Culinary Dictionary – E

Linda’s Culinary Dictionary – E

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

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

Edible Flowers – To learn abou tEdible Flowers, check out Linda Stradley’s web page on Edible Flowers.

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

History:  Check out history of New York Egg Cream.

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

History:  Check out History of Eggnog.

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

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

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

Chinese eggplant – Follows the slender proportions of the Japanese variety.

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

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

History:  Check out History of Eggs Benedict.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

escarole (EHS-kuh-rohl) – See endive.

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

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

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

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

Learn how to use different types of Espresso Machines.

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

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

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


Culinary Dictionary   

Comments and Reviews

2 Responses to “Culinary Dictionary – E”

  1. Roget Hyman

    Why is there NO definition for ‘Escabeche’…??

    Escabeche: Is the name for a number of dishes in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines which can refer to a dish of fish or meat (escabeche of chicken, rabbit or pork is common in Spain and Portugal) marinated and cooked in an acidic mixture (vinegar) and colored with pimenton (Spanish paprika) or saffron.


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