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Term Pronounciation Definition
muscatel wine [muhs-kuh-TEHL] A rich, sweet dessert wine created from the MUSCAT GRAPE. It's made from both the black and white varieties, so its color can range from golden to amber to pale amber-red. Muscatel's flavor typifies the characteristically musty flavor of the muscat grape.
Muscat grape [MUHS-kat, MUHS-kuht] Any of several varieties of white or black grapes. The characteristic trait of the muscat is its sweet, musky flavor. Muscat grapes are grown around the world in temperate climates such as Italy, France, Greece, Spain and California. In addition to being eaten out of hand and made into raisins, the Muscat grape is used to make a variety of fragrant wines.
muscovy duck see  DUCK
mush A thick, cooked cereal or porridge made by cooking cornmeal with milk or water. It's served as a breakfast dish by adding either melted butter, milk or maple syrup. Mush is also cooked, poured into a pan and cooled. It's then cut into squares, sautéed until golden brown (much like POLENTA) and served hot, sometimes with gravy, as a side dish.
mushimono [moo-shee-MOH-noh] Japanese term referring to steamed foods.
mushroom Early Greeks and Romans are thought to be among the first cultivators of mushrooms, using them in a wide array of dishes. Today there are literally thousands of varieties of this fleshy fungus. Sizes and shapes vary tremendously and colors can range from white to black with a full gamut of colors in between. The cap's texture can be smooth, pitted, honeycombed or ruffled and flavors range from bland to rich, nutty and earthy. The cultivated mushroom is what's commonly found in most U.S. supermarkets today. However, those that more readily excite the palate are the more exotic wild mushrooms such as CÈPE, CHANTERELLE, ENOKI, MOREL, PUFFBALL, SHIITAKE and WOOD EAR. Because so many wild mushrooms are poisonous, it's vitally important to know which species are edible and which are not. Extreme caution should be taken when picking them yourself. The readily available cultivated white mushroom has a mild, earthy flavor. The cap ranges in size from 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and in color from white to pale tan. Those labeled "button mushrooms" are simply the small youngsters of the cultivated variety. These common mushrooms are available year-round but are at their peak in fall and winter. They're sold in bulk and in 8-ounce packages. Look for those that are firm and evenly colored with tightly closed caps. If all the gills are showing, the mushrooms are past their prime. Avoid specimens that are broken, damaged or have soft spots or a dark-tinged surface. If the mushrooms are to be cooked whole, select those of equal size so they will cook evenly. Fresh mushrooms should be stored with cool air circulating around them. Therefore, they should be placed on a tray in a single layer, covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Before use, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel or, if necessary, rinsed with cold water and dried thoroughly. Mushrooms should never be soaked because they absorb water and will become mushy. Trim the stem ends and prepare according to directions. Canned mushrooms are available in several forms including whole, chopped, sliced and caps only. Frozen or freeze-dried mushrooms are also available. Dried mushrooms are available either whole or in slices, bits or pieces. They should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Mushrooms are one of nature's most versatile foods and can be used in hundreds of ways and cooked in almost any way imaginable. See also  BLACK TRUMPET; CREMINO; HEN-OF-THE-WOODS; MATSUTAKE; NAMEKO; OYSTER MUSHROOM; POM POM; PORTOBELLO; STRAW MUSHROOM; TROMPETTE DE LA MORT.
muskellunge; muskie [MUHS-kuh-luhnj] see  PIKE
muskmelon This juicy fruit is one of two broad classes of MELONS, the other being WATERMELON. It's been grown by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians for thousands of years. The two principal varieties of muskmelon are those with netted skins (including CANTALOUPE, PERSIAN MELON and SANTA CLAUS or Christmas MELON), and those with smooth skins (such as CASABA, CRENSHAW and HONEYDEW MELON). The skin can range in color from creamy white to celadon green to jade green, with many variations and shades in between. Flesh colors vary similarly and include beautiful salmon, golden, lime-green and orange shades. All muskmelons have seeds in a fibrous center hollow. Although muskmelons of one variety or another are available throughout most of the year, they're most abundant from late summer to early fall. When ripe, most muskmelons are slightly soft at the blossom end and give off a sweet, perfumy odor. Those picked before they're mature will never reach their delectably sweet and flavorful potential. Unripe melons should be stored at room temperature until they ripen, then kept in a cool place until ready to use. As with all melons, these should be halved and seeded before using. See also  MELON; SPANISH MELON; WINTER MELON.
mussel [MUHS-uhl] Archaeological findings indicate that this BIVALVE MOLLUSK (see both listings ) has been used as food for over 20,000 years. Europeans love mussels, which are cultivated on special farms to meet the high demand. Americans, however, have never been as enamored of mussels as they have of oysters and clams, and huge quantities along U.S. coasts go unharvested. There are dozens of mussel species, all of which have an extremely thin, oblong shell that can range in color from indigo blue to bright green to yellowish-brown. Depending on the species, the shell can be from 1 1/2 to 6 inches in length. The creamy-tan meat is tougher than that of either the oyster or clam but it has a delicious, slightly sweet flavor. The most abundant mussel is the blue or common mussel found along the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Its shell is dark blue and 2 to 3 inches in length. The green-lipped mussel is imported from New Zealand (which is why it's also called New Zealand green mussel ) and has a large (3 to 4 inches long), bright green shell. Live, fresh mussels are generally available year-round. On the West Coast, however, the mussel season is November through April. This is because microscopic organisms (of "red tide" notoriety) make mussels unsafe to eat during the spring and summer months. Buy mussels with tightly closed shells or those that snap shut when tapped — otherwise they're not alive and fresh. Avoid those with broken shells, that feel heavy (meaning they're full of sand) or that feel light and loose when shaken (signalling that the mussel is dead). Shucked mussels should be plump, their liquid clear. Smaller mussels will be more tender than large ones. Fresh mussels, live or shucked, should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a day or two. Plain and smoked mussels packed in oil are also available. Mussels may be steamed, fried, baked or used as an ingredient in dishes like BOUILLABAISSE or PAELLA. See also  SHELLFISH.
must The freshly pressed juice of grapes or other fruit before fermentation occurs. Must can include pulp, skins and seeds.
mustard; mustard seed; powdered mustard Any of several species of plant grown for its acrid seeds and leaves, which are called MUSTARD GREENS. The mustard plant belongs to the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale and kohlrabi. Down through the centuries it has been used for culinary as well as medicinal purposes; the most notable example of the latter is mustard's purported efficacy as a curative for the common cold. The name is said to come from a Roman mixture of crushed mustard seed and MUST (unfermented grape juice), which was called mustum ardens  ("burning wine"). Likewise, the French word moutarde  ("mustard") comes from a contraction of their moust  ("must") and a form of ardent  ("hot" or "fiery"). There are two major types of mustard seed — white (or yellow ) and brown (or Asian ). A third species, the black mustard seed, has been replaced for most purposes by the brown species because the latter can be grown and harvested more economically. White mustard seeds are much larger than the brown variety but a lot less pungent. They're the main ingredient in American-style mustards. White and brown seeds are blended to make ENGLISH MUSTARD. Brown mustard seeds are used for pickling and as a seasoning, and are the main ingredient in European and Chinese mustards. Mustard seeds are sold whole, ground into powder or processed further into prepared mustard. Powdered mustard is simply finely ground mustard seed. Mustard seeds can be stored for up to a year in a dry, dark place and powdered mustard for about 6 months. Whole seeds are used for pickling, flavoring cooked meats and vegetables and as a source for freshly ground mustard. Powdered mustards and freshly ground seeds are used in sauces, as a seasoning in main dishes and as an ingredient in salad dressings.See also  MUSTARD OIL; MUSTARD, PREPARED; SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.
mustard greens The peppery leaves of the mustard plant are a popular SOUL FOOD ingredient, ranking second only to COLLARD GREENS. They're both members of the same family along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and kohlrabi. The leaves are a rich, dark green and have a pungent mustard flavor. Though they can be found year-round in some locales, fresh mustard greens are most abundant from December through early March. They're also available frozen and canned. When choosing fresh greens, look for crisp young leaves with a rich green color. Reject those with yellow, flabby or pitted leaves or thick, fibrous stems. Refrigerate greens, tightly sealed in a plastic bag, for up to a week. Wash them just before using. Mustard greens can be steamed, sautéed or simmered. They are usually served as a side dish, often flavored with onion, garlic, ham, salt pork or bacon. Mustard greens, a CRUCIFEROUS vegetable, are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, thiamine and riboflavin. See also  MUSTARD; MUSTARD OIL; MUSTARD, PREPARED.
mustard, prepared Prepared mustard is generally made from powdered mustard combined with seasonings and a liquid such as water, vinegar, wine, beer or MUST. American-style prepared mustard  is a mild mixture made from the less-pungent white seed flavored with sugar, vinegar and turmeric (which makes it yellow). European  and Chinese  prepared mustards  are made from brown seeds and are much zestier and more flavorful. The French are famous for their tangy DIJON MUSTARD, made with brown or black seeds. The German prepared mustards can range from very hot to sweet and mild. Chinese mustards are usually the hottest and most pungent of the prepared mustards. A multitude of domestic and imported prepared mustards are readily available in supermarkets. Unopened, prepared mustard can be stored in a cool, dark place for about 2 years; once opened, it should be refrigerated. See also  CREOLE MUSTARD; ENGLISH MUSTARD; MUSTARD; MUSTARD GREENS; MUSTARD OIL.
mustard seed see  MUSTARD
mutton see  LAMB
muttonfish see  ABALONE
mysost cheese [MY-sohst] see  GJETOST
maître d'hôtel; maître d' [MAY-truh (MAY-tehr) doh-TELL, may-truh DEE] A headwaiter or house steward, sometimes informally referred to simply as maître d' .
maiz [mah-EES, Sp. , mah-EETH] The Mexican and Spanish word for "corn."
maize [MAYZ] The European word for CORN.
maize mushroom see  CUITLACOCHE
malic acid [MAL-ihk, MAH-lihk] A natural acid found in sour apples and other fruits. In winemaking, when certain bacteria convert malic acid to LACTIC ACID (which is much less strong and sour), a process called "malolactic fermentation" occurs. This reduces the wine's tartness, adds complexity to the flavor and sometimes contributes a slight sparkle. Malic acid is used as an acidulant as well as a flavoring agent in the processing of some foods.
malossol caviar [MAHL-oh-sahl] see  CAVIAR
malt [MAWLT] 1. A grain (typically barley) that is sprouted, kiln-dried and ground into a mellow, slightly sweet-flavored powder. This powdered malt has many uses including making vinegar, brewing beer, distilling liquor and as a nutritious additive to many foods. Malted-milk powder and malt vinegar are two of the most popular malt products available today. See also  MALT SYRUP. 2. A soda-fountain drink, also called malted , that is a thick, rich mixture of malted-milk powder, milk, ice cream and a flavoring such as chocolate or vanilla. See also  MILK SHAKE.
Maltaise sauce; Maltese sauce [mahl-TEHZ, mahl-TEEZ] HOLLANDAISE SAUCE blended with orange juice and grated orange rind, used to top cooked vegetables, particularly asparagus and green beans.
malted milk A delicious, nourishing and distinctively flavored beverage made by mixing milk with either plain or chocolate-flavored malted milk powder (see  MALT).
malted milk powder see  MALT
malt extract see  MALT SYRUP
malt liquor A beer that has a relatively high alcohol content by weight — usually from 5 to 8 percent, with several varieties reaching as high as 9 percent. See also  BEER.
maltose [MAHL-tohs] Also called malt sugar , this disaccharide plays an important role in the fermentation of alcohol by converting starch to sugar. It also occurs when enzymes react with starches (such as wheat flour) to produce carbon dioxide gas (which is what makes most bread doughs rise).
malt sugar see  MALTOSE
malt syrup A natural sweetener made from a filtered, evaporated mash of ground corn and sprouted BARLEY. Found in health-food stores, malt syrup has an earthy, full-bodied flavor and is 75 to 80 percent as sweet as honey. Plain malt syrup is sweeter than the hop-flavored style, which has a bitter edge. Malt syrup may be substituted for other syrupy sweeteners. It's also referred to as malt extract .
malt vinegar see  MALT; VINEGAR
manchego cheese [mahn-CHAY-goh] Spain's most famous cheese, so named because it was originally made only from the milk of Manchego sheep that grazed the famous plains of La Mancha. Manchego is a rich, golden, semifirm cheese that has a full, mellow flavor. The two that are most commonly exported are curado, aged between 3 and 4 months, and viejo, aged longer. Manchego is a wonderful snack cheese and melts beautifully in heated dishes. See also  CHEESE.
Mandarin cuisine [MAN-duh-rihn] see  CHINESE CUISINE
Mandarine liqueur [man-duh-RIHN] An orange-flavored LIQUEUR made with COGNAC and mandarin oranges.
Mandarin orange [MAN-duh-rihn] A loose-skinned orange category that includes several varieties that can be sweet or tart, seedless or not and can range in size from as small as an egg to as large as a medium grapefruit. They all, however, have skins that slip easily off the fruit. Among the more well-known mandarin-orange family members are clementine, dancy, satsuma and tangerine. The tiny clementine has a thin peel and a tangy-sweet red-orange flesh that's usually seedless. It's cultivated in Spain and North Africa and can usually be found only in specialty produce markets. Dancy oranges are similar in size and color (and equally rich-flavored) to clementines but have a plenitude of seeds. The small Japanese satsuma oranges are almost seedless. Most of the canned mandarin oranges on the market are satsumas. The most common mandarin found in the United States is the tangerine, which has a thick, rough skin and sweet flesh. It was named for the city of Tangier, Morocco. Mandarin oranges can, depending on the variety, be found in the market from November through June. See also  ORANGE; TANGELO.
Mandarin pancakes Chinese CRÊPES, usually made with wheat flour and used to wrap foods such as PEKING DUCK.
mandelbrot [MAHN-duhl-broht] From the German words mandel  ("almond") and brot  ("bread"), this Jewish favorite is a crisp almond bread that is eaten as a cookie.
mandoline [MAHN-duh-lihn, mahn-duh-LEEN] A compact, hand-operated machine with various adjustable blades for thin to thick slicing and for JULIENNE and FRENCH-FRY cutting. Mandolines have folding legs and come in both wood- or stainless steel-frame models. They're used to cut firm vegetables and fruits (such as potatoes and apples) with uniformity and precision. On most machines, the food is held in a metal carriage on guides so that fingers aren't in danger.
mange-tout [mawnzh-TOO] French for "eat everything," referring to a bean or pea, such as the SUGAR SNAP PEA, where everything — pod to seed — is edible.
mango [MANG-goh] The mango tree is considered sacred in India, the land of the fruit's origin. Now this delectable fruit is cultivated in temperate climates around the world, including California and Florida. Mangoes grow in a wide variety of shapes (oblong, kidney and round) and sizes (from about 6 ounces to 4 pounds). Their thin, tough skin is green and, as the fruit ripens, becomes yellow with beautiful red mottling. The fragrant flesh is a brilliant golden orange, exceedingly juicy and exotically sweet and tart. Perhaps the only negative to the mango is the huge, flat seed that traverses its length. The fruit must be carefully carved away from the seed with a sharp knife. Mangoes are in season from May to September, though imported fruit is in the stores sporadically throughout the remainder of the year. Look for fruit with an unblemished, yellow skin blushed with red. Because the seed is so oversized, the larger the mango the higher the fruit-to-seed ratio. Underripe fruit can be placed in a paper bag at room temperature. Ripe mangoes can be placed in a plastic bag and held in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Mangoes need no embellishment and are delicious simply peeled and eaten plain. They're also wonderful in fruit salads and have long been made into chutney. Canned mangoes and mango nectar are available in many supermarkets. Fresh mangoes are rich in vitamins A, C and D. Packaged dried mango comes in chunks and strips and is available in health-food stores and many gourmet markets. It must be rehydrated in warm water for about 4 hours before being used in baked goods, PRESERVES, etc. Green mango is the unripe fruit, which has many uses in the cuisines of India, Malaysia and Thailand. This tart fruit is used fresh in various vegetable and lentil dishes, as well as to tenderize meat (just like PAPAYA, green mango contains enzymes that will break down connective tissue). Fresh green mango is pickled and sold as a condiment for Indian dishes. Dried green mango has many uses, one of the most popular being to make AMCHOOR, an Indian seasoning used to flavor many dishes. Green mango may be purchased in various forms in Asian and Indian markets.
mango powder see  AMCHOOR
mangosteen [MANG-uh-steen] Widely cultivated in the Asian tropics, the mangosteen is no relation to the mango. In size and structure, it's much like a tangerine, having 5 to 8 fruit segments. The segmented flesh is soft, cream-colored and juicy. It has a tantalizingly sweet-tart flavor that is extremely refreshing. The hard skin of the mangosteen is a dark purple-brown. Unfortunately, the mangosteen is rarely imported to the United States.
Manhattan A COCKTAIL made with bourbon or blended whiskey mixed with sweet vermouth. It's served over ice and garnished with a MARASCHINO CHERRY. A perfect Manhattan uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, while a dry Manhattan uses all dry vermouth.
manicotti [man-uh-KOT-tee] Tube-shaped noodles about 4 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. They're available packaged in supermarkets. Manicotti are boiled, then stuffed with a meat or cheese mixture, covered with a sauce and baked. See also  PASTA.
manioc [MAN-ee-ok] see  CASSAVA
mannitol [MAN-ih-tahl] A white, crystalline sweetener added to processed foods for the purpose of thickening, stabilizing and sweetening.
manteca cheese see  MOZZARELLA CHEESE
manzanilla [mahn-zuh-NEE-yuh, mahn-suh-NEEL-yuh] A favorite APÉRITIF in its native Spain, manzanilla is a light, extremely dry SHERRY. It's served cold, often to accompany seafood, and is commonly used in savory sauces.
maple sugar; maple syrup The American Indians taught the Colonists how to tap the maple tree for its sap and boil it down to what the Indians called "sweetwater." Canada, New York and Vermont are all known for their superior maple products. The maple-tapping season (called "sugar season") usually begins sometime around mid-February and can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. The "sugarmakers" insert spouts into the maple trees (a grove of which is called a "sugarbush") and hang buckets from them to catch the sap. Some companies connect plastic tubing to the spout, running it from tree to tree and eventually directly to a large holding tank where it's stored until ready to be processed. The sap is then taken to the "sugarhouse," where it's boiled until evaporated to the desired degree. Quite simply, maple syrup is sap that has been boiled until much of the water has evaporated and the sap is thick and syrupy. At the beginning of the sugar season, when the sap is concentrated, it only takes about 20 gallons of it to make a gallon of syrup, whereas toward the end of the season it may take up to 50 gallons of sap. Maple sugar, which is about twice as sweet as granulated white sugar, is the result of continuing to boil the sap until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated. In between those two stages at least two other products are made: maple honey (thicker than syrup) and maple cream or butter (thick and spreadable). Maple syrup is graded according to color and flavor. Generally, U.S. grades are: Fancy or Grade AA, a light amber colored syrup with a mild flavor; Grade A is medium amber and mellow-flavored; Grade B is dark amber and hearty flavored; and Grade C is very dark with a robust, molasseslike flavor. Since the processing of maple syrup is labor-intensive, pure maple syrup is quite expensive. A less costly product labeled maple-flavored syrup is a combination of less expensive syrup (such as CORN SYRUP) and a small amount of pure maple syrup. Pancake syrups are usually nothing more than corn syrup flavored with artificial maple extract. Pure maple syrup should be refrigerated after opening. Warm to room temperature before serving.
maraschino cherry [mar-uh-SKEE-noh, mar-uh-SHEE-noh] This specially treated fruit can be made from any variety of cherry, though the ROYAL ANN is most often used. The cherries are pitted and then MACERATED in a flavored SUGAR SYRUP (usually almond flavor for red cherries, mint for green). At one time they were traditionally flavored with MARASCHINO LIQUEUR, though such an extravagance is now rare. The cherries are then dyed red or green. The federal government has now banned the use of the harmful dyes that were used until recently. Maraschino cherries can be purchased with or without stems. They're used as a garnish for desserts and cocktails, as well as in baked goods and fruit salads.
maraschino liqueur [mar-uh-SKEE-noh, mar-uh-SHEE-noh] A bittersweet, cherry-flavored Italian LIQUEUR made from wild marasca  cherries (and their crushed pits) grown in the area of Trieste.
marc [MARK, Fr. , MAHR ] 1. The residue (skins, pits, seeds, etc.) remaining after the juice has been pressed from a fruit, usually grapes. 2. A potent EAU DE VIE distilled from this mixture. It's the French counterpart to GRAPPA.
marchands de vin [mar-SHAWN , duh VAN ] A French sauce (the name of which means "wine merchants") made from a heavily reduced mixture of full-bodied red wine, chopped SHALLOTS, cracked pepper and GLACE DE VIANDE. At the last minute, butter, lemon juice and minced parsley are whisked into the REDUCTION. Marchands de vin, which is sometimes chilled until firm, is a popular accompaniment for grilled or roasted meats.
Marengo, à la [muh-RENG-goh] A veal or chicken dish in which the meat is sautéed in olive oil, then braised with tomatoes, onions, olives, garlic, white wine or brandy and seasonings. Sometimes scrambled eggs accompany the dish. It's said to have been created by Napoleon's chef after the 1800 Battle of Marengo.
margarine [MAHR-juh-rihn, MAHRJ-rihn] Developed in the late 1800s as a butter substitute, margarine (which is less expensive but not as flavorful as butter) is made with vegetable oils. In order for margarine to become solid, the oil must undergo a chemical transformation known as hydrogenation — indicated as hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils on a label. During hydrogenation, extra hydrogen atoms are pumped into unsaturated fat, a process that creates TRANS FATTY ACIDS and converts the mixture into a saturated fat, thereby obliterating any benefits it had as a polyunsaturate. Some researchers believe that hydrogenated oils may actually be more damaging than regular saturated fats for those limiting cholesterol in their diets, but the jury's still out on that debate. Those margarines lowest in cholesterol are made from a high percentage of polyunsaturated canola, safflower or corn oil. To make this butter substitute taste and look more like the real thing, cream or milk is often added. Food coloring, preservatives, emulsifiers and vitamins A and D are also common additives. Careful label scrutiny is advised because the ingredients affect everything from flavor to texture to nutritive value. Regular margarine must contain 80 percent fat. The remaining 20 percent consists of liquid, coloring, flavoring and other additives. Margarine is available salted and unsalted. So are butter-margarine blends, which are usually proportioned 40 to 60 percent respectively. Soft margarine is made with all vegetable oils (no animal fats) and remains soft and spreadable when cold. Whipped margarine has had air (which sometimes can equal half the volume) beaten into it, making it fluffy and easy to spread. Because of the added air, it cannot be substituted for regular margarine in baked goods. So-called liquid margarine is soft enough to be squeezable when cold and comes in pliable bottles made specifically for that purpose. It's convenient for basting and for foods such as corn on the cob and waffles. There are also many reduced-fat margarines on the market today. These products range from about 25 percent to 65 percent less fat than regular margarine. There's even fat-free margarine, the ingredients of which include gelatin, rice starch and lactose. The first ingredient listed on reduced-fat margarine labels is water , which means they can't be substituted for regular margarine for baking and frying, and which also means they can make toast soggy. Margarine comes in 1-pound packages — either in 4 (4-ounce) sticks or in 2 (8-ounce) tubs. It's also available in 1-pound tubs. All margarine readily absorbs flavors and therefore should be wrapped airtight for storage. Refrigerate margarine for up to 2 months; freeze for up to 6 months. In its early days, margarine was also known as oleomargarine . See also  BUTTER; FATS AND OILS; LABEL TERMS.
margarita [mahr-gah-REE-tah] A COCKTAIL made with tequila, an orange-flavored LIQUEUR (usually TRIPLE SEC) and lime juice. The rim of the glass is traditionally dipped in lime juice, then coarse salt. A margarita may be served STRAIGHT UP or ON THE ROCKS. It can also be blended with ice into a slushy consistency.
margherite [mahr-geh-REE-tay] Italian for "daisies," referring culinarily to narrow flat noodles with one rippled side. See also  PASTA.
marigold This bright yellow flower is used culinarily to flavor and add color to salads, soups and other dishes. The petals are sometimes dried, powdered and used as a coloring agent. See also  FLOWERS, EDIBLE.
marinade [MEHR-ih-nayd] A seasoned liquid in which foods such as meat, fish and vegetables are soaked (marinated) in order to absorb flavor and, in some instances, to be tenderized. Most marinades contain an acid (lemon juice, vinegar or wine) and herbs or spices. The acid ingredient is especially important for tough cuts of meat because it serves as a tenderizer. Because most marinades contain acid ingredients, the marinating should be done in a glass, ceramic or stainless-steel container — never in aluminum. See also  MARINATE.
marinara sauce [mah-ree-NAHR-uh] A highly seasoned Italian tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and oregano. It's used with pasta and some meats.
marinate [MEHR-ih-nayt] To soak a food such as meat, fish or vegetables in a seasoned liquid mixture called a MARINADE. The purpose of marinating is for the food to absorb the flavors of the marinade or, as in the case of a tough cut of meat, to tenderize. Because most marinades contain acid ingredients, the marinating should be done in a glass, ceramic or stainless-steel container — never in aluminum. Foods should be covered and refrigerated while they're marinating. When fruits are similarly soaked, the term used is MACERATE.
marinière [mah-reen-YEHR] 1. À la marinière  is a French phrase meaning "mariner's style." It refers to the preparation of SHELLFISH with white wine and herbs. It can also refer to a fish dish garnished with mussels. 2. Marinière  sauce  is a mussel stock-based BERCY sauce enriched with butter or egg yolks.
macadamia nut [mak-uh-DAY-mee-uh] As hard as it is to believe, the macadamia tree was first grown only for ornamental purposes. Thankfully, the buttery-rich, slightly sweet nature of the tree's nut was eventually discovered and has been prized ever since. The macadamia tree is native to Australia and was named for John McAdam, the Scottish-born chemist who cultivated it. In the 1890s the macadamia journeyed from Tasmania to be cultivated in Hawaii (now its largest exporter) and, eventually, California. Because of its extremely hard shell, this marble-size, golden brown nut is usually sold shelled, either roasted or raw. It has a high fat content and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent rancidity. Macadamias are widely used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. See also  NUTS.
macaroni [mak-uh-ROH-nee] Legend has it that upon being served a dish of this food, an early Italian sovereign exclaimed "Ma caroni! " meaning "how very dear." This semolina-and-water PASTA does not traditionally contain eggs. Most macaronis are tube-shape, but there are other forms including shells, twists and ribbons. Among the best-known tube shapes are: elbow (a short, curved tube); ditalini (tiny, very short tubes); mostaccioli (large, 2-inch-long tubes cut on the diagonal, with a ridged or plain surface); penne (large, straight tubes cut on the diagonal); rigatoni (short, grooved tubes); and ziti (long, thin tubes). Most macaronis almost double in size during cooking. The Italian spelling of the word is maccheroni .
macaroon [mak-uh-ROON] A small cookie classically made of almond paste or ground almonds (or both) mixed with sugar and egg whites. Almond macaroons can be chewy, crunchy or a combined texture with the outside crisp and the inside chewy. There is also a coconut macaroon, which substitutes coconut for the almonds. Macaroons can be flavored with various ingredients such as chocolate, maraschino cherries or orange peel.
maccheroni [mahk-kay-ROH-nee] The Italian word for all types of MACARONI, from hollow tubes, to shells, to twists.
mace [MAYS] This spice tastes and smells like a pungent version of NUTMEG, and for a very good reason . . . mace is the bright red membrane that covers the nutmeg seed. After the membrane is removed and dried it becomes a yellow-orange color. It's sold ground and, less frequently, whole (in which case it's called a "blade"). Mace is used to flavor all manner of foods, sweet to savory. See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.
macédoine [mas-eh-DWAHN] A dish of colorful, attractively cut fresh fruits or, less commonly, vegetables, either of which may be raw or cooked. The fruits are customarily either briefly soaked or drizzled with a mixture of SUGAR SYRUP and LIQUEUR. A fruit macédoine is served for dessert, either cold or FLAMBÉED. For a savory macédoine, each vegetable is cooked separately, then artfully arranged together on a plate and dressed with seasoned melted butter. It can be served as a side dish or a first course.
macerate [MAS-uh-rayt] To soak a food (usually fruit) in a liquid in order to infuse it with the liquid's flavor. A spirit such as brandy, rum or a LIQUEUR is usually the macerating liquid. See also  MARINATE.
mâche [MAHSH] see  CORN SALAD
mackerel [MAK-uhr-uhl] Any of several species of fish found in the Atlantic Ocean off both the North American and European coasts. The king mackerel (also called kingfish ) is probably the most well known of this family of fish. The mackerel has a firm, high-fat flesh with a pleasant savory flavor. When small (about 1 pound), it's sold whole. Larger fish are cut into fillets and steaks. Mackerel is also available smoked or salted. The latter must be soaked overnight before using to leach excess salt. Mackerel can be cooked in almost any manner including broiling, baking and sautéing. See also  FISH.
Mackinaw trout see  CHAR
Macoun apple [muh-KOON] This favorite East Coast apple is small to medium-size and wine red in color. It's crisp, juicy and sweetly tart. The Macoun is considered an all-purpose apple, but is especially good for eating out of hand. See also  APPLE.
Madagascar bean [mad-uh-GAS-cahr] Another name for LIMA BEAN.
Madeira [muh-DEER-uh] Named after the Portuguese-owned island where it's made, Madeira is a distinctive FORTIFIED WINE that's subjected to a lengthy heating process during maturation. It can range in color from pale blond to deep tawny and runs the gamut from quite dry to very sweet. The pale golden Sercial is the lightest, driest Madeira, while the rich, dark Malmsey is the sweetest. Bual and Verdelho are both medium-sweet wines. The flavor of American-made Madeiras cannot compare with that of the Portuguese originals . . . but then they're a fraction of the price. The lighter Madeiras are often served as APÉRITIFS, while the richer, darker Malmsey is perfect for after-dinner sipping. Madeira is also an excellent cooking wine and can be used in both sweet and savory preparations.
Madeira cake A traditional English favorite that's like a simple POUND CAKE, the top of which is sprinkled with candied lemon peel halfway through baking. The name comes from the fact that it is usually served with a glass of MADEIRA. Some cooks also sprinkle the baked cake with Madeira before it cools.
madeleine [MAD-l-ihn, mad-LEHN] A small, feather-light, spongy cake that is eaten like a cookie, often dipped in coffee or tea. Madeleines are baked in a special pan with scallop-shell indentations; the finished cakes take the form of the shell. In his landmark novel Remembrance of Things Past , French novelist Marcel Proust immortalized the madeleine when he wrote, "I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place." Sounds as though he rather liked it.
madrilène [MAD-ruh-lehn, mad-rih-LAYN] 1. A CONSOMMÉ flavored with fresh tomato juice. Madrilène may be served hot or cold; in the latter instance it's usually jellied. A lemon slice or wedge is the traditional accompaniment. Canned madrilène is available in most supermarkets. It should be shaken well before being refrigerated to set. 2. À la madrilène  is French for "in the manner of Madrid" and refers to many foods that are cooked or flavored with tomatoes or tomato juice.
mafalda [mahl-FAHL-duh] A broad, flat noodle that resembles a narrow, ripple-edged LASAGNA noodle. See also  PASTA.
magdalena [mahg-dah-LAY-nah] Thought by some to be Spain's answer to the French MADELEINE, magdalenas are small sponge cakes made with eggs, flour and olive oil — although many modern versions use sunflower oil instead. Although these small cakes have been made for special holidays since the Middle Ages, they are now so popular that they're an everyday pleasure for most Spaniards. Magdalenas have an invitingly tender, moist texture and shiny, golden brown tops. They come in three basic shapes — the classic, high-domed round, a flat-topped round and an oblong shape.
magliette [mah-LYAY-tay] Short, curved tubes of PASTA.
magnum [MAG-nuhm] see  WINE BOTTLES
mahi mahi; mahi-mahi [MAH-hee MAH-hee] Though this is actually a type of dolphin, it shouldn't be confused with the dolphin that is a mammal. To avoid this misunderstanding, the Hawaiian name mahi mahi  is becoming more widespread. Also called dolphinfish  and dorado , mahi mahi is found in warm waters throughout the world. It's a moderately fat fish with firm, flavorful flesh. It ranges in weight from 3 to 45 pounds and can be purchased in steaks or fillets. Mahi mahi is best prepared simply, as in grilling or broiling. See also  FISH.
mahleb; mahlab [MAH-lehb] Used in the Middle East as a flavoring in baked goods, mahleb is ground black-cherry pits. It can be purchased in Greek or Middle Eastern markets, either prepackaged or ground to order.
Maibowle [MAY-bohl] see  MAY WINE
mais [mah-EESS] French for "corn" or "corn on the cob."
maison [may-ZOHN] The French word for "house." On a menu, such a designation — like pâté maison  — refers to a specialty of the house or to the fact that the dish was made by the house chef.
mai tai [MI-ti] A potent, complex mixed drink made with light and dark rums, ORGEAT SYRUP, CURAÇAO, orange and lime juices and any other touches the bartender might add. It's served over ice and garnished with a skewer of fresh fruit. The mai tai is said to have been created by Victor Bergeron, the original owner of Trader Vic's restaurant, who said he created it for a couple of Tahitian friends. On tasting it, they reportedly exclaimed, "Mai Tai!" meaning "out of this world."
maître d' butter; maître d'hôtel butter [MAY-truh (MAY-tehr) doh-TELL] A COMPOUND BUTTER made by blending together softened butter, lemon juice or vinegar, chopped parsley and seasonings. It is served as an accompaniment to fish, poultry and meat.
Muscadine grape [MUHS-kuh-dihn] Found in the southeastern United States, this thick-skinned purple grape has a strong, musky flavor. It's a native American grape grown mainly to be eaten although it's also used to make a limited amount of wine. In fact, the muscadine was one of the first varieties from which wine was made in America. One of its varieties — the scuppernong  — is used to make a sweet wine that is still popular in the South. See also  GRAPE.
monounsaturated oils; monounsaturates [mon-oh-uhn-SACH-uh-ray-tihd] see  FATS AND OILS
monstera [mon-STAIR-uh] Also called ceriman  and Mexican breadfruit , this unique tropical-American fruit looks like a narrow, foot-long pine cone. The thick, green skin has hexagonal scales that individually separate and pop off as the fruit begins to ripen. Inside, the ripe, off-white flesh is formed in segments correlating to the skin's pattern. It's creamy-smooth and resembles a very firm custard. The flavor is sweet-tart and reminiscent of pineapple with touches of banana and mango. If underripe, however, the monstera has an off-taste and an irritant that will inflame both mouth and throat. In the United States, the monstera can be found in California, Florida and a few other locales that have produce markets specializing in exotic fruit. The monstera should be ripened at room temperature until the scales pop off and expose the luscious fruit, which is best plucked out and eaten plain with a spoon or fork.
mont blanc [mawhn , BLAHN ] A classic dessert of sweetened, pureed chestnuts subtly flavored with vanilla. The mixture is RICED and mounded into a high, fluffy mountain on a platter. This sweet alp is capped with whipped cream or crème CHANTILLY. Mont Blanc ("white mountain") is a peak in the French Alps near the Italian border.
Monte Cristo sandwich [MON-tee KRIHS-toh] A sandwich consisting of slices of cooked chicken or turkey, cheese (usually Swiss) and sometimes baked ham. The sandwich is dipped into beaten egg and grilled in butter until golden brown.
Monterey Jack cheese So named because it originated in Monterey, California, this versatile cheese can be made from whole, partly skimmed or skimmed cow's milk. It's also called California Jack  or simply Jack  cheese. The widely available unaged version is buttery-ivory in color, semisoft in texture and has a mild, somewhat bland flavor reminiscent of American Muenster. It has high moisture and good melting properties, making it excellent for sandwiches as well as for cooked dishes. Some versions contain flavorings such as jalapeño pepper, garlic and dill. Aged or dry Monterey Jack bears a closer resemblance to cheddar, with its yellow color, firmer texture and richer, sharper flavor. Because of its lower moisture content it's often used as a grating cheese. Unaged Monterey Jack is available throughout the United States, whereas the aged version is usually only found on the West Coast or in specialty cheese shops. Sonoma Jack cheese, produced in Sonoma County, California, is very similiar to Monterey Jack and has both semisoft and dry versions. See also  CHEESE.
Montmorency, à la [mont-muh-REHN-see, mawn , -moh-rahn , -SEE] A term meaning "made or served with cherries," applying to various desserts and entrées such as caneton à la Montmorency  — roast duckling with cherry sauce.
Montmorency cherry [mont-muh-REHN-see] An extremely popular sour cherry and the primary cherry grown to be sold fresh (most sour cherries are used for canning purposes). The skin is a medium red and the extremely juicy flesh a creamy beige. As with most sour cherries, cooking brings out the fresh, tart flavor of the Montmorency. It can be used in cold soups, in entrée sauces or in desserts. See also  CHERRY.
Montrachet cheese [mohn-truh-SHAY, mawn , -ruh-SHEH] A white CHÈVRE from Burgundy with a soft, moist and creamy texture and a mildly tangy flavor. It's usually sold in logs covered in a gray, salted ash. Montrachet is best when quite young and fresh. See also  CHEESE.
moonfish see  OPAH
moonshine see  CORN WHISKEY
moo shu; moo shoo [MOO shoo] A stir-fried Chinese dish containing shredded pork, scallions, TIGER LILY BUDS, WOOD EARS and various seasonings. This mixture is scrambled with eggs, rolled in small thin pancakes (called moo shu pancakes  or Peking doilies ) and served hot.
Moravian Christmas cookies [moh-RAY-vee-uhn] A spicy ginger-molasses cookie traditionally served at Christmastime in Moravia, a historic region of the East Czech Republic. The Moravian settlements in the United States — particularly in Old Salem, North Carolina — continue this tradition by making these cookies ultrathin and cutting them into various festive shapes.
morel [muh-REHL] Belonging to the same fungus species as the truffle, the morel is an edible wild mushroom. Its spongy, honeycombed, cone-shape cap ranges in size from 2 to 4 inches high and in color from a rich tan to an extremely dark brown. The morel is widely applauded by gourmets, who savor its smoky, earthy, nutty flavor. In general, the darker the mushroom the stronger the flavor. Wild morels usually appear in specialty produce markets in April and the season can last through June. Cultivated morels may appear sporadically throughout the year. Choose fresh specimens that have a firm yet spongy texture. Imported canned morels can be found in gourmet markets year-round. Dried morels have a more intense, smokier flavor than fresh ones and have the advantage of being available year-round. The marvelous flavor of the morel needs little embellishment and this mushroom is best when simply sautéed in butter. See also  MUSHROOM.
Morello cherry; English Morello cherry [muh-REHL-oh] Seldom found fresh, this sour cherry with dark red skin and flesh is used in a variety of processed products. The blood-red juice is used in making liqueurs and brandies, and the cherries can be found canned, packed in syrup, dried and in preserves. The sharp, sour taste makes the Morello unsuitable for eating raw but perfect for cooking. See also  CHERRY.
Mornay sauce [mohr-NAY] A BÉCHAMEL sauce to which cheese, usually Parmesan and Swiss, has been added. It's sometimes varied by the addition of fish or chicken stock or, for added richness, cream or egg yolks. Mornay sauce is served with eggs, fish, shellfish, vegetables and chicken.
mortadella [mohr-tuh-DEHL-uh] This smoked sausage originated in Bologna, Italy, and is the original from which the slang name "baloney" came. It's made with ground beef and pork, cubes of pork fat and seasonings. The Italian version, which is not imported because it requires additional cooking steps before the U.S. government will approve it, is air-dried and has a smooth, delicate flavor. Canned, cooked versions are imported from Italy but they do not taste like the original. The American mortadella is basically bologna with cubes of pork fat and added garlic flavor. The Germans produce an excellent mortadella that contains pistachio nuts. See also  SAUSAGE.
mortar and pestle [MOR-tuhr and PEHS-tl] A mortar is a bowl-shaped container and a pestle is a rounded, batlike instrument. As a pair, the mortar and pestle are used for grinding and pulverizing spices, herbs and other foods. The pestle is pressed against the mortar and rotated, grinding the ingredient between them until the desired consistency is obtained. The mortar and pestle are usually made from the same material, generally marble, hardwood, porcelain or stoneware. The Mexican term for mortar and pestle is "MOLCAJETE Y TEJOLETE."
morue [moh-R , EW] The French term for dried salt cod (see  COD). See also  SALTFISH.
Moscow mule Said to have the kick of a mule, this COCKTAIL is made by filling a copper mug (the traditional container) or glass with ice cubes and adding a generous amount of vodka (2 to 3 ounces), a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and topping with GINGER BEER. A Moscow mule is garnished with a lime wedge and a cucumber stick. The drink was developed in the late 1940s as part of a Smirnoff vodka promotion and has been popular ever since.
mostaccioli [mos-tah-chee-OH-lee] Large, 2 inch-long macaroni tubes — "mustaches" — cut on the diagonal. Mostaccioli can have either a ridged or plain surface. See also  MACARONI; PASTA.
mother of vinegar A slimy, gummy substance made up of various bacteria — specifically mycoderma aceti  — that cause fermentation in wine and cider and turn them into vinegar. Known as mère de vinaigre  in French and sometimes simply as "mother" in English, its growth is best fostered in a medium-warm environment (60°-85°F). The mother should be transferred to a new mixture or discarded once the liquid has turned to vinegar.
Mouli grater [MOO-lee] A French rotary grater that is perfect for grating small amounts of foods like cheese, chocolate and nuts. The hand-held unit consists of two sections with hinged handles. The end of one handle contains a food hopper with a grating cylinder and a crank for rotating the cylinder. The other section has a rounded surface that acts as a clamp, pressing the food to be grated into the grating cylinder. The hinged handles are held in one hand and squeezed so that the food presses against the grating cylinder. Meanwhile, the other hand turns the crank, causing the cylinder to rotate and the food to be grated.
mountain berry see  CLOUDBERRY
mountain cranberry see  COWBERRY
mountain oysters Also called Rocky Mountain oysters  and prairie oysters , these are the testicles of an animal such as a calf, sheep or boar. Those from a younger animal are best. Mountain oysters can be special-ordered through most meat markets. They should be used as soon as possible, preferably within a day of purchase. Though they're not terribly popular in the United States, testicles are considered a delicacy in Italy and France. They can be sautéed, deep-fried, braised and poached.
mount, to A cooking technique whereby small chunks of cold, unsalted butter are whisked into a sauce just before serving to give it flavor, texture and a glossy appearance.
moussaka; mousaka [MOO-sah-kah] Originally from Greece, moussaka is a popular dish throughout most of the Near East. Its basic form consists of sliced eggplant and ground lamb or beef that are layered, then baked. The variations, however, are endless and the dish is often covered with a BÉCHAMEL sauce enriched with eggs and/or cheese. Other variations include the addition of onions, artichokes, tomatoes or potatoes.
mousse [MOOS] 1. A French term meaning "froth" or "foam," mousse is a rich, airy dish that can be either sweet or savory and hot or cold. Cold dessert mousses are usually made with fruit puree or a flavoring such as chocolate. Their fluffiness is due to the addition of whipped cream or beaten egg whites and they're often fortified with gelatin. Savory mousses can be made from meat, fish, shellfish, FOIE GRAS, cheese or even vegetables. Hot mousses usually get their light texture from the addition of beaten egg whites. They're generally baked in a WATER BATH to prevent the mixture from curdling. 2. When applied to wine, the word mousse  describes the foam that forms on the surface of CHAMPAGNE or other sparkling wine when it's first poured. Mousse is analogous to the term "head," which is the foam on a freshly poured glass of beer.
mousseline [moos-LEEN] 1. Any sauce to which whipped cream or beaten egg whites have been added just prior to serving to give it a light, airy consistency. Mousseline sauce is HOLLANDAISE blended with whipped cream. 2. Various dishes based on meat, fish, shellfish or foie gras (usually pureed) to which whipped cream or, less frequently, beaten egg whites are added to lighten the texture. 3. A term applied to any of various dishes or baked goods that have a light and delicate texture.
moutarde [moo-TARD] French for "mustard."
mozzarella cheese [maht-suh-REHL-lah, moht-suh-REHL-lah] Hailing from Italy, mozzarella is a mild, white fresh cheese that's made by the special PASTA FILATA process, whereby the CURD is dipped into hot WHEY, then stretched and kneaded to the desired consistency. At one time, mozzarella was made only from the milk of water buffaloes. Today, however, the majority of it is made with cow's milk. Mozzarella comes in two basic styles. Most regular mozzarella, which can be found in lowfat and nonfat forms in supermarkets, is factory produced. It has a semisoft, elastic texture and is drier and not as delicately flavored as its fresher counterpart. This style of mozzarella is best used for cooking and is popular for pizza because of its excellent melting qualities. Fresh mozzarella, which is usually packaged in whey or water, is often labeled "Italian style." It's generally made from whole milk and has a much softer texture and a sweet, delicate flavor. Mozzarella di bufala  (also called simply buffalo mozzarella ) is the most prized of the fresh mozzarellas. Most buffalo mozzarella available in the United States is made from a combination of water buffalo milk and cow's milk. Two popular forms of fresh mozzarella are boconccini , which are little (about 1 inch in diameter) balls that are commonly marinated in olive oil and sometimes herbs, and a smoked version called mozzarella affumicata . There's also the unique manteca , in which the mozzarella is molded around a lump of butter. Fresh mozzarella can be found in Italian markets, cheese shops and some supermarkets. It's excellent simply spread on bread with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. See also  CHEESE.
MSG see  MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE
muddle To mash or crush ingredients with a spoon or a muddler (a rod with a flattened end). Usually identified with the preparation of mixed drinks, such as when mint leaves and sugar are muddled together for a MINT JULEP.
Muenster cheese; Munster cheese [MUHN-stuhr, MOON-ster] This widely imitated cheese varies greatly, from that of the original produced in France's Alsace region to versions made in the United States. The highly prized European Muensters have red or orange rinds and a smooth, yellow interior with small holes. The texture is semisoft and the flavor ranges from mild when young to quite assertive when aged. The American versions have an orange rind, a lighter yellow interior and a decidedly bland flavor that in no way resembles the more robust European originals. See also  CHEESE.
muesli [MYOOS-lee] Developed as a health food by Swiss nutritionist Dr. Bircher-Benner near the end of the 19th century, muesli has since become a popular breakfast cereal. The German word muesli  means "mixture," and this one can include raw or toasted cereals (oats, wheat, millet, barley, etc.), dried fruits (such as raisins, apricots and apples), nuts, bran, wheat germ, sugar and dried-milk solids. It is usually eaten with milk, yogurt or fruit juice. There are a number of commercial variations available in most supermarkets, usually labeled GRANOLA.
muffin A small, cakelike bread that can be made with a variety of flours and often contains fruits and nuts. Most American-style muffins fall into the QUICK BREAD category and are LEAVENED with either baking powder or baking soda. The yeast-raised type, such as the ENGLISH MUFFIN, is generally finer in texture. These small breads are usually made in a muffin pan (also called muffin tin ), a special baking pan with 6 or 12 cup-shaped depressions that hold the muffin batter. Each standard muffin cup is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. There are also giant muffin pans with 3 1/4-inch cups, miniature muffin pans (GEM PANS) in which the diameter of each indentation is 1 1/4 to 2 inches and muffin top pans, which are about 4 inches in diameter and only 1/2 inch deep. Muffins can be sweet or savory and, though they were once considered breakfast or tea fare, are now also served with lunch and dinner.
muffin pan; muffin tin see  MUFFIN
muffuletta; muffaletta [muhf-fuh-LEHT-tuh] A specialty of New Orleans, this HERO-style sandwich originated in 1906 at the Central Grocery, which many think still makes the best muffuletta in Louisiana. The sandwich consists of a round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced PROVOLONE, Genoa SALAMI and ham topped with "olive salad," a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, PIMIENTOS, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, CAPERS, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The olive salad is what sets the muffuletta apart from any other sandwich of its ilk.
muki goma [moo-kee goh-mah] see  GOMA
mulato chile [moo-LAH-toh] This long (4- to 5-inch) dark brown chile is a type of dried POBLANO. It has a light fruity nuance and a much more pronounced smoky character than its relative, the ANCHO. The mulato is essential for making MOLE. See also  CHILE.
mulberry There are three principal varieties of the mulberry — black, red and white. The black (really purplish-black) variety is commonly found in Europe, the red in the eastern and southern United States and the white in Asia. Mulberries look somewhat like blackberries in size and shape. When fully ripe, their flavor is sweet-sour but somewhat bland. Unripe berries are inedibly sour. Mulberries are not commercially grown in the United States but grow wild from Massachusetts to the Gulf states and as far west as Nebraska. They can be eaten raw or used for jams, jellies, desserts and mulberry wine.
mull To flavor a beverage by heating it with various ingredients such as herbs, spices, fruit and sugar. The beverages most often infused in this fashion are wine, cider and beer. See also  MULLED WINE.
mulled wine Red or white wine that is heated with various citrus fruits and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice or nutmeg. Mulled wine is generally sweetened with sugar and often fortified with a spirit, usually BRANDY. Some recipes call for stirring the hot wine mixture into beaten eggs, which adds flavor and body to the beverage.
mullet [MUHL-iht] The appellation "mullet" is used to identify many fish that are not mullets at all — such as the highly prized RED MULLET, which actually belongs to the GOATFISH family. True mullets belong to the gray mullet family and are commercially available in the United States as striped mullet  and silver mullet . These silver-gray, moderate- to high-fat fish range in size from 1/2 to 4 pounds. They have firm white flesh with a mild, nutlike flavor. Mullet can be found year-round in most South Atlantic and Gulf states, less frequently elsewhere. They may be fried, baked, broiled or poached. See also  FISH.
mulligan stew Said to have originated in hobo camps during the early 1900s, mulligan stew is a sort of catch-all dish of whatever is available. It usually contains meat, potatoes and vegetables in just about any combination. The name indicates that its origins might come from IRISH STEW, but it's also often compared to Kentucky BURGOO. The cook at a hobo camp responsible for putting this tasty concoction together was called a "mulligan-mixer."
mulligatawny soup [muhl-ih-guh-TAW-nee] The name derives from the Tamil, a people inhabiting southern India and the surrounding area, and means "pepper water." This soup is based on a rich meat or vegetable broth highly seasoned with curry and other spices. It usually contains bits of chicken (sometimes other meats), and can also include rice, eggs, coconut shreds and even cream.
mung bean A small dried bean with yellow flesh and a skin that is normally green but sometimes yellow or black. It's most commonly used to grow bean SPROUTS. Mung beans are widely used in both China and India. They need no presoaking and when cooked have a tender texture and slightly sweet flavor. Dried mung beans are ground into flour, which is used to make noodles in China and a variety of dishes in India. See also  BEANS.
Munster cheese see  MUENSTER CHEESE
Muscadet [meuhs-kah-DAY] The French produce this light, dry white wine from Muscadet grapes grown in the Loire Valley. Although not as great as other French whites (like BURGUNDY and CHABLIS), Muscadet is quite good, particularly in light of its reasonable price. It should be served chilled and goes nicely with fish, shellfish and poultry.
marjolaine [mahr-zhoh-LAYN, mahr-zhoh-LEHN] 1. A long, rectangular DACQUOISE made with ground almonds and hazelnuts and layered with chocolate BUTTERCREAM. 2. The French word for the herb marjoram.
marjoram [MAHR-juhr-uhm] Early Greeks wove marjoram into funeral wreaths and planted it on graves to symbolize their loved ones' happiness both in life and beyond. There are many species of this ancient herb, which is a member of the mint family. The most widely available is sweet marjoram, usually simply called "marjoram." It has oval, inch-long, pale green leaves and a mild, sweet, oreganolike flavor. In fact, wild marjoram is another name for OREGANO. Marjoram is available fresh in some produce markets and supermarkets with large fresh-herb sections. More often, it is found dried in small bottles or cans. There's also a very hardy species called pot marjoram, which has a stronger, slightly bitter flavor. It's found throughout Mediterranean countries but rarely seen in the United States. Marjoram can be used to flavor a variety of foods, particularly meats (especially lamb and veal) and vegetables. Because marjoram's flavor is so delicate, it's best added toward the end of the cooking time so its essence doesn't completely dissipate. See also  HERBS; HERB AND SPICE CHART; A FIELD GUIDE TO HERBS.
Marlborough pie [MARHL-bur-oh] This Massachusetts specialty is a single-crust pie with a custardlike filling of applesauce, eggs, cream and sometimes SHERRY. Many Massachusetts families serve it as a traditional Thanksgiving dessert.
marmalade [MAHR-muh-layd] A preserve containing pieces of fruit rind, especially CITRUS FRUIT. The original marmalades were made from quince — the Portuguese word marmelada  means "quince jam." Now, however, Seville oranges are the most popular fruit for marmalades.
marmite [mahr-MEET] A tall, covered, straight-sided cooking pot from France, used for long-cooking stews and dishes such as CASSOULET and POT-AU-FEU. It's usually made of EARTHENWARE. Petites marmites  are identically shaped miniature covered pots used as soup bowls.
marron; marron glacé [ma-ROHN glah-SAY] Marron  is the French word for "CHESTNUT." Marrons glacés  are chestnuts that have been preserved in a sweet syrup. They can be found in jars or cans in the gourmet section of most supermarkets and are quite expensive. They're eaten as a confection, chopped and used to top desserts such as ice cream and mixed fruit or used to make desserts such as the rich MONT BLANC.
marrow A soft, fatty tissue found in the hollow center of an animal's leg bones and, though not as plentiful, in the spinal bones. It isn't widely consumed in the United States, but marrow is considered a delicacy by many Europeans and is the highlight of the famous Milanese specialty OSSO BUCO. Marrowbones (those that contain marrow) can be purchased at meat markets and most supermarkets (though special ordering may be necessary). They should be wrapped, refrigerated and used within a day or two of purchase. Marrow is extremely light and digestible. It can be cooked in the bone (and removed afterwards) or it may be removed first and cooked separately. The common methods of preparation are baking or poaching, after which the marrow is often spread on toast and served as an appetizer. A special long, narrow utensil called a marrow spoon  or scoop  can be used to extract the marrow from the bone. Marrow is also added to soups for body and flavor. It has the same calorie count as beef fat and contains a small amount of protein.
marrow beans Grown chiefly in the East, these are the largest and roundest of the WHITE BEANS. They're usually found fresh only in the region where they're grown, but are available dried year-round in most supermarkets. Marrow beans are customarily served sauced as a side dish, in the manner of a pasta. See also  BEANS.
marrowbone A bone, usually from the thigh and upper legs of beef, containing MARROW. The long bones are usually cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths.
marrow spoon see  MARROW
marrow squash see  VEGETABLE MARROW
Marsala [mahr-SAH-lah] Imported from Sicily and made from local grapes, Marsala is Italy's most famous FORTIFIED WINE. It has a rich, smoky flavor that can range from sweet to DRY. Sweet Marsala is used as a DESSERT WINE, as well as to flavor such desserts as the famous ZABAGLIONE. Dry Marsala makes an excellent APÉRITIF. There are also special Marsala blends with added ingredients such as cream, eggs and almonds.
marshmallow [MAHRSH-mehl-oh] Once created from the sweetened extract of the roots of the marshmallow plant, this sweet is now commercially made from corn syrup, gelatin, GUM ARABIC and flavorings. Light, fluffy marshmallows come packaged in regular size (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) and miniature (1/2 inch in diameter). They may be white or pastel colors. Marshmallows are used variously to top hot chocolate and dishes such as sweet potatoes. Marshmallow creme is a thick, whipped mixture available in jars. It's used in fudge, as an ice-cream topping and as a filling for cakes and candies.
martini [mahr-TEE-nee] Said to have been named after the company of Martini & Rossi (famous for their VERMOUTH), this COCKTAIL is made with gin and vermouth, garnished with either a green olive or a lemon twist. The less vermouth it contains, the "drier" (see  DRY) it is. A martini may be served STRAIGHT UP or ON THE ROCKS. It may also be made with vodka, in which case it's called a vodka martini. A GIBSON is a martini garnished with a tiny white onion.
marzipan [MAHR-zih-pan] A sweet, pliable mixture of ALMOND PASTE, sugar and sometimes unbeaten egg whites. It's often tinted with FOOD COLORING and molded into a variety of forms including fruits, animals and holiday shapes. Some fancy commercial marzipan fruit is colored so convincingly that it can almost be mistaken for the real thing. Marzipan is also rolled into thin sheets and used either to cover cakes or to cut into strips to form ribbons, bows and a variety of other shapes. Marzipan is available in most supermarkets, packaged in cans or plastic-wrapped logs.
masa; masa harina [MAH-sah ah-REE-nah] The Spanish word for "dough," masa  is the traditional dough used to make corn TORTILLAS. It's made with sun- or fire-dried corn kernels that have been cooked in limewater (water mixed with calcium oxide). After having been cooked, then soaked in the limewater overnight, the wet corn is ground into masa. Masa harina (literally "dough flour") is flour made from dried masa.
masala [mah-SAH-lah] A word used throughout India for a spice blend with myriad variations. It can refer to a simple combination of two or three spices (such as CARDAMOM, CORIANDER and MACE) or a complex blend of 10 or more ingredients. The principal masala blend used in India is GARAM MASALA, the variations of which are countless, depending on the cook and the dish being seasoned.
mascarpone cheese [mas-kar-POHN, mas-kahr-POH-nay] Hailing from Italy's Lombardy region, mascarpone is a buttery-rich DOUBLE-CREAM to triple-cream cheese made from cow's milk. It's ivory-colored, soft and delicate, and ranges in texture from that of a light CLOTTED CREAM to that of room-temperature butter. It's versatile enough to be blended with other flavors and is sometimes sold sweetened with fruit. In Italy's Friuli region a favorite blend is mascarpone mixed with anchovies, mustard and spices. But in truth, this delicately flavored cheese needs little embellishment other than being topped with fruit. See also  CHEESE.
mash n.  Grain or malt that is ground or crushed before being steeped in hot water. Mash is used in brewing beer and in the fermentation of whiskey. Sour mash is made by adding a portion of the old mash to help ferment each new batch in the same way as a portion of SOURDOUGH STARTER is the genesis of each new batch of sourdough bread. mash v.  To crush a food (such as cooked potatoes) into a smooth, evenly textured mixture.
matcha [MAH-tchah] A brilliant green powdered tea served in the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha, also called hiki-cha , is made from very high quality tea, which is too bitter for most western plates.
matjes herring see  HERRING
matsutake mushroom [maht-soo-TAH-kay, maht-soo-TAH-kee] This dark brown Japanese wild mushroom has a dense, meaty texture and nutty, fragrant flavor. It's available fresh from late fall to midwinter, usually only in Japanese markets or specialty produce stores. Canned matsutake  are also marketed. These mushrooms can be cooked by a variety of methods including braising, grilling, steaming and frying. See also  MUSHROOM.
matzo; matzoh [MAHT-suh] A thin, brittle, UNLEAVENED bread traditionally eaten during the Jewish Passover holiday. Tradition states that matzo is made only with water and flour but some modern-day versions include flavorings like onion. Matzo can be found in Jewish markets as well as most supermarkets. See also  MATZO MEAL.
matzo ball Also called a knaidel  (pl. knaidlach ), this small, round dumpling is made with MATZO MEAL, eggs, chicken fat and seasonings. Matzo balls are usually cooked and served in chicken soup.
matzo brei [MAHT-suh bri] A Jewish dish made with pieces of MATZO that have been soaked in hot water, squeezed dry, then dipped in beaten egg and fried like FRENCH TOAST. Matzo brei is typically served with cinnamon-sugar, maple syrup or honey.
matzo meal Ground MATZO, generally available in two textures — fine and medium. Matzo meal is used in a variety of foods including GEFILTE FISH, MATZO BALLS and pancakes. It's also used to thicken soups and for breading foods to be fried. Matzo meal is available in Jewish markets and most supermarkets.
May apple Though poisonous when green, the yellow, egg-shaped May apple can be safely eaten after ripening. This member of the barberry family is about the size of a large cherry. It's lightly sweet and acidic and makes very good preserves. The May apple is found in the East but is rarely available in markets. See also  APPLE.
mayonnaise [MAY-uh-nayz, may-uh-NAYZ] A thick, creamy dressing that's an EMULSION of vegetable oil, egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar and seasonings. If egg yolks aren't used, the product is called salad dressing, which is also sweeter than mayonnaise. Commercial mayonnaise (which must contain at least 65 percent oil by weight) sometimes contains other additions including emulsifiers and sweeteners. There are many reduced-fat mayonnaises — ranging from about 25 percent to 50 percent less fat than regular margarine — as well as fat-free mayonnaise. Besides less oil (or none, as the case with fat-free spreads), these mayonnaises contain ingredients like modified food starch, cellulose gel and other thickeners and emulsifiers, all of which help contribute to the proper consistency. Electric mixers, blenders and food processors make homemade mayonnaise a cinch. All mayonnaise should be refrigerated once made or opened. Unfortunately, the homemade style — which is far superior in taste and texture — lasts only 3 to 4 days. The commercial product can be stored up to 6 months. Mayonnaise is widely used as a spread, a dressing and a sauce. It's also used as the base for a plethora of other mixtures including TARTAR SAUCE, THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING, AÏOLI and RÉMOULADE.
May wine A German white-wine punch flavored with WOODRUFF. Also called Maibowle , May wine is sold bottled and can be found in some gourmet liquor and wine stores.
McIntosh apple [MAK-ihn-tahsh] Discovered in the late 1700s by Canadian John McIntosh, this medium-crisp, tart-sweet apple has a bright red skin that is sometimes tinged with green. It's available from late September through March. Though the McIntosh is considered an all-purpose apple, it doesn't hold up well when subjected to lengthy cooking. See also  APPLE.
mead [MEED] Dating back to Biblical times, mead is a beverage made by fermenting honey, water and yeast with flavorings such as herbs, spices or flowers. Mead was popular in early England and, though not widely distributed today, is still bottled.
meal 1. The coarsely ground seeds of any edible grain such as oats or corn. 2. Any dry, ground substance such as bone or dried fish meal.
mealy 1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles MEAL. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.
measuring cups Containers that come in graduated sizes, used to measure amounts of food. Dry measuring cups come in nested sets that can include 2-cup, 1-cup, 1/2-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/4-cup and 1/8-cup (2-tablespoon) sizes. The dry ingredient can either be stirred first (as with flour and confectioners' sugar) or simply spooned lightly into the cup, then leveled off with the straight edge of a knife. Brown sugar and shortening should be packed tightly into the cup before being leveled off. For foods such as coconut, nuts and chocolate chips, the cups should be filled, then leveled off with your fingers. Liquid measuring cups range in size from 1 to 4 cups. To use, simply pour in liquid and read measurement at eye level. See also  METRIC SYSTEM.
meat tenderizers Hanging and aging is how many meat processors tenderize meat, but the home cook can easily do so by simple mechanical or chemical methods. Tenderizing meat mechanically is accomplished by breaking down the meat's tough fibers through pounding. Meat pounders  (also called meat bats, mallets  and tenderizers ) come in metal or wood and in a plethora of sizes and shapes. They can be large or small, have horizontal or vertical handles and be round-, square- or mallet-shaped. Some have smooth surfaces while others are ridged. Tenderizing meat chemically refers to softening the meat fibers by long, slow cooking, by MARINATING it in an acid-based MARINADE, or by using a commercial meat tenderizer. Most forms of the latter are a white powder, composed mostly of a papaya extract called papain, an enzyme that breaks down tough meat fibers. The use of this enzyme is nothing new — South American cooks have been using papaya juice to tenderize meat for ages. Powdered meat tenderizer is available at most supermarkets. Most brands contain salt, sugar (in the form of DEXTROSE) and the anticaking agent calcium stearate.
meat thermometer Cooks use this tool to read the temperature of meat in order to ascertain when it has reached the desired degree of doneness. The dials on meat thermometers not only indicate the temperature, but some also have a scale indicating at what degree each type of meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) is done. A thermometer can be inserted at the beginning of the cooking time and left in throughout the duration. There are also instant thermometers that take the reading in just a few seconds; these are inserted into the meat toward the end of the cooking time. Meat thermometers come with 1- or 2-inch dials, usually measuring from 0° (sometimes 100°) to 220°F. Look for those with thin probes, which make smaller holes in the meat and therefore allow less juices to escape. Always insert a meat thermometer as near to the center of the meat as possible, avoiding bone or gristle areas. See also  CANDY THERMOMETER; FREEZER/REFRIGERATOR THERMOMETER; OVEN THERMOMETER.
medallion [meh-DAL-yuhn] A small coin-shaped piece of meat, usually beef, veal or pork.
Melba sauce Created by the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier for Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, this sauce is a combination of pureed and strained fresh raspberries, red currant jelly, sugar and cornstarch. It's classically used to adorn the dessert PEACH MELBA but can also top ice cream, fruit, pound cakes and puddings.
Melba toast Also created by Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (see  MELBA SAUCE), this toast is exceedingly thin and dry. It's sold packaged in most supermarkets and is used to accompany soups, salads and the like.
mellowfruit see  PEPINO
melon Hieroglyphics dating back to 2400 b.c. show that Egyptians knew the pleasures of these sweet, perfumy fruits even then. Melons belong to the gourd family, as do squash and pumpkin. There are two broad categories of edible melon, the MUSKMELON and the WATERMELON, each of which has many varieties.
melon baller A small, bowl-shaped tool used to cut round- or oval-shaped pieces of melon. The best melon ballers are rigidly constructed with wood or metal handles and sharp-edged, stainless-steel bowls, which come in several sizes, from about 1/4 inch to 1 inch.
melone [may-LOH-nay] see  SEMI DE MELONE
melt Using heat to convert food (such as butter or chocolate) from a solid to a liquid or semiliquid.
menudo [meh-NOO-doh, meh-NOO-thoh] Long touted as a hangover cure, menudo is particularly popular in Mexico on New Year's morning. It's a hearty, spicy soup made with TRIPE, CALF'S FEET, green CHILES, HOMINY and seasonings. It's usually garnished with lime wedges, bowls of chopped chiles and onion and served with hot TORTILLAS.
mer [MEHR] French for "sea." Fruits de mer  means "fruits of the sea," referring to a seafood combination.
mère de vinaigre see  MOTHER OF VINEGAR
meringue [muh-RANG] Very simply, a meringue is a mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and granulated sugar. In order for the sugar to dissolve completely (and therefore produce an absolutely smooth meringue), it must be beaten into the whites a tablespoon at a time. Soft meringue is used as a swirled topping for pies, puddings and other desserts such as BAKED ALASKA. It's baked only until the peaks are nicely browned and the valleys golden. Hard meringues begin by being piped onto a PARCHMENT-lined baking sheet. They're usually round and may be large or small. They're then baked at a very low temperature (about 200°F) for as long as 2 hours and left in the turned-off oven until completely dry. Hard meringues often have a center depression that is filled with ice cream, custard, whipped cream and fruit, etc. Tiny, one- or two-bite size, mound-shape meringues are called KISSES and are eaten as a confection. Kisses often contain chopped nuts, cherries or coconut. They may be baked until completely dry or just until crisp on the outside and chewy inside. An Italian meringue is made by gradually pouring hot SUGAR SYRUP over stiffly beaten egg whites, then beating constantly until the mixture is smooth and satiny. This versatile mixture may be used to create either soft or hard meringues.
Meritage [MEHR-ih-tihj] A wine term (a compound of the words "merit" and "heritage") instituted in 1989 as a certification mark registered with the U.S. Department of Trademarks and Patents. It was coined by a group of vintners who sought to establish standards of identification for a category of American blended wines made with traditional BORDEAUX grape varieties. The Meritage Association was formed to help identify quality American wine blends that, because they're not made with at least 75 percent of a single variety, can't use the variety name on the label. This forced many producers of excellent wines to either use generic names (like CLARET or Red Table Wine) or proprietary names (like the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia ) — practices that caused great confusion in the marketplace. To be designated as Meritage, a wine must meet the following standards: 1. It must be a blend of two or more Bordeaux grape varieties — for red wines these are Cabernet Franc, CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Carmenere, Gros Verdot, Malbec, MERLOT, Petite Verdot and St. Macaire, and for whites they're SAUVIGNON BLANC, MUSCADET and SÉMILLON (no more than 90 percent of any single variety may go into a Meritage wine); 2. It must be the winery's best wine of its type; 3. It must be produced and bottled by a U.S. winery from grapes that carry a U.S. APPELLATION; and 4. Its production is limited to a maximum 25,000 cases per VINTAGE. Wineries that are approved for the Meritage designation may use it in various ways on the label. They may simply use the word Meritage alone, or Meritage in conjunction with their own proprietary name (as with Cardinale  from Kendall-Jackson Vineyards) or use only their proprietary name. At this writing the Meritage Association is petitioning the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) for approval of Meritage as a class and type of wine.
Merlot [mer-LOH] A red-wine grape widely grown in France's Pomerol and Saint-Émilion districts of BORDEAUX and, to a lesser extent, in California and the Pacific Northwest. The wine it produces is similar in flavor to CABERNET SAUVIGNON, but tends to be softer and more mellow. It also matures sooner than Cabernet. Though the Merlot grape has been principally used for blending in the United States, it's now beginning to be appreciated on its own. The French have long known its value as is indicated by the great Château Petrus of Pomerol, which is often 100 percent Merlot.
mescal [mehs-KAL] Called "the nectar of the (Aztec) gods" by Cortez, mescal is a liquor distilled from AGAVE. It has a bitter-almond flavor and is often sold with an agave worm in the bottle.
mesclun [MEHS-kluhn, Fr. , KLAHN ] Found in specialty produce markets and many supermarkets, mesclun (also called salad mix  and gourmet salad mix ) is simply a potpourri of young, small salad greens. The mix varies depending on the source, but among those greens commonly included are ARUGULA, DANDELION, FRISÉE, MIZUMA, OAK LEAF, mâche, RADICCHIO and SORREL. Choose mesclun with crisp leaves and no sign of wilting. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 5 days. Wash and blot dry just before using.
mesquite [meh-SKEET] A low-slung hardwood tree that grows wild throughout the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Used in barbecuing and smoking foods, mesquite wood gives off a slightly sweet smoke.
Metaxa [meh-TAK-suh] A sweet, dark Greek BRANDY.
Methuselah [meh-THOO-zuh-luh] see  WINE BOTTLES
metric system A system of weights and measures that's used throughout much of the world. The basic units are the gram  for weight and the meter  for length. When calculating conversions, the same figure (0.236) is used whether converting to  or from  metric. The only difference is that, when converting to metric (as from cups to liters), you multiply  the number of cups by 0.236 to get the equivalent in liters. When converting from metric (as from liters to cups), you divide  the liters by 0.236 to get the cup equivalency.
Mettwurst [MEHT-wurst, MEHT-vursht] Also called Schmierwurst  because it's soft enough to smear or spread, this German pork sausage is bright red, fatty and seasoned with coriander and white pepper. Though it's uncooked, mettwurst is cured, smoked and ready to eat. It's usually spread on bread or crackers. See also  SAUSAGE.
meunière [muhn-YEHR] French for "miller's wife," referring to a style of cooking whereby a food (usually fish) is seasoned, lightly dusted with flour and sautéed simply in butter. Such a preparation is served with beurre meunière, which is BEURRE NOISETTE flavored with lemon juice and parsley.
Mexican breadfruit see  MONSTERA
Mexican chocolate Flavored with cinnamon, almonds and vanilla, this sweet chocolate is available in Mexican markets and some supermarkets. Mexican chocolate has a much grainier texture than other chocolates. It's used in the preparation of a Mexican hot chocolate drink and certain Mexican specialties such as mole poblano  (see  MOLE), a CHILE-almond sauce usually served with fowl. One ounce semisweet chocolate, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 drop almond extract can be substituted for 1 ounce Mexican chocolate.
Mexican green tomato see  TOMATILLO
Mexican potato see  JÍCAMA
Mexican tea see  EPAZOTE
Mexican wedding cakes A buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie that's usually ball-shaped and generally contains finely chopped almonds, pecans or hazelnuts. It's usually rolled in confectioners' sugar while still hot, then again after the cookie has cooled. Many countries have their own rendition of this rich cookie. Two versions are Russian tea cakes and Spain's polvorones.
meze [meh-ZAY] The Greek word for HORS D'OEUVRE or appetizer.
mezzaluna [mehz-zuh-LOO-nuh] Also called a crescent cutter , the mezzaluna ("half-moon") is a curved steel chopping blade with a vertical wooden handle at each end. It's used to mince or chop food by rocking the blade from side to side on a cutting board.
miche [MEESH] see  BOULE
microwave oven A microwave oven cooks with high-frequency radio waves that cause food molecules to vibrate, creating friction that heats and cooks the food. Microwaves travel so fast (and therefore cook food quickly) because they're extremely short. Nonmetal containers are used in these special ovens because microwaves pass through them (unlike metal), thereby cooking the food from all angles (top, bottom and sides) at once. The fact that the waves pass through glass and ceramics means that the containers stay relatively cool while the food they contain becomes quite hot. The exception is when, during long cooking periods, the food can make the container very hot. Ideally, containers and products like paper towels and paper plates suitable for microwave cooking should be labeled "microwave safe." Because microwaves only penetrate about 1 inch into food, the center of most foods is cooked by heat conduction. This also means that thin pieces of food cook faster than those that are thick. Some microwave ovens have turntables for even microwave distribution. Others have revolving antennae for the same purpose. Microwave ovens use relatively little energy and do not heat up the kitchen. Microwave ovens range in power from about 500 watts to about 900 watts. Knowing the wattage of your oven is vital to following microwave-oven recipes, most of which are written for 700-watt models. Factors that affect how fast food cooks in a microwave oven include: the temperature of the food when cooking begins; the volume of food being cooked at one time; the size and shape of the food; the amount of fat, sugar and moisture in the food (fat and sugar speed the cooking; moisture impedes it); bone distribution; and food density (carrots, for example, are much more dense than eggplant).
mignonette; mignonnette [meen-yawn , -NEHT] 1. A small, coin-shaped piece of meat, usually lamb. Also called noisette  or medallion . 2. The term poivre mignonnette  more commonly refers to coarsely ground white PEPPERCORNS. 3. Historically, a mignonnette was a small cloth sachet filled with peppercorns and cloves, used to flavor soups and stews much in the way a BOUQUET GARNI is used today.
milanaise, à la [mee-lah-NEHZ] A French cookery term for PASTA tossed with butter and grated cheese and topped with a tomato sauce made with shredded ham, pickled tongue, mushrooms and truffles.
milk Milk has been used for human consumption for thousands and thousands of years, as proven by cave drawings showing cows being milked. Today cow's milk is still one of the most popular (especially in the United States) animal milks consumed by humans. Around the world, people drink the milk from many other animals including camels, goats, llamas, reindeer, sheep and water buffalo. Most milk packs a nutritional punch and contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A and D, LACTOSE (milk sugar) and riboflavin. On the minus side, milk's natural sodium content is quite high. Most milk sold in the United States today is PASTEURIZED, which means the microorganisms that cause diseases (such as salmonella and hepatitis) and spoilage have been destroyed by heating, then quick-cooling, the milk. Pasteurization eliminates the possibility of disease and gives milk a longer shelf life. Most commercial milk products have also been HOMOGENIZED, meaning that the milk fat globules have been broken down mechanically until they are evenly and imperceptibly distributed throughout the milk. The end result is that the cream does not separate from the milk and the liquid is uniformly smooth. In 1993, the Federal Drug Administration approved supplementing dairy cows with a genetically produced hormone protein known as bovine somatotropin (BST). BST is a naturally occurring growth hormone that's found in all cows. When bioengineered BST is injected into dairy cows, their milk production increases by up to 25 percent. Scientists assert that the composition of milk from BST-injected cows is not altered in any way and has no biological effect on humans, although many opponents are not convinced. There is no mandatory labeling for milk from BST-supplemented cows. However, in some smaller market areas, you may find dairy products voluntarily labeled as "farmer certified to not come from BST-supplemented cows." Milk is available in many varieties. Raw milk, usually only commercially available in health-food stores, has not been pasteurized. Advocates say it's better nutritionally because vitamins and natural enzymes have not been destroyed by heat. The dairies that are certified to sell raw milk have rigid hygiene standards and their herds are inspected regularly. But the milk is still not pasteurized and therefore carries some potential risk of disease. Almost all other pasteurized and homogenized milks are fortified with vitamins A and D. Whole milk is the milk just as it came from the cow and contains about 3 1/2 percent milk fat. Lowfat milk comes in two basic types: 2 percent , meaning 98 percent of the fat has been removed; and 1 percent , which is 99 percent fat-free. A few lowfat milks contain only 1/2 percent milk fat but they're not widely available. Nonfat or skim milk must by law contain less than 1/2 percent milk fat. Both lowfat and nonfat milk are available with milk solids added, in which case the label states "Protein-fortified." Not only does this boost the protein to 10 grams per cup, but it also adds body and richness. Federal law requires that both lowfat and nonfat milk be fortified with 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin A per quart. Though vitamin D fortification is optional, 400 IU per quart is usually also added. Buttermilk of times past was the liquid left after butter was churned. Today it is made commercially by adding special bacteria to nonfat or lowfat milk, giving it a slightly thickened texture and tangy flavor. Some manufacturers add flecks of butter to give it an authentic look. Dry or powdered buttermilk is also available (see  DRY MILK). Sweet acidophilus milk (whole, lowfat or nonfat) has had friendly and healthful lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria added to it. It tastes and looks just like regular milk but many scientists believe it has an advantage because the acidophilus culture restores nature's balance to the digestive tract. Low-sodium milk, in which 90 percent of the sodium is replaced by potassium, is a special product available in limited supply for those on sodium-restricted diets. Lactose-reduced lowfat milk is for people suffering from lactose intolerance. The lactose content in this special lowfat milk has been reduced to only 30 percent. Ultrapasteurized milk has been quickly heated to about 300°F, then vacuum-packed. It may be stored without refrigeration for up to 6 months until opened, after which it must be refrigerated. Though the high heat destroys spoilage-causing microorganisms, it also gives a "cooked" flavor to the milk. Chocolate milk is whole milk with sugar and chocolate added to it. Chocolate dairy drink (sometimes labeled simply chocolate drink) is skim milk with the same flavorings added. In either case, if cocoa is used instead of chocolate, the product is labeled "chocolate-flavored drink." There are a variety of dry milk and canned milk products on the market. (See  DRY MILK, EVAPORATED MILK and  SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK). Buying milk: Always check the date on the carton to make sure the milk you're buying is the freshest available. Pull dates (see  OPEN DATING) are intentionally conservative, and most milk in a market with rapid turnover will keep at least a week after purchase. Storing milk: Refrigerate milk as soon as you get it home from the store. Milk readily absorbs flavors so always close milk cartons or other containers tightly. The storage life of milk is reduced greatly when allowed to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more, as it would if put in a pitcher for serving. Rather than returning such milk to its original carton, cover the pitcher with plastic wrap, refrigerate and use that milk within 2 days. See also  SOY MILK, as well as listings for milk's most widely distributed by-products : BUTTER; CHEESE; CREAM; SOUR CREAM; YOGURT.
mincemeat A rich, spicy preserve made of fruit (usually chopped cherries, dried apricots, apples or pears, raisins and candied citrus peel), nuts, beef SUET, various spices and brandy or rum. Old-time mincemeats included minced, cooked lean meat (usually beef) — hence the name. Most modern versions do not use meat. The ingredients are combined, then covered and allowed to mature for a month for the flavors to mingle and mellow. Commercially prepared mincemeat is available in jars in most supermarkets — particularly around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mincemeat can be used in many dishes including pies, tarts, puddings and cookies.
mineral water Water containing various minerals and sometimes gases, taken from wells or natural springs. Mineral water is often effervescent and was once drunk almost exclusively for medicinal purposes. It's now commonly used as a refreshing beverage, either alone or mixed with flavoring.
minestra [mih-NAYS-truh] Italian for "soup," minestra  most often describes a soup of medium thickness, frequently containing meat and vegetables. Minestrina ("little soup") is a thin broth, while minestrone ("big soup") refers to a thick vegetable soup that generally contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans. It's usually topped liberally with grated Parmesan cheese and is hearty enough to be considered a complete meal.
minestrone see  MINESTRA
Ming Dynasty egg see  HUNDRED-YEAR EGG
mint Long a symbol of hospitality, Greek mythology claims that mint was once the nymph Mentha. She angered Pluto's wife Persephone, who turned her into this aromatic herb. There are over 30 species of mint, the two most popular and widely available being peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint is the more pungent of the two. It has bright green leaves, purple-tinged stems and a peppery flavor. Spearmint leaves are gray-green or true green and have a milder flavor and fragrance. Mint grows wild throughout the world and is cultivated in Europe, the United States and Asia. It's most plentiful during summer months but many markets carry it year-round. Choose leaves that are evenly colored with no sign of wilting. Store a bunch of mint, stems down, in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the leaves. Refrigerate in this manner for up to a week, changing the water every 2 days. Mint is used in both sweet and savory dishes and in drinks such as the famous MINT JULEP. Mint is available fresh, dried, as an EXTRACT, and in the form of oil of spearmint or oil of peppermint, both highly concentrated flavorings. Most forms can usually be found in supermarkets. See also  HERBS; HERB AND SPICE CHART.
mint geranium see  COSTMARY
mint julep One of Kentucky's claims to fame, the mint julep is an alcoholic drink made with fresh mint (sometimes MUDDLED with sugar), bourbon and plenty of crushed ice. It's traditionally served in an iced silver or pewter mug at the running of the famous Kentucky Derby. However, it's a refreshing favorite on any hot day.
minute steak A very thin, boneless beefsteak sometimes scored for tenderizing. It's small (6 to 9 ounces) and therefore usually cooked briefly — 1 minute per side — over very high heat. See also  BEEF.
mirabelle [mihr-uh-BEHL, MIHR-uh-behl] 1. Grown in Great Britain (where it's called cherry plum ) and parts of Europe, the small, round mirabelle plum ranges in color from golden yellow to red. It's sweet, but not acidic enough to make it very interesting when eaten raw. It does, however, make delicious tarts and preserves. 2. A fine EAU DE VIE of the same name made from the mirabelle plum.
mirepoix; mirepois [mihr-PWAH] A mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sautéed in butter. Sometimes ham or bacon is added to the mix. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish.
mirin [MIHR-ihn] A low-alcohol, sweet, golden wine made from glutinous rice. Essential to the Japanese cook, mirin adds sweetness and flavor to a variety of dishes, sauces and glazes. It's available in all Japanese markets and the gourmet section of some supermarkets. Mirin is also referred to simply as rice wine . See also  RICE WINE; SAKE.
mirliton [MIHR-lih-ton] see  CHAYOTE
mise en place [MEEZ ahn plahs] A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.
miso [MEE-soh] Also called bean paste, this Japanese culinary mainstay has the consistency of peanut butter and comes in a wide variety of flavors and colors. This fermented soybean paste has three basic categories — barley miso, rice miso and soybean miso — all of which are developed by injecting cooked soybeans with a mold (koji ) cultivated in either a barley, rice or soybean base. Additionally, the miso's color, flavor and texture are affected by the amounts of soybeans, koji  and salt used. It's further influenced by the length of time it is aged, which can range from 6 months to 3 years. Miso is a basic flavoring in much of Japanese cooking. The lighter-colored versions are used in more delicate soups and sauces, and the darker colored in heavier dishes. There are also low-salt varieties available. Shinshu miso is a golden yellow, all-purpose variety with a mellow flavor and rather high salt content. There are regional favorites such as sendai miso, a fragrant, reddish-brown variety found in northern Japan, and the dark brown hatcho miso, popular in central Japan. Miso is used in sauces, soups, marinades, dips, main dishes, salad dressings and as a table condiment. It's easily digested and extremely nutritious, having rich amounts of B vitamins and protein. Miso can be found in Japanese markets and health-food stores. It should be refrigerated in an airtight container.
Mission olive see  OLIVE
misto [MEES-toh] The Italian word for "mixed" or "mixture." For example, fritto misto  means "mixed fry" and refers to a dish that includes various pieces of meat, fish, vegetables and cheese, all of which are dipped in batter and fried.
mixed grill A dish of grilled or broiled meats, which can include lamb chops, beefsteak, liver, kidneys, bacon and sausages and is usually accompanied by grilled or broiled mushrooms, tomatoes and potatoes.
mixer 1. Any of various electric kitchen machines used to beat, mix or whip foods. There are two basic kinds — stationary (or stand) and portable (or hand-held). Stationary mixers have more powerful motors and therefore can handle heavier mixing jobs. They also take up more counter space. In addition to the standard beaters, stationary mixers are usually equipped with an assortment of attachments that can include dough hooks, wire whisks and flat, paddle-style beaters. Many have attachments such as citrus juicers, ice crushers, pasta makers, sausage stuffers and meat grinders. Portable mixers, as the name implies, can be used anywhere. Their small size is due in part to a small motor, which also limits these machines to smaller tasks. But size also makes the portable mixer easy to store. See also  ROTARY BEATER. 2. Beverages such as soda water, cola or fruit juice that are combined with liquor to make a COCKTAIL.
mizuna [mih-ZOO-nuh] Hailing from Japan, this feathery, delicate salad green can be found in farmer's markets and specialty produce markets from spring through summer. It's often found in MESCLUN, a special salad-green mix. Choose mizuna by its crisp, green leaves, avoiding any wilted or browning specimens. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 5 days. Wash and thoroughly dry just before using.
mizutaki [mee-zoo-TAH-kee] Japanese for "water-simmered," referring to a Japanese dish made in a single pot consisting of chicken and vegetables simmered in water and other seasonings. The dish is served from the pot at the table along with various condiments such as PONZU SAUCE, radishes, green onions, ginger and lemon. See also  CHIRINABE; NABEMONO.
mocha [MOH-kah] 1. Originally the word "mocha" referred only to a very fine coffee grown in Arabia and shipped from Yemen's port of Mocha. Today, this strong, slightly bitter coffee is still available but not as popular as it was in the 16th and 17th centuries. 2. A hot coffee-and-chocolate beverage. This flavor combination is also used in desserts, icings, candies and sweet sauces. See also  CAFÉ MOCHA.
mochi; mochiko [MOH-chee, MOH-chee-koh] A sweet, short-grained, very glutinous rice with a high starch content. Mochi is commonly used to make rice cakes, for which it is pounded in large tubs until it becomes extremely sticky. It is then formed into balls or squares, which can be found in Japanese markets. Mochi is also used in confections and rice dishes. Mochiko is a rice flour made from mochi. See also  RICE; RICE FLOUR.
mock turtle soup This soup has nothing to do with turtles but is made instead from a calf's head cooked in water. After cooking, most recipes call for the head to be taken out of the broth and cooled, after which the meat is removed and cut into small pieces. Just before serving, the meat is returned to the clear, brownish broth, which is often flavored with wine and various spices, and usually thickened. Mock turtle soup is sometimes garnished with calves' BRAINS.
moisten This term is often used in baking recipes to instruct that only enough liquid be added to flour and other dry ingredients to make them damp or moist, but not wet.
molasses [muh-LAS-sihz] During the refining of sugar cane and sugar beets, the juice squeezed from these plants is boiled to a syrupy mixture from which sugar crystals are extracted. The remaining brownish-black liquid is molasses. Light molasses comes from the first boiling of the sugar syrup and is lighter in both flavor and color. It's often used as a pancake and waffle syrup. Dark molasses comes from a second boiling and is darker, thicker and less sweet than light molasses. It's generally used as a flavoring in American classics such as GINGERBREAD, SHOOFLY PIE, INDIAN PUDDING and BOSTON BAKED BEANS. Blackstrap molasses comes from the third boiling and is what amounts to the dregs of the barrel. It's very thick, dark and somewhat bitter. Though it's popular with health-food followers, it's more commonly used as a cattle food. Contrary to what many believe, blackstrap is not a nutritional panacea. In truth, it's only fractionally richer than the other types of molasses in iron, calcium and phosphorus and many of its minerals are not assimilable. Sorghum molasses is the syrup produced from the cereal grain SORGHUM. Whether or not molasses is sulphured or unsulphured depends on whether sulphur was used in the processing. In general, unsulphured molasses is lighter and has a cleaner sugar-cane flavor. Light and dark molasses are available in supermarkets; blackstrap is more readily found in health-food stores. See also  TREACLE.
molcajete y tejolete [mohl-kah-HEH-teh ee teh-hoh-LOH-teh] The Mexican term for "MORTAR AND PESTLE" — molcajete  being the mortar, tejolete  the pestle. The black, rough texture of both pieces is a result of the fact that they're made of basalt (volcanic rock). They are used in the traditional manner for grinding spices and herbs and other mixtures. They're also used as serving dishes for preparations such as GUACAMOLE in Mexican restaurants.
mold n.  1. A container, usually distinctively shaped, into which a food is placed in order to take on the shape of that container. Molds can range in size from tiny, individual candy-size molds to large pudding molds. The food (such as butter, chocolate, ice cream, ASPIC, PÂTÉ or a gelatin-based dessert) is poured or packed into the mold and then customarily refrigerated until it becomes firm enough to hold its shape. 2. The finished dish made in such a container. 3. Any of thousands of varieties of fungi that grow on food items such as bread, cheese, fruit and jam. Molds grow best when the food is acidic and the environment is warm, damp and dark, with some air circulation. Mold reproduces from its spores, which are carried through the air until they find the right food and environment to germinate. Most molds are simply nuisances that spoil food but are not harmful. Among the beneficial molds are those purposely nurtured to create wonderful blue cheeses like ROQUEFORT and STILTON, and that which grows on the rind of CAMEMBERT, providing its distinctive flavor. mold v.  To form food into a distinctive shape either by hand-forming (as with a bread dough) or by pouring (as with ASPIC) into a decorative mold and chilling or freezing until firm.
molded cookie see  HAND-FORMED COOKIES
mole [MOH-lay] From the Nahuatl molli , meaning "concoction," mole is a rich, dark, reddish-brown sauce usually served with poultry. There are many variations of this spicy Mexican specialty, usually depending on what's in the cook's kitchen. Generally, mole is a smooth, cooked blend of onion, garlic, several varieties of CHILES, ground seeds (such as sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds — known as pepitas ) and a small amount of MEXICAN CHOCOLATE, its best-known ingredient. (Some Americanized mole recipes use bitter chocolate.) The chocolate contributes richness to the sauce without adding overt sweetness.
mollusk [MAHL-uhsk] One of the two main classifications of SHELLFISH (the other being CRUSTACEAN), mollusks are invertebrates with soft bodies covered by a shell of one or more pieces. Mollusks are further divided into GASTROPODS (also called univalves ), such as the ABALONE and SNAIL; BIVALVES, like the CLAM and OYSTER; and CEPHALOPODS, such as the OCTOPUS and SQUID. See also  CONCH; CUTTLEFISH; MUSSEL; PERIWINKLE; SCALLOP; WHELK.
Mongolian grill This audience-participation cooking is said to have originated during the time of Genghis Khan when his warriors in the field would sit around grills and enjoy cooking their own food. The basic approach is for each diner to dip thin slices of lamb (or other meat) into a ginger-soy sauce MARINADE before placing them on a hot grill (usually a large HIBACHI) set on the center of the table. Each individual cooks his or her meat (the Mongolian grill) according to personal preference. The grill is sometimes garnished with chopped scallions, mushrooms or watercress and eaten on plain buns.
Mongolian hot pot; Mongolian firepot This is a kind of Chinese FONDUE, also known as Chinese firepot  or boiling firepot . A giant communal pot of slowly simmering stock is placed in the center of the table and the participants are provided with a variety of raw, thinly sliced meats (lamb, beef, fish, poultry, etc.) and vegetables. Diners immerse pieces of their food into the simmering stock, cook it to their liking and, if desired, dip the food into one of a selection of CONDIMENTS. After the food is cooked, the rich broth is consumed by any who have room for it.
monkey bread 1. A sweet yeast bread formed by arranging small clumps of dough (which are usually dipped in melted butter) in 3 or 4 overlapping layers in a pan. The pan can be round, oblong or tube-shape. After baking, the clumps cling together to form a solid loaf. Monkey bread can be sweet (flavored with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and sugar) or savory (often made with grated cheese). 2. A gourdlike fruit of the baobab, a thick-trunked tree native to Africa. The extremely high-starch fruit is generally only eaten by monkeys.
monkfish see  ANGLER FISH
monosodium glutamate; MSG [mon-uh-SOH-dee-uhm GLOO- tuh-mayt] Commonly known as MSG , this white crystalline powder is derived from glutamic acid, one of the 22 amino acids. This natural amino acid is found in seaweed, vegetables, cereal gluten and the residue of sugar beets. It was first discovered by Japanese scientists in the 1920s. Japan, where MSG is known as aji-no-moto , is still today's largest producer of MSG, a popular flavor enhancer in Japanese and Chinese cooking. Even though it has no pronounced flavor of its own, monosodium glutamate has the ability to intensify the flavor of savory foods. Some people have reactions to MSG that cause them to suffer from a variety of maladies including dizziness, headache, flushing and burning sensations. MSG is found in the spice section of supermarkets either as monosodium glutamate, MSG or under brand names such as Ac'cent . Many seasoning mixes also contain MSG. Additionally, it's present in many processed foods such as snack foods, frozen entrées, salad dressings and soups. Be aware that many ingredients naturally contain MSG, but are not required by the Food and Drug Administration to be labeled as such. These ingredients include HYDROLYZED PLANT PROTEIN, hydrolyzed vegetable protein,  KOMBU extract  and natural flavoring  or seasoning. 
© The Residential Chef 2018