Culinary Dictionary – C

Linda’s Culinary Dictionary – C

A Dictionary of Cooking, Food, and Beverage Terms

Culinary Dictionary

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

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

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cabbage – 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.”

History:  For a detailed history of the Caesar Salad, check out History of Salads and Salad Dressings

cafe noir – French for black coffee (coffee without cream or milk).

caffe (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.

History:  Learn about the history and recipes of Cajun Cuisine.

cake – 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.

History:  For a detailed History of Cakes.

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.

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

 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.

calzone (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 bacon in Canada, Canadian bacon is precooked and can be fried, baked, or added to casseroles or salads.

canape (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 – 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.

cannoli/cannola (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.

cantaloupe (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.

capellini (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.

capers (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.”

capon (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.”

caponate (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.

cappuccino – 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.

Caprese (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.

capsicum (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.

caramel (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.

caramelize (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.

carbonara – 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.

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.

carbohydrates – 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.

cardoon (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.

carob (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.

Carpaccio (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.

carrot – 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.

Cassata (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.

casserole (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.

cassoulet (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.

cassolette (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).

catfish – 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.

caviar/caviare (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.

celeriac (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 –  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.

History:  For a detailed history, check out Ceviche, Seviche, Cebiche.

Chablis (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.

chakalaka – 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.

chalazae (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.

champagne (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.

champignon (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.

chapon (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.

chardonnay (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.”

charlotte (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.

chaud-froid – 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.

chat/chaat/chatt – 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.”

chateaubriand (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).

chaurice (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.

chayote (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 – 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.

cheesecake – 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.)

History:  For a detailed history of Cheesecakes, check out History of Cakes.

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

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 Commis:  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.

cherimoya (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.

cherry – 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.

sour 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.

chervil (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.

History:  Check out History of Pies for a detailed history of Chess Pie.

– 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!

chianti (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.

For history of the following Chicken Dishes, Check out Linda Stradley’s History of Poultry Dishes.

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-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.

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.

chickpea (chik-peez) – See garbanzo bean.
chicory (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.

History:  For history of Chiffon Cake, check out History of Cakes.

chiffonade (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.”

History:  For a very detailed history of Chili, check out History and Legends of Chili.

(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.
chitterlings/chitlins (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 – 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.

chocolate (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 – Slightly 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 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.

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.

History:   For the history of Chocolate Chip Cookies, check out History of Cookies.

(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.

chopsticks – 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.

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.

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 chop means 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.

(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.

 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.

 chow – 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.

chowder (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).

History:  For a detailed history of Chowder, check out History of Chowder, Clam Chowder/Fish Chowder.

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.

(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 – 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.

cilantro (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.

cinnamon (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.

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.

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.

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

Cioppino (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.

citron (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.

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.

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

citronella (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.

clams – 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.

clarify – 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.

cloves – 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.

History:  For the history of the Club Sandwich, check out History and Legends of Sandwiches.

coagulation – 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.

coat – 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.

History:  For the history of the Cobb Salad, check out History of Salads and Salad Dressings.

– (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.

History:  For a detailed history of Cobbler, check out History and Legends of Cobbler, Crisps, Crumble, Brown Betty, Buckle, Grunts, Slumps, Birds’s Nest Pudding, and Pandowdy.

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 – 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.

coconut – 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).

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

coffee – 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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Cointreau (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 – 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.

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

Coleslaw (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.

History:  Check out History of Collard Greens.

compote (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.

condiment (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.

conduction – 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.

confit (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”.

consomme (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.

comsomme 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.

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.

convection – 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.

cookie – 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.

History:  Check out History of Cookies.

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 – 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.

coppa – 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.

coquille ((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.

cordials – 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.

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

coriander (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.

corn – ( 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.

History:  Check out History of Corn and Corn On The Cob.

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).

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.

cornmeal – 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.

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.

cornstarch – 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.

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.

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.

coulis (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.

History:  For history of the following Country Captain Chicken,  Check out Linda Stradley’s History of Poultry Dishes.

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.

couscous (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.

couscousier – 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.

History:  For history of Crab Louie Salad, check out Linda Stradley’s History of Salads and Salad Dressings.

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.

cranberry – (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.

crawfish (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.

crayfish – See crawfish.

cream –  (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.

creaming – 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.

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.

creme (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.

crema catalana – The Spanish name for creme brulee.  See creme brulee.

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.

crepe (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.

History:  Check out History of Crepes Suzette.

crimp –  (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.

crisp -(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.

croissant (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.

croquembouche (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.

croquette (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.

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

crostini (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.

croute (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.

crouton (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.

crumpet (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.

crustacean (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).

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

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

cuisine (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 coquina meaning, “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.

cuitlacoche (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.”

culinary (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.

cumin (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.

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

currant – 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.

curry – 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 – 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.


Culinary Dictionary   

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