizer.

  • History:

    Brie cheese originated in France centuries ago.  It is named after La Brie, the province in northern France where it was first made.


Brining is like a marinade as it keeps food moist and tender.  Brining or salting is a way of increasing the moisture holding capacity of meat resulting in a moister product when it is cooked.  One of the great things about brining is that there are so few rules.  Most brines start with water and salt — traditionally, 3/4 pound of salt per gallon of water, but since we’re not concerned with the brine as a preservative, you can cut back on the salt.  Check out Guidelines for Brining Poultry.

broaster, broasted, broasting

Broaster and broasted are registered trademarks of the Broaster Co. in Beloit, Wisc. that has been broasting chickens since 1954.  It is a registered process that builds pressure in the pot, which seals in the natural juices while sealing out almost 100% of the cooking oil.  It is not only the process of frying chickens under pressure, but includes a special marinating process.  The Broasters and the seasonings are sold only to restaurants and the food trade, so Broasted chicken is available to you only when you dine out.


It is a member of the Cruciferae family and is a relative of cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.  It has tight clusters of tiny buds that sit on stout, edible stems.  It is available year-round.  The word broccoli comes from the Italian word “brocco” meaning “arm branch.”

  • History:

    Broccoli has been around for more than 2000 years.  During the 16th century, the plant was grown in France and Italy.  Little was known about broccoli in the United States until the 1920s, when the first commercially grown broccoli was grown in Brooklyn, New York.  In 1923, broccoli was first planted in California.

broccoli rabe

Also known as rapini, broccoli raab, broccoletti di rape, and broccoletto.  It is related to the turnip and cabbage families and has very little resemblance to broccoli.  It has a thin, leafy, dark green stock with few buds, and has a pungent-bitter flavor.  It gives a lift to bland foods and a nice accent to spicy foods.  If served alone, blanch in salt water before further cooking to remove some of the bitterness.  When choosing broccoli rabe, it should be firm with small stems and few buds.  It is best to keep it wrapped and in the vegetable crisper for no more than five days.  Broccoli rabe is available all year, but it most plentiful from spring to late fall. It is a great source of vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of potassium and folic acid.


A new hybrid vegetable that is sure to make a statement at your dinner table.  Technically a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, this vegetable looks more like a broccoli-asparagus mix.  Broccolini comes in bunches of 17-20 stalks and has a shelf life of 2 weeks in the refrigerator from date of purchase. Broccolini is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and potassium, and has no fat.  It can be cooked and eaten the same as broccoli: blanched, steamed, sauteed, poached, roasted, fried or grilled. It is 100% edible, so there’s no need to remove any of the stems, making a wonderful presentation on the plate with its long slender stems.


(1) Small portions of meat, chicken liver, or seafood that is coe on a skewer (usually sauteed or grilled). Food cooked “en brochette” is cooked on a skewer.  Also known as kabob, a la broche, or shish ka bob.  It is derived from the word “broche,” meaning, “pointed tool.”  (2) Brochette is also used by confectioners to thread fruit in before candying them.

broil, broiling

In this method of cooking, the heat source is above the food. In home cooking, an oven is often used for broiling by setting it so that only the top element comes on.  Broiling is a high-heat method of cooking in which food is placed on a rack below, and the speed with which it cooks depends on how far away it is from the element.  As with grilling, food has to be watched carefully, so it does not overcook.


Broth is a flavorful liquid resulting from the long simmering of meat, vegetables, poultry or fish.  The French call if “bouillon.”  Also know as “stock.”

brownie, brownies

A chocolate bar cookie. The name comes from the deep-brown color of the cookie.

  • History:

    The origins of the chocolate brownies is uncertain but it is felt that it was probably created by accident, the result of a forgetful cook neglecting to add baking powder to chocolate cake batter.Sears, Roebuck catalog in 1897 published the first known recipe for the brownies, and it quickly became very popular (so popular that a brownie mix was even sold in the catalog).


A combination of the words for breakfast and lunch, and which is neither breakfast nor lunch, which combines some of the features of both and is served mid-morning.

  • History:

    Brunch first appeared in England at the end of the 19th century.  In August 1896, the word appeared in the magazine called Punch.  The magazine reported on a company breakfast by Mr. Guy Beringer of the defunct Hunter’s Weekly about a combined breakfast and lunch that was served after guests returned home from a morning of hunting.  The article went on to say “To be fashionable nowadays, we much brunch.”  It was not until the 1930s in the United States that the idea of brunch became popular in restaurants and hotels.  Customers became know as “pilers.”


(broo-NWAHZ) – It is a French word used to describe a mixture of vegetables, usually onion, celery, and carrot, which has been very finely diced, then cooked slowly in butter.  This classic mixture is used as a base to flavor soups, stews and sauces.

Brunswick stew

This famous stew was originally a game stew and not a domestic meat stew as it is today.

  • History:

    According to one story, it began as a squirrel stew created by “Uncle” Jimmy Matthews and named after Brunswick County, Virginia (which was named for Braunschweig in Germany).  In 1828, Dr. Creed Haskins, a member of the Virginia state legislature, wanted something special for a political rally he was sponsoring.  He persuaded Matthews to part with his recipe.  The stew remained, for many years, one of the main attractions at political rallies conducted by both the Whigs and the Democrats.  Gradually more vegetables were added and chicken replaced squirrel as the major ingredient.

    Virginians insist that the dish was invented in Brunswick County, VA.  A county of the same name in North Carolina and some citizens of Brunswick, GA., also lay claim to have originated the stew.


(broo-SKEH-tah) – Traditional Italian garlic bread.  Grilled slices of bread are brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh garlic.

brussels sprouts

They are the buds of a cultivated variety of the common cabbage plant. In appearance, brussel sprouts resemble miniature cabbages, but have a much stronger flavor than their larger cousins.

  • History:

    They were cultivated as food in Belgium as early as the 13th century.


(broot) – Very dry (un-sweet) reference to Champagne or sparkling wine.

Bubble and Squeak

An English dish of equal parts mashed potatoes and chopped cooked cabbage mixed together and fried until well browned.  Originally, the dish included chopped boiled beef.  The name is said to come from the sounds the potato-cabbage mixture makes as it cooks (some say it’s from the sounds one’s stomach makes after eating bubble and squeak).

bubble tea

Bubble Tea is the catch-all name for endless unusual names of this drink such as: tapioca pearl drink, tapioca ball drink, pearl shake, pearl tea, black pearl tea, big pearl, boba tea, boba ice tea, boba nai cha, milk tea, bubble drink, zhen zhu nai cha, momi, momi milk tea, QQ, BBT, PT, and possibly many other names.  This drink is far from the plain-looking tea that you are generally familiar with and it.  It is non-alcoholic and non-carbonated.  The tea is sweet, thought it has less sugar than a typical soft drink.  There are a huge variety of flavors to try; depending on the teahouse or stand you visit.  The drink is usually a mix of tea, milk, sugar, and giant black tapioca balls.  The “bubble” refers to the foam created by shaking the freshly brewed tea with ice (the drink must always be shaken and not stirred).

The unique ingredient of Bubble Tea is the tapioca pearl.  About the size of pearls or small marbles, they have a consistency like gummy candy (soft and chewy). Being heavier than the drink they tend to always stay near the bottom of the glass.  These drinks are usually served in large see-through plastic containers with an extra-wide straw to sip these jumbo pearls.

  • History:

    For history and a recipe for Bubble Tea.


Also called crumble.  Is a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter.  It is usually made with blueberries.  The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

They are deep-fried chicken wing serve with a hot sauce, celery stalks, and blue cheese dressing.  Because the residents of Buffalo are so enamored with these chicken wings, the city of Buffalo, New York has declared July 19th as the “Official Chicken Wing Day.”  The city’s proclamation noted that, because of Mrs. Bellissimo’s kitchen, “thousands of chicken wings are consumed by buffalonians in restaurants and taverns throughout the city each week.”

  • History:

    This famous chicken wings were created a the Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York on October 30 1962, by owner Teressa Bellissimo. According to the story by the restaurant, her son, Dom Bellissimo, asked Teressa Bellissimo to fix something for his group of hungry friends.  To make a long story short, as she was about to put them in the stockpot for soup, she looked at them and said, “It’s a shame to put such beautiful wings in a stock pot.”  So she battered and then deep-fried the chicken wings.  The rest is history!


Bulgogi is marinated strips of beef cooked over charcoal on a grill. It is the best known and most popular of all Korean foods.  Beef is most often identified with bulgogi, but even pork, chicken, lamb, squid, and octopus can be cooked bulgogi style.  Foreigners consider it the national dish of Korea.  It is often prepared at the table on small grills and accompanied by kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage.  In Korean, the word bul means “fire” and gogi means “meat.” The word is commonly translated as Korean barbecue, thought it literally means “fire meat.”

Bully Beef

A term used in Great Britain for corned beef.

  • History:

    The name was given by troops during the First World War to corned beef (canned salted beef).


Burgoo is a savory stew made from a varying array of ingredients that is popular in Kentucky.  It is often cooked in enormous iron kettles outdoors over an open flame.  Cooking can take as long as 30 hours and flavor improves as it ages.  It has been said that burgoo is more of a concept than a recipe.  This is because there are as many different ways to prepare burgoo as there are people who prepare it.  The meats could include any or all of the following meats: mutton (sheep/lamb), beef, pork, chicken, veal or opossum.  You will also find some combination of these vegetables: potatoes, corn, lima beans, tomatoes, or okra.  Of course there are also many spices to choose from as well.  As you might imagine there are many people who keep their recipes a closely guarded secret.

  • History:

    It is believed that the word “burgoo” originated in the 17th century on the high seas.  These sailors used to subsist on an oatmeal-like porridge made from the Middle-Eastern grain, bulgur (or bulghur) wheat.  The term first appears in the 1650 book “Adventures by Sea” by Edward Coxere.

burnt cream

  • History:

    It is sometimes known as Trinity Cream since it is generally believed to have originated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in the 18th century.  It is the English relation (and predecessor) of the French Cre Brulee.


(burr-EE-toe) – A large (10″) flour tortilla filled with any number of ingredients, which can include beans, beef, or pork.  The tortillas are rolled and then sealed by tucking the ends under.  They can be eaten like this or topped with salsa, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole.


Churning cream into a semi-solid form produces Butter.  By U.S. standard definition, it is 80 percent milk fat, with the remaining 20 percent consisting of water and milk solids.

  • brown butter

    Is made by cooking butter over low heat until it turns light brown.If allowed to darken further, is called Black Butter.

  • butter ghee

    Clarified butter and ghee are not the same.  Ghee is clarified butter that has been cooked longer to remove all the moisture, and the milk solids are browned (caramelized) in the fat and then strained out.  This gives a rich nutty taste.  Ghee has a longer shelf life, both refrigerated and at room temperature.  It is traditionally used in Indian cuisine.

  • clarified butter

    Also called drawn butter.  Clarified butter is the translucent golden butterfat left over after the milk solids and water are removed.  In short, clarified butter is just butter that contains only pure butterfat.  It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, thus allowing you to be able to cook at higher temperatures, and won’t spoil as quickly.

  • compound butter

    A mixture of butter and other ingredients used to enhance various dishes.

  • cultured butter

    It is made from cream to which lactic acid cultures have been added.  The mild fermentation that results produces a richer, more developed flavor.

  • Plugra butter

    Takes its name from the French words meaning “more fat.”  It is a higher-fat butter with 82 percent butterfat.

  • salted butter

    The most popular kind of butter in the U.S. is made from fresh cream with no less than 80 percent butterfat.  This butter is lightly salted.  Salted butter lasts longer than unsalted butter.  When used for frying, salted butter scorches much more easily than unsalted

  • unsalted or sweet butter

    Is the same as salted butter but without the salt.

  • whipped butter

    Has air or nitrogen gas whipped into it to increase the volume, lighten the texture and make it easier to spread.

  • History:

    The ancient Greeks and Romans used butter as an external medicine for skin injuries and sore eyes.  For centuries, butter was one of the only ways known to preserve milk.  The word “butter” comes from the Greek word “bous” which mean, “cow” and “tyros” which means cheese.  The expression “to butter” meant to flatter as early as 1850, but did not become “butter up” until the late 1930s.


To split food (usually meat, fish, or poultry) down the center, cutting almost, but not completely through.  The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly.  Often this is the first step when preparing a roast that is to be stuffed and rolled.


A slang term for “Bring your own bottle” or “Bring your own booze” or “Bring your own bucket.”  In other words, you may bring your personal bottle of wine, beer, or alcohol to a party or event you will be attending.  Some restaurants also allow patrons to bring their own alcohol purchased from elsewhere.  That alcohol is usually subject to an “opening fee” or “corking fee.”


There are over 70 varieties of cabbage. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collards, kale, turnips, and many more are all a member of the cabbage family.  These plants are all known botanically as members of the species Brassica oleracea, and they native to the Mediterranean region of Europe

  • History:

    According to horticultural historians, barbarians were eating the juicy, slightly bulbous leaves of wild cabbage in Asia long before the dawn of recorded history.  The Greeks revered the cabbage for its many medicinal properties.  Cato, an ancient Roman statesman, circa 200 BCE, advised people to eat plenty of raw cabbage seasoned with vinegar before a banquet at which one plans to “drink deep.”  Even the ancient Egyptians advised starting the meal with raw cabbage, including cabbage seeds, to keep one sober.  It is an historical fact that the laborers who built the Great Wall in China were fed sauerkraut to prevent scurvy and other debilitating diseases that come from eating only rice.  Europeans were devouring stewed cabbage during the cold winter months because it was one of the few staples available when the ground produced little else.

cabernet sauvignon

(cab-air-nay so-veen-yawn) – One of the finest of red wines.  It is associated with the Bordeaux region in France but the grapes are now grown worldwide.

caciocavallo cheese

(kah-choh-kuh-VAH-loh) – This cheese is said to date back to the 14th century, and believed by some to have originally been made from mare’s milk.  Today, Caciocavallo cheese is made from cow’s milk, though its cryptic name literally means “horse cheese” – the Sicilian word “cacio” sharing the same root as casein while “cavallo” means horse.   (There’s a theory that the cheese owes its name to the manner in which two bulbs were attached by a string and suspended from a beam “a cavallo” as though astride a horse.)  It takes at least eight months to age Caciocavallo cheese properly, achieving a sharper flavor in about two years.  Caciocavallo is a good complement to stronger wines, and widely used for grating over pasta.  It is a favorite of Sicilian chefs for use with pasta.  It Is usually shaped as a large wheel.  “Caciovacchino” was a similar product made in times past.

Caesar Salad

(SEE-zer) – The salad consists of greens (classically romaine lettuce) with a garlic vinaigrette dressing.  The Caesar salad was once voted by the International Society of Epicures in Paris as the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years.”

cafe noir

French for black coffee (coffee without cream or milk).


(kah-FEH) – It is the Italian term for “coffee.”  In Italy, the term caffe usually refers to a small cup of espresso coffee.

Cajun cuisine

(KAY-juhn kwee-ZEEN) – Cajun food is essentially the poor cousin to Creole.  Today it tends to be spicier and more robust than Creole, utilizing regionally available resources and less of the foods gained through trade.  Some popular Cajun dishes include pork based sausages such as andouille and boudin; various jambalayas and gumbos; coush-coush (a creamed corn dish) and etouffee. The true art of Louisiana seasonings is in the unique blend of herbs and spices that serve to enhance the flavor of vegetables, seafood, meats, poultry and wild game, along with a “Cajun” cook that knows how to blend these spices.


Cakes are made from various combinations of refined flour, some form of shortening, sweetening, eggs, milk, leavening agent, and flavoring.  There are literally thousands of cakes recipes (some are bread-like and some rich and elaborate) and many are centuries old.  Cake making is no longer a complicated procedure.  Baking utensils and directions have been so perfected and simplified that even the amateur cook may easily become and expert baker.  There are five basic types of cake, depending on the substance used for leavening.

cake flour

Cake flour is very finely ground soft wheat used to make tender, fine-textured cakes.  It is bleached with chlorine gas, which, besides whitening the flour, also makes it slightly acidic.  This acidity makes cakes set faster and have a finer texture.


(kah-lah-MAH-ree) – Calamari are squid.  This cephalopod has a long body with swimming fins at the rear, two tentacles, and eight arms.  Calamari takes their name from the Latin word “calamus,” which refers to the inky liquid excreted by the squid and used in pastas and sauces.


Calas are fried balls of rice and dough that are eaten covered with powdered sugar, not unlike rice-filled beignets.

  • History:

    It is said that long ago, on cold mornings in New Orleans, women would walk the streets of the French Quarter selling these warm fried cakes for breakfast.  “Calas! Calas, Tout Chaud!” as the Creole women used to shout when they sold them in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

California Roll

A California roll is a slender mat-rolled sushi roll containing crab, avocado, and cucumber.  Today, in California and Hawaii, sushi reigns supreme, and the most popular sushi today are the California Rolls.  Most people in Japan have never heard of the California Roll.  Learn how to make California Rolls – American-Style Sushi Rolls.

  • History:

    During the 1970s in the early stage of the sushi boom in California, most people did not like the thought of raw fish and nori, so a smart unknown California chef created the now famous California Roll.  Most people in Japan have never heard of the California Roll.


(kahl-ZOH-nay) – An Italian word meaning “a trouser leg.”  It is a pizza crust rolled out and topped with all the ingredients of a normal pizza except tomato, then folded over to a half-moon or crescent-shaped turnover.  The tomato sauce is sprinkled on top and it then goes into the oven.  It is lightly drizzled with olive oil upon its emergence.

Camembert cheese

(KAM-uhm-behr) – (French) Soft and ripened (tastes much like Brie cheese), but more pointed in flavor and richer in texture.  It is made from 100% cow’s milk.  The most widely marketed of all French cheeses. It is used for dessert and snacks.

  • History:

    Marie Fontaine at Camembert in Orne, France first made Camembert cheese in 1791.  It is said that Napoleon was served this cheese (which was as yet unnamed) and he then named it Camembert.

Canadian bacon

It is a lean, boneless pork loin roast that is smoked.  Called back baconin Canada, Canadian bacon is precooked and can be fried, baked, or added to casseroles or salads.


(KAN-uh-pay) – A French term that consists of bite-size bits of savory food spread on edible bases (toasted or untoasted bread) and garnished or decorated.  They are served as snacks (appetizers) at cocktail and buffet parties.


Candlenut is the name of a tropical nut used in Malaysian cuisine.  It derives its peculiar name from the fact that the oil of the nut is also used to make candles.  Candlenuts are available only roasted, whole, or in pieces, because raw they are highly toxic.  The function of the candlenut in satays or curries is to flavor and thicken.

candy bar

  • History:

    At the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a World’s Fair held in Chicago, chocolate-making machinery made in Dresden, Germany, was displayed.  Milton S. Hershey, who had made his fortune in caramels, saw the potential for chocolate and installed chocolate machinery in his factory in Lancaster, and produced his first chocolate bars in 1894.  Other Americans began mixing in other ingredients to make up new candy bars throughout the end of the 1890’s and the early 1900’s.

    It was World War I that really brought attention to the candy bar.  The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps commissioned various American chocolate manufacturers to provide 20 to 40 pound blocks of chocolate to be shipped to quartermaster bases.  The blocks were chopped up into smaller pieces and distributed to dough boys in Europe.  Eventually the task of making smaller pieces was turned back to the manufacturers.  As a result, from that time on and through the 1920s, candy bar manufacturers became established throughout the United States, and as many as 40,000 different candy bars appeared on the scene.  The Twenties became the decade that among other things was the high point of the candy bar industry.

    The original candy bar industry had its start on the eastern seaboard in such cities as Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.  The industry soon spread to the Midwest, because shipping and raw materials such as sugar, corn syrup, and milk were easily available.  Chicago became the seat of the candy bar industry and is even today an important base.

candy cane

  • History:

    The symbol of the shepherds’ crook is an ancient one, representing the humble shepherds who were the first to worship the newborn Christ.  Its counterpart is our candy cane (so old as a symbol that we have nearly forgotten its humble origin).  In 1670, the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral handed out sugar sticks among his young singers to keep them quiet during the long Living Creche ceremony. In honor of the occasion, he had the candies bent into shepherds’ crooks.  In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decorated a small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes.

    It was not until the turn of the century that the red and white stripes and peppermint flavors became the norm.  The body of the cane is white, representing the life that is pure.  The broad red stripe is symbolic of the Lord’s sacrifice for man.  In the 1920s, Bob McCormack began making candy canes as special Christmas treats for his children, friends and local shopkeepers in Albany, Georgia.  It was a laborious process – pulling, twisting, cutting and bending the candy by hand.  It could only be done on a local scale.  In the 1950s, Bob’s brother-in-law, Gregory Keller, a Catholic priest, invented a machine to automate candy cane production.  Packaging innovations by the younger McCormack made it possible to transport the delicate canes on a scale that transformed Bobs Candies, Inc. into the largest producer of candy canes in the world.

    Although modern technology has made candy canes accessible and plentiful, they have not lost their purity and simplicity as a traditional holiday food and symbol of the humble roots of Christianity.

candy thermometer

A large glass mercury thermometer that measures temperatures from about 40 degrees F. to 400 degrees F.  A frame or clip allows it to stand or hang in a pan during cooking.  Learn more about Candy Thermometer & Candy Temperatures.

cannellini bean

(kan-eh-LEE-nee) – A large white Italian kidney bean that’s great in soups and stews.


(cah-KNOW-lee) – (cannola = singular, cannoli = multiple) –  They are sometimes called “Turkish hats.”  The cannoli is perhaps the best-known Sicilian pastry and is part of Sicily’s ancient tradition of pastry and dessert making.  It is made by stuffing cylinders of fried dough (wafer shells) with a mixture of ricotta or custard, candied fruit, chocolate, and other ingredients.  Originally, the pastry was flavored with wine, and in Sicily this is still done.  They are traditionally prepared for festivities at Carnival time (though nowadays they are to be found all year round).

  • History:

    Sicilian cooking is a living history text; the island has been home to Greeks, Romans, Normans, Bourbons, and Arabs over the centuries.  Each wave of military conquerors has helped shaped the Sicilian table.   According to legend, it is said that cannoli have been invented in the 9th century by the women of a harem in the city of Caltanissetta, Sicily, which got its name from the Arab, Kalt el Nissa, meaning “city or castle of women.”  It later became known as a carnival dessert, the “scepter of the Carnival King,” but it is now consumed throughout the year.  During carnival time, people gave cannoli to all their friends.

canola oil

Canola’s history goes back to the rapeseed plant, but canola and rapeseed are not the same.  Because canola and rapeseed have different chemical compositions, the names cannot be used interchangeably.  Canola is an oilseed crop, which is grown primarily in regions of Western Canada, with some acreage being planted in Ontario and the Pacific Northwest, north central, and southeast United States.

  • History:

    Historically, rapeseed was grown for its oil, which was used for lubricants and not for human consumption.  Canola was derived from rapeseed in the early 1970’s and has a different chemical composition.  Canola was originally a trademark that was registered in 1978 in Canada, but is now considered a generic term.


(KAN-tuh-lohp) – A variety of muskmelon.  It is found in many shapes and sizes.  Because of trade usage, cantaloupe has become the name commonly applied to muskmelons grown in the U.S.

  • History:

    It is named after the castle of Cantaloupe in the province of Ancona, Italy.


(ka-pel-LEE-nee) – In Italian, capellini means, “thin hair.”  This is one of the very thin varieties of flat spaghetti.  Also called angel hair pasta.


(KAY-per) – Capers are the unopened green flower buds of the Capparis Spinosa, a wild and cultivated bush grown mainly in the Mediterranean countries, notably southern France, Italy, and Algeria.  They are now also grown in California.  They range in size from that of a tiny peppercorn (the petite variety from southern France and considered the finest) to some as large as the tip of your little finger (from Italy).  They generally come in brine but can also be found salted and sold in bulk.  Either way, rinse before using to flush away as much salt as possible.   Learn more about Capers.

  • non-pareil capers

    These are the French words, which literally mean “without equal.”  In relation to capers, they refer to the small pickled capers, which originate from Provence, France.  Because they are considered “the best” this variety is named “non-pareil.”


(KAY-pahn) – A 6 to 8 pound castrated male chicken (an unsexed rooster).  More richly flavored than regular chicken and with a denser texture.

  • History:

    It was under a Roman prohibition that the capon was created.  The law prohibited eating any fowl except a hen, and this bird was not to be fattened.  A surgeon, looking for a way around this law, transformed a rooster into a capon by the now old and well-known surgical trick.  Neither hen nor rooster, the capon was a huge success.  It was perfectly safe to eat him because he was “within the law.”


(kah-poh-NAH-tah) – A Sicilian vegetable dish made of various ingredients, but usually includes cooked eggplant, celery, capers, anchovies, chile peppers, olives, tomatoes, vinegar, and onions.

  • History:

    Sailors’ taverns in Sicily were called “caupone,” where the dish was usually made and served with sea biscuits.  The dish seems to have gotten its name from this word suggesting the kind of robust food served at a tavern or inn.


Coffee made by topping espresso with the creamy foam from steamed milk.  A small amount of the steamed milk is also added to the cup.  The foam’s surface is sometimes dusted with sweetened cocoa powder, nutmeg or cinnamon.


(kah-PREH-seh) – In the style of Capri. such a sauce is usually made from lightly cooked tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and mozzarella, to use on pastas, meats, fish, or salads.  Check out this very easy-to-make Caprese salad:  Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Plate.


(KAP-sih-kuhm) – All peppers are members of the genus Capsicum, and the family Solanaceae, which include tomatoes and eggplant.  The name Capsicum comes from the Greek word “kapto” which means, “to bite.”  There are 26 species of peppers categorized at present; however there is much discussion and argument involved. Most of these are only found in the wild.  Also known as Bell Pepper.


(KAR-uh-mul or KAR-uh-mel) – Also called “burnt sugar.”  A flavoring made by melting white sugar in a heavy skillet until it colors.  It must be stirred constantly over a very low heat to prevent burning.


(KAR-uh-mul-lze, KAR-uh-mel-lze or KAHR-mul-lze) –

(1)  To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear caramel syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.

(2)  Heating of meats or vegetables until the natural sugars in them break down and turn light brown (such as caramelizing onions).  Sugar will begin to caramelize at 320 degrees F.  Generally it occurs between 320 and 360 degrees F.

caramelized sugar

To heat sugar to its melting point, at which time it liquefies into a clear caramel syrup.  The new flavor it attains works nicely in desserts.  Learn how to Caramelizing Sugar (Photo Tutorial).

caraway seed

They are the fruit of the “carum carvi” a biennial plant, which grows in northern and central Europe and Asia, and have been cultivated in England and America for its seeds.  They are available whole; if desired, grind or pound before using.Caraway seeds can become bitter during long cooking.  When preparing soups and stews, add the crushed or whole seeds only 15 minutes before you take the pot off the stove.

  • History:

    Caraway seeds have been used as a spice for about 5,000 years; there is evidence of its culinary use in the Stone Age.


Carbohydrates are a group of organic compounds that contain carbon in combination with the same proportion of hydrogen and oxygen (as in water).  All starches and sugars are carbohydrates.  The body receives a large amount of heat and energy from carbohydrate foods.  The body changes all carbohydrates into simple sugar and the surplus is stored in the body as fat (and in the liver as glycogen).  A large excess of sugar is normally eliminated by the kidneys.  The usual “sweet tooth” of people is the result of body hunger for carbohydrates.  Children require more carbohydrates than adults because they must satisfy the needs of growing bodies.


Carbonara in Italian means “charcoal” or “coal,” and “alla carbonara” means “in the manner of the coal miners.”  In Italy, the names of dishes generally tell us where or with whom they originated: dishes called Bolognese come from Bologna, alla Romana from Rome, Neapolitan from Naples; anything marinara is prepared in the manner of sailors, puttanesca is favored by hookers, and carbonara comes to us from the charcoal makers or wood cutters.  A classic Roman dish is Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  Most of the ingredients for Spaghetti alla Carbonara could easily be carried by charcoal makers traveling to the forests of the Abruzzi to get wood, and the rest could be bought or “found” along the way.

  • History:

    The town now called Aquilonia, was originally named Carbonara during the Samnite and Roman period.  Carbonara most likely derived its name from the principal activity of coal mining in the nearby woods.  Carbonara was destroyed by the barbarians and rebuilt on its ruins by the Longobard in the 6th century.

    (1)  There are several ideas that one hears from time to time. It is thought that a coal miner’s wife first cooked pasta this way that probably cooked over a coal or charcoal cooking fire, and it was popular among coal miners’ families before it spread to the general public.

    (2)  Another story suggests that the abundant black pepper in Pasta alla Carbonara symbolized the charcoal that inevitably fell from the artisan onto the plate.  The other, that the pepper simply camouflaged the flecks of charcoal on the plate.

    (3)  Carbonara Americana was invented as a way to use bacon and eggs bought on the black market from American service personnel during the Second World War.  After World War II when the GI’s tasted the original Spaghetti alla Carbonara, they “Americanized” it in the mess halls by tossing in peas, mushrooms, and using American bacon that the Army shipped over.


 (karh-DOON) – The cardoon is a vegetable that is very popular in France, Italy, and Spain.  It resembles a large bunch of wide flat celery and is silvery-gray in color.  Once the tough outer ribs are removed, cardoon can be boiled, braised, or baked.  Cardoon tastes like a cross between an artichoke, celery, and salsify and its season is from midwinter to early spring.


(KEHR-uhb) – The long, leathery pods from the tropical carob tree contain a sweet, edible pulp (which can be eaten fresh) and a few hard, inedible seeds.  After drying, the pulp is roasted and ground into a powder.  It is used to flavor baked goods and candies.  Both fresh and dried carob pods, as well as carob powder, may be found in health food and specialty food stores.  Because carob is sweet and taste vaguely of chocolate, it is often used as a chocolate substitute.


(karh-PAH-chee-oh) – Carpaccio is a classic Italian dish of paper-thin slices of raw beef, served with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  The term also means very thin slices of meat, fish, and/or vegetables.

  • History:

    Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, invented Carpaccio in 1950s.  The dish was named for the 15th century painter Vittore Carpaccio (1450-1526) who was noted for his use of red and black, with some shades of brown in his paintings.

    There are two theories on why Cipriani invented this dish.  They are: (1) Cipriani had to come up with a brand new dish for a large banquet to be held in his restaurant in honor of Carpaccio and inauguration of the exhibition of the artist’s work;  (2) A Venetian countess, who was a regular at Harry’s Bar, was forced to go on a very strict diet by her doctor and ordered to forgo all cooked meat.  Giuseppe Cipriani made for her a dish of thinly sliced raw beef filet.  Because the red of the meat reminded Cipriani of the color often used by the Venetian painter, Carpaccio, he named the dish in his honor.


Carrots are a member of the parsley family and are the roots of the plant.  Other root crops are celeriac, parsnip, beets, potatoes, and turnips.  Carrots are always in season and can be found with their curly green tops, pre-trimmed for easy use, cut into sticks for use as snacks, or in packages of miniature varieties perfect for school lunches.

  • History:

    Carrots were in common use during the times of ancient Rome and Greece.  They are native to Afghanistan, and early varieties were black, red, and purple and not the familiar orange.  It was in Belgium that the carrots was refined and bred to the orange rood in the 1500s.   In 1776, Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations refers to them as a crop that changed “cultivation from the spade to the plough.”

Carry-Over Cooking or Residual Heat

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 “Carry-Over Cooking.”

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 you cook.

Definition:  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 cooking.

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.

Cashew nut

The cashew is native to American and no is also grown in India and East Africa.  The nut hangs below the branch much like an apple.


(kas-ata) – There are two theories on where cassata derives it name from; (1) A term in Arabic, “quas at,” meaning the round bowl in which this sweet was originally made. (2) Other sources say that the word derives from the Latin word caseus (cheese) which would clearly refer to the ricotta cheese, one of the main ingredients needed for making cassata. Cassata is a spectacular Sicilian dessert of ricotta, candied fruit, pistachios, sugar, chocolate, liqueur soaked sponge cake and green pistachio icing.

  • History:

    Cassata was perfected by a group of nuns in the convents in Palermo, where such great quantities were made at Easter time that in 1575, the diocesan was compelled to prohibit production for fear that the nuns might neglect their religious duties during Holy Week.

    Cassatella – A miniature versions of cassata, perfectly domed and frosted white with a cherry on top, is said to recall St Agata, the patron saint of Catania, who was martyred by being rolled in hot coals and having her breasts cut off.  Catanians, with their intense emotional inner life and love of melodramatic gesture, are proud of their little cakes.  The rationale is that if you eat the body of Christ in communion, why not the breasts of a saint.


(kasa-rol) – The word casserole is derived from the Old French word casse and the Latin word cattia meaning a “frying pan or saucepan.”  As often happens in history, the name of the cooking utensil was used for the dish name.   (1) A casserole is an ovenproof or flameproof dish or pan that has a tight lid. It is used to cook meat and vegetables slowly.  (2) A casserole is also a stew or ragout consisting of meat and vegetables, which are put in a casserole dish at the same time and cooked by stewing.


(kaso-let) –  (1) Cassolette means a small dish for food sufficient for one person (a one-portion dish), which is usually made from earthenware.  (2) It can also mean a very small case made from fried bread, pastry, egg, and breadcrumbs that are filled with a savory mixture (these are served as snacks or appetizers).


(kas-soo-LAY) – A cassoulet  (which was first made in Languedoc in the southwest of France) is a casserole, which consists of different kinds of meat (usually five different kinds), one of which should be pork and another a bird (such as goose, duck, or chicken).  The dish also includes white haricot beans, sausage, and garlic. It is covered while cooking and cooked very slowly.

  • ghivetch

    The word derives from the Turkish word “guvec” which means a “cooking pot.”  It is a casserole of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, beans, squash, onions, cauliflower, peppers, etc.), which is simmered in a bouillon.


 A mostly freshwater fish with long, cat-like whiskers (like feelers) around the mouth. Most catfish are farmed.  The U.S. leads all other nations in the consumption of catfish.  It is particularly popular in the southern and central states.  Catfish have skin that is similar to that of an eel, which is thick, slippery, and strong. A ll catfish should be skinned before cooking.  The most common and easiest method to skin a catfish is to nail the head of the dead fish to a board, hold on to its tail, and pull the skin off with pliers.

There are 2,000 species of catfish, whose name (probably due to the “whiskers”) first appeared in print in 1612.  North America has 28 species of catfish, over a dozen of which are eaten.  The most popular edible catfish are the channel catfish, the white catfish, and blue catfish.  Of all the catfish grown in the United States, eighty percent comes from Mississippi, where more than 102,000 acres are devoted to catfish farms.  Learn more about Catfish.


 (KA-vee-ahr) – Caviar is from the Persian word “khav-yar” meaning “cake of strength,” because it was thought that caviar had restorative powers and the power to give one long life. Caviar is from the salted roe (eggs) of several species of sturgeon (it was originally prepared in China from carp eggs).  The carp is really a goldfish and is the only fish besides the sturgeon that has gray colored eggs.  Up until 1966, any fish roe that could be colored black was called caviar.  Then the Food and Drug Administration defined the product, limiting it to sturgeon eggs.  It takes up to twenty years for the female sturgeon fish to mature before it produces eggs (called berries).

Serving caviar begins with buying. The most important think to look for is that each berry is whole, uncrushed, and well coated with its own glistening fat.  The best caviar is generally eaten as is, au natural, on a piece of freshly made thin toast, with or without butter (though the caviar itself should be fat enough not to require butter).  It can also be sprinkled lightly with some finely chopped hard-cooked egg, and onions or chives.

  • Beluga

    (buh-LOO-guhl) -The Russian name for a sturgeon found in the Black and Caspian Seas (they can grow up to 2,000 pounds). It is the largest of the sturgeon family and is considered the finest caviar. The eggs are light to dark gray in color.

  • lumpfish roe

    The lumpfish is found mainly in Scandinavian waters, but also in Chesapeake Bay and off the coasts of Greenland and Iceland.  It is widely used as a garnish for soups and canap instead of “real” caviar.  Available in small jars, the red or black roe can be found at most supermarkets for a very reasonable price. It is usually pasteurized and vacuum packed.

  • Malossol

    (MAHL-oh-sahl) -The Russian for “little salt” or “lightly salted.”  Only eggs in prime condition are prepared and labeled t his way (caviar prepared “malosol” are considered fresh).

  • Oscietre

    This is spelled many ways, including “ossetra”, “oestrova”, and ” osietr”.  This is the second largest species of sturgeon and is the Russian name for the Caspian Sea sturgeon roe that is dark brown to golden in color with large granules and a delicate skin.

  • salmon roe

    The eggs of the Atlantic Salmon.  They are large and bright red and they are excellent for garnishing dishes.

  • Sevruga

    The smallest eggs of a sturgeon with a fine dark gray (almost black) color.  It is considered of lower quality than the Beluga and Osetra caviar.

  • Tobiko

    The Japanese name for a flying fish roe. They have very small red eggs with a crunchy texture

  • History:

    The American caviar industry got started when Henry Schacht, a German immigrant, opened a business catching sturgeon on the Delaware River.  He treated his caviar with German salt and exported a great deal of it to Europe.  At around the same time, sturgeon was fished from the Columbia River on the west coast, also supplying caviar. American caviar was so plentiful that it was given away at bars for the same reason modern bars give away peanuts – to make patrons thirsty.

    The sturgeon is a prehistoric dish; fossil remains dating from that time have been found on the Baltic coast and elsewhere.  Around 2400 B.C., the ancient Egyptian and Phoenician coastal dwellers knew how to salt and pickle fish and eggs, to last them in times of war, famine, or on long sea voyages.  There are some bas-reliefs at the Necropolis near the Sakkara Pyramid that show fisherman catching all kinds of fish, gutting them and removing the eggs.

    In the Middle Ages. shoals of sturgeon were to be found in the Thames, Seine, Po, and Ebro rivers and the upper stretches of the Danube.  At this time, sovereigns of many countries (including Russia, China, Denmark, France, and England) had claimed the rights to sturgeon. Fisherman had to offer the catch to the sovereign.

    In Russia and Hungary, the sections of rivers considered suitable for fishing the great sturgeon (the Beluga as we know it) were the subject of special royal grants.  Under the czar’s benevolence, the Cossacks of the Dnieper, the Don, and the Ural were allowed to fish for one two-week period twice a year (in the spring and fall).  Apart from he Cossacks and their families, the banks of the rivers were crowded with rich dealers from Moscow, Leningrad, and parts of Europe.  The fresh fish were sold to the highest bidder, who then had the fish killed, prepared the caviar on the spot, and then packed it in barrels filled with ice to be transported.  The Cossacks continued to have the right to sturgeon fishing until the Russian Revolution in 1917.

    To learn more about Caviar, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Caviar.

cayenne pepper

(kiy-ann) – The cayenne is one of the most widely used peppers in the world.  The cayenne is about 3 to 5 times hotter than the jalapeno, and when ripe, has it’s own distinct, slightly fruity flavor. Heat range is 6-7.

ceci bean

(CHEH-chee) – See garbanzo bean.


(seh-LER-ay-ak) – Also known as celery knob, celery root, celeri-rave, and turnip-rooted celery.  Though known by many names, celeriac or celery root is easily identified where specialty vegetables or root crops (such as turnips and parsnips) are found.  A member of the celery family, celery root is a brown-to-beige-colored, rough, gnarled looking vegetable.  It hints of celery with an earthy pungency (its aroma is a sure indicator of its membership in the celery family).  It is in season from late fall through early spring.  Look for as smooth a surface as you can find to aid in peeling.  A one-pound weight is preferred.  It should be firm with no indication of a soft or spongy center.


Celery is ordinarily marketed as the whole stalk, which contains the outer branches and leaves.  Sometimes the outer branches are removed and the hearts are sold in bunches.

  • History:

    The ancient Chinese credited celery with medicinal qualities and used it as a blood purifier.  The Romans like to use it to decorate coffins at funerals.  The Romans also felt that wearing crowns of celery helped to ward of headaches after a lot of drinking and partying.

celery root

See celeriac.

celery salt

Celery salt is a mixture of fine white salt and ground celery seeds.

celery seed

Celery seeds are the fruit of a plant related to the parsley family and are not to be confused with the plant we recognize and serve as a vegetable.  They are now grown extensively in France, Holland, India, and the United States.  Celery seeds are tiny and brown in color.  They taste strongly of the vegetable and are aromatic and slightly bitter.  They are sometimes used where celery itself would not be appropriate.

cellophane or glass noodles

Also known as bean thread noodles, these are made from mung bean flour.  They are usually softened by soaking in hot water for 10 -15 minutes before cooking with other ingredients.

ceviche, seviche, cebiche

Often spelled serviche or cebiche, depending on which part of South America it comes from, is seafood prepared in a centuries old method of cooking by contact with the acidic juice of citrus juice instead of heat.  It can be eaten as a first course or main dish, depending on what is served with it.  The preparation and consumption of ceviche is practically a religion in parts of Mexico, Central, and South America, and it seems as though there are as many varieties of ceviche as people who eat it.  Latin American flavors first found a place on Florida menus with South Florida’s “New World Cuisine” in the late 1980’s.  This cuisine comes from the diverse cooking styles and tropical ingredients of the Caribbean, Latin America, Central, and South America.


(shah-blee) – A white wine that is made from chardonnay grapes.

chafing dish

The chafing dish is a metal pan, with a water basin, which is heated by an alcohol lamp and used for cooking at the table.

Chai tea

(chi tee) – Chai is the word used for tea in many parts of the world.  It is a fragrant milk tea that is growing more popular in the U.S.  The tea originated in India, where those in the cooler regions add spices to their tea (not only for flavoring but to induce heat in the body).  It is a centuries-old beverage, which has played an important role in many cultures.  It is generally made up of rich black tea, milk, a combination of various spices, and a sweetener.  The spices used vary from region to region.  The most common are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. It ca n be served following a meal or anytime.  Though some Americans serve Chai tea chilled or even iced, Bengal custom is to serve Chai tea hot.  Check out Linda’s recipe for Chai Tea – Masala Chai – Spiced Milk Tea.


A very hot and spicy South African cooked vegetable relish/sauce/salad (in some ways it is like a Mexican salsa) that usually includes tomatoes, garlic, chile peppers, grated carrots, and grated cabbage with beans or diced cauliflower.  Preparing chakalaka is very much an individual thing, and depends on what you have available.  A traditional dish with the black community that is now popular in the urban areas as well as a side dish at barbecues.


(kuh-LAY-zee) – Ropey strands of egg white which anchor the yolk in place in the center of the thick white.  They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos.  The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg.  Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.


(sham-pain) – Champagne is a sparkling wine.  Only wines produced in Champagne, France can legally be called champagne.  Otherwise it is called sparkling wine.  It is considered the most glamorous of all wines (the name has become synonymous with expensive living).

  • History:

    Champagne was once called devil wine (vin diable).  Not because of what it did to people, but for what it did to its casks.  The wine would “blow out the barrels” in the monasteries when warm weather got fermentation well under way.


(sham-pee-NYOHN) – French word for an edible mushroom.

  • History:

    In Greece, around 400 B.C. Hippocrates makes mention of the delicacy of mushrooms that were consumed by the wealthy.  The mushroom was thought to possess divine and magical powers.  The first written reference to eating mushrooms is the death of a mother and her three children from mushroom poisoning in about 450 B.C.  In ancient Rome, the easiest way to get rid of an enemy was to invite him to a disguised mushroom meal using the deadly mushroom from the Borgia family.

chanterelle mushrooms

(shan-tuh-REHL) – These trumpet-shaped mushrooms flourish in the wilderness areas of the Pacific Northwest and a few places on the east coast.  The European and Asian varieties are usually about the size of a thumb.  But on the west coast, Chanterelles can be larger than a foot wide and heavier than two pounds.  They smell a bit like apricots, have a mild, nutty flavor, and a chewy texture.


(shad-PONH) – A small piece from end of French loaf, a slice, or a cube of bread that has been rubbed over with a clove of garlic, first dipped in salt.  Placed in bottom of salad bowl before arranging salad.  A chapon is often used in vegetable salads and gives an agreeable additional flavor.


(shar-doe-nay) – Is considered the world’s most popular dry white wine.  Chardonnay has become almost synonymous in the mass market with a generic “glass of white wine.”


(SHAR-lot) – Charlotte is a corruption of the Old English word “charlyt” meaning a “dish of custard.” (1) One meaning of a charlotte is a round mold used to make a charlotte dessert.  (2) The other meaning is the molded dessert that is composed of a filling surrounded by ladyfingers or bread.

  • Apple Charlotte

    It is a golden-crusted dessert made by baking a thick apple compote in a mold lined with buttered bread.

    History:  Named after Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) of England. Wife of George III. It is said that she was an enthusiastic supporter of apple growers. Check out Linda’s History of Charlotte Russe.

  • Charlotte Russe

    A cake is which the mold is lined with sponge fingers and custard replaces the apples.   It is served cold with cream.

    History:  It is said to have been invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Careme (1784-1833), who named it in honor of his Russian employer Czar Alexander.

  • Charlotte Malakoff

    It has a lining of ladyfingers and a center filling of a souffle mixture of cream, butter, sugar, a liqueur, chopped almonds, and whipped cream. It is decorated with strawberries.

  • Cold Charlottes

    They are made in a ladyfinger-lined mold and filled with a Bavarian cream.  For frozen charlottes, a frozen soufflor mousse replaces the Bavarian cream.

Chasseur Sauce

Chasseur is French for hunter.  It is a hunter-style brown sauce consisting of mushrooms, shallots, and white wine (sometimes tomatoes and parsley).  It is most often served with game and other meats.

  • History:

    For a detailed history of Chasseur Sauce, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Sauces.


The word literally means, “to lick” in Hindu.  Chaat belongs to the traditional Hindu cuisine.  In India, chaat refers to both a spice blend and a cold, spicy salad-like appetizer or snack that uses the spice blend.  It can be made with chopped vegetables or fruits, or both.  Indian Chaat is usually vegetarian.

Chat is considered a “street-corner food” in India.  Today there isn’t a town in India where one would not find some form of Chaat.  It is tasty, pungent and really spicy, traditionally eaten from roadside stalls in banana leaves or even newspaper.  Different regions of India have their different chats.  A supplier of chaat is called a “chaatwallah.”


(sha-toh-bree-AHN) – It is a recipe, not a cut of meat.  The choice (center section or eye) of the beef tenderloin is generally broiled or grilled and served with a sauce.  There is generally sufficient meat for two people and traditionally the fillet is cut at the table.

  • History:

    It was invented by the chef Montmireil for his employer Francois Rene Visconte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), French author and statesman (he was said to be an excellent eater but just a fair author).  He gave the name to the thickest band best cut from the heavy end of a beef tenderloin.  Most state that it was originally served with Berrnaise sauce, but some say the sauce was made with reduced white wine, shallots, demi-glace, butter and lemon juice.  It is agreed that the steak was served with chateau potatoes (small olive shaped pieces of potato sauteed until browned).


A French word that mean “hot-cold.”  A sauce that is prepared hot but served cold as part of a buffet display.  It is usually used as a decorative coating for meats, poultry, and/or seafood.  Classically made from bechamel, cream, or aspic.


(shor-REEC) – This is a Creole pork sausage that is a local favorite in Louisiana.  The term is similar to the Spanish “chorizo.”

  • History:

    It is an old local favorite dating back to the 19th Century, but isn’t as easy to find as it once was. It would seem to have come to Louisiana with the Spanish, where it was adapted to local custom and ingredients.


 (chi-OH-tay) – The chayote is a pear-shaped member of the gourd family.  Also called vegetable pear, mirliton (southern United States), choko (Australia and New Zealand).  Several varieties of chayote exist, but the commonly available one has thick apple-green skin and generally weighs 1/2 to 1 pound.  Thr crisp flesh is mild in flavor, falling somewhere between cucumber and summer squash.

It is prominent in the cuisine of Mexico, and today is a mainstay in the cuisines of all of South and Central America, as well as the West Indies, Africa, India, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.  In the United States, it’s grown in the Southwest, in Louisiana and in Florida.  Though the chayote can be prepared many ways, it is always cooked, never eaten raw (even if used in salad).  Its thick skin is edible, but many cooks prefer to remove it (it can be chewy unless used in a long cooking preparation).  The large seed is also edible (many of the vegetable’s proponents insisting that the seed is the best part).

  • History:

    The chayote is native to Mexico where it was cultivated centuries ago by the Aztecs and the Mayas.

cheddar cheese

Cheddar, the most widely imitated cheese in the world.  Mature English Farmhouse Cheddar is aged over nine months.  Cheddar cheese stands by itself at the end of the meal, as a companion to well-aged Burgundy.  It is also marvelous shredded over salads, melted over omelets, served with fruit pies and cobblers, or nibbled with crusty rye bread and a hearty beer.

  • History:

    It was first made in southwestern England near the Village of Cheddar in Somerset County.


Cheese is a food made from the curds of milk pressed together to form a solid.  Through the centuries, cheese has been made from the milk of any milk-producing animal, from the ass to the zebra.  Today it is most commonly made from milk of cows, goats, or sheep, with a small fraction from water buffaloes.  The differences in cheeses come from the way the curds are drained, cut, flavored, pressed, the bacteria involved, the type and length of curing in caves, cellars, or under refrigeration, and a host of other subtle to severe variations.  Generally cheese is grouped into four categories:

  • soft cheese

    These include the fresh, unripened cheeses such as cottage, cream, farmer, or pot cheese that need only a starter, perhaps buttermilk, and a few hours before they’re ready to eat.  More complex soft cheeses include quickly ripened brie and camembert, as well as those made with added cream, known as double-cremes and triple-cremes; all have thin, white edible rinds with creamy to runny interiors and are ready to eat within a few days or weeks.

  • semi-soft cheese

    With this group are cheeses ripened three ways: bacteria- or yeast-ripened mildly flavored cheeses such as Italian fontina and Danish havarti.  Also included are blue-veined cheeses such as gorgonzola, Roquefort, and English Stilton that are ripened by the presence of “penicillium” molds.

  • firm cheese

    Originally termed “farmhouse cheese” but now mostly made in factories, these cheeses are formed into wheels or blocks, usually with a wax coating to seal out molds and external bacteria.  This category includes cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Swiss cheese, Jarlsberg, etc. hese are generally aged a few weeks to more than a year.

  • hard cheese

    These are the carefully aged cheeses with grainy textures that are primarily intended for grating.  These include Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano.  The aging process takes form one year to over seven years.

  • History:

    Archaeologists have discovered that as far back as 6000 BC cheese had been made from cow’s and goat’s milk and stored in tall jars.  Egyptian tomb murals of 2000 BC show butter and cheese being made, and other murals which show milk being stored in skin bags suspended from poles demonstrate a knowledge of dairy husbandry at that time.

    It is likely that nomadic tribes of Central Asia found animal skin bags a useful way to carry milk on animal backs when on the move.  Fermentation of the milk sugars would cause the milk to curdle and the swaying motion would break up the curd to provide a refreshing whey drink.  The curds would then be removed, drained and lightly salted to provide a tasty and nourishing high protein food, i.e. a welcome supplement to meat protein.  The earliest type was a form of sour milk, which came into being when it was discovered that domesticated animals could be milked.  According to legend, cheese was discovered 4,000 years ago when an Arabian merchant journeyed across the desert carrying a supply of milk in a pouch made of a sheep’s stomach.  The rennet in the lining of the pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to separate into curd and whey.  That night he drank the whey and ate the cheese, and thus, so the story goes, cheese was born.

    The ancient Sumerians knew cheese four thousand years before the birth of Christ.  The ancient Greeks credited Aristaeus, a son of Apollo and Cyrene, with its discovery;  it is mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Roman era cheese really came into its own.  Cheese making was done with skill and knowledge and reached a high standard.  By this time the ripening process had been developed and it was known that various treatments and conditions under storage resulted in different flavors and characteristics.  Cheese making, thus, gradually evolved from two main streams.  The first was the liquid fermented milks such as yogurt, koumiss and kefir.  The second through allowing the milk to acidify to form curds and whey.  Whey could then be drained either through perforated earthenware bowls or through woven reed baskets or similar material.

    The art of cheese making traveled from Asia to Europe and flourished.  When the Pilgrims voyaged to America (in 1620), they made sure the Mayflower was stocked with cheese.  In 1801, an enterprising cheese maker delivered a mammoth 1,235-pound wheel of cheese to Thomas Jefferson.  Intrigued citizens dubbed it the “big cheese,” coining the phrase, which has since come to describe someone of importance.  Cheese making quickly grew in the New World, but remained a local farm industry until 1851.  In that year, the Jesse Williams in Oneida County, New York built the first United States cheese factory.  As the U.S. population increased, so did the appetite for cheese.  The industry moved westward, centering on the rich farmlands of Wisconsin, where the American cheese industry really took off. Most Wisconsin farmers believed their survival was tied to cheese.  They opened their first cheese factory, Limburger, in 1868.

cheese curds

Cheese curds, a uniquely Wisconsin delicacy, are formed as a by-product of the cheese making process.  They are little “nubs” of cheese, which if very fresh, squeak when you bite down on them.  Unlike aged cheese, curds lose their desirable qualities if refrigerated or if not eaten within a few days.  The squeak disappears and they turn dry and salty.  Every restaurant or bar in Wisconsin seems to serve them, as they are listed on most appetizer sections of restaurant menus in the state.  Learn more about Cheese Curds.


Now days there are hundreds of different cheesecake recipes.  The ingredients are what make one cheesecake different from another.  The most essential ingredient in any cheesecake is cheese (the most commonly used are cream cheese, Neufchatel, cottage cheese, and ricotta.)

Chef Titles

  • Executive Chef

    The term literally means “the chief” in French.  Every kitchen has a chef or executive chef who is responsible for the operations of the entire kitchen.  (A commonly misused term in English, not every cook is a chef.)

  • Sous-Chef

    This position means “the under chief” in French.  This is person is second in command and takes responsibility for the kitchen operations if the chef is absent.

  • Chef de Partie

    Also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production.  In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants.  In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department.  Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with “First Cook”, then “Second Cook”, and so on as needed.  The Chef de Partie is in charge of any of the following kitchen positions:

  • Sauce Chef or Saucier

    The person responsible for sauteed items and many different sauces.  Traditionally, it is the third person in command.  This is usually the highest position of all the stations:

  • Boulanger

    The bread cook

  • Confiseur

    The candy cook

  • Fish cook or poissonier

    The fish cook – all fish and shellfish items and their sauces

  • Friturier

    The deep fry cook

  • Grillardin

    The grill cook

  • Pantry chef or Garde Manager

    The person who prepares cold savory items Boucher

  • Pastry chef or patissier

    Is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, cold hors d’oeuvres, and buffet items.

  • Potager

    The soup and often stock cook

  • Potager

    The soup and often stock cook

  • Roast cook or rotisseur

    Prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies, and broils meats and other items to order.  A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook or grillardin (gree-ar-dan) to handle the broiled items.  The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.

  • The Butcher Commish's

    The common cook under one of the Chef de Partie.  This level of cook comprises the bulk of the kitchen staff

  • Tournant (or chef de tournant)

    The Relief cook. This term describes the cook in the kitchen who provides help to all the different cooks rather than having a specific job.

  • Vegetable cook or entremetier

    Prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs.  Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.

chenin blanc

(shay-naN blaN) – A widely produced white wine.  It is often used as a blending wine in generic blends and jug wine.


(chehr-uh-MOY-ah) – The heart-shaped cherimoya is sometimes referred to as a custard apple, which describes its appearance and texture.  The taste, however, is uniquely its own.  Cherimoya combines the flavors of pineapple, mango, banana, and papaya into a slightly fermented flavor of the tropics.  They are available November through April with the largest supply in February and March.  Ripe cherimoyas are dull brownish-green in color and give to pressure when gently squeezed.  Eat within a day or two.  If fruit is pale green and firm, store at room temperature until slightly soft and then refrigerate, carefully wrapped individually in paper towels, for up to 4 days.  Peel fruit with a sharp knife and cut into cubes, discarding the dark black seeds.  Add to fruit salads or puree and incorporate into a mousse, custard, or pie filling.

Cherries Jubilee

It is a dessert that consists of cherries flamed table side with sugar and Kirsch (cherry brandy) spooned over vanilla ice cream.

  • History:

    Cherries Jubilee was created by Chef Auguste Escoffier (1847-1935) in honor of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration.  There seems to be some conflict as if it was her 1887 Golden Jubilee or her 1897 Diamond Jubilee.  Then, as now, the British public delighted in every detail of the Royal Family’s life and everyone know that cherries were the queen’s favorite fruit.  The whole nation celebrated at her Golden Jubilee in 1887.  The original dish did not call for ice cream at all.  Sweet cherries poached in simple syrup that was slightly thickened, were poured into fireproof dishes, and then warmed brandy was added and set on flame at the moment of serving.


There are now 250 different kinds, which vary in color, size, and taste.  There are two main groups of cherries, sweet and sour.

  • sweet cherry

    It is the larger of the two types and they are firm, heart-shaped sweet cherries.  The most popular varieties range from the dark red to the black Bing, to the golden red-blushed Royal Ann.  Some varieties are Bing cherry, Rainier cherry, Lambert cherry, and Van cherry.

  • cour cherries or tart cherries

    To learn more about Sour, Tart, or “Pie” Cherries.

  • History:

    Sweet cherries date back to the Stone Age in Asia Minor.  They were dispersed throughout prehistoric Europe and brought to America by ship with early settlers in 1629.  Cherries are named after the Turkish town of Cerasus (now called Giresun).  Cherry stones found in the ancient lake dwellings in Switzerland attest to the prehistoric growth of this fruit.  The early Romans cultivated several varieties of cherries.

    Modern day cherry production in the Northwest began in 1847, when Henderson Lewelling transported nursery stock by ox cart from Iowa to Western Oregon and established orchards.  The Bing variety was developed on the Lewelling farm in 1875 from seeds and was named for one of his Chinese workmen.  The Lambert started as a cross on the same farm.  The Rainier originated from the crossing of the Bing cherry and the Van cherry by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Washington.

cherry pepper

 Also called cherry bombs.  They are very thick fleshed and about the size and shape of a small red ripe tomato.  They also pack a considerable punch.  Heat range is 4 to 6.


(CHER-vuhl) – Chervil is a mild-flavored herb and a member of the parsley family.  It has dark green curly leaves that have parsley-like flavor with overtones of anise.  Chervil is generally used fresh rather than dried, although it is available in dried form.  Though most chervil is cultivated for its leaves alone, the root is edible and was, in fact, enjoyed by early Greeks and Romans.  It is one of the main classic ingredients in Fines Herbes (along with chives, parsley and tarragon), a finely chopped herb mixture that should be added to cooked foods shortly before serving because their delicate flavor can be diminished when boiled.

Chess Pie

Chess pies are a Southern specialty that has a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter, and a small amount of flour.  Some recipes include cornmeal and others are made with vinegar.  Flavorings, such as vanilla, lemon juice, or chocolate are also added to vary the basic recipe.


Known as castagne in Italy.  There are many varieties of chestnuts and the trees are common throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. Chestnuts can be roasted, boiled, pureed, preserved, and candied.  Choose unblemished shells that show no sign of drying.

chestnut flour

Chestnut flour is used primarily in Italian and Hungarian cake and pastry making.  The chestnut flour used in Italian cakes and pancakes is made from pulverized raw chestnuts, whereas in Hungary it is made from dried chestnuts.

chevre cheese

(SHEHV-ruh) – Chevre is the French word for goat and for the fresh goat’s milk cheese.  Goat cheeses are not usually aged, so they are fresh and creamy looking with a fairly mild, salty flavor.  They are French in origin.  This cheese can be molded into any shape.  They come plain or coated with herbs and pepper.  Used for relishes, appetizers, sauces, and compliments any cheese board.

chewing gum

When Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican leader of the Alamo attack, was in exile on Staten Island, N.Y, in 1869, he brought with him a large lump of chicle, the elastic sap of the sapodilla tree, which Mayan Indians had been chewing for centuries.  He hoped that Thomas Adams, an inventor, could refine the chicle for a rubber substitute.  Adams experimented with the stuff, but it remained lifeless.  By chance, he saw a little girl buying paraffin a “pretty poor gum” at a drug store.  Adams asked the druggist if he would be willing to try a new kind of gum.  He said yes.  Adams rushed home, soaked and kneaded the chicle into small grayish balls.  The druggist sold all of them the next day.  With $55, Adams went into business making Adams New York Gum #1 and set the world to chewing and snapping!


 (ki-AHN-tee) – A classic dry red wine of Tuscany.  Often called “pizza wine” as it is often served in wicker-wrapped bottles.

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

 Chicago deep-dish pizza is different from the regular thin crust pizza as it has a thicker crust with more ingredients topping it.  It is almost like a casserole on bread crust.

  • History:

    The origin of this style of pizza is credited to Ike Sewell, who in 1943 created the dish at his bar and grill named Pizzeria Uno.  The pizza was so popular that he had to open more pizza restaurants to handle the crowds.  Deep-dish pizza may be one of Chicago’s most important contributions to 20th century culture.  There are more than 2,000 pizzerias serving this much beloved deep-dish pizza there.

Chicken A’La King

This is a rich chicken dish that uses lots of cream with pimentos and sherry.  It is served either on hot buttered toast, pastry shells, or in a nest of noodles.

Chicken Booyah

A super “stick to your ribs” soup-stew made with chicken.  While chicken soup is universal and variations of this dish can be found in many cultures world wide, northeastern Wisconsin is the only place in the world where Chicken Booyah is found.  It is a favorite at the many festivals, church picnics, bazaars, and any other large gathering in the northeast part of Wisconsin.  Restaurants have their own special recipe.  Booyah is lovingly called “Belgian Penicillin.”  It is believed that the word “Booyah” comes from the word “bouillon.”

Chicken Cacciatora

Cacciatore means “hunter’s style.” See cacciatore.  This dish developed in central Italy and has many variations.  It is considered a country-style dish in which chicken pieces are simmered together with tomatoes and mushrooms.  The dish originated in the Renaissance period (1450-1600) when the only people who could afford to enjoy poultry and the sport of hunting were the well to do,  This dish developed in central Italy and has many variations.

Chicken Divan

A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and mornay or hollandaise sauce.

Chicken Kiev

(kee-EHV) – Also called Tsiplenokovo Po-Kievski. A boned and flattened chicken breast that is then rolled around a chilled piece of herbed butter. It is then breaded and fried.  This poultry dish is also called “Chicken Supreme.”

Chicken Marengo

Originally made with crayfish and chicken.  Today, the crayfish is usually left out.  Chicken Marengo today is chicken cut into pieces, browned in oil, and then cooked slowly with peeled tomatoes, crushed garlic, parsley, white wine and cognac, seasoned with crushed pepper and served with fried eggs on the side (with or without crayfish, also on the side) and toast or croutons, doubling as Dunand’s army bread.

Chicken Rochambeau

This Louisiana Creole dish is half a chicken (breast, leg, thigh), which is boned and not skinned.  It is grilled, then served as a layered dish – first a slice of baked ham, then the brown Rochambeau sauce (chicken stock and brown sugar), then the chicken is covered with a Bernaise sauce.  Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana is famous for this chicken dish.

Chicken-Fried Steak

It is also known as Country-Fried Steak and affectionately called “CFS” by Texans.  There is no chicken in Chicken-Fried Steak.  It is tenderized round steak (a cheap and tough piece of beef) made like fried chicken with a milk gravy made from the drippings left in the pan.  Although not official, the dish is considered the state dish of Texas.  According to a Texas Restaurant Associate, it is estimated that 800,000 orders of Chicken-Fried Steak are served in Texas every day, not counting any prepared at home.

Every city, town, and village in Texas takes prides in their CFS.  Some, admittedly, are better than others.  Texans have a unique way of rating restaurants that serve CFS.  The restaurants are rated by the number of pickup trucks that is parked out in front.  Never stop at a one pickup place, as the steak will have been frozen and factory breaded.  A two and three pickup restaurant is not much better.  A four and five pickup place is a must stop restaurants, as the CFS will be fresh and tender with good sopping gravy.


 (chik-peez) – See garbanzo bean.


(chick-ory) – An herb of which the roots are dried, ground, and roasted.  It is now used to flavor coffee (there is a popular belief that chicory smoothes out coffee).

  • History:

    For thousands of years, these plants have been cultivated and used in home remedies and a drug of choice for royalty.  Queen Elizabeth I of England took chicory broth.  In the U.S., chicory is so common on roadsides that it is hard to realize that is not native.  Thomas Jefferson had some planted at Monticello in 1774 with the seeds probably coming from Italy.  He used it as a ground cover in his fields, as cattle fodder, and as “a tolerable salad for the table.”

chiffon cake

It is the first really new development in cake making in many years.  It uses vegetable oil in place of conventional shortening.


(shihf-uh-NAHD) –  (1) This is a French word, which comes from the word “chiffon” which means, “rag”.  In culinary terms, a chiffonade describes a way of cutting herbs and lettuces into thin strips or shreds, which look a bit like rags.  (2) Chiffonade is also a dish consisting of a mixture of green vegetables (such as spinach, lettuce, and sorrel) which are shredded or cut finely into ribbons (sometimes melted butter is added).  It is used to form a bed for a dish such as egg mayonnaise or as a garnish for soups.

chile, chilie, chili pepper

Chile peppers are all members of the capsicum family.  There are more than 200 varieties available today.  They vary in length from 1/2-inch to 12 inches long with the shortest and smallest peppers being the hottest.  Always take caution when handling them (wear rubber gloves when seeding a fresh one).  Colors range from yellow to green to red to black.  The best antidote for a “chile burn” in the mouth is sugar or hard candy.  The heat of chiles comes from a compound called capsaicin.  It is located in the “ribs” of the chile.  Seeds do contain some heat, but not at the same intensity as the ribs.  Chiles are called peppers, but are not related to black pepper.  Botanically, they are berries and horticulturally, they are fruits. When fresh, we use them as vegetables. When dried, we use them as spices. Scoville unit is the thermometer of the chile business.  Established by Wilbur Scoville, these are the units of heat of a chile’s burn.  A habanero is considered 100 times hotter than a jalapeno!  Units rank from 0 to 300,000.  To learn more about these peppers, check out the web page on Chile Peppers.

Chiles Relleno

A Mexican and Southwest dish of stuffed chile peppers.chili – Chili is the stew-like soup made entirely with meat, chiles or chili powder (or both) and according to what region of the country that you live in, it can also include beans.  Will Rogers called chili “bowl of blessedness.”


(chim-me-CHAN-gaz) – A burrito prepared with your choice of meat, vegetables, and spices that are rolled up to form a large spring roll, either deep fried or grilled deep-fried, and served on a bed of lettuce with cheese and mild sauce.  The chimichanga or “chimi” is the quintessential Tucson, Arizona food item, which has achieved a cult status in that city.  The residents of Tucson take their “chimis” very seriously and would prefer to pay more money so as not to be served a smaller one with fewer ingredients.  They love the large, gigantic ones.  Every restaurant and Mom and Pop eatery has his or her own version of this favorite dish.

  • History:

    Culinary historians argue about exactly where in Tucson chimichangas were invented.  Several restaurants claim the bragging rights of being the first to serve one.  The strongest claim comes from Tucson’s El Charro Cake, the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson.  Family legend says that, Monica Flin, who started the restaurant in 1922, cussed in the kitchen when a burrito flipped into the deep fryer.  As young nieces and nephews were in the kitchen with her, she hanged the swear word to chimichanga, the Spanish equivalent of “thingamagig.”

Chinese gooseberry

It is now called kiwi fruit and it is a native of China.

  • History:

    It was introduced into New Zealand in 1906 and has been commercially cultivated there ever since.  Since Chinese gooseberry is a rather unenchanting name, they decided to rename the fruit “kiwi.”  This name not only identifies New Zealand but also describes the tiny New Zealand Kiwi bird.

Chinese parsley

See cilantro.

chipotle chile

(chih-POHT-lay) – A chipotle pepper is simply a smoked jalapeno pepper.  These chilies are usually a dull tan to coffee color and measure approximately 2 to 4 inches in length and about an inch wide.  It is sold either dried or canned with adobo sauce. Most of the natural heat of the jalapeno is retained in the process.Chipotle peppers are very hot, and they can easily over power dishes and recipes.  Chipotles are available dried whole, powdered, pickled, and canned in Adobo sauce.


(CHIHT-lingz) – Chitterlings are the middle section or small intestines of animals (hot intestines or guts).  Chitterlings are the more formal name, but most people call them chitlins.  Some people turn up their noses at the mention of chitlins, as they are a food that you either love or hate.  Others leave the house while they are cooking, driven away by their earthly odor.  The volume sold for New Year’s dinners, with Christmas and Thanksgiving not far behind, attests to chitlins’ popularity in the United States.  Learn more about Chitterlings/Chitlins and also a recipe.

  • History:

    In colonial slave days of the sold South of the United States, December was the time when the hogs were slaughtered.  The hams and all the better cuts went to the plantation owners, while the leftovers or garbage (chitterlings) were given to the slaves.  Because of the West African traditional of cooking all edible part of plants and animals, these foods helped the slaves survive in the United States.

    Animal innards have long been treasured foods around the world Scotland has their national dish of haggis (sheep’s stomach stuffed with animal’s minced heart, liver, and lungs); Throughout Europe, tripe (cow or ox stomach) is popular, and French chefs in upscale restaurants serve dishes based on cow’s brains and kidneys.


Chives are a member of the onion family.  They are used to delicately flavor soups, salads, dips, cheeses, eggs, sauces, and dressings.  They make an eye-catching garnish when sprinkled on top of a favorite recipe.  Their lavender flowers are an attractive and tasty addition to salads.  Chives are almost always used fresh or added to hot foods at the last minute so they retain their flavor.

  • History:

    Chives have been respected for their culinary versatility for more than 3000 years.  In Ancient China, raw chives were prescribed to control internal bleeding.  But when chives made their way to Europe, herbalists had a different opinion.  They warned that eating the herb raw would induce evil vapors in the brain.  Despite the admonishments, chives became everyday sights in European households; bunches of them were hung in houses to ward off evil spirits.  Gypsies used chives for their fortune-telling rituals and also hung them from the ceiling to drive away diseases and evil spirits.


 (CHAWK-lit or CHAWK-uh-lit; CHAHK-lit or CHAHK-uh-lit) – A delicate tree, cacao, it is only grown in rain forests in the tropics, usually on large plantations, where it must be protected from wind and intense sunlight.  The cacao bean is harvested twice a year.

  • bittersweet chocolate

    Still dark, but a little sweeter than unsweetened.  Bittersweet has become the sophisticated choice of chefs.

  • converture

    A term generally used to describe high-quality chocolate used by professional bakers in confectionery and baked products.  It has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate.  It’s specially formulated for dipping and coating things like truffles.

  • milk chocolate or sweet chocolate

    Candy bar chocolate. Chocolate to which whole and/or skim milk powder has been added.  Rarely used in cooking because the protein in the added milk solids interferes with the texture of the baked products.

  • semisweet chocolate

    lightly sweetened during processing and most often used in frostings, sauces, fillings, and mousses.  They are interchangeable in most recipes.  The favorite of most home bakers.

  • German chocolate

    Dark, but sweeter than semisweet. German chocolate is the predecessor to bittersweet.  It has no connection to Germany; a man named German developed it.

  • unsweetened chocolate

    It is also called baking chocolate or plain chocolate.  This is the most common type used in baking and is the only true baking chocolate.

  • white chocolate

    According to the FDA, “white chocolate” cannot legally be called chocolate because it contains no cocoa powder, a component of chocolate. True chocolate contains pulverized roasted cocoa bean, consisting of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.  White chocolate contains no cocoa solids and thus technically is white confectionery coating.  Beware–some white confectionery coatings don’t even contain cocoa butter. Even in “real” white chocolate the chocolate flavor is subtle at best, being to real chocolate what white soul is to soul.

  • History:

    Aztec Indian legend held that cacao seeds had been brought from Paradise and that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cacao tree.  Because of a spelling error, probably by English traders long ago, the cacao beans became know as the cocoa beans.  The Spanish general, Hernando Cortes, landed in Mexico in 1519.  The Aztecs believed he was the reincarnation of one of their lost gods.  They honored him by serving him an unusual drink, presented in a cup of pure gold.  This unusual drink was called chocolatl by the Aztecs. During his conquest of Mexico, Cortez found the Aztec Indians using cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink of the realm, “chocolatl,” meaning warm liquid.  In 1519, Emperor Montezuma, who reportedly drank 50 or more portions daily, served chocolate to his Spanish guests in great golden goblets, treating it like a food for the gods.  Montezuma’s chocolate was very bitter, and the Spaniards did not find it to their taste.  To make the concoction more agreeable to Europeans, Cortez and his countrymen conceived the idea of sweetening it with cane sugar.  While they took chocolate back to Spain, the idea found favor and the drink underwent several more changes with newly discovered spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla.  Ultimately, someone decided the drink would taste better if served hot.  This sweet drink became fashionable and soon there were chocolate houses in all the capitals of Europe.

    Swiss chocolatier, Daniel Pieter, invented milk chocolate in 1876.  Today, the finest chocolate is still made in Switzerland, and the consumption of milk chocolate far out-weights that of plain chocolate.  Chocolate was introduced to the United States in 1765 when John Hanan brought cocoa beans from the West Indies into Dorchester, Massachusetts, to refine them with the help of Dr. James Baker.  The first chocolate factory in the country was established there in 1780.  It was America’s first chocolate mill where they made a blend of quality chocolate called BAKER’S chocolate.

    Read Linda Stradley’s article on It’s True – Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate.

chocolate chip cookie

Today the chocolate chip cookie remains a favorite choice among cookie connoisseurs.  The term “toll house” has become a part of the American language.

chocolate chips

  • History:

    In 1939, Nestle created the convenient, ready-to-use chocolate pieces, introducing chocolate chips.  In the 1940s, Mrs. Wakefield sold all legal rights to the use of the Toll House trademark to Nestle.  In 1983, the Nestle Company lost its exclusive rights to the trademark in federal court. Toll house is now a descriptive term for a cookie. See chocolate chip cookie.


(CHUH-lent) – Cholent is traditional Jewish cuisine served on the Sabbath.  Whether the hamin of Sephardic communities, the cholent of Ashkenazic ones, or a fusion of the two, it is still favored by many for Shabbat, particularly on a cold winter day.

  • History:

    It was born of Orthodox Jewish observance of the Sabbath, when fires could not be kindled.  Instead, families would either leave a real low oven going at home or take their pots to the village baker and let the food cook overnight.  Some contend that every slow-cooking dish made with beans derives from this Jewish technique.  There is no doubt that, in Hungary, it evolved into shalet, one of the national dishes, while the Pilgrims, after spending time with Sephardic Jews in Holland, adopted it prior to sailing to the New World.  The substitutions they later had to make for some ingredients resulted in Boston baked beans.  The origin of cholent is likely in the pre-Inquisition Sephardic kitchen.  From there, it probably traveled to Alsace, where it is believed to have been called chault-lent, Old French for hot and slow. When it was then brought to Germany and Eastern Europe, it took on the basic composition, which characterizes it today.


To cut food into irregular pieces.  The size is specified if it is critical to the outcome of the recipe.

Chop Suey

Chop Suey is the English pronunciation of the Cantonese words tsap seui (tsa-sui in Mandarin), which means, “mixed pieces.”  It is a Chinese-American dish consisting of bits of meat or chicken, bean sprouts, onions, mushrooms, etc., cooked in its own juices and served with rice.  Most Chinese are not fond of Chop Suey as it is mainly popular with non Chinese-Americans.  According to the Chinese-Americans, its presence on a restaurant’s menu is often times a harbinger of bad food to come . It is only served in Chinese restaurants that cater to American customers.

  • History:

    An American dish that Chinese immigrants in the 1860s, who were untrained as cooks, created out of meat and vegetables fried together in their own juices and served over rice.  In the 1860s, a pattern of discrimination emerged that prevented the Chinese from working their own gold mining claims, causing them to take work as laborers and cooks for the Transcontinental Railway.  It was this Chinese influence that gave us the totally American Chop Suey, as these dishes were created to feed the workers with what food was on hand.  Constrained by the lack of Asian vegetables, and trying to produce a Chinese dish palatable to Westerners, the cook stir-fried whatever vegetables were handy, thus Chop Suey is a mixture of odds and ends of large pieces of vegetables and meat.  After World War II, Chop Suey became as American as apple pie to the non-Chinese population.


Eating utensils, about eight inches long, rectangular at the top and tapered at the eating ends.  Today, chopsticks are used in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as China, making them the world’s second-most popular method of conveying food to mouth, the most popular being the fingers.  Chopsticks are never made of metal because metal may react with the acids found in food and taint its taste.  Usually made out of wood, some of the more fancy ones are intricately carved out of bone or ivory.  Bamboo is used also.

  • Chinese chopsticks

    In China, chopsticks are usually made of bamboo or other wood.  Chinese chopsticks were once referred to as chu, meaning, “help in eating.”  Today, they are called k’uai-tzu, meaning “something fast.”  This phrase is said to have originated among boatmen, who renamed the utensils, originally called chu, which means, “help,” because the word sounded so much like their word for a slow or becalmed ship.  This struck them as particularly inappropriate for such an efficient eating tool.  The word with which we are all familiar came into being during the 19th century, when traders into Pidgin English translated Chinese words.  The word chopmeans fast, as in the phrase “chop chop!”

  • Japanese chopsticks

    The Japanese word for chopsticks, hashi, means “bridge.”  Unlike Chinese chopsticks, which are squared-off and blunt at the end, the Japanese utensils are rounded and tapered to a point.  It has been suggested that this is in order to facilitate the removal of bones from fish, which makes up a great part of the Japanese diet.

  • History:

    It is not known when chopsticks first began to be used, although it is fairly certain that they were invented in China, where they have been traced back at least as far as the 3rd century BC. Knives, with all their associations with war and death, were not brought to the dinner table, as they were in the West.


(CHORE-ee-so) – A highly seasoned Mexican sausage that is made with ground pork and hot peppers.  It is sold fresh or dried and usually encased in narrow casings, but also sold in bulk in some markets.  Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork, while the Spanish version uses smoked pork.

Chorley cake

Chorley cakes are a British pastry made with dried fruit similar to the cakes and buns common in Banbury, Eccles, Coventry, and Clifton.  A typical recipe consists of a pie crust (like pastry cut into small rounds) filled with a mixture of dried currants, peel, brown sugar, butter, and spices such as nutmeg.  The pastry is folded, and then rolled out until the fruit begins to show through.  They are baked, then eaten fresh with butter, or kept for several days.

  • History:

    It is believed that they were developed to take on trips during medieval times.  Each city claimed its own version, differing in spices, fruits, and the use of rum.

choux pastry

(shoo) – Choux derives from the French work “chou” which means “cabbage.”  It was used to describe layered pastry, as the layers were thought to resemble the leaves of cabbage.  It is a kind of pastry made from smooth dough consisting of flour, water, salt, butter, eggs, and sometimes sugar.  This pastry is used for cream puffs, eclairs, beignets, and other dishes requiring a puff pastry.


An American slang term for food.  The named is credited to American servicemen for have to stand in line and wait for their food.  The word is thought to be from the Chinese word “ch’ao” meaning “to fry or cook” during 1850s when Chinese laborers worked on the Pacific railroads.

  • chowhound

    A person who enjoys eating and live to eat.

  • chow line

    A line of people waiting for food, as in a cafeteria.

Chow Mein

A Chinese-American dish consisting of stewed vegetables and meat with fried noodles.  It comes from the Mandarin Chinese words ch’ao mien meaning “fried noodles.”  It is thought that this Chinese dish was brought to America by the Chinese laborers and cooks for the Transcontinental Railway in the 1850s.


(chowda) – Chowder comes from the French word “cauldron,” meaning a cooking kettle.  Vegetables or fish stewed in a cauldron thus became know as chowder in English speaking nations (a corruption of the name of the pot or kettle in which they were cooked).


(CHUHT-nee) – The word comes from the Hindustani word chatni, which means “a hot, spicy condiment.”  Originally this word referred to a sweet and spicy preserve of fruit, vinegar, sugar, and spices that was used exclusively in Indian cooking.  American chutneys are less spicy and very sweet.  They are used more as jams or preserves.  However, with the advent of “fusion cuisine” and with all culinary terms bandied about rather loosely these days, a chutney can be just about any topping or accompaniment, somewhat sweet, usually made with fruit and used the way we do salsas.

  • History:

    Chutney became an accepted part of the British culinary scene after the British who lived in India brought it back.


Cider is fermented apple juice that is made by pressing the juice from fruit.  Although apples are the most common fruit from which cider is made, pears and sweet cherries are often pressed for cider as well.  It can be drunk straight or diluted with water.

  • hard cider

    Hard cider is a fermented beverage prepared from the juice of apples.  The fermentation continues until the sugar is transformed into alcohol.

  • commercial grade cider

    Apple juice or cider is usually more refined than ordinary cider.  They remove the yeasts and develop to produce hard cider.  They are destroyed by a low temperature method without affecting the vitamin content.  Apple juice is also put through very fine filters.  Of course, they usually add preservatives.

  • fresh or sweet cider

    The liquid is fresh cider as long as it remains in its natural state and is not sweetened, preserved, clarified, or otherwise altered.  In sweet cider, fermentation is not permitted at all.

  • History:

    Hard cider made from ripe apples usually contains from 4% to 8% alcohol.  Hard cider was a staple of life in the U.S. from the earliest colonial times until the mid-19th century temperance campaigns that resulted in the destruction of thousands of acres of apple orchards.  By the turn of the century, hard cider had all but disappeared from the national diet.


(SEE-lan-trow) – Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander leaves.  It is also sometimes called Chinese or Mexican parsley.  Technically, coriander refers to the entire plant.  It is a member of the carrot family.  Chopped fresh leaves are widely used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, where they are combined with chiles and added to salsas, guacamoles, and seasoned rice dishes.  Most people either love it or hate it.  Taste experts are not sure why, but for some people the smell of fresh coriander is fetid and the taste soapy. In other words, while most people love coriander, for some people, coriander just does not taste good. When purchasing, look for leaves that are tender, aromatic, and very green.  If it has no aroma, it will have no flavor.  Avoid wilted bunches with yellowing leaves.

Cincinnati Chili

The main differences between Cincinnati and Texas chili is that the Cincinnati Chili calls for some sweet spices and the way you start cooking the meat.  The sauce has a thinner consistency that is more like a topping and is mixed with an unusual and secret blend of spices that includes cinnamon, chocolate, or cocoa, allspice, and Worcestershire sauce.  Cincinnati Chili is truly the unofficial food of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the most chili-crazed city in the United States.  Cincinnati prides itself on being a true chili capital with over 180 chili parlors.

If you choose “the works,” you are eating what they call “Five-Way Chili.”  Make sure to pile on the toppings – that is what sets it apart from any other chili dish.  To test a restaurant for authenticity, ask for a Four-Way.  If they ask you whether you want the bean or onion option, you have a fake Cincinnati Chili as Four-Way comes with onions.

Check out two different recipes and methods of making Cincinnati Chili: Cincinnati Chili – Version 1- Cincinnati Chili – Version 2

  • History:

    This chili is unique to the Cincinnati area and was created in 1922 by a Macedonian immigrant, Tom Kiradjieff.  He settled in Cincinnati with his brother, John, and opened a small Greek restaurant, called the Empress, only to do a lousy business because nobody there at the time knew anything about Greek food.  He then created a chili made with Middle Eastern spices, which could be served in a variety of ways.  His “five-way” was a concoction of a mound of spaghetti topped with chili, chopped onion, kidney beans, shredded yellow cheese and served with oyster crackers and a side order of hot dogs topped with more shredded cheese.


(SIH-nuh-muhn) – It is the aromatic inner bark of the “cinnamonum zeylanicum”, a native tree in Ceylon.

  • History:

    Cinnamon was considered one of the spices that started world exploration.  This common spice was once the cause of much intrigue and bloodshed among traders and growers.  The Arabs first introduced it on the world market, but kept the source secrets.  They invented fantastic tales of bloodthirsty monsters that roamed the cinnamon country.  It was once considered a gift fit for a monarch.  In ancient times, it was thought to inspire love, and a love portion was concocted from it.  When the Dutch were in control of the world spice market, they burned cinnamon when its price went too low to suit them.


(chuh-PEE-noh) – It is a fish stew that is considered San Francisco’s signature dish.  It is a descendant of the various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cooking.  The best way to make Cioppino, is as you like it.  It can by prepared with as many as a dozen kinds of fish and shellfish.  It all depends on what the day’s catch is like and what your own personal choice is.  The origin of the word is something of a mystery and many historians believe that it is Italian-American for “chip in.”  It is also believed that the name comes form a Genoese fish stew called cioppin.  Check out Linda’s favorite San Francisco Cioppino recipe.

  • History:

    This fish stew first became popular on the docks of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1930s.  It is thought to be the result of Italian fishermen adding something from their day’s catch to the communal stew kettle on the wharf.  After World War II, Cioppino migrated to the East Coast.


(SIHT-ron) – (1) Citron is a semi-tropical citrus fruit like a lemon, but larger and less acidic.  It grows as an irregular, open-headed shrub or small tree with large, light green leaves.  The flowers are purple on the outside and are followed by large, oblong or ellipsoid fruits.  The peel is very thick and is rough and yellow on the outside and white inside.  They were originally grown in Europe out of interest for its fragrant fruits, but later, the white pulp was used raw, being served as a salad or with fish.  A method of candying the peel was developed and candied peel is now the main Citron product.  This plant is never eaten raw but is harvested for usage of its peel.  The plant is soaked in a brine solution to extract the oil, which is used in liqueurs.  The peel is then candied.  This product is used in many baking dishes and desserts.

(2) Citron (see-TRAWN) – Citron is also the French word for “lemon.”

  • History:

    This was the first Citrus fruit that was introduced to Europe by the armies of Alexander the Great about 300 BC.  It found a suitable home in the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated from that time to the present.  Southern Italy, the island of Corsica and some Greek islands grow nearly all the Citrons.


(sih-truh-NEHL-uh) – It is also known as lemongrass.  It is a stiff tropical grass that resembles a large fibrous green onion.  It is an essential herb in southeast Asian cooking.  It adds a lemony flavor to dishes.

citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are native to the southern and southeastern mainland of Asia and the bordering Malayan islands.  Their flowers smell sweet and they have five petals that are white and some kinds have purple staining the outer surfaces.  The fruits are spherical or egg-shaped and have 8-14 juicy sections containing large, white or greenish seed leaves (cotyledons).  These trees are cultivated in orchards or groves and in gardens where the climate and soil are suitable and as greenhouse plants.  Florida and California produce an abundant supply of Citrus fruits.  Citrus trees require a minimum winter temperature of 45-50 degrees.

  • History:

    Citrus fruits are native to Southern China and Southeast Asia where they have been cultivated for approximately 4,000 years.  In fact, the oldest Oriental literature includes stories about these fruits.  The citron was carried to the Middle East sometime between 400 and 600 BC.  Arab traders in Asia carried lemons, limes, and oranges to eastern Africa and the Middle East between AD 100 and 700.  During the Arab occupation of Spain, citrus fruits arrived in southern Europe.  From Europe they were carried to the New World by Christopher Columbus and Portuguese and Spanish explorers and were well known in Florida and Brazil by the 16th century.  Superior varieties from Southeast Asia also arrived in Europe with the Portuguese traders in the 16th century.


All clams are mollusks that live in the sediments of bays, estuaries, or the ocean floor.  Clams are sold in the shell or shucked.  There are three major types of clams.

  • soft-shell clams

    Known as steamers, manninoses, or squirts. T hey have brittle shells that break easily.

  • hard-shell clams

    Known as quahog, littleneck, cherrystone, and hard clam.

  • surf clams

    These make up the bulk of the commercial catch.  They are used for preparing chowders, clam sauces, and fried clam strips.

clarified butter

Clarified butter is butter, which has been slowly heated up in order to separate the white milk solids (which burn at high heat) from the butterfat.  The milk solids (which sink to the bottom of the pan) are discarded and the pure butterfat (clarified butter), which remains, is saved for frying and sautng.  Chefs clarify butter because it has a higher smoking point and they can then fry or saute in it without it burning.  Learn how to make Clarified Butter.


To clear a liquid of all solid particles using a special cooking process.(1) To clarify butter means to melt it and pour off the clear top layer from the milky residue at the bottom of the pan.  The resulting clear liquid can be used at a higher cooking temperature and will not go rancid as quickly as unclarified butter.  (2) To clarify stock, egg whites and/or eggshells are commonly added and simmered for about 15 minutes.  The egg whites attract and trap particles from the liquid.  After cooling, strain the mixture through a cloth-lined sieve to remove residue.(3) To clarify rendered fat, add hot water and boil for about 15 minutes.  The mixture should then be strained through several layers of cheesecloth and chilled.  The resulting layer of fat should be completely clear of residue.

clotted cream

Traditionally served with tea and scones in England.  It is a 55% minimum milk fat product made by heating unpasturized milk to about 82 degrees C, holding them at this temperature for about an hour and then skimming off the yellow wrinkled cream crust that forms (until the cream separates and floats to the surface).  It is also known as Devonshire cream.  It will last up to four days if refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container.


The name clove is derived from the Latin word clavus meaning “nail.”  Cloves are the fried flower buds of the clove tree belonging to the evergreen family.

  • History:

    Trade between the Ternate (clove island) and China goes back at least 2500 years.  In China, cloves were used for cooking and also to cover bad breath and body odor, any one having an audience with the emperor had to chew cloves to prevent any undesired smell.  This spice was jealously fought over by the early growers and traders.  They were grown in the Molucca islands for many centuries and then later in Zanaibar.  After a cyclone had destroyed the Zanaibar crops, a number of barrels of cloves reached New York that had been stored for 100 years.  The cloves were in perfect condition.

Club Sandwich

It is a sandwich with cooked chicken breast and bacon, along with juicy ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce layered between two or three slices of toasted bread with mayonnaise.


The curdling or clumping of protein (usually eggs) due to the application of heat or acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) in sauces and custards.  In normal environments, the proteins in the egg yolk will begin to coagulate at 160 degrees F.  A sauce or custard can be thickened, called coagulation, by adding egg and heating.


To cover food completely with a glaze, aspic, mayonnaise, sauce, or icing.

Cobb Salad

Typically a Cobb Salad consists of chopped chicken or turkey, bacon, hard cooked eggs, tomatoes, avocado, cheddar cheese, and lettuce.  It is served with crumbled blue cheese and vinaigrette dressing.  The original recipe for Cobb salad included avocado, celery, tomato, chives, watercress, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, bacon, and Roquefort cheese.


(1) An iced drink made of wine or liqueur, sugar, and citrus fruit.   Served in a Collins or highball glass garnished with fruit.

(2)- Cobblers are an American deep-dish fruit dessert or pie with a thick crust (usually a biscuit crust) and a fruit filling (such as peaches, apples, berries).  Some versions are enclosed in the crust, while others have a drop-biscuit or crumb topping.  These desserts have been and are still called by various names such as cobbler, tart, pie, torte, pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, crisp, croustade, upside-down cakes, bird’s nest pudding or crow’s nest pudding.  They are all simple variations of cobblers, and they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries.  Whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand.  They are all homemade and simple to make and rely more on taste than fancy pastry preparation.  Early settlers were very good at improvising.  When they first arrived, they bought their favorite recipes with the.  Not finding their favorite ingredients, they used whatever was available. That’s how all these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names.

cochon de lati

Translated from French to English, the word literally means, “pig in milk.” To make this Cajun pig roast, use a suckling (young) pig to get the finest pork flavor.  The Cajuns of southwest Louisiana have always enjoyed their pork, but consider a Cochon De Lait to be a special treat.  Historically, men cooked the pig over an outdoor fire, while the women prepare other dishes inside the house.  Many Cajuns consider the crackling skin the best part of the Cochon De Lait.


Cocoa was used in beverage making in Central America and the West Indies long before the arrival of the early explorers.

cocoa butter

The yellowish-white vegetable fat, removed from chocolate liquid under high pressure.


In Thailand they are called a maprao.  They are thought to be native to Indonesia or Malaysia, but they now grow freely in all the tropical regions of the world.  They are used for coconut juice when young and coconut cream when mature.  Coconuts are green when young and brown with the hard inner nut when ripe.  They are the stones of the fruit and have a hard inner shell, which includes coconut milk surrounded by a bright, white, crunchy flesh.

coconut cream

The rich, solid milk found at the top of a can of coconut milk.  If a recipe calls for coconut cream, simply scoop out the top solid portion.  Each 14-ounce can of coconut milk contains approximately 3 to 4 ounces of coconut cream.

coconut milk

 It is not the liquid inside a coconut, but the liquid produced when freshly grated coconut is soaked in hot or scaled water or milk for a designated length of time and then strained.  This milk has a sweet fragrance and gives body and flavor to dishes.  It is usually available in cans.  Coconut milk is classified as thick, thin, or coconut cream.  Thick coconut milk is the result of the first soaking and squeezing.  If this milk is refrigerated it separates, and the top layer is the coconut cream.  Thin coconut milk is what is produced when the coconut meat is steeped a second time and then strained.  Canned coconut milk naturally separates.  They top layer can be spooned of for recipes calling for cream, the bottom poured into thin, or just shake it up to get the most commonly called for thick coconut milk (if a recipe calls for coconut milk, vigorously shake the can to thoroughly mix).


To cook food slowly in water just below the boiling point.


The coffee (coffea) plant in the Rubiacee family, to which belongs also, for example, the gardenia.  Coffee beans are roasted to varying degree of darkness and can have a wide array of flavors.  Additives to the beans, such as vanilla or hazelnut are popular in America.  Coffee can be drunk black, or sweetened with sugar or honey, and lightened with milk or cream.Learn about Coffee Time – Java Talk.How to make a perfect cup of coffee, How To Use a French Press (coffee press, plunger press and/or press coffee), How To Use a Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker),  Storing Coffee Beans, and Coffee Drink Calories.

  • non-caffeinated coffee

    In 1903, Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee importer, in an attempt to rescue a batch of ruined coffee beans, perfected the process of removing caffeine from the beans without destroying the flavor.  He markets it under the brand name “Sanka.”  Sanka is introduced to the United States in 1923.

  • instant coffee

    In 1906, George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, notices a powdery condensation forming on the spout of his silver coffee carafe.  After experimentation, he creates the first mass-produced instant coffee (his brand is called Red E Coffee).

  • History:

    The first definite dates go back to 800 B.C.; but already Homer, and many Arabian legends, tells the story of a mysterious black and bitter beverage with powers of stimulation.  By the end of the 9th Century an Arab drink known as qahwa, literally meaning, “that which prevents sleep” was being made by boiling the beans.  Its introduction to Europeans came through the Arab pilgrimages.  The government forbade transportation of the plant out of the Moslem nations.  Coffee beans were not allowed to be taken out of the country unless they had first been dried in sunlight or boiled in water to kill the seed-germ.  The actual spread of coffee was started illegally by either being smuggled or inadvertently taken by groups of pilgrims on their annual travels to Mecca.  Venice, the key port of Europe, started the coffee drinking trend in Europe.  The first coffee house was opened in 1640, and by 1763 Venice numbered no less than 218 coffee houses.

coffee cabinet

 When ice cream is added, Coffee Milk is called a “Coffee Cabinet” or “Coffee Cab.”  In other words, a “cabinet” is a local term for a “frappe” which is a regional term for an ice cream milk shake.  It is though to be called a “cabinet” because it unknown originator kept his blender in a kitchen cabinet .  Also mixers were often stored in square wooden cabinets.  Check out Coffee Milk/Coffee Cabinet.

coffee milk

 (kaw-fee milk) – A lot like chocolate milk but with coffee-flavored syrup.  It is milk with sweet coffee syrup added (two tablespoons of coffee syrup to 8 ounces of milk).  The drink is served either by the glass or the half-ping (in a waxed-cardboard carton).  In 1993, after much political debate, it was made “The Official State Drink of Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island is the only place in the world where you can get this drink.  If you travel more than ten miles from the state border, no one will know what you’re talking about.

In Rhode Island, a milk shake is just what it says: milk to which you add flavoring and then shake.  In most of American, if you order a milk shake, you get ice cream blended with milk.  In Rhode Island and most of New England, you would get chocolate powder or syrup stirred into milk without ice cream.

  • History:

    The Coffee Milk was first introduced to Rhode Islanders in the early 1920s.  Two companies, Autocrat and Eclipse) used to vie for the chocolate syrup business.  Their rivalry ended in 1991, when Autocrat bought the Eclipse brand name and secret formula.  Both labels are now produced by Autocrat and are available in stores.


(kwahn-troh) – It is colorless, orange-flavored liquor from France.

Colby cheese

(khol-bee) – It is a hard cheese that is similar to cheddar cheese, although it is softer with a more open texture.  It may be made from either raw or pasteurized milk.  It is made in the same way as cheddar cheese except that the curd is not matted and milled.

Colby jack

 It is a combination of Monterey Jack and colby cheeses.


Colcannon is a famous Irish dish using mashed potatoes and cabbage that is served in a fluffy pile with a well in the center filled with melted butter, so that you can dip each forkful into the butter before eating it.  It gets its name from the old name “cole” for cabbage, which we still use in the term cole slaw or cabbage salad.  In most Irish cookbooks, kale is used instead of cabbage.  Also known as Kale Cannon or Kailkenny.  In Scotland this dish is also known as Rumbledethumps.  Traditionally eaten at Lughnasa or Samhain, the Irish version of Thanksgiving.  Colcannon is a national Irish dish of sorts and it is traditional to put coins in the Colcannon (kids absolutely love this tradition).

In England, this dish is called Bubble and Squeak.  The dish is composed of potatoes mashed up with peas and cabbage and fried.  Usually it’s eaten for breakfast and is made by frying on both sides in bacon fat until crisp and brown.  The dish originally contained beef along with the leftover cooked potatoes and cabbage, though today people don’t generally bother with the meat.  The name is apparently due to the sounds that are emitted during cooking, the vegetables bubble as they are boiled and then squeak in the frying pan.  Check out Irish Colcannon recipe.


Curing meat (hams, sausages, bacon, fish) in the smoke of smoldering wood or corncobs at temperatures from 60 to 100 degrees F.


(kol-slaw) – A cold salad made with shredded cabbage mixed with mayonnaise as well as a variety of ingredients.

  • History:

    The term coleslaw is a late 19th century term, which originated in the United States.  Cole slaw (cold slaw) got it’s name from the Dutch “kool sla”- the word “kool” means cabbage and “sla” is salad – meaning simply, cabbage salad.  In English, that became “cole slaw” and eventually “cold slaw.”  The original Dutch “kool sla” was most likely served hot.

collard, collards or collard greens

(KAHL-uhrd) – Any sort of cabbage in which the green leaves do not form a compact “head.”  They are mostly large “kales.” Reaction to the smell of cooking collards separates true Southern eaters from the wannabes, as no kitchen odor is more distinctive than that of a pot of greens as they come to a boil.  In the South, a large quantity of greens to serve a family is commonly referred to as a “mess o’ greens.”  The traditional southern way to cook collards is to boil them with a piece of salt pork or ham hock slowly for a long time (the longer the better) until they are very soft. T he typical way to serve greens is with freshly baked corn bread to dip into the “Pot-Likker.”  Pot likker is the highly concentrated and vitamin-filled broth that results from the long boil of the greens, It is, in other words, the “liquor” left in the pot.


(KAHM-poht) – (1) Compote refers to a chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has been slowly cooked in sugar syrup, which may also contain alcohol or liqueur and sometimes spices.  Slow cooking is important for the fruit to retain its shape.  (2) Also called compotier.  It refers to a deep, stemmed dish (usually silver or glass) used to hold fruit, nuts, or candy.

compound butter

Also known as finishing butter, flavoring butter, or beurre compose in French.   A compound butter is butter that has been flavored by blending softened butter together with various ingredients.  These can be savory or sweet.

The recipe for all flavored butters is basically the same: soften unsalted butter and blend in the flavor ingredients with an electric mixer, beating at medium speed until completely blended (1 to 2 minutes).  Use only fresh herbs and lemon or lime juice.  Let the butter stand for an hour in a cool place, covered, so the flavors can develop; then refrigerate to harden.  Check out some recipes for Flavored Butters (Compound Butters, Finishing Butter, or Beurre Compose).

concasse, concasser

(kawn-ka-SAY) – A French term for rough chopping of a food/foods with a knife or for breaking by pounding in a mortar.  The term is frequently used to refer to coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped). It is often used in Italian-style pasta dishes.

condensed milk

Condensed Milk is pure cow’s milk properly combined with unadulterated cane sugar.  The waster content of the milk is evaporated.

  • History:

    Gail Borden (1801–1874), American dairyman, surveyor, and inventor, came up with the idea during a transatlantic trip on board a ship in 1852 when the cows in the hold became too seasick to be milked during the long trip, and an immigrant infant died from lack of milk.  He was granted a patent for sweetened condensed in 1856.   Condensed milk was not successfully canned until 1885.  Condensed milk, initially sold from handcarts in New York City, became an immediate success in urban areas where fresh milk was difficult to distribute and store.  Condensed milk was very popular during World War II in England because of how well is kept.


(KON-duh-ment) – A spice, seasoning, or sauce that is used to give relish or to enhance meat or other foods, and to gratify the taste. Condiments usually supply little nourishment but add flavor to foods. Ketchup, butter, mustard, salt, mayonnaise, hot sauce, etc. are considered as condiments. The word is derived from the Latin word “condire,” meaning to preserve or pickle.


In the process of conduction, heat is transferred directly from one molecule to another (for example, the hot coils from your stove element heat the cast-iron frying pan, which then transfers heat to the cheese sandwich being grilled).  Conduction is not a speedy method of cooking, but it does do a good job.  The time cooking takes will depend upon how well your pan conducts heat.  Various materials conduct heat differently, so the material from which cooking utensils are made, makes a difference to how quickly, and how well, food cooks by conduction.  Conduction also takes place as heat moves through the food itself, cooking it from the outside first and then moving through the food to the inside.

confectioners’ sugar

(kuhn-FEHK-shuh-nehrs) – Also called powdered sugar.  It is granulated sugar ground to a powder and sifted.  Always sift it before using. In Britain it is called icing sugar and in France sucre glace. See Sugar.


(kon-FEE) – It is French term used to describe a way of preserving meat (usually pork, goose or duck).  It is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat.  The meat or poultry is salted first and then slowly cooked in its own rendered fat.  The resulting confit is then packed in crocks and sealed with more fat. Confit can be refrigerated up to 6 months.  Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.  You can eat it cold, thinly sliced, in salads, or use it to add to hot dishes such as the French specialty “cassoulet”.


(kon-somay) – It is from the Latin word “consummare” meaning to “finish perfectly” and “raise to the highest point of achievement.”  Consomme is considered one of the finest of soups.It is a clear soup and it is essential to use stock made from raw meat, which has been clarified by the addition of beaten egg white and clean eggshells.

  • consomme Diane

    It is made with game.

  • consomme Amiral

    It is made with fish.

  • consomme Madrilene

    It is a beef consomme with cubes of beef or chicken and vegetables julienne.

  • banquet consomme

    It contains vegetables julienne and smoked salmon.

  • consomme frappe

    Is an iced or chilled clear soup.


It is the spread of heat by a flow of hot air, steam, or liquid.  This flow may be either natural or mechanical.  In a pot of liquid, the liquid closest to the fire is heated first.  As it is heated, it becomes lighter and rises to the top.  The cooler, heavier liquid sinks down, becomes heated in turn, and rises.  Therefore, a naturally circulating current of hot liquid is sent up throughout the pot.

convection oven

Convection ovens are simply traditional gas or electric ovens equipped with a fan, which circulates the hot oven air around the food.  Foods cook more evenly and faster with this type of oven.

converted rice

It is also called parboiled rice. The term “converted” is a trademark of Uncle Ben’s. Long-grain rice is soaked in water or subjected to steam while it is still in the shell in order to gelatinize the grains to make it harder, as well as drive some of the vitamins into the center of the grain.


In America, a cookie is described as a thin, sweet, usually small cake; in Australia and the UK it is called a biscuit.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of cookie recipes in the United States.  No one book could hold the recipes for all of the various types of cookies.

  • bar cookies

    These cookies are baked in sheets and then cut into squares or bars.  They are a softer type of cookie (more like a cake).

  • drop cookies

    Cookies that are dropped from a spoon.  Almost any cookie dough can be baked as a drop cookie (if additional liquid is added to the batter).

  • molded cookies

    Molded cookies can be shaped by hand, stamped with a pattern before baking or baked directly in a mold.

  • pressed cookies

    These cookies are formed by pressing dough through a cookie press (or pastry bag with a decorative tip) to form fancy shapes and designs.

  • refrigerator cookies

    Cookie dough is shaped into logs and is refrigerated until firm.  They are then sliced and baked.

  • rolled cookies

    Rolled or crisp cookies are made from a stiff (or chilled) dough, which is rolled and cut into shapes with sharp cookie cutters, a knife, or a pastry wheel.  They should be thin and crisp.

cooking spray

Aerosol cans sold in grocery stores containing vegetable or olive oil, which can be sprayed in a fine mist.  This spray is used for “oiling” cooking pans so food does not stick.  One of the benefits of using cooking spray is that fewer calories are added than if the pan is coated in oil.


Copha is a solid fat that is derived from the coconut. It is used primarily in recipes where it is melted and combined with other ingredients and left to set.


A hard dry sausage of Italian origin that is prepared by combining meat from the most marbled part of pork necks and shoulders.  It is served thinly sliced for antipasto or on sandwiches or pizza.


(kok-eeya) – It is French for a shell (of a snail, oyster, or other shellfish).

Coquille St. Jacques

(kok-eeya sa zhak) – Coquille is the French word for “shell.”  Translated, the name means “Shell of St. James.” Coquilles St.  Jacques are scallops cooked in white wine with a little salt, peppercorn, parsley, bay leaf, chopped shallots, and water.  A sauce of fish stock, butter, flour, milk, egg yolks, and cream accompanies them.

  • History:

    In the 12th century, the scallop was around the necks, worn on the robes, and on the hats of pilgrims traveling to the Spanish shrine of St. James the Apostle (St. Jacques in French) in Campostello, Spain.  Galicians who would accept passing pilgrims into their homes also hung scallop shells over their doors.  The shrine of St James ranked with Rome and the Holy Land as a destination for pilgrims.  Pilgrimages were undertaken as a penance for grievous sins such as murder or adultery, to seek help with health problems, or simply as an act of worship.  The scallop symbol identified them as harmless pilgrims and allowed them to move unmolested through wars and civil unrest.


A sweet alcoholic beverage made from an infusion of flavoring ingredients and a spirit.  Today cordials are usually served at room temperature in small glasses.

  • History:

    The history of cordials (also called liqueurs) goes all the way back to the 1200s in Europe, when every sort of spice, fruit, flower, and leaves were distilled or infused in alcohol in an attempt to discover cures for diseases, the secret of eternal youth, or a magic portion to turn base metals into gold.  Alchemists and monks in monasteries produced these elixirs behind closed doors and guarded the recipes.  A single drink might call for over 100 different ingredients (many of which are familiar today).  In France, in the 1700s, the character of cordials changed.  Their medicinal properties were forgotten and they began to be consumed for pure pleasure following a meal.  They were named digestif, a drink to aid digestion.  A new cordial was often created to commemorate a victory or other happy occasion.  Lighter, sweeter, and more brightly colored than earlier cordials, they were first cousins to the cordials we enjoy today.

cordon bleu

 (kor-dohn-BLUH) – It is French for “blue ribbon” or “cord.”  (1) The term is now used to mean “an exceptional cook.”  By the eighteenth century, the term Cordon-bleu was applied to anyone who excelled in a particular field.  The term became chiefly associated with fine cooks.  (2) There is a cooking school in Paris, established in 1895, called the Cordon Bleu.  The “Grand Diplome” of the Cordon Bleu Cooking School is the highest credential a chef can have.  It is considered to be one of the greatest references a chef can have.  (3) The term is also applied to outstanding foods prepared to a very high standard, such as a chicken or veal dish stuffed with cheese and ham.

  • History:

    There is more than one story on the history of the term.

    Some claim this association arose after Louis XV bragged to his mistress, Madame du Barry, that only man made great chefs.  The lady believed otherwise and invited the king to a small meal prepared by her cuisinie.  It was a great success and the king exclaimed, “Who is the new man you have cooking for you?  He is as good as any cook in the royal household.”  “It’s a woman cook Your Majesty,” Madame du Barry replied, “and I think you should honor her with nothing less than the Cordon-Blue.”

    A cooking school, called Cordon Bleu, run by Madame de Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV, where each young girl, upon her graduation, wore a blue ribbon a an emblem of her culinary accomplishment and expertise.

    It derives from the sixteenth-century French knight’s order, Ordre du Saint Esprit the most exclusive in France, whose members – royalty included – were called Cordon-bleus after the broad blue ribbons they wore.  Nothing was too good for a Cordon-bleu, and the dinners that accompanied their ceremonious meetings were legendary.


(CORE-ee-an-der) – Coriander is related to the parsley family and native to the Mediterranean and the Orient.  It represents a seeds, a leaf, and a powder used in cooking. Coriander, the leaf, is also known as cilantro and Chinese parsley.  The flavors of the seeds and the leaves bear no resemblance to each other.  The tiny (1/8-inch), yellow-tan seeds are lightly ridged.  They are mildly fragrant and have an aromatic flavor akin to a combination of lemon, sage, and, caraway.  Whole coriander seeds are used in pickling and for special drinks, such as mulled wine.  Ground coriander seed is also called cumin.


( 1) The word “corn” is sometimes used to denote grains in general.  Corn was the term used for whatever grain was the primary crop in a given place.  Therefore, corn in one area might be barley, while in another area it might be wheat.  

(2) In the U.S., it applies to “maize” or “Indian corn” which was used for food by the earliest natives of the Western Hemisphere.  Corn had an important part in early tribal ceremonies and celebrations.

corn oil

It is made from the germ of the corn kernel.  Corn oil is almost tasteless and is excellent for cooking because it can withstand high temperatures without smoking.  It is high in polyunsaturated fat and is used to make margarine, salad dressings, and mayonnaise.

corn salad

It is a salad green (not actually corn), having small, white to pale bluish flowers and edible young leaves.  Mache leaves are tender, velvety green with either a mild or sweet, nutty flavor.  It is also sometimes called mache, field salad, field lettuce, feldsalat, lamb’s tongue, and lamb’s lettuce.  It is considered a gourmet green and usually is expensive and hard to find.  This plant grows wild in Europe and is used as a forage crop for sheep.  It is a pest in wheat and cornfields.  Chefs, who love these early spring greens, desire it.  Mache is very perishable, so use immediately.  Cook it like spinach, or use it in fruit and vegetable dishes.

corn syrup

Also know as syrup glucose. It is produced when starch granules from corn are processed with acids or enzymes.  It varies in color from clear white to amber.  It is not as sweet as cane sugar and is used a lot in candy making.  Baked goods made with corn syrup retain their moisture and stay fresh longer.

  • light corn syrup

    It has been clarified to remove all color and cloudiness.

  • dark corn syrup

    The more strongly flavored dark corn syrup is a mixture of corn syrup and refiners’ syrup.

corned beef

A beef brisket (a fibrous, tough muscle located in the belly between the animal’s front legs) is considered the meat of choice, though a bottom round can also be used.  The meat was preserved in brine using a salt so coarse that it was the size of corn kernels.  The traditional corning mix also used saltpeter and spices.  Thus, the term “to corn” was coined, and it refers to the process of making the brine for preserving the meat for several weeks.

  • History:

    Corned beef is of British origin. Corning was a preservation method much used by their military.  It was also found well suited to the rigors of colonial life, as few communities had butchers.  Although the word “corn” is now used as a verb, it originally was a noun, describing small grains and other, particles.  Corned beef was heavily salted and spiced with ingredients in particulate form.  Corned beef was originally made with a cut known as “silverside” (part of the round).


In Italy, it is known as polenta.  Made from ground corn, fresh ground cornmeal is excellent flour for baking. It is similar to semolina in texture.  Tortillas and cornbread are two of the most common cornmeal based foods.  Cornmeal is versatile enough to be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

  • steel-ground cornmeal

    The husk and germ have been almost completely removed from the corn’s hull.  Because of this, it can be stored almost indefinitely in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

  • stone- or water-ground cornmeal

    This cornmeal retains some of the corn’s hull and germ.  Because of the fat in the germ, it is more perishable,  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four months.


A white, dense, powdery thickener that is finer than flour. It is extracted from the starch (endosperm) of the wheat of corn.  It must be dissolved in a cold liquid before it is added to a hot mixture or it will lump.  It results in a glazy opaque finish.

cottage cheese

Cottage cheese, as we know, is a soft, lumpy cheese, made from drained and pressed milk curds.  It is a soft, uncured cheese made from skim milk or from reconstituted concentrated skim milk or nonfat dry milk solids.  If the cheese contains 4% or more of fat, it is called creamed cottage cheese.  It has also been known, at various times in various places, in various name such as pot cheese, smearcase, bonnyclabber, farmer cheese, sour-milk cheese, and curd cheese.

  • History:

    For centuries the standard type of cheese was cottage cheese, made by souring milk.  The technique of using rennet (a substance taken from the stomach lining of calves) to hard cheese first appeared in Switzerland around the 15th century.  Since such cheese could be stored for lengthy periods, it soon became part of the basic food of travelers.

    The Gaelic term bonnyclabber (bainne clabhair), clabber cheese or clabbered milk dates back to at least 1631, while the name “cottage cheese” only shows up in 1850 or so.  In the early part of the 19th century, the name for such cheese was “pot cheese,” which is pretty much synonymous with cottage cheese today.  By the 1820s, the German communities of American used the term “smear case” from Schmierkase.  Other names are “farmer cheese,” “sour-milk cheese,” and “curd cheese.”

cotton candy

Also known as candy flosh, spun sugar, and sugar cotton wool.  A fluffy confection that is made from long spun sugar threads.  Traditionally made by melting sugar and flossine together in a centrifuge.  These resulting strands become long thread that collect on the sides of the centrifuge.

  • History:

    The inventor of cotton candy is uncertain, as there are two claimants.  (1) The city of New Orleans claims that Josef Delarose Lascauz, a dentist, was the inventor of cotton candy and the cotton candy machine and that it was first introduced at the 1830 World’s Fair.  (2) Thomas Patton received a patent for the cotton candy machine in 1900 and that cotton candy first appeared in 1900 at the Ringling Bros. Circus.

cottonseed oil

A clear yellow oil with almost no taste.  It is produced from the seeds of the cotton plant and it is primarily used for commercial margarine and salad dressings.


(koo-LEE) –  (1) A French culinary term.  It is a type of a sauce, usually a thick one, which derives its body (either entirely or in part), from pureed fruits or vegetables.  A sauce of cooked down tomatoes can be a tomato coulis as can a puree of strained blackberries.  (2) Today coulis also denotes some thick soups made with crayfish, lobster, prawns, and other crustaceans, the word being employed where bisque has formerly been used.

  • History:

    In old English cookbooks, the word cullis is found but this has fallen into disuse and coulis has taken its place.At one time, coulis were sauces and also the juices, which flowed from roasting meat.  Some cooks called liquid purees coulis, but only those prepared with chicken, game, fish, crustaceans, and some vegetables.

Country Captain Chicken

A curried chicken dish.  The chicken is browned and then stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and curry powder.  At the end, golden raisins are added.  The dish is served over rice sprinkled with toasted almonds.  As with all chicken recipes in the South, Country Captain Chicken varies with the cook.  Some recipes call for a long cooking time and other use quick-cooking chicken breasts.  One thing is always certain about this dish; it is perfumed and slightly spiced with curry.


is the French word for zucchini squash.  This name is used throughout Europe.

court bouillon

(koor- bwee-YAWN) – It is a French term that means, “short broth.”  It is used in place of water when boiling various types of food (mostly used for poaching fish or as a base for fish soups).  The broth is made of wine, water, herbs, and spices.  It usually is also flavored with onions, celery, carrots and cloves.


(KOOS-koos) – It is a French term that comes from the Arabic word kuskus, which in turn evolved from another Arabic word, kaskas, meaning “to pound, to make small.”  It is the national dish of Morocco.  There are a number of recipes for couscous, which vary from one part of the world to another.  It basically is a dish consisting of tiny pellets of crushed durum wheat or rice and salted water.  The large-grain couscous has grains about the size of peppercorns, while regular couscous is very similar to Cream of Wheat in size. It has been a staple food in all the Middle East countries and North Africa from the earliest times . It is an Arab dish that was adopted from the Chinese method of steaming rice or other cereal grains over cooking meat.


This is the traditional pot in which couscous is cooked.  It looks like an enormous double boiler with a deep bottom and a perforated top in which the couscous grain is steamed over an aromatic spicy stew.

cover charge

A fee levied by restaurante “to cover” the cost of tablecloths, napkins, cutlery, glasses, etc.  It has also become the custom for nightclubs, which offer entertainment as well as food and drink, to levy a cover charge of these professional services.

crab boil

It is a phrase that describes a mixture of dried herbs and spices that are added to water in which crab, shrimp, or lobster is cooked (it’s strong, pungent and spicy).  They come either in a flow-through packet, in dry powdered form, or as a liquid concentrate.  The blend is sold packaged in supermarkets or specialty stores.  Crab boil includes some or all of the following: whole allspice, bay leaves, hot chiles, cloves, ginger, mustard seeds, and peppercorns.

Crab Louie Salad

This famous west coast salad is also called “King of Salads,” and is sometimes written as Crab Louis Salad.  Today there are as many versions of this famous salad as there are cooks.

cracklin, cracklings

Also called gratons or grattons by the Cajuns.  Cracklings are bits of roasted or deep-fried pork skins.  You can make your own, or you may be able to find them at small Mom and Pop grocery stores.

  • History:

    During slavery, after the slave-owner had rendered his pork fat, the skin was given to the servants. They would then deep-fry this skin and eat then plain or stirred into cornbread batter, and baked delicious cracklin’ bread.


(Vaccinium macrocarpon) As cranberries bounce when they’re ripe, they are also called bounceberries.  Also since their blossom resembles the neck of a sand hill crane, thus another name, “crane-berries.”  Gradually, this word became “cranberry,” the name we use today.  These berries, blueberries and Concord grapes are North America’s only true native fruits.  They are grown in huge, sandy bogs on low, trailing vines across northern North America. Cranberries are usually harvested in September and October.  Although, they can be hand-scooped (dry-harvested), most are mechanically harvested while the bogs are flooded.

  • History:

    The cranberry helped sustain Americans for hundreds of years.  Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods.  They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow wounds and as a dye for rugs and blankets.  Ripe berries were mixed with fat and meat to make pemmican.  Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to use cranberries.  The Pilgrims considered cranberries such a delicacy that in 1677 the Plymouth colonists sent 10 barrels of them to King Charles II. The tart fruit did not impress him.

    Cultivation of the cranberry began around 1810.  Captain Henry Hall (a veteran of the Revolutionary War), of Dennis, Massachusetts, made an accidental discovery that led to their commercial cultivation.  He noticed that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them.  Captain Hall began transplanting his cranberry vines, fencing them in, and spreading sand on them himself.


(craw-fish) – Sometimes it is also spelled crayfish but the word is always pronounced crawfish.  Crawfish resemble tiny lobsters, but are also know in the South as mudbugs because they live in the mud of freshwater bayous.  They are more tender than lobster, more delicate than shrimp, and has a unique flavor all its own.  These delicious crustaceans are now raised commercially and are an important Louisiana industry.  Louisiana is famous for its Cajun cuisine of which crawfish is a traditional element.

  • History:

    The local Indians are credited with harvesting and consuming crawfish even before the Cajuns arrived.  They would bait reeds with venison, stock them in the water, and then pick up the reeds with the crawfish attached to the bait.  By using this method, the Indians would catch bushels of crawfish for their consumption.  By the 1930s, nets were substituted, and by the 1950s, the crawfish trap was used.  Crawfish have become synonymous with the hardy pioneers that settled there after being forced to leave their homes in Nova Scotia, but up until 40 years ago crawfish were used mainly as bait; it took too much effort to remove the meat from the tiny crustacean.

crawfish boil

A traditional event or party where friends and family gather to feast on pounds of steaming, boiled crawfish that are highly seasoned with a secret blend of Cajun spices, and served with boiled skin-on potatoes, whole onions, and corn-on-the-cob.  In the Spring, whole families will go out fishing on the bayous or crawfish farms in an age-old tradition that thrives to this day.  Boiling crawfish is an art and every cook seems to have their own recipe and opinions about what should and should not go into the pot.

  • History:

    Learn more about the Crawfish Boils and also how to have your own Crawfish Boil.


See crawfish.


(1) To work one or more foods until smooth and creamy with a spoon or spatula, rubbing the food against the sides of the mixing bowl until of the consistency of cream.  See creaming.  

(2) A rich filling for cakes, eclairs, cream puffs, flans, or fancy tarts.  It is somewhat similar to custard filling.  

(3) The rich, fatty, aggregation of oil globules found in milk.  Learn more about the different types of Cream.

  • half and half cream

    It is a blending of heavy cream and milk and has about 12% butterfat, 7% milk solids, and 51% water.

  • heavy cream

    Also called whipping cream. It contains about 40% butterfat, 5% milk solids, and over 50% water.

  • light cream

    It contains about 20% butterfat and 7% milk solids; the rest is water.

  • sour cream

    This is cream that has been processed commercially so as to be soured under ideal conditions.  It contains about 20% butterfat, 7% milk solids, and the remainder is water.

  • cream cheese

    It is a soft, white, smooth, cheese that melts quickly and should not be frozen.  It is similar to unripe Neufchatel cheese but has a higher fat content.  It is one of the most popular soft cheeses in the United States.

cream of tartar

Cream of tartar or tartaric acid is a natural component of grapes.  Utilizing leftover particles from wine production creates this fine white powder.  Crystalline acid deposits form on the inside walls of wine barrels and these deposits are purified and tartaric acid is pulverized into a fine powder.  It is also added to baking soda to create baking powder.

cream puff

A very light, delicate, hollow pastry puff made from choux pastry.  It is usually filled with a sweetened whipped cream or custard.  Sometimes they are filled with savory fillings (such as chicken salad). See pate a choux.

cream sauce

See bechamel sauce.


Creaming incorporates air into the butter, margarine, or vegetable shortening to give the cake a light, fine-grained texture.  When creaming butter and sugar together, beat sugar gradually into room temperature butter to be sure it is absorbed.  If you use an electric mixer to cream, use medium speed.  Excessive speed can damage the air bubbles and melt the butter, resulting in a loss of volume and a cake that’s too dense.

crema catalana

The Spanish name for creme brulee.  See creme brulee.


(krehm) – It is the French word for “cream.”  (1) It refers to a puree of vegetables.  (2) Refers to custard like (such as caramel custard) pudding.  (3) It also is the cream-like foam on top of a well-made espresso.  (4) A term used to distinguish those liqueurs, usually French that have an unusual amount of sweetness.

creme anglaise

(krehm ahn-GLEHZ) – Anglaise means “English.”  It is French custard, which can be served either, or cold.  Also called cream inglese.

creme brulee

(krem broo-LAY) – It is simple custard of nothing more than cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla that is topped with a caramelized topping.

  • History:

    The origins of this custard are very much in contention, with the English, Spanish, and French all staking claim . (1) The Spanish have taken credit for this dessert as Crema Catalana since the 18th century.  (2) The English claim it originated in the 1860s at Trinity College, Cambridge.  It is said that it was born when an English chef accidentally burned custard he had sprinkled with sugar.  The chef then passed it off as an original creation calling it burnt cream.  It is also called Trinity Cream and Cambridge Burnt Cream.

    Around the end of the 19th century, the French translation came into vogue.  It is thought that Thomas Jefferson, who loved the dish, may have influenced the dish to be called creme brulee.  The theory is that Jefferson always referred to this dish by its French name and before long, American and English people were doing the same.  Whatever its origins, creme brulee came to the U.S. sometime in the 19th century in New Orleans.  It wasn’t until the 1980s that creme brulee gained popularity after being introduced by Chef Alain Sailhac of New York’s Le Cirque restaurant.

creme chantilly

It is lightly whipped cream, which has been sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla.  It is used with many cakes and meringues.

  • History:

    This cream is named after the city of Chantilly in France was the heavy cream was first produced at a dairy there.

creme de cacao

It is a dark, chocolate flavored liqueur created by soaking parts of the cocoa plant in spirit-laced sugar syrup.

creme de Menthe

It is the most popular of liqueurs and it tastes of fresh mint. It comes in green and white colors.  It is commonly served after dinner.

creme fraiche

(krem FRESH) – It is a matured, thickened cream that has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture.  The thickness can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room temperature margarine.  In France, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally.  In America, where all commercial cream is pasteurized, the fermenting agents necessary can be obtained by adding buttermilk or sour cream.  To make creme fraiche, combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container.  Cover and let stand at room temperature from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick.  Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.  It is an ideal addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling.  It is also delicious spooned over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or puddings.

Creole cuisine

(CREE-ol) –  (1) The word originally described people of mixed French and Spanish blood who migrated from Europe or were born in southeast Louisiana.  (2) It is also a local term used in the New Orleans area meaning the finest regionally raised products (such as Creole garlic, Creole tomatoes, etc).  (3) Today the term has expanded and now embraces a type of cuisine.  Creole cuisine uses more spices than Cajun cuisine and is considered more sophisticated and complex.  Cajun cooking is “city cooking.”  New Orleans, the capital of Creole cuisine, had established a culinary reputation by early 19th century.

  • History:

    The Creoles were the European born aristocrats, wooed by the Spanish to establish New Orleans in the 1690’s.  Second born sons, who could not own land or titles in their native countries, were offered the opportunity to live and prosper in their family traditions here in the New World.  They brought with them not only their wealth and education, but also their chefs and cooks.  With these chefs came the knowledge of the grand cuisines of Europe.  The influences of classical and regional French, Spanish, German and Italian cooking are readily apparent in Creole cuisine.  The terminologies, precepts, sauces, and major dishes carried over, some with more evolution than others, and provided a solid base or foundation for Creole cooking.

    Creole cooking is based upon French stews and soups, and is influenced by Spanish, African, Native American, and other Anglo Southern groups.  The Spanish brought into the cuisine the use of cooked onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.  African chefs brought with them the skill of spices and introduced okra.  Native foodstuffs, such as crawfish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and pecans found their way into both Cajun and Creole cuisine.  From the Choctaw Indians came the use of file, a powdered herb from sassafras leaves, to thicken gumbo.  One factor typically overlooked in the development of Creole-style cooking was that it was food prepared for affluent whites by their black slaves and servants.  So often the emergence of a new dish was the result of creative chefs intermingling their cooking experience and heritage with the tastes of their employers.


(krayp) – Crepe is French for “pancake” is derived from creper meaning “to crisp.”  It is used in referring to the final filled culinary creation and also the “pancake” made from batter.  Though the French word has been adopted in the U.S. the crepe is by no means exclusively French.  Almost every nationality developed its own version.  This culinary delight is almost as old as civilization itself and through the years has been perfected in humble kitchens of the world.  A crepe is made from batter comprising beaten eggs, flour, melted butter, a pinch of salt, and a liquid (such as water, milk, or even beer).  The batter is poured into a frying pan containing hot oil or butter and fried on both sides until fairly crisp.

Crepes Suzettes

(krayps soo-ZEHT) – Probably the most famous crepe dish in the world.  In a restaurant, a crepe suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests.  They are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur (usually Grand Marnier). Brandy is poured over the crepes and then lit.


(1) To seal a double crusted pie by pinching the edges together.

( 2) To gash a freshly caught fish on both sides of the body at intervals of about one and one-half inches.  The fish is then plunged into ice-cold water for about one hour.  This is done to keep the flesh firm and to retain the original flavor.


(1) To make crisp by immersing in cold water or refrigerating.  This is used particularly with greens.  

(2) To crisp foods by heating in the oven.  (3) A crisp is fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, sugar, flour and, sometimes, nuts.  Other crisp toppings include oatmeal, buttered breadcrumbs, cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, and cake crumbs.


This is the Italian croquette. Its main ingredients are bound with a bechamel sauce.


(kruh-SAHNT) – Croissant is the French word for “crescent-shaped.”  Originally the croissant was made from rich bread dough but is now usually made with dough similar to puff pastry.  Layers of dough are separated by butter creating a flaky, moist, richly flavored pastry.  They can also be served stuffed.

  • History:

    It originated in 1686, in Budapest, when the attacking Turks were defeated thanks to the bakers (during their night baking, detected the enemy’s approach and gave the alarm in time).  The bakers were granted the privilege of making a special pastry, which they shaped into crescents like the crescent moon on the Turkish flag.  They called them “gipfel”. When Marie Antoinette became the Queen of Louis XVI, she brought the recipe with her to France.  The French bakers enriched the dough and developed the process of refrigerating the dough after each butter application and of folding and refolding the dough.


(kroh-kum-boosh) – (French) The word can also be written croque-en-bouche.  It derives from the French word croquer meaning to “munch or crunch” or “crisp-in-the-mouth.”  The term applies to foods that are glazed with sugar.  A croquembouche consists of balls of baked choux pastry (called profiteroles and cream puffs) stacked in a pyramid (cone shape).  The pastry is covered with spun caramelized sugar. It is considered the traditional French “wedding cake” and when featured as a wedding centerpiece, it is known as a “piece monte.”  It also plays an important role at French baptisms, christenings, and other French gatherings.

  • History:

    French Chef Antonin Careme (1783-1833) is created with popularizing croquemboche. He was known for the eatable architectural structures he created from the choux pastry puffs.


 (kro-ket) – Croquette is derived from the French word “croquer” meaning to “crunch or munch.”  Ette is a suffix meaning “small.”  It literally means “a small crunchy morsel.”  Croquettes come in various shapes such as balls, pear-shaped, and barrel-shaped.  They are made from a wide variety of ingredients, such as minced meat, fish or poultry, mashed potatoes, rice, tapioca, and semolina.  The main ingredient is bound with egg yolk or a mixture of butter, egg, flour, and milk.  It is fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy.


(kroh-STEE-nee) – Crostini means “little toasts” in Italian.  Technically, the appetizer is named after the toast that makes up its base. T hey are small slices of bread, usually brushed with olive oil or butter, then toasted.  They are then topped with a variety of savory toppings.  They are the Italian version of canape.   A long thin loaf (such as a baguette bread) will work well.  Slice it on a diagonal into half-inch slices.  The topping should be spread about a quarter-inch thick.  In addition to bread, you can also use polenta squares, cut to the same size and fried for a few minutes, or until crisp and golden, in hot oil.


(KROOT) – In French the word means “crust.” (1) It is the French culinary name for round or oval pieces of stale bread fried in butter (or any other fat). They are used as a foundation upon which all manner of fish, meat, and vegetables preparations are served either as hors d’ oeuvres, canap,e or for garnishings.  (2) Also the name of thin slices of stale crusty bread, toasted or not, which are added to some soups at the time of serving.


(KROO-tawn) – The French culinary name for a small piece of bread (usually cube or dice shaped), which has been browned by toasting, baking, or frying.  Croutons are used as a garnish or an accompaniment for everything from soup to salads.

crown roast

A crown roast is made from either lamb or pork.  It is made from the rib chops, using enough ribs (two racks or parts of two), to make a handsome crown.  After it is cooked, the tips of the bone are often covered with paper frills.


(KRUHM-pit) – Crumpets are British griddlecakes.  A cross between a pancake and an American-style English muffin, the crumpet is a soft yeast-raised bread that is poured into special rings about the size of a small pancake (flat discs about three inches across and an inch or so deep), then baked on a stovetop.  They are similar to an English muffin (one side is smooth, the other full of tiny holes) but flatter.  You don’t slice a crumpet and it is best toasted.  Some, especially in the north of England, call crumpets muffins, while others, particularly in the Midlands call them pikelets (a much thinner and bigger version of a crumpet).

  • History:

    British history relates to them as teacakes.  Crumpets have been known for several centuries, though the origin of the name is obscure.  There are records as far back as the 14th century where they are called a crompid cake.  Crompid means “curved up” or “bent into a curve”, which is what usually happens to thin cakes baked on a griddle; the word may be linked to crumb, crimp and other words from a common Germanic origin.  In the 1930s, the word crumpet became British English slang for a woman regarded as an object of sexual desire.


(krust-ashan) – Crustacean derives from the Latin word “crusta” meaning “crust, shell, or hard surface.” “Cean” is the Latin suffix indicating “belonging to.”  The word came to mean a class of animals, mainly sea animals, with hard shells (edible shellfish with shells, such as crabs, crawfish, lobster, langoustine, mussels, scallops, scampi, and shrimp).


Cut into small, straight-sided cubes.  The size is specified if it is critical to the recipe.  Larger cubes are often called chunks.


(koo-CHEE-nah) – It is the Italian word for “cooking” or “kitchen.”


(kwee-ZEEN) – The work cuisine has come to mean the “art of cooking” or “cookery” in France and throughout the world.  It derives from the Latin word coquinameaning, “cooking” and from the word coquere meaning “to cook.”

  • haute cuisine

    (OHT kwee-zeen) – See haute cuisine for history.

  • cuisine naturelle

    This was a movement in the 1970s and 1980s which emphasized natural products in all dishes and avoided the use of cream, butter, oil, fat, lard, and used very little sugar.

  • cuisine bourgeoise

    A French cooking style that varies from region to region, based solely on local ingredients.  Can best be described as high quality home cooking

  • cuisine Francasise

    Literally means the “new French cooking.”  This movement was started in 1974. It avoids rich, flour-thickened sauces in favor of reduced stocks and it placed strong emphasis on the ingredient’s freshness, lightness of texture, clear flavors, simplicity, and aesthetic presentation.


(whett-lah-KOH-chay) – Also called huitlacoche, corn mushroom, maize mushroom, Mexican truffle, and corn smut or smut corn.  It is a costly and much-coveted corn fungus or parasite that occasionally balloons on sweet corn causing kernels swell to 10 times their normal size during the rainy season.  It is very popular Mexican delicacy and considered a gourmet rage in the United States.It is often compared to caviar or truffles (not so much in terms of taste but cost and delicacy).  Its earthy, smoke-like flavor is reminiscent of mushrooms.  It is sold canned and frozen in gourmet markets.  It’s used in a variety of dishes–typically appropriate for dishes that call for cooked mushrooms.

  • History:

    The Aztecs are said to have prized cuitlacoche and the Hopi Indians thought it a delicacy and gathered it when young and tender.  The black spores were referred to as “excrement of the gods.”  Cuitlacoche became acceptable on elite tables in the 1950s when Jaime Saldar, a Mexican restaurant owner, created a preparation, in cres with bhamel sauce at his restaurant.  Saldivar is said to have created a sensation when he combined a Mexican product with French crepes.  By 1990s, the fungus had become known as the “Mexican truffle” and it formed the mainstay of the so-called “nueva cocina mexicana.”


(KYOO-li-NER-ee or KUFL-i-NER-ee) – Comes from the Latin word “culina” which means a kitchen.  Today the word means anything to do with cooking.


(KUHM-in) – Same as ground coriander seed that is produced by the cilantro plant at full maturity.  Also see coriander.

  • History:

    Cumin is native to countries that border the Mediterranean Sea; the ancient Persians, the Egyptians, and the Hebrews used cumin.  During ancient Roman times, when pepper was hard to get, cooks substituted cumin seed for the pepper.


The undesirable effect of overcooking.  When a food (usually a dairy product based sauce or custard) becomes lumpy or separated and forms curds.


This fruit gets its name from Corinth, a once famous city of ancient Greece, where currants were cultivated and exported in considerable quantities.  It is related to the gooseberry and there are black, red, and white currents.  The black ones are generally used for preserves, syrups, and liqueurs (such as cassis), while the red and white berries are usually eaten raw.  Currant can also refer to a small Zante grape that originated in Greece that is used for baking.


A curry is basically a sort of stew containing vegetables, spices, and usually some kind of meat often served over rice.  It is the mainstay of Indian cuisine.  While we usually think of curry as a very spicy dish, there are also many subtle and mild curries.  The origin of word is rather straightforward: it comes from Tamil, a language found primarily in Southeastern India and Sri Lanka.  The Tamil word kari means “sauce or relish for rice.”  Subsequent forms included “carree,” “carrye” and “kerry” before our modern spelling “curry” became current in the 18th century

curry powder

 The spices for curry powder have varied for thousands of years.  The word curry comes from the South Indian word kari, which means “sauce.”  Curry powder is not one single spice (it actually is a blend of many spices).  Curry powder should not be confused with curry leaves, which are obtained from a native tree of India.  Curry powder, as we know it in the United States, simply does not exist in Indian cooking.  Spices should be bought whole and ground and blended as needed.  This way the flavors are truly aromatic and blends are tailor-made to suit individual recipes and personal taste.  There are a lot of variations in curry powder blends.  As a general rule, a curry powder blend will contain six or more of the following items: cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, pepper, dill, mace, cardamon, and cloves.


Custard is a combination of eggs and milk, which may be sweetened or unsweetened, cooked in a double boiler (as soft custard), or baked (which gives it a jelly-like consistency).  Custards require slow cooking and gentle heat in order to prevent separation (curdling).

  • History:

    Custards as we know them today date back to the Middle Ages when it was used as a filling for a Flan or a Tart.  The word custard is derived from “crustade” which is a tart with a crust.  After the 16th century fruit creams became popular and it was about this time that custards were made in individual dishes rather than a filling in a crust.

cut in

To work with a pastry blender or two knives until sold fat and dry ingredients are evenly and finely divided, especially in making dough.


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.

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.


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.


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.


(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.


(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.

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.


(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.

  • History:

    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.

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.


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.


To separate joints of poultry or break into pieces.


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.


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.


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


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.”


(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.


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.


(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.


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.


(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.

eau de vie

(oh-deuh-VEE) – Translated from the French, eau-de-vie means “water of life.”  It is an alcohol distillate that is rich with taste, flavor, and aroma.  The French use the expression “eau-de-vie” as a generic term for all brandies.  It is unlikely, however, that you will hear Cognac and Armagnac ordered in this manner.

Edam cheese

(E-dam) -Edam cheese was first made in the vicinity of Edam in the Province of North Holland, Netherlands.  It is known in the Netherlands by various local names, such as manbollen, katzenkopf, and tete de maure.  Like gouda, it is a semi-firm to hard, sweet-curd cheese made from cow’s milk.  Originally it was made from whole milk, but now the fat content of the milk is usually reduced to about 2.5%.  Edam cheese is also made in the U.S.  It is usually shaped like a flattened ball, but in the U.S., it is made also in a loaf shape.  It is coated in a red wax with a creamy yellow, semi soft to hard interior.  It melts quickly under heat when shredded.

Edible Flowers

To learn about Edible Flowers, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Edible Flowers.

Egg Cream

Despite it name, the Egg Cream contains no eggs or cream.  The basic ingredients are milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup.  Egg Cream will lose its head and turn flat if not drunk immediately or within three minutes.  It is perfectly proper to “gulp” an Egg Cream.  Soda fountains all over New York City have their own version and the Egg Cream has become a New York institution.  For many years, the Egg Cream remained a product sold only through New York soda fountains.It is being bottled now by a couple of small companies.  True New Yorkers insist that it is not a classic Egg Cream without Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup.

egg wash

A mixture of beaten eggs, either whole eggs, yolks, or whites) and a liquid, such as milk or water, that is used to coat baked goods before or during baking to give them a sheen.  It also enhances browning.


A chilled Christmas beverage that consists of a blend of milk or cream, beaten eggs, sugar, nutmeg, and usually liquor of some kind (rum, brandy, or whiskey).  The recipe for eggnog has changed very little in the last 150 years.


A member of the nightshade family, the eggplant is related to the potato, tomato, and pepper and has its origins in India and Southeast Asia.  Arab and Asian traders brought eggplant to the Middle East, North Africa, and finally Europe.  The first eggplants were small, round, egg-shaped and white (that’s how this vegetable got its name).  The prime eggplant season is July through October, but the purple variety is available all year long.  Learn more about the Eggplant.

  • Thai and Indian eggplants

    Can be found in shades of green, purple, striated green and white. They are the size of cherries.

  • Chinese eggplant

    Follows the slender proportions of the Japanese variety.

  • Japanese eggplant

    It is long (6 to 8″), slender and lavender in color.

  • Italian or Mediterranean eggplant

    The teardrop-shaped or pear-shaped purple eggplant is the standard eggplant.

Eggs Benedict

A breakfast or brunch specialty consisting of two toasted English muffin halves, each topped with a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and some Hollandaise sauce.

Eggs Sardou

(sahr-DOO) – This is one of New Orleans’ grand egg dishes, created, as were so many classic dishes, at the famous Antoine’s Restaurant.  It consists of poached eggs, topped with creamed spinach, artichoke hearts, and hollandaise sauce.

  • History:

    Legend has it that Antoine Alciatore (18224-1877) created this dish especially for French playwright Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) on the occasion of a dinner he hosted for the playwright.  During the 19th century, Sardou produced light comedies, satiric tragedies, and historical dramas such as La Tosca.  Sardou is considered one of the greatest figures of the Art Nouveau culture and his plays were popular in America.


The purple/black fruit of the elder tree, elderberries can be eaten raw but are quite sour and tart.  They are better used to make jams, pies, and homemade wine.  The creamy white elderberry flowers can be added to salads or batter-dipped and fried like fritters.

Election Cake

The cake is actually a classic English fruitcake or plum cake.  The original cakes included molasses, spice, raisins, and currants were used in this cake.  Later brandy was added.

  • History:

    For the history of Election Cake, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Cakes.

Electric Ice Cream Maker

Learn how to use Electric Ice Cream Makerto make your homemade ice cream, gelatos, and sorbets.


Emrelletes are peeled seedless grapes, which have been tinted green and flavored with creme de menthe.  They are a commercial produce and are used for garnishing fruit cups, salads, and the like.


To bind together two liquid ingredients that normally do not combine smoothly (such as water and fat). Slowly add one ingredient to the other while mixing rapidly.

en croute

French word that means baked food encased in a bread or pastry crust.

en papillote

(ahn pah-pee-yoa or ohn pa-pee-YOTE) – A French word meaning “in a paper bag.”  En papilotte is a cooking process that cooks foods in their own juices in a bag (sealing foods to cook in their own juices, rather than adding water as in steaming, re-enforces flavors rather than diluting them).  Traditionally the food is enclosed with parchment paper, but today is also cooked enclosed in aluminum-foil bags.  Pastry is also used in the same way, such as pasties.  The bag is slit open table side so that the diner can enjoy the escaping aroma.


(EN-dyv) – Also known as Belgaina endive, French endive, and witloof chicory.  Endive is the blanched shoots of the chicory root.  To produce blanched (white) shoot, the roots are dug up and stored in a cool, darkened location or in forcing beds, when they are covered with sand.  They are harvested when they are 4 to 6 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches wide.  It can be eaten raw as a salad green or braised in butter or cream sauce as a side dish.

  • History:

    The local tale around Brussels, Belgium places a farmer in the period around 1840 that had placed some chicory roots in a cellar for future transformation into a coffee substitute.  Whether he forgot them in his cellar, or hid them there to avoid a purported chicory root tax, is not well documented.  Nonetheless upon discovering them in the spring he found that the roots have sprouted in their dark, damp environs producing a tender, albeit bitter, shoot.  Remember we’re talking March or April of 1840 – well before the advent of year-round fresh produce availability.  The inherent bitterness was surely outweighed by the fact that very few fresh foodstuffs were available at all.  Afterwards the inventive farmers pursued the development of their discovery and an industry was created around Brussels, Belgium eventually gaining a widespread presence in Holland and Northern France as well.  Today we know that endive is grown to some extent on virtually every continent.

English Muffin

A round (about 3 inches in diameter) muffin that is made from soft yeast dough and baked on a griddle.

  • History:

    The origin of the English Muffin can be dated back to the 10th century in Wales.  A yeast-leavened cake called Bara Maen was baked on hot stones in 10th century Wales.  A similar cake or muffin baked on hot griddles was popular in 19th century England, where the hot, fresh muffins were peddled door to door by the “muffin man.”  The prominence of the muffin men in English society even became a popular children’s nursery rhyme and song, “Have you seen the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?  Have you seen the muffin man, that lives in Drury Lane?”


[ahn-sah-LAH-dah] – The Spanish word for salad.


(ahn-treh-KOHT) – It is a beefsteak, which is cut from between the animal’s ribs.  It is often placed between sheets of oil paper and pounded until it is thinned.  It is then grilled or sautd in butter for about one minute.  A common name for entrecote is minute steak.


(ON-tray) – In America, it is the main course of a meal. In parts of Europe, it is a dish served between two chief courses during formal dinners In French the word means “entry.”


(AHN-truh-may) – A French word that means “between dishes.”  Today, when one finds the term on a French menu, it refers to “desserts.”

  • History:

    The word originally once referred to foods or small side dishes that were served between courses of a grand dinner.  Entrements were customarily served to royalty during the early 18th century when sometimes as many as thirty-two different courses were served.


(EHP-ih-kyoor) – A person who enjoys and has a discriminating taste and appreciation for all fine food and drink.

  • History:

    Term was named after the famous Greek philosopher Epicurus (342-270 B.C.).


(ehs-kah-BESH-ay) –  A classic Spanish Mediterranean cooking method that has some similarity to ceviche. In this cooking technique, the fish fillets (fatty fishes work best with this technique such as wahoo, mackerel, red snapper, tilapia, black cod, herring or sardines) are first sauteed in olive oil until golden brown then cooled down. After the fish is cooled, it sits in an acidic marinade overnight made of vinegar or citrus juices of either lime or lemon with fresh herbs and seasonings to flavor the dish.  The fish is then served cold and best enjoyed during the summer months.  The taste is said to be similar to pickled herring.


(ehs-kahr-GOH) – The French word for “snail.”  They can be terrestrial, freshwater, or marine. Escargot is the common name for the land gastropod mollusk.  The edible snails of France have a single shell that is tan and white, and 1 to 2 inches diameter.


(EHS-kuh-rohl) – See endive.

Espagnole or brown sauce (demi-glace)

Traditionally made from beef stock, aromatics, herbs and, sometimes, tomato paste.  Brown sauce is the basis from which many other sauces are made.  Brown sauce consists of a liquid thickened with a cooked mixture of butter and flour called a roux.  The difference is that for a brown sauce, the roux is cooked much longer; it must be stirred over low heat until it acquires a nut-brown cast that intensifies the color and flavor of the sauce.  This lengthier cooking diminishes the thickening power of the starch, a factor that should be taken into consideration before you start cooking.  To make a brown sauce of medium thickness, allow two tablespoons of both butter and flour for each cup of liquid.


Espresso is a process of extracting flavor from coffee beans.  Served in very small cups, this is a dark, strong coffee made by forcing steam through finely ground, Italian-roast coffee.  The literal meaning of the word espresso is, made on the spur of the moment or fast.

  • History:

    In 1901, Italian Luigi Bezzera invented and espresso and the first espresso machine that contained a boiler and four divisions.  Each could take varying sized filters that contained the coffee.  He patented his espresso machine on September 1, 1902, which he called the “Espresso Coffee Machine.”  According to historians, he was not happy because his employees were taking too long for their coffee breaks!  If only he could shorten the brewing process used to make traditional coffee, his employees would take shorter breaks.  Bezzera had an idea to introduce pressure to the coffee brewing process, reducing the time needed to brew.  His marketing efforts were unsuccessful, and he became penniless.

    In 1905, Desidero Pavoni purchased Bezzera’s patent and began manufacturing machines based on the Bezzera style machine.  In 1906 the original Espresso Coffee was presented to the world at an exhibition in Milano, Italy.  They mass produced these machines and in 1927 the first espresso machine was installed in the United States at Regio’s in New York.  Regio’s still displays the machine.

    Learn how to use different types of Espresso Machines.


(ay-too-fay) – The term literally means, “smothered.”  It is a cooking method of cooking something smothered in a blanket of chopped vegetables over a low flame in a tightly covered pan.  Crawfish and shrimp etoufees are delicious New Orleans specialties.

evaporated milk

Evaporated milk is pure cow’s milk which has been concentrated to double richness.  Nothing has been added to the original milk and nothing taken away except some of the water (60% of which has been removed by evaporation).

  • History:

    In 1899, grocer E.A. Stuart and a fellow business partner founded the Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company in Kent, Washington.  It was based solely on the little-understood, relatively new process of evaporation.  Evaporated milk even went to war over the years, as American soldiers carried cans of condensed milk into battle during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.  The inhospitable conditions in which these brave men and women often found themselves made a versatile food product like evaporated milk standard issue.


(fah-HEE-ta) – The Spanish word for skirt steak.  Most people associate the word fajita with strips of meat that go into the taco.  Fajita is a highly flavorful cut of meat that comes from the outer covering of the breast near where the brisket comes from.

Learn about the history of Fajitas.  Also includes a recipe.


A Middle Eastern snack that is also known as ta’amica. It is considered the national dish of Egypt, but is popular throughout the Middle East.  They are sold on every corner; from restaurants to side walk stands.  A traditional falafel sandwich consists of six ground, deep-fried chickpea balls stuffed into pita bread along with finely cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, and tahini sauce.

farmer’s cheese

Farmer’s cheese is a fresh cheese that is a form of pressed cottage cheese.  Most of the liquid is pressed out leaving a very dry, crumbly cheese that is often flavored with fruit or nuts.  It is an all-purpose cheese good for eating or using in cooking.  It is sliceable and also can be crumbled.  It can also be replaced, if necessary, with drained cottage cheese.

fast food

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first documented use of “fast food” in reference to a restaurant came in 1951 in an article in a trade journal called “Fountain and Fast Food Service.”  Fast food seems to have been originally applied to restaurants and catering businesses that served  “steam table” delicacies, as well as to convenience foods a busy housewife could quickly whip up.  The history of fast food started as neighborhood restaurants opened by idealistic young people in the 1950s – Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, Dominoes Pizza, etc.

fava beans

Also referred to as broad or horse beans.  Fava beans are tan, flat beans, which resemble lima beans.  However the favas have a very strong flavor (quite bitter at times).  Their skins are very tough and must be removed by blanching before you cook them.  Fava beans are popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes.  They are usually sold dried and can, sometimes, be purchased in cans in stores, which specialize in a Middle Eastern clientele.  They are sold fresh in specialty produce stores, but it takes a lot of work to get to the fresh beans.


(fay-JO-a) – A native to subtropical South America and commercially grown in New Zealand and Northern California.  Feijoas are available during spring and early summer.  They are also called pineapple guavas, describing the taste of the creamy, white, juicy, granular flesh.  The taste is a combination of pineapple and guava or strawberry with a hint of spearmint.  Ripe fruit should have a full rich aroma and should “give” or feel tender to the touch, like a ripe plum or pear.  Feijoas can be ripened at room temperature by enclosing in a paper bag with an apple.  Once they are ripened, the fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

feta cheese

(FET-tah) – A classic Greek cheese usually made from goat’s or sheep’s milk. It is now also made from cow’s milk.  Salted and cured in a brine solution (which can be either water or whey) for a week to several months (this is why it is sometimes called a pickled cheese and has a sharp, salty taste.  Feta dries out rapidly when removed from the brine.  Feta cheese is white, usually formed into square cakes, and can range from soft to semi-hard, with a tangy, salty flavor that can range from mild to sharp.  It has been and still remains a significant part of Greek diet and its name is often connected with the Greek history and tradition.

  • History:

    Feta cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world.  Without refrigeration cheese made as many as 6000 years ago, spoiled easily.  One of the only ways to preserve cheese was to preserve cheese with salt.  Greek mythology has it that the Cyclops Polyphemus raised plump sheep, using their rich milk to make a delicious cheese which Ulysses discovered during his interminable travels.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine tossed with butter, heavy cream, and grated cheese.

  • History:

    In 1908, Alfredo di Lelio, a small restaurateur and chef, living above his small Rome restaurant with his pregnant wife, created Fettuccine Alfredo to tempt the palate of his pregnant wife who had lost her appetite and was becoming weaker.  Alfredo decided that he would invent a dish that his wife could not resist.  His wife loved it and legend says she cleaned her plate and a short time later, Alfredo II was born to the music of customers downstairs in the restaurant, all crying for his new irresistible dish.

    His restaurant, II Vero Alfredo, and the dish bearing his name became world famous in 1927 when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, American movie stars on their honeymoon, ate at his restaurant and were impressed with the dish.  They presented him with a gold fork and spoon in honor of his creation.  From then on, he was famous for preparing it in the dining room of his restaurant before his guests, mixing it with a gold-plated spoon and fork.


    Now served by his nephew, Ines Di Lelio, at the Restaurant “IL Vero Alfredo”

    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.

    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).

    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.

    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).

    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo

    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.

    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.

    Best regards Ines Di Lelio



    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).

    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.

    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.

    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma, ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.

    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).

    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).

    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.

    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.
    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio


Figs were probably one of the first fruits to be dried and stored by man.  Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into it.  The seeds are drupes (or the real fruit).  Figs are the only fruit to fully ripen and semi-dry on the tree.  They are generally available twice each year, in June and again in late August or September.  Both crops are harvested from the same tree.

  • History:

    The ancient city of Attica was famous for its figs and they soon became a necessity for its citizens, rich or poor.  Solon, the ruler of Attica (639-559 BC), actually made it illegal to export figs out of Greece, reserving them solely for his citizens.  The Persian King Xerxes, after his defeat by the Greeks at Salamis in 480 BC, had figs from Attica served him at every meal to remind him that he did not possess the land where this fruit grew.  The Spanish missionary fathers who first planted them at the San Diego Mission in 1759 brought figs to California.  Fig trees were then planted at each succeeding mission, going North through California.

    There was a fig tree in the Garden of Eden, and in fact, the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible.  Whether a fig was the forbidden fruit is debatable, but it is definite that a fig tree provided the first clothing;  “…the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”


See hazelnuts.


(fee-lay) – Also called gumbo file powder.  File powder, which is made from the ground dried leaves of the sassafras tree.  File is a thickening agent that must be stirred in a dish after it is removed the heat to prevent a stringy or ropey texture from developing.  It is used as a seasoning and primarily thickening agent in gumbo, and has a wonderfully pungent and aromatic flavor.  File should never be added to a pot of gumbo while it’s cooking, but rather added to individual servings (if cooked or reheated, it will turn stringy).

  • History:

    It was introduced into Creole cooking by the Choctaw Indians of Louisiana.  The Indians thought the sassafras tree had special healing powers.  They combined the roots and leaves with water to make a healing tonic.

Filet Mignon

The term “filet mignon” is a French derivative, the literal meaning is small (mignon) bone-less meat (filet).  Cut from the small end of the beef tenderloin.

Depending upon what part of the United States you are in, the tenderloin muscle of the cow or short loin, becomes Filet Mignon, Chateaubriand, Tournedos, Medallions, or Filet de Boeuf.  Filet Mignon is also know as Tenderloin Steak (in fact most often I see it as Tenderloin Steak).

Filet Mignon or Tenderloin Steak is a cut of meat that is considered the king of steaks because of its tender, melt in the mouth texture.  It comes from the small end of the tenderloin (called the short loin), which is found on the back rib cage of the animal.  Because this area of the animal is not weight-bearing, the connective tissue is not toughened by exercise resulting in extremely tender meat.  Filet mignon slices found in the market are generally one to two inches thick and two to three inches in diameter, but true mignons are no more than one inch in diameter and are taken from the tail end.

Fish Taco

flageolet beans

Considered the caviar of beans, flageolets are tiny, tender French bush type beans that are very popular in French cooking.  They range from creamy white to light green.  Flageolets are removed from the pod when tender and just maturing.  This bean of French origin is grown in the fertile soil of California.  Its versatile flavor compliments lamb, as well as fish and chicken.  If you can’t find them, substitute navy beans instead.


(flaen or flahn) – (1) Flan is a generic term that refers to any type of baked open pastry dish (savory or sweet) cooked within a pastry shell that meets certain criteria.  The term comes from the French word “flaon” as well as the Latin “fladon” which means “flat cake or open metal tin” that dates back to the 6th century, when Latin poet Fortunas (530 – 609 A.D.) mentioned it in his writing.

(2) Flan is an open tart filled with fruit, a cream, or a savory mixture.  The term is also used to describe a sweet custard dish.  A dessert that closest resembles caramel custard.  It is made in a “pie shape” of which slices are cut and served.  In Spain, the flan is considered the national dessert.

florentine, a la

A French term indicating that spinach is present in the dish.

  • History:

    Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), queen of France (1547-1559), was born in Florence, Italy.  When Catherine de’Medici married Henri II and became queen of France, she insisted her cooks serve spinach at every meal.  Her Florentine chefs influenced French chefs, most notably in the use of spinach.  She dubbed “florentine” on any dish containing spinach. T o this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine.”


There are many varieties of flounder around the world.  In the U.S. this category includes the Atlantic fluke, gray sole, Pacific petrale sole, rex sole, and sand dab.  All of these are flatfish with both eyes on one side.  They can be purchased either whole or as fillets.  They are all mild tasting and should be cooked with attention to their delicate structure.


The finely ground and sifted meal of any of various edible grains.  Giant steel or stone rollers are used to break and grind the grain.  By using different classes of wheat in the milling process, a variety of flours are produced and can be used to add texture and interest to various breads.

  • History:

    The history of flour spans recorded time.  Man has been making bread from ground wheat for thousands of years, first in the form of a wheat and water gruel that was dried out to make a flat cake (tortillas are an example of this ancient flat bread that has survived to the modern era).  The ancient Greeks developed techniques to refine their wheat enough to distinguish between white and brown (whole wheat) flours.  For many hundreds of years, people who could afford to eat bread from white flour were considered superior to those who ate coarser, brown bread.  Learn about the different types of Flour.


(foh-KAH-chee-ah) – An Italian dimpled flat bread similar to pizza dough.  It is traditionally oiled and baked in a wood oven.  Focaccia toppings are generally quite simple.  Perhaps the most common one is sliced fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced prosciutto, and shredded arugala.  Other common toppings include straight prosciutto, just tomatoes, or tomatoes and thinly sliced mozzarella.  Olive oil is served at the table so the diner can drizzle some to taste.

  • History:

    Focassic takes its name from the Latin word “focus,” which means “hearth,” and was originally cooked on a hot stone or under a mound of ashes directly on the hearth itself.  In Tuscany, they are called “schiacciatta” which means, “flattened.”  It is believed that they were first used as a kind of edible plates and that the original pizzas were made from.

foie gras

(FWAH-grah) – The literal translation from the French for foie gras is “fat liver.” It usually refers to goose liver, which is considered to be the best, but it can be liver from a duck or a goose.  Foie gras is a dish made from the livers of fattened geese and ducks that have been force fed on a special diet in a confined living space, until they are grossly fat and their liver have become enlarged and fatty.  The liver is soaked overnight in liquid (water, milk, or port wine).  Then the liquid is drained and marinated in Armagnac, Port or Madeira mixed with seasonings.  The next step is to cook, usually by baking the livers.  The exact preparation can vary by vender or cook.  Traditionally it has been served chilled with thin, buttered toast slices and accompanied by sauternes, but now chefs are using foie gras in all kinds of interesting ways in their recipes.

NOTE: Several nations have banned the production of foie gras and many restaurants have removed foie gras from their menus in recent years.

  • History:

    Foie gras is an ancient delicacy known since the Egyptian time.  The Romans knew about fattening methods 2,000 years ago, as they were very fond of goose-liver paste.  The Latin term for foie gras was iecur ficatum meaning “fig-fattened.” and from the second half of it derives the French word for liver, foie.  Until the end of the 18th century, however, foie gras could mean any kind of fattened liver (from pigs, hens or capons), not just goose liver.

    King Louis XVI (1754–1793) of France favored foie gras, and during his reign, Chef Jean Joseph Close (1757-1828), while working in Strasbourg, incorporated goose liver with veal and bacon and cooked it in a crust (en croute), which he called Pate a la Contades.  Foie gras became known as Foie Gras de Strasbourg with the city of Strasbourg being known as the “Capital of Foie Gras” for more than a century.  Learn more about Faux Gras.


A classic French culinary term meaning the browned caramelized and concentrated bits or residue that remains in the pan after cooking meat.  The fond is what you are after when you “deglaze” a pan for flavoring sauces and making gravies.


(fahn-DOO) – The word fondue comes from the French word “fondre,” which means, “to melt.”  It is a pot full of melted cheese in which crusts of bread are dipped.

  • History:

    It is said that the original fondue was developed in Switzerland during the 16th century when the German Swiss, who were Protestants, were battling with the Catholics from central Switzerland.  After a full day’s battle, the two factions declared a truce to meet for a communal dinner of a certain milk soup (made with cheese) into which pieces of bread were dipped.  As the story goes, a bucket was placed on the borderline between the two regions of Switzerland.  One group supplied the milk and cheese and the other supplied the bread.  Thus the tradition of dipping bread into a communal dish was established.

    The actual truth probably was that the Swiss people baked bread and made cheese during the summer and fall months, and stockpiled their supply to last through the winter.  Before the next summer arrived, the cheese and bread had become hard and difficult to chew.  Because of this, someone decided to try melting the cheese and dunking the stale bread into the melted cheese mixture. Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) wrote about a fondue party he gave in Boston in 1795 and reported that it became quite the rage in the U.S.

Fontina cheese

(fahn-TEE-nah) – One of the most delicious Italian cheeses.  Made of cow’s milk and the fat content is from 45% to 50%.  Flavor is delicate, somewhat fruity.  Frequently melted and excellent with pasta dishes, especially stuffing.  When fully cured, it is hard, and used for grating.

  • History:

    The process involved in the production of Fontina cheese dates back hundreds and hundreds of years, and it was first officially documented in 1480, when its characteristic form was recorded in a fresco in the castle at Issogne along with other typical products of the valley.

Fortune Cookie

A tasty Chinese-American wafer cookie with a piece of paper inside with a “fortune” written on it.  Fortune means “a prediction of destiny or fate.”  These cookies are usually used in Chinese-American restaurants after the meal is completed, and the cookie must be broken open to get the fortune.  Fortune Cookies are not known in the Chinese food culture, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that the fortune cookies actually arrived in China.  They were advertised as “Genuine American Fortune Cookies.”

  • History:

    For the history of Fortune Cookies, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Cookies.


Also know as frangipani.  A creamy pastry filling flavored with almonds that is usually baked in a sweet pastry crust with fruit or puff pastry pithiviers.

  • History:

    The history of frangipane is traced to a 16th-century Italian nobleman named Marquis Muzio Frangipani, who introduced almond perfume-scented gloves that were all the rage.  Pastry chefs tried to capture this popular scent in desserts; hence the birth of frangipane.  Later, when the perfume was added to an almond cream dessert, the resulting delicacy was also dubbed frangipane.  Today it is most often used to refer to an almond-flavored pastry cream.

French Dip Sandwich

It is a beef sandwich on a long white French roll that is dipped into pan juices.  American menus often describe the pan juice as “au jus.” Au jus is a French expression, which means “with broth” or “with juice.”

  • History:

    For the history of the French Dip Sandwich, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Sandwiches.

French fry/fries

In English, “to french,” means to cut into lengthwise pieces.  French Fries are short for “frenched and fried potatoes.”  The English call them ‘chips’, a word which has a similar meaning (a chipped piece of wood).  They are known as pommes de terre in French and fritures or frietkoets in Belgium. Belgians enjoyed their fries served in a paper cone with fries and a beer.  The list of different names is as varied as the countries that enjoy them.

  • History:

    The origin of the French fry has been the target of much animosity between the French and the Belgians.  Some people think the French fry (pommes frites) originated in Belgian and then spread to France.  Belgian historians claim to have proof that fries were invented in the region of the Meuse in 1680.  The French claim they originated in Paris on the Pont Neuf in the mid 19th century.  The French fry is part of most international cuisines, but different countries have different names for them.

    President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), third President of the United States, is credited with introducing America to French fries in the late 1700s.  He described them as “Potatoes, fried in the French Manner.”  He brought over the method of cooking potatoes from France and served them to his guests.  It is thought that America’s present day craving for French fries may be traced back to the soldiers stationed in Northern France and Belgium during World War I.  The soldiers dubbed the hot and crispy fried snack “French Fries,” after the French-speaking people who sold them.  Today, one out of every three potatoes grown in the United is sliced into French fries.  One-quarter of all meals served in American restaurants come with French fries, as they are the most profitable food item in the restaurant industry.

French toast

See “Pain Perdu.”

fromage blanc

(froh-MAHZH BLAHN) – Also called fromage frais.  In French it literally translates as “white cheese” and that’s what it is.  It is a simple cheese made with milk and a culture.  The technique is identical to making yogurt.  The texture of fromage blanc depends on how long, or if, you drain the cheese after the culture incubates in the milk.  Some people know it as a runny cheese that has a texture similar to that of yogurt.  In France is sold next to yogurt in French grocery stores, and like yogurt, it is often flavored with fruit.

fromage bleu

Also called bleu cheese.  It is the French name for a group of type-type (blue-veined) cheeses made in the Roquefort area in southeastern France.  Roquefort-type cheese made in the U.S. is call “blue cheese.”

fromage frais

This term means fresh cheese.  It is not a certain kind of cheese, but a name given to a number of very young fresh cheeses.  There are quite a number of French fromage frais.  Few of these cheeses reach the United States, as they are too fragile and perishable.  The two that are imported by the U.S. are Gervais, which is a double cream shipped in two ounce packages and Petit Suisse, also a double cream which must be frozen before it is shipped because of its very fragile nature.  Otherwise you have to go to France to sample these somewhat sourer than our American sour cream cheeses.  Many of them are served with more cream and sugar as a dessert.  Fresh Neufchatel is the French version of our cream cheese.  The difference here is the addition of gum arabic, a preservative, in the American version.  In general, fresh cheeses from France are made to be eaten rather quickly and are just made with soured cream.


They are holiday and wedding cakes, which have a very heavy fruit content.  They require special handling and baking to obtain successful results.


A 14th century porridge (grain pudding) made with grains of wheat, boiled up into a broth added to which were crushed almonds, milk and egg yolks.  It was sometimes eaten with honey on Christmas morning but usually as sauce served with mutton or venison.  This would often be more like soup and was eaten as a fasting dish in preparation for the Christmas festivities.

  • History:

    By 1595, frumenty was evolving into plum porridge or plum pudding, having been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and given more flavor thanks to the addition of ale and spirits.  The traditional English Christmas Pudding is derived from frumenty and plum pudding.


An American invention, it was created in the mid 1800s in the Eastern women’s colleges of Vassar, and Wellesly. The first printed record of fudge came in 1896 with Opera Fudge (Bordeaux).  Fudge became popular at Eastern women’s colleges.  The name may have come from when students “fudged” by making the confection when they were supposed to be in bed.

fume blanc

(foo-may-blahN) – It is the word used in the United States for Sauvignon Blanc. Robert Mondavi as a marketing ploy invented it.

Funeral Pie

Also called Raisin Pie and Rosina Pie (German for raisin).

  • History:

    For the history of Funeral Pie, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Pies.

Fusion Cooking

Fusion cooking is a style that incorporates ingredients and/or methods from at least two different ethnic/regional cooking styles.  Originally combining western and Oriental culinary art but now includes all ethnic cuisines.  Fusion cooking could be considered modern American cooking.  Taste is as important as look.  For a long time America was the melting pot of cultures.  In the past 10 years, it’s become the melting pot of cuisines as well.  It’s about breaking down cultural barriers, trying new things.  Fusion is found in a lot of different places.  From the finest restaurants, to the local fast food “Wraps.”

galia melon

They resemble a small cantaloupe and have a light golden-yellow skin when ripe.  Their flesh is lime green and tastes similar to a sweet honeydew melon.


(gahn-AHSH) – Ganache is a rich chocolate mixture made by combining chopped semisweet chocolate and boiling cream and then stirring until smooth.  The proportions of chocolate to cream can vary, and the resulting ganache can be used as a cake glaze or beaten until fluffy and used as a filling or as the base for truffles and other chocolate confections.

garam masala

(gah-RAHM Mah-SAH-lah) – Traditionally used in northern Indian cuisine, garam masala means literally “warm spice blend” because its spices are supposed to heat the body.  There are many variations of garam masala and it can contain up to twelve spices. Some of the spices can be cardamon, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

garbanzo bean

 Also known as ceci or chickpeas.  They are very popular in Mediterranean cuisine.  Canned chickpeas can be found in the bean aisle of most grocery stores.


The pungent, segmented bulb of the perennial plant Allium sativum, a member of the Lily family, closely related to the onion.  Among the oldest known cultivated plants and most universally popular cooking herbs, garlic appears extensively, both raw and cooked in the cuisines of southern Europe and is considered essential to many dishes in Italy.  The peeled cloves can be preserved for short periods in jars of oil.


A decorative edible accompaniment that is added to a finished dish entirely for eye appeal, such as a sprig of mint or parsley.  A garnish may be eaten but that is not its purpose.


(gahr-nih-TEUR) – French word for garnish.  A garniture becomes part of the dish and is eaten with it.


A cold uncooked summer tomato soup (a liquid salad).  Usually contains tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumbers, and bread moistened with water.  Gazpacho should be drunk slightly chilled, but not iced.  As its purpose is to quench thirst as well as nutritious, there should no need to supplement it with a drink.

The southern Spanish region of Andalusia is known for this dish.  A Spanish refrain says, “De gazpacho no hay empacho” which means there’s never too much gazpacho.  It hits the spot any time of the day or night. In Andalusia, you will probably eat these cold soups as a first course, just as they have been served for about thirty years in the restaurants and private homes of the large cities in Andalusia.  It is still customary in village homes to have gazpacho after the first course and before dessert.

  • History:

    Originally a soup from Andalusia in southern Spain.  It probably derives from Roman dish gruel of bread and oil.  The name gazpacho may come either from the Latin or Mozarab (Hispano-Romans or “would-be Arab”) word “caspa,” meaning “fragments, residue, or little pieces,” referring to the bread crumbs which are such an essential ingredient.  None of the forerunners of gazpacho contained tomatoes, considered basic today.  That’s because tomatoes were unknown in Spain, until after the discovery of the New World.  The base for gazpacho was originally bread, garlic, oil, vinegar, and salt.  The Roman legions carrying bread, garlic, salt, olive oil and vinegar along the roads of the Empire, with each soldier making his own mixture to taste.  An ancient ritual whereby they approach after each other and then “step back” at the moment of eating.  The Moorish influence is evident too, especially in some of the variations on the basic theme, such as ajo blanco, made with ground almonds.  Gazpacho was originally poor people’s food and was eaten in the fields.

    According to historians, the popularity of gazpacho out of Andalusia into the rest of Spain is said to be the result of Eugenia de Montijo, originally from Granada and the wife of the French Emperor Napoleon III in the 1850s.  Gazpacho was unknown, or little known, in the north of Spain before about 1930.


The word gelatin comes to us from the French word geatine meaning “edible jelly” and gelato meaning” to freeze.”  In Italian, it’s gelatina.  An odorless, colorless, tasteless thickening agent is the nutritious glutinous protein material obtained from animal tissues by boiling.  Most comes from beef bones, cartilage, tendons, and pigskin.  Learn how to work with Gelatin.


 (jau-LAH-toe) – An Italian word meaning “frozen” and is the same as ice cream in the U.S.  It is usually made of whole milk and eggs.  This gives it richness without flavors becoming masked by the fat from cream.

  • granite

    These are slushy grainy water ices, usually come in lemon or coffee flavors, are normally found in bars, and are more common in southern Italy.

  • sorbetto

    Also know as fruit sorbet. It has become popular in many Italian restaurants and is often served halfway through the meal to separate the fish and meat courses and act as a palate cleanser, but instead it anesthetizes the mouth in time for the arrival of the red wine.

  • semifreddo

    Literally means “half cold. ” It is made from the same base as gelato but has whipped cream folded in.  It vaguely resembles a mousse, which is what the chocolate flavor is called.

  • History:

    According to historians, gelato has very ancient origins.  It is believed that the Arabs brought what came to be known as sorbetto to Sicily; but gelato is said to have been first created by Bernardo Buontalenti for the court of Francesco de’ Medici in 1565.  The Greeks and the Turks were also known for preparing lemon-based mixtures that resembled sorbetto (sherbets).  Sherbets were thought to have a beneficial effect on the nervous and digestive systems, and were usually served between main courses, more precisely after the first few meat and fish dishes, at the sumptuous banquets of the 18th and 19th century.  It was only later that richer ingredients such as egg yolks, sugar, milk, and cream began to be used; to make what is now known as gelati alla crema (ice cream).  Gelato is classified according to the ingredients used in making them.

General Tso’s Chicken

Fried boneless dark-meat chicken, served with vegetables and whole dried red peppers in a sweet-spicy sauce.  It is not authentically Chinese, but it’s nevertheless one of the most popular dishes at Chinese restaurants.  Alternate spellings include General Cho, General Zo,  General Zhou, General Jo, and General Tzo.  It is pronounced “Djo,” with the tongue hard against teeth.

  • History:

    This dish is thought to have been the invention of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States in the 1970s and was named after General Zou Zong-Tang (1812-1885), a general of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty of China.  He was responsible for suppressing Muslim uprisings.  His name was used to frighten Muslim children for centuries after his death.


(zhayn-WAHZ) – An almond powder based sponge. It is usually about a 1/4-inch and wrapped around a cake.

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

  • History:

    For the history of German Chocolate Cake, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Cakes.

Gewurtztraminer wine

(ger-VERTZ-trah-meener) – A variation of the Traminer grape (meaning ‘of the village of Tramin’*) which itself is a variation/mutation of the distinct and ancient Muscat grape.  The name Gewz is curious in that, although its German translation means ‘spicy’ (in fact the official protected title only came into being in 1973), its French and Italian names (traminer musque, traminer parfume, termener aromatico ) lead one to believe that the wine’s perfumes would indicate a more accurate translation.  Roses and flowers generally are cited as the most common smells, followed by litchees and perhaps grapefruit.  And yet, cloves and nutmeg are also consistently noted, thus legitimate spice references.Obviously differences could be attributed to the terroir, except that the one characteristic of the Muscat family is that they give their intense flavor to the wine independent of where they are planted.   A better answer might lie in climate; a cooler climate with a long, slow ripening season seems to produce the superior versions of this wine, interruptions of which may result in bitterness, and the wine-making procedure itself.  Gewztraminer is, generally speaking, a fragile grape which requires great care.  SOURCE: Gewurztraminer article courtesy ofPaul Armas Lepisto, Director,The Olive University.


(GEE) – Ghee is clarified butter with all of the water and solids removed.  Ghee will not scorch or burn and can be cooked at higher temperatures than any oil.  It allows cooking with butter at a higher temperature before it will burn.  It removes the milk solids from the butter and will last in the fridge for a long time!  Ghee can be used in place of butter (it has a nutty more intense flavor).  It can also be used for stir-frying as the ghee making process removes the protein solids permitting it to be used in high temperature cooking.  It does not require refrigeration if you keep moisture out of it; for example, don’t dip a wet spoon into the ghee jar.  Ghee is used extensively in good Indian Cuisine.  Ghee comes from ancient India; I believe the first reference to ghee comes from the Ayurveda text, which dates back a couple thousand years.


 In Italian, the word means “garden style.”  Italian mixed pickled vegetable assortment or condiment that usually includes cauliflower, carrot, sometimes celery or fennel, and hot or sweet peppers.  Generally used as a condiment on sandwiches or antipasto plates.

ginger, ginger root

 At one time ginger was as common as salt and pepper and was frequently placed on the table. Hawaii, Fiji, and Costa Rica grow most of the world’s ginger supply, which is available throughout the year.  In January and February look for its pale, golden flesh; in summer and early fall look for young, baby ginger.  In late fall or early winter, the harvest can come from as far away as Fiji.  Ginger is thought of as a “hand” and the “fingers” are snapped off. It should feel heavy for its size.  There are many types of ginger available today, including fresh and dried.  As a general rule, fresh and dried ginger should not be substituted for one another in recipes, as their flavor is very different.  Ginger is also available in syrup, crystallized, candied, preserved and pickled (as served with sushi).

  • History:

    The Chinese and Indians first cultivated it.  It was one of the important spices that led to the opening of the spice trade routes. The name Ginger comes from the Sanskrit word “sinabera” meaning “shaped like a horn” because of its resemblance to an antler. In the 19th century it was popular to keep a shaker of Ginger on the counter in English pubs so the patrons could shake some into their drinks. This practice was the origin of ginger ale.


(glahs) – French word meaning: (1) ice or ice cream;  (2) Icing or frosting used on a cake;  (3) A cut of meat that has been glazed in a hot oven by constantly basting the meat with its own juices.

glace de viande

(glahs duh vee-AHND) – It is a meat glaze by French definition, but it is actually a very high end bouillon cube made by reducing unsalted meat stock.  The stock is boiled down to about 20% of its original volume or until it is thick, viscous, and syrupy.  It is so concentrated a little bit goes a long way.


(1) To alter the surface of a product for taste or eye appeal by adding a glossy coat.  Glazing can be done by basting the food with a syrupy liquid while it is cooking or by putting a sauce on it and placing briefly under the broiler.  To glaze a cold food, you can cover it with a shiny coat of aspic or gelatin.  

(2) Also coating pastries and cakes with an icing.


A protein found in wheat and other cereal flours that forms the structure of the bread dough.  It holds the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the yeast and expands during fermentation.  Gluten is developed when flour is combined with water and liquids, mixed, and kneaded.  It provides the elasticity and extensibility (stretch) in bread dough.


Available at cake decorating stores.  Used by professional bakers and not usually at home.


These are usually smaller than gnocchi.


(NYOK-kee) – In the Italian tradition gnocchi are always meant to be dumplings.  They are generally made with a potato base with the addition of flour.  The proportions of potatoes and flour may vary from one region to another, according to local customs and traditions, as well as to the type of potatoes used.  In addition to potato-based gnocchi, there are also other types of gnocchi made with flour, semolina, ricotta cheese, spinach, or breadcrumbs.


A small green, grape-sized fruit that is still slightly tart even when ripe. Makes wonderful jams and jellies.  The New Zealand gooseberry or Cape gooseberry is a small tart fruit that is enclosed in papery husks.

Gorgonzola cheese

(gohr-guhn-ZOH-lah) – The most popular of the Italian blue cheeses.  Made of cow’s milk, fat content 45%, and is very soft and tender.  Gorgonzola, which has an intricate, complicated method of creation, dates back to the eleventh century.  The thick veins are created from the addition of penicillin glaucum, a mold, which is primarily grown in laboratories today.  Originally, Gorgonzola was aged in caves, but now it is mass-produced by creating controlled environments.  Named after a village in Italy.  It is similar to the American blue cheese and the French type.

  • History:

    Gorgonzola was made in the Po Valley in Italy in 879 A.D. and Italy became the cheese-making center of Europe in the 10th Century. According to folk legends dating back to the 10th century:

    (1) Gorgonzola was invented by an absent-minded dairyman, which let a curd bundle drip all night long.  The day after he tried to make up for his mistake by mixing it with the morning curd.

    (2) Its inception was the result of the herds of cattle that were moved through the village on their way down from the northern Alps.  By the time the poor beasts reached the town, they needed badly to be milked.  Much of this of milk was then given or traded to local inhabitants.  Quite often, curdled milk from the morning milking was mixed with the then cooled milk from the evening.

Gouda cheese

(Goo-dah) – Gouda was first made in the vicinity of Gouda, in the Province of South Holland, Netherlands.  It can range from semi-soft to firm with a smooth texture.  It is made from whole or partly skimmed cow’s milk.  It is usually shaped like a flattened sphere and it usually has a wax coating (a more mature Gouda has a yellow wax coating and black wax or a brown rind suggests it has been smoked and aged for over a year).  Gouda melts quickly when it is shredded and heated.


 (French) small thin chunky strip of fried food.  Originally term was used for fish, but now term is also used for chicken.  Chicken cut this way is known as goujon style.


(goor-MAHND) – A French word for a person who appreciates fine food.  Considered to be a step about a gourmet.  It is said that basically the word means a “glutton.”


(goor-MAY) – (1) A gourmet is a person of impeccable taste.  A gourmet is not only concerned with the quality of the food and wine he serves, but also with the way the food he chooses harmonizes with each other.(2) Food of the highest quality that is perfectly prepared and presented.

graham crackers

Graham crackers are sweetened wheat “biscuits” or “crackers” eaten in the United States.  They are flat; about 3 inches square and appear dark golden brown.  They are (frequently sweetened with honey).  Despite the name, most brands of “graham cracker” today use refined white flour

  • History:

    Graham crackers were invented in 1829 by American Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham (1795-1851).  He was a vegetarian and promoted and preached on temperance and stressed whole-wheat flour and vegetarian diets.  He promoted the use of a type of coarsely ground wheat flour, which was high in fiber.  The flour became known as “Graham Flour” and the crackers known as “Graham Crackers”.

    Graham thought intense physical desire, regardless of whether you were married or not, would have dire physiological consequences on people.  He thought men should remain virgins until age 30 and then should make love only once a month–not at all if they were sickly.  To control lust, Graham prescribed a special vegetarian diet, the centerpiece of which was “Graham bread,” made from whole-wheat flour.  Graham crackers, which Graham invented in 1829, were another manifestation of the same idea.


Grana is a class of hard grating cheeses from Italy, which were developed in the 13th Century in the Po Valley.  One-quarter of Italian milk production goes to making Grana cheese.  Most are aged for up to four years, yet they have a smooth texture and “melt in your mouth.”


(grah-KNEE-tah) – It is an Italian ice.  A coarse fruit ice similar to sorbet, without the meringue, which is often flavored with liqueurs.  Unlike ice creams or sherbets, granita must be frozen into a pan of plastic or stainless steel with the syrup not higher than 1-1/2″ up the sides.  It should be stirred from time to time to allow the sides and the top to freeze.  Churn before serving, so as to yield a lightly granular texture.  Liqueurs may be added if desired.  The sugar and/or liqueur will not allow the granita to freeze solid, making it easier to churn before serving. Granita is served in a long-stemmed glass.

grape leaves

Leaves from grape vines originally planted in the Mediterranean region, but now grown locally.  Available in jars, packed in brine, at specialty food stores and some supermarkets.  Leaves bought in jars should be soaked briefly in hot water and rinsed well before using.  Fresh leaves should be steamed or poached briefly to soften before using.

grape must

The juice pressed from grapes before it has fermented; new wine.  Grape must is also used in making traditional balsamic vinegar, which must mature by a long and slow process thought natural fermentation.


It is the common name of an edible fruit in the buckthorn family, and of the vines that produce the fruit.  There are thousands of types of grapes.  Grape varieties are classified according to their ultimate use.  Grapes used to make table wine must have relatively high acidity and moderate sugar content; those used for dessert wines and other sweet wines must have high sugar content and moderate acidity.  Table grapes must be low in both acidity and sugar content, and grapes used to make juices and jellies must have high acidity and moderate sugar content.  Raisin grapes are preferably seedless, with high sugar content and low acidity.

grapeseed oil

This is very light oil that cooks at high temperatures.  It should have a “grapey” flavor and fragrance.  It is excellent for sautng and for fondues.


(GRAHP-pah) – An old alcoholic beverage made from the remnants of wine-grape pressings (whatever was leftover, including stems, seeds, and skins).  Grappa has been made in Italy since at least the sixteenth century.  The first grappa makers were probably frugal farmers seeking a way to use up the leftovers from the wine making process.  Like balsamic vinegar and wine, the price goes up depending on the vineyard, and the aging process.  Although grappa is a thoroughly Italian beverage, similar concoctions are produced in other nations, including the United States.  In Spain it is aguardiente, the French call it marc, and the Greeks have their raki.


To rub hard-textured food against a grater (a tool with small, rough, sharp-edged holes) to reduce to fine particles.  Grating works best with firm foods; soft food (such as some cheeses) form clumps.


Scandinavian cured salmon in a sugar, salt, and dill mixture.  It is then sliced paper thin and served on dark bread with a dill and mustard sauce.  The word literally means ‘buried’.  Originally, fishermen in the middle ages salted the salmon (or other fish) and then ‘buried’ the fish in the ground, or under snow and ice, to preserve it and to keep it cool.

Green Goddess dressing

A salad dressing that is a mixture of mayonnaise, anchovies, tarragon vinegar, parsley, scallions, garlic, and other spices.

  • History:

    It was created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel (now called the Sheraton-Palace) in the 1920s.  The Palace Hotel was built in 1875 and was San Francisco’s first grant lodging.  The hotel chef named the dressing for English actor George Arliss (1868-1946), who stayed there while performing in the play called The Green Goddess.  This play was considered the best play of the 1920-21 Broadway season and it later became on the earliest “talkie” movies in 1930.  The actor frequently complemented San Francisco’s marvelous weather and proclaimed that it induced a healthy appetite.  George Arliss, himself, suggested that the hotel should name a salad or salad dressing after the play.

green onion

A green onion can be classified as a type of scallion.  As the name scallion applies to several members of the onion family, including a distinct variety called scallion, immature onions (commonly called green onions), young leeks, and sometimes the tops of young shallots.  In each case the vegetable has a white base that has not fully developed into a bulb and green leaves that are long and straight.  Both parts are edible.


[greh-moh-LAH-tah] – An Italian garnish consisting of minced parsley, lemon peel, and garlic that adds a fresh flavor to dishes.  It [s traditionally sprinkled over Osso Bucco.  Etymologically speaking, the root means ground or chopped, hence the preparation of the ingredients.

grill, grilling

Grilling is a high-heat cooking method done directly over live flames (cooking the food in a matter of minutes).  Many grilled foods have a wonderful smokey or charred flavor because as the food cooks, fat drips down to the heat source and as it burns on the coals or heat element its fumes and flavors are sent back up to the outside of the food.  Usually the food is turned over as it grills, so both sides are directly exposed to the heat source.


The word comes from the Old English grytt meaning “bran,” but the Old English greot also meant “something ground.”  Grits are coarsely ground hominy (corn with the hull and germ removed).  Hominy is made from field corn that is soaked in lye water (potash water in the old days) and stirred over the next day or two until the entire shell or bran comes loose and rises to the top.  The kernel itself swells to twice its original size.  After the remaining kernels have been rinsed several times, they are spread to dry either on cloth or screen dryers . In the Southern United States, it is commonly boiled and served for breakfast or as a dinner side dish.  Grits are considered an institution in the South, but rarely found in northern states.  Many cookbooks will refer to grits as hominy, because of regional preference for the name.

  • History:

    Americans have been using the term “grits” since at least the end of the 18th century.  Learn more about the History of Grits and how to cook grits.


Groupers are members of the sea bass family. They are particularly common around coral reefs and rock outcroppings of the inner coastal shelf, which makes them less vulnerable to, trawls or traps.  In addition to the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America, the Mediterranean, and South Africa have important grouper fisheries.  They are a white-fleshed and lean fish.

gruyere cheese

GRUYE (groo-YEHR) – It is also known as groyer cheese.  It is named for the village of Gruyere, in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, which is near the French border.  It is a shiny yellow, hard, smooth small-eyed cheese that melts well without separating and is often used for sauces, with grilled meats, poultry, and fish.  It is made from cow’s whole milk in much the same way as Swiss cheese.


(gwok-ah-moh-lay) – An avocado condiment that is made from ripened avocados and lemon or lime juice, diced onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.


(GWAH-vah) – A native to South America, it is also grown in the U.S.  There are many varieties of guavas, and they can range in size from a small egg to a medium apple, all are very sweet.  Guavas make excellent jams, preserves, sauces, and sorbets.


(gum-boe) – A delicacy of South Louisiana. It is a thick, robust soup almost always containing a roux, and sometimes thickened with okra or file’.  There are thousands of variations, only a few of which are shrimp or seafood gumbo, chicken or duck gumbo, okra and file’ gumbo.  Generally, gumbos come in two categories, those thickened with okra (thus the name), which comes from an African word for “okra,” and those with ground sassafras leaves, known as “file.”  The earlier gumbos were closer to soups than to the stew often served today.  You can make the soup thicker by using more roux or adding more file powder.  The ingredients call for oyster liquor, the juice left over from opening oysters, which would have been abundant in an era when many meals began with oysters.  Bottled clam juice or fish broth make suitable substitutes.  Serve the gumbo over rice.

habanero pepper

(ah-bah-NEH-roh) – You might also know this Yucatan-raised, lantern-shaped chile as a Scot bonnet or Bahamian chile.  Whatever you call it, with a fire reportedly 60 times that of a Jalapeno, these pods pack a punch.  It is the hottest of all chiles in the world. It should be handled only while wearing plastic gloves.  Ripe Habaneros, which are dark green, red, or orange-red, have a sweeter flavor and are fruitier than the green, unripe ones.


(HAG-ihs) – Haggis is a Scottish dish made from sheep’s offal (windpipe, lungs, heart and liver) of the sheep, which is first boiled and then minced.  It is then mixed with beef suet and lightly toasted oatmeal.  This mixture is placed inside the sheep’s stomach, which is sewn closed.  The resulting haggis is traditionally cooked by further boiling (for up to three hours).

This is the most traditional of all Scottish dishes, eaten on Burns Night (25th January; the birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, 1759-1796) and at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve).  Haggis is traditionally served as “haggis, neeps and tatties”.  The neeps are mashed turnip or swede, with a little milk and allspice added, whereas the tatties are creamed potatoes flavored with a little nutmeg.  To add that authentic touch, consume your haggis, neeps and tatties with a dram of good whisky.

  • History:

    There are no actual records, as far as we are aware, of the origins of haggis, as we know it today.  The first known English cookbook is The Form of Cury (cookery), written in 1390 by one of the cooks to King Richard II.  It contains a recipe for a dish called Afronchemoyle, which is in effect a haggis.  The haggis became well established in the Scottish culinary scene, not as a star dish but as an everyday staple.  Like a lot of other foods, haggis probably came about because the raw material was available and it had to be made into a more acceptable form.

    Author Clarissa Dickson Wright in her book The Haggis – A Little History makes a case for haggis originally being from Sweden.  Scandinavians from Sweden eat haggis with great relish and invariably remark on its resemblance to a dish in their local cuisine.  Relations between Scotland and the Nordic world go back to the 9th century.  Norsemen, raiders at first, very soon became settlers and farmers.  It was late in the 15th century before Orkney and Shetland finally ceased to be dependencies of the Danish crown.  The impact of the Norse was far greater than that of the French; they are part of Scotland’s historic fabric.  The root of the word haggis is not from Latin languages, and its origin appears to be Scandinavian.  There is no doubt that the word haggis is related to such words as the Swedish hagga, meaning to hew or chop; and the Icelandic hoggva, with the same meaning.


Halibut is a large flatfish, resembling the turbot in appearance, and is the largest in the flatfish group.  They sometimes weigh in at over 500 pounds and six feet in length.  The flesh of the halibut is coarser and the flavor is stronger and less refined than the flounder, and especially the sole.  Halibut is exclusively a cold-water fish and is found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.  “Hippo of the sea” is how the halibut’s Latin family name “hippoglossus” translates.


A grilled, fried, or broiled patty of ground beef that is usually served on a “hamburger bun” and topped with ketchup, onions, and/or other condiments.  It is considered a cultural icon in America.

Hangtown Fry

This oyster dish includes oysters, eggs, and bacon.


A hard square biscuit or cracker that is made with flour and water only (unleavened and unsalted bread).  Since it’s very dry, it can be stored for years without refrigeration.   People can live for quite a while on just bread and water. Hardtack is eaten by itself, dipped in coffee, or crumbled into soups.  Inexpensive, stable, and easy to transport, hardtack was a staple in military life throughout most of our history.  It was also the most convenient food for soldiers, explorers, and pioneers.

  • Dandy Funk

    Also called Danderfunk.  A pudding made by sailors using crumbled hardtack, fat, and molasses.

  • History:

    Hardtack was a part of the staple diet of English and American sailors for many centuries.  Christopher Columbus took unleavened bread with him on his journeys.  Sailors referred to it as sea biscuit, sea bread, ship biscuit, Midshipman’s nuts, and pilot bread.

    During the Civil War, a soldier in the army, both north and south was usually issued one half pound of beans or peas, bacon, pickled beef, compressed mixed vegetables and one pound of hard tack.  Too hard to be eaten whole, it was generally broken up with a rock or rifle butt, placed in the cheek pocket and softened with saliva enough to be chewed and swallowed.  The hardtack was also soaked in water and then fried in bacon grease to soften it.  The soldiers called the biscuits “sheet iron crackers”, “teeth dullers”, or “worm castles” in references to the weevils and maggots all too often found in the hardtack boxes.

haricot vert

(ah-ree-koh VEHR) – The French term for green string beans, Haricot means, “bean,” and vert means, “green.”  They are much thinner than regular green beans and traditionally have a much better flavor.  They are also known as French green beans and French beans.


It is also called bakers’ ammonia (ammonium carbonate).  It is an ammonia compound and not harmful after baking.  However ,do not eat the raw dough.  Your kitchen will stink of ammonia while the cookies bake – but once baked, the cookies will not taste of it.  Can be substituted for equal amount of baking powder in any cookies recipe.  It is an old-time leavening favored for cookies, such as German Springerle.  It is said to give a “fluffiness” of texture baking powder can’t.  Its leavening is only activated by heat, not moisture (such as baking powder).


A dish of chopped pork or beef combined with various chopped up vegetables and seasonings.  Hash is often thought of as a dish that you throw into it whatever is left in the kitchen.  In the 19th century, cheap restaurants were called “hash houses” and the workers in these restaurants were called “hash slingers.”

Hasty Pudding/Indian Pudding

Despite the name Indian Pudding, it is not a traditional native dish.  Native Americans had neither milk nor molasses to use in their cooking.  They did mix ground corn with berries, and may have had maple syrup.  Hasty Pudding and Indian Pudding are basically the same pudding, as Hasty Pudding was an English tradition for centuries.Printed references to hasty pudding in England date to 1599, while Indian pudding recipes start appearing in American cookbooks in 1796.


A term used in a cut of meat, usually venison.  One of the back legs of an animal with four legs that is used for meat (the leg and loin undivided, or, as more commonly called, the hind quarter) – a haunch of veal, venison, or wild boar.

Haute Cuisine

Food that is prepared in an elegant or elaborate manner; the very finest food available.  The French word “haute” translates as “high” or “superior.”  Cuisine translates as “cooking” in general.  Literally meaning “high cooking” or high-class cooking, the rich sauces, fine ingredients and exquisite taste of haute cuisine typifies classic French cooking.

  • History:

    The arrival in 1533 of Italian-born Catherine de Medici at the French court and her marriage to Henri II in the 16th century brought about the development of the culinary arts in France.  She had her staff introduce delicacies previously unknown to the French.  Over the next couple of centuries, the royal families employed chefs who developed and prepared the finest cuisine, and dining became an art form.  Chef Francois Pierre de La Varenne (1615-1678) who was a court chef during King Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) reign is often cited as being the founder of haute cuisine.  It was during La Varenne life that is often considered the turning point of cuisine, the ending of medieval cuisine and the beginning of classic French cooking.

Haute Cuisine Couture

It means “Recipe for Comfort” and it relates to the fashion world.  It is first and foremost a form of expertise or savoir-faire, involving a craft that has endured for more than one hundred and fifty years.  The origins of haute couture date back to Charles Fric Worth who, in 1858, founded the first true house of haute couture at 7, rue de la Paix, in Paris, creating original models for individual clients.  Haute couture involves craftsmanship, the skill of the seamstress and embellisher (feather makers, embroiderers, milliners) who, each season, create the finery of the exceptional.

havarti cheese

(huh-VAR-tee) – It is a light to pale yellow cheese with tiny holes “eyes” in its smooth body, it melts well when it is shredded . It is similar to Montery Jack cheese.


Also called filberts.  According to a manuscript found in China, from the year 2838 B.C., the hazelnut took its place among the five sacred nourishments God bestowed to human beings.  The cultivation of hazelnuts has been going on for over 4500 years.  In olden times, the nut was used as a medicine and tonic.  Up until 1940, most hazelnuts were imported to the United States from Sicily and Naples.  Now the nuts are grown in Oregon and Washington.  Nuts begin forming on the trees in the early spring.  They mature during the summer months and are harvested in the early fall.  The nuts usually grow in clusters of two or three, each nut covered with an open ended husk that extends beyond the rounded nut itself.  When the nuts mature, they fall free from the husks to the ground where they are harvested.


A sausage made from a calf or pig’s head and molded in its own jelly and seasoned.  In England it is called brawn and in France it goes by the name fromage de tete de porc.

  • History:

    This dish was created in the Middle Ages when bits and pieces of meat and gelatin were enclosed in the head skin of the animal cooked and served that way.

heart of palm

Heart of palm is the inner, edible portion of the stem of the cabbage (palmetto) palm tree.  This palm grows in tropical climates such as Florida (it’s the state tree) and Brazil.  Hearts of palm are ivory colored and resemble white asparagus without the tips.  They are usually available canned and packed in water.  They are rather expensive and have a taste reminiscent of artichoke.  Delicious in salads, hearts of palm can also be used in main dishes or fried.

hickory nuts

There are 17 varieties of hickory trees, 13 of which are native to the United States, including the pecan nut.  The common hickory nut has an extremely hard shell.  Hickory nuts have an excellent rich flavor with a buttery quality due to their high fat content.  They are a usually sold unshelled. Hickory nuts can be used in a variety of baked goods and in almost any recipe as a substitute for pecans.

High Tea

High Tea is often a misnomer.  Most people refer to afternoon tea as high tea because they think it sounds regal and lofty, when in all actuality, high tea, or “meat tea” is dinner.  High tea, in Britain, at any rate, tends to be on the heavier side.  American hotels and tea rooms, on the other hand, continue to misunderstand and offer tidbits of fancy pastries and cakes on delicate china when they offer a “high tea.”


A cookie that you fill with chocolate mousse or berries.  Hippenmasse or Hippen Paste – a German thin wafer cookie similar to a plain tuile or tulip paste, where you pipe out the batter in designs or spread the batter over a template and bake and form as required.


Also known as submarines, heroes, bombers, grinder, torpedoes, and rockets in other parts of the United States.  Hoagies are built-to-order sandwiches filled with meat and cheese, as well as lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, topped off with a dash of oregano=vinegar dressing on an Italian roll.  A true Italian Hoagie is made with Italian ham, prosciutto salami, and provolone cheese, along with all the works. It was declared the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia.”

Holland Rusks

Rusks are known in France as Biscotte and in Germany as Zwieback.  A rusk is a slice of yeast bread (thick or thin) that is baked until dry, crisp, and golden brown.  In America, rusks are given to babies when teething.

hollandaise sauce (butter)

Uses butter and egg yolks as binding.  It is served hot with vegetables, fish, and eggs (like egg benedict).  It will be a pale lemon color, opaque, but with a luster not appearing oily.  The basic sauce and its variations should have a buttery-smooth texture, almost frothy, and an aroma of good butter.  Making this emulsified sauce requires a good deal of practice – it is not for the faint of heart.  Berrnaise sauce, which is “related” to hollandaise sauce, is most often served with steak.


Hominy is made from dried corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed, usually by boiling in lime.  The kernels look somewhat like popcorn and have a soft, chewy consistency.  It is sold either in canned or dried form.

Hommard a L’américaine

Hommard in French means “lobster or crawfish” and amoricaine “mean in the style of America or American Sauce.”  Also called Lobster a L’amoricaine.

  • History:

    French Chef Pierre Fraisse who had lived and worked in Chicago, Illinois in 1858 created this dish. Fraisse was considered to be a bit “Americanized” by the French.  He created the dish in Paris in 1860 when several American customers came in very late and asked for supper by specifying that they had only one hour to eat.  Not having time to cook lobsters with the traditional court-bouillon, he prepared a sauce that consisted of tomatoes, tarragon, wine, cream, and cognac, and then poached the lobsters pieces it.  The guests asked for the name of this exquisite receipt and Pierre, according to the inspiration of the moment, called it “Lobster au amicaine” in honor of his American customers and probably because he had worked as chef in Chicago.

    It is also said this dish had actually been on the menu of the restaurant before Fraisse began to work there and was then known as Homard Bonnefoy, thought to have originated in Languedoc in Southern France.


Honey is produced by domesticated and many wild bees from the nectar of flowers and other plant secretions.  The bees combine those fluids with other substances to make honey, which they store in their hives.  Honey has been around as long as bees and man has used it as a sweetener and food since the earliest times . It is still one of his richest and most useful food substances.  A rock drawing near Valencia in Spain that dates back to 15000 BC shows two men climbing up cords to reach the nest of a swarm of bees.  eekeeping was being practiced along the banks of the Nile in Egypt at least as early as 3000 BC. Ancient literature teems with references to bees, honey and beekeeping.

hooch, hootch

A cheap whiskey. The term, which became widespread during Prohibition.  It was derived from the name of a Chinook Indian tribe, the Hoochinoo that made a form of distilled spirits bought by U.S. soldiers who had occupied the Alaskan territory.

hopping john

A southern dish made of black-eyed peas (cowpeas) and rice.  It is traditionally served on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck for the New Year.  The dish was a staple of the African slaves who populated southern plantations (especially those of South Carolina).

hors d’oeuvres

(or DERV) – Means little snack foods, small items of food or light courses, served before or outside of (“hors”) the main dishes of a meal (the “oeuvres”) which are intended to stimulate the appetite.  The terms hors d’oeuvres and appetizers are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference: hors d’oeuvres are the small savory bites, typically finger food, served before a meal, while appetizers appear as the first course served at the table.  The name hors d’oeuvres comes from the French and is literally translated as “out of the work,” but it’s more logical to think of it as meaning “apart from (or before) the meal.”


The name may have come from an English adaptation of its German name.  In early times the plant grew wild in European coastal areas; the Germans called it meerrettich, or sea radish.  The German word “meer” sounds like “mare” in English.

  • History:

    The earliest account of Horseradish comes from 13th century Western Europe, where Germans and Danes used it as a condiment, stimulant, and digestive medicine.  The word horseradish first appeared in print in 1597 in John Gerarde’s English herbal on medicinal plants.  It was introduced in England in the 16th century, where it is still used to treat hoarseness and coughs.  It was brought to the United States in the 19th century, and now grows wild along the East Coast.

Horseshoe Sandwich

The sandwich is considered the signature dish or Springfield, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln.  This sandwich will make our arteries cringe and your taste buds rejoice.  The sandwich starts out with two to three slices of thick toasted bread.  On top of that you have two traditional choices: a thick fried ham steak or two large hamburger patties.  Then a large amount of freshly made French fries are placed onto the top of it.  The secret to this sandwich is the sauce that is poured over the top.  Every restaurant and chef seems to have his or her own secret cheese sauce recipe.  The name of the sandwich comes from the shape of the ham with the fries representing the horseshoe nails, and the heated steak platter as the anvil.  If you order a Pony Shoe Sandwich, it is the same thing, but a smaller or half a Horseshoe portion (usually one slice of toast).  Check out History of Sandwiches.

Hot Brown Sandwich

An open-faced turkey sandwich with turkey, bacon, pimientos, and a delicate Mornay sauce.  The sandwich is place under the broiler to melt the cheese.  Check out History of Sandwiches.

hot dog

Also called frankfurters.  A cooked sausage that consists of a combination of beef and pork or all beef, which is cured, smoked, and cooked.  Seasonings may include coriander, garlic, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and white pepper.  They are fully cooked but are usually served hot.  Sizes range from big dinner frankfurters to tiny cocktail size.  Check out History and Legends of the Hot Dog.


See cuitlacoche.


This signature cocktail of New Orleans is a potent sweet fruit punch and rum drink that is served in a special hurricane lamp glass that has become one of the most sought-after souvenirs in New Orleans.  During celebrations (celebrations seem to be nightly in the New Orleans French Quarter) tourists carry their “to go” Hurricane drink down the streets.  Hurricanes are also the cocktail of choice during Mardi Gras, where thousands come to parade and party.  The Hurricane was made famous by Pat O’Brien’s French Quarter bar.  Other restaurants and bars serve this drink but it has become synonymous with Pat O’Brien’s, where people line up to get their Hurricane drink.  Check out History of Hurricane.


A finger-shaped dumpling of cornmeal that is deep-fried (they are traditionally served with fried catfish).  Hushpuppies, also known as corn dodgers.  They are especially popular throughout the South.  Check out History Hushpuppies.

ice box pies

These pies were named after the ice box that they were kept cool in.

  • History:

    For the history of Ice Box Pies, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Pies.

ice cream

It is a frozen dessert made from cream, or a mixture of cream, milk, sugar, and usually eggs.  It can also be made from combination of milk products (usually cream combined with fresh, condensed or dry milk), a sweetening agent (sugar, honey, corn syrup or an artificial sweetener) and flavorings such as pieces of chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc.  Ice cream contains air – the more the air the lighter it will be.  Learn how to use Electric Ice Cream Maker.

  • ices

    This dessert are fruit juices or purees of fruit that are blended with sugar syrup and frozen.

  • ice milk

    It is made in much the same way as ice cream, except that it contains less milk fat and milk solids.  The result is a lowered calorie count and it has a lighter, less creamy texture.

  • ice cream sundae

    History of the Ice Cream Sundae

  • ice cream cone

    History of the Ice Cream Cone


A term often interchangeable with “frosting” and preferred in America to describe the sugar-and-water mixture used to decorate and cover cakes.  It may also contain other ingredients and flavorings.  The word is akin to “ice” for the icing becomes firm or glazed after being applied.

Indian Pudding/Hasty Pudding

Despite the name Indian Pudding, it is not a traditional native dish.  Native Americans had neither milk nor molasses to use in their cooking. T hey did mix ground corn with berries, and may have had maple syrup.  Hasty Pudding and Indian Pudding are basically the same pudding, as Hasty Pudding was an English tradition for centuries.  Printed references to hasty pudding in England date to 1599, while Indian pudding recipes start appearing in American cookbooks in 1796.

Indian Taco

Originally known as Navajo Tacos, but since Indian tribes other than the Navajo Nation have also adopted these as their own, they obtained the universal name of Indian Taco.  Indian Tacos are a combination of beans or ground beef, chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, shredded cheddar cheese, and an optional green chile sitting atop plate-sized rounds of crispy Navajo or Indian Fry Bread.  The Navajo Taco was voted the State Dish of Arizona in a 1995 poll conducted by the Arizona Republic newspaper.  No plates or silverware are needed, as you just fill the fry bread with your desired fillings, roll it up, and then eat this delicious food.  Eating Indian Tacos is considered very macho and requires some dedicated chewing.


To steep an aromatic ingredient in hot liquid until the flavor has been extracted and absorbed by the liquid.  Teas are infusions.  Milk or cream can also be infused with flavor before being used in custards or sauces.


An infusion is the flavor that’s extracted from any ingredient such as tea leaves, herbs, or fruit by steeping them in a liquid such as water, oil, or vinegar.


 (ihn-sah-LAH-tah) – The Italian word for “salad.”


  • History:

    To inject a product, usually beef, with tiny needles, in order to tenderize it.

jalapeno pepper

(hal-la-PAY-nyo) – Named after Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz, Mexico, these smooth, dark green (scarlet red when ripe) have a rounded tip and are about 2 inches long and 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Although not as hot as other chile peppers, most people love the flavor this pepper has. Heat range is 3-6, depending on the variety. Besides their flavor, jalapenos are quite popular because they’re so easily seeded (the seeds and veins are extremely hot). They’re available fresh and canned and are used in a variety of sauces, sometimes stuffed with cheese, fish or meat, and in a multitude of dishes. In their dried form they are known as chipotles. Pickled, it is called cscabeche.

Learn about Chile Peppers – Preparing Fresh Chile Peppers, Roasting Fresh Chile Peppers, Preparing Dried Chile Peppers, Science of Chile Peppers


(juhm-buh-LI-yah) – Jambalaya is a rich dish, which varies widely from cook to cook, but usually contains rice. It is said that Louisiana chefs “sweep up the kitchen” and toss just about everything into the pot for this rice dish that is highly seasoned and flavored with any combination of beef, pork, fowl, smoked sausage, ham, or seafood, as well as celery, green peppers and often tomatoes. Jambalaya, is the dish most obviously associated with the brief period of Spanish domination in New Orleans. Celestine Eustis, writing at the turn of the twentieth century, refers to it as a “Spanish Creole dish.” It is now considered the hallmark of Cajun cuisine.

  • History:

    Learn about the History of Jambalaya


(zham-BOHN) – It is the French word for “ham” which consists of the hind leg of the pig, separated from the carcass at about the second joint of the vertebrae.

  • jambon au madère

    Ham steaks prepared with Madeira wine

  • jambon cru

    Raw ham.

  • jambon froid

    Cold or chilled ham.

  • jambon jambon fume

    Smoked ham.


(zhan-bun-NO) – A French cut of the pork carcass that consists of a portion of the foreleg or a knuckle from the foreleg or hind leg that is cured and pickled or salted.

jelly bean

  • History:

    Historians seem to think that jelly beans were introduced between 1896 and 1905. It is believed the jelly center is a descendent of a Mid-Eastern confection known as Turkish Delight that dates back to Biblical times. The shell coating is an offspring of a process called panning, first invented in 17th century France to make Jordan Almonds. The panning process, while done primarily by machine today, has remained essentially the same for the last 300 years. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that jelly beans became a part of Easter traditions.

    Jelly beans quickly earned a place among the many glass jars of “penny candy” in general stores where they were sold by weight and taken home in paper bags. It wasn’t until the 1930’s, however, that jelly beans became a part of Easter traditions.


A term used for an island style of barbecue that includes marinating the meat in a green pesto-like mixture of herbs, spices, and very hot peppers.

jerk seasoning

A spicy Jamaican seasoning used to marinate fish, pork, chicken, and beef. The mix includes a blend of chiles, allspice, thyme, and lime juice or rum. Some jerk mixtures (jerk rub) are thick and are rubbed over meats before cooking. Other blends have more liquid added so that they can be used for marinating and basting. The slaves used this method to preserve their meat.

Jerusalem artichoke

It resembles the globe artichoke in flavor but is actually a member of the sunflower family. See artichoke.


(hic-a-ma) – It is also known as the Mexican potato. Jicama is a very firm, bulbous root vegetable that is brown on the outside with pearly white meat. It can be enjoyed either raw of cooked. It is slightly sweet to taste and it is very crunchy (it will remain so even after cooking). Great in salads and for using in dips.

Jo-Jo Potatoes

Potatoes cut into thick wedges then seasoned (sometimes breaded) and deep-fried. Often served with broasted chicken.

Johnny Cake

Also called Jonny Cake. Johnny Cakes are the New England equivalent of the tortilla. The simplest recipes call for nothing but corn meal, boiling water, and a little salt. The batter should be fairly thin so that when fried on a hot griddle, the batter spreads out no more than a quarter of an inch thick.

  • History:

    The origin of the name is something of a mystery and probably has nothing to do the name John. They also were called Journey Cakes because they could be carried on long trips in the traveler’s saddlebags and baked along the way. There is some thought that they were originally called Shawnee Cake and the colonist slurred the words into Johnny Cake. Modern historians have also found that the word joniken, an American Indian word meaning corn cake could possible be the origin of the name. The settlers of New England learned how to make Johnny Cakes from the local Putexet Indians, who showed the starving Pilgrims how to grind and use corn for eating.

    Learn all about the history of Johnnycakes, Jonnycakes, Journey Cakes, Shawnee Cakes.


(joo-lee-EHN) – To cut food into thin sticks which are also called matchsticks. Food is cut with a knife or mandoline into even slices, then into strips.

  • History:

    French chef Jean Julien is said to have introduced the “julienne” method or preparing vegetables.


Also known as Thai Carving.  It is the Thailand art of carving fruit and vegetables into intricate flower shapes.  The purpose of fruit and vegetable carving is to make food more attractive, more appetizing, and also easier to eat.

Today this art is also performed in Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and China.  Fruit and vegetable carving is considered one of the ten traditional Thai crafts.  It is thus held to be an ancient art and is used in making food offerings for monks, entertaining guests, ordinations, weddings, and royal funerals.  Loi Kratong festival is still celebrated today in Thailand.

  • History:

    Fruit and vegetable carving is a tradition which has been passed down form ancient times as this art began in Thailand in the 14th century (around 1240 to 1350) in Sukothai, the former capital of Thailand. In preparation for the Loi Kratong, which is one of the most important festivals in Thailand.  Miss Nang Noppamart, is given credit for this art when she tried to create a gift to make her Kratong more beautiful in order to amaze the king.  She took a flower and used it as a pattern to carve a copy from into a fruit.  Then she carved a bird and set it aside the flower.


A thick, sweet sauce made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. It is also know as catsup and catchup.  It is said to be derived from “fet-tsiap,” a spicy pickled fish condiment popular in China.

  • History:

    Ketchup was firm mentioned in print in 1711.  Most American ketchups are made with tomatoes.  The F. & J. Heinz Company of Pennsylvania sold the first bottled tomato ketchups as of 1876.

key lime

A tart, golf-ball size, and yellow-green citrus fruit that is native to Southern Florida.  The juice is yellow and very tart, more so than standard limes.  They grow in Florida, the Keys and other tropical places in the Caribbean.  Key lime is used in making Key Lime Pie.

  • History:

    The key lime tree, which is native to Malaysia, probably first arrived in the Florida Keys in the 1500s with the Spanish.  Key limes look like confused lemons, as they are smaller than a golf ball with yellow-green skin that is sometimes splotched with brown.  They are also know as Mexican or West Indian limes.  When a hurricane in 1926 wiped out the key lime plantations in South Florida, growers replanted with Persian limes, which are easier to pick and to transport.  Today the key lime is almost a phantom and any remaining trees are only found in back yards and their fruit never leave the Florida Keys.  Key limes are also grown for commercial use in the Miami, Florida area.


(kihl-BAH-sah) – Kielbasa is a smoked sausage made from pork.

Kinilaw Cuisine

Kinilaw cuisine is a true Philippine cuisine with influences as far back as pre-colonial times with trans-Pacific trade and exchanges of culture.  Later in the 16th century, a strong link with Europe and South America through Spanish colonists had the most tremendous impact on today’s Philippine cuisine.  This marriage of culinary heritages must be described and considered as a real “fusion cuisine.”  Regardless of the origin, over the centuries dishes have been transformed, added and changed in so many ways to what has become today’s Philippine cuisine.

Anything alive and anything fresh can be used for Kinilaw cuisine (crustaceans, fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, flowers, insects, fowl, and snakes; food as rare and unusual as balatan (sea cucumber), lima lima (spider conch), kohol (river snail), abatud (larva of coconut beetle), butbut (sea anemone), guso (seaweed) goat, dog, carabao, venison, wild boar, heart, liver, tripe, animal skin, puso ng saging (banana core) and uncountable other ingredients).


To kipper means to cure, usually fish, by cleaning, salting and drying or smoking.  It also means a male salmon during or shortly after spawning.  When a herring is kippered it is first butterflies, cured in brine, and then cold smoked.  It has a Smokey, salty flavor and is usually given an artificial golden color.  When a salmon is kippered in the U.S. it is a chunk, steak or fillet of salmon soaked in brine, hot smoked and dyed red.  In Europe a split salmon is soaked in brine and cold smoked.

kippered herring

Also called kippers.  These are herrings that have been split down the middle and cold-smoked in a solution of brine.

Kitchen Bouquet

It is the brand name of a concentrated browning and seasoning sauce.  Small amounts of it can be added to gravy to enrich its flavor and enhance its color.  It can also be used to enhance the color of microwave foods, which don’t normally brown.  There are other brands on the market, which accomplish the same thing.

kiwifruit or kiwi fruit

(KEE-wee) – The kiwifruit (Actinidia Deliciosa) belongs to the berry family of fruits.  It is about the size of a large egg, and is covered by a brown, fuzzy skin.  The fruit’s rough exterior gives no hint of the beauty within.  The inside of a kiwi is bright green, with a yellow center, dotted by small, black seeds.  It is a native of China where it was called Yang Tao.  It was introduced into New Zealand in 1906 and has been commercially cultivated there ever since.  New Zealanders called the vines Chinese gooseberries, for the original fruit was small, prickly, with a distinctive but unrefined taste.  It took more than 40 years to develop the fruit of today.  To aid marketing, the name was changed to kiwifruit (this established the fruit as an exotic fruit internationally).  This name not only identifies New Zealand but also describes the appearance of a New Zealand native, the tiny Kiwi bird.


(NEED) – The process of working dough by mixing, stretching, and pulling.  Kneading is most often used in bread dough, and is a necessary step in order to develop the gluten.  To knead, gather your dough into a ball.  Using the heel of your hands, press down on the dough.  Pull up the part of the dough that was flattened by your hands and fold it back over on itself.  Keep repeating the process, turning the dough periodically.


The knish is a pastry of Jewish origin consisting of a piece of dough that encloses a filling of seasoned mashed potatoes.  Basically they are a mashed potato pie.  When sold by the street corner vendors in New York City, they are fried and square shaped.  The baked ones are usually round shaped, and are usually made at home and some knish bakeries.

  • History:

    Eastern European Jews developed the knish.  During the early 1900s, when hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews Emigrated to America and settled in New York City, they brought with them their family recipes for knishes.  Knishes were made at home until Yonah Schimmel, a rabbi from Romania, began to sell them at Coney Island in New York City, and also from a pushcart on the Lower East Side.  In 1910, he opened his original knish bakery located on East Houston Street.

Kobe beef

(koo-bay) – Kobe beef is considered the most exclusive beef in the world.  Technically speaking, there’s no such thing as Kobe beef, it is merely the shipping point for beef from elsewhere in Japan.  What is called “Kobe beef” comes from the ancient province of Tajima, now named Hyogo Prefecture, of which Kobe is the capital.  Real beef connoisseurs, however, still refer to it as Tajima beef.  This beef comes from an ancient stock of cattle called “kuroge wagyu” (black haired Japanese cattle).  Today they are raised on only 262 small farms, most of which pasture fewer than five cows, and the largest of which run only 10 to 15 animals. Each animal is pampered like a spoiled child.  Their diets are strictly controlled and during the final fattening process, cattle are fed hefty quantities of sake and beer mash.  Each animal gets a daily massage.  The theory is that mellow, relaxed cows make good beef.


(kohl-RAH-bee) – It is a vegetable that has been popular for years in Europe and is just beginning to be widely appreciated in the U.S.  It is also known as cabbage turnip.  It has a bulbous stem growing just above the ground and when young it has edible green leaves.  For best flavor, the bulbs should be steamed or boiled before they are peeled.

kosher food

The word kosher means “fit or proper.”  It refers to food that is proper for the Jewish people to consume as set out in the laws of Kashrut (the kosher dietary laws) in the Old Testament.  It is against the law for Jewish people to eat blood of mats that have been cooked with milk or with anything derived from milk.

kosher salt

(KOH-sher) – A pure, refined rock salt used for pickling because it does not contain magnesium carbonate (because it does not cloud brine solutions).  Also used to kosher items.  Also known as coarse salt or pickling salt.


Kringles are hand-rolled circular, butter-layered Danish pastry that enclose a fruit or nut layer, and topped with sugar icing.


(KOO-gel, KI-gel) It is a baked pudding, in the style of the British puddings, as opposed to a light dessert such as rice or chocolate pudding.  Koogel actually means “ball” or “cannonball” in German.  It came to have this name because of the small round pot in which such puddings used to be cooked.  This round, covered pot would be placed in the larger pot of cholent, a slow-cooking stew of chunks of meat, marrow bones, beans, barley, potatoes and the like.

Classic ones are made with noodles or grains (sometimes even leftover bread).  They often have a sweet ingredient such as raisins or apples, but some are savory.  Today, they are even made with a variety of vegetables in a style reminiscent of quiche or casseroles.  What is characteristic of all of them, though, is that they are made without water, using fats and/or eggs to bind the ingredients, and they still are capable of being either slow-cooked or of being kept warm on a warming plate.

  • History:

    On Friday afternoons, in Eastern-European towns, homemakers would be seen carrying their pots of sabbath stew to the village bakery, where they would place it in the large bread ovens, still warm from baking the braided loaves of challah, the festive Sabbath bread.  They would return on Saturday at noon, to collect their fresh meals.  Eventually, the kugel started to be prepared separately and in larger pans.


Ladyfingers are known in Italy as  savoiardi are sweet, little, fairly dry, finger-shaped sponge cakes.  It is used for making desserts like Tiramisu and Charlottes.  Ladyfingers can be made at home or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, or specialty markets.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of the Lamington/Lemmington, check out History of Cakes.


(lan-YAP) – Used primarily in southern Louisiana and southeast Texas, the word lagniappe refers to an “unexpected something extra. ” It could be an additional doughnut (as in “baker’s dozen”), a free “one for the road” drink, and an unanticipated tip for someone who provides a special service or possibly a complimentary dessert for a regular customer.  Creole term for something extra.

lamination or lemmington

The word lamington means layers of beaten gold.  An Australian dessert of little cubes or squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut.  In Victoria (State of Australia) they often add a layer of raspberry or plum jam.  They are served with tea in the afternoon. Lamington’s are so popular in Australia that the cakes are a favorite means of raising money for school groups, church’s, and scouts and girl guides.  These money making adventure are called Lamington Drives.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of the Lamington/Lemmington, check out History of Cakes.


Lard is the layer of fat located along the back and underneath the skin of the hog.  Hog-butchers prepare it during the slaughtering process and preserve it in salt.  In Italy it is used mainly (either minced or in whole pieces) to prepare various kinds of sauces and soups, to cook vegetables and legumes, or to lard beef or poultry.  In order to remove any excess of salt, lard should be blanched by placing it in cold water, bringing it to a boil and then letting it cool entirely under cold running water.

lasagna, lasagne

(luh-ZAHN-yuh) – (1) Pasta in flat, very wide strips that is almost always used in baked dishes.  (2) A dish made by baking such pasta with layers of sauce and fillings such as cheese or meat.

  • History:

    Like many things, the origins of pasta and how lasagna was first made are lost in the mists of prehistory.  We can only assume that pasta was “invented” by the peoples living in the Mediterranean area some time after our ancestors had learned to cultivate cereals and to grind them into flour.  However, the origins of “macaroni” in Italy go back as far as the time of the Ancient Romans who gave the credit to the ‘Gods’.  Some historians say that “maccheroni” is derived from the Sicilian word “maccarruni” meaning “made into a dough by force.”  Other historians think the word “lasagne” came from the Greek “lasanon,” a chamber pot.  The Romans adopted the word for any cooking pot; lasagna is the pasta dish cooked in the lasanum.

latt cafau lait, cafe leche

Is a coffee made with milk, usually equal portions of scalded milk and coffee.


To learn about Lavender, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Lavender.

leavener, leavening agent

(LEHV-uhn-er) – Leaveners are agents that are added to doughs and batters to increase the volume and lighten the texture.  The most common leaveners are baking soda, baking powder, and yeast. In some recipes, egg whites may be whipped to create a similar effect. In earlier days, leavening agents were called “lifters.”


(lef-suh) – Lefse is considered to any “good” Norwegian the same as the tortilla is to the Mexican and the crepes are to the French.  A Scandinavian tradition for decades, lefse is a pastry made from potatoes, flour, butter, and cream. It is widely prized as a delicious delicacy, whether served plain or with butter and sugar.


(lehg-Yoom) – Legumes, also known as pulses, are the mature seeds that grow inside pods.  We call them peas, beans, and lentils.

Lemon Drop Martini

In large west coast cities, especially San Francisco, the Lemon Drop Martini is the popular drink, a lemon drink that is truly reminiscent of the childhood candy.  It is sometimes known as adult lemonade.  This addictive drink is a mixture of fresh lemon juice, vodka, sweet vermouth or Triple Sec, sugar, and served ice cold in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.  Check out my favorite Lemon Drop Martini for a recipe.

  • History:

    This drink came into vogue during the 1970s and was developed at a now defunct bar called Henry Africa’s in San Francisco, a well known singles” bar.  Since it was basically a singles bar that catered to single men and women, they developed and pushed “girl drinks.”  They are drinks that are potent, but sweet enough to cover the taste of alcohol. It is felt that it was named after the candy, lemon drops, of the same name.


It is also known as citronella.  Lemongrass is native to Malaysia and grown throughout Southeast Asia and California.  It is a stiff tropical grass that resembles a large fibrous green onion (the stalks are too tough to eat buy when simmered in liquid, they impart a distinctive fragrance and taste).  It is an essential herb in southeast Asian cooking.  It adds a lemony flavor to dishes.


These are tiny bean-like seeds.  They are one of the first plants used for foods. T he Egyptians and Greeks cooked these small legumes and so did the Romans. Pliney, the Roman naturalist, recommended them as a food that produced mildness and moderation of temper.


(lee-ay-ZON) – The process of thickening a sauce, soup, or stew.  This is a mixture of cream and egg yolks that is used to thicken soups and sauces.  Egg yolks must be tempered with hot liquid before adding to the liquid in order to prevent curdling.  This process is also referred to as a “binder.”


Its botanical name is Glycyrrhiza, from the Greek meaning “sweet root.”  The taste of the licorice root is so distinctive that its sweetness is detectable in water even when diluted to 1 part licorice to 20,000 parts water.

  • History:

    Licorice has a long and honorable history in the service of mankind.  The earliest usage of Licorice was back in the first syllables of recorded time.  Licorice freaks throughout history have included Pharaohs and Prophets.  Men discovered generous supplies in King Tut’s tomb, while Egyptian hieroglyphics record the use of Licorice in a popular beverage in the days when the Bible was still being written!  Alexander the Great, the Scythian armies, Roman Emperor Caesar, and even India’s great prophet, Brahma, are on record endorsing the beneficial properties contained in Licorice.  Warriors used it for its ability to quench thirst while on the march, while others (including Brahma and venerable Chinese Buddhist sages), recognized Licorice’s valuable healing properties.

    Natural licorice can be effective medicine.  For over 3000 years, licorice root has been used as a remedy for peptic ulcers, sore throats and coughs in eastern and western medicine.  Licorice root has been used since the third century BC to help dissipate coughs.

Liederkrantz cheese

(LEE-duhr-krahntz) – It is a semi-soft aromatic cow’s milk cheese created by New York cheese maker, Emil Frey, in 1882.  This cheese is most commonly enjoyed with beer, dark bread, and onions.  Borden Foods purchased the trademark and is its sole producer.

lima beans

Lima beans come in two varieties; the Fordhook and the baby lima.  The Fordhook is meatier and fatter than the baby limas with has a bolder flavor.  Fresh limas can be found sometimes in June, July, and August.  They should be shelled just before using.

limburger cheese

(LIM-bur-ger) – Limburger is a semi soft, surface-ripened cheese with a characteristic strong flavor and aroma.  It was first made in the Province of Luttich, Belgium and is named for the town of Limburger, where originally much of it was marketed.


(lee-mohn-CHEH-loh) – Limoncello is the generic name for an Italian citrus-based lemon liqueur that is served well chilled in the summer months.  An absolute natural product acquired by the infusion of lemon skins in pure alcohol.  It has become Italy’s second most popular drink after Campari.  It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drinks.  Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve.  The ingredients are simple and few, and making a batch does not require much work, but you will need some time.  In most recipes, Limoncello must steep for (80) eighty days.

  • History:

    It has long been a staple in the lemon-producing region along the Italian Amalfi Coast in Capri and Sorrento.  The Amalfi Coast is known for its citrus groves and narrow winding roads.  Authentic Limoncello is made from Sorrento lemons, which come from the Amalfi Coast.  Families in Italy have passed down recipes for this for generations, as every Italian family has their own Limoncello recipe.


A large seawater crustacean. Lobster is considered the king of the crustacean family and has a jointed body and limbs covered with a hard shell.  The American or Northern lobster is caught from Newfoundland to the Carolinas, but lobster is the essence of the Main seacoast.  Lobster and Maine are all but synonymous.

  • History:

    For centuries, lobsters were so abundant that they were usually considered food for the poor.  According to regional legend, John D. Rockefeller Sr. rescued the lobster in 1910.  The legend is that a bowl of lobster stew, meant for the servants’ table, was accidentally sent upstairs (where it was rapturously received).  From then on, it was given a permanent place on his menu.  Back in New York, what was good enough for John D. was good enough for the rest of society.

Lobster Cardinal

French. The word “cardinal” describes the color of this dish, which resembles the red color of the robes worn by a cardinal of the Catholic Church.  It is cubed cooked lobster meat that is mixed with a sauce, spooned back into the lobster shell, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and browned.

Lobster Newberg

A rich lobster dish in an elegant sauce. It is usually served over buttered toast points.

Lobster Thermidor

Select pieces of lobster sautd with shallots and mushrooms, and then deglazed with white and place back in the shell.

  • History:

    Lobster Thermidor was introduced on January 24, 1894, at Chez Marie, a well-known Paris restaurant.  On that evening Victorien Sardou’s play “Thermidor” had its first performance at the theatre called Comedie-Francais.  Marie decided to launch his new dish by giving it the name of the play “Thermidor.”  The play was called “Thermidor” after one of the months of the French republican calendar.

London broil

London broil is actually a dish and a cut of meat.  For the dish, large pieces of flank steak (from the lower hindquarters) or top round (from the inner portion of the hind leg) are cut into pieces, marinated, grilled, or broiled, and then sliced across the grain.  In the market, you will find many thick cuts of meat — including top round and sirloin tip — labeled “London broil.”


Lox is the term used for salmon that has been cured in pure salt for about two months and then is soaked to get rid of the excess salt.  Lox is not smoked.


(lewd-uh-fisk) – Also called lyefish.  It is dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution for several days to rehydrate it.  It is then boiled or baked and served with butter, salt, and pepper.  The finished lutefisk usually is the consistency of jello.  In the United States, Norwegian-Americans traditionally serve it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In many homes, lutefisk takes the place of the Christmas turkey.  Today the fish is celebrated in ethnic and religious celebrations and is linked with hardship and courage.

  • History:

    To Learn about the history of Lutefisk, plus a recipe, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Lutefisk.


This fruit is native to China and is now grown in tropical climates of the United States.  It is available fresh in Asian markets during the summer months and canned year-round.  The fruit is covered with a thin, brittle, slightly bumpy shell that is easily removed with your fingers.  The fruit inside is white, soft, and somewhat like a grape.  It also has a wonderful aroma.

macadamia nut

(mak-uh-DAY-mee-uh) – The macadamia tree is a native of Queensland, Australia.  It has an extremely hard shell, a buttery texture, and a high fat content.  It is now grown extensively in Hawaii.  It is also a staple in Indonesia where it is known as Keriri, Buah or candle nut.


(mak-uh-ROON) – A small round cookie that has a crisp crust and a soft interior.  It may be made from almonds, though coconut is common in the U.S.  They may also be flavored with coffee, chocolate, or spices.  Amaretti, from Italy, are also a type of macaroon.

  • History:

    They originated in an Italian Monastery around 1792.  The Carmelite nuns to pay for their housing when they needed asylum during the French Revolution baked these cookies.  The Carmelite nuns followed the principle: “Almonds are good for girls who do not eat meat.”  During the Revolution, two nuns who hid in the town called Nancy, made and sold macaroons.  They became known as the “Macaroon Sisters.”


Means “corn salad.”  It is a salad green (not actually corn), having small, white to pale bluish flowers and edible young leaves.  Mache leaves are tender, velvety green with either a mild or sweet, nutty flavor.  It is also sometimes called field salad, field lettuce, feldsalat, lamb’s tongue, and lamb’s lettuce.  It is considered a gourmet green and usually is expensive and hard to find.  This plant grows wild in Europe and is used as a forage crop for sheep and is a pest in wheat and cornfields.  However, skilled chefs, who love these early spring greens, desire it.  Mache is very perishable, so use immediately.  Cook it like spinach, or use it in fruit and vegetable dishes. Makes a nice salad by itself when dressed with a peanut oil based dressing or light vinaigrette.


(mah-DER-ah) – A fortified red wine that is made from white grapes and comes from the island of Madeira.  It resembles a well-matured, full-bodied sherry.

Mahi Mahi

This is a type of dolphin fish, not to be confused with the dolphin that is a mammal.  The Hawaiians named it mahi mahi to avoid this misunderstanding.  It is a moderately fatty fish with firm, flavorful flesh and it is usually available as steaks or fillets.  It tastes best when grilled or broiled.

Mai Tai

It is a potent cocktail that combines light and dark rums with different frit juices of choice served over ice.  The Mai Tai is considered the unofficial and favorite drink of the State of Hawaii.  It seems that every bartender in the Hawaiian Islands has his own secret recipe and that every tourist seems to sample as many as possible.

  • History:

    It was created in San Francisco, California in 1944 by restaurateur, Victor J. Bergeron, the original owner of Trader Vic’s Restaurant.  Supposedly he created it for a couple of Tahitian friends, Harn and Carrie Guild.  On tasting the drink, Carrie reportedly exclaimed, “Mai Tai – Roa Ae” meaning in Tahitian, “Out of this world – The Best.”  In 1953, Bergeron introduced the Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian, Moana, and Surfrider Hotels in the Hawaiian Islands.  Victor Bergeron is reported to have said, “There’s been a lot of conversation over the beginning of the Mai Tai, and I want to set the record straight.  I originated the Mai Tai.  Many other have claimed credit.  All this aggravates my ulcer completely.  Anyone who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker.”

maitre d’hotel

Maitre is French for “master.” Maitre d’ hotel literally means “master of the hotel.”  It came to mean the “head waiter” in a restaurant, a person in charge of a dining room in a hotel or restaurant.


Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall.  Most of the mangos sold in the United States are imported from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean, and South America.  Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos throughout the world.  Mango cultivation has now spread to many parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world, where they grow best.

  • History:

    The mango originated in Southeast Asia where it has been grown for 4,000 years.  Because the mango seed can’t be dispersed naturally by wind or water due to it’s large size and weight.  It is believed that people who moved from one region to another transported the fruit to new areas.  The spread of Buddhism assisted in the distribution of mangoes in Southeastern Asia.  Mangoes were carried to Africa during the 16th century and later found their way aboard Portuguese ships to Brazil in the 1700’s.  Later, in 1742, mangoes were found growing in the West Indies.  In 1860, mangoes were successfully introduced to Florida along the East Coast, where only a few varieties were grown.

maple sugaring

The term “maple sugaring” is part of the history of maple.  In many areas of the region where the most maple products are made, the expression “sugaring” has survived since the earliest times, when sugar was the product made instead of maple syrup, which is the most popular variety of maple produced by the sugar makers of today.  In the early days, sugar was more easily kept in the primitive containers available, and more safely stored for later use.

  • History:

    Journals of the explorers and settlers from as early as 1609 indicate that the native North American Indians were the first sugar makers.  “Indian sugar” and “Indian molasses” are terms that were used by the settlers.

    In later February or early March, at the time of the “Maple Moon,”  Indian families made sugaring camps in areas where maple trees were plentiful.  Gashes were cut in the sugar maples and sap was caught in hollowed out logs or birch bark containers were cut and folded at the corners so as to avoid breaking and consequent leakage.  Indian women and children did most of the work.  Sugaring was a time of celebration for Indian families.  After the cold winter, the Maple Dance brought on warmer weather.

    The early settlers who came to Northeastern North America made maple sugar in much the same way as the Indians.  Most sugaring was done in outdoor camps, set up in groves of maple trees.  Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S., was enthusiastic about maple sugar and established a grove of maples at his Monticello home (one of those maples remains standing on a hill at the plantation today).  Abolitionist friends of Jefferson thought the cultivation of sugar maple might bring West Indian slavery to an end.  Maple sugar was known as “sugar not made by slaves.”

maple syrup

It is the first finished product made from boiled map of the maple tree.  This is the form most widely used in recipes.  A maple tree is usually 30 years old or more and at least 10 inches in diameter before it is tapped.  Depending on its size, a tree may have from one to four taps, each of which yields an average of 10 gallons of sap each season.

  • History:

    Before the French even colonized the New World; maple sap was already being collected by the American Indians who used it as a sweet beverage.  Although they knew how to tap the trees and collect maple sap, their primitive earthenware, however, were not allowing them to boil the sap quite enough to produce maple syrup.  Some historians believe that the American Indians taught the process of sugar making to Europeans; others, rather believe that this discovery can be attribute to a certain doctor named Michel Sarrazin, a military surgeon, who arrived to the Canadian country in 1685.  Although nothing proves that he might be the father of sugar making; the fact remains that the maple syrup production spread through the French colony.  Maple syrup was considered a precious elixir used as medicine to strengthen the chest.

    It is now considered a delicacy in the U.S., but in colonial days it was used extensively as an ordinary sweetener.  The Indians taught the first white settlers how to tap Maple trees in the spring, and then evaporate the sweet sap until it became maple syrup.


(mock-shoe) – This is a dish that the Cajun people of Louisiana got from the Native American tribes that populated southwest Louisiana.  It is a wonderful vegetable dish featuring fresh corn.  The recipe is varied the by adding chicken or even crawfish tails.


A butter substitute that was made originally from other animal fats, but nowadays exclusively from a combination of vegetable oils.  Because margarine closely duplicates butter, it can be substituted equally in recipes, though there will be differences in flavor and sometimes texture depending on what you’re making.  Both margarine and butter have approximately 18% moisture in them.

  • History:

    Margarine was developed in 1869 by a French chemist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouriez, in response to the prize offered by Emperor Louis Napoleon III for a substitute for butter.  The first margarine was made of suet and milk and it was originally called oleomargarine from the Latin word “oleum” which means “oil” and the Greek word “margaron” which means “pearl” (because it had a pearl-like luster).  In 1878, manufacturing began in the United States as “artificial butter.”  After World War II, it began to be called margarine.


(mar-gur-EE-tuh) – The basic or classic Margarita is made using fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and tequila served in a salt-rimmed glass.  Whether plain, salted, straight up, on the rocks, or frozen, Margaritas are made in an array of flavors and colors.

  • History:

    Several  Mexican bars and bartenders have staked a claim to its origin:

    (1)  The strongest claim comes from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 1942. Francisco “Pancho” Morales (1919-1997) is credited with inventing the drink while working in Tommy’s Bar.  A woman came in and asked for a “magnolia” – a drink he had not heard of.  Pretending to know what she wanted, he whipped up a cocktail of tequila, cointreau, and lime juice.

    (2)  Margarita Sames claimed to have invented the drink in 1948 at a poolside Christmas party at her Acapulco vacation house.  The game at the party was to make a new drink concoction and have the party guests test and rate the result. T he result was a success with her guests and quickly spread throughout the southwest United States.

    (3)  Another claim is from Carlos Herrera, owner of the Rancho La Gloria, located between Rosarito Beach and Tijuana.  In the latter 1930s, Herrera would fix various tequila drinks for a showgirl named Marjorie King.  She liked one particular drink so much that he named it Margarita, the Spanish name for Marjorie.

    (4)  The final story is from a bartender in Virginia City, Nevada who named the drink after his girl friend, Margarita Mendez, who hit someone over the heat with a whiskey bottle and died in the crossfire that pursued.


(marin-ad) – It is a Spanish word originally meaning “pickle in brine.”  Today marinade is a strongly-flavored liquid which meat and fish are steeped until they take on some of the flavor or the marinade before cooking.


Marmalade is a jellylike preserve that contains pieces of citrus fruit and rind. The word is first recorded in English in the early sixteenth century.  The word is borrowed from Portuguese marmalada ‘quince jam’, from marmelo ‘a quince’.  The original marmalades were made from quince and the Portuguese word “marmelada” means “quince jam.”

  • History:

    The world’s first known book of recipes, called “Of Culinary Matters,” written by the Roman gastronome Marcus Gavius Apicius in the first century, includes recipes for fruit preserves.

    Marmalade is thought to have been created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, when he mixed orange and crushed sugar to keep her seasickness at bay.  It has also been suggested that the world “marmalade” derives from the words “Marie es malade” (Mary is sick).

    In the late 18th century in Scotland, James Keiller bought a considerable quantity of oranges off a ship that had come to Dundee from Spain.  The oranges were cheap, the reason being, as he soon discovered, that they were very bitter because they were Seville oranges.  Unable to sell them he took them home to his wife.  She experimenented in her kitchen and came up with what we know as marmalade.


(mahr-MEET) –  (1) Marmite is a British product that is a concentrated yeast paste.  It can be used on toast, sandwiches, or as an added ingredient in stews and casseroles.  It is 100% vegetarian and it contains virtually no fat or sugar.  Marmite has a distinctive savory taste, unlike anything else.  It remains a popular food in Britain. ( 2) A French cast iron or earthenware soup pot with a lid.


Marsala is a wine imported from Sicily.  It is Italy’s most famous fortified wine that ranges from dry to sweet.  Dry Marsala makes a tasty aperitif.  Sweet Marsala is used as a dessert wine and also to flavor.  It is also a popular cooking wine.


Marshmallow is a confection made from the root of the marsh mallow plant.  When we think of traditional holiday meals, sweet potatoes with marshmallows always come to mind.

  • History:

    The plant name is really old, first found in an Old English medical book written around 1000 A.D., when it was spelled merscmealwe.  As a candy, marshmallows date back at least to the late nineteenth century.  Originally the marsh mallow plant was mixed with eggs and sugar and then beaten to foam.  Today they are generally made of gelatin, water, sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and artificial sweeteners.  In the 1920s, marshmallows were introduced as a topper for sweet potatoes.  While sweet potatoes and marshmallows were not originally created for the holiday meal, it has become a tradition.


The Martini consists of gin and a varying amount of dry white vermouth, depending on personal taste, and is served in the traditional glass with a V-shaped profile.  It can be garnished with an olive, a twist, or a cocktail onion.  The Martini has become Americans most popular hard-liquor drink and an American icon.  The cocktail has been represented in film, literature, and pop culture as the cocktail of choice for the cool, the suave, and the connected.

  • History:

    In the 1920s, the Martini really became popular during the Prohibition era.  Prohibition ruined the restaurant business in cities and it changed the way Americans drank.  Across the country general liquor consumption was down, but city dwellers drank more per capita, and the trend was towards a mass binge on hard liquor.  An illegal truckload of gin carried higher profit margins than beer or wine and because it was easier to counterfeit than whiskey.

    Just as there are many recipes for Martinis, there are also several stories or legends on how it originated:

    (1)  In 1862, a gold miner came into the bar of the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, threw a gold nugget on the table and asked the legendary bartender, “Professor” Jerry Thomas to shake up something special for him.  This recipe that Jerry Thomas made was later produced in an 1887 reprint of Thomas’ Bartending Book (it did not appear in his first edition of the book) . A mock court held in San Francisco, called the Court of Historical Review, ruled that the Martini was invented in San Francisco, but not before a Martini was drank by the presiding judge.

    (2)  In 1870, a gold miner stopped at Julio Richelieu’s saloon in Martinez, California, and put a fistful of gold nuggets and an empty bottle on the bar, and asked for Champagne, a beverage not available.  The bartender told the miner he had something much better than Champagne and served him a drink, which he said, was a “Martinez Special.”  To this day, Martinez, California claims to be the birthplace of the Martini.  A court in Martinez, California overturned Court of Historical Review’s decision that the Martini was invented in San Francisco, and the in 1992, the citizens of the town erected a brass plaque in downtown Martinez proclaiming their town as the birthplace of the Martini.

    (3)  An Italian bartender, Martini di Taggia, at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel claims to have invented the drink in 1912.  It is said that he was the first to mix a Martini with dry, not sweet, vermouth.

    (4)  Also bartender, William F. Mulhall, wrote of mixing both sweet and dry Martinis at New York’s Hoffman House around the same time.

    (5)  The English also claim the name derived from the Swiss Martini & Henry rifle used by the British army between 1871 and 1891.

    (6)  The Italians also like to take credit for the origin being from the Martini & Rossi Vermouths.  The Oxford English Dictionary states that the earliest use of the word was in 1894 and states that the word comes from Martini & Rossi Vermouth citing an advertisement for Heublein’s Club Cocktails.


(MAHR-zih-pan) – A mixture of sugar, almonds, and egg whites. Also called almond paste.  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.

  • History:

    In ancient Persia, the favored sweet was ground almond paste flavored with rose water called lauzinag.  This sweet was wrapped in a paper-thin pastry made from egg whites and cornstarch.  When the Arabs conquered Iran, the lauzinag became the most admired dessert in Baghdad.  Plain almond paste is still used in the Middle East where it is now called lauzina.  When it reached Spain the Moors started calling it makshshabaan, which was the name of the kind of wooden box they stored it in. In Spanish, that word became mazapan.

    Other Europeans heard the Spanish name, thinking it meant, “March bread,” called it marzipan (the traditional shape of marzipan is in the form of a loaf of bread).  From the late Middle Ages through the 19th century, the confection was called marchpane.  For a long time only apothecaries were entitled to prepare and sell this delicacy.  It was thought of as strong flavored bread to which precious stones and pearls were ground and added to cure ailments and prolong life.

    According to a legend, the walled city of Lubeck. while under attack, the city gates were closed.  Eventually the bakers ran out of flour, and to stave off starvation, they ground their abundant supply of almonds into flour and created marzipan.


mascarpone cheese

(mass-car-POHNE) – Mascarpone is an Italian triple-creme cheese, made from a generally low-fat (25%) content fresh cream.  It’s made from the milk of cows that have been fed special grasses filled with fresh herbs and flowers (a special diet that creates a unique taste often described as “fresh and delicious”).  Milky-white in color, it is a thick cream that is easily spread.  When fresh, it smells like milk and cream, and often is used in place of butter.  It is much like fresh ricotta in consistency and has a mildly acid and buttery flavor.  It is actually not a cheese because to starter or rennet is used in its production.  Lemon juice is what helps it to coagulate. Because of its low sodium content, mascarpone is highly perishable.

  • History:

    According to a 12th century document from Lake Como (not too far from Milan), it indicated that what they called mascarpone then was actually like ricotta cheese.  The cheese apparently originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, west and south of Milan. S ome say the name came from the Spanish work “mas que bueno” which means “better than good.” It also may have come from “mascarpa,” a milk produce made from the whey of stracchino or aged cheese.  Or, it may come from “mascarpia,” the local dialect for ricotta, since a virtually identical process makes both cheeses.  The thought then, is that mascarpone originated as a by-product from other cheeses.  Originally, it was produced in autumn and winter for immediate consumption.


(MAHT-suh) – Matzo is a Hebrew word that means “unleavened bread.”  The Bible commands Jews to commemorate the exodus from Egypt by eating matzo – and no leavened bread – for the eight days of Passover.  Thousands of years of rabbis have come up with long explanations for how to observe that seemingly simple commandment.  For ritually observant Jews, it means that just about anything with a grain base that hasn’t been rabbinically certified as suitable for Passover will be removed from the house for the eight days.  And many recipes that use regular flour or bread will be reformatted to use Passover matzo or matzo meal, which is nothing but ground up Passover matzo.  There are only a few acceptable deviations from the standard recipe:  Egg matzo is acceptable fare for children, the ill and the elderly.  And whole-wheat matzo is suitable for anyone who thinks regular matzo isn’t quite crunchy or dry enough.


(MAY-uh-nayz) – (French) Mayonnaise is an emulsion consisting of oil, egg, vinegar, condiments, and spices.


(med-al-eean) – A French word meaning “metal.”  The word means a skinless, boneless round piece of meat which is usually cut from the loin of pork, lamb, or veal. he meat is tied with a string to help retain its round shape during cooking.

Melba Toast

Melba toast is a very thinly sliced crisp toast that is served warm.

  • History:

    Also named after Dame Nellie Melba. Melba toast is said to be derived from the crisp toast that was part of Dame Melba’s diet during 1897 when she was strenuously dieting, living largely on toast.  It is said that she so enjoyed a piece of toast a young waiter had burnt, while she was staying at the Savoy Hotel.  It was bungled and was served to her in a thin dried-up state resembling parchment.  Cesar Ritz beheld with horror his celebrated guest crunching this aborted toast, and hastened over to apologize.  Before he could say a word supposedly Madame Melba burst out joyfully, “Cesar, how clever of Escoffier.  I have never eaten such lovely toast.” The hotel proprietor Cesar Ritz supposedly named it in a conversation with chef Escoffier.


(ma-rang) – A meringue is a light, delicate foam confection made by slowly beating egg whites and then adding sugar.  Whipping egg whites are much like blowing air into a balloon.  Beating or whisking causes the protein in the egg whites to unfold, forming films that trap the air bubbles, and the sugar stiffens the foam.  A meringue is really nothing but a foam, and foam is a big collection of bubbles.  Fat interferes with the formation of a good foam in the egg whites.  Fats tend to collapse egg foams.

  • History:

    According to the The Origins of Meringue by Douglas Muster, there are four (4) claims to who invented meringue:

    Lady Elinor Fettiplace for a baked beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection in a manuscript cookery book published in 1604

    Lady Rachel Fane for a baked beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection in a manuscript cookery book published in 1630

    Recipe of Franis Massialot in a cook book published in 1692

    Recipe of Gasparin in a cook book published in 1720, the only copy of which was destroyed in World War II


(mare-low) – A red wine that is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.


(min-yard-EEEZ) – Small, one-bite sweets or delicacies, generally presented with the check, as a thank you from the restaurant.  The French called them “preciousnesses.”  They are usually very simple but elegant desserts.  In other words, it is the finish to a meal.


(meel-FWEE) – In French it translates as “a thousand leaves.”  Outside of France it is known as “Napoleon.”  It consists of layers of puff pastry interspersed with pastry cream or whipped cream and iced with fondant and chocolate or with confectioner’s sugar.  It is believed to have been developed in France during the latter part of the 19th century.


Mincemeat was developed as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking some 500 years ago in England, where mince pies are still considered an essential dish for holiday dinners just like the traditional plum pudding.  It is, very simply, a mixture of fruits and spices that are cooked with or without minced meat and generally doused with brandy, rum, or whiskey.  It improves and becomes moister as the weeks pass, so allow it to mature for at least four weeks before using.


(mih-nest-ROE-nay) – Means “big soup.” It is a thick vegetable soup that generally contains pasta.


Mint is the aromatic plant of the genus “mentha,” used in infusions, to flavor liqueurs, sweets, syrups, and as a culinary herb.  There are about 25 species. Its leaves are used to flavor sauces and salads, in cooking vegetables, and to season meat dishes.  It’s also used in making mint tea (made by infusing the leaves).  Dried mint lasts up to two years.  The leaves of peppermint produce a very pungent oil (used mainly in making sweets, liqueurs, and jellies).  Lemon bergamot is a Mediterranean species that also produces an essential oil used mainly in marinades and drinks.  Japanese mint is the species from which menthol is extracted.

Mint Julep

A Mint Julep is always made with fresh mint, Kentucky bourbon, and plenty of crushed or shaved ice.  The drink is traditionally served in a silver or pewter cups (this is because these cups frost better than glass).  Kentuckians say that when a Mint Julep is made right, you can hear angels sing.  It is a classic drink of Kentucky and is traditionally served at the running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May.  Thousands of Mint Juleps are served each year at the Derby and at weekend Derby parties around the nation.  The citizens of Charleston, South Carolina also like to claim the Mint Julep as their own.

  • History:

    Mint Juleps have been served in the South since the 1700s.  A visitor in 1774, describing the southern menu and especially breakfast as being overly luxurious, observed that the average planter rose early and had his drink (because a julep before breakfast was believed to give protection against malaria).

    The clubhouse at the Kentucky Derby began mixing Mint Juleps around 1875.  The drink really became popular and became the track’s signature libation in 1938 when the management began charging 75 cents for the drink and the small glass vessel it came in.


(meer-PWAH) – When a recipe refers to “mirepoix” it is talking about a standard ratio of onions, carrots, and celery used in classical cooking.  The ratio is 50% onion, 25% carrots, and 25% celery.  Mirepoix is often used in the making of stocks and soups.  Sometimes ham or bacon is added for more flavor.  It is used to season sauces, stews, and soups.  Mirepoix can also be used as a bed on which to braise meats.

  • History:

    Named after Duke Maresch Mirepoix of France. It is believed that his cooks created the mixture.


(mee-rin) – Mirin is Japanese for a sweet rice wine made from glutinous, short-grained rice.  It has an alcohol content of 13% to 22% . It is not used for drinking but is used in Japanese cooking to add a sweet flavor to a dish.

Mise en Place

[MEEZ ahn plahs] – A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.  Organizing and completing in advance all the preliminary steps required in a specific preparation.  Mise en place makes the actual process of cooking more efficient and helps prevent the cook from making mistakes or discovering missing ingredients at a crucial moment.  Check out my article on Mise en Place on how to use this technique in your cooking.


(mee-soh) – Miso is known as soybean paste to Westerners.  Miso has played an extremely important role in the dietary life of the Japanese for centuries along with rice.  It is a fermented paste of grain and soybeans, has the consistency of peanut butter, and comes in a wide variety of flavors and colors.

  • History:

    It is said that miso came to Japan from China.  At first, Buddhist monks and nobles treasured fermented food like miso as luxuries, but it became a daily necessity in the Nara Period (710-784).  Later in the Muromachi Period (1392-1573), it came to be a popular food of common people.  It was in the I7th century that industrial production of miso was started.  At present, there are about 1,600 miso-manufacturing plants in Japan.  The production volume of Miso in Japan is about 600,000 tons and of which about 3,000 tons are shipped overseas.  Mix miso with a little water before combining with other foods so that it will blend easily.  Miso can enhance the flavor of sauces, soups, and marinades.  Since it’s high in sodium, don’t add salt or soy sauce to a recipe until testing for taste first.  Miso also makes a good substitute for anchovy paste.


(muh-LAS-sihz) – Molasses is made from sugar cane, which goes through a complex process, which removes all of the nutrients, resulting in a white sugar. When the natural sugar crystallizes, the molasses is drawn off or “spun out.”

  • blackstrap molasses

    It is the thick, dark residual liquid food (syrup) that remains after the last extraction of sugar from cane or sorghum.  During the refining of sugar cane and sugar beets, the juice squeezed from these plants is boiled to a syrup mixture from which sugar crystals are extracted.  The remaining brownish-black liquid is molasses.  Blackstrap molasses comes from the third and final boiling and is what amounts to the dregs of the barrel. The resulting molasses (blackstrap) is very dark and has a robust somewhat bitter-tart flavor.  As the final product, blackstrap molasses contains the lowest sugar content of the molasses, but is the more vitamins, minerals, and trace elements (iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium) found naturally in the sugar cane plant, making it more nutritious than most other sweeteners.  Used in a variety of baked goods, particularly meat and vegetable dishes, as a sweetener and coloring agent . It is also widely accepted as a “health food”.  When blended with Fancy Molasses, it produces a cooking molasses, which can be used in any number of recipes and is particularly suitable for ginger snaps, soy based sauces, licorice, and canned baked beans.

  • sorghum

    It is different from molasses, although many people use the terms interchangeably.  Sorghum is made from the juice of the sweet-sorghum cane stalk and has no sugar removed and thus is significantly sweeter than molasses.

  • History:

    This food sweetener was probably first extracted from sugar cane by the early Chinese or by the East Indians.  Its American history dates back to 1493 when Columbus introduced it to the West Indies.  Molasses became an important product in Colonial trade.  It was the major sweetener used in America until after World War I because it was less expensive than sugar.  Molasses was so important that the founders of the colony of Georgia promised each man, woman, and child who endured a year in Georgia 64 quarts of molasses as a reward.


Mold on Food – Are Molds Dangerous? – Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter.  Mold grows from tiny spores that float around in the air.  When some of these spores fall onto a piece of damp food, they grow into mold.  The mold feeds itself by producing chemicals that make the food break down and start to rot.  As the bread rots, the mold grows.


(MOH-lah) – The word comes from the Aztec word “molli” that means “concoction”, “stew”, or “sauce.”  In Mexico, mole is a Mexican is a very rich, thick chocolate sauce that is made with a variety of chiles, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, seeds, and a small amount of chocolate.  It varies from town to town and family to family. It’s best known ingredient is chocolate.  The chocolate contributes richness to the sauce without adding too much sweetness.

monkey dish

A “monkey dish” is a small or tiny round bowl or saucer used in the restaurant industry for side dishes.  The dish is also called a “fruit dish.”

  • History:

    Some researcher’s think that the name comes from the little hat that a hurdy gurdy man’s monkey wore.  When the monkey’s hat was taken off its head and tipped over to accept change, it resembles the little dish known in restaurants as a monkey dish.


Also called angler fish is named for the way it lures its prey.  A bottom dweller, it has a long filament, which grows from its head, and it twitches and resembles a worm.  When the prey fish attacks the “worm”, it’s engulfed by the huge mouth of the Monkfish (also known as Angler, lotte, bellyfish, frogfish, sea devil, and goosefish). Not a pretty fish, the Monkfish is large and firm textured.  It is low fat and has a mild sweet flavor.  It is often compared to lobster. T he edible portion, tail (loin) can be roasted, grilled, braised, poached, or sauteed.

Monterey cheese

This cheese was first made on farms in Monterey County, California around 1892 and manufactured on a factory scale was begun about 1916.  It is made from pasteurized whole, partly skimmed, or skim milk.  Whole-milk Monterey is semi soft, and Monterey made from partly skimmed or skim milk is hard and used for grating.


(mo-rel) – A morel is a mushroom, which belongs to the fungus family. Morels are edible fungus.

mornay sauce

A cream sauce made with cheese.  This is especially good with fish, eggs, vegetables, and pasta.

  • History:

    (1) Legend dates this sauce to the 17th century when a French nobleman named Philippe de Mornay threw a handful of cheese into a Bhamel sauce and this achieved this sauce.

    (2) Another version states that a cook named Voiron who dedicated the sauce to his former chef, named Mornay, created it.

mortar and pestle

Mortar and pestles are used to grind solids into powders.  A mortar is a bowl-shaped container made of a hard wood, marble, pottery, or stone.  The pestle is a bat-shaped tool that is used to grind inside the mortar (bowl) and pulverize grains, herbs, and other food substances as well as medicines.  The pestle is rotated against the bottom of the mortar to pulverize the ingredient between them to the desired consistency.  Crushing the fibers of herbs releases the full range of essential oils they contain.  Fresh spices and herbs are more flavorful and add more zest to a dish when they are freshly ground.

  • molcajete

    (mohl-kah-HEH-teh) – The Mexican term for mortar and pestle.  Molcajete being the mortar (seasoning bowl) and tejolote (from stone doll) the pestle.  They are made from volcanic rock and are used to grind herbs and spices or to crush tomatoes, tomatillos or other vegetables for salsas.  Foods traditionally prepared in the molcajete include salsas and mole’s (mohl-LAY), as well as guacamole.  It is also used for grinding chilies, garlic or other herbs and spices for food preparation.

    History: The Molcajete, or Mexican version of the mortar and pestle appears in Mexican pre-history in the Tehuac Valley 6,000 years ago.  This is an ancient device, which was originally used for grinding grain . The grain was placed in a shallow depression in a stone, the mortar, and then pounded with a stone, the pestle.

  • Suribachi

    The Japanese version of the mortar and pestle. It consists of an earthenware bowl glazed on the outside.  The inside of the bowl has a ridged pattern to facilitate grinding.  It is used with a wooden pestle called “surikogi”. Wood is used to keep the pestle from wearing down the ridges in the mortar.  In Japanese cooking the suribachi is used to crush sesame seed as well as for various pastes.

    History: The earliest excavated evidence of its use in Japan was known in the Yayoi period (400 B.C. to 400 A.D.), when rice cultivation was introduced.  In China, early in the former Han Dynasty (221 B.C. to 9 A.D.), foot-driven and water-powered tilt-hammer pestles throve and seem to have been introduced in Japan in about the eighth century.

Mother Sauces

Also called “Grand Sauces.”  These are the five most basic sauces that every cook should master.  Antonin Careme, founding father of French “grande cuisine,” came up with the methodology in the early 1900’s by which hundreds of sauces would be categorized under five Mother Sauces, and there are infinite possibilities for variations, since the sauces are all based on a few basic formulas.  Sauces are one of the fundamentals of cooking.  Know the basics and you will be able to prepare a multitude of recipes like a professional.  Learn how to make the basic five sauces and their most common derivatives.  The five Mother Sauces are:

  • Bechamel sauce (white)

    White cream sauce made from a roux (a combination of flour and a fat).  The old expression, “First you make a roux,” indicates that you make the roux before adding anything else to it.  A roux is an equal combination of butter and flour (normally one tablespoon of each), simmered over low heat until it bubbles; milk (one cup) is then added.  The flour/butter roux thickens the milk, creating a rich sauce.  To thicken the sauce to a medium consistency, use two tablespoons each of butter and flour per cup of milk; for an even thicker roux, use three tablespoons of each ingredient per cup of milk.  Bechamel sauce is the base for such sauces as Mornay sauce, and it’s the foundation for many savory souffl.  In Italy, bechamel sauce is known as balsamella.

  • Veloute sauce (blond)

    Very similar to Bhamel sauce; although instead of adding milk to the roux, white chicken or veal stock (and sometimes fish fumet) is added.  Veloutis often made even richer by adding egg yolks or cream.

  • Brown (demi-glace) or Espagnole sauce

    Traditionally made from beef stock, aromatics, herbs and, sometimes, tomato paste.  Brown sauce is the basis from which many other sauces are made.  Brown sauce consists of a liquid thickened with a cooked mixture of butter and flour called a roux.  The difference is that for a brown sauce, the roux is cooked much longer; it must be stirred over low heat until it acquires a nut-brown cast that intensifies the color and flavor of the sauce.  This lengthier cooking diminishes the thickening power of the starch, a factor that should be taken into consideration before you start cooking.  To make a brown sauce of medium thickness, allow two tablespoons of both butter and flour for each cup of liquid.

  • Hollandaise sauce (butter)

    Uses butter and egg yolks as its liaisons.  It is served hot with vegetables, fish, and eggs (like egg benedict).  It will be a pale lemon color, opaque, but with a luster not appearing oily.  The basic sauce and its variations should have a buttery-smooth texture, almost frothy, and an aroma of good butter.  Making this emulsified sauce requires a good deal of practice – it is not for the faint of heart.  Becrnaise sauce, which is “related” to hollandaise sauce, is most often served with steak.

  • Tomato sauce (red)

    Prepared on a tomato product base with flavorings and seasonings, plus liquid added.  The tomato sauce is slightly coarser than any other of the grand sauces because of the degree of texture that remains even after pureeing and straining tomatoes.  The sauce will have a deep, rich tomato flavor.
    mount with butter – Mount with butter is a technique where small pieces of cold, unsalted butter are whisked into a sauce just before serving.  This gives sauces texture and flavor as well as a glossy look.


(MOOS) – The word derives from the Latin “mulsa” meaning a mixture of honey and water, and also the French meaning “froth” or “foam.”  This dessert is usually served cold.


Moxie was our nations first mass-marketed soft drink.  Long before Pepsi, Coca Cola, and the current variety of “new age” soft drinks with sophisticated names, there was Moxie.  The word Moxie is the only proper name that has made it to the dictionary as a noun synonymous with having “spunk” or “guts” (if you ever tasted it, you would instantly know why!).  It is still common to hear of someone as having “a lot of Moxie”.

  • History:

    Moxie was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1884 by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, ME.  Originally, Moxie was touted as a patent medicine guaranteed to cure almost any ill including loss of manhood, paralysis, and softening of the brain.  These claims were revised slightly (more than slightly, actually) with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.  By the early 20th century, the “Nerve Food” was carbonated, brilliantly merchandised, and became a household word.  In spite of the claims restrictions placed on Moxie by the Food & Drug Act, many ads from this explosive growth period touted the “healthful” and alleged medicinal benefits of the tonic.  Bottlers were opened all over the country.  The horse drawn Moxie Bottle Wagons were a common scene. In the twenties and thirties, these were replaced by the famous Horsemobiles, which could be seen at resorts, parades, civic events, and fairs.

mozzarella cheese

(mo-tsah-REL-lah) – In Italian, mozzarella means to “chop off.”  Mozzarella cheese is one of the most popular cheeses used in Italian cooking.  The cheese should taste fresh and reminiscent of milk.  It should be mild and delicate.  Some say it is bland, yet there is flavor.  There should be a hint of sourness.  If it tastes too tart or sour the cheese is past its prime.  The color should be white; however, seasonally the cheese can be more yellow due to the cows’ diet of grasses.  The fresher the cheese, the more elastic and springy the curd.  As the cheese ages it becomes more and more soft.  The perishability of fresh mozzarella varies according to packaging.  Vacuum sealing extends the shelf life dramatically.  There are three types: industrially produced fresh mozzarella that is available in many specialty stores, mozzarella curds that are available for delis to mix with hot water to form soft mozzarella in their stores, and some handmade fresh mozzarella.  Fresh mozzarella can be packaged dry in vacuum-sealed plastic packages or in a governing liquid sometimes called “latte”.  It is available salted and unsalted.  It is most often made from cow’s milk; however it can be made from a combination of other milks such as cow’s milk and goat’s milk mixed.  No buffalo-milk mozzarella is produced in the USA because water buffalo milk is not commercially available here.  All the buffalo milk mozzarella sold here is imported from Italy and South America.

  • History:

    Legend has it that mozzarella was first made when cheese curds accidentally fell into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory near Naples – and soon thereafter the first pizza was made!  Actually, new cheeses are often formulated when mistakes happen, so there well may be truth in the tale! Mozzarella was first made in Italy near Naples from the rich milk of water buffalos.  Because it was not made from pasteurized milk and because there was little or no refrigeration the cheese had a very short shelf life and seldom left the southern region of Italy near Naples where it was made.  As cheese technology, refrigeration and transportation systems developed the cheese spread to other regions of Italy.  However, to this day it is widely known that the best and most highly prized buffalo mozzarella is still found south of Naples near Battipaglia and Caserta where small factories continue centuries-old traditions making buffalo mozzarella fresh daily for their local customers who line up at the factories to buy the freshly made delicacy.


(MUN-ster) – It is also call munster cheese.  It is a semi soft, whole milk cheese that was first made in the vicinity of Munster in the Vosges Mountains near the western border of Germany.  It has a yellow, orange, or white surface with a creamy white smooth interior.  It melts quickly when shredded and is often used shredded for sandwiches and pizza toppings.


(moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh) – Its nickname is simply “muff.”  These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores.  It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese, Italian ham, and freshly minced garlic.  They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye.  A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature, never toasted; it is considered blasphemy to heat the sandwich.

mung beans

It is also known by many other names, some of which are green gram, green bean, lutou, look dou, moyashimame, and oorud bean.  The 12 to 24 inch tall mung bean plants produce clusters of slender, 3 to 4 inch long, blackish, fuzzy pods with very small brown seeds.  They are little round yellow beans sealed in a dark green seed coat. Its dried seeds are used in sprouting or for grinding into bean meal.  The mung bean is what most edible bean sprouts are produced from.

  • History:

    Native to India, they spread to China.  They were cultivated by 1500 BC, and were often sprouted, being much more digestible that way.  It has been written that the Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago.  Accounts of sprouting appear in the Bible in the Book of Daniel.  In the 1700’s, sailors were riddled by scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) and suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages.  In an effort to battle the illness, the sailors drank beer brewed from grain sprouts, rich in vitamin C.



Mustard is from crucifer family, which includes turnips, radishes, horseradish and watercress.  Mustards vary in texture and flavor, as well as color.  Mustard is low in calories and cholesterol and also high in protein and minerals.  Though mustard can be grown almost anywhere with a cold or temperate climate, most of the mustard purchased today, including most French imports, comes from the prairies of Canada.  The only European countries with significant mustard crops are England and Hungary.

Today, there are nearly 1,000 varieties of mustard on the market. Americans seem to favor the sweet-hot, tangy versions and the Dijon blends.  There’s even a mustard museum, Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin that features 3,043 jars of specialty or blended mustards worldwide.

  • History:

    From the earliest times, mustard has been known as a condiment and as a medicine.  There seems to be a variety of stories relative to the origination of mustard.  The name mustard is derived from a Latin word “must” which was an unfermented grape wine made potent and fiery with the addition of ground mustard seed.  Some historians reference that the Chinese have grown mustard for more than 3,000 years, while others say that it originated in the Mediterranean, where it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years by the Greeks and Romans.  The Greeks and Romans used mustard not only as a condiment, but also medicinally, applying it externally for the relief of a variety of aches and pains.  The Egyptians, it is reported, consumed mustard by popping a seed or two into the mouth while chewing meat, rather than making a powder or paste such as is used today.

    In the 14th century, Pope John XII of Avignon became so devoted to mustard that he put it in every dish and even created a title, “Mustard Maker to the Pope” when trying to figure out what to do with a good-for-nothing nephew from Dijon.  In 1336, when the Duke of Burgundy invited his cousin, Philip the Fair of Valois, King of France, to a festival, 70 gallons of mustard were consumed at a single dinner.  Generally, people consumed a lot of mustard back then.  For example, in the books of a 13th century Tudor household were listed expenses for seven to 10 gallons of mustard monthly.

    In 1853, Maurice Grey developed a machine that could grind and sift mustard seeds, advancing the art of moutarde (the French word for mustard).  He then went into business with Auguste Poupon, giving birth to prepared mustard history.  In England, at the same time, Jeremiah Coleman was refining his mustard powder.  But it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the British enthusiasm for mustard developed.

mutton ham

Mutton hams are a well-known specialty reflecting the lack of pigs in Scotland in days gone by.  This 18th century recipe is an ideal dish for those whose religious principles forbid them to eat pork but who would enjoy the flavor.

  • History:

    In the 1700s mutton hams were a famous Scottish border specialty and a major export overseas from Glasgow.  Today, especially in the north, geese and beef joints are still cured and smoked.


(NAH-choh) – A small tortilla chip topped with cheese and chile peppers or chile pepper sauce.  The word may be from the Spanish for “flat-nosed.”

nap or nappe

French word that means to completely coat food with a light, thin, even layer of sauce or a jelly.

Napoleon pastry

(nuh-POH-lee-uhn) – It is known as mille-feuilles in France. Outside of France it is known as “Napoleon.” It consists of layers of puff pastry interspersed with pastry cream or whipped cream and iced with fondant and chocolate or with confectioner’s sugar.

  • History:

    (1) It is believed to have been developed in France during the latter part of the 19th century.  The Danish people have been told for generations that a Danish royal pastry chef invented the dessert way back in the 1800s on the occasion of a state visit between the Emperor Napoleon and the King of Denmark, in Copenhagen.  Some sources believe that the chocolate lines on the pastry appear to form the letter “N” for Napoleon.

    (2) A final story or tale is that the dessert was really a French invention after all, and that it was Napoleon’s favorite pastry.  It is said that he ate so many of them on the eve of Waterloo that he lost the battle.

Navajo Fry Bread

The dough used in making this flat bread is a variation of the dough for flour tortillas, consisting of wheat flour, shortening, salt, and water, leavened sometimes by baking powder and sometimes by yeast.  Today, there are endless regional variations of this Native American flat bread.  Each tribe, and also each family, has their own special recipe.  The making of Fry Bread is considered a source of pride.  Navajo Fry Bread is considered a tradition in Arizona and New Mexico, and dry bread with honey butter is a specialty of New Mexico.  Learn more about the history (includes recipes) of Navajo Fry Bread & Indian Tacos.

  • History:

    Navajo Fry Bread actually evolved because of access to European wheat and lard. In 18860, approximately 8,000 Navajos spent four years imprisoned at Fort Summer, New Mexico, and were given little more than white flour and lard to eat.  After returning to their new reservation, the United States’ government provided them with wheat flour as part of their commodities program.  Because of this, lard and wheat flour became the main ingredients in the making of Navajo Fry Bread.  The Indian women had to make the best of what was often considered poor-quality rations in reservation camps and the varying availability of government-issued commodities.


An iced pudding flavored with chestnuts and dried fruit. Also a cream pie filled with mixed preserved fruits and topped with shaved chocolate.

  • History:

    Nesselrode was invented by chef Monsieur Mony, chef to the Russian diplomat known as Count Karl Nesselrode (1780-1862), in Paris.  Count Nesselrode was a famous Russian gourmet and diplomat.  His contemporaries thought Nesselrode a poor diplomat whose attention was focused only on a good table, flowers and money.  As a patron of the culinary arts, he had a number of dishes named in his honor by chefs.

neufchâtel cheese

(noof-sha-TEL) – A soft unripened cheese originally from Neufchatel-en-Bray, France.  It has a fat content of 44 to 48%.  It is sold as low-fat cream cheese in the U.S.

Newburg Sauce

An American sauce that was created at the famous Delmonico Restaurant in New York City by their French chef, M. Pascal.  This elegant sauce is composed of butter, cream, egg yolks, sherry, and seasonings.  It is usually served over buttered toast points.  The sauce is also used with other foods, in which case the dish is usually given the name “Newburg.”


A descriptive term for dishes served with particular foods used by the chefs of the City of Nice, France.  This garnish usually includes garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olive, capers, and lemon juice. Salad Niise is the most famous of all these dishes, consisting of potatoes, olives, green beans, and vinaigrette dressing.

nicoise olive

(nee-SHAHZ) – A small, oval olive that ranges in color from purple-brown to brown-black.  They are from the Provence region of France (but some are also grown in Italy).  They are cured in brine and packed in olive oil.


Kernels of dried field corn that have their hull and germ removed and partially processed with slaked lime and water.  The first people of Mexico and Native Americans used ashes dissolved in water.  Today the standard alkali for the nixtamalizing process is purified cal, or calcium hydroxide. Nixtamal is usually found packaged in bags in the refrigerated sections of Southwest markets.  Posole is an excellent substitute.

Hominy can also be substituted for nixtamal, but it generally has a much milder flavor.  Essentially nixtamal is the same as hominy In the Southern U.S. states, nixtamal is called hominy (however, today, hominy has the nutrient-rich germ removed, unlike nixtamal). T he southerners serve it whole, as a vegetable, or ground it into grits.

The main application of nixtamal is to grind the kernels and mix them with seasonings to make a dough, similar to masa, which is used to make tamales.  Nixtamal is also used whole in soups and stews.  In countries where nixtamal is used, it is made fresh daily . It spoils quickly without refrigeration, but even with refrigeration, its flavor and texture are noticeably better on the day it was made.


(nwah-ZEHT) – (1) It is the French word for hazelnut. ( 2) In French, noisette is a small version of noix, which means a “walnut.”  The noix of a leg of lamb or ham means a “small walnut-shaped” which is a juicy morsel.  It is a small, round, or oval slice of lamb or mutton, which is cut from the leg, rib, or fillet. It is cut to provide an individual portion.

non-reactive pan

When a recipe calls for a non-reactive cookware, use clay, copper, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel.  Stainless steel is the most common non-reactive cookware available as it does not conduct or retain heat well (it frequently has aluminum or copper bonded to the bottom or a core of aluminum between layers of stainless steel).  Although expensive, this kind of cookware offers the benefits of a durable, non-reactive surface and rapid, uniform heat conductivity.  Glass cookware is non-reactive and although it retains heat well it conducts it poorly.  Enamelware is non-reactive as long as the enamel is not scratched or chipped.


Any of a variety of thin strips of pasta made from flour, water, and sometimes egg.  In Japan, noodles are consumed winter or summer, hot in broth or cold in dipping sauce.  There are four main branches in the Japanese noodle family. Soba, which translates as “nearness,” is a thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, good hot or cold.  Chubby udon, made from wheat flour, is usually served hot, with tempura.  Hiyamugi is a medium-thickness wheat noodle; usually eat cold, served on a bed of ice, with fishcakes and chopped boiled eggs.  Somen, a very thin wheat noodle is also served cold with a dipping sauce, often with green shiso leaves, ginger and toasted sesame seeds.  In Japan, it’s considered to be very good form to loudly slurp your noodles.  It is a way of telling your host you approve of the cooking.


(NOR-ee) – The Japanese name for a flat blade-like red seaweed belonging to the genus Porphyra.  Nori, which is usually sold as a rectangular sheet measuring 19 x 21 cm, is the most commonly eaten alga in Japan.  Tasters are employed to evaluate the taste, color, texture, and overall quality of cultivated nori, in much the same way that wine tasters select high-quality products for the food industry.  High quality nori has a glossy, black color and good aroma.  It is so tender that it melts with saliva in the mouth.  Poor quality nori has a greenish color with less gloss and aroma, and it has a hard texture.  In Japan, the highest-grade nori is elegantly packaged and presented as a special gift.  The Chinese people call it “zicai” (purple vegetable).

  • History:

    The production and consumption of nori in the form of dried or roasted sheets dates back 1,300 years.  The use of this seaweed was introduced into Japan from China.  Nori utilization was first recorded in the “Taiho Ritsuryo,” Japan’s first book of laws in 701 A.D., as a taxable agricultural product. Initially, field-gathered plants were used but when the supply became inadequate, cultivation was started in the 17th century.


It is a French candy made by whipping egg whites until they are light and frothy.  Sugar or honey syrup is added to stabilize the foam and creating a frappe.  Roasted nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, or walnuts, are added.  A number of other flavoring ingredients are then added to create nougat with different flavors.  Nuts are also added. Nougat is called torrone in Italy and turron in Spain.

  • History:

    The history of the origin of nougat varies with different historians.  Most historians believe that nougat comes from ancient Rome where a sweet made from honey, almonds, and eggs was made and reserved for special functions or as an offering to their gods.  The first known documented mention in Italy of torrone was in the year 1441 in Cremona, where at the wedding of Francesco Sforza to Maria Bianca Visconti, a new sweet was created in the couple’s honor.

    (1)  French historians think that the nougat traces back to a Greek walnut confection known as nux gatum or mougo that was originally made using walnuts.  In the 17th century, Olivier of Serres planted almond trees close to Montelimar.  It is thought that the almonds replaced the walnuts in the Greek recipe and evolved into nougat.  Today, Montelimar, a small city in the Drome section of southern France is known for their nougat.  The first commercial factory opened in the late 18th century and now this city has 14 nougat manufacturers producing this wonderful confection.

    (2)  Another story tells of a farmer’s wife, taking advantage of plentiful almonds, honey, and eggs on her farm, created nougat candy.

nouvelle cuisine

(noo-vehl kwee-ZEEN) – A French term meaning “new cooking.”  This refers to a culinary style that began in the late 1950s by young French chefs led by Bose,  Guard, and Chapel that moved away from the traditional rich, heavy style of classic French cuisine toward fresher, lighter food served in smaller portions.  This style replaced traditional heavy sauces with reductions of stocks and cooking liquids, the presentation of small portions, and visual artistry on over-large plates.  French cuisine today is basically a combination of traditional and nouvelle.


A thick smooth paste made from chocolate and hazelnuts.  Today, Nutella is the number one spread in Europe

  • History:

    Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero Company, created it in the 1940’s.  At the time, cocoa was in short supply due to war rationing, and chocolate was a delicacy limited to a lucky few.  So Pietro Ferrero mixed cocoa with toasted hazelnuts, cocoa butter and vegetable oils to create an economical spread of chocolate, which he called pasta gianduja (pronounced: pasta jon-du-ja).  Pasta gianduja’s success was unprecedented.  In 1949, Ferrero made a supercrema gianduja, which was spreadable as well as, inexpensive.  This product became so popular that Italian food stores started a service called “The Smearing.” Children could go to their local food store with a slice of bread for a “smear” of supercrema gianduja.  In 1964 supercrema gianduja was renamed Nutella (its origin being the word “nut”), and began to be marketed outside Italy!


A nutraceutical is any food that is nutritionally enhanced with nutrients, vitamins, or herbal supplements.  The most common supplements are calcium, Vitamins E, A, and C and the herbs gingko, ginseng, echinacea, and St. John’s wort.  As consumers continue to look for ways to enhance health and well being, manufacturers continue to respond with products enhanced with supplements, including beverages, rice, frozen desserts, snacks, and many others.


The Olive was a native to Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria, and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 5,000 years ago.  It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world – being grown before the written language was invented.  They are now grown in many parts of the world, among them the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, the south of France, Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco, and California.

  • History:

    Olives appear in one of the first cookbooks ever discovered – the 2000 year old Roman De re coquinaria in which Apicius writes of mixing roots, leaves, and salt into Spanish oil to fake the higher quality Liburnian oil from the South of Istria.  Olives are considered one of our original foods dating back as least as far as 17th century B.C.

    Olives formed a significant part of the way of life of the Ancient Greeks.  Legend has it that Athena (the goddess of wisdom and the arts) was in competition with Poseidon (the sea god).  Each was charged with presenting humankind with the most valued gift.  Poseidon donated the horse. Athena caused an olive tree to grow at the gates of the Acropolis.  It was Athena’s gift the people deemed most valuable.  In return for her favors, Athens, the most powerful city in Greece, was named in her honor.  Greek gods were also believed to be born under the branches of the olive tree.  Aristotle pondered the olive tree at great length and eventually elevated its cultivation to a science.  Solon enacted the first laws to protect it.  Homer deemed olive oil the “liquid gold.”  And Hippocrates prescribed it as the “great therapeutic.”

olive oil

The oil extracted from tree-ripened olives.

  • extra-virgin olive oil

    Any olive oil that is less than 1% acidity and produced by the first pressing of the olive fruit through the cold pressing process.  Most olive oils today are extra virgin in name only, meeting only the minimum requirement.

  • virgin olive oil

    It is made from olives that are slightly riper than those used for extra-virgin oil and is produced in exactly the same manner.  This oil has a slightly higher level of acidity (1 1/2%).

  • pure olive oil

    Also called commercial grade oil. It is solvent-extracted from olive pulp, skins, and pits; then refined. It is lighter in color and blander than virgin olive oil.  It is more general-purpose olive oil.  Pure refers to the fact that no non-olive oils are mixed in.

  • History:

    Olive oil is one of the oldest culinary oils.  In ancient Athens, the olive was a symbol of the city’s prosperity.  Olive oil was used both in cooking and as fuel for oil-burning lamps.  Olive oil was not only part of their daily diet, its properties were greatly revered; it was used to cure a myriad ailments, both internally and externally, religious leaders and kings were ceremonially anointed with, as Homer often referred to, “Liquid Gold.”

    Olive oil has been the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years.  Legend has it that the first olive tree grew on Adam’s tomb.  Olive trees have a life span of 300 to 400 years.  Some grow to be 700 years and older. Cooking with olive oil is like cooking with wine.  Never use a wine or olive oil that does not taste good to you. An inferior one will leave an aftertaste.

    To learn more about Olive Oil, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Olive Oil.

omelet or omellette

(AHM-leht) – A beaten egg mixture that is cooked without stirring until set and then served folded in half.  Often served with various fillings, such as cheese, onion, herbs, and meats.

  • History:

    According to legend, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessieres.  Napoleon feasted on an omelet prepared by a local innkeeper that was such a culinary delight that Napoleon ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelet for his army the next day.

osso buco

(AW-soh BOO-koh) – An Italian dish comprised of crosscut slices veal shanks braised with vegetables, aromatics, and stock.  Osso Buco means literally “bone with a hole.” Milanese style is served with saffron risotto and gremolata.


(AWS-trich) – Ostrich is a red meat that has a mild, beef-like flavor.  It is very low in fat and cholesterol (about the same as skinless turkey).  It can be used as a steak, ground for burgers, or made into sausages.  It barely shrinks while cooking.


Oysters have been cultivated for at least 2,000 years and have long been a favorite of Americans.  Oysters in the shell must be alive to be good to eat.  If an oyster is open, even slightly, and it doesn’t close tightly when handled, discard it.  Dead oysters are unfit to eat. Always scrub oyster shells thoroughly before opening.  There are four main varieties of oysters in the United States.

  • Eastern Oyster

    Known by many local names, depending on their origin.

  • Olympia Oysters

    Very small oysters from the Pacific coast.

  • Belon Oysters

    European oysters now grown in North America.

  • Japanese Oysters

    Very large oysters from the Pacific coast.

oyster sauce

It is a Cantonese seasoning that is a staple condiment of Chinese cooking. This rich brown sauce is made with boiled oysters and seasonings (soy sauce, salt, and spices).  The ingredients are cooked until thick and concentrated. A good brand is never fishy. Be aware that cheaper brands may have MSG and other additives.

Oysters Bienville

An oyster dish consisting of baked oysters on the half shell topped with a sherry-flavored bhamel sauce mixed with sauteed chopped shrimp, shallots, and garlic.

  • History:

    The dish was named for Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, the second colonial governor of Louisiana.  It was created by a Frenchman named “Count” Arnaud Cazeneuve in the late 1930s at his restaurant called Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Oysters Casino

A oyster dish were the oysters on the half shell are covered with a blended mixture of butter, finely chopped shallots, green peppers, and parsley plus a seasoning of salt, lemon juice, and pepper.  It is then topped with strips of half-cooked bacon and broiled until the bacon turn brown and crisp.

  • History:

    The dish was originally prepared at a casino located in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York.

Oysters Rockefeller

A dish of oysters that are cooked with watercress, scallions, celery, anise, and other seasonings. It is usually served in the oyster shells.


(pi-AY-yuh or pa-AY-ya) – There are hundreds of recipes for paella, all claiming to be authentic. The only ingredients that are necessary for paella are rice, tomatoes, and saffron. Other ingredients can be chicken, chorizo, mussels, shrimp, and peppers.

  • History:

    There are several stories on the origin of paella:

    (1) A Spanish rice dish originating in the town of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast.  Peasants working in the rice fields would collect snails and eels from the marshes and cook them with saffron and rice.

    (2) Paella is named after the special two-handled pan (also called paella) in which it is prepared and served.

    (3) That the dish was really created for a tiny, frail princess and was called paella “for her.”

Pain Perdu

(pahn pehr-DOO) – Also known as “French toast.”  In French, the term means “lost bread.”  It is usually made with stale chunks of French bread fried in butter and served covered with powdered sugar, thus the term “lost.”   In Spain it is called torriga. England it is called Poor Knights of Windsor.  Pain Perdu is considered dessert in France.  In the United States, it is considered a New Orleans-style French toast that is made with stale French bread.  Pain Perdu got its start as a way of using up leftover bread.

  • History:

    Recipes for French toast can be traced to Ancient Roman times.  One of the original French names for this dish is pain a la Romaine’, or Roman bread.  Medieval recipes for suggest French toast was enjoyed by the wealthy, as cookbooks were written by and for the wealthy.  These recipes used white bread (the very finest, most expensive bread available at the time) with the crusts cut off, something a poor, hungry person would be unlikely to do.


The pancake is a thin flat cake made from batter and fried on a griddle or in a skillet. The batter usually consists of eggs, flour, milk or water and oil or melted butter.  Whether they are called pancakes, flapjack, griddlecakes, flapjacks, wheat cakes, hot cakes, or funnel cakes, they are among our most popular food choices.  A piping hot stack of buttered pancakes drenched in maple syrup is an all-American image.  Pancakes, in one form or another, are found in almost every culture and all nations have at least one dish, which uses a pancake as container for fillings or toppings:

America:  Native Americans fry bread, cracklin’ bread, funnel cakes, johnnycake
Australia:  pikelets
Austrian:  palatschinken
British Isles:  Scottish Bannocks, English crumpets, oat cakes or biscuits, crempop, yorkshire pudding
China:  egg rolls, spring roll, po-ping
Egypt:  katief
France:  crepes, eierkuckas
Germany:  pannkucken
Holland:  poffertjes, pannenkoeken
Hungary:  Palacsinta
Italy:  cannelloni
Kosher:  Matzos pancake, blintzes
Latin America:  tortillas
Norway:  lefse
Romania:  spinach pancakes
Russia:  blini
Southern India:  lentil patties
Sweden:  plattar, flaeskpannkaka
Trinidad:  roti|
West Indies:  green corn cakes, or corn oyster fritters

  • History:

    Nobody knows just how long people have been making and eating pancakes but you could call the flat bread made by primitive families twelve thousand years ago, a pancake.  Grinding grains and nuts and adding water or milk made pancakes.  This mixture was then shaped into flattened cakes and baked on the hot stones surrounding the fire.  One of the earliest known pancake meals dates back to 4th century B.C. China, where fragile pancakes of millet meal or wheat flour were popular because of their short preparation time.  Spring pancakes, a thin pancake made of ground rice, and filled with vegetables and meat have been traced as far back as the Song Dynasty.  Archaeologists excavating Stone Age Swiss lakeside settlements have found well-preserved examples of cakes made of pure wheat, millet or barley.

    In colonial America, slaves carried homemade dry pancake “mixes” in a pouch to the fields with them.  When it was time to eat, they added water to the pouch, worked it into a batter and baked patties on a hot hoe over an open fire. In earlier times, English pancakes were sometimes moistened with ale, which had a leavening effect when the pancake was fried.  German pancakes were leavened by eggs and served thin, with jam or jelly.

    Pancakes and festivals are often linked together:

    1.  The best-known one is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, which heralds the beginning of fasting in Lent.  On this day there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs – foods that were forbidden during austere Lent.

    2.  In England there are several celebrations on this day, but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445.  The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession.  She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years.

    3.   In France, the main ceremonial day, for pancake eating is Candlemas on the 2nd of February.  This holy day is six weeks after Christmas and is the day that Christ was presented at the temple by his mother.  During this festival, French children wear masks and demand pancakes and fritters In various parts of France, there are different customs.  In Province, if you hold a coin in your left hand while you toss a pancake, you’ll be rich.  And in Brie the first pancake (which is never very good anyway) is always given to the hen that laid the eggs that made the pancake.  And it’s always regarded as bad luck to let a pancake fall on the floor while tossing it.

    4.  Pancakes are the traditional treat of the Jewish Hanukkah festival.  They are fried in oil to commemorate the oil found by the Maccabeans when they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians, two thousand years ago.  The one-day’s supply of oil for the temple lamps burned miraculously for one week.  And, tradition says, the wives of the soldiers hurriedly cooked pancakes behind the lines for their warring husbands.


It is a deep-dish dessert that can be made with a variety of fruit, but is most commonly made with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar.  The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit except the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to come through.  Sometimes the crust is on the bottom and the desert is inverted before serving.  The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, but it is thought to refer to the dessert’s plain or dowdy appearance.


(pan-uh-TOH-nee) – In Italian it means “big bread.”  It is light-textured, spiced yeast bread containing raisins and candied fruit. It was originally a specialty of Milan.


(pahn-FOR-teh) – An Italian confection (a round, flat cake) that is a cross between fruitcake, candy, and honey cakes.  It contains a tiny amount of flour (just enough to hold the fruits and nuts together).  The name panforte, “strong bread”, is due to its strongly spicy flavor.  In Italy it’s also called Siena cake. Originally a Christmas pastry, panforte is now enjoyed year round by Italian cuisine enthusiasts.


(pahn-zah-NEHL-lah) – Panzanella salad always includes bread and tomatoes plus vegetables from the garden.  Vegetables can include peppers, cucumbers, and onions.  Lots of garlic, capers, black olives, and anchovies are added to the salad.

  • History:

    An Italian salad that probably was an invention of necessity. Italian cooks waste nothing and this was a way to utilize stale bread and vegetables from the garden.  The record of panzanella goes back centuries.  In the 1500s, a poem by the famous artist, Bronzino, described the salad.  Of course, the tomato was quite a few years from being introduced into the Italian kitchen, so the ingredients didn’t include tomatoes.


(papp-re-kar) – This is the Hungarian word for pepper.  The actual chile has a fleshy pod, a deep red coloring, and variable heat levels.  The pod is quite broad and can be pointed, elongated, and heart-shaped or aubergine-shaped.  It is related to the Spanish paprika pod called Pimento.  Paprika is the ground, dried pod of a variety of capsicum. Its growth habits are similar to those of the bell pepper, to which it is closely related.  It is native to Central America where it was found by the early Spanish and Portugus explorers.  It is now grown in central and southern Europe, as well as in southern California.  Heat level is 0-1.


(pa-fay) – The parfait is French for “perfect.”  Originally the word referred to an ice sweet which was flavored with coffee.  Today it is a rich, frozen dessert made with egg whites, whipped cream, or gelatin to ace as a setting agent.

Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls get their special shape by making an off-center crease in a round piece of dough and then folding in half.

  • History:

    The rolls were named for the Parker House Hotel in Boston where they were served during the late 1800s.  The restaurant was proclaimed as the first American restaurant to have an a la carte menu available all hours of the day.

parmigiana or parmesan cheese

 (PAHR-muh-zahn) – Parmesan is the name that is commonly used outside of Italy (sometimes in Italy), for a group of very hard cheeses that have been made and known in Italy for centuries as grana cheese.  It is a hard, dry chesse made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow’s milk and usually used for grating.  It is one of the finest cheeses in the world.  Can be eaten fresh but is best known as a hard grating cheese.  Do not buy too much at a time to avoid spoilage (grate as you need it).  It is made of cow’s milk and is very fruity to sharp flavor in taste.

  • History:

    This type of cheese was first made in the vicinity of Parma, in Emilia, hence the name.

pastie or pasty

(PASS-tee) – They are basically individual pies filled with meats and vegetables that are cooked together.  They should weigh about two pounds or more.  The identifying feature of the Cornish pasty is really the pastry and it’s crimping.  When pasties are being made, each member of the family has their initials marked at one corner.  This way each person’s favorite tastes can be catered to, identifying each pasty.

The solid ridge of pastry, hand crimped along the top of the pasty, was so designed that the miner or traveler could grasp the pastie for eating and then throw the crust away.  By doing this, he did not run the risk of germs and contamination from dirty hands.  The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in your hands, and begin to eat it from the top down to the opposite end of the initialed part.  That way its rightful owner could consume any left over portion later.

  • History:

    Pasties are one of the most ancient methods of cooking and of carrying cooked food.  It is said that the early Irish Catholic Priests created them in order to transport food as they walked about the countryside preaching and aiding the people.  The dish is mentioned in Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor (1598).”

    Irish people that migrated to northern England took the art of pastie making with them.  Soon every miner in northern England took pasties down into the mine for his noon lunch.  Pasties were also called oggies by the miners of Cornwell, England.  English sailors even took pastie making as far as the shores of Russia (known as piraski or piragies.

    The Cornish people who immigrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the U.S. in the middle of the 19th century to work in the mines made them.  The miners reheated the pasties on shovels held over the candles worn on their hats.  In Michigan, May 24th has been declared Michigan Pasty Day.


(pah-TAY) – (French) Refers to various elegant, well seasoned ground meat preparations (with a paste consistency).  Technically only meat wrapped in pastry should be palled pate.  Terrine, from the French root “terre” which means “earth,” means the loaf has been baked in a dish (classically one of earthenware).  Pate is served cold, usually on toast.  They are cooked one of two ways, either “pate en croute” (in crust) or “en terrine” (in a pork fat-lined container).  They come in various spreadable textures and are excellent hot or cold as hors d’oeuvre or a first course.


(pav-LOH-vuh)  – The Pavlov consists a base made of a meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits such as kiwis, strawberries, etc.

History:  To learn about the history of Pavola, check outHistory of Cakes.

Peach Melba

A dessert made up of poached peach halves, vanilla ice cream, and raspberry sauce.

  • Melba Toast

    Melba toast is a very thinly sliced crisp toast that is served warm.

    History:  Also named after Dame Nellie Melba.  Melba toast is said to be derived from the crisp toast that was part of Dame Melba’s diet during 1897 when she was strenuously dieting, living largely on toast.  It is said that she so enjoyed a piece of toast a young waiter had burnt, while she was staying at the Savoy Hotel.  It was bungled and was served to her in a thin dried-up state resembling parchment.  Cesar Ritz beheld with horror his celebrated guest crunching this aborted toast, and hastened over to apologize.  Before he could say a word supposedly Madame Melba burst out joyfully, “Cesar, how clever of Escoffier.  I have never eaten such lovely toast.”  The hotel proprietor Cesar Ritz supposedly named it in a conversation with chef Escoffier.

  • History:

    French Chef George Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) created dish at the London Ritz Hotel in the early 1900s for an 1892 party honoring the singer, Nellie Melba, at the Savoy Hotel in London.  He named it after the famous Australian Internationally renowned opera singer Helen Porter Mitchell (1861-1931); better know as Dame Nellie Melba.  She took her last name from her native city of Melbourne, inspired others to honor her by naming things such as “soaps and sauces, ribbons and ruffles” after her.  Neither Escoffier nor Melba agreed with this version of events.  The pragmatic Nellie groused that she was missing out on royalties of “many millions of pounds” on the sales of these namesakes.  Her solution was to trademark her name. Peach Melba is first recorded in English in 1905 (in the form Phes la Melba).


Peanuts are widely grown throughout the southern United States and are in fact beans (legumes) not nuts.  Peanuts have many names around the world, such as ground nut, earth nut, monkey nut, and goober.

  • History:

    They originally came from Brazil and Peru.  Peanuts spread to other countries from South America by slave ships, reaching this country from Brazil by way of Africa in the early slave ships.  The “nuts” come in tan-colored pods and have a strong flavor.  Both oils and butter are made from peanuts.


  • History:

    An incredible taste for pears dates back to ancient times.  The alluring fruit even captured the praise of the well-known Greek poet, Homer (in 8th century B.C.), who referred to pears as a “gift of the gods.”  Evidently, the Romans agreed and proceeded to use grafting techniques to develop more than 50 varieties.  They also introduced the cultivated pear to other parts of Europe.  Since then, hundreds of varieties have been developed, and people have continued to benefit from the good taste of these early connoisseurs.


Pearlash is a refined form of potash, and it produces carbon dioxide gas in dough. Baking powder was not developed commercially until 1857 (phosphate baking powder).  Pearlash was made by soaking hardwood ashes in water to obtain a weak lye solution, which produced carbon dioxide when heated.

  • History:

    In the 1790s, pearlash a concentrated form of potash, was used as a leavening agent in baking. It produced carbon dioxide gas in dough, used in the first quick breads.  Salt-rising breads (using potash or baking soda as its primary leavening agent) typically have longer baking times.  These breads have a denser texture than modern, store-bought varieties, so even though self-rising flour is not in itself totally correct, it’s close and will give you a more authentic, dense-textured loaf.  In 1792, America was exporting 8,000 tons to Europe.  In 1796, American Cookery (the first American cook book) Amelia Simmons published recipes using pearlash.


(pih-KAHN or pih-KAN) – A nut that is native to the southern U.S. and is a member of the hickory family.  They have a distinctive sweet rich texture and flavor.  Used in baking and sold roasted whole.  Care must be taken when storing pecans because their high fat content invites rancidity.

pecan praline

A confection made from pecans and caramel.  Considered one of the favorite sweets of the South, and particularly Texas and New Orleans.

  • History:

    Pralines were originally introduced by the French Louisianans and were originally considered as an aid to digestion at the end of a sumptuous dinner.  Their name is derived from a French diplomat, Marechal du Praslin (1598-1675), whose butler is said to have advised a similar confection prepared with almonds and white sugar as an antidote to the effects of overeating.  In the American adaptation, the almonds were exchanged for pecans and the white sugar for brown.

pecorino cheese

(peh-kuh-REE-noh) – In Italy, cheese that is made from sheep’s milk is called pecorino.  Pecorion cheese is and aged cheese that is hard, granular, and sharply flavored.


Ground and whole peppercorns come in various colors, and all but the pink type are from the same perennial plant called “piper nigrum.”  Peppercorns grow in warm, moist, and sunny climates (usually within about 15 degrees of the equator).  The world’s best black pepper comes from the Malabar Coast of India where the long hot summers and drenching monsoons make it perfect for pepper.

pepperoncini, peperoncino

(pep-per-awn-CHEE-nee) – Also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, and golden Greek peppers.  The Italian varieties, grown in the Tuscany region of Italy, tend to be more bitter than their Greek counterparts.  The more popular Greek varieties are sweeter and commonly found in pizzerias tossed in salads for a crunchy, salty taste.  They have a bushy plant that grows to 30 inches tall and producing sweet green peppers that turn red when mature.  Usually picked at 2 to 3 inches long, these bright red, wrinkled peppers taper to a blunt, lobed end and are very popular for pickling.  These peppers are mild and sweet with a slight heat to them, and are commonly jarred for use in Greek salads and salad bars.


(puhr-SIHM-muhn) – Persimmons are often associated with the holidays as they are the most plentiful from late October to January.  Once ripe, eat them immediately or refrigerate briefly. T here are two types of persimmons:

  • Hachiya

    It is the most widely available and is the largest.  They can weigh as much as one pound and are shaped like a large acorn.  When ripe, they are very spicy and sweet but very astringent if under ripe.  When ready to eat, they will be very soft and feel like a water balloon.  They are often pureed for sorbets, for use in quick breads, puddings, and dessert toppings.  Superfine sugar and lime juice can be added to the puree, which can be frozen for future use.

  • Fuyu

    It is the smaller of the two and has a shape similar to a tomato.  The inside texture is that of a plum and it can be eaten as an apple.  Skin on or peeled, they can be added to a salad, fruit compote, or eaten as a melon for breakfast.  This variety is tannin-free and non-astringent.


 (PAY-stoh) – Pesto is Italian for a “pestle.”  The dish pesto was so called because crushing the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle produced the paste made.  It is an uncooked sauce used for pastas, grilled meats, and poultry.  It is made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.  Some versions will also add parsley and walnuts or pine nuts.  The ingredients are ground into a paste and moistened with the olive oil.  Pesto is also used to describe similar sauces that contain other herbs or nuts.

  • History:

    The dish originated in Genoa in the north of Italy.

petit four

(PEH-tee fohr) – A small cookie or cake served on elaborate buffets or at the end of a multi-course meal.

Philadelphia Cheese Steak

A cheese steak sandwich is not really a steak at all – it is a sandwich made with chipped steak, steak that has been frozen and sliced really thin) and cooked on a grill top.  Locals think in terms of steak sandwiches with or without cheese.  Without cheese, the sandwich is referred to as a “steak.”  With cheese, it is a “cheese steak.”  According to Philadelphians, you simply cannot make an authentic Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwich without an authentic Philadelphia roll.  The rolls must be long and thin, not fluffy or soft, but also not too hard.  They also say that if you are more than one hour from South Philly, you cannot make an authentic sandwich.


Pickling is the preserving of food in an acid (usually vinegar), and it is this acid environment that prevents undesirable bacteria growth.  People the world over preserve food through pickling in salt or vinegar.

  • History:

    This preservation process has a long history in East Asia, especially in China and on the Korean Peninsula.  Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation.  It has been traced back to the dawn of civilization, 4500 years ago when people learned to preserve cucumbers by pickling them in a salty brine.  Salt has been used for thousands of years not only as a condiment, but also to preserve foods.  Salt pickling was a very popular way of preserving foods before the existence of refrigeration

    One old record claims that the cucumber was introduced into China as recently as the second century B.C.  At the beginning of the Christian Era cucumbers were grown in North Africa as well as in Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, and the countries to the east.  Pickles are mentioned twice in the Bible. (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8).



(pil-af) – The word is derived from the Persian (now Iranian) word “pilaw” meaning a “rice dish.”  Pilaf are also called pilaff, pilau, pilav, and palov.  It is a method or preparing rice which originated thousands of years ago in the Middle East.


(pih-MEN-toh) – Pimientos are simply a variety of a red bell pepper. Usually they are peeled and packed in brine.  The are different from roasted peppers in that they have not been roasted at all.  In cooking, pimientos are interchangeable with roasted peppers.

pine nut

Also known as the Indian nut, pinon, pignoli, pine kernel, and pignolia.  Not actually a nut, but a seed from the cone of the Mediterranean stone pine.  There are two main varieties of pine nuts, the Mediterranean and the Chinese.  The Mediterranean pine nut is more delicately flavored than the Chinese pine nut, which has a stronger pine flavor.  The nuts come from the inside of a pine cone, which generally must be heated for their removal.  Toasting brings out their buttery flavor. An important ingredient in pesto, also good in salads.

pinot gris

(pee-noe gree) – A dry white wine.

pinot noir

(pee-noe WAHR) – A classic red wine that is produced in California and Oregon.


(pih-ROSH-keel) – Pirozkhi are delicious stuffed pastries (turnovers) that are traditionally served with hearty soups in Russia.  They are also made in smaller sizes and are served as hors d’ oeuvres.

pistachio nut

(pih-STASH-ee-oh) – The small bright green nut has a yellowish-red skin and is enclosed in a smooth pale shell.  They have a sweet, delicate flavor.  Pistachios are available year-round shelled and unshelled.  When buying unshelled pistachios make sure the shells are partially open (closed shells mean the nutmeat is immature).

  • History:

    Pistachios date back to the Holy Lands of the Middle East, where they grew wild in high desert regions.  Legend has it that lovers met beneath the trees to hear the pistachios crack open on moonlit nights for the promise of good fortune.  A rare delicacy, pistachios were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba, who hoarded the entire Assyrian supply for herself and her court.  Pistachios are native to the Near East, but are now grown in California, Italy, Turkey, and Iran.  American traders imported the pistachio nut in the 1880s, primarily for U.S. citizens of Middle Eastern origin.


(Pee-tah) – A round, flat bread that is slit open to form a pocket that may hold everything from chicken salad to cheese.

  • History:

    Its origins are in the Middle East where it has been used for hundreds of years in place of a plate, knife, or fork.  It was baked and carried with the caravans when cooking was done over open fires.  Meat was roasted on spits or skewers, and people took the spit in one hand and an open piece of pita in the other and slid the pieces of meat into the center.  The bread then folded around the meat.


(pee-tee-vyay) – A round, flat cake which had layers of light puff pastry.  Traditionally, pithiviers are filled with almond cream.

  • History:

    Pithiviers were first made in the small village called Pithiviers, which is located in the area of Loiret in Central France.


(PEET-suh) – Pizza is the Italian word for “pie,” therefore English-speaking peoples who call it a “pizza pie” are being redundant.  The root word in Latin is “picea,” which describes the blackening of the crust caused by the fire underneath.

  • History:

    Poor housewives of Italy had only flour, olive oil, lard, cheese, and herbs with which to feed their families, so combining them in a tasty and delicious manner became the goal.

    In the 16th century, Maria Carolina, the Queen of Naples convinced her husband, King Ferdinand IV to allow the peasant dish pizza to be made in their royal oven.  In 1889, Raffaele Esposito, the most famous Pizzaiolo (pizza chef) created a pie for Queen Margherita with tomato, basil and cheese, (to resemble the Italian flag) which remains the basis for American pizza.  The original pizzas were did not have tomatoes (they hadn’t made it to Europe yet) and didn’t have cheese until the late 1800s.  Pizzas today are a crisp and chewy bread base topped with a variety of foods.  In 1905, the first Pizzeria opened in New York City.  For a more detailed history of pizza, read History and Legends of Pizza.

pizza peel

Also known as a pizza shovel.  It is a long-handled, wide wooden or metal spatula-like implement that slides quickly and easily under the pizza, keeping hands safely out of the fiery oven.  It is used for moving pizzas to and from an oven.


(pit-sell) – Pizzelle’s come from Italy.  Pizzelle are also known as Italian wafer cookies and there are various ways which to spell pizzelle such as “piazelle,” “piazella,” “pizzele” and “pizelle.”  The name comes from the Italian word “pizze” for round and flat.  Many different cultures have adapted this cookie and re-named it accordingly.  In Scandinavia they are also known as Lukken and indeed the Krumcake is baked using a similar iron as the pizzelle.


(PLAN-tihn) – Plantains are a part of most Caribbean meals, much like potatoes, rice, or noodles in the U.S.  The plantain is actually native to Southeast Asia, but it versatility has made it a staple in tropical climates all over the world.  It is a member of the banana family and is picked green and ripened off the tree.  When unripe, it has thick green skin and firm ivory-colored flesh with high starch content similar to that of a potato.  As the fruit ripens and its starch converts to sugar, its flesh grows increasingly soft and sweet while the peel yellows and becomes more mottled by brownish-black spots, eventually turning completely black.

plum pudding

Plum pudding is a steamed or boiled pudding frequently served at holiday times.  Plum pudding has never contained plums.  Plum is a dried grape or raisin as used for puddings, cakes, etc.  Dried plums, or prunes, were popular in pies in medieval times, but gradually in the sixteenth and seventeenth century they began to be replaced by raisins.  The dishes made with them, however, retained the term plum.


(poo-boy) – The generic name for the standard New Orleans sandwich made with French bread.  They are considered a New Orleans institution.  Also called poor boy.  Always made with French bread, po’ boys can be filled with fried oysters, shrimp, fish, soft-shelled crabs, crawfish, roast beef and gravy, roast pork, meatballs, smoked sausage and more.  They are served either “dressed” with a full range of condiments (usually mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes) or “undressed” (plain).  This sandwich is purely American in its variety of sauces and condiments.  It is uniquely New Orleans because the oysters are local, as is the crisp and airy bread.

poblano chile

(poh-BLAH-noh) – Also known as the Ancho (when dried) and in some parts of California as the Pasilla, this pepper is shiny and has a pointed tip and flattened appearance.  It is mild in flavor with a good herbal aroma and it is great for stuffing and for adding lift to succotash, corn casseroles, fish, and egg dishes.  The poblano can be roasted, frozen, or stored in the refrigerator for one week.


Pocky is one of the key players in the competitive world of Japanese snacks.  Pocky Sticks are long, skinny wheat crackers dipped in various flavored toppings, including chocolate, strawberry, milk/tea swirl, cinnamon, almond crunch, and others, including such exotic varieties as melon.  It has also gone international, being one of the few Japanese chocolate snacks that you can easily track down in Europe, North America, and other places in Asia.

The first pockies came out in the 1960’s.  The original name of Pocky was actually CHOCO-TEK.  In the commercial for Choco-tek, the sound “pocky-pocky” was used as the sound of eating the snack. This sound (apparently) can be used for any long, breakable type of food.  It is one of the bizarre groups of onomatopoeic double words used in Japanese.  So the name “Pocky” kind of caught on from there.


(poh-LEHN-tah) – Polenta is the Italian word for “cornmeal.”  This grainy yellow flour is a type of cornmeal made from ground maize, which is cooked into a kind of porridge with a wide variety of uses.  Polenta is very versatile and can be used for any number of recipes, ranging from rustic to highly sophisticated.  Combined with other ingredients to make a savory torte, polenta transcends its humble definition and becomes quite delectable.

  • History:

    In ancient Rome, the forerunner of polenta, called puls, was considered to be the staple food of the empire.  Originally polenta (puls) once contained no cornmeal at all.  It is thought that centuries ago the Etruscans may have made a grain cake of wheat, barley, or flour.  The Venetians later adapted it to use cornmeal.  It was not until the 18th century; in the northern provinces of Italy that corn became a popular food.  President Thomas Jefferson was so taken with the polenta he was served in Florence that he taught his own cook how to prepare it and served it frequently at the White House in Washington D.C.


(PO-yo) – The Italian and Spanish word for cooked chicken.


(POM-uh-gran-uht) – Hidden beneath its hard, leathery skin are dozens of crunchy, translucent, scarlet seeds embedded in white membranes.  Pomegranates are the size of a small grapefruit (about 4 to 6 inches in diameter).  Choose fruit with a rich, red skin bearing no signs of shriveling (they should feel heavy).  Use the seeds as you would use nuts to garnish fruit, vegetables, salads, pasta, etc.  The juice is also used in cooking.

  • History:

    This ancient fruit has been a star of Middle Eastern menus since Biblical times.  Although the Romans called it the “apple of many seeds,” it looks more like a petrified tomato.


(PUHM-uh-low) – Also called Chinese grapefruit, shaddock, pumelo, pommelo, and pompelmous.  The pummelo is an exotic large citrus fruit that is an ancient ancestor of the common grapefruit.  Pummelo is the largest of the citrus fruits with a shape that can be fairly round or slightly pointed at one end (the fruit ranges from nearly round to oblate or pear-shaped).  They range from cantaloupe-size to as large as a 25-pound watermelon and have very thick, soft rind.  The skin is green to yellow and slightly bumpy; flesh color ranges from pink to rose.  Pummelos are available mid-January through mid-February from California.  It is sweeter than a grapefruit and can be eaten fresh, although membranes around the segments should be peeled.  Be sure to refrigerate and use quickly.  Use as you would grapefruit sections.  They are also good for jams, jellies, marmalades and syrups.  To learn more about Pomelo/Pummelo, check out Pomelo/Pummelo.


Most of the world’s popcorn is grown in the midwestern part of the United States – principally in Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana where it can get mighty hot in the summer.  Although popcorn has been with us since pioneer times, it was not until 1890 that popcorn became important enough to be raised as a crop for market.  Before that time, individual families raised their own popcorn or bought it from their neighbors.  Since that time, popcorn has brought enough income to its growers to earn the name “prairie gold.”

poppy seeds

The opium poppy, from which the seeds are cultivated, is among the oldest cultivated plants.  Greeks grew the plant specifically for its seeds, which, among other uses, were mixed into cakes with honey and taken by Olympic athletes to provide an immediate burst of energy.  Poppy seeds have none of the narcotic qualities of the opium drug.

porcini mushrooms

(pohr-CHEE-nee) – In Italian cooking these mushrooms are considered the “king of mushrooms.”  Their Italian name means “little piglets” which describes their bulbous stalks and rounded brown caps that can range from one to ten inches in diameter.


A strong, dark red wine that comes from Portugal and was traditionally drunk by gentlemen at the end of dinner when they withdrew from the ladies to smoke their cigars.

portbello (portbella) mushrooms

The name “portobollo” was what the mushroom was first called.  It still is in most parts of the world.  Somewhere along the line, somebody decided to make the name sound more Italian by spelling it “portabella.”  This spelling is the one now used by most commercial growers and wholesalers, but the name “portobollo” remains on menus today.  You will find both variations today.  This wonderful mushroom is one of the most popular mushrooms today.  It is a very large cremini (cremini is a brown or cream-colored version of the white button mushroom) and is the largest and hardiest of cultivated mushrooms, with flat caps and open veils, up to 6 inches in diameter.  This large, impressive mushroom makes a great meat substitute.  When grilled it tastes a lot like steak.

pot stickers

Small pan-fried Chinese dumplings (a Chinese dim sum treat) made of won ton skins or wrappers that are filled with ground meat, ground pork, or shellfish along with chopped water chestnuts, scallions and seasonings.  The name comes from the fact that the crisp bottoms of the dumplings tend to stick to each other and to the frying pan, and thus you need to use a spatula to carefully remove them from the pan.  The trick is to use the right length of time initially to fry them, the right amount of steaming liquid, and the right length of time to evaporate the liquid so that the dumplings stick to each other and to the pan but don’t end up burned or as a soggy mess.

  • History:

    According to historical legends, they are traditionally pan-fried almost to being burnt on the bottom, commemorating a legendary fortuitous mistake by a royal chef.


potato chips

The English think of “crisps” what Americans call potato chips.  They are very thin slices of raw potato that is deep-fried in oil and then salted.

  • History:

    In 1853, Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), industrialist, financier, was vacationing at the fashionable Moon Lake House Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Note:  Some historians say it was not Vanderbilt but another guest at the hotel.  While dining, he sent his French-fried potatoes (prepared the standard thick-cut style) back to the chef, complaining that they were too thick.  The chef that evening was Native-American George Crum of the Huron Tribe, who was apparently miffed at Vanderbilt’s complaint, as a joke made a new batch of potatoes and sliced them paper thin and fried them to a crisp.  Vanderbilt loved the “crunch potato slices,” as he called them.  The restaurant immediately began featuring them on its menu as a new delicacy and called them “Saratoga Chips.”  They became a fad with the resort’s socialite patrons, the recipe soon spread to other restaurants along the East Coast.  Chef George Crum eventually opened his own restaurant across the lake featuring his chips. I n 1895, William C. Tappenden began manufacturing and selling the “Saratoga Chips” by horse-drawn wagon in Cleveland, Ohio.

Potatoes Anna

They are also known in France as Pommes de Terre Anna.  It is the classic French dish created by Chef Adolfe Duglere (1805-1884), chef of the fashionable Cafe Anglais restaurant in Paris.  He dedicated the dish to Anna Deslions (also known as Annette with men she was intimate with), a famous French courtesan who preferred the CafAnglais restaurant for her “professional meetings.”  In 1865, Anna was deemed “as queen as Paris has ever known” by literary critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve


(poi-key) – Potjie is a lided, almost spherical cast-iron pot (usually black) with three legs, which is made for use over an open fire.

  • History:

    It is thought that the ‘Potjie’ came from the Dutch ancestors of the South Africans, who brought with them heavy iron cooking pots that hung from hooks over the open hearth.  The pot’s re-emergence in the late 1970’s with the escalation of meat prices.


(poi-key-cos or poy-kee-kawse) – It means, “pot food” or “food prepared in a pot.”  It is a food or stew that is cooked slowly in the potjie.  In South Africa this means only one thing, food prepared outdoors in a cast iron, round, three legged pot using either wood coals or charcoal.  Traditionally potjiekos is a stew, made either with lamb, beef, fish or poultry but always together with vegetables.  The potjiekos is “built” in layers with the meat and hard vegetables at the bottom of the pot and the quicker cooking vegetables towards the top.  It is always cooked over a “cool” fire (or low on the gas range) and should take at least 1 to 2 hours to completely heat up the pot and its contents.  Potjie is never stirred while cooking – only just prior to serving, will you stir the potjie for the first time, blending all of the food and flavors together.

South Africans are crazy about their potjiekos.  Potjiekos is an event or a gathering where good friends get together and while cooking, share the chores, lots of laughter, and a harmonious atmosphere.  Potjiekos is a social and culinary event and invariably no potjiekos recipe ever tastes the same!  Potjiekos cookoffs are popular in South Africa like chili cook offs are in the southwest of America.

  • History:

    Potjiekos has been part of the South African culture since the days of the first settlement at the Cape when food was cooked in a black cast-iron pot hanging from a chain over the kitchen fire.  Early settlers in the Cape used this method of cooking for stewing tougher cuts of game, mutton and beef, and it later became very convenient for people on the move.


in German the word is “bretzel,” not pretzel.  In medieval Old High German, it was even less like pretiola – it was brezitella.  Linguists think brezitella probably came from the medieval Latin brachiatellum, meaning a little brachiatum, which would be a bread baked in the form of crossed arms.  Not that anybody has found the word “brachiatellum” in any manuscript; the linguists only claim their explanation is less unlikely than the others.  In any case, the pretzel belongs to a German family of breads that are moistened before baking to give them a chewier texture.  In a bakery, pretzels are sprayed with a solution of lye, and the resulting alkalinity encourages their familiar dark brown color (fortunately, the caustic lye combines with carbon dioxide during baking and becomes harmless).  Bakery pretzels are then baked for about half an hour to make them absolutely dry and hard.


(French) Small (bite-size), hollow pastries made with “pate a choux” (cream puff pastry). The word is said to derive from the French word “profit,” meaning “small gift.”  The dough is put into a pastry bag and small mounds are squeezed out onto a baking sheet and baked until brown. T hey are often stuffed with various sweet or savory stuffings.

  • History:

    They are probably French originally, or the name at least is.  The word originated in French as diminutive form of “profit,” and so etymologically means “small gains” – and indeed it may to begin with have denoted “a little something extra” cooked along with the master’s main dish as part of the servants’ perks.  Alexander Barclay, in his Eclogues (1515) writes, “to toast white shivers (slices of bread) and to make profiteroles, and after talking oft time to fill the bowl.”


(proh-Shoo-toh) – The Italian word for “ham” and prosciutto cotto means “cooked ham.”  Prosciutto is a term used to describe a ham that has been seasoned, salt-cured, and air-dried.  It is very expensive per pound, but it is so flavorful that only a little is needed, making it well worth the cost.  The pigs for prosciutto are fed partly on the whey from the cheese-making process, which makes their flesh very mild and sweet.  Because they are always reared and kept in a shed and never allowed to roam outdoors, they tend to be rather fatty.  Parma hams are made from the pig’s hindquarters, which are lightly salted and air-dried for at least one year (and sometimes up to two years).  The zone of production of these hams are restricted by Italian law to the area between the Taro and Baganza rivers.

  • History:

    It was in 100 B.C. that an author first mentioned the extraordinary flavor of the air-cured ham produced around the town of Parma in Italy.  At first, producing prosciutto was literally a cottage industry, with hams hung in homes from attic to cellar.  By the end of the 19th century, the local architecture became dominated by long, narrow, multistoried buildings where the hams are still cured.

provolone burrino

There is a lump of butter buried in the center of this provolone cheese, so that when cut it resembles a hard-cooked egg yolk.

provolone cheese

Provolone was first made in southern Italy, but it is now made in the United States, principally in Wisconsin and Michigan.  It is a string-like cheese, light golden yellow to golden brown surface with a light ivory interior.  Provolone is made in various shapes and sizes, each of which is identified by a more or less distinguishing name (pear, sausage, salami, and other shapes), and it is bound with a cord.


(pum-per-nick-el) – Pumpernickel is dark, coarsely ground rye flour that is used in making pumpernickel bread.  Pumpernickel flour is made in much the same way as whole-wheat flour, which is milled from the entire rye grain including the bran.

  • History:

    Pumpern was a German word for “devil-fart” and nickel was a form of the name Nicholas, an appellation commonly associated with a goblin or devil (e.g., “Old Nick” is a familiar name for Satan).  Hence, pumpernickel is the “devil’s fart,” allegedly a reference to the bread’s indigestible qualities and hence the effect it produced on those who consumed it.

    A German baker was said to have developed a hearty loaf (out of rye) with very little wheat flour during a famine sometime around 1450.  According to a legend about Napoleon (or Napoleon’s groom, or an anonymous Frenchman), who, while on a military campaign in Germany, was given some pumpernickel bread to eat.  The disdainful recipient of this loaf declared it unfit for human consumption, instead fed it to a horse named Nicol.


 a small light basket or container for fruit or vegetables (approximately a pint).


(pu-ray) – A French term for “mashed.”  Puree is obtained by pounding, mashing, and sieving a food.


(poot-tah-NEHS-kah) – A piquant pasta sauce made of tomatoes, onions, black olives, capers, anchovies, and chile flakes.  The hot pasta is tossed in this sauce prior to serving.  Some recipes leave the ingredients raw, allowing the heat of the pasta to bring out the flavors. T he name puttanesca is a derivation of the word “puttana,” which in Italian mean, “whore.”

  • History:

    In Italian history and even folklore, it originated in the region of Naples (Campania), more precisely on the island of Ischia.  History has it that the recipe was invented by “ladies of questionable virtue,” hence the name puttanesca.  They had little time to eat and invented this quick sauce with the ingredients they had on hand in their beautiful.


To mark the surface of grilled or broiled food with a crisscross pattern of lines.  The scorings are produced by contact with very hot single grill bars, which brown the surface of the food.  Very hot skewers may also be used to mark the surface.

Quark cheese

(qwark) – Quark cheese is a soft, unripened cheese with the texture and flavor of sour cream.  Quark can be used as a sour cream substitute to top baked potatoes and as an ingredient in a variety of dishes including cheesecakes, dips, salads, and sauces.  By the same token, sour cream can be used as a substitute if quark is unavailable.

quatre epices

(KAH-tray-PEES) – In French it means “four spices.”  It is a mixture of ground spices usually consisting of pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  Since there is no standard mixture for quatre epices, the mixture will vary with each chef.


(keesh) – The word is from the German word Khen, meaning cake.  It is an open-faced pie or tart having an egg filling and a variety of other ingredients.  Bread dough was traditionally used, but in modern times, pie pastry and occasionally puff pastry is commonly substituted.  Today, one can find many varieties of quiche, from the original quiche Lorraine, to ones with broccoli, mushrooms, ham and/or seafood (primarily shellfish).  Quiche can be served as an entr, for lunch, breakfast or an evening snack.

  • History:

    Quiche originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, which was ruled by the Germans.  The French later changed the name from Lothringen and to Lorraine.  Quiche became popular in England after World War II, and in the United Sates during the 1950’s.

Quiche Lorraine

The most popular of all quiches in which bacon strips are arranged in the bottom of the pastry shell together with Gruyere cheese.  The shell is then filled with the egg mixture and baked.

quick bread

As the name implies, quick breads can be made quickly and easily.  Because the leavening agent is either baking powder, baking soda, or steam, there is no rising time required.  A baked quick bread will generally have a gently rounded top that is slightly bumpy.

  • History:

    Quick breads (chemically leavened) were not developed until the end of the 18th century.  This took place in America, where pearlash was discovered. Pearlash is a refined form of potash, and it produces carbon dioxide gas in dough.  Baking powder was not developed commercially until 1857 (phosphate baking powder).


(kEEN-wah) – Quinoa was once the staple food of the Incas and was known as “the mother grain” in ancient times.  It has just started to catch on in the U.S.  It is a very small ivory-colored grain, which you can purchase in grain and flour forms.  It cooks like rice, but cooks in half the time and expands to four times its size.  The flavor is delicate and has been compared to couscous with a slightly bitter aftertaste.  To remove the bitter taste, you need only to rinse the quinoa in a sieve before cooking.  Many chefs are using it as an interesting side dish.  Sometimes it is called a Super food because it is a good source of iron, plant protein, potassium, magnesium and lysine.  Given the basically bland taste of quinoa, rice and couscous are often very good substitutes.


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.


(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, sauteing, 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 is 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 1860s.


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.


(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.”


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. – liqueur.

An almond-based drink similar to a cordial.  The word indicates a flavor of almonds.

Ratafia cakes 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.


(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 pockets.


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 article on 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.


(rey-muh-lahd) – Is a classic French cold sauce with a mayonnaise base, but is similar to tartar sauce.  Various condiments are added such as various condiments and herbs, as chopped pickles, capers, mustard, parsley, chervil, and tarragon.  This sauce is also very popular served with salads and seafood.  Louisiana also has their own version of this sauce. In fact, everyone seems to have their own secret recipe.


(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 “Carry-Over Cooking.”

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 you cook.  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.

Definition:  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 cooking.

Reuben Sandwich

A grilled sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread.


(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, and victoria.

  • 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.


(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 sweet dishes.


(REESE-ling) – A classic German white wine.


(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.

  • History:

    It is not known where the first risotto was created.

    (1)  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 glass worker 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.

Robert Sauce

(also known as Sauce Robert) Is a classic French brown mustard sauce. Considered one of the main compound sauces made with onions, mustard and white wine reduction. The sauce is derived from a demi-glace, which in turn is derived from Espagnole (brown sauce) known among the five French mother sauces. Robert Sauce goes well with beef and pork. Sauce Robert is documented all the way back to published cookbooks from 1651.

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, Franis 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.


(RAW-stee, ROOSH-tee) – In Switzerland, the term rosti means “crisp and golden.”  The term refers to foods (usually shredded potatoes) sauteed 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.


(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 over.

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.

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.


The French word for a velvety Italian custard called zabaglione.  See Zabaglione.

  • Mexican sabayon

    Mexican sabayon differs from the classic Italian version in that it is not cooked.  The egg whites are whipped until stiff and then carefully folded into the yolk mixture.

Sachertorte, Sacher Cake

(SAH-kuhr-tohrt) – Sacher Torte is a famous Viennese cake, probably the most famous chocolate cake of all-time.  It consists of chocolate sponge cake cut into three layers, between which apricot jam are thickly spread between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.  The whole cake is then iced with a velvet-like chocolate and served with a side dish of whipped cream.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of the Sachertorte/Sacher Cake, check out History of Cakes.

Sachet d’Epices

The term means “bag of spices” and consists of whole peppercorns, parsley stems, bay leaves, whole thyme leaves, and fresh garlic (wrapped in a bag of cheesecloth and suspended in the pot with butcher’s twine).  The amounts vary according to the amount of stock.

safflower oil

Oil made from the seeds of the safflower and contains more polyunsaturates than other oils.  Because of its high cooking temperature, it is good for deep frying.  It is also good for salad dressing because it is almost flavorless and colorless and does not solidify when chilled.


(SAF-ruhn) – Saffron, the yellow-orange stigmas from a small purple crocus, is the world’s most expensive spice.  That is because each flower provides only three red stigmas and it takes approximately 14,000 of these tiny threads for each ounce of saffron.  One ounce of saffron equals the stigmas from approximately 5,000 crocuses.  It takes an acre of flowers to produce a pound.  It is imported from Spain.

  • History:

    Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles, used saffron in soups, porridges, and in gravies (the saffron he used was the gold colored pollen from wild flowers).  Ancient Greeks and Romans scattered Saffron to perfume public baths.  The 13th century Crusaders brought Saffron from Asia to Europe, where it was used as a dye and condiment.  In Asia, Saffron was a symbol of hospitality.  In India, people used Saffron to mark themselves as members of a wealthy caste.


(sah-kee) – It is an alcoholic beverage produced from rice in much the same way that beer is brewed from wheat and barley, but is termed a rice wine because its alcohol content is similar to strong wines.  It is served either hot or cold.

  • History:

    Sake has been known since the dawn of civilization, and probably since rice was introduced to Japan from the Asian continent about 2000 years ago.  Sake has had an honored role throughout the evolution of Japanese society.  In early times, sake drinking was an integral part of celebrating the harvest and was offered to the gods when praying for peace and prosperity.  The name was derived from “sakaeru.” which means, “to prosper or flourish,”  In toasting, sake signifies “the water that will bring you prosperity.”  Today’s sake has changed much from early times. It was centuries before they discovered yeast, which greatly increased its alcohol content.  The Second World War also altered the recipe. Rice shortages forced brewers to develop new ways to increase their yields.  By government decree, pure alcohol and glucose were added to small quantities of rice mash, increasing the yield by as much as four times.  Ninety-five percent of today’s sake is made using this technique, though connoisseurs say that the best sake is still made with just rice (koji rice) and water only.  As wine is used in French cooking, sake is often used in Japanese cooking.  For cooking purposes, inexpensive sake of any brand will do just as well.


Comes from the Latin word “herba salta” or “salted herbs,” so called because such greens were usually seasoned with dressings containing lots of salt.

salad days

It refers to a time of youthful inexperience, a term coined by Shakespeare, whole Cleopatra characterizes her long-ago romance with Julius Caesar as one occurring in “my salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood.”

salad dressing

A sauce for a salad that are usually based on vinaigrette, mayonnaise, or other emulsified product.

Salisbury steak

(SAWLZ-beh-ree) – A beef patty that is broiled or fried with onions and served with gravy.

  • History:

    Salisbury steak was named for Dr. James H. Salisbury (1823-1905), a 19th century nutritionist, who thought that everyone would be healthier if they ate lots of beef, more specifically 3 pounds per day washed down with quarts of hot water.  During World War II, when patriotic Americans objected to the German term “hamburger” (the hamburger sandwich was also called liberty sandwich, but that term did not catch on).  Salisbury steak stuck because it was already in existence (first recorded in 1897), but the term “hamburger steak” was known in America at least a decade earlier than that.  Salisbury steak was originally more of a fancier version of hamburger “used on menus in the sort of restaurants that would not own up to selling hamburgers.”


To learn about the Salmon, check out Story of the Pacific Salmon.


(SAL-sa) – Mexicans define a salsa as a sauce, and all sauces as salsas.  In Mexico sauces are a combination of fresh ingredients in which many are uncooked and served separately, to be added according to individual tastes.  Salsas can be a mixture of raw or partially cooked vegetables and/or fruits, herbs, and, of course, chiles.  Anything from vegetables, fruits, and nuts, to fish and meat can be used to make salsa, as long as the flavors blend well.  The combined ingredients are not a puree, but are distinct pieces, and are often uncooked.  This definition would also include chutneys and fruit or vegetable relishes.  If the salsa is uncooked, as in “pico de gallo,” it is referred to as salsa cruda or salsa fresca.  If cooked it is usually called picante.

Many countries have similar dishes that are used to accent meals in tropical areas of the world: sambals in Indonesia, chakalaka in South Africa, chutneys from India, the fruit and chile mixes from the West Indies, and piccalillis of the American South.


Common salt is a rock, the only one we eat (an mineral composed of 40% sodium and 60% chloride, joined by one of the strongest chemical unions there is, an ionic bond).  One of the four elemental components of taste, along with sweet, sours, and bitter.  Salt sharpens and pulls together other tastes.  It comes from two primary sources; mines on land and water from the sea.  Salt is also essential to our health.  Without it, our cells cannot function properly and if we do not get enough of it, we will crave it until our physical need is satisfied.

  • kosher salt

    It is pure refined rock salt, also known as coarse salt or pickling salt.  It has larger crystals, which adheres better to food.  Because it does not contain magnesium carbonate, it will not cloud items in which it is added. Kosher salt is required for “koshering“ foods that must meet Jewish dietary guidelines.

  • pickling or canning salt

    It is a fine-grained additive-free salt used to make brines for pickles, sauerkraut, etc.

  • rock salt or halite

    It is mined from natural deposits and varies in color from colorless when pure, to white, gray, or brown.  It is not as refined as other salts and comes in chunky crystals.  Rock salt is used predominately as a bed on which to serve baked oysters and clams and in combination with ice to make ice cream in crank-style ice cream makers.

  • sea salt

    Sea salt generally comes from coastal marshes, basins, and other areas where seawater has been trapped and is allowed to evaporate naturally.  It is grayish in color and contains traces of minerals.

  • table salt and iodized salt

    It has additives added that prevent caking and may make the brine cloud.  Iodized salt may also darken pickles.

  • History:

    Salt has always been among the world’s most important commodities and the human need for salt has shaped history.  It was in general use long before recorded history.  Civilizations rose in Africa, China, India, and the Middle East around rich salt deposits.  About 2,700 B.C. (about 4,700 years ago) there was published in China the “Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu,” the earliest know treatise on pharmacology.  A major portion of this writing was devoted to a discussion of more than 40 kinds of salt.

    Salt played a crucial role in religion.  Homer called it divine and Plato described it as a “substance dear to the gods.”  The Israelites were required to include salt with all offerings, and ancient Jewish temples included a salt chamber.  For hundreds of years, Roman Catholic priests would place a pinch of salt on a baby’s tongue during baptism and say, “Receive the salt of wisdom.”  There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible.  Jews and Christians, among others, shared the custom of rubbing newborn infants with salt (a symbol of long life).  Arabs made peace and declared friendship with the phrase “There is salt between us,” and considered it treacherous to harm someone with whom they had shared salt.  To ensure a long marriage, a Swiss groom would put bread in one pocket and salt in the other.  A German bride would put salt in her shoe.  Spilling salt, a superstition that brings bad luck, was immortalized in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper, where Judas has knocked over the saltcellar.

salt-rising bread

Salt rising bread is a bread that originated in the 1830s and 1840s.  This was before yeast leavening was readily available.  It relies on the fermentation of warm milk or water, flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt to give it rising power.  It has a very smooth texture with a tangy flavor and aroma.


A sandwich is two or more slices of bread with a filling, such as meat, cheese, jam or various mixtures, placed between them.


Young herrings are frequently labeled and sold as sardines.


(sah-shee-mee)  – It is Japanese for “raw fish in slices.”  Sashimi consists of the freshest, top-quality fish.  In Japan, it might be fillets of tuna, bonito, salmon, halibut or whatever is in season.  It is sliced into bite-size portions and dressed into different shapes.  Usually served with soy sauce and horseradish.


It is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing.  Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial.


German for “sour roast.”  Describes a beef roast marinated for five days or more in a sweet-sour marinade and braised.  It is best made from the bottom round.

  • History:

    Charlemagne who died in 814 A.D invented Sauerbraten.  It was invented as a way of using up left over roasted meat.  Later in the 13th century, Albert of Cologne used the recipe with fresh meat.  The original sauerbraten never contained such things as tomatoes, gingersnaps, sour cream, bacon, or pork as many recipes do today.


(SOW-uhr-krowt) – The word, which in German means “sour cabbage,” is first mentioned in American English in 1776 and the dish, was long associated with German communities in the United States.  Sauerkraut was also a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty.  The Dutch explorers carried barrels of sauerkraut with them on their ship. The properties in sauerkraut helped fight disease.Sauerkraut, also known as sourcrout, is a chopped cabbage that is salted and then fermented in its own juice.  Sauerkraut is made by placing salt between layers of finely shredded cabbage and then subjecting it to pressure, which bruises the cabbage and squeezes out its juices.  It then ferments.

  • History:

    Chinese cooks were pickling cabbage in wine (as early as 200 B.C.) and using it as an accompaniment to meals.  The slaves who built the Great Wall of China were fed on cheap rice and cabbage, but when winter came, rice wine was added to the cabbage.  Genghis Khan substituted salt for the wine and carried this “sauerkraut” (as it is now called) to the eastern edge of Europe.  It was the Austrians, not the Germans, who made the most of it by shredding cabbage, allowing it to ferment in salt, and then flavoring it with caraway seeds and juniper berries.


(saw-TAY) – A cooking technique which means to cook a food quickly in oil and/or butter over high heat.  You can use a skillet or saute pan, but make sure it is big enough to comfortably contain what you are cooking.

  • History:

    The Chinese community introduced us to the improved method of cooking, which we call “sauteing” and the Chinese call “chowing.”  Their Chinese cooks influenced the meals and diets of hundreds of California families.  Although the Chinese cooks were seldom permitted to prepare Oriental meals, they held to their art of cooking and serving vegetables, a contribution that eliminated English overcooking of vegetables and contributed to the cuisine of the West Coast.


It is a large, ring-shaped, spongy cake made from a rich yeast mixture, soaked in a rum-flavored syrup and filled with fruit and cream.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of the Savarin Cake, check out History of Cakes.



Small dishes served as the last course of a meal.  They are similar to appetizers.


(SAY-vuh-ree) – There are two types of savory – summer and winter.  Both of which are closely related to the mint family.  It has an aroma and flavor reminiscent to a cross between mint and thyme.  Summer savory is slightly milder, but both are strongly flavored so use this herb with discretion.


A drink made with whiskey generally associated with the Sazerac Bar at the Fairmont Hotel. The bartender coats an Old Fashion glass with herbsaint, pours out the excess, pours in the Sazerac mix and tops off the drink with a twist of lemon.

  • History:

    This drink is reported to be the first cocktail ever invented (at least in America).  The drink was developed in 1850 at an Exchange Alley bar.  In the early days, the Sazerac Cocktail was made with cognac or brandy, but as American’s taste changed to whiskey, the liquor was changed to rye whiskey.  In 1949, the bar was moved to the Roosevelt Hotel (now the Fairmont), which pays an annual fee to Sazerac Co. Inc.  That company owns the rights to the formula and bottles the drink in a New Orleans suburb called Metairie.


(1) to dip into boiling water.  

(2) To heat milk to just below the boiling point.  

(3) To dip fruits, vegetables, or nuts in boiling water to facilitate removing the skin or shell.


To remove the scales from fish with a knife or a fish scaler.


(SKAL-yuhn) – The name scallion applies to several members of the onion family including a distinct variety called scallion, immature onions (commonly called green onions), young leeks, and sometimes the tops of young shallots.  In each case the vegetable has a white base that has not fully developed into a bulb and green leaves that are long and straight (both parts are edible).  True scallions are generally identified by the fact that the sides of the base are straight, whereas the others are usually slightly curved, showing the beginnings of a bulb.  All can be used interchangeably, but true scallions have a milder flavor than immature onions.  Scallions are available year-round, but are at their peak during spring and summer.  At their peak, scallions are crisp with bright green tops and a firm white base.  Mid-sized scallions with long white stems are the best.  Scallions can be cooked whole as a vegetable much as you would a leek.  They can also be chopped and used in salads, soups, and a multitude of other dishes for flavor.


(SKAHL-uhp) – Although hundreds of different species of scallops exist in our oceans worldwide, only a few of these species are harvested commercially on a large scale.  The three you’re most likely to find at a fish market are Atlantic sea scallops, Atlantic bay scallops, and calicos.


(skah-luh-PEE-nee ska-luh-PEE-nee) – Scalloppine is an Italian term for a thin cutlet of meat (small thinly-sliced pieces of meat), typically veal.

scaloppini, scaloppine, scallopini

(skah-loh-PEE-nah) – An Italian term for a thin, pounded piece of meat.  Usually prepared by dredging the meat in flour, then sauteing and serving with a wine, lemon, or tomato sauce.  Also called piccata.


Scant means lacking a small part of the whole; not quite up to full measure.  In other words, one (1) scant teaspoon means not quite a whole teaspoon but a little less.  Scant is a very bad term to use in writing a recipe.  The recipe should give the exact amount or say “to taste.”


(shnahps) – Schnapps is a generic term for strong, colorless alcoholic beverage distilled from grains or potatoes and variously flavored.  Peppermint schnapps is the most common, but other flavors include cinnamon, vanilla, root beer, blackberry, raspberry, peach, and mango.


(SHNIHT-suhl) – In German the word means “slice” and usually refers to veal dishes.  It is a cutlet of veal which is beaten out until it is thin.


(skon) – A Scottish quick bread that has a texture half way between cake and biscuits (harder than a cake but softer than a biscuit).  Scones are best served warm from the oven and should be eaten on the same day they are made.

  • History:

    It is thought that the name comes from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone).  Scottish kings have been crowned upon this stone for more than a thousand years.  The present British Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on the Stone in 1953.  The original version of scones was made with oats and griddle baked.  Today they are flour-based and baked in the oven and come in various shapes (triangles, rounds, squares, and diamonds).


(1) To cut narrow gashes in fat to prevent the meat from curling when cooked.  

(2) To cut narrow crisscross lines on the fat of a ham or a roast.  

(3) To cut even shallow lines in cucumbers with a fork or scoring knife for decorations.

Scoville unit

Scoville unit is the thermometer of the chile pepper. E stablished by Wilbur Scoville, these are the units of heat of a chile pepper.  Units rank from 0 to 300,000.


Scrod is not a type of fish.  The term originated in the Boston area to describe the catch of the day.  It is also used as a general label for small members of the cod family, including pollack, haddock, hake, and whiting.  In most New England restaurants, scrod is loosely defined as “catch of the day,” which allows the restaurants to offer whatever fish is available and call it scrod on the menu.

  • History:

    Some historians think that scrod is a contraction of Sacred Cod, the name of the 4-foot-tall wooden sculpture that has been in the Massachusetts State House since 1748.  Others think that Boston’s famous Parker House Restaurant coined the word as a generic term for their “fish of the day,” not knowing in advance what to print on their menus.

sea cucumber

It is cylindrical, cucumber or sausage-shaped, hence its name sea cucumber.  It is found in all seas of the world, at all depths usually lying on the bottom on one flattened side, abounding on the British and European coasts, and from Nantucket northward to the rocky coasts of northern Massachusetts and Maine.  It is definitely not a plant, but a marine animal – the same class as sea urchins, sea lilies, sea stars, brittle stars, or starfish.  It can grow 3 to 4 inches thick, ranging in length from 1-inch to almost five feet, often brownish, but may range in color from black to bright yellow and red stripes.  There are more than 500 species of sea cucumbers, and some of the larger species are considered delicacies in the Orient and are used in the preparation of soups and some other delicate specialty dishes.  When cooked, it is soft, cartilaginous, almost transparent, absorbing all the flavors of the sauce and the other ingredients.  Sea cucumbers are available frozen or dried.


The browning (caramelizing) of a food surface at high heat.  Little fat is used when searing.  Searing brings out the flavor and creates a fond at the bottom of the pan which is used for making sauces.


(1) To add flavor to foods (such as adding herbs and spices).  

(2) To coat the cooking surface of a new pot or pan with vegetable oil and then heating in a 350 degree F. oven for about a hour.  This smooths out the surface of new pots and pans, particularly cast-iron, and prevents foods from sticking.


Seaweed is also called sea wrack. It has been used, as food, for hundreds of years by people in northern Europe, especially in Japan.  It is used to thicken soups and sauces, and in making sushi.


Semifreddi are chilled creams which are typical Italian desserts.  They are also called spumoni.  They are prepared with an egg-based custard and whipped cream.  No ice cream machine is needed to make semifreddo (the basic mixture can be poured directly into the mold and put in the freezer for a few hours).  Chilled creams may be used as filling for casate and bombe, or can be prepared with fruits, syrups, chocolate. Etc.


(she-muh-LEE-nuh) – A grainy, pale yellow flour that is coarsely ground from hard wheat (like durum).  It has a very high protein content.  Used primarily for pasta and polenta.

Serrano pepper

Meaning “from the mountains.”  It is native to Mexico and southwest America, and is widely believed to be the hottest chile by many Americans who adore it in its red or green form.  Serrano peppers are quite small (about 1 -inches long).  A larger, double-sized species called largo is only found in Mexico.

sesame oil

(SEHS-uh-mee) – Sesame oil ha been used in cooking in Africa and the Far East for many centuries.  The main advantage of sesame oil over other oils is that it does not turn rancid, even in hot weather.  For this reason, it is very popular in tropical countries.

  • regular or light sesame oil

    This light-colored oil is made from un-toasted sesame seeds and is used in most Chinese cooking.  It adds distinctive nutty flavor to foods.  It is especially good for frying and it is also very good in salad dressing.

  • dark or Asian sesame oil

    This amber-colored oil is pressed from toasted sesame seeds.  It is a strong-flavored, aromatic oil that is used in Oriental cooking.  This oil is used as a seasoning and not used as a cooking oil, but is added at the last minute for flavor in hot cooked dishes or in marinades.  The thicker it is, the better the flavor.


(seh-VEE-chee) –-See ceviche.


(SHAL-uht) – Has a flavor more subtle than that of the onion and less pungent than that of garlic.  The shallot is the most refined member of the onion family.  They look more like garlic than onions.

Shio Koji (Salt Koji)

It is a fermented mixture of rice inoculated with the special mold called Aspergillus oryzae, sea salt, and water as a seasoning in place of salt to draw out the flavors of umami It is used just like other Japanese seasonings in sauteed dishes. The fermenting process, it increases the amount of vitamin B1, B2, B6, H and Pateton acid.


A solid fat made from vegetable oils, such as soybean and cottonseed oil.  Although made from oil, shortening has been chemically transformed into a sold state through hydrogenation.  Vegetable shortening is virtually flavorless (has a bland, neutral flavor) and may be substituted for other fats (such as butter, margarine, or lard) in baking of pie pastry, cookies, and cakes.  Shortening is ideal for pastry, since it blends well with the flour.  It can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.


To use a knife or a shredder (a cutting tool with round, smooth, sharp-edged holes) to cut food into long, thin strands.

shuck, shucking

Means to remove a natural outer covering from food, such as shells from oysters or husks from corn.


A flour sifter is a sieve that is especially adapted for use with flour.  It is commonly built in the form of a metal cup with a screen bottom and contains a mechanism (wires that either revolve or rub against the screen being operated by a crank or a lever) to force the flour through the mesh.


To cook submerged in liquid just below a boil, a temperature of 180 degrees F. to just short of the boiling point.  A simmering liquid has bubbles floating slowly from the bottom to the surface.

simple syrup

It is a solution of sugar and water that is boiled over high heat.  Most simple syrups contain a ratio of one cup water to two cups of sugar.  The longer you boil the mixture, the thicker it will become.


The term skillet once applied to any metal cooking vessel that had a handle, but the term has come to apply (in the U.S.) to the metal frying pan (cast-iron). Also called spider.


(1) To remove floating matter from the surface of a liquid with a spoon or ladle which is usually perforated.

(2) To remove a top surface of fat, cream, or scum from the top of liquid.

skirt steak

It is a boneless cut of beef from the lower part of the brisket.  Cut from the beef flank, the skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle (which lies between the abdomen and the chest cavity).  It Is a long, flat piece of meat that’s flavorful but rather tough.  Properly cooked, skirt steak can be quite tender and delicious.  It can either be quickly grilled, or stuffed, rolled and braise.  Recently, skirt steak has become quite fashionable becauSe of the delicious Southwestern fish called fajitas.


To cut food into long, thin pieces or thin strips.


A slurry is a mixture of a starch and cold water.  You can use cornstarch (preferred for thickening milk or dairy sauces), arrowroot (great for defatted meat sauces or broths because it gives a wonderful glossy sheen), potato starch, rice flour, or regular flour.  Proportion is one (1) part starch with two (2) parts cold liquid. Remove from the heat before you add the slurry, or you’ll end up with dumplings.


To expose fresh food to smoke from a wood fire for a prolonged period of time.  Traditionally used for preservation purposes, smoking is now a means of giving flavor to food.

smoking point

The point when a fat such as butter or oil smokes and lets off an acrid odor.  This is not good since this odor can get into what you are cooking and give it a bad flavor.  Butter smokes at 350 degrees F., vegetable oil at 445 degrees F., lard at 365 to 400 degrees F., and olive oil at about 375 degrees F.


A Swedish buffet of many dishes served as hors d’oeuvres or a full meal.  Similar buffets are served throughout Scandinavia, as well as the Soviet Union.  Common elements of a smorgasbord are pickled herring, marinated vegetables, smoked and cured salmon and sturgeon, and a selection of canapes.


Traditional snickerdoodles cookies are coated with cinnamon sugar before being baked.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of Snickerdoodle Cookies, check out History of Cookies.


This is a New Orleans creation.  A machine that turns blocks of ice into sno-balls makes it.  Most “sno-cones” are made of crushed ice; this machine shaves a block of ice, giving it an extremely fine texture.  “Shaved ice” in Hawaii is the closest thing to the sno-ball.  A sno-ball is not an Italian ice, nor is it a crushed ice abomination.  Once the ice is shaved, it is collected into a cup, paper cone, bowl, plate, or even a container akin to the things that you get at a Chinese take-out place.  Then syrup is poured over the ice.  Some people continue the process, adding cherries, ice cream, ice milk, condensed milk, or other toppings.  Most sno-ball stands have anywhere from 30 to 70 flavors available from which to choose.  Sno-balls are a summer creature.

soda bread

This is traditional Irish bread that is made with whole-wheat flour or white flour or oatmeal (sometimes raisins are included).  It is round loaf with a cross cut in the top and it has a velvety texture and unusual smoothness quite unlike yeast bread.  It is sliced paper-thin and buttered.  Traditionally, soda bread was baked over a peat fire in a three-legged iron pot that can be raised or lowered over the fire.  Glowing peat sods put on top of the pot gave an even heat for baking.


(1) The Italian soffrito normally consists of a little handful of fragrant herbs (parsley, dill, thyme, savory, and rosemary), and aromatic vegetables (onion, leek, garlic, and carrot) very finely chopped, simmered in oil before the meat, beans, fish or vegetables is added. It is used as a base in soups, sauces, casseroles, omelet’s and so on, and it imparts a lovely color and wonderful taste to the finished dish.  This blend is a fundamental of Italian cooking.  Also called “battuto.”  

(2) Soffrito is also what the sautd onions are called to which you add to arborio rice when making risotto.

sofrito, soffritto

A Spanish term for a blend of seasonings and vegetables used to flavor many Puerto Rican and Cuban recipes.  The vegetables are usually cooked in olive oil to release the flavor before being added to a dish.  This blend is considered the foundation of a dish. Sofrito is not only a common seasoning in many Puerto Rican dishes, but it is also frequently served at the table as a condiment.

soldering vegetables

A blend of tomatoes and potatoes that commemorates the red on white motif of the Red Cross.  The garnish (sometimes accompanying other dishes) of carrot, potato, and other vegetables scooped out with a parisienne baller represent the cannon balls from the battle.

  • History:

    Solferino, a town in Lombardia, Italy, famous for the battle in 1859 that was fought there and more specifically since this was where Henri Dunant founded the International Red Cross.


Sole is a member of the flatfish species that consists of sole, flounder, and halibut.  It is significantly superior in flavor and texture to the flounder.  This is why the fish markets and restaurants deceptively call much of the flounder sold in America “sole.”  Gray sole, lemon sole, rex sole, and the Dover sole of the Pacific are all flounders.  Genuine sole are the true Dover sole, English sole, and turbot.


A sonker is a deep-dish pie or cobbler served in many flavors including strawberry, peach, sweet potato, and cherry.  I have also read this same dish is called zonker (or sonker) in Surry County, North Carolina.  It seems to be a dish unique to North Carolina.  The community of Lowgap at the Edwards-Franklin House, hold an annual Sonker Festival.


An Italian compressed cured pork (all-pork dry salami).  It is a salame (salami) made from pork meat and fat, usually from the head of the hog.  The mixture is then mixed and spiced with red pepper for the spicy version, and with black pepper for the sweet version.  The gentle entrails is covered by a layer of fat, hence a longer maturity is requested.  This also gives to the product a particular softness.  After seasoning and ripening (5 months) it can be kept, covered with pork fat, in glass jars.


(sor-BAY) – Sorbet is the French word for sherbets.

  • History:

    Sorbets were introduced (along with ice cream) to Europeans by the Arabs, who learned to make them from the Chinese.  Originally sorbets were a cooling drink with a base of fresh fruit that was sweetened, diluted, and chilled (possibly with snow).  The ideas were copied later on throughout Europe with sherbet powders, which were used to make drinks.  A sorbet is a light, frozen mixture of diluted pureed fruit, fruit juices, sugar, water, and egg white.  In France, they are usually served in the middle of the meal as a “palate cleanser.”


It is different from molasses, although many people use the terms interchangeably.  Sorghum is made from the juice of the sweet-sorghum cane stalk, sorgos, and has no sugar removed and thus is significantly sweeter than molasses.  Sorgos, a tall cereal grass resembling corn is sometimes called “brown corn,” and can be used as fodder.  It can be used interchangeably with sugarcane molasses.


(soo-FLAY) – Souffle is taken from the French word “souffler” meaning to “blow or puff up.”  It is a light, foamy concoction made from egg whites, which are folded into a sauce of egg yolks, milk, and sometimes flour.  The air beaten into the egg whites expands in the heat of the oven, making the souffle light and puffy.  They are either baked or steamed. I t is usually a dessert, although there are also fish, meat, poultry, and vegetable souffel.


The word “soup” was originally “sop” and it literally meant dipping a slice of bread into a broth.  “Potage” was a word for the contents of the soup.  Today the word “soup” describes both broth and contents as it means any combination of meat, fish or vegetables, cooked in water or in any other liquid, and intended to be eaten.   It may be thin (like consomme, thick (like gumbo), smooth (like bisque), or chunky (like chowder or bouillabaisse).  cMost soups are served hot, but some (like vichyssoise and fruit soups) are served cold.


Bread that has been leavened with a fermented starter.

  • History:

    The ancient Egyptians made sourdough bread, having discovered that fermented dough would rise in the oven.  Thousands of years later (in our frontier days), a sourdough starter was the most important personal possession, something to be guarded at the expense of everything else.  The American pioneers jealously guarded their starters, as freshly baked bread, biscuits, and pancakes often provided the only variety in the wilderness diet.  They usually carried their starters in wooden pails, which became permeated with the culture and which would retain the life of the yeast even if the starter spilled.

    The prospectors of the Yukon during the Alaskan Gold Rush of the 1890s were nicknamed “sourdoughs” because of the sourdough starters that they usually had hidden under their jackets to keep warm.  In addition, there was the alcoholic by-product called “hooch,” the clear liquid that rises to the top of the starter and had its own uses.

soy flour

It is made up of ground roasted soybeans processed into flour to use in baking.  By itself, it makes a heavy bread, so it is usually combined with other flours. It can also be used to thicken gravies and sauces.

soy milk

Soy milk is rich and creamy and has a taste distinctive from cow’s milk.  Most often it is sold in aseptic (non-refrigerated) packages that can be stored at room temperature for several months.  Once opened, it must be refrigerated and will stay fresh for about five days.  Soy milk can be used the same as cow’s milk in recipes.

soy sauce

Soy sauce is a staple condiment and ingredient throughout all of Asia.  It is a salty, brown liquid that is made from fermented soybeans mixed with a roasted grain (wheat, barley, or rice are common), injected with a special yeast mold, and liberally flavored with salt.  After being left to age for several months, the mixture is strained and bottled. The sauce’s consistency can range from very thin to very thick.

  • Japanese soy sauce

    Japanese-style soy sauce, such as Kikkoman, is suitable for most uses.

  • Chinese soy sauce

    The Chinese use both light (thin) and dark (heavy) soy sauces.  Dark soy sauces are fermented longer with molasses added during the process.  They go best with spicy dishes and red meats.  The light soy sauces are used in dipping sauces or vegetable and seafood dishes.

  • Tamari

    A dark soy sauce brewed without wheat.  In the United States, tamari refers to a Japanese-style light soy sauce with a slightly smoky flavor.

  • History:

    Soy sauce was developed over a thousand years ago in China as a way of preserving food.


(SHPEHT-sluh; SHPEHT-sehl; SHPEHT-slee) – Literally translated from German as “little sparrow,” spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt, and sometimes nutmeg.  The spaetzle dough can be firm enough to be rolled and cut into slivers or soft enough to be forced through a sieve, colander, or spaetzle-maker with large holes.  The small pieces of dough are usually boiled (poached) before being tossed with butter or added to soups or other dishes.  In Germany, spaetzle is served as a side dish much like potatoes or rice, and is often accompanied by a sauce or gravy.  The cooked spaetzle can also be pan fried with a little butter and onions (usually a good left-over idea).


It is considered a food that changed the course of history.  It is a canned ground pork and ham product that does not need to be refrigerated until opened.  Originally sold in 12-ounce cans and since 1960, it was been available in 7-ounce cans and even smaller varieties.

  • History:

    It was the Hormel Company that developed Spam, a canned meat product that did not need to be refrigerated, in about 1936.  It was originally named and marketed it under the name Spiced Ham.  As this was a rather uninspiring name, Hormel would decide to give the product a new name.  They had a contest and offered $100 dollars (this was a lot of money in those days) to come up with a suitable name.  The winning name was the name it goes by today and that is the world famous “Spam.”

    Hormel mounted a large advertising campaign in 1937 and called their product the miracle meat and promoted it for use at anytime of the day.  The first singing commercial was done to the tune of “My bonny Lies Over The Ocean.”  It was advertised as the meat in a can that saved time and tastes fine.

    During World War II, sales skyrocketed.  Not only was Spam great for the military, as it required no refrigeration, it was not rationed as beef was, so it became a prime staple in American meals.  Even the Russians gave Spam the credit for the survival of the Russian Army during World War II.


(spatch-kok-king) – It is a French technique of butter-flying a whole chicken by removing the backbone so you can open it up flat, like a book, and cook it using direct heat.  Because the spatchcocked chicken cooks over fiery hot coals, the process cuts the grilling time almost in half and helps keep the meat moist.


Spelt is an ancient cereal grain that is native to southern Europe.  It was widely grown until the beginning of the 20th century, but can be difficult to find now.  After threshing, spelt is cooked like rice and can be found as an ingredient in certain country soups, especially in Provence.  Spelt has a mellow nutty flavor, and spelt flour can be substituted for wheat flour in baked goods.


A spider is a cast-iron skillet or frying pan.  At one time, this cooking vessel had three long metal legs (enabling it to be set directly over the coals of a hearth fire).  It was from these legs (since discarded) that the utensil received its name.  Thought the legs were discarded with the coming of the range, the name has remained in many locations, referring to the cast-iron vessel only.

Spiedie Sandwich

(SPEE-dee) – The name comes from the Italian spiedo meaning “kitchen cooking spit.”  Originally made from lamb, they are now made with virtually any meat.  It is chunks of lamb, pork, chicken, beef, or venison that has been marinated for days in a tart sauce and then grilled on a metal skewer, usually over charcoal or gas.  The traditional way of serving is between sliced Italian bread with extra sauce poured on top. T he Spiedie, skewer and all, is then inserted in sliced Italian bread.  The bread is used as a sort of mitt, wrapping around the meat.  Pull out the skew and you then have a wonderful and delicious hot sandwich.  Spiedies are a specialty of Broome County, New York.  People who live in the area eat them at restaurants, from street vendors, buy from supermarkets, and even make their own at backyard cookouts.  They even hold an annual Spiedie Cook-Off with a recipe contest.

  • History:

    They originated with Binghamton’s Italian immigrant population in the 1920s.  Augustine Lacovelli from Endicott, New York is believed to have popularized the Spiedie by introducing them in his restaurant in the 1940s. Check out History and Legends of Sandwiches.


(SPRING-uhr-lee) – These have been and still are traditional Christmas cookies in Bavaria and Austria for centuries.  Springerle cookie molds and rolling pins are carved to create a series of small cookies, each with a different design.  Although there are lots of variations, springerle cookies typically are light-colored and anise-flavored.  Hartshorn is the traditional leavening (it is an ammonia compound).

sponge cake

They are similar to angel cakes in that they use many eggs and no shortening or leavening.  Sponge cakes use the whole eggs, while angel cakes use only the whites.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of the Sponge Cake, check out History of Cakes.

springform pan

A springform pan not only has sides that can be removed but the bottom comes out too.  Used mostly in baking, this unusual pan has a fastener on the side that can be opened to remove the rim after the cake is cool.  They are available in a number of sizes, 9- and 10-inch being the most common.  Cheesecakes and tortes are usually baked in this type of pan.


A sprout is produced when a seed starts growing into a vegetable.  Sprouts can grow from the seeds of vegetables and the seeds of grains (such as alfalfa and buckwheat, and from beans).  Sprouts vary in texture and taste.  Some are spicy (radish and onion sprouts), some are hardy and are often used in oriental food (mung bean), and others are more delicate (alfalfa) and are used in salads and sandwiches to add texture and moistness.

  • History:

    While most Americans believe “sprouting” (growing sprouts) began with the Hippies, the Bible actually mentions it in the Book of Daniel.  It is believed that Chinese physicians prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders more than 5,000 years ago.  The ancient Chinese used sprouts both nutritionally and medicinally – for year round food in colder regions of the country and for curing many disorders.  In the 1700s, Capt. James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts (all abundant providers of vitamin C) to help prevent scurvy on long voyages.  Sprouts first grabbed attention in America during World War II, when Dr. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University wrote an article praising sprouts as quick and easy to grow in nearly any climate (and without soil or sunshine!) and of significant nutritional value.

Spudniks or Sputniks

An American nickname for potatoes. This term was popular after the Russian space satellites of the late 50’s and early 60’s.  Sputnik ushered in a new era of space exploration.  This term is not used much anymore.


Doves and pigeons belong to the same family of birds, the Columbidae.  Squab is just a fancy name for pigeon.  It is a fattened pigeon that is not allowed to fly (so it’s tender rather than sinewy) and are processed at four weeks old and at about 1 pound.  The meat of Squab is distinctly different from that of any other domestic poultry, while being milder than that traditionally associated with game meats.  Squab is probably the gamiest of the domestic birds.  It has a full rich flavor like black berries.

  • History:

    Pigeons have been bred for food for centuries dating back to early Asian, Arabic, and European traditions.  The history of the squab is lengthier than even the current domesticated chickens and turkeys.  It was a popular special-occasion dish in Victorian England.


To learn all about the different types of Squash (Summer and Winter), check out All About Squash (Summer and Winter).

St. Louis style ribs

Style of ribs that got its name from the city of St. Louis.  A meatier rib than baby back ribs; trimmed evenly and squared off.

star anise

Named (both in English and in Chinese) for its distinctive shape. Its Mandarine name, bah-jyao, means “eight points.”  Star anise is the dried fruit of an evergreen tree that is a member of the magnolia family and grows wild in southern China, reaching a height of about 25 feet.  The tree starts to bear fruit at about six years of age and can continue to produce over the next one hundred years.  In spring, the tree blooms with yellow flowers, from them emerges the brown fruit that assumes a star shape as it ripens.  In cooking, the dried star and seeds can be ground up as seasoning or simmered whole in liquid mixtures to enhance broths and syrups.  It is a key ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder.

star fruit

Other names for the star fruit are carambola (Indian name for it), five-angled fruit, and Chinese star fruit.  Look for a star fruit that is from 2 to 5 inches long with juicy-looking ribs.  Avoid fruit with browned, shriveled ribs.  They can be purchased green, and then allowed to yellow at room temperature before eating.  There are a few varieties of star fruit.  One variety is sour/tart in flavor and has narrow ribs, the sweet variety has thick fleshy ribs, and there are two varieties of white star fruit marketed that are both considered sweet.  Use sour/tart variety in place of lemon or lime slices with fish, poultry, and mixed drinks.  In the east they are pickled.  Sweeter varieties are ideal for fruit salads and purees (alone or with other fruits).  You do not have to be peeling them.  You can simply rinse, slice, or eat them whole.  Appearance can be improved by shaving off darker skin with a vegetable peeler.

Steak Diane

Thin tenderloin steak sautd with shallots, thyme, mustard, mushrooms and cream.  Normally it would be prepared tableside by a Captain in a grand hotel dining room.  Check out my recipe for Steak Diane.

  • History:

    Supposedly named after the Roman goddess, Diana or Diane.  Diana was the Goddess of the Hunt and also Goddess of the Moon.  Steak Diane was originally a way of serving venison.


To cook with steam, usually in a steamer or on a rack over boiling water.  Steaming retains flavor, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching.  In this method, steam is the heat conductor.  If it is under pressure, as it is in a pressure steamer, the temperature is hotter than a water-based liquid can ever be.


They are Rainbow Trout that has returned from the sea.  Steelhead closely resemble rainbow trout with a life cycle similar to that of a salmon.  They are an anadromous species: born and reared in freshwater streams, as juveniles they migrate to estuaries, adjust to saltwater and then migrate to the ocean to mature into adults.  As they begin to sexually mature they return to the streams of their birth to spawn and then attempt to return to the ocean to repeat the cycle.  Unlike juvenile salmon that typically migrate to the ocean after just a few months of freshwater rearing, juvenile Steelhead resides in our rivers from 1 to 3 years.  As such, they require cool, clean water year round to sustain themselves.


To soak herbs, spices, raisins, etc. in a hot liquid to extract or intensify the flavors and also the color.


Stevia is used as a dietary supplement and sugar substitute.  It has no calories, no carbohydrates, and a zero glycemic index which makes it a great natural alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners.  Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.  Read the interesting article called, Stevia – A Natural and Healthy Sweetener.


It is the name of any dish which results from the action of stewing.  Stewing is the method of cooking which tenderizes tough pieces of meat.  It is a method by which meat and (usually although not always) vegetables are slowly simmered in liquid for a substantial period of time so that the meat not only becomes tender enough to chew but all the ingredients blend into a delicious mix.

sticky rice

The defining element of sushi is not raw fish as many thin, but the rice.  Sushi to the Japanese is synonymous with seasoned sticky rice.  In Japan, the correct preparation of the rice is so important, that in their finest restaurants there are chefs whose sole responsibility is to cook the rice.  The proportions of vinegar and sugar can very by season, chef, or even by the type of sushi you are preparing.

Stilton cheese

Stilton is a fine English blue cheese made from whole cow’s milk.  It is considered by many people to be one of the world’s best cheeses.  Stilton acquired its name in the 18th century because it was first sold in the small English village of Stilton in Hungtingdonshire.  Today it is made in parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire.  Stilton is farm-made cheese and is at its best from autumn to spring.  It is allowed to ripen for 4 to 6 months, during which time it is skewered numerous times to encourage the growth of penicillium Roquefort mold (also present in Roquefort cheese).  Stilton cheese is best eaten by itself with a glass of port or a full-bodied dry red wine.

  • White Stilton

    In addition to the better-known mature version, there is also young white Stilton that is marketed before the colored veins develop.  The white Stilton has a mild, slightly sour flavor.


It is a cooking technique that requires brisk cooking of small cuts of ingredients in hot oil over intense heat.  Three elements are crucial to stir-frying:  (1) Proper preparation, wherein the ingredients are conditioned through small cutting, marinating and partial precooking to respond to the fast cooking;  (2) thorough organizing, in the sense that everything needed is measured out and within reach so no interruption will disturb the cooking once it starts; and  (3) Vigilance from the cook – you must be ready to adjust timing and volume of heat instantly, not just by following recipe guidelines, but intuitively by the smell, look, and feel of the food and the sound of the cooking.


Sixteenth-century author William Butler wrote, “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”  Juicy and red, the strawberry is a member of the rose family and has grown wild for centuries in Europe and America.  The cultivation of strawberries goes back to the 1600s when early settlers enjoyed strawberries grown by local Native Americans.  Today’s strawberries are a cross breeding of the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), the native wild strawberry of the eastern seaboard (which was introduced into Europe around 1610), and the Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) which made the voyage a century later.  Today, about 70 percent of America’s fresh strawberries are grown in California.  Strawberries vary in size, shape and color and, in general, there is no direct relationship between size and flavor. Fresh strawberries are available year-round with the peak season from April to June.  Choose brightly colored, plump berries that still have their green caps attached and are uniform in size.  To learn all about Strawberries, check out Strawberry Hints and Tips.


(STROO-dal) – It is a dessert with a delicate casing made of paper-thin layers of filo pastry, each of which is brushed with butter.  The Austrians say the pastry is so thin that you can read a love letter through it.  The strudel usually has a filling consisting of cooked and diced fruit, chopped almonds, a little cinnamon, and sometimes a little brandy.

  • History:

    the invading Turks first brought a dessert that is famous in Austria, to central Europe in the 16th century.

Submarine Sandwich

Also know as a Hero Sandwich.  It is a king-sized sandwich on an Italian loaf of bread approximately 12 inches long an 3 inches wide, filled with boiled ham, hard salami, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes flavored with garlic and oregano.  This sandwich is simply a takeoff on the famous Po Boy Sandwich invented in New Orleans.


(SOO-iht) – Suet is the white fatty casing that surrounds the kidneys and the loins in beef, sheep, and other animals.  Suet has a higher melting point than butter and when it does melt it leaves small holes in the dough, giving it a loose soft texture.  Many British recipes call for it to lend richness to pastries, puddings, stuffings, and mincemeats.

  • shredded suet

    It is suet that has been shaved, grated, or cut into long narrow pieces.


Sugar or sucrose, is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable in the plant kingdom.  It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sugar energy into food.  Sugar occurs in greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets from which it is separated for commercial use.

  • Barbados sugar

    See raw sugar and muscovado sugar.

  • brown sugar

    It is made up of sugar crystals coated with varying amounts of molasses to obtain dark or light brown sugar . This lends a slightly grainy, moist texture.

  • castor/caster sugar

    The spelling, castor sugar, used to be the prevailing one, but caster sugar seems to be more usual now, perhaps because it is used by some sugar manufacturers on their packaging.  See superfine sugar.

  • coarse sugar

    Also known as pearl or decorating sugar.  It is shaped into small pearl-like balls that are several times as big as granulated sugar crystals.

  • confectioners' sugar

    See powdered sugar.

  • date sugar

    Date sugar is more a food than a sweetener.  It is ground up from dehydrated dates.  Its use is limited by price and the fact it does not dissolve when added to liquids.

  • Demerara sugar

    See raw sugar.

  • granulated sugar

    Also called table sugar or white sugar.  It is the most common form of sugar and the type most frequently called for in recipes.  Its main distinguishing characteristics are a paper-white color and fine crystals.

  • sugar cubes

    They are made from moist granulated sugar that is pressed into molds and then dried.

  • Muscovado sugar

    Also called Barbados sugar or moist sugar.  Muscovado sugar, a British specialty brown sugar, is very dark brown and has a particularly strong molasses flavor.  The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than regular brown sugar.  Light and dark brown muscovado sugars contain molasses; the darker the color is, the more molasses and therefore the stronger the flavor.

  • powdered sugar

    Also called confectioners’ sugar.  In Britain it is called icing sugar and in France sucre glace.  It is granulated sugar ground to a powder, sifted, and a small amount (3%) cornstarch has been added to prevent caking.  The fineness to which the granulated sugar is ground determines the family “X: factor: The “X: designations are derived from the mesh sizes of the screens used to separate powdered sugar into various sizes.  Thus, 4X would have a larger particle size, whereas 10X would have a smaller particle size.14 X is finer than 12X, and so on down through 10X, 8X, 6X, and 4X (the coarsest powdered sugar).  Confectioners or powdered sugar, available at supermarkets, is usually 10X. Always sift it before using.

  • raw sugar

    It is essentially the product at the point before the molasses is removed (what’s left after sugarcane has been processed and refined).  Popular types of raw sugar include demerara sugar from Guyana and Barbados sugar, a moist, fine textured sugar.  Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned to remove contaminates., leaving a llight molasses flavored, tan colored sugar.

  • superfine sugar

    Sometimes called bar sugar and known as castor or caster sugar in Britain, and berry sugar in British Columbia.  It is similar to granulated sugar except that it has very tiny crystals.  Since it dissolves quickly and completely, leaving no grainy texture, it’s the perfect choice for caramel, meringues, drinks, and fine-textured cakes.

  • Turbinado sugar

    See raw sugar.


(soo-kee-yah-kee) – Known in Japan as the “friendship dish” because its appeal to foreigners.

  • History:

    Nobody really seems to know the origins of sukiyaki.  One theory is that in the old days, farmers slipped a little meat into the vegetarian diet imposed by Buddhist.  It is also thought that the Dutch introduced their version of this dish to the Japanese in the early 17th century.  Because the dish was a beef preparation, the Japanese would serve it only to foreigners.  In 1873, Emperor Meiji declared that beef was acceptable for consumption, and from that time on it became part of the Japanese diet, although traditional dishes continue to use small quantities of meat.

sulfurino vegetables

A corruption of the correct term “solferino.”  Sometimes used on menus to describe the vegetable dish.  See solferino.

sunflower oil

This oil is made from sunflower seeds.  It is pale yellow and has a bland flavor.  It is a good all-purpose flour that is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat.


(1) To remove the flesh sections of citrus fruit from the membranes.  

(2) The wing and breast of the chicken or game bird.  

(3) A fillet of sole or fish.


(soo-shee) – It is a Japanese word, which originally meant “sour” or “vinegary” and later came to mean “pickled fish.”  Sushi is sometimes called “the Japanese sandwich.”  Contrary to popular American belief, sushi does not mean “raw fish,” but actually means “with rice.”  Sushi is small cakes (shaped into various bite-size forms) of cold cooked rice (sticky rice), flavored with sweet rice vinegar, and typically garnished with strips of raw or cooked fish, seafood, cooked egg, vegetables, etc.  They are then wrapped in seaweed to make a shaped package.  It is usually served with a green horseradish (wasabi) and soy sauce.  The “proper” way to eat sushi is in a single bite.

  • History:

    Japanese sushi has a history and tradition of over a thousand years, beginning as a way of preserving fish.  It was not until 1824, when Hanaya Yohel of Japan conceived the idea of sliced, raw seafood at its freshest to be served on small fingers of vinegared rice.  To learn about American-Style Sushi, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on California Rolls – American Style Sushi.


To cook vegetables in fat over gentle heat so they become soft but not brown and their juices are concentrated in the cooking fat.  If the pan is covered during cooking, the ingredients will keep a certain amount of their natural moisture.  If the pan is not covered, the ingredients will remain relatively dry.


Sweetbreads are the thymus and pancreas glands of animals.  They are light meat that is firmer in texture than brains.  The sweetbreads of veal are considered the best.  Beef sweetbreads are rather fatty and coarse, but if well prepared, they will taste almost the same as veal.  No on bothers with pork sweetbreads.  Such foods, along with other internal organs are called “Offal,” meaning, literally, the “off-fall” or off-cuts from the carcass; many call these items “variety meats.”

Now days, these foods are considered a delicacy by the people who enjoy them.  They are highly prized by chefs and connoisseurs for their mild flavor and velvety texture.  They are the most versatile of offal meats and can be prepared using virtually any cooking method.  They can be sauteed, braised, poached, grilled, fried, and even roasted.

  • History:

    Up until the time that America starting enjoying the luxury of large supermarkets (mid-1940s), people would butcher their own cattle for consumption.  As times were hard and money was scarce, nothing was wasted.  This included all parts of the animal butchered.  Everything was used and eaten by the family.

Swiss cheese

It is also called Emmentaler cheese. Switzerland is famous for this cheese and a large part of the milk produced there is used in its production.  It was first made around the middle of the 15th century in the Canton of Bern in the Emmental Valley (which accounts for its native name of Emmentaler).  It is a large, hard, pressed-cured cheese with an elastic body and a nut-like flavor.  It is best known because of the holes (eyes) that develop in the curd as the cheese ripens.  The eyes are often 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter and from 2 to 3 inches apart.  It is considered one of the most difficult kinds of cheese to make.


(SIHL-uh-buhb) – Syllabub is softly whipped cream that is flavored with wine, sweetened cider, and sometimes brandy.  The froth is skimmed off and served in glasses.  It is a very light and fragile dessert.  It is closely related to eggnog, but less potent because no strong spirits are used.  Syllabubs comes from the early English word “silly” meaning “happy” plus a dialect word “bub,” meaning liquor.

  • History:

    Originally an English recipe from the 17th century, the first syllabubs were made by diary maids who would direct the warm milk straight from the cow to a pal containing sherry or cider.  In their heyday, they were as popular as ice cream is today.  These are known as the oldest of all English desserts.  They have been especially popular in Maryland, Virginia, and other parts of the South since the first American colonies were established.

Szechuan peppercorns

Also called Szechwan pepper, Nepali pepper, or Timur pepper.  Timur pepper/Szechwan pepper (pimpinella anisum) is native to the Szechwan province of China.  Though it bears some similarity to black peppercorns, they are not actually of the pepper family, rather the dried berry of a tree in the prickly ash family.  The Szechwan pepper is one of the few spices important for Tibetan and Bhutani cookery in the Himalayas, since very few spices can be grown there.

Fruits are globose and are encapsulated in a grayish, pimpled purse-like jacket when young but splits into two halves upon maturation of the seed.  A mature seed is oval and jet black in color with a highly wrinkled surface, hence often mistaken for a pepper as the English name indicates.

The rural people apply the powder of its seeds on their legs to get rid of leech infestation while crossing a forest in the rainy season.  The seed emits a characteristic pungent odor so strong that even the stickly leech loses its foothold!  It can be verified by a locally popular maxim, which goes – “Timur in the mouth of a leech is like a hammer on the head of a nail.”  It also possesses formidable disinfectant properties and is used largely as a safety measure as well as a flavoring essence during wild mushroom cooking. The seeds possess several medicinal properties like curing stomach aches and toothaches; but in heavy dosage it may prove toxic.  People make tasty curries just by mixing it with a pinch of salt and piece of green chile.

Tabasco Sauce

(tuh-BAS-koh) – It is a commercially made hot sauce that is considered the “King of All Pepper Sauces.”  Available worldwide, and made in Avery Island, Louisiana by the McIlhenny family since the 1880s.  Used as a table sauce and as a cooking ingredient.


(tah-KOH) – Taco in Spanish means a sandwich made with a tortilla.  Like a sandwich, it can be made with almost any thing and prepared in many different ways.  The taco can be eaten as an entree or snack.  They are made with soft corn tortillas or fried corn tortillas folded over.

  • taco pastor

    The most popular taco in Mexico.  This is marinated pork that is sprinkled with fresh onions and other spices.


Tahini is the equivalent of peanut butter; only it is made from 100% crushed sesame seeds.  It can be used as a sandwich spread, or mixed with a variety of other seasonings such as garlic and onion or cayenne pepper for a tasty dip or salad dressing.  Tahini is a key ingredient in hummus, the traditional Middle Eastern chickpea spread.


(tuh-MAL-ee) – Tamales are a Mexican dish consisting of seasoned chopped meats or vegetables enclosed in corn masa (dough) and wrapped in a softened corn husk.  The savory packages are steamed and the corn husks are peeled away before eating.  In Mexico, tamales are often served for special occasions, and the tradition of cooking tamales is passed from generation to generation.  For the preparation of tamales, everyone in the family has a single task, from the oldest, who will probably be the one who prepares the cornmeal dough, up to the youngest that will cut the rope to wrap them.

  • History:

    The origin of the tamale is unknown.  The journalist Marjorie Ross, author of the book Al calor del Fog (“Near the Woodstove”), mentions that the origin of the “tamalli”, the original name of the tamale, was a typical food of the indigenous people in the Pre-Columbian era.  Many writings of Fray Benardino de Sahag refer to the variety of tamales found in the Aztec market places, as well as those eaten in Montezuma’s feasts.


(TAM-uh-rihnd) – Tamarind takes its English name from the Arabic, tamarhindi, meaning “Indian Date.”  It is the fruit (pods or seeds) of a tall shade tree native to Asia and northern Africa and widely grown in India.  It is typically used in equatorial cuisines such as Indian, Mexican, and Thai.  It is used to season foods such as chutneys, curries, and pickled fish. It is also an integral ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.


(TAH-pah) – Any type of food can be a tapa – anything that is easy to eat so that the natural flow of conversation is not interrupted.  It is Spanish food served in small appetizer-sized portions.  The word translates as “cover.”  In Spain, tapas are served between meals, or maybe before that late dinner that begins at 10:00 p.m., in tapas bars.  Lunch in Spain is traditionally served at 2:00 p.m. and dinner no earlier than 10:00 p.m.  Tapas can be as simple as a bowl of olives or something more hearty such as stuffed potatoes.  In many Spanish restaurants, tapas are served free with a drink, the purpose being to keep you sober, and keep you going.  After all, when you went back to sip your drink you were not going to throw what covered the glass away.  Just eat it! And get another tapa in the process.

  • History:

    The history of the tapa is not really truly documented:

    (1)  Some authors assure that tapas were born when, and due to an illness, the Spanish King Alfonso X (1226-1285) had to take small bites of food with some wine between meals.  Once recovered from the disease, the king ordered that in all inns of Castile’s land, wine was not to be served without something to eat.

    (2)  Tapas originated in Andalucia, a Southern Province of Spain because of the need of farmers and workers to take a small amount of food during their working time to allow them to continue their job until the main meal time came.

    (3)  Another story that makes sense has to do with the Spanish character.  In the south of Spain, when someone ordered a glass of sherry or wine in the company of friends, it became custom to top the glass “tapar” with a slice of bread or sausage to keep insects and such out of the glass during the inevitable and interminable conversation that took place.  This custom developed and what was served was popularly called the “tapa”.  Tapas traditionally may have been a complimentary piece of ham served on top of a glass of sherry (hence the word cover).


(tap-eee-OH-kuh) – Tapioca in its fresh form is called “Yuca,” but Yuca is another name for what is the root of the cassava plant.  To confuse things further, this root is also known as “manioc,” “mandioca,” and in some instance “tapioca.”  Raw, it has a bland and sticky quality and is used in cooking the way you would a potato (it can be boiled, mashed, fried, etc.).  Cassava is a bushy plant producing tubers, the starchy underground stem of the plant, that have fed the indigenous people of the Americas for millennia and much of Africa since the 17th century.  Cassava ranks sixth among crops in global production.  Cassava was introduced to Africa by the Portuguese more than 300 years ago and today is the primary carbohydrate source in sub-Saharan Africa.

The tapioca most people are familiar with is either tapioca flour or pearl tapioca, which is made from dried cassava.

  • tapioca flour

    It is used as a thickening agent in the same way as you would use cornstarch.

  • pearl tapioca

    It comes in several sizes and is available either “regular” or “instant” and it used to thicken custards, pie fillings, and puddings.

  • instant pearl tapioca

    It is what is mostly available in supermarkets, whereas other forms of tapioca can be obtained in health food stores, Asian, or Hispanic markets.

  • History:

    According to the MINUTE Tapioca Company, tapioca pudding originated in 1894 by Susan Stavers, a Boston housewife, who took in boarders.  Among them was an ailing sailor who had brought some cassava roots from his journeys.  Hoping to soothe the sailor, she made a sweet and delicious tapioca pudding from the roots.  To create a smoother consistency, Stavers took the sailor’s suggestion of putting the tapioca through the coffee grinder.  The pudding turned out smooth, and Susan received rave reviews from her boarders.  Soon news of her dessert spread, and Stavers was regularly grinding tapioca, packing it in paper bags and selling it to the neighbors.

    John Whitman, a newspaper publisher heard of this wonderful recipe, bought the rights to Susan’s process and the MINUTE Tapioca Company was born.  It became part of the General Foods family in 1926 and part of Kraft Foods, Inc. in 1989.

tartar, tartare


(1)  Tartar sauce – refers to the sauce made of mayonnaise dressing with chopped pickles that is commonly served with seafood.  Also called “sauce tartare” in other countries.  In French, it is loosely translated as ‘rough,’ as the Tartars were considered rough, violent, and savage.

(2)  Steak Tartare – When tartare follows the word steak, this dish typically consists of raw ground beef or beef chopped finely and mixed with spices and topped with a raw egg and bits of raw onion.

  • History:

    Both tartar sauce and steak tartare came into English from French, but both terms originate with the Tartars associated with the Mongol invaders in medieval times.  We do not know if those rough and ready folks were once reputed to eat raw meat or to relish a piquant dressing, but we do know that the tartar in both terms recognizes the Turkic peoples.

tarte tatin

(tart tah-TAN) – A famous French upside-down apple tart made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust.  While baking the sugar and butter create a delicious caramel that becomes the topping when the tart is inverted onto a serving plate.  There is one rule for eating Tarte Tatin, which is scrupulously observed.  It must be served warm, so the cream melts on contact.  To the French, a room temperature Tarte Tatin isn’t worth the pan it was baked in.

  • History:

    Two French sisters, Carolina and Stephine Tatin, created the tart.  The sisters lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small rural town in the Loire Valley, owned and ran the hotel called “l’Hotel TATIN” in the late 1800s.  The elder sister, Stephanie, dealt with the kitchen.  She was a particularly fine cook but was not the brightest of people.  Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth.  One day during the hunting season, during the midday scramble, Stephanie placed her tart in the oven the wrong way round.  The pastry and apples were upside-down but, nevertheless, she served this strange dessert without giving it time to cool.  The French call this dessert “tarte des demoiselles Tatin – the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin.”


(TAH-soh) – Tasso is yet another example of the Cajun and Creole desire for unique flavor in a recipe.  Tasso is a dried smoked product that is seasoned with cayenne pepper, garlic and salt and heavily smoked.  The word tasso is believed to have come from the Spanish work “tasajo” which is dried, cured beef.  Although this delicacy is often thinly sliced and eaten alone, it is primarily used as a pungent seasoning for vegetables, gumbos, and soups.  Today in South Louisiana, tasso is becoming a popular seasoning for new and creative dishes.  It has also gained wide acclaim as a hors d’oeuvre served with dipping sauces or fruit glazes.


(tee) – True tea, also known as traditional or China tea, comes from one plant, a camellia-like bush native to Asia.  Listed below are some of the more common teas:

  • Black tea

    The most common form of tea worldwide.  It is prepared from green tea leaves which have been allowed to oxidize or ferment in order to form a reddish brew.

  • Darjeeling tea

    Tea grown in the Darjeeling region, a mountainous area around the Himalayas of India.  These (generally black) teas are well known for their crisp astringency.

  • Earl Grey tea

    Unfermented, dried tea, more commonly found in China and Japan.

  • Jasmine tea

    Black tea scented with jasmine flowers.  It is typically made with green Pouchong teas as the base.

  • Oolong tea

    A form of tea characterized by lighter brews and larger leaf styles.  This tea is typically understood as a lightly fermented tea, between green and black tea.

  • Orange pekoe tea

    Referring to the size of leaf, not quality of flavor, this term indicates a larger-size grade of whole leaf teas.


(tehm-pay) – Another product of soybean fermentation, tempeh is usually sold frozen or refrigerated and needs to be cooked before eating.  Steam or simmer it in water for about twenty minutes before using in recipes.  You can skip this step if you add tempeh to long-cooking stews or soups.  Tempeh has a firm texture and a flavor similar to mushrooms.  It can be sliced or cubed and used in sandwiches, on kabobs, in stews and chilis, or added to stir-frys, and casseroles.


(1) To slowly bring up the temperature of a cold or room temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot or boiling liquid.  Adding the hot liquid gradually prevents the cool ingredient (such as eggs) from cooking or setting.  The tempered mixture can then be added back to hot liquid for further cooking.  This process is used most in making pastry cream and the like.

(2) To bring chocolate to a state in which it has snap, shine, and no streaks.  Commercially available chocolate is already tempered but this condition changes when it is melted.  Tempering is often done when the chocolate will be used for candy making or decorations.  Chocolate must be tempered because it contains cocoa butter, a fat that forms crystals after chocolate is melted and cooled.  Dull gray streaks form and are called “bloom.”  The classic tempering method is to melt chocolate until it is totally without lumps.  One third of the chocolate is then poured onto a marble slab, and then spread and worked back and forth with a metal spatula until it becomes thick and reaches a temperature of about 80 degrees F.  The thickened chocolate is then added back to the remaining 2/3 melted chocolate and stirred.  The process is repeated until the entire mixture reaches 88 to 92 degrees F. for semisweet chocolate, 84 to 87 degrees F. for milk or white chocolate.


(tem-pura) – A Japanese method of preparing deep-fried foods.  To prepare tempura, raw foods (seafood or fresh vegetables) are all cut up and then dipped in a batter made of egg yolks, flour, oil and water.  They are then dropped into boiling oil until brown.

  • History:

    It is thought that Saint Francis Xavier introduced this style of cooking to the Orient in the 16th century.  He and his retinue of monks subsisted on these fritters while observing the Church’s fast days when eating meat was strictly forbidden.


Teppanyaki is a Japanese term for grilling meats and poultry.  Grilled meats are very popular in Japan, and are found at many street vendors and restaurants.  This style is familiar to United States diners (typified by the Benihana restaurant chain) that was invented to take advantage of the tourist trade in Japan.  It combined traditional grilling with western beef cuts to create “Japanese steak house”.   Diners sit around a large metal griddle to watch an entertaining chef chop, flip, and cook beef, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables served with a soy sauce-citrus juice sauce (ponzu).


The cultural blending of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico cuisine.

Texas Toast

Texas toast, as it is most often called, is toast served with lunch or dinner and usually larger in size and density then regular toast.  Of course this is served in Texas!

Thousand Island Dressing

It is made from bits of green olives, peppers, pickles, onions, hard-boiled eggs and other finely chopped ingredients.


(TIME) – Thyme is considered by many herbalists as the very nearly perfect useful herb.  There is believed to be about 100 species of thyme.  All thymes are wonderfully aromatic.  The Persians once nibbled fresh thyme as an appetizer.  Some ancients Greeks thought thyme gave person courage.


(TYAHN) – A French word describing a shallow, earthenware casserole, as well as the food that it contains.  A tian can be any of various dishes, but originally referred to a Provencal dish of gratined mixed vegetables.


(TIHM-bubl) – A high-sided, drum-shaped mold that can taper toward the bottom.  The food baked in the mold is usually a custard-based dish. It is un-molded before serving.


(teara-mi-SUE) – In Italian, tiramisu means, “pick me up.”  It is a popular Italian dessert, which combines layers of rum-soaked lady fingers (delicate cookies), zabaglione, (Italian custard), mascarpone cheese, and chocolate.  It is also known as Tuscan Trifle.  This is a simple dessert that is easy to make and doesn’t need to be cooked.


(tih-ZAN) – Means a herbal tea in Europe. It has come to mean any drink made by infusing parts of an herb or a plant with boiling water.  For thousands of years, herbs have been appreciated for their curative powers as an elixir and tonic.  Mint, chamomile, ginseng, and rose hips are some of the more familiar plants used in making herbal teas in Europe.


A British dish consisting of a Yorkshire Pudding batter and cooked link sausages.  When baked, the batter puffs up around the sausage.  The best English sausages to use for this dish are Lincoln or Cumberland sausages.

  • History:

    The dish probably dates back to the 18th century.  Batter puddings first appeared on the scene in the early 18th century as ovens became more prevalent (as opposed to simply cooking over an open fire).  The best known today is Yorkshire pudding, but there are many variations on the theme.  The first reference to sausages cooked in a baking tin with batter poured around them appears in The Diary of Joseph Turner (1754-1765).  It was basically poor people’s food that depended on the quality of the sausages.



(1) Bread that has been browned by a dry heat source.  It is a French term, ultimately from a Latin words meant “to parch.”

(2) The drinking toast was first found around 1700, and the custom was said by writers at the time to be a recent one.  It is “a person or thing in honor of whom people drink.”  This term was originally used for a lady who was considered highly regarded.  It was a figurative use of the “heat-browned bread” – so called because a woman so honored was said to give flavor to the drink comparable to that given to the toast.

toast points

Toasted bread slices, with crust cut off, cut into four diagonal (triangle) pieces.

toffee, toffy

A hard, chewy candy made by cooking sugar (brown sugar or molasses), water, and butter together.  It is then pulled so that it becomes glossy, and then spread out on a well-buttered pan to thicken. It is then cut into portions.  Toffee or toffy is the modern British name for the candy called taffy in the United States.  The British version is cooked longer and is harder than America’s version.

In America, Taffy making is a social event and should not be made alone unless you’re a professional.  Taffy brings two people together (husband and wife’s, parents and kids, friends, etc.) in a way no other candy can. It would be a tragedy to make taffy solo.

  • History:

    Perhaps the word is a corruption of the word “tafia” which is a West Indies rum distilled from molasses.  Tafia is a cheaper version of rum.  Using this theory, the candy would have been made from the syrup skimmed off the liquor during distillation.


(TOH-foo) – Made from soybean curd, tofu is rich in high-grade protein.  It is a cheese-like food made by curdling fresh soy milk.  The curds are pressed into cakes and textures vary from soft to firm depending on how much water is extracted during processing.  It also has no cholesterol and is easily digestible.  Tofu varieties include “cotton” and “silk,” firm and soft, respectively.  Tofu is stored in water and should be thoroughly drained just before cooking.  Changing the water daily will keep it fresh longer.  In addition to being served chilled, tofu appears in soups, nabe (refers to a variety of communal one-pot meals), and simmered, and deep-fried dishes.  Tofu was first made in China approximately 2000 years ago.  Tofu can be used in place of sour cream, yogurt, or mayonnaise in dips, spreads, and salad dressings . It can also be used as a meat extender by mixing it with ground meat before shaping into loaves or patties.


(TOM-a-tea-yo) – They are also called tomate verde in Mexico, which means, “green tomato” and they are considered a staple in Mexican cooking.  It now grows everywhere in the Western Hemisphere and is common in Texas gardens.  This compact fruit, about the size of a cherry tomato, grows to maturity inside of a husk.  They can range in size from about an inch in diameter to the size of apricots.  They are covered by a papery husk, which may range from the pale green color of the fruit itself to a light grocery-bag brown.  The husks are inedible and should be removed before use.


(tuh-MAY-toh; tuh-MAH-toh) – One of the best things about summer is biting into a sweet, vine-ripened tomato.

At the beginning, the tomato plant was not accepted so readily, as it was believed to be poisonous-so much so that in 1820 the state of New York passed a law banning the consumption of tomatoes.  This belief was proven to be false by Mr. Robert Gibbon Johnson who took a bagful of tomatoes in a courtroom in Salem, New Jersey and ate the entire bagful before an incredulous public.  Some people, believing tomatoes to be poisonous, fully expected him to flop over dead and it is reported some older ladies became incontinent and young women fainted from the tension.

Debate has centered over whether the tomato is a vegetable or a fruit.  In 1887, the question went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Nix vs. Hedden.  The real issue was money and protection for American growers; if tomatoes were vegetables, they could be taxed when imported under the Tariff Act of 1883.  It was decided that tomatoes are fruits, but the courts ruled on the side of American farmers.  Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, like cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas.  But in the common language of the people, all these are vegetables, which are grown in backyard gardens and are usually served with dinner and not, like fruits, as dessert.  To learn about Tomatoes, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Tomatoes.

  • History:

    It is believed that tomatoes were introduced from South America to Europe in the 1500s. The Aztecs, according to a contemporary account, mixed tomatoes with chilies and ground squash seeds, a combination that sounds a lot like the world’s first recipe for salsa.  Tomatoes arrived in Europe from central and northern America. Pietro Andrea Mattioli who gives an accurate description and calls them pomi d’oro dates the first mention of tomatoes in Italy 1544.


(tohrt) – Torte is the German word for “cake.”  It is a cake that uses groundnuts as the predominant dry ingredient in place of most or sometimes all of the flour.  Although they may be single layered, tortes are often sliced into several layers and filled with whipped cream, jam, or butter cream.  Tortes make a great dessert for the Jewish holiday of Passover, when flour can not be used.


(tohr-tl-Eennee) – A filled pasta that has been twisted to form a ring usually two inches in diameter.  They are stuffed with meat, vegetables, or most commonly, cheese.


(tore-TEE-yu) –

(1) In Spain it is an omelet;  

(2) In Tex-Mex cooking, it is a round, unleavened thin bread made of either corn flour or wheat flour.  Tortillas in Mexico almost always mean corn tortillas.


(TOOR-nih-doh) – It is a beef steak cut from the tenderloin, measuring 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick and 2-inches to 2 1/2 -inches in diameter.  Because they tend to be very lean, tournedos are often wrapped in pork fat or bacon prior to grilling or broiling.  The classic way to serve them is on fried bread rounds and topped with a mushroom sauce.


Traditionally, a trattoria in Italy, is considered one notch below a “ristorante” in price and fanciness of surroundings (an informal atmosphere).  A trattoria is sometimes considered “holes-in-the wall.”


(TREE-kuhl) – A term used in Great Britian for the syrupy by-product created during sugar refining.  Treacle is the sticky fluid remaining after sugar cane has been processed.  In many recipes molasses can be substituted if treacle is unavailable.

  • light treacle

    It contains fewer imputities than the dark variety and has a lighter flavor.  It is also called golden syrup.

  • black treacle

    It is a very dark-hues residue created during the process of sugar refining.  This is a British product that is similar but somewhat more bitter tasting than molasses.

Tres Leches Cake

Also called Three-Milk Cake.  A dense, moist cake topped with a cloud of vanilla whipped cream.  What makes it unusual is that after baked, it is soaked in a mixture of three different milk products: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream, hence the name Tres Leches.  The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and “mouth feel” for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy.

  • History:

    To learn about the history of Tres Leches Cake, check out History of Cakes.



(Radicchio di Treviso or Treviso radicchio) – Sometimes known as Radicchio or Radicchio Rosso as it is a variety of radicchio.  Treviso is a longer, thinner, and looser version of the tight-headed radicchio. Its elongated leaves are similar to romaine lettuce or overgrown Belgian endive.  It is also a milder version of radicchio and is slightly bitter, yet has a nutty flavor which mellows when grilled, roasted, or slow cooked.  Trevisco appears in the markets in late November (it’s tastiest after the frosts begin).

  • History:

    Radicchio di Treviso was engineered by a Belgian named Francesco Van Den Borre who lived in Italy and cared for the gardens of the villas in the Veneto.  He applied the imbianchiamento techniques (which uses scalding spring water to transform the color of the leaves) to radicchio plants to create white-veins in the red leaves, hence the name “radicchio rose di Treviso.”

tri-tip roast

It is a Californian term.  The meat for this cut is taken from the middle meat across the back, just ahead of the hindquarters.  Tri-tip roasts will vary from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and are about two inches thick.  While tri-tip is pretty much unknown east of California, asking for the “bottom sirloin butt” would tell a butcher what you were looking for, even if he couldn’t deliver it.  It also is called “triangular” roast because of its shape.

  • History:

    Tri-tip became popular in the 1950s in Santa Maria, California, when it was known as “Santa Maria tri-tip,” appropriate because of its triangular shape, not to mention the site of its discovery.  Apparently that is any number of claimants in Santa Maria for the title of Discoverer of Tri-tip.


(TRI-fuhl) – It is a cake well soaked with sherry and served with boiled custard poured over it.  The English call this cake a Tipsy Cake or Pudding and Tipsy Hedgehog.  The word “trifle” comes from the Old French “trufle,” and literally means something whimsical or of little consequence.


Trinity is a Louisiana Cajon/Creole seasoning trio which is an equal combination of onion, bell pepper, and celery.


Tripe refers to the lining of an animal’s stomach.


(TRUHF-uhl) –

(1)  A chocolate truffle is a confection made with chocolate, butter or cream, and other flavorings, such as liquers or coffee, rolled into a ball and often coated with cocoa, nuts, or more chocolate. They were named “truffles” because the finished candy somewhat resembled the famous fungus.

(2) The truffle is a fungus that grows from 3 to 12 inches underground near the roots of trees (usually oak, but also chestnut, hazel, and beech), never beyond the range of the branches.  It is a tuber of unusual flavor and aroma, and is mainly round in shape, arrive in various sizes and are black, brown, white, and sometimes gray in color.  There are 70 varieties of truffles, 32 of which are found in Europe.  It is savored in Italian and French cookery, and due to its scarcity, draws a very high price.  They are highly prized for their exceptional flavors.

The high price of truffles, is due to the methodically slow and labor intensive harvesting process which involves the use of specially trained animals to route out the hard to find fungus.  As truffles grow under the earth, they are located using the sensitive noses of specially trained dogs, which carefully dig them up with their paws.  These dogs are referred as “tabui”, which strangely enough means “bastards”.

  • black truffle

    These are the truffles of Perigord, often called black diamonds.  They are the black diamonds” of French cuisine.  They are the most revered truffle and have a black flesh with a network of white veins inside.  The black truffle requires cooking to allow the flavors to be fully achieved.  They are in season from January to March.

  • white truffles

    These are the truffles of Piedmont, often called autumn truffles or fruit of the woods.  The white truffle is best when shaved directly on the dish before eating.  Their season is from October to December.

  • Oregon truffles

    To learn about the Oregon Truffles, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Oregon Truffles.

  • History:

    A Piemontese chef by the name of Gi