Cabanossi – A salami-type sausage popular in Southern Europe.
Cabra – [Spanish] goat.
Cabrito – [Spanish] unweaned goat; suckling goat; kid goat; usually split and spit roasted whole; considered a delicacy in Mexico and the Southwest; a favorite dish in northern Mexico, especially at Easter.
Cacahuates – [Spanish] peanuts.
Cactus – The pads and fruits of the Opuntia cactus are cooked and eaten.
Cactus paddle – In the southwest and Mexico, the large, flat, fleshy, oval green pads of the nopal cactus are prepared as a vegetable. When cooked, pieces have the color and translucence of cooked bell pepper, but they are also viscid, like okra. The flavor is something between a bell pepper and artichoke or asparagus or okra.
Cafe – [Spanish] coffee.
Cafe Brulot – Spices and other ingredients flamed with brandy or some other spirits to which hot coffee is added.
Cafe Noir – Black coffee.
Caguama – [Spanish] sea turtle.
Cajeta – [Spanish] originally a little wooden box made to hold sweets; burned milk; goat’s milk caramel; goat’s milk that has been mixed with sugar and cooked into a brown paste; dessert, usually of fruit or milk, cooked with sugar until thick.
Cake cooler – Wire rack.
Cake tin – Baking pan.
Cal – dolomitic lime; slaked lime; mineral added to corn when making nixtamal masa to loosen the kernels’ skins.
Calabacita – [Spanish] squash; zucchini. A variety of summer squash found in Latin American and Mexican cooking.
Calabaza – [Spanish] pumpkin. This pumpkin-like winter squash, usually sold in slices or hunks in markets catering to Central and South Americans. Also known as West Indian pumpkin, calabaza is quite frequently better than pumpkin when cooked in the same way.
Calamares – [Spanish] squid.
Calamari – Italian and [Spanish] squid.
Calamata olives – Purple-black Greek olives of generally high quality. Also spelled kalamata olives.
Caldero – [Spanish] heavy kettle.
Caldillo – [Spanish] little soup; thick stew with beef and chiles; commonly served in El Paso and Juarez.
Caldo (caldillo) – [Spanish] broth, stock or clear soup.
Caldo de cerdo – [Spanish] pork broth.
Caldo Verde – A Portuguese soup made from a sharp flavored cabbage, potatoes, broth, and olive oil. Sausage is then cooked in the soup.
Calf fries – [Spanish] ranch treat of quick-fried calf scrotum; also called mountain oysters.
Callo de hacha – [Spanish] pinna clam.
Calzone – [Italian} “trousers.” A half-moon shaped pizza turnover, often served with sauce over the top rather than inside.
Camarones (camaron) – [Spanish] shrimps; shrimp.
Camote – [Spanish] yam; sweet potato.
Campechana – [Spanish] blend or mixture.
Canadian bacon – The large rib-eye muscle of the pork loin, cured and smoked. It is boneless and more lean than streaky bacon, making it a good ham substitute for those watching their fat intake.
Canape – [French] plain or toasted bread or crackers topped with a savory mixture. Usually served as appetizers, with cocktails, snacks or for lunch. They may be served hot or cold, they are often elaborately garnished.
Canard – [French] duck.
Candied – Cooked in sugar or syrup until transparent and well-coated.
Candied ginger – Found in Asian markets.
Candy thermometer – Cooking tool comprised of a large glass mercury thermometer that measures temperatures from about 40 degrees F to 400 degrees F. A frame or clip allows it to stand or hang in a pan during cooking for accurate temperature measurement.
Cane syrup – A sweet, dark brown, very thick sugar cane syrup, tasting something like dark brown sugar.
Canela – [Spanish] cinnamon; Ceylon cinnamon; lighter in color and more subtle in flavor than cinnamon sold in the United States; dried inner bark of the “Cinnamomum zeylanicum: tree, which was brought to Mexico from Sri Lanka; canela sticks have a rough, torn appearance, and its soft surface grinds easily in spice mills and blenders.
Caneton – [French] duckling.
Canned cowboy – Canned milk – a term from the American West.
Cannellini beans – [Italian] large, creamy white bean often included in Italian cooking. Also known as Northern beans, this legume makes an excellent vegetarian substitute for both fish and chicken due to its rich texture.
Cannelloni – [Italian] large tubular-shaped noodles usually served stuffed. An Italian dish made of sheets or tubes of pasta filled with meat, cheese or fish, sauced and baked au gratin. Variations of this use thin pancakes, called crespelle, which are similar to crepes and are filled and cooked in the same manner as the pasta.
Cannoli – [Italian] a crisp pastry tube filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and candied fruit. Cinnamon and vanilla are common flavorings for this cheese mixture.
Canola oil – This neutral is your best choice for cooking because it is inexpensive, extremely low in saturated fats, has a high burning point, and does not detract from the flavor of food with which it is combined.
Cantina – [Spanish] bar.
Capeado – [Spanish] covered with batter and fried.
Capers – Pickled hyssop buds which is used in sauces and as condiments for smoked fish and nicoise salad. Sold packed in vinegar or in salt. Small pickled flower of a shrub though to have originated in the Sahara Desert or in the Orient; Mexican capers are large; Italian capers may be substituted.
Capicolla – A coarse Italian pork sausage. Usually highly seasoned, this sausage is served cold, thinly sliced, as for prosciutto.
Capirotada – [Spanish] bread pudding; usually served during Lent and Holy Week (Easter).
Capon – A castrated rooster that is savored for its delicate taste and texture. Once castrated, the chicken would become fattened, yielding tender, juicy flesh. This method of raising chickens is not practiced much anymore, since most chickens are butchered at a young age and still very tender.
Caponata – [Italian] Best known as a spread or cold salad containing eggplant, celery, tomatoes, raisins, and pine nuts seasoned with vinegar and olive oil. Modern variations will add other vegetables such as zucchini and season it with fresh herbs.
Capons – Castrated cocks, weighing 6 to 7 pounds or more, these birds are especially desirable for roasting when a large bird is in order.
Capsicum – The family name for sweet and hot peppers. Large pepper with a slightly sweet flavor. Also called a pepper, or sweet pepper. Available in green (most common), red and yellow.
Carambola (star fruit) – Originally from Indonesia, this is one of the most recent tropical imports, now grown in Florida and found in most supermarkets. It has yellow, near-translucent skin (which is tough but edible), and slices take the shape of a star. Best eaten raw, but also takes well to grilling.
Caramelize – To slowly dissolve sugar (granulated or brown) in water, then heat the resulting syrup until it turns caramel-brown in color. Caramelized sugar is sometimes called burnt sugar.
Caraway seed – Curved, anise-like seed popular in German and Austrian cooking. Caraway is a member of the parsley family. Seeds are used as topping on breads and savory pastries, and as accompaniments to cabbage and goulash. Caraway seed is also utilized in preparing some cheeses and liqueurs.
Carbon – [Spanish] charcoal.
Carbonade – Braised or grilled, or sometimes stewed meat.
Carbonara – An ultra-rich pasta sauce consisting of pancetta, eggs, and parmesan cheese. Actually less of a sauce than a preparation, hot pasta is tossed with the rendered pancetta fat, the eggs, and then the cheese. Crisp pancetta and black pepper are tossed into the pasta just before serving.
Cardamom – Aromatic seeds used for baking, flavoring coffee and exotic Scandinavian and Indian dishes. Excellent when freshly ground. Botanical name – Elettaria cardamomum.
Cardinal – Fish dishes which have sauces made with lobster fumet and are garnished with lobster meat.
Cardoon – Cardoons are the thick, fleshy stalks of a plant in the thistle family very similar to artichokes. It looks like very large, coarse, matte-gray celery. Popular in Italy, France and South America. Cardoons may be eaten raw or cooked and served like any vegetable.
Caribe chiles – Flaked red chiles.
Carne – In Italian and Spanish meaning meat.
Carne adovada – [Spanish] meat cured in red chile sauce; traditional New Mexican dish.
Carne asada – [Spanish] marinated, broiled meat; in Sonora, Mexico means a picnic or cookout where meat is broiled.
Carne de res – [Spanish] beef.
Carne mechada – [Spanish] pot roast.
Carne seca – [Spanish] dried beef or jerky; was a trail food utilized on the range.
Carnitas – [Spanish] little pieces of meat; small chunks of pork which have been seasoned, slow-cooked, and fried crisp in their own fat; it is a traditional taco and enchilada filling.
Carob – The seed from the carob tree which is dried, ground, and used primarily as a substitute for chocolate.
Carpaccio – An Italian dish (usually served as an appetizer), made of paper thin slices of beef dressed with olive oil and parmesan cheese. Slices of raw white truffles are an excellent partner to this dish.
Cascabel chiles – [Spanish] Little rattler; jingle bells; sleigh bells; small, round, hot chiles that rattle when shaken; measure about 1 1/2 to 2 inches across and have smooth skins; woodsy chile with tones of hazelnut, citrus and tobacco, gives off a wonderful aroma when roasted; great in stews, soups, salsas, salad dressing and vinaigrettes; blend well with apples, pears and other fruits and with spices such as star anise, canela and cinnamon; rbol chiles may be substituted.
Casserole – [French] A meat, fish and/or vegetable dish which is cooked and served in the same pot.
Cassoulet – A dish from southwest France consisting of white beans and an assortment of meats like confit, lamb, pork, and Toulouse sausage. The dish is enriched with large amounts of duck fat and is baked until the top is brown and crispy. Variations of this dish include seafood and lentils. This dish is very substantial and needs nothing else to be served with it but a bitter green salad to cut through the richness.
Castor/Caster sugar – A very fine granulated sugar. Similar to U.S. superfine sugar. It is great for baking. Caster sugar can be made from regular granulated sugar by running it through a coffee mill, a Magic Bullet, or a blender. DO NOT confuse it with powdered/confectioners’ sugar.
Catfish – Popular white-fleshed fish with a medium-firm texture. Farm raised catfish, widely available in supermarkets and fish stores, don’t have the muddy taste that distinguish their wild counterparts. Look for fresh catfish with white rather than grayish flesh.
Catsup – Tomato ketchup.
Caul Fat – The stomach lining of pork which is used in place of back fat for pates and to encase crepinettes.
Caviar – These are the eggs of sturgeon that have been salted and cured. Grading for caviar is determined by the size and color of the roe and the species of the sturgeon. Beluga caviar, which is the most expensive of the three types of caviar, are dark gray in color and are the largest eggs. Ossetra caviar are light to medium brown and are smaller grains than beluga. Sevruga caviar are the smallest grains, the firmest in texture and are also gray in color. Pressed caviar is made of softer, lower quality eggs and have a stronger, fishier flavor. The term malossol is used to describe the amount of salt used in the initial curing process. The roe from other fish such as salmon, lumpfish, and whitefish are not considered caviar, regardless of their label. They should be addressed as roe. Caviar should be served as simply as possible. Traditional accompaniments, inspired by the Russians, are sour cream, blinis, and ice cold vodka. Lemon and minced onion are often served with caviar, but their flavors will only detract from the pure delicate flavor of the caviar.
Cayenne – Cayenne pepper is used to describe almost any hot, finely ground red chile pepper, but it was named after several tropical varieties that originated in Cayenne in French Guiana. A dried chile, they is also known as ginnie peppers; 3 to 8 inches long and slender, measuring about 1/2 inch across; fiery chiles that can be used in soups and stews, but are most commonly ground and used as a seasoning; chiles de arbol are closely related and may be substituted.
Cazon – [Spanish] dogfish.
Cazuelas – glazed or unglazed Mexican casserole-style dishes; ideal for long, slow cooking, either in the oven or on top of the stove; can also be used as serving dishes.
Cebada – [Spanish] barley.
Cebolla – [Spanish] onion.
Cebollitas – [Spanish] scallions; green onions.
Cecina – [Spanish] salted, cured or smoked dried meat strips; similar to carne seca.
Cena – [Spanish] supper.
Celeriac – A European celery with a thick stem base, which can be prepared in the same way beets are. it is also called celery root, celery knob and turnip-rooted celery. This knobby, brown vegetable is the root of a special celery cultivated specifically for its root, with a firm texture and a clean, sweet flavor of celery. Celeriac must be peeled before using.
Cellophane Noodles – Noodles made from the mung bean, the same bean from which bean sprouts grow. Find in oriental markets and some supermarkets. Also called glass noodles, sai fun, bean threads and long rice.
Cepes – A wild mushroom of the boletus family known for their full flavor and meaty texture.
Cerdo – [Spanish] pork.
Cerveza – [Spanish] beer.
Ceviche – [Spanish] raw seafood combined with lime juice; the juice “cooks” the seafood by combining with its protein and turning it opaque.
Chai – The Indian name for tea, often served with milk and sugar.
Chalotes – [Spanish] shallots.
Chalupa compuesta – [Spanish] adorned little boat; a very popular dish in Arizona.
Chalupas – [Spanish] little boats or little canoes; fried corn tortillas in the shape of a boat or basket containing shredded chicken or beans topped with salsa, guacamole or cheese.
Champ – a classic Irish dish that combines vegetables with hot mashed potatoes. It is made by mixing either peas, chives or sauteed onions or spinach into hot mashed potatoes, then making a depression in the center of each serving and filling with melted butter. To eat it, you dip each forkful into the butter first.
Champignon – [French] mushroom found as the champignon de Paris. Cultivated button-shaped white mushroom.
Champurrado – [Spanish] a drink, atole (corn gruel) with chocolate.
Chanterelle – A wild mushroom with a golden color and a funnel-shaped cap. The whole mushroom is edible and is savored for its exquisite flavor and firm texture when cooked.
Chanterelle – Available both wild and domesticated, this is a good, fleshy mushroom with subtle flavor.
Chantilly – [French] This is a name for sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla. The term may also be used to describe sauces that have had whipped cream folded into them. This includes both sweet and savory sauces.
Chapati – A whole wheat Indian flatbread that can be grilled or fried.
Charcuterie – The French word for the variety of pork preparations that are cured, smoked, or processed. This includes sausages, hams, pates, and rillettes. This term may also imply the shop in which these products are sold and the butchers who produce it.
Chard – Essentially beets grown for leaves rather than roots, chard has a thick white, pink, or red midrib and leaves that vary from deep green to green with scarlet veins. Chard has a distinctive, acid-sweet flavor.
Charlie Taylor – a butter substitute of sorghum and bacon grease.
Charlotte – The name for two different desserts. The first preparation is made of slices of bread which are lined in a mold, filled with fruit, and baked until the bread acquires a golden color and crisp texture. The second version, similar to the first, lines a mold with cake or lady fingers and is filled with a Bavarian cream. These may also be filled with whipped cream or even a fruit mousse. More elaborate versions layer the cake with jam, then slices of this cake is used to line the mold.
Charlotte mould – A plain mold for charlottes and other desserts, sometimes used for molded gelatin-based salads.
Charmoula – A sauce and marinade used in Middle Eastern cooking made of stewed onions flavored with vinegar, honey and a spice mixture called “rasel hanout”. This is a complex spice mixture containing cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cumin and sometimes paprika and coriander. This sauce is used on meat and fish and can even be adjusted to make a unique vinaigrette.
Chasseur – [French] a sauce made with wine, mushrooms and shallots.
Chateaubriand Steak – A very fillet of beef, exceedingly tender and juicy, cut laterally from the heart of the tenderloin, grilled or saut ed and simply sauced. Many restaurants claim their chateaubriand to be the head of the tenderloin, cut for two, which is roasted and carved tableside.
Chaud-Froid – Meat or fish that has been poached or roasted, chilled and served cold, masked with a thick sauce and glazed with aspic. The whole preparation was once quite popular and used consistently on elaborate buffets. Modern tastes have moved away from this style of food, opting for cleaner, less adulterated flavors.
Chauquehue – [Spanish] blue cornmeal mush.
Chayote – Also called mirliton, vegetable pear and christophine. A pear shaped, pale or apple green squash (it actually is a form of summer squash), with firm flesh of a paler green. The taste is reminiscent of a cucumber. It is a relative of the gourd. If small, they do not require peeling. They are used in Latin American cooking. Chayote may be eaten raw or cooked as you would any summer squash. Also referred to as the cho-cho. Chayotes should be not just firm, but downright hard and dark green for the best flavor. Stored in the vegetable bin they’ll keep for weeks.
Cheddar – Cheese which is mild in flavor and melts easily, it is a favorite in many Southwestern dishes; Longhorn cheese is a very good substitute, and it is usually a little less expensive.
Cheese – Most cheeses derive from milk (usually cow, sheep or goat), jolted by a “startar” culture, then thickened by the addition of rennet (animal or vegetable) until it separates into curds (semi-solids) and whey (liquid).
Artisanal cheese: Made by hand, in small quantities, with respect for cheese-making traditions; frequently farmstead, but sometimes using others’ known herds.
Blue-veined: Inoculated or sprayed with spores to create veins and pockets of bluish-green mold (stilton, roquefort, gorgonzola, Maytag blue).
Cooked, pressed: Curd cooked before pressing (parmigiano reggiano, gouda, gruyere).
Farmstead cheese: Made by using only the milk from the cheese-maker’s own herds.
Fresh: Unripened or slightly ripened curds (ricotta, farmer, cottage, mascarpone).
Hard: Cooked, pressed and long-aged (parmigiano reggiano, pecorino)
Natural-rind: Self-formed thin rinds, no molds or washing (English stilton, mimolette, tomme de savoie).
Processed cheese: Some amount of cheese cooked together with dyes, gums, emulsifiers and stabilizers (American cheese, Laughing Cow, rambol).
Raw-milk cheese: Made with unpasteurized milk (parmigiano reggiano, Swiss gruyere, French roquefort, traditional cheddars).
Ripened (aged): The drained curds are cured by heat, bacteria and soaking. Salt, spices and herbs or natural dyes (certain cheddars) may be added. Aging in a controlled environment begins.
Semifirm: Cooked and pressed, but not so long-aged, not crumbly (edam, jarlsberg).
Semisoft: Either cooked or uncooked, soft, but sliceable (gouda, tilsit, monterey jack).
Soft-ripened (bloomy rind): The surface is exposed to molds, ripening the cheese from the outside in, to form thin, velvety rinds (brie, camembert).
Washed-rind: Frequently orange, rinds washed or rubbed with brine, wine, beer or brandy (pont l’eveque, tallegio, Spanish mahon).
Uncooked, pressed: Curds not cooked but pressed to obtain a firm texture (Cheddar, morbier, mont asio, manchego).
Cheese (Mexican) – Queso Blanco: This creamy white cheese is made from skimmed cow’s milk. When it is heated, it becomes soft and creamy but doesn’t melt. It is ideal for stuffing burritos and enchiladas.
Queso cotija: Sharp, firm and good for grating. Simply sprinkle it on top of beans, chili or other dishes to enhance their flavor.
Queso fresco: Usually made from a combination of cow’s milk and goat’s milk, it tastes like a mild feta cheese. It crumbles easily and tastes good in salads or with beans.
Queso Oaxaca: Also known as quesillo, this soft, mild cheese is perfect for quesadillas. It is similar in texture to string cheese, and should e pulled apart into thin strings before being put on the tortilla.
Queso panela: This soft white cheese often is served as part of an appetizer or snack tray. It absorbs other flavors easily. Like queso blanco, it doesn’t melt.
Cherimoya – Also called the custard apple. A Native American fruit, now grown in California, with a creamy white interior and sweet pineapple flavor, with the consistency of banana; tastes like a cross between banana and pineapple; has a hard brown shell, and the flesh is dotted with black seeds that must be removed before ea ting. Ancient Aztec and Peruvian Indians knew of this fruit. Eat with a spoon.
Cherry Tomatoes – Miniature sweet tomatoes available in colors of red, orange and yellow. Store cherry tomatoes in the same way as full-size tomatoes, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Chervil – A mild-flavored member of the parsley family, this aromatic herb has curly, dark green leaves with an elusive anise flavor. Though most chervil is cultivated for its leaves alone, the root is edible and was, in fact, enjoyed by early Greeks and Romans. Today it is available dried but has the best flavor when fresh. Both forms can be found in most supermarkets. It can be used like parsley but its delicate flavor can be diminished when boiled.
Chestnut – Mealy, but rich with an earthy taste, a delicious nut, almost always imported and usually found in autumn. Traditionally served as a vegetable. Peeling its hard, dark brown shell and bitter inner skin takes some effort but is worth it. Chestnuts can also be roasted.
Chevre – [French] goat, generally referring to goat’s milk cheeses.
Chiboust – A custard made originally as the filling for the gateaux Saint-Honor, consisting of pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue and stabilized with gelatin.
Ch charo – [Spanish] pea.
Chicharron – Crispy fried pigskin used in Mexican cooking for salads, fillings and snacks.
Chicharrones (chicharron) – [Spanish] pork cracklings; crisp-fried pork rinds.
Chicken Maryland – In Australia refers to chicken leg with both thigh and drumstick attached. In the US, refers to any parts of chicken, crumbed, browned in hot fat, baked and served with cream gravy.
Chicken, broilers – Also called fryers or broiler-fryers, these are young chickens weighing from 1 1/2 to 4 pounds. They can be broiled, saut ed, fried, roasted, and braised.
Chicken, roasters – These are somewhat older and larger chickens (3 to 5 pounds), delicious when roasted, poached, or braised.
Chicken, squab – The poussins of France, these are mere babies weighing about a pound and sufficient for one person. They are unusually tender and delicate and are best when roasted whole or split and broiled.
Chicken, stewing – Also called mature, old chickens, or hens, these should be poached or simmered.
Chicken steak – A small, very tender and flavorful steak cut from the shoulder blade.
Chicken stock – A chicken soup or stock made from chicken backs and necks, carrots, yellow onions, celery and salt and pepper and allowed to simmer for at least an hour. Then strained.
Chickpeas – Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are nutty-tasting, relatively large legumes.
Chicories – These are sharp crunchy greens (closely related to endives) that vary wildly in appearance, but much less so in taste and texture. Tight-headed, bright red radicchio; long, green, leafy radicchio; lettuce-looking escarole; and lacy frilly fris e are all crunchy and feature a stark bitterness tamed by cooking or smoothed by olive oil.
Chicory – the white root of a variety of perennial herbs (related to radicchio and curly endive) that is dried, roasted and ground, then combined with coffee for a distinctive taste. Caffeine-averse Germans discovered that chicory could be processed into a coffee substitute.
Chicos – [Spanish] corn kernels that are roasted, steamed in a horno, then dried; they are not treated with lime; may be cooked for hours to serve as a vegetable, or ground into harinella, which may be used interchangeably with Masa Harina.
Chiffonade – [French] a very fine julienne of vegetables usually associated with leafy herbs, lettuces, or greens.
Chihuahua (queso menonita) – Cheese which is white and creamy; was created by Mennonites in Mexico, and they still produce the finest version, queso menonita; has a slightly spongy texture and a buttery flavor; melts easily; Muenster or a mild white Cheddar can be substituted.
Chilaca chile – fresh pasilla chiles; long, thin and dark green.
Chilaquiles – [Spanish] broken-up old sombreros, a reference to the appearance of the dish; considered a good way to use up stale tortillas; a family-style casserole of tortilla strips, salsa, meat and/or cheese, most often served for breakfast; it is very difficult to find in restaurants. This is a highly seasoned dish, often served as a brunch or lunch dish with eggs or grilled meats.
Chile, hot pepper – The plants or pods of the Capsicum genus.
Chile ancho – wide chile pepper; refers to the broad, flat heart-shaped dried pod; in its fresh green form is known as poblano chile.
Chile caribe – red chile paste made from crushed or ground red chiles, garlic and water; liquid fire.
Chile Colorado – red chile; usually refers to ancho or New Mexico dried chiles or the stew made with them.
Chile con queso – [Spanish] cheese and green chile dip.
Chile en polvo – [Spanish] powdered chile.
Chile pasado – [Spanish] chile of the past; roasted, peeled and sun-dried green chiles.
Chile paste – Sometimes labeled “chili-garlic paste.” This hot condiment is made with chiles, salt and garlic. it is available in Asian markets and many supermarkets, and will keep almost indefinitely if refrigerated.
Chile pequin (chilipiquin; chiltepin; chili tepins) – small, dried, quite hot red chiles; common names are bird pepper, chile bravo and chile mosquito; the size and shape of a cranberry; range in color from immature green to orange to very ripe brick red; grows wild in southerly regions of the Southwest; cayenne powder or hot red chile powder may be substituted.
Chile powder – Ground, dried red chiles.
Chile seco – [Spanish] fried red serrano chile.
Chileatole – [Spanish] masa soup.
Chiles ahumados – [Spanish] smoked chiles; now called chipotle.
Chiles de arbol – Treelike; chile de rbol; small, thin, 2 to 3 inch long (including the stems), very hot dried chile; usually ground into a powder for use in chile sauces; go well with tomatoes, tomatillos, citrus, and herbs such as rosemary and oregano; common Mexican names are pico de pajaro (bird’s beak) and cola de rata (rat’s tail).
Chiles en polvo – [Spanish] powdered chiles.
Chiles rellenos – [Spanish] stuffed chiles which are then battered and deep-fried.
Chiles secos – [Spanish] dried chiles.
Chilhuacle – a chile found almost exclusively in Oaxaca; one of the main ingredients of Oaxaca’s renowned mole negro; the chiles are very expensive.
Chili – chile sauce with meat; chili con carne.
Chili Colorado – [Spanish] red chili.
Chili con carne – [Spanish] “chili with meat,” this dish is a mixture of diced or ground beef and chiles or chili powder (or both). It originated in the Lone Star State and Texans, who commonly refer to it as “a bowl of red.” They consider it a crime to add beans to the mixture. In many parts of the country, however, beans are used, and the dish is called “chili con carne with beans.”
Chili powder – Mixture of ground, dried red chiles blended with other spices and herbs. Chili powder may be ground-up chiles, or it is a seasoning mixture of garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, coriander, cloves, and/or other spices.
Chili rellenos – A Mexican dish consisting of a batter-fried, cheese stuffed, poblano chili pepper.
Chili sauce – A thick tomato sauce similar to catsup, but spicier; it has bits of whole tomato, onion and other seasonings added. It is used like catsup when a more distinct flavor is desired. Store as you would catsup.
Chili verde – [Spanish] green chili.
Chilling – Process of cooling prepared or partially prepared food, without freezing it, in a refrigerator.
Chilorio – [Spanish] cooked and shredded meat, fried with a paste of ground chiles and other seasoning.
Chilpachole – [Spanish] crab soup from Veracruz.
Chiltepins (chilipiqu ns) – Small, round, wild chile that grows in Arizona; in Texas there is a wild variety called chilipiqu n.
Chimichanga – [Spanish] stuffed burro fried in deep fat, then topped with cheese, guacamole and chile sauce; found almost exclusively in Arizona.
Chimiquito – [Spanish] stuffed and fried flour tortilla; it is rolled like a flauta or taquito rather than being wrapped like a burrito or chimichanga.
Chimpachole (chilpachole) – [Spanish] spicy, rich crab stew.
Chinese cabbage – These cabbages have oblong heads with thin, juicy, flavorful leaves – as compared to the round-headed common cabbage with thick, mild leaves. The most commonly found Chinese cabbage in the market is Napa cabbage, which is a pale green, romaine-like variety. Mild celery-shaped bok choy is another variety of Chinese cabbage. See Bok choy.
Chinese parsley – Also called cilantro and coriander.
Chining – Meat carving process whereby the backbone is separated from the ribs in a join to make carving easier.
Chinois – [French] Chinese. Also refers to a “China Cap,” a very fine mesh, conical strainer.
Chip wagon – A wagon which carried campfire “prairie coal.”
Chipotle chiles – Chiles that take their name from the Aztec words for chile and smoke; a term for any smoked chile; normally a smoked, dried jalapeno with a wrinkled appearance, similar to a dried mushroom; some chipotles are pickled and canned in adobo sauce; go well with orange and other citrus flavors, balsamic and sherry vinegars, and herbs such as cilantro and basil; moritas, smoked serranos, may be substituted. These chiles are extremely hot and caution should be taken when using them in cooking.
Chipped beef – Wafer-thin slices of salted and smoked, dried beef; usually packed in small jars and were once an American staple. Chipped beef is also referred to simply as dried beef.SOSis military slang used for creamed chipped beef served on toast.
Chiquihuite – [Spanish] woven basket for holding tortillas.
Chive – Related to the onion and leek, this fragrant herb has slender, vivid green, hollow stems. Chives have a mild onion flavor and are available fresh year-round. They are a good source of vitamin A and also contain a fair amount of potassium and calcium.
Chocolate – A product of cocoa beans in which the chocolate liquor is mixed with cocoa butter in various proportions to produce the different varieties of chocolate. Unsweetened (bitter) chocolate has no additional ingredients added and comes packaged as squares-eight 1 ounce squares to the package. Other varieties of chocolate have additional cocoa butter added, along with sugar, milk, and vanilla. Semisweet chocolate comes in bars or packages of squares, or in bags of pieces. Milk Chocolate is smooth, light and sweet, it primarily an eating chocolate. Chocolate may be stored for about 1 year if wrapped tightly and kept in a cool dry place. If the storage place is too warm or moist a grayish film may develop on the chocolate. This is the fat in the chocolate, which melts and rises to the surface. The film does not harm the flavor but it affects the color and sometimes the texture. Chocolate may also be refrigerated up to 3 months if wrapped tightly, but will become brittle and should be used in melted form.
UNSWEETENED (Bitter): Chocolate liquor that has no sugar added to it. It has a cocoa butter content between 50% and 58%. It is usually used for baking.
SWEET: Unsweetened chocolate with sugar added. It is often used in dessert recipes. The two most common forms are:
SEMI-SWEET (higher sugar content): Contains 15-35% chocolate liquor.
BITTERSWEET (lower sugar content): 35% chocolate liquor.
MILK: Sweetened chocolate with milk solids (or cream) added. It’s usually eaten as is or used for candy making.
WHITE: Not really a chocolate at all because it doesn’t contain chocolate liquor. It usually is made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin, and vanilla. It is used in candy making, baking, and desserts.
Chocolate, Mexican – block Mexican chocolate; frequently contains cinnamon, vanilla, clove and ground almonds; Ibarra is one of the best brands.
Chocolate sauce – Chocolate syrup to which milk, cream, and/or butter has been added, making it richer and thicker than the syrup.
Chocolate syrup – Sweetened liquid chocolate. use as topping for desserts or as an ingredient in beverages.
Chongos – [Spanish] a dessert of cooked milk curds.
Chorizo – A spicy pork sausage from all Hispanic countries, ranging in seasoning from mild and sweet to fiercely hot. Hotter versions come from areas of Spain and Portugal. Mexican versions contain a large variety of chiles and have a mealier texture and more complex flavor. Some of them even use fresh herbs giving it a green color. Portugal makes a cousin to this sausage called the linguisa, that is smoked and much hotter. Spicy sausage made with pork, garlic and red chile powder, available both in bulks and in links; Mexican chorizo is sold fresh and is often cooked to add to fillings and egg dishes.
Choron – A variation of Bearnaise sauce with tomato puree or concasse added.
Choucroute – [French] an Alsatian specialty consisting of sauerkraut that is simmered with assorted fresh and smoked meats and sausages. This is a grand dish served on huge platters so that diners may witness all of the components displayed at one time. The kraut is first washed, then seasoned with garlic, caraway seeds, and white wine. The meats are layered in the casserole with the kraut and cooked until all the meat is tender and the flavors have blended together. Pork sausages, smoked pork shanks and shoulders, and fresh pork loin are all used. A variation of this, though not actually called a choucroute, is a whole pheasant cooked in sauerkraut with champagne. There are other recipes that consist of solely fish in with the sauerkraut. This can be quite delicious if properly prepared.
Choux pastry – Also called choux paste or cream puff pastry. Flour, butter and water are cooked on the stove top before the pastry is shaped, baked until fluffy, then filled.
Chowder – A thick soup or a stew made of shellfish, fish or vegetables. The term “chowder” comes from the French chaudi re, meaning “boiler.” Fishermen cooked their food fresh from the sea in these large kettles.
Chuck – A cut of beef from the region of the shoulder, neck, and upper back, slightly tough. Thus best used for braising and stewing, or for grinding into hamburger. Cowboy’s word for any food.
Chuck wagon – kitchen on wheels used on the range.
Chuck wagon chicken – bacon; also called Kansas City fish.
Chuleta – [Spanish] chop or cutlet, lamb, pork or veal.
Churros – [Spanish] deep-fried cakes named for the shaggy, long-haired Mexican sheep they resemble.
Chutney – The name for a large range of sauces, jams or relishes used in East Indian cooking. Fresh chutneys have a bright, clean flavor and are usually thin, smooth sauces. Cilantro, mint, and tamarind are common in fresh chutney. Cooked chutneys have a deeper, broader flavor. Chutney ranges from chunky to smooth and mild to hot.
Cider – A drink almost always made from pressed apples. To many people, but not all, it is alcoholic. In the US usage is typically that “cider” is not alcoholic and “hard cider” is.
Cilantro – A green herb, similar in appearance to parsley. Also sold dry as seeds, leaves and ground. An essential ingredient to Asian and Mexican dishes. It can be found in Asian as well as Mexican markets and most large supermarkets. Also known as fresh coriander, Mexican parsley and Chinese parsley. It resembles flat-leaf parsley, but the flavor is strong and fresh; the seeds are known as coriander; cilantro is commonly used in salsas and soups; was first introduced to the Mexican Indians by the Spanish.
Cinnamon – Known in spanish as canela; the inner back from shoots of a tree called “Cinnamomum zeylanicum”; used in Mexican dishes that are sweet and savory; available in tightly rolled dry quills (sticks) or ground.
Cioppino – A rich fish stew from San Francisco made with shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs, and any available fish. The broth is flavored with tomato, white wine, garlic, and chile flakes. This stew needs no other courses served but a simple green salad and a lot of sourdough bread.
Ciruelas – [Spanish] plums.
Citric Acid – also known as “sour salt.” A white powder extracted from the juice of citrus and other acidic fruits (such as lemons, limes, pineapples and gooseberries). It’s also produced by the fermentation of glucose. Citric acid has a strong, tart taste and is used as a flavoring agent.
Civet – A French stew usually containing game, though duck and goose are used. The meat is marinated in red wine for long periods of time, then stewed with pearl onions and bacon. The sauce was once thickened with blood, but that is a method not used much anymore.
Clabber – Milk which has soured to the point where it is thick and curdy but not separated.
Clafouti – A dessert of fruit, originally cherries, covered with a thick batter and baked until puffy. The dessert can be served hot or cold.
Clarified butter – The upper portion, clear, liquefied and oil-like, of butter when it has been allowed to melt slowly and stand without heat until the solids have precipitated. In India, it is called ghee.
Clarify – To clear fats by heating and filtering; to clear consommes and jellies with beaten egg white.
Clava de especia – [Spanish] clove.
Claveteado – [Spanish] spiked or studded with cloves.
Clavitos – [Spanish] little nails; tiny wild mushrooms.
Clavo – [Spanish] clove.
Clotted Cream – This specialty of Devonshire, England (which is why it is also known as Devon cream) is made by gently heating rich, unpasteurized milk until a semisolid layer of cream forms on the surface. After cooling the thickened cream is removed. It can be spread on bread or spooned atop fresh fruit or desserts. The traditional English “cream tea” consists of clotted cream and jam served with scones and tea. Clotted cream can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to four days.
Cloud Ear/Tree Ear – Thin, brownish-black mushrooms with a subtle, woodsy taste; A good addition to stir-fries. Available in dried form in Asian markets and may supermarkets. They become ear-shaped and five times as big when soaked in warm water. Tree ears are the larger variety; an albino type is called silver ears. May be sold under the name “wood ear mushrooms.”
Cloves – Brown, hard dried flower buds of an aromatic Southeast Asian evergreen. Cloves are useful in both whole and ground forms. Ground cloves are used in the preparation of many cakes and soups. Whole cloves add wonderful flavor to mulled wines and ciders, and the spice of choice for baking ham. Cloves also have natural preservative qualities in pickling solutions and oils.
Club Steak – A rib steak from the top portion of the short loin. The higher the rib, the larger the steak. Size depends on thickness of cut also, and may serve one or two; very tender and juicy.
Cocada – [Spanish] coconut dessert.
Cochineal – [Spanish] small red bug crushed to make red food coloring.
Cochinita – [Spanish] small pig.
Cocido – [Spanish] cooked; boiled; meaty beef and vegetable soup.
Cocina – [koh-SEE-nah] [Spanish] kitchen.
Cock-a-Leekie – A thick Scottish soup made with chicken, leeks, and barley. Modern versions have lightened up this soup by using a chicken broth garnished with leeks and barley.
Cockles – [Great Britain] Clams or donax. Any of various bivalve mollusks having a shell closed by two muscles at opposite ends.
Coco – [Spanish] coconut.
Cocoa nibs – Fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. Chocolate that has not been ground and mixed with sugar yet. Buy in a health food or gourmet grocery store
Cocoa powder – The dried powder formed from chocolate liquor after the cocoa butter has been removed. This mixture is then dried and ground into a fine powder. Dutch process cocoa has been treated with alkali to give a darker appearance and less bitter taste. Instant cocoa has sugar, milk solids, and other flavorings and emulsifiers added to it which aides it to dissolve more readily.
Coconut – The fruit of the coconut palm has several layers. A deep tan husk encases a hard, dark brown, hairy shell. Beneath the shell is a thin, brown skin, under which lies a layer of creamy coconut meat that surrounds a milky, sweet, opaque juice. Coconut meat is available sweetened or unsweetened, shredded or flaked, moist or frozen. Introduced to Latin America centuries ago.
Coconut milk – Canned or frozen. Do not confuse with cream of coconut. This is not the liquid that is found in the center of coconuts, but a thick liquid made by steeping fresh grated coconut in hot water. The hot water helps to extract the fat from the coconut meat, which carries so much of this flavor. Found in Oriental or fancy supermarkets. Known as narialka ka dooth in India, santen in Indonesia and Malaysia. Best made from fresh coconuts: Grate the flesh of 1 coconut into a bowl, pour on 600 ml/1 pint/2-1/2 cups boiling water, then leave to stand for about 30 minutes. Squeeze the flesh, then strain before using. This quantity will make a thick coconut milk, add more or less water as required. Desiccated (shredded) coconut can be used instead of fresh coconut: Use 350g/12 ounces/4 cups to 600 ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups boiling water. Use freshly made coconut milk within 24 hours. Canned coconut milk is also available.
Cocotte – [French] A small, straight sided metal, earthenware or porcelain baking dish with a cover, used for cooking eggs (in a pan of hot water) in the oven.
Cod – Most commonly sold as skinless fillets, a mild-tasting, snow-white fish has lean flesh with a big flake. Some substitutes include haddock, hake, and pollock. Note that scrod is a market term for cod, not a separate species.
Coddled eggs – Eggs which have been placed in rapidly boiling water and at once allowed to stand undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes, in the cooling water; results in the whites and the yolks having the same degree of jellied firmness.
Coddling – [French] cooking process whereby food is slowly simmered in water.
Codorniz – [Spanish] quail.
Coeur a la Creme – Coeur e la Creme – Meaning “the heart of the cream”, this is a soft cheese dessert where the mixture is drained in a mold to help it set. The cheese is then turned out onto a platter and served with fruit and bread. Alternate versions use mixtures of ricotta and cream cheese and flavored with liquor and citrus juice. This is then molded and served with a berry coulis.
Cognac – A fine brandy produced in and around the town of Cognac in western France.
Cointreau – a clear, mildly bitter, brandy based liqueur, flavored with the peel of sour and sweet oranges from Curacao and Spain. It is considered to be a high quality Triple Sec.
Cojack – American cheese that blends Colby Cheddar and Monterey Jack.
Colache – [Spanish] stew made of squash and other vegetables.
Colados – [Spanish] strained; sieved.
Colander – Cooking utensil comprised of perforated metal or plastic and shaped as a basket. Primarily used for draining away spent or reserved liquids.
Collard greens – One of a variety of “greens” with a firm leaf and sharp flavor somewhere between cabbage or kale and turnip greens, fellow members of the mustard family. Depending on their age, they can be mild and sweet or mustardy. Collards do not form a head but grow on stalks that are too tough to eat.
Collop – A piece of meat tenderized by beating or slicing thinly.
Colombo – A West Indian stew seasoned with a spice mixture of the same name. This is similar to curry powder, containing coriander, chiles, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, and garlic. The stew may contain pork, chicken, or fish. Vegetables are cooked in the stew and rice and beans are served on the side.
Comal – [Spanish] flat iron griddle for cooking tortillas.
Comida – [Spanish] food; main meal of the day.
Comino – [Spanish] cumin; powerful spice used in traditional Southwest cooking; seeds from pods of the indigenous and plentiful Southwestern cumin plant; can be purchased whole or ground; the predominant flavor in dishes such as chili con carne.
Compote – [French] Dried and fresh fruit cooked with sugar to a jam like consistency, brief enough to allow the fruit to retain their individual identity. A deep bowl, often stemmed, from which such desserts and other foods are served.
Compound butter – Butter creamed with herbs, spices, garlic, wine, or whatever you wish. Perfect for finishing sauces or jazzing up just about any grilled or broiled foods.
Compound Chocolate – Compound chocolate is a product made from a combination of cocoa, vegetable fat, and sweeteners. It is used as a lower-cost alternative to true chocolate, as it uses less-expensive hard vegetable fats such as coconut oil or palm kernel oil in place of the more expensive cocoa butter. It may also be known as “compound coating” or “chocolatey coating” when used as a coating for candy.
Con – [Spanish] with.
Concasse – [French] term for chopping a vegetable coarsely. This is used most often when referring to chopped tomatoes or other soft foods.
Conch – These “univalve” mollusks (their shells do not open and close) can be as large as a foot long. Also called whelk. The only preparation before cooking is cutting off the operculum, the shell-like covering that protects the meat.
Conchas – Mexican sweet-topped buns; named for the seashell design drawn in the topping.
Conchiglie – Large shell shaped pasta noodles. These are often stuffed and baked au gratin. Small shells are called conchigliette.
Conde – [French] dessert made with rice; pastry biscuits topped with icing and glazed in the oven.
Condensed milk – Preserved milk in which much of the water content is evaporated and sugar is added. It is primarily utilized in sweets and confectionery making. Condensed milk is also used in iced drinks because its high sugar content will not readily freeze in the beverage.
Condiment(s) – Pickled or spicy food seasonings, often pungent, used to bring out the flavor of foods. Sauces, relishes, etc., to add to food at the table.
Confectioners’ sugar – This powdered sugar is best in recipes that will not be cooked at all, such as frostings, because it dissolves better than regular granulated sugar; it is also good sprinkled on top of baked goods. It is also known as 10X sugar. Known in Great Britain as “icing sugar.”
Confit – This is a preparation for meat to preserve it for long periods of time when fresh meat would be scarce. The meat is first salted to remove moisture. It is then cooked at the lowest of simmers, submerged in fat, until the meat is buttery tender. After the meat is cooled, it is stored in crocks and covered with the fat to prevent exposure to air. The whole crock is stored to help age the meat. During this aging period the meat develops a new flavor, completely different from its original state. When ready to eat, the meat is fried in a skillet or grilled until the skin is crisp and the meat is warmed through. Duck confit was once served with potatoes fried in the same duck fat as the confit. This practice is less popular now, but good companions to the confit are lentils or bitter green salads to balance the richness of the meat. Fatty meats such as duck, goose, and pork work best in confit. Confit is an indispensable component in cassoulet.
Conserva – [Spanish] conserve; preserves made from fruit and usually includes nuts.
Conserve – [French] whole fruit preserved by boiling with sugar and used like jam.
Consomme – A very rich meat or chicken stock (bouillon) which has been clarified, usually with egg white; also a clear bouillon which will jell when cold.
Coppa – The loin or shoulder of pork that is cured, cooked and dried. It is served thinly sliced for antipasto or on sandwiches or pizza.
Coq au Vin – [French] a chicken stew flavored with red wine, bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions.
Coquille – [French] scallop; shell-shaped oven proof dish used to serve fish, shellfish or poultry.
Coquilles St. Jacques – [French] scallops.
Coquito – tropical eggnog.
Cordero – [Spanish] lamb.
Cordial– A synonym for liqueur. In Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia, a thick syrup (which may or may not contain real fruit) which is diluted to give a non-alcoholic fruit drink.
Cordon Bleu – [French] highly qualified cook. According to legend, King Louis XV of France once awarded a blue ribbon to a female chef who had prepared an outstanding meal; (United States) chicken stuffed with ham and white sauce.
Coriander – The small, tan, nutty-tasting seeds (actually the dried, ripe fruit) of the herb cilantro, or Chinese parsley. May be purchased as whole dried seeds or ground; fragrant and aromatic, with hints of caraway, lemon and sage; seeds have been found in Egyptian toms and date back to at least 960 B.C.; commonly used whole in pickling spices or toasted and ground for use in dry rubs, salsas and soups; often paired with ground cumin to create a blend of flavors that adds a distinctive character to AmeriMex recipes.
Corn husks – Dried corn husks, softened by soaking, and used to wrap food before it is cooked (such as tamales); will keep indefinitely, but should be used within a day or two of being rehydrated.
Corned beef – Brined beef, usually from the brisket; if you have a choice, buy the flank cut rather than the point cut.
Cornichon – Crisp little pickles, intensely sour.
Cornmeal or corn meal – Comes white, yellow or blue, either coarsely or finely ground; Usually enriched with thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and iron. never to be used as a replacement for Masa Harina. Also known as maize.
Corn syrup – Dextrose, maltose, or glucose obtained by converting starch with acids. This syrup is used in baking, primarily to prevent the crystallization of sugar. Light corn syrup is clear, colorless and mild in flavor. Dark corn syrup is dark and distinctively flavorful.
Cornflour – [Great Britain] Cornstarch.
Cornstarch – A white, powdery, thickening agent for sauces, puddings and gravies. One tablespoon is the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of flour in thickening power and makes a clearer sauce.
Corunda – [Spanish] small cushion-shaped tamal wrapped in a corn husk.
Cote – [French] chop or rib.
Cotechino – A fresh pork sausage with a very fine consistency and delicate flavor. It contains a small amount of ground pork rind, coteca in Italian, thus giving it the name. It is a large sausage, about 3 x 9 inches, used in stews and Pasta e Fagioli.
Cotija (a ejo) – Aged cheese with dry, crumbly texture; has a salty, sharp flavor; does not melt, so it is used mainly for toppings for tacos, beans and enchiladas; is added to the dish just before serving; feta cheese may be substituted, but drain and blot with paper towels before you crumble it.
Coulibiac – A Russian pie made with alternating layers of salmon, hard cooked eggs, rice, mushroom duxelle, and vesiga. Vesiga is the spinal marrow of sturgeon and has all but disappeared from commercial markets. The dough used to wrap the pie can be pate brisee, puff pastry, or brioche dough. Crepes are often layered in the bottom of the pie.
Coulis – [French] a puree of fruit or vegetables, used as a sauce or flavoring agent to other sauces or soups. As sauces, they are thinned down just enough to reach the proper consistency, but not so much as to alter the intense flavor of the puree.
Coupe – [French] a dish of ice cream.
Courgette – [French] zucchini.
Court Bouillon – A well-seasoned cooking liquor, sometimes made with broth, used to poach fish and shellfish. Court-bouillons mainly consist of wine, water, herbs, and onion. Vinegar is sometimes added to the bouillon to help set the fish and enhance its white color. Truite au bleu is a perfect example of this technique. Court bouillon is also a thick fish stew or soup served over rice in Cajun/Creole cuisine.
Couscous – [North African] a fine-grained semolina pasta used primarily in Moroccan cuisine. Made from semolina (which itself is a flour made from Durum wheat). The name couscous also refers to the famous Maghreb dish in which semolina or cracked wheat is steamed in the perforated top part of a special pot called a couscoussiere, while chunks of meat (usually chicken or lamb), various vegetables, chickpeas and raisins simmer in the bottom part. The cooked semolina is heaped onto a large platter, with the meats and vegetables placed on top. Diners use chunks of bread to scoop the couscous from the platter.
Cow grease – Cowboy term for real butter.
Cracklings (Cracklins) – The crispy residue of skin, usually of pork, remaining after the fat is rendered. Or the rind left when most of the fat of a roast has been melted off. Commonly made from pork, duck, and goose it is used in salads, stuffing, and seasonings.
Cranberry – There are several species of cranberry, but we’re most accustomed to the large, tart ones that are native to North America. Too hard and tart to eat out of hand, cranberries must be cooked or chopped to make a relish. Fresh they may be stored refrigerated for weeks; or frozen they may be stored for months.
Cranberry bean – Known in Italy as borlotti, these cream-colored beans with red streaks turn pinkish brown when cooked. They have a nutty flavor and can be substituted for red or white beans in many recipes.
Crawfish (Crayfish) – A small fresh water crustacean related to the lobster.
Cream – The fat portion of milk that rises to the top when milk has not been homogenized. Cream is defined by its varying amounts of butterfat content. Half and half cream is a mixture of milk and cream, resulting in a butterfat content of 10 to 12%. Sour cream and light cream have a butterfat content of 18-40%. Heavy cream will have no less than 30% butterfat, averages around 36%, and will go as high as 40%.
Cream cheese – This tangy, smooth, spreadable cheese is as delicious in dips, frostings, and all kind of desserts as it is spread on bagels. Lower fat versions are available, but the texture is usually more gummy than creamy.
Cream of coconut – thick sweetened “milk” extracted from coconut flesh and used in desserts and drinks such as pi a colada; Coco Lopez is the most widely available brand.
Cream of tartar – The common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acid salt that has a number of uses in cooking. Its form is a fine white powder.
Cream of tartar is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is a obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine.
Cream of tartar is best known in our kitchens for helping stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It is the acidic ingredient in some brands of baking powder. It is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting. It is used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products, gelatin desserts, and photography products. Cream of tartar can also be used to clean brass and copper cookware.
If you are beating eggs whites and don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute white vinegar (in the same ratio as cream of tartar, generally 1/8 teaspoon per egg white).
If cream of tartar is used along with baking soda in a cake or cookie, omit both and use baking powder instead. If it calls for baking soda and cream of tartar, just use baking powder.
Normally, when cream of tartar is used in a cookie, it is used together with baking soda. The two of them combined work like double-acting baking powder. When substituting for cream of tartar, you must also substitute for the baking soda. If your recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar, just use baking powder.
One teaspoon baking powder is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar. If there is additional baking soda that does not fit into the equation, simply add it to the batter.
Crema – [Spanish] cream; thickened and soured cream, the equivalent of cr me fr iche; usually a combination of whipping cream and buttermilk; used as a garnish, and it melts easily; sour cream may be substituted, but it is not as rich and is more acidic.
Creme – [French] Applied to fresh cream, butter and custard creams, and thick creamy soups.
Creme Anglaise – This is a custard made of milk and eggs. It is used both as a sauce for desserts and as a base for mousses.
Creme Brulee – [French] cream custard with caramelized topping.
Creme Caramel – Like the Spanish flan, this is a baked custard that is flavored with caramel. When the dish is inverted, the caramel creates a sauce for the dessert.
Creme Fraiche – A naturally thickened fresh cream that has a sharp, tangy flavor and rich texture. This is an expensive item to buy, but a good substitute can be made by mixing heavy cream with uncultured buttermilk and allowed to stand, well covered, in a tepid place until thickened.
Creme Patisserie – This is a thick pastry cream made of milk, eggs, and flour. Other versions of this use all or a portion of cornstarch.
Cremini – This domesticated brown mushroom has much better flavor than button mushrooms, but is usually more expensive as a result.
Creole – Designating a type of New Orleans cookery; dishes a la Creole are often cooked with tomatoes and okra.
Creosote – desert bush used as medicine and for tea.
Crepas – [Spanish] crepes.
Crepaze – A cake made of crepes layered with vegetables, cheese, or ham. The cake is then baked to blend the flavors and help set it so that it may be cut into wedges.
Cr pe – A very thin delicate French pancake used for sweet and savory fillings.
Cr pes Suzette – [French] pancakes cooked in orange sauce and flamed in liqueur.
Crepinette – A small sausage patty wrapped in caul fat. They are filled with ground pork, veal, or poultry and fried or grilled. Some are shaped into balls. You may also use cooked meat or vegetables to flavor a forcemeat in the crepinette.
Crespelle – An Italian pancake, similar to a crepe, used in place of pasta in preparations of dishes like manicotti and cannelloni.
Crevettes – [French] shrimps.
Crimping – Process of making a decorative border on pie crusts; gashing fresh skate, then soaking it in cold water and vinegar before cooking, in order to firm the flesh.
Croissant – A rich crescent-shaped flaky roll whose dough includes some puff paste.
Croquembouche – Means “crunch in the mouth.” A grand dessert made up of cream puffs that are dipped in caramel and assembled into a large pyramid shape. The whole dessert is then brushed with more caramel and elaborately decorated. Nougat cut into decorative shapes adorns the croquembourhe. Guests pluck off the puffs with their fingers.
Croque-Monsieur – The French version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with Gruyere cheese.
Croquette – A mixture of chopped or minced food, shaped as a cone or ball, coated with egg and crumbs and deep-fried. Vegetables, fish, or meat may be used in croquettes.
Croustade – A light pastry shell.
Crostini – Toasted bread slices which are brushed with olive oil and served with tomatoes, pumate, cheese, chicken liver mousse, bean puree, or tapenade. These are the Italian version of canapes.
Croutes – [French] pastry covering meat, fish and vegetables; slices of bread or brioche, spread with butter or sauce, and baked until crisp.
Crouton – Bread that is cut into smaller pieces and toasted or fried until crisp. Most often used in soups, salads and hors d’oeuvres.
Crown roast – A ring of rib chops, usually lamb or pork, which is roasted in one piece, the center filled with a mixture of chopped meat and vegetables.
Crudites – A selection of raw vegetables served with a dip.
Crudo – [Spanish] raw.
Crullers – Pastry strips or twists, fried in deep fat.
Crumpets – Disk-shaped yeast muffins, usually served toasted.
Crystallized ginger – Crystallized ginger is candied ginger; it has been cooked in a sugar syrup and coated with a coarse sugar. Available in Asian markets and specialty food shops.
Cubanelle chile pepper – A fresh mild and slightly sweet light green to yellow chile, measuring 4 to 5 inches long. Very close in flavor to a real Hungarian pepper. Found in good supermarkets or in Caribbean markets. May substitute with fresh green Anaheim pepper, but these are a bit hotter. Good for roasting and cutting into rajas, dicing and using raw in colorful salsas and pickling for escabeches; Anaheims may be substituted if unavailable.
Cube steak – A beef cut, usually top round or top sirloin, which is tenderized by a “cubing” process involving a pounding with a special mallet or being run through a “cubing” machine.
Cuchara – [Spanish] spoon.
Cucharada – [Spanish] tablespoon.
Cucharadita – [Spanish] teaspoon.
Cuchillo – [Spanish] knife.
Cucumbers – These quenching vegetables – about 96% water – are cucurbitas, part of a huge family that includes squashes.
Cuisse – [French] thigh or leg.
Culatello – The heart of the prosciutto.
Cumberland Sauce – An English sauce used for ham and game. The sauce is made of currant jelly mixed with lemon and orange juice and port wine.
Cumin – Often labeled under its Spanish name, comino; introduced to the Americas by settlers of Portuguese and Spanish origin; from a plant that is a member of the carrot family; seeds are crescent shaped and resemble fuzzy caraway seeds; cumin pairs wonderfully with dried chiles and the slow-cooked flavors of the Southwest; best used toasted and ground as needed; some recipes call for the whole seeds.
Cuaresmeno – [Spanish] Lenten; another name for chile jalapeno.
Cuarto – [Spanish] quart.
Curd – Semi-solid part of milk, produced by souring process.
Curdle – Process which causes fresh milk or a sauce to separate into solids and liquids by overheating or by adding acid; common cooking error whereby the addition of creamed butter and sugar in a cake recipe is separated due to adding eggs too quickly.
Cure – Process of preserving fish or meat by drying, salting or smoking.
Curing salt – A salt that has nitrates added and is used as a preservative in sausage making. Available in some supermarkets and specialty markets.
Currant – Tiny, tart, grape-like berries are red, black, or white when fresh. More frequently recipes call for dried currants – which are not currants at all, but the dried, seedless zante grape. In cooking, dried currants are most often used in baked goods. May substitute with raisins in a pinch.
Curry powder – This is a mix of spices that we have come to know of by the Indian variety found in stores. Yet this is a mixture that is unique to everyone’s kitchen. They may be mild with spices like cumin, fennel, and coriander; or heated up a bit with chilies and pepper; or fragrant with cinnamon and saffron. All of these are considered curry powders and all of them have distinctly different applications.
Curtidas – [Spanish] marinated.
Custard – Like pudding, custard is a thick, creamy mixture of milk, sugar, and flavorings. Custard is thickened with eggs, puddings with cornstarch or flour.
Cutlet – A tender, thin, boneless cut of meat; it could be part of a chicken or turkey breast, or veal, lamb, or pork, usually taken from the leg. Also used for minced meats shaped like chops.
Cuttlefish – A cousin to the squid, that is also prized for its ink sac as well as its flesh. It is rounder, thicker and chewier.