Faggot – [French] a stalk of celery tied with parsley, bay leaf and thyme. Used in cooking soups, then discarded; Small savory cake made of pork offal, onion and bread, then baked.
Faison – [Spanish] pheasant; name given to many game birds.
Fajitas – [Spanish] little belts; marinated and grilled skirt steak; called arracheras in Mexico; refers to the cut of meat, not the way it is served; a lower-fat substitute is flank steak.
Falafel – A Middle Eastern specialty made up of small, deep-fried croquettes or balls made of highly spiced, ground chickpeas (garbanzos). They are generally served inside pita bread, sandwich style, but can also be served as appetizers. A yogurt or tahini-based sauce is often served with falafel.
Farce – [French] forcemeat.
Farci – [French] stuffed.
Farfalle – Bow tie shaped pasta.
Farina – [Italian] a fine meal or flour made from wheat, nuts and potatoes. In the United States it is known as cream of wheat.
Farmer’s cheese – Uncreamed cottage cheese; also called baker’s or pot cheese; dry-cured cottage cheese may be substituted.
Fava Beans – Broad beans. A Mediterranean bean similar to lima beans. It comes in a large pod which, unless very young, is inedible. Fava beans can be purchased dried, cooked in cans and, infrequently, fresh. If you find fresh fava beans, choose those with pods that are not bulging with beans, which indicates age. Fava beans have a very tough skin, which should be removed by blanching before cooking. They are very popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and are often used in soups. Also called faba bean, broad bean and horse bean.
Feed bag – Ranch eating place; also mess house or nose bag.
Fegato – [Italian] liver
Feijoa – Fruit native to Mexico; has a thick green skin, which should always be peeled, and pale yellow flesh; has a subtle flavor, which is as flavorful as pineapple, with a hint of mint; the flesh yields to gentle pressure when ripe and can be used in fruit sauces; pineapple with a touch of lime juice can be substituted. Also a fruit grown in New Zealand with a thin green skin and a flavor reminiscent of strawberry, banana and pineapple.
Feijoada – A Brazilian dish very similar to cassoulet, made with black beans. Sausage, bacon, ham, and various cuts of pork cooked in with the beans. The traditional accompaniments are plain white rice, cooked greens, fresh orange slices, and a very hot sauce, similar to pico de gallo, called molho carioca. Toasted cassava flour is used as a condiment, to be added by each diner.
Fen Berry – Another name for a small variety of cranberry – also known as cram-berry, crawberry, moss-millions, sow-berry, sour-berry, marsh wort, bog-berry and swamp red-berry. It is found in many English recipes.
Fennel – Fennel is a crisp, aromatic vegetable with a licorice flavor and celery-like texture. the bulb is delicious raw in salads (and great cooked as well), and the feathery fronds can be used as seasoning. The rounder bulbs seem to be more tender than those that are really flat. (Some markets label it anise, which it is not.)
Fennel seeds – These oval, greenish seeds come from a bulbless variety of fennel. Available whole or ground, they have a slight licorice flavor and aroma.
Fenugreek – A very hard seed grown in the Middle East, which is used as a spice. Its dominant flavor and aroma is recognizable in commercial curry powders.
Fermented black beans – This pungent Chinese specialty consists of small black soybeans preserved in salt and sold in covered jars or plastic bags. Available in Asian markets, sometimes under the name “salty black beans.” They will keep indefinitely.
Feta cheese – A classic white Greek cheese, usually made with sheep’s milk. It’s crumbly, and has a tangy flavor.
Fettuccini – Flat narrow pasta egg noodles less than wide and a bit thicker than tagliatelle.
Fiambre – [Spanish] cooked meat and vegetable salad that is usually marinated.
Ficelle – [French] string. This term is used in cooking to describe foods that have been tied to a string and cooked in a broth. This was a practice in villages when a communal pot was used to cook food. The string was used in order to allow the owners to identify and recover their piece of meat. This is generally applied to tough cuts of meat that require long periods of cooking. Yet, some restaurants are using the term to describe a more tender cut of meat that is poached in a rich broth. Beef filet and duck breasts are two good choices for this type of preparation.
Fiddlehead ferns – A barely emerged, tightly coiled (hence the name) shoot of the ostrich fern. Their flavor is reminiscent of asparagus and artichoke– some say with a touch of green beans. Available only in spring, and locally – they will not ship.
Fideo – [Spanish] vermicelli; nest of thin pasta.
Figs – Fresh figs have soft flesh with many tiny, edible seeds, and range from purple to green. Also readily available dried.
Filberts – Hazelnuts.
File powder – A powder made of dried sassafras leaves which has a glutinous quality and gives to certain dishes (as gumbos) a delicate flavor and thickening.
Filet, (or fillet) – A piece of meat, fish or poultry which is boneless or has had all the bones removed.
Filet mignon – A thick, boneless and extremely tender cut of beef from the tail side of the tenderloin. (Not however the most flavorful of steaks.)
Filete – [Spanish] filet.
Filete migon – [Spanish] filet mignon.
Financier – A small cake or cookie that is made with ground nuts and whipped egg whites. These are soft like sponge cake, and have a rich flavor of nuts.
Fines Herbes – A combination of very finely chopped fresh herbs used for seasoning. Traditionally includes chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon. Dried herbs may also be used, but their delicacy is lost.
Fingido – [Spanish] false; ersatz.
Finnan Haddie – [Scottish] smoked haddock.
Firkin – The sourdough container on a chuck wagon; also dough keg.
Fish Cakes, Japanese – Fish paste molded into cakelike shapes and grilled or deep fried. Available frozen in Japanese markets.
Fish Sauce – A condiment made from fermented anchovies, salt and water. Common in Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thai cooking. The Cambodian version nam pla, is considered the finest, and has the richest flavor. The Vietnamese variety, nuoc mam, most widely available, is milder. The different varieties are interchangeable. Available in Oriental, Asian and some supermarkets.
Five spice powder – A dry spice mix used in Chinese cooking consisting of cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan pepper, clove, and fennel.
Flageolet – These immature kidney beans harvested before maturity are medium in size (about one-half inch long), kidney shaped, and a pale green. Quick-cooking and very fresh-tasting, the classic treatment features cream and herbs.
Flake – Separate cooked fish into individual flaky slivers; grate chocolate or cheese into small slivers.
Flamb – [French] served flaming, accomplished by pouring spirits over food and igniting them.
Flameado – [Spanish] flamed; flamb ; served flaming.
Flameproof – Cookware that can be used directly on a burner or under a broiler without damage.
Flan – This is a term that may be used to describe two different preparations. The first use of this word is describes an open top tart that is filled with pastry cream and topped with fruit. Flan is used in Spanish and Mexican cooking to describe an egg custard that is baked in a large shallow dish, and flavored with caramel. The dish is inverted when served and the excess caramel is used as a sauce for the flan. The flan may be flavored with orange, anise, cinnamon, or liqueur. [Spanish] traditional Mexican and Southwestern baked caramel custard dessert; similar to the French “creme caramel” or “creme brulee.”
Flan ring – A metal pan for baking tarts, with low sides and a detachable side ring.
Flank steak – The triangular-shaped muscle from the underside of a flank of beef; when broiled, served rare and sliced thin, as horizontally as possible, this is tender and juicy, and is called London Broil. Flank steak is also served with a stuffing, rolled and baked.
Flat-Iron Steak – Beef shoulder top blade cut.
Flatfish – Includes flounders, flukes, sole, dabs, and plaices. Distinguished by their eyes (on top of their head), and swimming style (on their side). Have thin, fine-grained flesh; all can be used interchangeably.
Flautas – [Spanish] flutes; filled, tightly rolled, and deep-fried enchiladas.
Fleisch – [German] meat.
Fleur de sel – [French] “flower of the salt.” A rare sea salt harvested by hand in Brittany, France and available only in limited quantities. Composed of the natural crystal formations found on the surface of a salt marsh. The crystals are sun-dried only, thereby maintaining many of the nutrients not found in typical prepared salts. Fleur de Sel’s unrefined nature lends itself to be served as a condiment, rather than a seasoning, adding both texture and flavor to a meal.
Fleuron – A small crescent shaped pastry made of puff dough that is used to garnish fish dishes and soups.
Flor – [Spanish] flower.
Florentine – [French] This is used to describe foods that are cooked in the style of Florence. The word is most commonly associated with dishes containing spinach and sometimes a cream sauce. Steak cooked ala Florentine is a large T-bone steak, rubbed with olive oil and garlic, grilled and served with fresh lemon on the side.
Flores – [Spanish] blossoms.
Flour – This is the finely ground grain of wheat, corn, rice, oat, rye, or barley. Unless specified, this term refers to wheat flour. Flour is milled from a variety of wheats containing different amounts of protein. The different levels of protein give each flour unique qualities.
All-purpose flour sometimes called general-purpose or family flour is the most commonly used, especially by the domestic market. This flour is milled from both hard and soft wheats, giving it the strength needed in bread baking, but leaving it tender enough for cakes and pastries.
Bread flour has a higher protein content so that it may withstand the constant expansion of the cell walls during proofing and baking.
Cake flour is milled from soft wheat, thus containing a very low protein content and preventing the development of gluten. Pastry flour is of relatively low protein content, containing just enough to help stabilize the products during leavening.
Whole-wheat flours also called graham flour or entire wheat flour are milled from the whole kernel, thus giving it a higher fiber content and a substantial protein content. Semolina is milled from hard durum wheat, being used mainly for commercial baking and pasta production.
Cake Flour: A high starch flour made from soft wheat. Ideal for baking.
Bread Flour: A high gluten flour made from hard wheat. Perfect for yeast breads.
All-Purpose Flour: Half cake flour, half bread flour. Suitable for all applications.
Whole Wheat Flour: A high fiber flour that contains the wheat germ. Usually blended with other flours.
Self-Rising: A mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
Stone Ground: Wheat that is ground between two slowly moving stones. This process creates less heat than the usual high speed steel grinding. Some cooks believe the stone grinding method produces a better product.
Semolina: Coarsely ground, hard flour (usually duram). Used for making pasta.
Other flours which are not as common are buckwheat, corn, potato, rice, rye and soy. These are used for special recipes or for special diets and can be found in health food, specialty stores and some supermarkets.
Fluff-duff – Ranch term for fancy foods such as cakes or puddings.
Flute – To make decorative indentations, as on the rim of a pie crust.
Focaccia – An Italian flatbread made with pizza or bread dough, that can be baked plain or topped with onions, zucchini, eggplant, cheese, or whatever you choose.
Foie Gras – [French] literally translated, “fat liver”; but the term is used to describe the fattened liver of both duck and geese. The birds are force fed a rich mixture to help expedite this process. The largest production of commercial foie gras is done in France and Israel. The US will only allow this product to be imported in a cooked stage, either canned, vacuum-sealed, or frozen. These are inferior products and will never highlight the true delicacy of foie gras.
Fold – To add one ingredient or mixture to another using a large metal spoon or spatula. Gentle process that often keeps mixed air fluffed throughout a mixture, such as in angel food cakes.
Fond – The brown bits which stick to the bottom of a pan. Packed with incredible flavors from the food you have cooked. It is easy to remove by adding a little liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon to dissolve it. This is called deglazing and can be done with wine, brandy, fortified wines, stock, cider, fruit juices or most typically a combination of two. Be careful if you use wine to remove the pan from the heat so the alcohol doesn’t ignite and blow up in your face.
Fondant – An icing made of sugar syrup and glucose, which is cooked to a specific temperature and then kneaded to a smooth, soft paste. This paste can then be colored or flavored and used as an icing for cakes and petit fours.
Fondue – There are several different types of fondue, the most notable of which is cheese fondue. This is a Swiss specialty in which cheese is melted with wine, eggs, and seasonings and served with bread and fresh vegetables.
Fondue Bourguignonne is a pot of hot oil into which the diners will cook strips of meat and dip them into an array of sauces on the table.
Similar to this is fondue Chinois where the hot oil is replaced by a rich chicken or meat broth. The meat, and fish too, are then cooked in this stock and dipped in sauces.
The Japanese have a dish called shabu shabu, which is similar to this type of fondue. Named for the swishing sound that the meat makes in the broth, this dish is also served with vegetables and noodles in to be eaten along with the meat.
A chocolate fondue is a chocolate bath, flavored with liqueur and eaten with bread, cakes and fruit, like fresh berries.
Fonduta – An Italian style fondue made of Fontina cheese and served over toast or polenta. Exceptional with truffles.
Fool – Cold dessert consisting of fruit puree and whipped cream.
Forcemeat – A rich, highly seasoned paste containing meat or fish, herbs and vegetables finely minced and pounded, used as a stuffing or garnish.
Formaggio – An Italian cheese.
Fortified – Supplied with more vitamins and minerals than were present in the natural state.
Fougasse – A flatbread from France that was once served sweetened with sugar and orange water. It is now more commonly seen as a bread eaten with savory dishes. In this case, the dough is brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs or salt before baking.
Foyot – This is a variation of a bearnaise sauce with the addition of a well reduced meat glaze.
Fraises – [French] strawberries.
Framboise – [French] a raspberry-flavored liqueur with a high alcohol content.
Frangipane – A candy-like pastry cream made of butter, eggs, flour, and finely ground almonds or macaroons. Modern versions will use a combination of cornstarch and flour.
Frapp – Sweetened fruit juices frozen until semi-hard, then chilled.
Free-range chicken or turkey – In theory, these birds are much better than the standard. They’re fed differently, given fewer drugs, and have more room to roam. However, the quality is inconsistent and the price often outrageously expensive.
Freezing – Process whereby food is solidified or preserved through chilling and storing it at 0C or 32F degrees.
French chop – A rib lamb chop.
French fry – To cook in hot fat which entirely covers the food, often in a special wire basket.
Fresas – [Spanish] strawberries.
Fresco – [Spanish] fresh.
Fresno chile – A fresh chile; similar in size and appearance to a ripe jalape o; bright red and thick-fleshed; great in salsas and ceviches; usually available only in the fall; substitute ripe jalape os if unavailable.
Fricadillee – [French] meat balls, made with minced pork and veal, spices, white bread crumbs, cream and egg, then poached in stock or shallow-fried in a pan.
Fricass e – [French] stew made of chicken or veal cut into pieces and cooked in a gravy. Though chicken is the most common form of this type of stew, fish, vegetables, and other meats are prepared in this manner.
Frijol blanco – [Spanish] navy bean.
Frijoles – [Spanish] beans; usually refers to stewed pinto beans; varieties are Anasazi, black turtle, bollito, pinto or red (Mexican strawberry).
Frijoles refritos – [Spanish] refried beans; a paste of stewed pinto beans fried in fat with onions and garlic and frequently includes chiles.
Fritada – [Spanish] stew usually made with goat meat, which always contains some animal blood.
Frito – [Spanish] fried.
Frittata – An Italian open-faced omelet.
Fritter – Food that has been dipped in batter and deep fried or saut ed. These may consist of vegetables, meat, fish, shellfish, or fruit. The food may be dipped in the batter or mixed with the batter and dropped into the hot fat to form little balls. Japanese tempura fried foods are a type of fritter, though this term is not applied to it.
Fritto – [Italian] fried
Fritto Misto – An Italian mixed fried platter, similar to the Japanese tempura platter. A mixture of vegetables, meat, and fish are dipped in a light batter and quickly deep fried to prevent a saturation of grease into the food.
Frituras – [Spanish] fritters.
Fromage – A French cheese.
Frost – to coat a cake or petit fours with an icing; to dip the rim of a glass in egg white and caster sugar and then chill in a refrigerator until set; to dip the rim of a glass in lemon juice and coat with salt, then chill in the freezer.
Fruit paste – A firm, but gelatinous, sweet paste of a fruit such as mango, papaya or guava, eaten for dessert.
Fruit pectin – A substance found naturally in fruits such as apples, quince, and all citrus fruits. Pectin’s ability to gel liquids makes it a key ingredient in jelly and jam making. Pectin from citrus fruit is refined and bottled or powdered. You can purchase pectin in powder or liquid form, or use high pectin fruits in the recipe. Do not substitute one for the other.
Fruit Sweetener – If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup fruit sweetener, substitute 1/4 cup concentrated apple juice plus 1/4 cup granulated fructose. Granulated fructose can be found among the dietary foods or sugars in the supermarket.
Fry – To cook in fat in a skillet. Food must be turned to brown and fry on all sides.
Fry bread – Indian fried bread; flat discs of dough that are deep-fried and topped with honey or refried beans; usually found in Arizona and New Mexico.
Fugu – [Japanese] swellfish; globefish; blowfish; ballonfish; puffer. Fugu is caught in winter only, and it is eaten as chiri-nabe (hotpot) or fugu-sashi (raw fugu, sliced paper-thin). Only licensed fugu chefs are allowed to prepare this fish in Japan, since it contains a deadly poison.
Ful – An Egyptian dried bean. Available in specialty food shops. The best are the small variety.
Fumet – [French] an aromatic broth made for use in soups and sauces. The flavor of a fumet is usually concentrated on one item, though multiple ingredients may be used. The stock is then reduced to concentrate this flavor. Fish and vegetable broths are more commonly called fumets, but meat may also be used.
Fundido – [Spanish] fondue.
Fungi – Mushrooms.
Fusilli – [Italian] spiral shaped pasta. Some versions are shaped like a spring. Other versions are shaped like a twisted spiral.