Culinary Terms

Acidity (n)

Acid is present in all grapes, and therefore all wines. It is extremely important (particularly in white wines) in determining structure, shape and lifespan. Good acid levels can make a wine crisp and refreshing, supporting the aftertaste. Wines low in acidity are often described as tasting flabby.

Aioli (n)

Traditionally, this emulsified sauce of garlic, olive oil, and egg yolk was made using a mortar and pestle. The sauce has a similar consistency to mayonnaise as well as a yellow hue and a strong garlic flavor.

Al dente (adj)

Slightly undercooked pasta. In italian, the phrase means "to the tooth." pasta cooked al dente is not overly soft or mushy; it still has some "life" left in it.

Allspice (n)

Allspice is the dried berry of the pimento tree, an evergreen native to jamaica, the west indies, and south america. It possesses the fragrances of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It can appear whole or ground.

Angelica (n)

Pale green licorice flavored stalks used decoratively in pastry making and to flavor liqueurs.

Anise (n)

A spice from a small annual plant whose leaves and seeds take on the flavor of sweet licorice. Used frequently as a flavoring in breads and pastries.

Arack (n)

A potent and fiery anise-flavored alcoholic beverage traditionally served as an accompaniment to mezze ( middle eastern appetizers).

Arayess (n)

Palm-sized deep-fried savory pastry filled with seasoned ground lamb.

Backbone (n)

The texture a wine exhibits by virtue of its acidity, tannin, or both. Full-bodied reds have a great deal of backbone. Wines without backbone taste softer and gentler.

Bain marie (n)

A water bath used in cooking to protect foods from harsh heat. Food is placed in a container. The container is placed in second container full of water before being set on the stove or oven.

Baking stone (n)

A massive stone plate that when placed in a conventional oven emulates the effect of brick ovens.

Balance (n)

Wine has several flavor and texture components: fruit, acids, tannins, alcohol, sometimes sugar or oak. The balance of a wine is determined by how apparent these components are when you taste them.

Barbera (n)

A red grape variety best known in the piedmont region of nw italy. Exhibits bright fruit flavors and a tart edge.

Barrel fermentation (term)

Wine fermented in wooden barrels, most commonly oak, rather than in stainless steel tanks.

Basil (n)

A sweet and herb-like bouquet with a flavor described as a mix between licorice and cloves.

Bay leaf (n)

Herb that comes from the evergreen bay laurel tree. Flavor is sharp and bitter and is often used in flavoring soups, stews, vegetables and meats.

Beet (n)

A firm, round root vegetable with leafy green tops, most commonly garnet red, but which can range from deep red to white.

Blanch (v)

To submerge foods briefly in boiling water, then plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process.

Blintz (n)

A very thin pancake, akin to crepe. Often filled with fresh cheese, fruit and meats.

Blood orange (n)

A small tangy-sweet orange so named due to its deep red flesh.

Botrytis cinerea (term)

Translation: "the noble rot," describing a process resulting in some exceptional dessert wines. The botrytis mold attacks the skin of the grape and allows water to partially evaporate, resulting in more concentrated juice.

Bouquet garni (n)

Sprigs of fresh herbs tied together or contained in cheese cloth. Typically used to flavor stocks, stews, and soups, the bouquet garni is easy to remove from a finished dish.

Braise (v)

Technique whereby food is cooked first by browning in fat, then with a small amount of added liquid, covered and over low heat.

Brioche (n)

Light yeast bread, enriched with eggs and butter.

Broil (v)

To cook food uncovered, directly under the heat source.

Burdock (n)

A slender root vegetable with a rusty brown skin and grayish flesh. Cultivated widely in japan where it's known as gobo, burdock grows wild in europe and the u.s.

Butterfat (n)

Fat particles found in whole milk that are separated out to produce cream and butter and also contribute to the creamy texture and rich flavor and mouth feel of cheeses.

Butter paddles (n)

Wooden, grooved paddles used to make grooved, decorative butter balls.

Buttery (adj)

A flavor description applied to white wines that have experienced a secondary fermentation converting the wine's malic acid to lactic acid, indigenous to dairy products, giving the wine a "creamy" texture.

Cabernet franc (n)

A variety of red grape in the cabernet family that displays bright raspberry or leafy tobacco and herb flavors.

Cabernet sauvignon (n)

Red grape variety widely cultivated throughout bordeaux. Often blended with the more unctuous merlot. Rich flavors range from red cherry to black currant.

Cake comb (n)

A utensil with a three-sided blade that makes designs in cake frosting.

Capelli d'angeli (n)

Literally "angel hair", this is a very slender spaghetti-like pasta usually purchased as small dried pasta nests

Caraway seed (n)

Aromatic seed that comes from the parsley family. Used in baking and braising.

Cardamom (n)

A member of the ginger family which has a strong aroma and is used in indian, middle eastern and eastern european cuisines.

Carignan (n)

A red grape variety, and most common grape variety in france, common to the midi region. Its low acid, tannin and extract make it good for blending.

Carmelization (n)

The process whereby the natural sugars contained in foods break down as they cook under intense heat, causing browning and an intensifying of flavors.

Carrot (n)

Member of the parsley family with lacy green tops and long, slender orange roots, available year-round and renowned for more than 2,000 years for their health-giving properties.

Casein (n)

Predominant protein found in milk.

Cayenne (n)

A hot, zesty spice that comes from many different tropical chili peppers. Also known as red pepper. Used universally to give an additional depth of flavor.

Celery root (n)

A variety of branch celery cultivated for its lower rather than upper growth. This gnarled, beige vegetable has a zesty, parsley and celery- scented aroma.

Celery seed (n)

A very bitter spice often used for pickling. Also known as lovage.

Chafing dish (term)

A covered metal pan that sits atop a frame, and under which is a heat source that keeps the pan's contents warm.

Charbono (n)

Obscure red grape variety from southern france but better known in california. Produces rich, sumptuous reds.

Chardonnay (n)

White grape variety currently in its heyday, successfully planted in wine-producing areas throughout the world. Can result in anything from a sassy, tart chablis to oaky, buttery california/australia versions.

Charlottes (n)

Classic molded dessert, traditionally assembled from ladyfingers or buttered bread, filled with a mixture of fruit & custard, chilled and then unmolded.

Charoset (n)

Traditional passover dish. A sweet relish made from a wide variety of chopped fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and (apples, figs, date, raisins), wine and spices.

Cheesecloth (n)

Lightweight natural cotton cloth used during the draining and pressing of excess liquids from cheese as it ferments, and other food preparations.

Chenin blanc (n)

Widely-planted white grape variety, best used in the loire valley of france. Varieties there range from dry, crisp wines to luxurious, fruity dessert wines.

Chervil (n)

Herb with a flavor similar to parsley, but more distinctive due to a trace of anise. A key ingredient in fines herbes.

Chevres (n)

Any variety of cheese made from goat's milk.

Chinois (n)

A funnel-shaped strainer or sieve.

Chives (n)

A relative of the onion and leek family, chives have a mild, onion-like flavor that is tinged with garlic.

Cilantro (coriander leaves) (n)

Herb made from the leaf of the coriander plant. Cilantro's taste is a mix of citrus and a strong herbal flavor. Traditionally used in middle eastern, mexican, and asian cooking.

Cloves (n)

Dried flower buds of a tropical evergreen. Spicy and sweet, they add depth to cookies, cakes, muffins, soups, stews and mulled wine. An important ingredient in preserving meats during the middle ages.

Cocotte (n)

A casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.

Compote (n)

A french term used to describe fresh fruit, dried fruit or vegetables that are cooked in flavored syrups, to a desired doneness. Spices and aromatics like citric zests, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger are commonly used in this preparation.

Concasse (n)

A french culinary term to describe diced fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes are usually peeled, seeded, and then cut to a small dice.

Consomme (n)

A clarified broth made from meat or fish, used in soups and sauces. "double consomme" refers to consomme that has been reduced to half the volume and contains twice the flavor of the original.

Coriander (n)

Herb made from the leaf of the coriander plant. Cilantro's taste is a mix of citrus and a strong herbal flavor. Traditionally used in middle eastern, mexican, and asian cooking.

Coulis (n)

A general term used to describe a thick puree-like sauce. Examples include tomato coulis (used to top a piece of sauteed fish or tossed with buttered ) or a raspberry coulis dessert sauce (spooned over chocolate cake.)

Couscous (n)

A very tiny pasta, made from durum wheat that has been ground, steamed, and dried. Cooks quickly and absorbs the flavor of the cooking liquid.

Crème anglais (n)

Rich custard sauce made of milk and eggs. Used both as a sauce for desserts and a base for mousses.

Crème fraiche (n)

A naturally thickened, lightly "sour," smooth textured cream.

Cream (v)

The process of smoothing and lightening the texture of combined ingredients while thoroughly mixing them together.

Creamy (adj)

The smooth, soft, silky texture some wines leave in the mouth. As opposed to crisp and tart.

Cumin (n)

A bitter yet warm spice often found in such foods as chili con carne and hot tamales.

Curd (n)

The semi-solid substance which results when milk is coagulated in the cheese making process. This substance is separated from the liquid produced during coagulation, and reserved to be made into cheese.

Curry powder (n)

A crushed blend of over twenty spices, herbs and seeds such as cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cumin. The flavor is unique and strong, and varies from hot to sweet.

Dariole (n)

A cylindrical baking mold.

Deglaze (v)

To heat a small amount of liquid in a saute pan from which cooked food has been removed, thereby loosening the caramelized bits at the bottom o fthe pan. The resulting liquid then becomes the basis for sauces and stocks.

Delbor whisk (n)

A mixing utensil whose business end consists of a looped coil of wire.

Demiglace (n)

A rich brown sauce typically made from beef stock and a sweet red wine or sherry. The sauce is reduced to a glaze-like consistency.

Devonshire cream (n)

Smooth, mild cream served with jam and scones with tea. A specialty of devonshire, england.

Dice (v)

To cut food into small pieces, usually 1/8 to 1/4-inch cubes.

Dill seed (n)

Seasoning made from drying the fruit of the dill plant. Dill seed has a stronger aroma and flavor than its counterpart, dill weed. Used in pickling brine.

Dill weed (n)

A mild, mellow herb that enhances flavors in fish, vegetables, meats and dips.

Direct (adj)

Assertive wines that reveal all their flavors in just a few seconds. They can be flavorful, such as a beaujolais nouveau, but are not usually complex.

Dolcetto (n)

A red grape variety from the italian piedmont meaning "little sweet one," due to the grape's ability to ripen easily.

Duck (n)

Common name for many species of swimming birds, that live or on the water. Especially favored by the french, the flavorful dark-meat flesh of the duck stands up to a multitude of sauces.

Durum wheat (n)

A hard wheat from which semolina, a principle ingredient in pasta, is produced

En papillote (adj)

Describes the technique of wrapping foods in sheets of greased parchment paper before baking and serving. Baking foods give off steam which puffs the paper. At the table, the paper is slit open.

En tirage (term)

The period of time a sparkling wine has been in contact with the yeast sediment from fermentation inside the bottle.

Falafel (n)

Small deep-fried patties made of highly-spiced ground chick peas (garbanzo beans.) Often served tucked inside a pita bread and garnished with vegetables and a tahini sauce.

Farci (n)

The french term for stuffing or stuffed.

Farfalle (n)

Bowtie or butterfly shaped pasta.

Fattoush (n)

Traditional salad comprised of toasted pita croutons, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and mint.

Fennel (n)

Spice that has a flavor similar to that of anise, but more aromatic and sweet--and definitely less pungent.

Fermented cheese (n)

Any cheese created by the enzymatic reaction that occurs when bacteria, microorganisms or yeasts are introduced into milk.

Fillet or filet (n)

A piece of meat, poulty or fish containing no bones. Also used as a verb meaning to remove bones.

Fines hebes (n)

A mixture of finely-chopped herbs, usually chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon.

Finish (n)

How and whether flavors linger on the palate after wine is swallowed

Fold (v)

A method of incorporating whipped items - egg whites and cream - into a batter using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. The whipped items are mixed slowly to preserve the air that has been incorporated into the egg whites or cream. Add whipped items in stages and use a figure eight motion to gradually mix the batter to an even consistency.

Food processor (n)

A small electric machine, which when fitted with different blades, quickly performs routine kitchen tasks like chopping, shredding, and pureeing.

Frais des bois (v)

Tiny, intensely flavored wild strawberries grown in france.

Fresh cheese (n)

Cheeses that do not go through the aging or curing process. Examples are cottage cheese and ricotta.

Fresh pasta (n)

Usually handmade in small batches, fresh pasta frequently incorporates eggs as well as water. Fresh pasta is perishable and must be refrigerated. It has a unique texture and rich flavor that is easily distinguished from its dried counterpart.

Fruit de mer (n)

Literally, fruits of the sea. The french term for seafood.

Fusilli (n)

Spiral shaped spaghetti that can range in size from 1-1/2 to 12 inches long.

Galette (n)

A french culinary term that usually describes an opened faced tart with a thin flakey pastry and a round shape.

Gamay (n)

A red grape variety from the loire valley of france, the ardeche, switzerland and california, used to its best advantage in beaujolais, becoming light and fruity.

Ganache (n)

A rich pastry frosting made by melting together semi-sweet chocolate and whipping cream.

Garnish (n)

Any decorative and edible "finishing touch" added to a dish. Herb sprigs and sliced fruit are the most commonly used garnishes. Also used as a verb meaning to decorate a dish with edible ingredients.

Gem pan (n)

A pan with multiple small cylindrical indentations used for baking tiny muffins.

Gewurztraminer (n)

A variety of white grape that originates not from germany, but from the alps in northern italy. This versatile grape can produce wines that span the spectrum of flavors and texture, becoming sweet or dry.

Ginger (n)

Spice with a slightly biting and sweet flavor, its aroma is rich, warm, and woody.

Girolle cheese slicer (n)

Device that slices cheese rounds into decorative cheese rosettes.

Glace de viande (n)

Literally translated as "meat glaze," glace de viande is made by boiling meat juices until they reduce to a thick, syrupy consistency. The glace is then used to enrich sauces.

Gnocchi (n)

Dumpling type pasta made from potatoes, flour or farina.

Goose (n)

Any of various large water birds, with short legs, webbed feet and a broad bill. Geese are much larger than ducks, weighing from 5 to 18 pounds, with fatty flesh. Prized for the their rich, creamy livers known as foie gras.

Grassy (adj)

Usually used to describe a sauvignon blanc with overtones of freshly cut grass.

Gratin (n)

A broiled or baked dish that features a golden crumb topping.

Grenache (n)

A variety of red grape widely grown in southern france and spain, and frequently used in rhone-style blends from other wine-producing regions. Exhibits strawberry and red berry overtones.

Grouse (n)

Plump game bird related to the pheasant and prairie chicken, native to north america and northern europe.

Gruyere (n)

Semi-soft cheese that is surrounded by a hard-rusty brown rind. Slightly grainy in texture possessing a variety of flavors. Fruity at first then nutty and more earthy towards the end.

Halwa (or halvah) (n)

Sweetened sesame paste with a grainy texture, usually made in the shape of a slab and studded with fruit and nuts.

Herbes de provence (n)

A mixture of dried herbs comprised of those most commonly used in the southern (provence region of france.) A typical blend might include basil, marjoram rosemary, sage, lavendar, thyme, summer savory and fennel seed.

Horseradish (n)

Pungent root vegetable with a scruffy, wrinkly skin and stinging bite with an underlying sweetness.

Jagging wheel (n)

A pastry wheel that is scalloped or fluted and makes a decorative cut in pastry dough.

Jerusalem artichoke (n)

Tuber member of the sunflower family, whose ivory flesh is extremely crisp and slightly sweet, with subtle undertones of artichoke heart and salsify.

Jicama (n)

A large, bulbous root vegetable sometimes called the mexican potato, with a sweet, nutty flavor can be enjoyed both raw and cooked.

Jigger (n)

A unit of measure equal to one and a half ounces or a small glass that holds that amount.

Julienne (v)

To cut food into thin, matchstick-shaped pieces.

Kaftah (n)

Minced lamb seasoned with onion, fresh herbs and spices. Kaftah may be molded into patties, loaves or links shaped around skewers, then baked or grilled.

Kibbeh (n)

Oval-shaped nuggets made of ground meat and bulghur wheat.

Kirsch (n)

Cherry brandy often-used in desserts and fondue.

Knead (v)

Mixing and manipulating dough with a pressing and turning motion with the purpose of transforming it into a single smooth, elastic mass.

Laban (n)

Cultured milk product with a consistency similar to yogurt.

Lady fingers (n)

Light spongecake so named because it resembles a large plump finger. The basic of many classic desserts including tiramisu and charlotte russe.

Larding needle (n)

A long, hollow metal tube used for threading lard or other basting fats through a piece of meat before cooking.

Lavender (n)

Related to the mint family, lavender is a bitter and pungent herb with a green or light gray leaf that sometimes lends itself to salads. It may also be used to make herb tea.

Lemon grass (n)

Herb with a sour-lemon flavor and fragrance. It is a key ingredient in thai cooking and is often used in making tea and flavoring soups

Linguine (n)

Long, narrow flat noodles comparable to flat spaghetti.

Lotus root (n)

The underwater root of a water lily whose creamy-white flesh has the texture of a raw potato and flavor similar to fresh coconut.

Mace (n)

A heady version of nutmeg made from the dried membrane around the nutmeg seed.

Macerate (v)

To soak food in flavored liquid (often a liqueur) thereby infusing the food with the liquid's flavor.

Magnum (n)

1.5 liters, double a 750 ml. Bottle.

Malbec (n)

Red grape variety found in bordeaux, california and elsewhere. Often blended with cabernet-based wines or with merlot. Malbecs are usually deep in color with rich berry flavors and a good amount of tannin.

Malvasia (n)

An ancient white grape variety that may be a member of the muscat family. Malvasian wines vary widely, from bone-dry whites to rich dessert wines.

Mandoline (n)

A hand tool used for efficient, uniform slicing of firm fruits and vegetables such as apples and potatoes. The predecessor to the food processor!

Marinade (n)

A mixture that usually includes herbs and spices with oil and an acidulated liquid, such as vinegar, wine, citric juice, that is used to tenderize and flavor meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Discretion should be observed when marinating fish with highly acidulated liquid as it can cause the fish to 'cook' similar to ceviche. Also, avoid salt in your marinade, as it will draw moisture out of your meat, fish, or poultry.

Marinate (v)

To allow foods to rest in a seasoned liquid prior to cooking with the goal of imparting flavor and tenderizing. Marinades typically contain some kind of oil.

Marjoram (n)

A mild and sweet flavored herb that is often mistaken for oregano (although they do not come from the same plant).

Marmite (n)

A tall, covered, straight-sided earthenware pot used for stewing.

Mascarpone (n)

Delicate, full-flavored and creamy cheese. Melts well in sauces. Frequently used in dessert recipes.

Medallion (n)

A thin round cut of meat.

Meringue (n)

A mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and granulated sugar. Used "soft" atop pies or puddings or "hard" as a shell for fruit, cream and other fillings.

Merlot (n)

Red grape variety that produces soft, unctuous wines of tremendous popularity in the u.s. Where it's often blended with cabernet.

Mezze (or meze) (n)

Small dishes served as appetizers prior to a meal. Mezze can range from simple assortments of raw, cooked and pickled vegetables to miniature servings of main dish foods.

Mince (v)

To cut food into tiny pieces.

Mint (n)

A strong and sweet herb that leaves a cool refreshing aftertaste. The two most well-known mints are peppermint and spearmint.

Mirepoix (n)

A saute of carrots, onions, celery and herbs used to season stews, soups and stocks. Mirepoix is also used as a bed on which foods rest while braising.

Mouli grater (n)

A rotary grater consisting of a food chamber mounted above a studded or perforated drum that is cranked by hand; a lever pushes the food down against the rotating drum.

Mousse (n)

Sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, a mousse is a rich airy dish often enlightened through the use of egg whites or cream.

Muscat (n)

A white grape variety with a huge family tree. Produces delicate, perfumey wines, bubbly wines from northern italy, and bacchanalian dessert wines from australia and other parts of the world.

Nebbiolo (n)

Red grape variety from which barolo and barbaresco in italy's piedmont region come from-often resulting in exceptional red wines.

Nicoise (or a la nicoise) (adj)

Prepared in the typical style of nice, a city on the french riviera. This style of cooking often incorporates tomatoes, black olives, garlic and anchovies.

Nutmeg (n)

A warm and sweet flavoring made from the nutmeg tree seed.

Onion (n)

An underground bulb related to the lily known for its pungent flavor and odor, and prized for its use in improving a multitude of dishes.

Oregano (term)

Related to the mint family, this herb is similar in flavor to marjoram but is stronger, more pungent and not as sweet. Often used in tomato-based dishes (e.g., pizza).

Organic food (n)

Foods grown withoug the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. Also meat and dairy products derived from animals who receive no chemically treated feed, habitual antibiotic treatment or growth hormones.

Orzo (n)

Tiny rice-like pasta.

Pâté à choux (n)

"puff" pastry made by combining flour, boiling water, butter and eggs.

Pâté brisée (n)

French for "short pastry". Rich, flaky dough often the basis for pies, tarts and quiche.

Pan-fry (n)

Pan frying is a dry-heat, stovetop method that involves cooking food over medium heat in a moderate amount of fat. Pan-fried foods are often coated with flour, breadcrumbs or other crust-forming ingredient beforew cooking. To achieve an evenly browned, intact crust, pan fried foods are usually turned only once during cooking.

Panisses (n)

Small pancakes made from a simple mixture of chick pea flour, oil and water. The mixture is first boiled, then shaped into cakes, then fried (in a manner similar to polenta.)May be served as a sweet (dredged in sugar and topped with fruit preserves) or savory snack (seasoned with pepper and served with melted butter or a drizzle of meat sauce.)

Paprika (n)

Created from grinding sweet red pepper pods. Often used in hungarian cuisine.

Parboil (v)

To boil foods until partially cooked, often to ensure that all ingredients of a recipe are "done" at the same time.

Parchment paper (n)

A special paper which resists burning, grease and moisture. Often used to line baking dishes or wrapping foods to be baked.

Parmigiano reggiano (n)

A variety of parmesan cheese produced exclusively in the italian regions of bologna, mantua, modena or parma. Aged for 2 years or more, it is more complex in flavor and granular in texture than other paremesan cheeses. Most often used grated or shaved in paper thin wisps.

Parsley (n)

A light and refreshing herb used as a flavoring and a garnish.

Parsley root (n)

A parsley subspecies grown for its beige, carrotlike root, tasting like a carrot-celery cross.

Parsnip (n)

Creamy-white root whose flavor turns from starchy to sweet after the first frost.

Purée (n)

Foods that are mashed, smooth and thick in consistency.

Partridge (n)

Game bird predominantly of two varieties: gray partridge and red-legged partridge. Pllump with white, tender and slightly gamey flesh.

Pastry bag (n)

A funnel-shaped cloth bag with interchangeable tips that mount to the small end; used for decorating cakes and cookies with frosting and other materials.

Primary fruit (term)

The pronounced fruity flavor young wines exhibit. They become more disguised as wine ages.

Pastry blender (n)

A tool used for mixing pastry dough that consists of a cylindrical handle and several strong metal wires; the wires are connected in a u-shape at each of the handle.

Praline (n)

Brittle, confection of almonds and caramelized sugar. Used in ice cream, as a filling for desserts or eaten simply like candy.

Pecorino (n)

Common name for all italian cheeses made from sheep's milk. Pecorino is usually a salty cheese with a fruity tang that becomes more robust over its aging process.

Pound cake (n)

A plain white loaf cake that gets it name from the traditional weight of the ingredients: one pound of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of eggs.

Penne-mostaccioli (n)

Straight pasta tubes cut on the diagonal. Excellent for use with thick or chunky sauces; the diagonal ends trap chunky tomato bits.

Pepper (n)

Dried berry of the piper nigrum. Pepper is a universal spice that is used to flavor many different types of dishes. It has a strong pungent smell with a sharp and distinctive flavor.

Pots de creme (n)

Small lidded cups used to hold mousses and custards.

Potato (n)

The edible tuber of a plant from the nightshade family commonly used for baking, boiling, roasting, and frying.

Pesto (n)

A raw paste-like sauce incorporating fresh herbs, grated cheese and oil.

Pony (n)

A one-ounce bar measurer, also used to serve liqueurs.

Petite sirah (n)

Red grape variety successfully cultivated in california. Infamously non-complex but can also reach delightful heights when carefully developed.

Poaching (v)

A method of cookery often used to cook delicate food items such as fish, eggs, sweetbreads, etc. The food is submerged in a seasoned liquid and cooked at slow rate. The temperature of the liquid is approximately 160-180f (70-85c). At this temperature, the liquid should have a build up of bubbles at the base of the pan and a few which rise to the surface.

Pheasant (n)

Medium-sized game bird from 2-1/2 to 5 pounds, inhabiting woods and fields. The female's flesh is more tender and juicy than the male's.

Poach (v)

To gently cook foods in a shallow bath of liquid, either at or just below the boiling point.

Pie weights (n)

Pellets of metal or ceramic material that are placed in an unfilled pie crust when it is being cooked in order to keep the pastry from blistering or shrinking while it cooks.

Plover (n)

Small game bird with delicate and delicious meat, illegal to hunt in the u.s. Plovers are commonly roasted.

Pinot noir (n)

One of the world's finest red wine grapes. Pinot noirs can be delicate and subtly sumptuous, or voluptuous and seductively intense.

Pinot gris / pinot grigio (n)

White grape variety also related to pinot noir. At its lightest in northern italy.

Pinot blanc (n)

A white grape variety and variation of pinot noir. Versatile enough to end up dry and tart or rich and intense.

Pimento (n)

A favorite filling for olives is a capsicum, or pepper. When dried and ground, it is used for paprika and chili spice. This pimento is not to be confused with the pimento tree that produces allspice.

Quail (n)

Migratory game bird belong to the partridge family, not related to the european variety. Referred to in various parts of the country as bob white, partridge, blue, california, mountain or montezuma quail. Flesh is white and delicately flavored.

"resting the dough" (phrase)

When making a pie crust, "resting the dough" allows the glutens (the protein in flour), to relax. The amount of time required is often dependant on how much time has been spent mixing or rolling out the pastry. At least a half an hour to one hour is required, but the results improve with more time. Resting the dough also helps to increase moisture absorption through the pastry.

Radish (n)

The root of a plant in the mustard family whose flavor can be mild to peppery, depending on variety and age.

Ramekin (n)

A small (3 - 4 inch) baking dish or casserole usually made of ceramic or porcelain.

Ravioli (n)

Square pasta pillows, filled with a variety of foods, including meat, vegetables, cheese and seafood.

Reamer (n)

An older type of juicer, which operates manually rather than electrically.

Render (v)

To melt animal fat over low heat then filter or strain it until all solid particles are removed.

Rennet (n)

A curdling agent, traditionally obtained from the stomachs of young mammals. Vegetable rennets are available today in comparable potency.

Rest (v)

The practice of allowing roasted meats to settle prior to slicing. Resting gives natural juices the opportunity to redistribute throughout the roast for a more tender and flavorful result.

Ribbon stage (v)

The point at which an egg/sugar mixture or batter si smooth and thick enough to cling to a whisk, then fall slowly in ribbons back into the bowl. The ribbons remain visible in the bowl for a moment before smoothing themselves into the batter again.

Ricer (n)

A device that presses foodstuffs such as potatoes, carrots or turnips into small shards resembling rice. A ricer consists of a large perforated chamber that holds the food to be pressed, and a lever that forces the food through the holes.

Ricotta cheese (n)

An italian fresh cheese that resembles cottage cheese in texture has a rich creamy taste, and a pleasant fragrance.

Riesling (n)

Ubiquitous white grape responsible for crystal pure german wines, powerfully sweet dessert wines, and just about everything in between.

Rigatoni (n)

Small pasta tubes with a ridged surface. The ridges help sauces cling to the noodles.

Rind (n)

Protective layer around cheese-which can be produced naturally or artificially-that permits the cheese inside to fully develop and ripen.

Roast (n)

To cook food uncovered in an oven with no added liquids.

Rolling mincer (n)

A small, handheld tool consisting of several parallel cutting wheels mounted on the same shaft. Used for slicing, dicing and mincing herbs.

Rosemary (n)

A highly aromatic herb that has a piney flavor with a hint of lemon. Used primarily for flavoring lamb, pork and chicken.

Rotini (n)

Small spiral-shaped pasta.

Rotisserie (n)

An oven unit that cooks food that is skewered on a spit and rotated over the heat source.

Roux (n)

A slow-cooked mixture of flour and fat, used to thicken sauces, soups, gravies, etc.

Rutabaga (n)

A cabbage-family root vegetable resembling a large (3-5 inches diameter) turnip, with thin, pale yellow skin and a slightly sweet, firm flesh of the same color.

"size of peas" (phrase)

A phrase used to describe a watch point when making flakey pie pastry. Whether blending the pastry by hand or using a food processor, leave the incorporated fat, (butter, shortening, margarine), at the 'size of peas' so that the fat will not melt immediately during baking. As the fat melts it will produce steam that puffs up the layers of dough to give your crust flakiness.

Sabayon (n)

(zabaglione) a divine sauce or dessert in itself made from whisking wine, egg yolks and sugar together over gentle heat.

Saffron (n)

The world's most expensive spice, mainly due to the way it's extracted. Saffron is used in french bouillabaisse, spanish paella, milanese risotto, and many middle eastern dishes. Its flavor is spicy and bitter with a lasting odor.

Sage (n)

A pungent herb with a slightly sharp and dull minty flavor. Often used in dishes containing pork and in stuffings.

Salad spinner (n)

A device consisting of a perforated basket that spins inside a larger bowl, thereby extracting water from salad greens placed in the basket by means of centrifugal force.

Salamander (n)

A long metal rod with a disc at one end and a handle at the other. The disc is heated and pressed against food that is to be browned or caramelized.

Sangiovese (n)

Red grape variety, important in tuscany, and the backbone of wines such as chianti. Flavors can range from bright and simple to rich and self-assured.

Sauté (v)

Sautéing is a dry-heat, stovetop cooking method that involves cooking food over moderately high heat in a small amount of fat. The word "sauté" derives from the french verb "sauter", which means to leap. Sauteed foods are often kept in motion as the cook, whether by frequent turning with a spoon or spatula or by the classic toss and roll technique employed by professional chefs.

Sauvignon blanc (n)

White grape variety with an assertive character, relative of cabernet sauvignon. Flavors range from strong citrus to rich melon and fig. Sautee:(v) to cook food quickly, over intense heat. A small amount of oil or other fat is generally used in sauteing.

Savory (n)

An herb whose flavor and aroma are a cross between thyme and mint. Adds a piquant flavor to many foods.

Scald (v)

Heating liquid, like milk, to just below the boiling point.

Semillon (n)

White grape variety often blended with sauvignon blanc, but can hold its own. Frequent component of sauternes wines from bordeaux and produces good, dry, full-bodied australian whites.

Semi-soft (adj)

Pressed cheeses, sometimes cured by cooking, resulting in a texture that is soft but yet still sliceable. Popular varieties include gouda, tilsit and monterey jack.

Semolina (n)

High-gluten, granular substance made from the purified middle sections of durum wheat.

Shallot (n)

Smaller member of the onion family shaped more like garlic, with a head of multiple cloves covered by a thin, papery skin - exhibiting a mild onion flavor.

Sharpening steel (n)

A tool that has a handle in to which is set a long rod made of extremely hard metal; it is used to keep the sharpest possible edge on cutlery.

Shawerma (n)

A cone of pressed lamb, chicken or beef roasted on a vertical spit where the meat is shaved off from the outside as the spit keeps turning.

Sherbert (n)

A frozen mixture containing sweetened fruit juice, water, and sometimes milk. It is lighter than ice cream but heavier than an ice.

Simmer (v)

To cook food in gently boiling liquid.

Skimmer (n)

A utensil resembling a flattened cooking spoon, whose business end is perforated or made of wire-mesh. Used to lift foods from hot liquids or to remove unwanted residue from soups, stews, etc.

Smoke point (term)

The point at which heated oil begins to smoke. Oils with higher smoke points are best used for deep frying. Canola an peanut oils have a high smoke point; butter and olive oil have low smoke points.

Sorbet (n)

The french word for sherbert. Sorbet is distinguished from sherbert in that it never contains milk.

Soufflé (term)

A light, airy dish sometimes baked, sometimes frozen. May be sweet or savory. Often a puree, enlightened by whipped egg whites.

Springform pan (n)

A round pan with high straight sides that can be removed from the bottom of the pan by means of a clamping mechanism. Used for cooking cakes, cheesecakes and tortes that might be hard to remove from a regular pan.

Spring wheat (n)

Planted in the spring, a high-protein wheat that produces a flour that is rich in gluten. Gluten creates elasticity in pasta dough.

Squash (n)

The fruit of various members of the gourd family native to the western hemisphere, varying widely in size, shape and color. Summer squash varieties include crookneck, pattypan and zucchini. Winter squash varieties include acorn, buttercup, butternut, hubbard, pumpkin, spaghetti and turban.

Stir fry (v)

To quickly fry foods over intense heat while continuously tossing and turning them. A common technique in asian cooking. The traditional pan for stir frying is called a wok.

Stock (n)

The liquid that results from browning then cooking meat, fish and vegetables in water for an extended period of time. The liquid is strained to remove all solid particles. Stock is the basis of many soups and sauces.

Sweat (v)

To cook foods (often those with a high water content) over low heat in a small amount of butter to draw out moisture.

Sweet potato (n)

Native to tropical areas of the americas, pale varieties of this large, edible root are dry and crumbly after cooking and not sweet. The darker variety has a vivid- orange, sweet flesh.

Syrah (n)

Red grape variety that ranks as one of the world's great red wine grapes. Justifiably famous in france's rhone valley. In australia, referred to as "shiraz."

Tabbouleh (n)

Salad of bulghur, tomato, mint and parsley.

Tahini (n)

Thick savory paste made from ground sesame seeds. Used in salad dressings, dips and to flavor a wide range of dishes.

Tannins (n)

The natural substance in wine responsible for astringency. Can also be imparted from wood barrels.

Tapenade (n)

A thick, spreadable condiment native to the provence region, classically comprised of chopped olives, capers, anchovies and seasonings. The word is also used to describe similarly textured or prepared condiments, made from other ingredients.

Tarragon (n)

Herb with a somewhat bittersweet flavor and an aroma similar to anise. Frequently used as a flavoring in vinegars, pickles, relishes and various sauces.

Temper (v)

To slowly incorporate hot liquids into cooler foods, often to prevent curdling. Tempering is a technique often used for egg based dishes.

Thyme (n)

A member of the mint family, this herb has a distinct aroma that is both minty and lemony.

Timbale (n)

A drum-shaped mold used to bake various dishes.

Toasty (adj)

Flavor imparted from the charred oak interior of some wine barrels, which can leave a smoky flavor in the wine.

Torte (n)

A dense, richly flavored cake typically made from ground nuts, breadcrumbs, eggs and sugar, and little to no flour. Often layered with fruit and cream fillings.

Tortoni (n)

Traditional italian frozen dessert made from rich cream and spirits then topped with nuts.

Tube pan (n)

A round baking pan with high sides and a tapered, hollow tube protruding from its center, used for making angel food and sponge cakes.

Turmeric (n)

An important ingredient of curry powder, this spice often takes on the scent of oranges or ginger and has a bright yellow-orange color.

Turnip (n)

A white-fleshed root vegetable with a purple-tinged top, delicate and sweet when young, exhibiting a stronger taste and coarser texture when older.

Veins (n)

Slender, irregular lines created when cheese is punctured to insure mold penetration during the aging process.

Vermicelli (n)

Thinner version of spaghetti, the word means "little worms" in italian.

Whetstone (n)

A silicon carbide brick used for honing knives.

Whey (n)

Liquid substance that separates from solids when cheese is fermenting. It can also be used in the process to make whey cheese.

Yam (n)

A thick, tropical-vine tuber popular in south america, asia and africa. Yams contain more natural sugar than sweet potatoes and a higher moisture content.

Zest (n)

The outermost, colored rind of citrus fruit. Oils contained in citrus zest lend flavor in cooking.

Zinfandel (n)

Red grape variety whose origins are speculative but popular in california. Can be transparent rose-like or dark, inky and bursting with flavor.

Ziti (n)

Tube-shaped pasta, distinguished from penne by its flat cut ends.