à la - [French] in the manner or style of
à la carte - [French] refers to a list of food items each priced separately.
à la creme - [French] served with cream or a cream-based sauce.
à la Creole - [French] dishes prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and onions as important ingredients.
à 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.
à la mode - [French] served with or in the fashion of. Desserts served à la mode are served with ice cream; meats served à la mode are braised with vegetables and served with gravy.
à la minut - [French] cooked to order.
à 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 commercially 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 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
Acitrón - [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
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
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.
Ají dulce - sweet chile pepper.
Ajo - [Spanish] garlic.
Ajonjolí - [Spanish] sesame.
Al Carbon - [Spanish] a dish relating to charcoal grilled or
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.
Albóndigas - [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 entrée.
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.
Algérienne - [French] a garnish of small tomatoes and sweet
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
Almandine - [French] made or garnished with almonds. An alternate
spelling is Amandine.
Almejas - [Spanish] clams.
Almíbar - [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 sweet paste made from finely ground blanched
almonds mixed with confectioners' (powdered) sugar and enough glucose
or syrup to bind it together.
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.
Américaine - 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.
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 puréed 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.
Añejo - [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.
Anís - [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.
Árbol 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
Arlésienne - [French] rings or slices of vegetables cooked in
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
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
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 fine pâtés and 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
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
Aurore - A term associated with a pink cream sauce, colored
with paprika or that have tomato purée 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
Azúcar - [Spanish] sugar.
Azafrán - Used as a substitute for saffron; lacks flavor and
is used only for color.