a la – [French] in the manner or style of.
a la carte – [French] refers to a list of food items each priced separately.
a la creme – [French] served with cream or a cream-based sauce.
a la Creole – [French] dishes prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and onions as important ingredients.
a la Grecqua – [French] means “in the Greek manner.” Term describes vegetables cooked in a mixture of oil and vinegar, or lemon juice, with seasoning added. Serve cold or chilled.
a la mode – [French] served with or in the fashion of. Desserts served a la mode are served with ice cream; meats served a la mode are braised with vegetables and served with gravy.
a la minute – [French] cooked to order.
a l’Anglaise– [French] In the English style; boiled and served without a sauce.
Abaisse – A piece of dough rolled to a required size.
Abalone – A mollusk, related to a sea snail, similar in flavor to a clam. It may be cooked by various methods and is best suited to very long or very short cooking times. Also called “Awabi” in Japanese cuisine and “Loco” in South American cuisine. It has been over-harvested and is very expensive when available. A small amount is being commercial raised.
Abattis – Winglets, giblets of poultry.
Aboyeur – [French] Expediter or announcer; a station in the brigade system. The aboyeur accepts orders from the dining room, relays them to the appropriate stations of the kitchen, and checks each plate before it leaves the kitchen.
Absorbent paper – Paper towel.
Aceite de oliva – [Spanish] olive oil.
Aceituna – [Spanish] olive.
Achar – Very spicy relish from the cuisine of India and the Caribbean Islands. Achar may be made from fruits and vegetables.
Achiote – Dried brick red seeds of the annatto tree, used as a seasoning and to give food a deep red color. Achiote is used to add a yellowish-orange color to dishes, especially arroz con pollo. Substitute a little turmeric, paprika or saffron in a recipe if achiote is unavailable.
Achiote paste – Ground seeds of the large and shady annatto tree; earthy flavor with a hint of iodine; used as a coloring agent and commercially to color Cheddar cheeses and butter; used in slow-cooked sauces and stews.
Acid – A substance having a sour or sharp flavor. Most foods are somewhat acidic. Foods generally referred to as acidic include citrus juice, vinegar, and wine. Degree of acidity is measured on the pH scale; acids have a pH of less than 7.
Acidulated water – A mixture of water and a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice, used to purify or prevent discoloration in meats and vegetables.
Acitron – [Spanish] candied biznaga cactus; made by simmering in a sugar syrup.
Ackee – A Jamaican fruit with spongy white or yellow flesh. Available fresh or canned. Also called akee.
Aclarada – [Spanish] clarified.
Acorn – Nut of the oak tree; an Apache cooking staple.
Aderezo – [Spanish] dressing.
Adobado (adavada) – [Spanish] in Texas, a sour marinade paste made with chiles, herbs and vinegar; in New Mexico and El Paso, a marinade for pork made with red New Mexican chiles, Mexican oregano and garlic.
Adobo – [Spanish] piquant sauce or paste used as a seasoning for meats, seafood or poultry. It includes chiles, tomato, vinegar and spices; adobo may also be used for pickling.
Adulterated food – Food that has been contaminated to the point that it is considered unfit for human consumption.
Aduski beans – A small (one-quarter inch long or so), oval, brown or reddish-brown dried bean. This is an Asian bean usually made into flour, sprouted or used in desserts. Its slightly sweet flavor makes it an odd choice for a dinner bean.
Aerobic Bacteria – Bacteria that requires the presence of oxygen to function.
Agar – A vegetable gelatin made from various kinds of algae or seaweed. The algae are collected, bleached and dried. Then the gelatin substance is extracted with water and made into flakes, granules, powder or strips which are brittle when dry. Primarily used as a thickening agent.
Agave – Agave americana; botanical name for the maguey cactus from which tequila, mescal and pulque are made.
Agnello – [Italian] lamb.
Agnolotti – [Italian] small half-moon shaped ravioli.
Agrio – [Spanish] sour.
Agua – [Spanish] water.
Aguacates – Avocados; alligator pear; name comes from the Aztec word “ahuacacuahatle,” meaning “testicle tree” (avocados grow in pairs).
Aguado – [Spanish] watery.
Aguas frescas – [Spanish] fresh fruit drinks.
Agujas – [Spanish] in northern Mexico, name given to ribs of beef.
Aiguillette – Long, thin slices of poultry breast or some other meats or fish.
Ail – [French] garlic.
Aioli – [French] a cold egg and oil emulsion with olive oil and garlic. Many variations of this sauce are made. Basically is is a garlic mayonnaise.
Airtights – Canned goods; term common used in the old West.
Ajo dulce – sweet chile pepper.
Ajo – [Spanish] garlic.
Ajonjol – [Spanish] sesame.
Al Carbon – [Spanish] a dish relating to charcoal grilled or containing meat.
Al Dente – [Italian] a term, meaning “to the bite.” Literally “to the tooth,” used to describe the correct degree of doneness for pasta and vegetables. This is not exactly a procedure, but a sensory evaluation for deciding when the food is finished cooking. Pasta should retain a slight resistance when biting into it, but should not have a hard center.
Al Forno – [Italian] a dish baked in the oven.
Al Pastor – A term used in Spanish and Italian referring to a dish cooked in the style of shepherd cooking, usually vertically over a grill or spit.
Alambres – [Spanish] shish kebabs.
Albahaca – [Spanish] basil.
Albert – a French hot horseradish sauce.
Albimar – [Spanish] candied.
Albondigas – [Spanish] meatballs; made of chicken, shrimp, beef or pork; usually used as a garnish for broth soups or served in tomato sauce as an appetizer or light entree.
Albondiguitas – [Spanish] tiny meatballs.
Albumen – the protein of egg whites.
Alcachofas – [Spanish] artichokes.
Alcaparras – [Spanish] capers.
Alcapurrias – [Spanish] croquettes.
Alfredo – A pasta sauce originally consisting of butter, cream, and the finest parmesan cheese available. Modern versions add garlic, peas, and less expensive parmesan. All of these will make fine sauces, but nothing can compare to the original version.
Algorienne – [French] a garnish of small tomatoes and sweet potato croquettes.
Aliolio – [Spanish] garlic mayonnaise.
Alla – [Italian] in the style of
Allemande – A rich cream sauce made of Veloute (usually veal), a liaison of egg yolks and lemon juice.
Allioli – [Italian] garlic mayonnaise.
Allspice – A single spice, rather than a combination of all spices, which is reminiscent of a nutmeg, cloves, juniper berries, pepper, and cinnamon mixture. Allspice is made from the fruit of an evergreen tree found in the Western Hemisphere.
Allumettes – [French] Vegetable strips, matchstick-size in length and width.
Almandine – [French] made or garnished with almonds. An alternate spelling is Amandine.
Almejas – [Spanish] clams.
Almobar – [Spanish] light syrup.
Almond extract – An intense flavoring made from bitter-almond oil, usually combined with ethyl alcohol. Keeps indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place.
Almond Paste – a blend of ground, blanched almonds cooked with sugar to make a creamy, firm paste. It is used as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, ice cream, pastries tarts. (It is the secret ingredient in rainbow and pignoli cookies, macaroons, kranskage, Danish pastries and Swedish mazarins.) And almond paste can be used to make marzipan, a sweet almond confection. [see below] Quality almond paste usually contains more than 50% almonds and the balance is sugar.
courtesy Love’n Bake.com
Almuerzo – [Spanish] brunch.
Alubias – [Spanish] white navy beans.
Amaretti – Italian almond cookies much like a macaroon.
Amaretto – A liqueur with a distinct flavor of almonds, though it’s often made with apricot pit kernels. The original liqueur, Amaretto di Saronno, is from Saronno, Italy. Many distilleries produce their own amaretto. Usually served straight, on the rocks or used as a mixer. Used often in baked goods.
Amarillo – [Spanish] yellow; ripe plantain.
Amendra – [Spanish] almond.
AmEricaine – A French sauce or garnish containing lobster meat.
Amchoor – Sour, unripe mangoes that are dried and sold in slices and powder. Their primary use is in Indian cooking, giving foods a sweet and sour flavor.
Amchoor – Sour, unripe mangoes that are dried and sold in slices and powder. Their primary use is in Indian cooking, giving foods a sweet and sour flavor.
Anaheim chiles – New Mexican chiles; very few, if any, Anaheim chiles are grown near Anaheim, California now; mildly hot peppers; slim, ranging between five and eight inches long and sometimes twisted in appearance; not normally stuffed because their flesh is thin; dried and tied in strings (ristras), or ground and blended in commercial chili powder mixtures; may be purchased in cans labeled as mild green chiles.
Anaheim pepper, fresh – Slightly hot light-green pepper. Found in most supermarkets. There is also a Red Anaheim pepper. These are usually fond dried. Do not substitute the dried for the fresh.
Anasazi beans – Named after the ancient ones, ancestors of the southwestern Native Americans, this is one of the oldest varieties; developed by forebears of the Pueblo Indians in what is now New Mexico, these beans have a variegated cranberry and white coloring that adds color to bean dishes and salads.
Ancho chile – Wide, broad; ripened, dried poblano chile; wrinkled and dark reddish brown color, measuring about 5 inches long and 3 inches across the shoulders; most often used in sauces and stews; sometimes ground into a powder for use in chilis and spice rubs; pasilla chiles may be substituted. This relatively mild dried chile pepper is a deep reddish brown in color. In its fresh green state, it is known as a poblano.
Anchoiade – A dip made of pureed anchovies mixed with garlic and olive oil. Raw vegetables and bread are served with this dip.
Anchovies – Small, silvery fish that are usually cured with salt. Many are then tightly packed with oil in flat two-ounce tins, but salt-cured anchovies are also available. These should be rinsed, and may need to be filleted before using.
Anchovy fillets, sweet pickled – Available in Scandinavian markets.
Andouille – A hard, smoked, highly-seasoned pork, Creole-Acadian sausage originating in communities along the lower Mississippi River. Is used regularly in Creole cooking, but it is popular in French cooking as well. The Creole version of this sausage is much spicier than those made in France.
Anejo – [Spanish] aged; refers either to certain types of aged liquor or to a cheese which is like a cross between Parmesan and feta.
Angelica – Licorice flavored stalks from the Angelica plants are candied and used primarily in pastry making. Angelica is also used to flavor liqueurs.
Anglaise – [French] The manner of simple English-style cooking, such as boiling or steaming.
Anis – [Spanish] Anise; small, elongated seed from the anise plant that tastes like licorice; the anise plant is a member of the carrot family.
Anise – A spice which produces a licorice-like flavor. Purchased ground to a powder or in seed form. Utilized in flavoring cookies, cakes and liqueurs. See Aniseed.
Aniseed – Crescent-shaped seeds which are a member of the parsley family; used in both sweet and savory dishes; impart a strong licorice flavor and a lightly sweet tone to food.
Annatto Seeds – Small rust-colored seeds used to make Annatto oil. Also called achiote seed. The oil is then used as a yellow food coloring and a spice in cooking from Latin America and Southeast Asia.. Can be found in Hispanic markets.
Anna potatoes – The name for a potato pancake made of thin slices of potato which are assembled in concentric circles and cooked with liberal amounts of butter. The cake is then baked until crisp and golden brown.
Annatto seeds – Usually made into achiote paste; earthy flavor with a hint of iodine; prized as a coloring agent and is used commercially to color Cheddar cheeses and butter; used in slow-cooked sauces and stews; very slow to dissolve and needs to be ground.
Anticuchos – [Spanish] marinated and grilled beef hearts.
Antiguo – [Spanish] old; ancient.
Antipasto – [Italian] cold appetizer assortment. Antipasto is the Italian word for snacks served before a meal. These are dishes to pique one’s appetite, not quench it. This may consist of one or more dishes of all types of food. Common elements of an antipasto table are cured meats and salamis, olives, marinated vegetables and cheese.
Antojito – [Spanish] snack or an appetizer, it means little whim.
Antojitos mexicanos – [Spanish] snacks; corn- or tortilla-based Mexican foods, including enchiladas, tacos and tamales.
Aperitif – A drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Apfel – [German] apple.
Apio – [Spanish] edible root of a tropical plant.
Applejack – A brandy made from apple cider which, in the United States, must spend a minimum of two years in wooden casks before being bottled. It ranges from 80 to 100 proof in strength.
arbol chiles – Similar to cayennes.
Arborio rice – A short grain white rice from Northern Italy. The length of the grain is often less than two times its width. Used often in risotto because it absorbs flavor as it cooks, yet remains somewhat firm.
Arlasienne – [French] rings or slices of vegetables cooked in oil.
Arm steak – A steak cut from the chuck which require rather long slow cooking.
Armadillo – A game animal indigenous to the Southwest, it has a flavor comparable to duck.
Aromatic – A vegetable, herb, or spice that gives food a lively fragrance and flavor. In classic cooking, a reference to “aromatics” most often means onions, carrot and celery.
Arracheras – The word used in Mexico for fajitas, or skirt steak.
Arrowroot – A starch similar in appearance and qualities as cornstarch. White, powdery thickening agent ground finer than flour. It is preferable to cornstarch because it provides a clear finish, rather than a cloudy paste. Arrowroot is extracted from rhizomes and was historically used by American Indians to heal arrow wounds, hence the name.
Arroz – [Portuguese] rice. It is not a Spanish term.
Arroz con pollo – [Spanish] rice with chicken.
Artichoke – A name shared by three unrelated plants – the globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke and Chinese (or Japanese) artichoke. Considered the true artichoke, the globe artichoke is cultivated mainly in California’s mid-coastal region. It is the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal shaped leaves. The tender base of the leaves and the heart are the edible portions. They are available year-round, with the peak season March through May. Buy deep green, heavy-for-their-size artichokes with a tight leaf formation.
Artificial sweeteners – Numerous kinds and brands on the market. Available in liquid, granular, and tablet forms. Follow label instructions carefully. Not a good substitute for sugar in baked recipes. They may be stored indefinitely if kept tightly closed at room temperature.
Arugula – Also known as Rocket, Arugula is the most strangely flavored of all greens, possessing a distinctive hot, peppery muddiness that may be an acquired taste. Younger, smaller arugula is milder; old arugula may be far too hot.
Asada (Asado) – [Spanish] roasted or broiled.
Asadero – Rubbery white cheese originally made only in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Michoacan, it is now made in the United States; a cooked cheese made from equal portions of fresh and sour milk; frequently sold braided; it melts in gooey strings; also called Chihuahua, Mennonite or Oaxaca cheese; Monterey Jack or Longhorn Cheddar may be substituted.
Asador – [Spanish] wire mesh stovetop grill which can be used to roast vegetables over an outdoor fire or on the stovetop.
Asafetida – A gummy resin derived from a special plant. Also comes in powder form. Used as a flavoring or spice in Persian and Indian cooking or as a condiment to be sprinkled over food after it has been cooked. It has a bitter taste and a pungent aroma similar to garlic and truffles.
Asar – [Spanish] to roast or broil.
Ascorbic-acid mixture for fruit – A crystalline or powdered mixture containing vitamin C and sugar. It is used to prevent darkening of fruits and vegetables after peeling.
Asiago cheese – Hard Italian cheese with a rich nutty flavor. It is made from whole or part-skim cow’s milk, and comes in small wheels. It is among the best substitutes for Parmigiano-Reggiano. This Italian cheese originally came from the Province of Vicenza. Asiago is served in two different forms. The aged cheese (more than one year) is hard and is considered a grating cheese, like Parmesan or Romano. The younger variety, when still soft, is used on cheese trays and antipasto presentations. The hard, aged asiago has a full, rich, almost nutty, flavor. The softer, younger cheese is milder in flavor. In the past asiago was made with ewe’s milk. Today, most types are produced using cow’s milk. For a refreshing change, substitute grated asiago for Parmesan in your favorite recipe. It enhances salads, pastas, and pizzas.
Asopao – [Spanish] soupy stew.
Asparagus – A member of the lily family, the earliest stalks are a beautiful apple-green with purple-tinged tips. Asparagus spears poke through the earth in spring. If not picked, these young shoots grow into tall ferny branches with bright red berries. Europeans prefer white asparagus which is grown underground to prevent it from becoming green. White spears are usually thick and are smoother than the green variety. There is also a purple variety called Viola.
Aspic – A clear jelly made from stock, fumet, wine or fruit juices used to mold dishes. These preparations are often elaborately decorated for use on buffets. Both savory and sweet foods are set in aspic. Cubes of aspic are a common garnish to foie gras.
Ates – [Spanish] sweetsop; sweet fruit pastes; an equal amount of fruit pulp and sugar.
Atole – Pre-Columbian drink made from corn; corn gruel; made by boiling ground dry-roasted corn and water; traditionally served with tamales; may be flavored with chocolate, nuts or cinnamon and other spices and sweetened with sugar for a breakfast drink; sometimes blended with chiles to make a savory dish.
Atun – [Spanish] tuna.
Au bleu – [French] blue; fish cooked immediately after being caught will turn blue upon preparation.
Au gratin – [French] cooked food, covered with a sauce and sprinkled with crumbled or grated cheese, dotted with butter and browned under the grill or broiler.
Au jus – [French] served in unthickened natural juices or natural meat drippings.
Au lait – [French] with milk.
Aubergine – Purple fruit, used as a vegetable. Also known as an eggplant. Another (Indian) word for eggplant or aubergine is brinjal.
Aurore – A term associated with a pink cream sauce, colored with paprika or that have tomato puree or concasse added to it.
Aux fines herbes – [French] term applied to a dish to which a combination of delicate fresh herbs (usually tarragon, chervil, parsley, and chives) have been added.
Avocado – A fruit treated as a vegetable, the avocado is native to Central or South America, but is now widely grown in Florida, California, and many other warm places. It should be quite soft before opening and eating. Fruit with leathery skin and soft, buttery flesh; it yields to light pressure when ripe; the Haas is smaller with pebbly black-brown skin and is darker than the emerald type grown in Florida; always use Haas avocados as they are more flavorful and much less watery than the Florida variety
Azucar – [Spanish] sugar.
Azafron – Used as a substitute for saffron; lacks flavor and is used only for color.