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Culinary Terms Dictionary

TermDefinition
a l'Anglais[French] In the English style; boiled and served without a sauce.
a la[French] in the manner or style of.
a la carte[French] refers to a list of food items each priced separately.
a la creme[French] served with cream or a cream-based sauce.
a la Creole[French] dishes prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and onions as important ingredients.
a la Grecqua[French] means "in the Greek manner." Term describes vegetables cooked in a mixture of oil and vinegar, or lemon juice, with seasoning added. Serve cold or chilled.
a la minute[French] cooked to order.
a la mode[French] served with or in the fashion of. Desserts served a la mode are served with ice cream; meats served a la mode are braised with vegetables and served with gravy.
AbaisseA piece of dough rolled to a required size.
AbaloneA mollusk, related to a sea snail, similar in flavor to a clam. It may be cooked by various methods and is best suited to very long or very short cooking times. Also called "Awabi" in Japanese cuisine and "Loco" in South American cuisine. It has been over-harvested and is very expensive when available. A small amount is being commercial raised.
AbattisWinglets, giblets of poultry.
Aboyeur[French] Expediter or announcer; a station in the brigade system. The aboyeur accepts orders from the dining room, relays them to the appropriate stations of the kitchen, and checks each plate before it leaves the kitchen.
Absorbent paperPaper towel.
Aceite de oliva[Spanish] olive oil.
Aceituna[Spanish] olive.
AcharVery spicy relish from the cuisine of India and the Caribbean Islands. Achar may be made from fruits and vegetables.
AchioteDried brick red seeds of the annatto tree, used as a seasoning and to give food a deep red color. Achiote is used to add a yellowish-orange color to dishes, especially arroz con pollo. Substitute a little turmeric, paprika or saffron in a recipe if achiote is unavailable.
Achiote pasteGround seeds of the large and shady annatto tree; earthy flavor with a hint of iodine; used as a coloring agent and commercially to color Cheddar cheeses and butter; used in slow-cooked sauces and stews.
AcidA substance having a sour or sharp flavor. Most foods are somewhat acidic. Foods generally referred to as acidic include citrus juice, vinegar, and wine. Degree of acidity is measured on the pH scale; acids have a pH of less than 7.
Acidulated waterA mixture of water and a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice, used to purify or prevent discoloration in meats and vegetables.
Acitron[Spanish] candied biznaga cactus; made by simmering in a sugar syrup.
AckeeA Jamaican fruit with spongy white or yellow flesh. Available fresh or canned. Also called akee.
Aclarada[Spanish] clarified.
AcornNut of the oak tree; an Apache cooking staple.
Aderezo[Spanish] dressing.
Adobado (adavada)[Spanish] in Texas, a sour marinade paste made with chiles, herbs and vinegar; in New Mexico and El Paso, a marinade for pork made with red New Mexican chiles, Mexican oregano and garlic.
Adobo[Spanish] piquant sauce or paste used as a seasoning for meats, seafood or poultry. It includes chiles, tomato, vinegar and spices; adobo may also be used for pickling.
Adulterated foodFood that has been contaminated to the point that it is considered unfit for human consumption.
Aduski beansA small (one-quarter inch long or so), oval, brown or reddish-brown dried bean. This is an Asian bean usually made into flour, sprouted or used in desserts. Its slightly sweet flavor makes it an odd choice for a dinner bean.
Aerobic BacteriaBacteria that requires the presence of oxygen to function.
AgarA vegetable gelatin made from various kinds of algae or seaweed. The algae are collected, bleached and dried. Then the gelatin substance is extracted with water and made into flakes, granules, powder or strips which are brittle when dry. Primarily used as a thickening agent.
AgaveAgave americana; botanical name for the maguey cactus from which tequila, mescal and pulque are made.
Agnello[Italian] lamb.
Agnolotti[Italian] small half-moon shaped ravioli.
Agrio[Spanish] sour.
Agua[Spanish] water.
AguacatesAvocados; alligator pear; name comes from the Aztec word "ahuacacuahatle," meaning "testicle tree" (avocados grow in pairs).
Aguado[Spanish] watery.
Aguas frescas[Spanish] fresh fruit drinks.
Agujas[Spanish] in northern Mexico, name given to ribs of beef.
AiguilletteLong, thin slices of poultry breast or some other meats or fish.
Ail[French] garlic.
Aioli[French] a cold egg and oil emulsion with olive oil and garlic. Many variations of this sauce are made. Basically is is a garlic mayonnaise.
AirtightsCanned goods; term common used in the old West.
Ajo[Spanish] garlic.
Ajo dulcesweet chile pepper.
Ajonjol[Spanish] sesame.
Al Carbon[Spanish] a dish relating to charcoal grilled or containing meat.
Al Dente[Italian] a term, meaning "to the bite."
Al Forno[Italian] a dish baked in the oven.
Al PastorA term used in Spanish and Italian referring to a dish cooked in the style of shepherd cooking, usually vertically over a grill or spit.
Alambres[Spanish] shish kebabs.
Albahaca[Spanish] basil.
Alberta French hot horseradish sauce.
Albimar[Spanish] candied.
Albondigas[Spanish] meatballs; made of chicken, shrimp, beef or pork; usually used as a garnish for broth soups or served in tomato sauce as an appetizer or light entree.
Albondiguitas[Spanish] tiny meatballs.
Albumenthe protein of egg whites.
Alcachofas[Spanish] artichokes.
Alcaparras[Spanish] capers.
Alcapurrias[Spanish] croquettes.
AlfredoA pasta sauce originally consisting of butter, cream, and the finest parmesan cheese available. Modern versions add garlic, peas, and less expensive parmesan. All of these will make fine sauces, but nothing can compare to the original version.
Algorienne[French] a garnish of small tomatoes and sweet potato croquettes.
Aliolio[Spanish] garlic mayonnaise.
Alla[Italian] in the style of
AllemandeA rich cream sauce made of Veloute (usually veal), a liaison of egg yolks and lemon juice.
Allioli[Italian] garlic mayonnaise.
AllspiceA single spice, rather than a combination of all spices, which is reminiscent of a nutmeg, cloves, juniper berries, pepper, and cinnamon mixture. Allspice is made from the fruit of an evergreen tree found in the Western Hemisphere.
Allumettes[French] Vegetable strips, matchstick-size in length and width.
Almandine[French] made or garnished with almonds. An alternate spelling is Amandine.
Almejas[Spanish] clams.
Almobar[Spanish] light syrup.
Almond extractAn intense flavoring made from bitter-almond oil, usually combined with ethyl alcohol. Keeps indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place.
Almond Pastea blend of ground, blanched almonds cooked with sugar to make a creamy, firm paste. It is used as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, ice cream, pastries tarts. (It is the secret ingredient in rainbow and pignoli cookies, macaroons, kranskage, Danish pastries and Swedish mazarins.) And almond paste can be used to make marzipan, a sweet almond confection. [see below] Quality almond paste usually contains more than 50% almonds and the balance is sugar.
Almond Pastea blend of ground, blanched almonds cooked with sugar to make a creamy, firm paste. It is used as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, ice cream, pastries tarts. (It is the secret ingredient in rainbow and pignoli cookies, macaroons, kranskage, Danish pastries and Swedish mazarins.) And almond paste can be used to make marzipan, a sweet almond confection. [see below] Quality almond paste usually contains more than 50% almonds and the balance is sugar.
Almuerzo[Spanish] brunch.
Alubias[Spanish] white navy beans.
AmarettiItalian almond cookies much like a macaroon.
AmarettoA liqueur with a distinct flavor of almonds, though it's often made with apricot pit kernels. The original liqueur, Amaretto di Saronno, is from Saronno, Italy. Many distilleries produce their own amaretto. Usually served straight, on the rocks or used as a mixer. Used often in baked goods.
Amarillo[Spanish] yellow; ripe plantain.
AmchoorSour, unripe mangoes that are dried and sold in slices and powder. Their primary use is in Indian cooking, giving foods a sweet and sour flavor.
Amendra[Spanish] almond.
AmEricaineA French sauce or garnish containing lobster meat.
Anaheim chilesNew Mexican chiles; very few, if any, Anaheim chiles are grown near Anaheim, California now; mildly hot peppers; slim, ranging between five and eight inches long and sometimes twisted in appearance; not normally stuffed because their flesh is thin; dried and tied in strings (ristras), or ground and blended in commercial chili powder mixtures; may be purchased in cans labeled as mild green chiles.
Anaheim pepper, freshSlightly hot light-green pepper. Found in most supermarkets. There is also a Red Anaheim pepper. These are usually fond dried. Do not substitute the dried for the fresh.
Anaheim Peppers (ANN-uh-hime) Fresh, six inches long, can be green or red; mildly hot and fleshy, good for stuffing and grilling.
Anasazi beansNamed after the ancient ones, ancestors of the southwestern Native Americans, this is one of the oldest varieties; developed by forebears of the Pueblo Indians in what is now New Mexico, these beans have a variegated cranberry and white coloring that adds color to bean dishes and salads.
Ancho chileWide, broad; ripened, dried poblano chile; wrinkled and dark reddish brown color, measuring about 5 inches long and 3 inches across the shoulders; most often used in sauces and stews; sometimes ground into a powder for use in chilis and spice rubs; pasilla chiles may be substituted. This relatively mild dried chile pepper is a deep reddish brown in color. In its fresh green state, it is known as a poblano.
Ancho Peppers (AHN-choh) Wrinkled skin, squat, dark red-brown; lots of pulp; sweet and medium hot, lots of flavor; used for making mole.
AnchoiadeA dip made of pureed anchovies mixed with garlic and olive oil. Raw vegetables and bread are served with this dip.
AnchoviesSmall, silvery fish that are usually cured with salt. Many are then tightly packed with oil in flat two-ounce tins, but salt-cured anchovies are also available. These should be rinsed, and may need to be filleted before using.
Anchovy fillets, sweet pickledAvailable in Scandinavian markets.
AndouilleA hard, smoked, highly-seasoned pork, Creole-Acadian sausage originating in communities along the lower Mississippi River. Is used regularly in Creole cooking, but it is popular in French cooking as well. The Creole version of this sausage is much spicier than those made in France.
Anejo[Spanish] aged; refers either to certain types of aged liquor or to a cheese which is like a cross between Parmesan and feta.
Angel HairIn Italian, ,this fine spaghetti is called capelli d'angelo. Goes best with light, delicate sauces. Cooks in six minutes.
AngelicaLicorice flavored stalks from the Angelica plants are candied and used primarily in pastry making. Angelica is also used to flavor liqueurs.
Anglaise[French] The manner of simple English-style cooking, such as boiling or steaming.
Anis[Spanish] Anise; small, elongated seed from the anise plant that tastes like licorice; the anise plant is a member of the carrot family.
AniseA spice which produces a licorice-like flavor. Purchased ground to a powder or in seed form. Utilized in flavoring cookies, cakes and liqueurs. See Aniseed.
AniseedCrescent-shaped seeds which are a member of the parsley family; used in both sweet and savory dishes; impart a strong licorice flavor and a lightly sweet tone to food.
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