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Term Pronounciation Definition
Alaska cod see  SABLEFISH
Alaska king crab see  KING CRAB
albacore [AL-bah-kohr] see  TUNA
Albert sauce [AL-bert, al-BEHR] Usually served with beef, this is a rich horseradish sauce with a base of butter, flour and cream.
albóndiga [ahl-BON-dee-gah] The Spanish word for "meatball." Albóndigas  is the name of a popular Mexican and Spanish dish of spicy meatballs, usually in a tomato sauce. Sopa de albóndigas is a beef-broth soup with meatballs and chopped vegetables.
albumen [al-BYOO-mehn] The old-fashioned word for egg white.
albumin [al-BYOO-mehn] The protein portion of the egg white, comprising about 70 percent of the whole. Albumin is also found in animal blood, milk, plants and seeds.
alcohol The only alcohol suitable for drinking is ethyl alcohol, a liquid produced by distilling the fermented juice of fruits or grains. Pure ethyl alcohol is clear, flammable and caustic. Water is therefore added to reduce its potency. In the United States, the average amount of alcohol in distilled spirits is about 40 percent (80 PROOF). Pure alcohol boils at 173°F, water at 212°F. A mixture of the two will boil somewhere between these two temperatures. A USDA study has disproved the theory that alcohol evaporates completely when heated. In truth, cooked food can retain from 5 to 85 percent of the original alcohol, depending on various factors such as how and at what temperature the food was heated, the cooking time and the alcohol source. Even the smallest trace of alcohol may be a problem for alcoholics and those with alcohol-related illnesses. Because alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than water, the amount of alcohol used in a frozen dessert (such as ice cream) must be carefully regulated or the dessert won't freeze. Calorie-wise, a one-and-a-half-ounce jigger of 80-proof liquor (such as Scotch or vodka) equals almost 100 calories, a four-ounce glass of DRY wine costs in the area of 85 to 90 calories and a twelve-ounce regular (not light) beer contributes about 150 calories.
al dente [al-DEN-tay] An Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth," used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.
ale [AYL] An alcoholic beverage brewed from MALT and HOPS. It's usually stronger and, because of the hops, more bitter than BEER. The color can vary from light to dark amber.
alecost see  COSTMARY
alewife see  HERRING
alfalfa [al-FAL-fuh] Though alfalfa is generally grown for fodder, the seeds are also sprouted for human consumption. Alfalfa sprouts are popular in salads and on sandwiches. See also  SPROUTS.
al forno Italian for "baked" or "roasted."
Alfredo sauce [al-FRAY-doh] see  FETTUCCINE ALFREDO
Alitame [AL-ih-taym] Although not sanctioned for use in the United States at this writing, Alitame is expected to soon become FDA approved. This supernova of ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS is 2,000 times as sweet as sugar. It's a compound of two amino acids — alanine and aspartic acid. See also  ACESULFAME-K; ASPARTAME; SACCHARIN; SUCRALOSE.
alkali [AL-kah-li] Alkalis counterbalance and neutralize ACIDS. In cooking, the most common alkali used is bicarbonate of soda, commonly known as BAKING SODA. Adding baking soda to the water when cooking green vegetables helps maintain their bright color because it neutralizes the natural acid in the vegetables. Unfortunately, it also destroys some of the vegetable's vitamins. Baking soda is used as a LEAVENER in baked goods where it neutralizes acid ingredients (such as molasses, buttermilk and honey) and produces tender breads, cakes, and so on.
alkanet [AL-kuh-neht] A member of the BORAGE family, the alkanet plant has roots that yield a red dye, which is used to color various food products such as margarine.
alla [ah-lah] The Italian word meaning "as done by, in, for or with." Eggplant alla parmigiana  refers to eggplant topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
allemande sauce [ah-leh-MAHND] A classic VELOUTÉ SAUCE thickened with egg yolks. Also called Parisienne sauce .
alligator This lizardlike reptile can grow up to 19 feet in length and is generally found in the swamplands of Louisiana and the Gulf States. Alligator meat is usually only av.ailable in its native regions. It comes in three basic types: the tender, white, veallike tail meat; the pinkish body meat, which has a stronger flavor and slightly tougher texture; and the dark tail meat, which is only suitable for braised dishes.
alligator pear see  AVOCADO
all-purpose flour see  FLOUR
allspice The pea-size berry of the evergreen pimiento tree, native to the West Indies and South America, though Jamaica provides most of the world's supply (allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper ). The dried berries are dark brown and can be purchased whole or ground. The spice is so named because it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. As with other spices, it should be stored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months. Allspice is used in both savory and sweet cooking. See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.
allumettes [al-yoo-MEHTS] 1. Thin strips of PUFF PASTRY spread or filled with different savory mixtures (such as shrimp butter or grated cheese) and served as an HORS D'OEUVRE. A sweet filling turns this pastry into a dessert. 2. Allumette , the French word for "match," also refers to potatoes that have been cut into thin "matchsticks" and fried.
almond The kernel of the fruit of the almond tree, grown extensively in California, the Mediterranean, Australia and South Africa. There are two main types of almonds — sweet and bitter. The flavor of sweet almonds is delicate and slightly sweet. They're readily available in markets and, unless otherwise indicated, are the variety used in recipes. The more strongly flavored bitter almonds contain traces of lethal prussic acid when raw. Though the acid's toxicity is destroyed when the nuts are heated, the sale of bitter almonds is illegal in the United States. Processed bitter almonds are used to flavor extracts, LIQUEURS and ORGEAT SYRUP. The kernels of apricot and peach pits have a similar flavor and the same toxic effect (destroyed by heating) as bitter almonds. Almonds are available blanched or not, whole, sliced, chopped, candied, smoked, in paste form and in many flavors. Toasting almonds before using in recipes intensifies their flavor and adds crunch. Almonds are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E. See also  ALMOND EXTRACT; ALMOND OIL; ALMOND PASTE; JORDAN ALMOND; NUTS.
almond extract A flavoring produced by combining bitter-ALMOND oil with ethyl ALCOHOL. The flavor is very intense, so the extract should be used with care. See also  EXTRACTS.
almond oil An oil obtained by pressing sweet almonds. French almond oil, huile d'amande , is very expensive and has the delicate flavor and aroma of lightly toasted almonds. The U.S. variety is much milder and doesn't compare either in flavor or in price. Almond oil can be found in specialty gourmet markets and many supermarkets.
almond paste Used in a variety of confections, almond paste is made of blanched ground almonds, sugar and GLYCERIN or another liquid. ALMOND EXTRACT is sometimes added to intensify the flavor. Almond paste is less sweet and slightly coarser than MARZIPAN. It should be firm but pliable before use in a recipe. If it becomes hard, it can be softened by heating for 2 or 3 seconds in a microwave oven. Once opened, it should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated. Almond paste is available in most supermarkets in 6- to 8-ounce cans and packages. Bitter-almond paste is used to flavor the famous AMARETTI cookies.
alsacienne, à l' [al-zah-SYEHN] A term referring to cooking "in the style of Alsace," a province in northeastern France whose French and German heritage is reflected in its famous cuisine. It usually refers to preparations of meat braised with sauerkraut, potatoes and sausage.
Alsatian wines [al-SAY-shuhn] Wines from the French province of Alsace made from grapes grown in the foothill vineyards of the Vosges Mountains. These wines are known for their delicate flavor and dryness. The Alsace APPELLATION is one of the few in France that uses varietal labeling, similar to that in the United States (versus the geographic labeling used throughout most of France). The principal Alsatian wines are made from GEWÜRZTRAMINER, PINOT BLANC, RIESLING and SYLVANER grapes.
alum [AL-uhm] In cooking, these highly astringent crystals of potassium aluminum sulfate were once widely used as the crisping agent in canning pickles. Alum can cause digestive distress, however, and modern canning methods make its use unnecessary.
aluminum cookware [ah-LOO-mihn-uhm] ; Br. aluminium [ahl-yoo-MIHN-ee-uhm] One of the best all-around cooking materials available, aluminum is moderately priced, sturdy and a good heat conductor. It comes in light- and medium-weight cookware and bakeware; the heavier the gauge, the more evenly it cooks. It's available in plain (matte or polished) or anodized (dark gray) finishes. Plain aluminum finishes can darken and pit when exposed to alkaline or mineral-rich foods, and when soaked excessively in soapy water. Likewise, they can discolor some foods containing eggs, wine or other acidic ingredients. (This discoloration, though not harmful, is unattractive.) Because aluminum may be reactive and easily scratched, it's often combined with other metals, such as STAINLESS STEEL. The anodized finishes are chip-, stain- and scratch-resistant but will spot and fade if cleaned in a dishwasher. Extensive research has proven that the old tales of food being poisoned by aluminum are unequivocally false, and those who claim that some foods take on a metallic taste when cooked with aluminum cookware are counterbalanced by just as many who insist they don't.
aluminum foil Aluminum that has been rolled into a thin, pliable sheet. It's an excellent barrier to moisture, air and odors and can withstand flaming heat and freezing cold. It comes in regular weight (for wrapping food and covering containers) and heavy-duty weight (for freezer storage and lining pans and grills). Because the crinkling of foil creates tiny holes (increasing permeability), it should not be reused for freezer storage. Neither should it be used to wrap acidic foods (such as tomatoes and onions) because the natural acids in the food will eat through the foil. Although metal produces arcing (sparking) in microwave ovens, oddly enough, tiny amounts of aluminum foil can be used providing the foil doesn't touch the sides of the oven. For example, foil might be used in a microwave oven to shield the tips of chicken wings that might cook much faster than the rest of the wing.
amandine [AH-mahn-deen, a-mahn-DEEN] The French term meaning "garnished with almonds." It's often misspelled "almondine."
amaranth [AM-ah-ranth] Once considered a simple weed in the United States, this nutritious annual is finally being acknowledged as the nourishing high-protein food it is. Amaranth greens have a delicious, slightly sweet flavor and can be used both in cooking and for salads. The seeds are used as cereal or can be ground into flour for bread. Amaranth seeds and flour can be found in health-food stores, as well as in some Caribbean and Asian markets.
amaretti [am-ah-REHT-tee] Intensely crisp, airy MACAROON cookies that are made either with bitter-ALMOND PASTE or its flavor counterpart, apricot-kernel paste. In the United States, pairs of paper-wrapped Amaretti di Saronno (made with apricot-kernel paste) are sold under the label of Lazzaroni. Amarettini are miniature cookies with the same flavor.
amaretto [am-ah-REHT-toh] A LIQUEUR with the flavor of almonds, though it's often made with the kernels of apricot pits. The original liqueur, Amaretto di Saronno , hails from Saronno, Italy. Many American distilleries now produce their own amaretto.
amazu shoga [ah-MAH-zoo SHOH-gah] Thinly sliced or shredded fresh GINGER pickled in a sweet vinegar marinade. Amazu shoga is beige or pink in color, as compared to the bright red BENI SHOGA. It's used as a garnish for many Japanese dishes, particularly SUSHI. Amazu shoga can be found in Asian markets.
amberjack A lean, mild fish found along the South Atlantic coast. This member of the JACK family is hard to find in markets but, when available, is usually sold whole. Amberjack is best baked or sautéed. See also  FISH.
ambrosia [am-BROH-zhah] 1. According to Greek mythology, ambrosia (meaning "immortality") was the food of the gods on Mt. Olympus. More recently, the word designates a dessert of chilled fruit (usually oranges and bananas) mixed with coconut. Ambrosia is also sometimes served as a salad. 2. A mixed drink made by shaking COGNAC, BRANDY (usually CALVADOS or APPLEJACK) and, depending on the bartender, COINTREAU or raspberry syrup with crushed ice. The shaken mixture is strained into a glass and topped off with cold CHAMPAGNE. It's said to have been created at New Orleans' famous Arnaud's restaurant shortly after Prohibition ended.
amchoor; amchor; amchur [AHM-choor] An East Indian seasoning made by pulverizing sun-dried, unripe (green) MANGO into a fine powder. Amchoor has a tart, acidic, fruity flavor that adds character to many dishes including meats, vegetables and curried preparations. It's also used to tenderize poultry, meat and fish. Amchoor is also called simply mango powder;  it's also spelled aamchur.
amchur see  AMCHOOR
américaine, à l' [a-may-ree-KEHN] A dish (often lobster) prepared with a spicy sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, onions, brandy and wine.
American cheese, processed see  PROCESSED CHEESE
ammonium bicarbonate [ah-MOH-nee-uhm by-KAR-boh-nayt] This LEAVENER is the precursor of today's baking powder and baking soda. It's still called for in some European baking recipes, mainly for cookies. It can be purchased in drugstores but must be ground to a powder before using. Also known as hartshorn, carbonate of ammonia  and powdered baking ammonia .
amontillado [ah-mon-teh-LAH-doh] A Spanish SHERRY made from the palomino grape. It's AGED longer and is darker and softer than a FINO. Amontillado should have a distinctively nutty flavor.
anadama bread [a-nuh-DAM-uh] An early American yeast bread flavored with cornmeal and molasses. Legend says this bread was created by a New England farmer plagued by a lazy wife who served him the same cornmeal-molasses gruel every day. One morning, the disgusted farmer grabbed the bowl of gruel, tossed in some flour and yeast, and began stirring like crazy, all the while muttering angrily, "Anna, damn 'er!"
Anaheim chile [AN-uh-hime] Named after the California city, the generally mild Anaheim is one of the most commonly available CHILES in the United States. It is usually medium green in color and has a long, narrow shape. The red strain is also called the chile Colorado.  Anaheim chiles can be purchased fresh or canned and have a sweet, simple taste with just a hint of bite. Anaheims are frequently stuffed and commonly used in SALSAS. The dried red variety are those used for the decorative RISTRA, a long string (or wreath) of chiles.
ananas [ah-nah-NAH] French for "pineapple."
anasazi beans [a-nuh-SAH-zee] One of the relatively "new" HEIRLOOM dried beans on the market today, the red and white anasazi beans have a wonderfully sweet flavor. They're great cooked alone and wonderful in CHILI CON CARNE. See also  BEANS.
ancho chile [AHN-choh] This broad, dried CHILE is 3 to 4 inches long and a deep reddish brown; it ranges in flavor from mild to pungent. The rich, slightly fruit-flavored ancho is the sweetest of the dried chiles. In its fresh, green state, the ancho is referred to as a poblano  chile.
abalone [a-buh-LOH-nee] a GASTROPOD MOLLUSK (see both listings ) found along the coastlines of California, Mexico and Japan. The edible portion is the adductor muscle, a broad foot by which the abalone clings to rocks. As with any muscle, the meat is tough and must be pounded to tenderize it before cooking. Abalone, used widely in Chinese and Japanese cooking, can be purchased fresh, canned, dried or salted. Fresh abalone should smell sweet, not fishy. It should also be alive — the exposed muscle should move when touched. Choose those that are relatively small and refrigerate as soon as possible. Cook abalone within a day of purchase. Fresh abalone is best sautéed and should be cooked very briefly (20 to 30 seconds per side) or the meat will quickly toughen. Abalone is known as ormer  in the English Channel, awabi  in Japan, muttonfish  in Australia and paua  in New Zealand. Its iridescent shell is a source of mother-of-pearl. See also  SHELLFISH.
abbacchio [ah-BAHK-ee-yoh] Italian for a very young lamb.
absinthe [AB-sinth] Reputed to be an aphrodisiac, absinthe is a potent, bitter LIQUEUR distilled from WORMWOOD and flavored with a variety of herbs. It has a distinct ANISE flavor and is 68 percent alcohol (136 PROOF). Absinthe is usually diluted with water, which changes the color of the liqueur from green to milky white. Because it's considered habit forming and hazardous to health, absinthe is prohibited in many countries and was banned in the United States in the early 1900s.
acerola [as-uh-ROH-luh] A tiny tree and the small, deep-red, cherrylike fruit that grows on it, found primarily in and around the West Indies. The fruit, which has a sweet flavor and one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C, is used in desserts and preserves. It's also called Barbados cherry, Puerto Rican cherry  and West Indies cherry .
Acesulfame-K [a-seh-SUHL-faym-K] Formulated by the Germans in the late 1960s, this noncaloric ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER (also called Ace-K ) was approved in the United States by the Federal Drug Administration in 1988. It's 200 times sweeter than sugar and, unlike ASPARTAME, retains its sweetness when heated, making it suitable for cooking and baking. When used in large amounts, however, Ace-K has a bitter aftertaste, much like that of SACCHARIN. This sweetener is composed of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur and potassium atoms. It's widely used in a broad range of commercial products including baked goods, candies and imitation dairy products. See also  ALITAME; SUCRALOSE.
acetic acid [a-SEE-tihk] Acetic acid is formed when common airborne bacteria interact with the alcohol present in fermented solutions such as WINE, BEER or CIDER. Acetic acid is the constituent that makes vinegar sour.
aceto [ah-CHAY-toh] Italian for "vinegar."
achar [ah-CHAHR] An East Indian word referring to pickled and salted relishes. They can be made sweet or hot, depending on the seasoning added.
achiote seed [ah-chee-OH-tay] The slightly musky-flavored seed of the annatto tree is available whole or ground in East Indian, Spanish and Latin American markets. Buy whole seeds when they're a rusty red color; brown seeds are old and flavorless. Achiote seed is also called ANNATTO which, in its paste and powder form, is used in the United States to color butter, margarine, cheese and smoked fish.
acidopholous milk [as-ih-DAHF-uh-luhs] see  MILK
acids The word "acid" comes from the Latin acidus , meaning "sour." All acids are sour to some degree. Sourness (acidity) is found in many natural ingredients such as vinegar (ACETIC ACID), wine (TARTARIC ACID), lemon juice (CITRIC ACID), sour-milk products (LACTIC ACID), apples (MALIC ACID) and rhubarb leaves (toxic OXALIC ACID). When used in a marinade, acids — such as wine and lemon juice — are natural tenderizers because they break down connective tissue and cell walls.
acidulated water [a-SIHD-yoo-lay-ted] Water to which a small amount of vinegar, lemon or lime juice has been added. It's used as a soak to prevent discoloration of some fruits and vegetables (such as apples and artichokes) that darken quickly when their cut surfaces are exposed to air. It can also be used as a cooking medium.
acini di peppe [ah-CHEE-nee dee PAY-pay] Italian for "peppercorns," referring culinarily to tiny peppercorn-shaped PASTA.
acitrón [ah-see-TRAWN ] see  NOPALES
ackee; akee; achee [ah-KEE] A bright red tropical fruit that, when ripe, bursts open to reveal three large black seeds and a soft, creamy white flesh. The scientific name, blighia sapida , comes from Captain Bligh, who brought the fruit from West Africa to Jamaica in 1793. It is extremely popular in one of Jamaica's national dishes, "saltfish and ackee." Because certain parts of the fruit are toxic when underripe, canned ackee is often subject to import restrictions.
acorn Acorns are the fruit of the oak tree. Some varieties are edible and, like chestnuts, may be eaten raw, roasted or baked. They may also be ground and used as a substitute for coffee.
acorn squash A somewhat oval-shaped winter squash with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. The most common method of preparation is to halve them, remove the seeds and bake. Acorn squash may then be eaten directly from the shell. See also  SQUASH.
active dry yeast see  YEAST
additives, food In the broadest of terms, food additives are substances intentionally added to food either directly or indirectly with one or more of the following purposes: 1. to maintain or improve nutritional quality; 2. to maintain product quality and freshness; 3. to aid in the processing or preparation of food; and 4. to make food more appealing. Some 2,800 substances are currently added to foods for one or more of these uses. During normal processing, packaging and storage, up to 10,000 other compounds can find their way into food. Today more than ever, additives are strictly regulated. Manufacturers must prove the additives they add to food are safe. This process can take several years and includes a battery of chemical studies as well as tests involving animals, the latter to determine whether the substances could have harmful effects such as cancer and birth defects. The results of these comprehensive studies must be presented to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which then determines how the additive can be used in food. There are two major categories of food that are exempt from this testing and approval process: 1. a group of 700 substances categorized as GRAS ("generally recognized as safe"), which are so classified because of extensive past use without harmful side effects; and 2. substances approved before 1958 either by the FDA or the USDA. An ongoing review of many of these substances is in effect, however, to make sure they're tested against the most current scientific standards. It's interesting to note that about 98 percent (by weight) of all food additives used in the United States are in the form of baking soda, citric acid, corn syrup, mustard, pepper, salt, sugar and vegetable colorings.
ade [AYD] A drink, such as lemonade or limeade, made by combining water, sugar and citrus juice.
adjust In cooking, to "adjust flavoring" means to taste before serving, adding seasoning if necessary.
adobo [ah-DOH-boh] 1. A Philippine national dish of braised chicken and pork with coconut milk. 2. A Philippine seasoning composed of CHILES, herbs and vinegar.
adobo sauce [ah-DOH-boh] Of Mexican origin, this dark-red, rather piquant sauce (or paste) is made from ground CHILES, herbs and vinegar. It's used as a marinade as well as a serving sauce. CHIPOTLE CHILES are often marketed packed in adobo sauce
ado gado; gado-gado [GAH-doh GAH-doh] This Indonesian favorite consists of a mixture of raw and slightly cooked vegetables served with a spicy peanut sauce made with hot chiles and COCONUT MILK. Some-times the term "gado gado" refers only to the spicy sauce, which is used as a condiment with rice and various vegetable dishes.
advocaat [ad-voh-KAHT] Reminiscent of eggnog, this Dutch LIQUEUR is made with BRANDY, egg yolks and sugar.
adzuki bean; azuki bean [ah-ZOO-kee, AH-zoo-kee] A small, dried, russet-colored bean with a sweet flavor. Adzuki beans can be purchased whole or powdered at Asian markets. They are particularly popular in Japanese cooking where they're used in confections such as the popular YOKAN, made with adzuki-bean paste and AGAR. See also  BEANS.
aemono [ah-eh-MOH-noh] Japanese term meaning "dressed foods" and referring to saladlike dishes combined with a DRESSING complimentary to the ingredients. The composition of the dressings varies but is generally based on pureed TOFU. Aemono dishes are usually served chilled as appetizers, although Japanese diners sometimes eat them towards the end of a meal prior to the rice.
aerate [ER-ayt, AY-uh-rayt] A term used in cookery as a synonym for SIFT.
agar; agar-agar [AH-gahr, AY-gahr] Also called kanten  and Japanese  gelatin , this tasteless dried seaweed acts as a setting agent and is widely used in Asia. It is marketed in the form of blocks, powder or strands and is available at Asian markets and health-food stores. Agar can be substituted for gelatin but has stronger setting properties so less of it is required.
agave [ah-GAH-vee, ah-GAH-vay] Also called century plant , this family of succulents grows in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Though poisonous when raw, agave has a sweet, mild flavor when baked or made into a syrup. Certain varieties are used in making the alcoholic beverages MESCAL, PULQUE and TEQUILA.
age; aged To let food get older under controlled conditions in order to improve flavor or texture or both. 1. Aged meat has been stored 3 to 6 weeks at an optimal temperature of 34°F to 38°F and in low humidity. During this time it undergoes an enzymatic change that intensifies flavor, deepens color and tenderizes by softening some of the connective tissue. The longer meat is aged, the more quickly it will cook. The cryovac  method of aging involves vacuum packing the meat with a vapor- and moistureproof film so the so-called aging takes place in transit from slaughterhouse to the consumer's home. 2. Aging cheese refers to storing it in a temperature-controlled area until it develops the desired texture and flavor. 3. Wine is aged both in the barrel and in the bottle. Generally, red wines benefit from long bottle-aging more than white wines.
agedashi [ah-geh-DAH-shee] A Japanese dish of deep-fried TOFU served with DAIKON, KATSUOBUSHI (dried bonito tuna flakes), ginger and a dipping sauce made of SOY SAUCE and MIRIN.
agemono [ah-geh-MOH-noh] A Japanese term referring to deep-frying (see  DEEP-FRY) and the foods produced from this cooking method. TEMPURA is the most famous of the Japanese foods cooked in this manner. Deep-frying is done in a pan called an agemono-nabe , which is similar to a Chinese WOK.
aglio e olio [AH-lyoh ay AW-lyoh] Italian for "garlic and oil," referring to a dressing of garlic and hot olive oil used on PASTA.
agneau [an-YOH] The French word for lamb.
agnolotti [ah-nyoh-LAH-tee] Italian for "priests' caps," describing small, crescent-shaped stuffed PASTA.
aguacate [ah-gwah-KAH-tay] The Spanish word for AVOCADO.
ahi [AH-hee] The Hawaiian name for yellowfin, as well as bigeye TUNA.
aigre-doux [ay-greh-DOO] The French term for the combined flavors of sour (aigre ) and sweet (doux ). An aigre-doux  sauce might contain both vinegar and sugar.
aïoli [ay-OH-lee, i-OH-lee] A strongly flavored garlic MAYONNAISE from the Provence region of southern France. It's a popular accompaniment for fish, meats and vegetables.
ajijsuke-nori see  NORI
aji-no-moto [ah-JEE-noh-MOH-toh] The Japanese name for MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG).
ajowan; ajwain [AHJ-uh-wahn] Though it's related to CARAWAY and CUMIN, ajowan tastes more like THYME with an astringent edge. This native of southern India can be found in Indian markets in either ground or seed form. The light brown to purple-red seeds resemble celery seeds in size and shape. Ajowan is most commonly added to CHUTNEYS, curried dishes, breads and LEGUMES. It's also called carom . See also  SPICES.
akala [ah-KAH-lah] Hailing from Hawaii, this sweet, juicy berry resembles a very large raspberry. It can range in color from red to almost purple and is good eaten plain or in jams and pies.
akee see  ACKEE
aku see  TUNA
akule [ah-KOO-lay] This Hawaiian fish, also known as bigeye scad , is usually salted and dried. See also  FISH.
akvavit see  AQUAVIT
al [ahl] An Italian word meaning "at the," "to the" or "on the." For example, al dente  means "to the tooth."
anchoiade; anchoyade [ahn-show-YAHD] A paste made of ANCHOVIES, garlic and, sometimes, olive oil. It's generally used to spread on toast or bread.
anchovy [AN-choh-vee, an-CHOH-vee] Though there are many species of small, silvery fish that are known in their country of origin as "anchovies," the true anchovy comes only from the Mediterranean and southern European coastlines. These tiny fish are generally filleted, salt-cured and canned in oil; they're sold flat and rolled. Canned anchovies can be stored at room temperature for at least a year. Once opened, they can be refrigerated for at least 2 months if covered with oil and sealed airtight. To alleviate saltiness in anchovies, soak them in cool water for about 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Because they're so salty, anchovies are used sparingly to flavor or garnish sauces and other preparations. See also  FISH; ANCHOVY PASTE.
anchovy paste This combination of pounded anchovies, vinegar, spices and water comes in tubes and is convenient for many cooking purposes. It can also be used for CANAPÉS.
ancienne, à l' [ah lawn , -SYAN ] French for "in the old style," describing a traditional preparation method (usually for beef) of braising, then simmering.
andalouse, à l' [ahn-dah-LOOZ] A French term describing dishes using tomatoes, pimientos and sometimes rice PILAF or sausage. Andalouse sauce refers to mayonnaise mixed with tomato puree and pimiento.
andouille sausage [an-DOO-ee, ahn-DWEE] A spicy, heavily smoked sausage made from pork CHITTERLINGS and TRIPE. French in origin, andouille  is a specialty of CAJUN COOKING. It's the traditional sausage used in specialties like JAMBALAYA and GUMBO, and makes a spicy addition to any dish that would use smoked sausage. Andouille is also especially good served cold as an HORS D'OEUVRE. See also  SAUSAGE.
andouillette sausage [ahn-dwee-YET] This smaller version (1 inch or less in diameter) of ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE is a specialty of Normandy. It is sold cooked but not usually smoked. This sausage is traditionally slashed and grilled or fried.
anelli; anellini [ah-NEHL-lee, ah-nehl-LEE-nee] Small PASTA rings, anellini  being the tiniest of the two.
anesone [AN-uh-sohn, an-uh-SOH-nay] A clear anise-flavored LIQUEUR that is drier and of a higher proof than ANISETTE.
angel food cake A light, airy sponge-type cake made with stiffly beaten egg whites but no yolks or other fats. It's traditionally baked in a TUBE PAN and is sometimes referred to simply as angel cake .
angel hair pasta see  CAPELLI D'ANGELO
angelica [an-JEHL-ih-kah] This sweet "herb of the angels" is a member of the parsley family. Grown extensively in Europe, its pale green, celerylike stalks are most often candied and used as decorations for cakes and other desserts. Angelica is also used to flavor LIQUEURS and sweet wines.
angels on horseback An HORS D'OEUVRE of bacon-wrapped, shucked oysters that are broiled, baked or grilled and served on buttered toast points. See also  DEVILS ON HORSEBACK.
anglaise, à l' [ahn-GLEHZ] French for "in the English style," meaning food that is simply poached or boiled. The term can also be used for food that has been coated in bread crumbs and fried.
angler fish The angler takes its name from the method by which it lures its prey: it lies partially buried on the sea floor and twitches a long filament that grows from its head. The filament resembles a worm and attracts smaller fish that are soon engulfed by the angler's huge mouth. Also known as monkfish, lotte, bellyfish, frogfish, sea  devil  and goosefish , this large, extremely ugly fish is lowfat and firm-textured, and has a mild, sweet flavor that has been compared to lobster. Indeed, shellfish are an important part of the angler's diet. The only edible portion of this impressive fish is the tail, which is suitable for almost any method of cooking. See also  FISH.
angostura bitters [ang-uh-STOOR-ah] see  BITTERS
animal fat Any fat (such as BUTTER, SUET or LARD) that comes from an animal. Because they are almost entirely saturated, animal fats are not recommended for people on lowfat or low-cholesterol diets. See also  FATS AND OILS.
anise [AN-ihss] Known as far back as at least 1500 b.c., this small annual plant is a member of the parsley family. Both the leaves and seed have a distinctive, sweet licorice flavor. The greenish brown, comma-shaped anise seed perfumes and flavors a variety of confections as well as savory dishes. It's also used to flavor drinks such as PASTIS, ARRACK, ANISETTE and OUZO. Anise seed plays an important role in the cooking of Southeast Asia. Chinese cooks are more likely to use STAR ANISE than anise seed. See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART .
anise seed; aniseed see  ANISE
anisette [AN-ih-seht, an-ih-SEHT] A clear, very sweet LIQUEUR made with anise seeds and tasting of licorice.
Anjou pear [AHN-zhoo] A large winter pear with firm flesh and a yellowish-green skin that is often blushed with red. It's sweet and succulent and is delicious both cooked and raw. The Anjou is available in most regions from October through midwinter. See also  PEAR.
Anna potatoes see  POMMES ANNA
annatto [uh-NAH-toh] A derivative of ACHIOTE SEED, commercial annatto paste and powder is used to color butter, margarine, cheese and smoked fish.
antelope Currently, the only state that's farming antelopes for human consumption is Texas, where black buck and nilgai antelope are allowed to roam on huge preserves. Antelope meat is similar to that of deer, but leaner. As with other large game, antelope is sometimes sold in markets as venison. See also  GAME ANIMALS.
antioxidants Substances that inhibit oxidation in plant and animal cells. Culinarily, antioxidants help prevent food from becoming rancid or discolored. In the body, many scientists believe that antioxidants may contribute to reducing cancer and heart disease. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is easily obtained from citrus fruits, is a well known natural antioxidant, as is vitamin E, which is plentiful in seeds and nuts. Antioxidants are also abundant in CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
antipasto [ahn-tee-PAHS-toh, an-tee-PAST-oh] Literally meaning "before the pasta," this Italian term refers to hot or cold HORS D'OEUVRE. An assortment of antipasti  could include appetizers such as cheese, smoked meats, olives, fish and marinated vegetables.
antojitos [ahn-toh-HEE-tohs] In Mexico, the word antojitos  ("little whims") refers to what Americans call APPETIZERS.
apee [AY-pee] Dating back to the 1800s, this soft, sour cream-based sugar cookie takes its name from the initials of its creator, Philadelphia cook Ann Page.
apéritif [ah-pehr-uh-TEEF, ay-pehr-ee-TEEF] A French term referring to a light alchoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Popular apéritifs include CHAMPAGNE, LILLET and SHERRY.
aphrodisiac [af-ruh-DEE-zee-ak] Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, aphrodisiacs are substances (including food or drink) that are purported to arouse or increase sexual desire. Among the better known edible aphrodisiacs are caviar, frog legs, oysters and truffles.
appellation [ap-puh-LAY-shuhn, Fr , . ah-pel-lah-SYAWN ] In the wine world, this term refers to a designated growing area governed by the rules and regulations established by a country's federal government or local governing body. Such rules vary from country to country but are somewhat similar in their attempt to stimulate the production of quality wines. These regulations are established by the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in France, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) in Italy, the Denominaçao de Origem Controlada (DOC) in Portugal, the Denominación de Origen (DO) in Spain and the American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the United States.
Appenzeller cheese; Appenzell cheese [A-pent-seller] This whole-milk cow's cheese is named for an eastern Swiss canton (a state in the Swiss confederation). It has a golden yellow rind and a firm, straw-colored curd with tiny holes. The flavor is delicate and somewhat fruity owing to the wine or cider wash it receives during curing. See also  CHEESE.
appetizer Any small, bite-size food served before a meal to whet and excite the palate. Used synonymously with the term HORS D'OEUVRE, though this term more aptly describes finger food, whereas appetizer  can also apply to a first course served at table.
apple Grown in temperate zones throughout the world and cultivated for at least 3,000 years, apple varieties now number well into the thousands. Apples range in color from lemony yellow to bright yellow-green to crimson red. Their textures range from tender to crisp, their flavors from sweet to tart and from simple to complex. They're available year-round but are at their best from September through November when newly harvested. Buy firm, well-colored apples with a fresh (never musty) fragrance. The skins should be smooth and free of bruises and gouges. SCALD (a dry, tan- or brown-colored area on the skin of an apple) doesn't usually affect its flavor. Apples come 2 to 4 per pound, depending on size. For cooking and baking, use apples that will remain flavorful and firm, such as BALDWIN, CORTLAND, NORTHERN SPY, ROME BEAUTY, WINESAP and YORK IMPERIAL. Store apples in a cool, dark place. They do well placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. Apples are a good source of vitamins A and C. See also  CANDIED APPLE; CASHEW APPLE; CRABAPPLE; CRITERION; GOLDEN DELICIOUS; GRANNY SMITH; GRAVENSTEIN; JONATHAN; LADY; MACOUN; MAY; MCINTOSH; NEWTON PIPPIN; RED DELICIOUS; RHODE ISLAND GREENING; STAYMAN.
apple brown betty see  BETTY
apple butter A thick, dark brown preserve made by slowly cooking apples, sugar, spices and cider together. Used as a spread for breads.
apple corer see  CORER
apple dumpling see  DUMPLING
applejack A potent BRANDY made from apple cider and ranging in strength from 80 to 100 PROOF. France is famous for its apple brandy, CALVADOS. In the United States, applejack must spend a minimum of 2 years in wooden casks before being bottled.
apple pandowdy see  PANDOWDY
apple pear see  ASIAN PEAR
applesauce A cooked puree (ranging in texture from smooth to chunky) of apples, sugar and, sometimes, spices.
apple snow A chilled dessert made by combining applesauce, lemon juice, spices, stiffly beaten egg whites and, sometimes, gelatin.
apricot This fruit of ancient lineage has been grown in China for over 4,000 years. It now thrives in most temperate climates, with California producing about 90 percent of the American crop. A relative of the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily when the fruit is halved. Throughout the world there are many varieties of apricot, including Riland, Tilton, Blenheim, Royal and Chinese. In color, the skin can range anywhere from pale yellow to deep burnt orange; the flesh from a golden cream color to brilliant orange. Because they're highly perishable and seasonal, 90 percent of the fresh apricots are marketed in June and July. When buying apricots, select plump, reasonably firm fruit with a uniform color. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. Depending on size, there are 8 to 12 apricots per pound. Dried apricots are pitted, unpeeled apricot halves that have had a large percentage of the moisture removed. They're usually treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color. In addition to being rich in vitamin A, dried apricots are a valuable source of iron and calcium. The kernels of the apricot pits are used in confections and to flavor LIQUEURS. Like bitter almonds, apricot kernels are poisonous until roasted.
Apry [AP-ree] Another name for apricot BRANDY.
A.Q. A menu term meaning "as quoted," referring to generally high-priced foods (such as lobster), the price of which may vary depending on the season. The server will be able to quote the price of an A.Q. item.
aquaculture [AH-kwah-kuhl-tcher] The cultivation of fish, shellfish or aquatic plants (such as SEAWEED) in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments. Even though aquaculture began eons ago with the ancient Greeks, it wasn't until the 1980s that the practice finally began to expand rapidly. Aquaculture "farms" take on a variety of forms including huge tanks, freshwater ponds, and shallow- or deep-water marine environments. Today, the farming and harvesting of fish and shellfish is a multimillion-dollar business. Among the most popular denizens of the deep that are farmed are BIVALVES like OYSTERS, CLAMS and MUSSELS; CRUSTACEANS like CRAYFISH, LOBSTERS and SHRIMP; and FISH like CATFISH, SALMON, TROUT and TILAPIA. See also  HYDROPONICS.
aquavit [AHK-wuh-veet] A strong colorless Scandinavian liquor distilled from grain or potatoes and flavored with caraway seed. It is served icy cold and drunk in a single gulp.
aqua vitae [AHK-wuh VEE-tee, AK-wuh VEE-tee] A term used to describe clear distilled BRANDY; Latin for "water of life." See also  EAU DE VIE.
arak see  ARRACK
aram sandwich [A-ruhm, EHR-uhm] A sandwich formed by spreading a softened LAHVOSH with cream cheese, then layering thin slices of sandwich fillings such as meat, cheese, lettuce, pickle and so on. This large flat round is then rolled jelly-roll style, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours. Before being served, the cylinder is cut into about 1-inch thick slices. The aram sandwich is also known as levant .
Arborio rice [ar-BOH-ree-oh] The high-starch kernels of this Italian-grown grain are shorter and fatter than any other short-grain rice. Arborio is traditionally used for RISOTTO because its increased starch lends this classic dish its requisite creamy texture. See also  RICE.
arctic bonito see  TUNA
arctic char see  CHAR
Argenteuil, à l' [ar-zhawn-TEW-ee] A term describing a dish featuring asparagus, named after the French town that is world renowned for its asparagus.
Armagnac [ar-mahn-YAK] A fine French BRANDY from Gascony, near Condom, a town southeast of Bordeaux. Like COGNAC, Armagnac is aged in oak for up to 40 years.
Armenian cracker bread see  LAHVOSH
aromatic n.  Any of various plants, herbs and spices (such as bay leaf, ginger or parsley) that impart a lively fragrance and flavor to food and drink.
aromatic rice A general term used for rices with a perfumy, nutlike flavor and aroma. Among the more popular aromatic rices are BASMATI (from India), JASMINE (from Thailand), TEXMATI (from Texas), WEHANI and WILD PECAN RICE (from Louisiana). See also  RICE; RIZCOUS.
arrack [AR-rahk, ah-RAK] A name widely used in Asia and the Middle East for a fiery liquor made, depending on the country, from any of several ingredients including rice, sundry-palm sap and dates. In many countries, arrack is strongly flavored with ANISE seed. Also spelled arak .
arrowroot The starchy product of a tropical tuber of the same name. The rootstalks are dried and ground into a very fine powder. Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent for puddings, sauces and other cooked foods, and is more easily digested than wheat flour. Its thickening power is about twice that of wheat flour. Arrowroot is absolutely tasteless and becomes clear when cooked. Unlike cornstarch, it doesn't impart a chalky taste when undercooked. It should be mixed with a cold liquid before being heated or added to hot mixtures. Some English and early American cookie recipes call for arrowroot flour , which is the same product. Arrowroot can be found in supermarkets, health-food stores and Asian markets.
arroz ah-ROHS] The Spanish word for "rice
arroz con leche [ah-RROHS kon LEH-cheh] A Spanish pudding made from rice that's cooked in milk with various flavorings such as vanilla, lemon and cinnamon.
arroz con pollo [ah-ROHS con POH-yoh] Literally "rice with chicken," this Spanish and Mexican dish is made with rice, chicken, tomatoes, green peppers, seasonings and, sometimes, saffron.
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 midcoastal region. It's the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal-shaped leaves. To eat a whole cooked artichoke, break off the leaves one by one and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to remove the soft portion, discarding the remainder of the leaf. The individual leaves may be dipped into melted butter or some other sauce. Once the leaves have been removed, the inedible prickly choke  is cut or scraped away and discarded. Then the tender artichoke heart and meaty bottom can be eaten. Globe artichokes are available year-round, with the peak season from March through May. Buy deep green, heavy-for-their-size artichokes with a tight leaf formation. The leaves should "squeak" when pressed together. Heavy browning on an artichoke usually indicates it's beyond its prime, though a slight discoloration on the leaf edges early in the season is generally frost damage and won't affect the vegetable's quality. Store unwashed artichokes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days; wash just before cooking. Artichokes are best used the day of purchase. Artichoke hearts are available frozen and canned; artichoke bottoms are available canned. Artichokes contain small amounts of potassium and vitamin A.
artificial sweeteners This category of nonnutritive, high-intensity sugar substitutes includes ASPARTAME, ACESULFAME-K and SACCHARIN. Two sweeteners undergoing FDA approval at this writing are ALITAME and SUCRALOSE. Cyclamate lost its FDA approval in 1970. Numerous new sweeteners are in various stages of development or review. Most of these are from two groups: the fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and the L-sugars.
arugula [ah-ROO-guh-lah] Also called rocket, roquette, rugula  and rucola,  arugula is a bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavor. Though it has long been extremely popular with Italians, American palates often find its flavor too assertive. Arugula (which resembles radish leaves) can be found in specialty produce markets and in some supermarkets. It's sold in small bunches with roots attached. The leaves should be bright green and fresh looking. Arugula is very perishable and should be tightly wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 2 days. Its leaves hold a tremendous amount of grit and must be thoroughly washed just before using. Arugula makes a lively addition to salads, soups and sautéed vegetable dishes. It's a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C.
asadero cheese [ah-sah-DEH-roh] A white cow's-milk cheese of Mexican origin that's available in braids, balls or rounds. Asadero, which means "roaster" or "broiler," has good melting properties and becomes softly stringy when heated — very similar to an unaged MONTEREY JACK CHEESE. Other names for this cheese are Chihuahua  and Oaxaca . See also  CHEESE.
asafetida; asafoetida [ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah] A flavoring obtained from a giant fennellike plant that grows mainly in Iran and India. It's used in many Indian dishes and can be found in powdered or lump form in Indian markets. Asafetida has a fetid, garlicky smell and should be used in very small quantities.
ascorbic acid [as-KOHR-bihk] The scientific name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid is sold for home use to prevent browning of vegetables and fruits. It's used in commercial preparations as an ANTIOXIDANT.
aseptic packaging [uh-SEHP-tihk, a-SEHP-tihk] A system of packaging food and drink products so the contents are exposed to a minimal amount of air; such products are typically vacuum-packed. Because oxygen is the major contributor to spoilage in most foods, aseptic packaging can retain a product's freshness for several months, even years. Milk, juices, chopped tomatoes and even inexpensive wines are packaged aseptically in plastic bags within cartons or boxes. The bags collapse as the contents are poured out, keeping the remaining food or drink relatively free of air contamination.
Asiago cheese [ah-SYAH-goh] A semifirm Italian cheese with a rich, nutty flavor. It's made from whole or part-skim cow's milk and comes in small wheels with glossy rinds. The yellow interior has many small holes. Young Asiago is used as a table cheese; aged over a year, it becomes hard and suitable for grating. See also  CHEESE.
Asian noodles Though some Asian-style noodles are wheat-based, many others are made from ingredients such as rice flour, potato flour, buckwheat flour, cornstarch and bean, yam or soybean starch. Among the more popular are China's CELLOPHANE NOODLES (made from mung-bean starch), egg noodles (usually wheat-based) and RICE-FLOUR NOODLES, and Japan's HARUSAME (made with soybean, rice or potato flour), RAMEN (wheat-based egg noodles) and SOBA (which contain buckwheat flour). Other Asian countries, including Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, have their own versions of the venerable noodle. Asian noodles can be purchased fresh and dried in Asian markets; some dried varieties can be found in supermarkets. Throughout Asian cultures noodles are eaten hot and cold. They can be cooked in a variety of ways including steaming, stir-frying and deep-frying. See also  NOODLES.
Asian pear There are over 100 varieties (most of them grown in Japan) of this firm, amazingly juicy pear whose season is late summer through early fall. In size and color, they range from huge and golden brown to tiny and yellow-green. In general, ripe Asian pears (also called Chinese pears  and apple pears ) are quite firm to the touch, crunchy to the bite (unlike the pears we're used to), lightly sweet and drippingly juicy. The most common Asian pear in the United States is the Twentieth Century (also known as nijisseiki ), which is large, round and green to yellow in color. Ripe Asian pears should be stored in the refrigerator. See also  PEAR.
asparagus This universally popular vegetable is one of the lily family's cultivated forms. The optimum season for fresh asparagus lasts from February through June, although hothouse asparagus is available year-round in some regions. The earliest, most tender stalks are a beautiful apple green with purple-tinged tips. Europeans prefer white asparagus (particularly the famous French asparagus of Argenteuil), which is grown underground to prevent it from becoming green. White spears are usually thick and are smoother than the green variety. There's also a purple variety called Viola . When buying asparagus, choose firm, bright green (or pale ivory) stalks with tight tips. Asparagus plants live 8 to 10 years and the spear's size indicates the age of the plant from which it came — the more mature the plant, the thicker the asparagus. It's best cooked the same day it's purchased but will keep, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Or, store standing upright in about an inch of water, covering the container with a plastic bag. Asparagus is grown in sandy soil so thorough washing is necessary to ensure the tips are not gritty. If asparagus stems are tough, remove the outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Canned and frozen asparagus is also available. Asparagus contains a good amount of vitamin A and is a fair source of iron and vitamins B and C.
asparagus bean see  YARD-LONG BEAN
aspartame [ah-SPAHR-taym, AS-pahr-taym] An ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER that's 180-200 times sweeter than sugar. It's synthesized from two AMINO ACIDS (aspartic acid and phenylalanine), the building blocks of protein, and contains about 4 calories per gram. Regular aspartame breaks down and loses its sweetness when heated but is excellent for sweetening cold dishes. A new encapsulated (and therefore heat-stable) form of this sweetener has been developed especially for baking. At this writing, however, it's not available to consumers. See also  ACESULFAME-K; ALITAME; SACCHARIN; SUCRALOSE.
aspic [AS-pihk] A savory jelly, usually clear, made of CLARIFIED meat, fish or vegetable stock and GELATIN. Tomato aspic, made with tomato juice and gelatin, is opaque. Clear aspics may be used as a base for molded dishes, or as glazes for cold dishes of fish, poultry, meat and eggs. They may also be cubed and served as a relish with cold meat, fish or fowl.
assaisonné [ah-say-zoh-NAY] French for "seasoned" or "seasoned with."
Assam tea [as-SAHM] Hailing from India's Assam district, this black tea produces a strong-flavored, full-bodied brew with a reddish tinge. See also  TEA.
Asti Spumante [AH-stee spoo-MAHN-teh] A sweet sparkling white wine generally served as a DESSERT WINE but sometimes as an APÉRITIF. Asti Spumante tastes decidedly of the MUSCAT GRAPE from which it's made. It hails from the area around the town of Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
atemoya [ah-teh-MOH-ee-yah] Though it's cultivated in Florida, this cross between CHERIMOYA and SWEETSOP is a native of South America and the West Indies. About the size of a large sweet bell pepper, the atemoya has a tough dusty green skin that has a rough petal configuration. The custardlike pulp is cream-colored and studded with a smattering of large black seeds. Its delicate, sweet flavor tastes like a blend of mango and vanilla. Atemoyas are in season from late summer through late fall. Though they often split slightly at their stem end when ripe, it's best to buy them when they're pale green and tender with unbroken skin. The fruit can continue to ripen at room temperature at home. Refrigerate ripe atemoyas 3 to 5 days. They're best served chilled. Simply halve the fruit, spoon out the pulp and enjoy. Atemoyas are high in potassium and vitamins C and K.
Atlantic croaker see  DRUM
Atlantic oyster Also called Eastern oyster,  this species has a thick, elongated shell that ranges from 2 to 5 inches across. It's found along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico and is considered ideal for serving ON THE HALF SHELL. Atlantic oysters are sold under different names depending on where they're harvested. The most well known is the BLUEPOINT; others include Apalachicola, Cape Cod, Chesapeake, Chincoteague, Indian River, Kent Island, Malpeque and Wellfleet. See also  OYSTER.
atole [ah-TOH-leh] Said to date back to pre-Columbian times, atole is a very thick beverage that's popular in Mexico and some parts of the American Southwest. It's a combination of MASA, water or milk, crushed fruit and sugar or honey. Latin markets sell instant atole, which can be mixed with milk or water. Atole can be served hot or room temperature.
aubergine [oh-behr-ZHEEN] French for "eggplant."
au bleu [oh-BLEUH] The French term for the method of preparing fish the instant after it's killed. Used especially for trout, as in truite au bleu , where the freshly killed fish is plunged into a boiling COURT-BOUILLON, which turns the skin a metallic blue color.
au gratin [oh-GRAH-tn, oh-grah-TAN ] see  GRATIN.
au jus [oh-ZHOO] A French phrase describing meat served with its own natural juices, commonly used with beef. See also  JUS.
au lait [oh-LAY] French for "with milk," referring to foods or beverages served or prepared with milk, as in CAFÉ AU LAIT.
au naturel [oh-nah-teur-EHL] The French term for food served in its natural state — not cooked or altered in any way.
aurore sauce [oh-ROHR] BÉCHAMEL SAUCE with just enough tomato puree added to tint it pink.
Auslese [OWS-lay-zuh] The German word for "selection," used in the wine trade to describe specially selected, perfectly ripened bunches of grapes that are hand-picked, then pressed separately from other grapes. The superior wine made from these grapes is sweet and expensive. See also  BEERENAUSLESE; SPÄTLESE; TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE.
avgolemono [ahv-goh-LEH-moh-noh] A Greek soup as well as a sauce, both of which are made from chicken broth, egg yolks and lemon juice. The main difference is that the soup has rice added to it. The sauce is thicker than the soup.
avocadito [a-voh-kah-DEE-toh] Another name for the cocktail AVOCADO.
avocado [a-voh-KAH-doh] Native to the tropics and subtropics, this rich fruit is known for its lush, buttery texture and mild, faintly nutlike flavor. The fruit's name comes from ahuacatl , the Nahuatl word for "testicle," which is assumed to be a reference to the avocado's shape. Florida was the site of the first U.S. avocado trees in the 1830s but almost 80 percent of today's crop comes from California. Known early on as alligator pear , the many varieties of today's avocado can range from round to pear-shaped. The skin can be thick to thin, green to purplish black and smooth to corrugated. The flesh is generally a pale yellow-green and softly succulent. The two most widely marketed avocado varieties are the pebbly textured, almost black Haas and the green Fuerte, which has a thin, smooth skin. Depending on the variety, an avocado can weigh as little as 3 ounces and as much as 4 pounds. There are even tiny Fuerte cocktail avocados (also called AVOCADITOS) that are the size of a small GHERKIN and weigh about 1 ounce. Like many fruits, avocados ripen best off the tree. Ripe avocados yield to gentle palm pressure, but firm, unripe avocados are what are usually found in the market. Select those that are unblemished and heavy for their size. To speed the ripening process, place several avocados in a paper bag and set aside at room temperature for 2 to 4 days. Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator several days. Once avocado flesh is cut and exposed to the air it tends to discolor rapidly. To minimize this effect it is always advisable to add cubed or sliced avocado to a dish at the last moment. When a dish containing mashed avocado, such as GUACAMOLE, is being prepared, the addition of lemon or lime juice helps to prevent discoloration. (It is not true that burying the avocado pit in the guacamole helps maintain good color.) Though avocados are high in unsaturated fat, the California Avocado Advisory Board states that half of an 8-ounce avocado contains only 138 calories. In addition, avocados contain a fair amount of vitamin C, thiamine and riboflavin.
awabi [ah-WAH-bee] see  ABALONE
azuki bean see  ADZUKI BEAN
© The Residential Chef 2018