Food Dictionary

Baba
a French or Italian small sweet cake made from enriched yeast dough, often flavored with candied fruits and soaked with a rum or Kirschwasser syrup after baking. This dough is also used to make the larger savarin.
Baba ghanoush
A Middle Eastern specialty that is a mixture of roasted eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Served as either a dip or a spread. Traditionally garnished with pomegranate seeds and mint.
Backstrap
Tenderloin steak.
Bacon
A smoked and cured product made from the meat taken from the back, sides, and belly of pigs. Fat, which gives bacon its sweet flavor and tender crispness should be half to two-thirds of the total weight.
Bacon (slab)
bacon in a chunk. You must slice it by hand (and may want to remove the rind first). Slab bacon is often the only way to find top-quality bacon.
Bacon rashers
Canadian bacon or ham.
Baekenhofe
an Alsatian stew made of pork, lamb, and beef layered with potatoes and onions. The meat is first marinated in wine and herbs for a minimum of 24 hours, then assembled and baked in a paste sealed casserole until the meat is buttery tender. The juices are reduced and the top is browned under the broiler. Crisp bacon and fried leeks are used to garnish this dish.
Bagel
a hard, glazed, doughnut- shaped roll.
Bagna Cauda
A dip for raw vegetables made from butter, anchovies, garlic and oil.
Baguette
A long, narrow loaf of French bread, usually with a crispy brown crust and a soft, but chewy interior.
Bain-marie
A metal "bath" half-filled with water which protects a dish requiring gentle heat from the fierce heat of the oven or over which you can melt ingredients (eg chocolate) without burning them.
Bake
To cook using dry heat by placing foods in an oven (covered or uncovered, whatever your choice), under coals, or on a heated stone..
Baked Alaska
A dessert made of a layer of sponge topped with ice-cream, all of which is then coated in a layer of meringue. Bake the Alaska quickly (about 5 minutes) in a very hot oven until the outside is golden-brown. The meringue insulates the ice-cream and stops it melting.
Baking potato
This term refers to Idaho and russet potatoes, the big potatoes with rough, brown skin and numerous eyes. These potatoes are low in moisture and high in starch, which makes them ideal for baking. They also make good mashed potatoes and French fries.
Baking powder
A raising agent used in cakes, biscuits and breads. Commercial baking powder contains bicarbonate of soda and tartaric acid with a dried starch or flour to absorb any moisture during storage. It has only a limited shelf life. Make your own by combining 15ml/1tbsp bicarbonate of soda with 30ml/2tbsp cream of tartar. Measure carefully as too much or too little can upset a recipe’s balance.
Baking soda
Baking soda ("bicarbonate of soda") is a leavener used in baked goods. When mixed with an acid ingredient (such as butter-milk, yogurt, or molasses), baking soda produces carbon dioxide bubbles that make the dough rise.
Baking tray
Cookie sheet.
Baklava
This popular Greek and Turkish pastry is made from layers of filo pastry, nuts, and honey. A spiced lemon-honey syrup is poured over the pastry after it’s baked and left to soak into the layers.
Ballottine
A pate-like dish in which forcemeat is stuffed back into the boneless carcass from which the forcemeat was made. This may include fish, poultry, game birds, or even some cuts of meat. The mixture is wrapped in muslin and poached or braised. These dishes may be served hot or cold.
Balsam Pear
Not a pear at all, but the fruit of a tropical climbing herb in Africa and Asia. It is similar to a cucumber and is used as a vegetable in meat dishes, fish dishes, and in soups. Also called "bitter melon" or "bitter gourd."
Balsamic vinegar
A dark brown vinegar from Modena, Italy, made from reduced grape juice aged in wooden casks. The best quality product can be over 100 years old but is more commonly sold at 3 to 4 years of age.
Bamboo leaves
Used in Asian cooking to wrap ingredients for steaming. They need to be reconstituted before use.
Bamboo shoots
The tender-crisp, ivory colored shoot of a particular edible species of bamboo. The shoots are cut as soon as they appear above ground while they are still young and tender. Fresh shoots, tender and ivory-colored occasionally turn up in Asian markets, but rarely. The canned ones are tasteless but provide a decent crunch. found in Asian markets and many supermarkets.
Banana
The world's most popular fruit. The most common U.S. variety is the yellow Cavendish. They are picked green and develop better flavor when ripened off the bush. Two sweeter varieties are the red banana and the dwarf or finger banana.
Banana pepper
Fresh, can be mild or slightly hot; roast on the grill to eat or use to season tacos.
Bangers
British colloquial term for sausages. "Bangers and Mash" are sausages and mashed potatoes.
Bara brith
A traditional cake-like fruit bread from Wales.
Barbados Cherry
A cherry-like fruit from a small tree in the West Indies and adjacent areas. This fruit contains a high concentration of vitamin C. Also called "acerola" and "Puerto Rican cherry."
Barbary duck
Bred in large quantities in France, Barbary duck is less fatty than the common duck. It requires careful basting when cooking so that it doesn’t dry out.
Barbecue Sauce
A sauce used to baste barbecued meat. Also used as an accompaniment to the meat after it is cooked. Traditionally made with tomatoes, onions, mustard, garlic, brown sugar, and vinegar. Beer or wine is also a popular ingredient.
Barding
The practice of wrapping lean cuts of meat to be with thin slices of back fat. The converse of this is larding, in which long strips of fat are inserted into the cut of meat to keep it moist during cooking.
Barley
A hardy grain that dates back to the Stone Age. Used in cereals, breads, and soups. Hulled barley has the outer husk removed and is the most nutritious form of barley.
Baron (of beef or lamb)
The two legs and saddle cooked as a unit.
Barquette
A small oval shaped pastry shell with either sweet or savory fillings.
Barracuda
A pike-like sea fish with long pointed jaws filled with razor-sharp teeth. It is a firm-textured fish with moderate fat content. The type most commonly found in the U.S. is the Pacific barracuda (also called the California barracuda).
Basella
An edible leaf from a tropical plant that is cultivated in certain parts of France. Basella may be prepared in any manner appropriate for spinach. Also called "vine spinach."
Basil
An herb with a pungent flavor described as a cross between licorice and cloves. The ancient Greeks called this member of the mint family the "royal herb." Most varieties have green leaves, but one variety, the opal basil, is purple.
Basmati Rice
Basmati is an Indian rice with very small but long grains, with a distinctive flavour. It should be rinsed before cooking.
Basquaise
Food prepared in the style of Basque which often includes tomatoes and sweet or hot red peppers.
Bass
A white sea fish with three varieties - silver, sea and striped - sold as steaks and fillets. Can be barbecued, grilled, steamed, poached or baked. Good with strong flavourings.
Baste
To moisten and improve the flavor of foods (usually meats) by brushing on, drizzling or spooning over pan drippings, fruit juices, sauces, etc.
Basting
The process of spooning stock or fat over meat at intervals to prevent it drying out during roasting.
Batarde
A French butter sauce made with egg yolks.
Batter
A flour-liquid mixture that is thin enough to pour. One example is pancake batter.
Batterie de cuisine
An expression, commonly used by top chefs, to describe the essential equipment every good cook needs for the preparation of food in the kitchen.
Bavarian cream
A cream made with pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and stabilized with gelatin. This cream may then be poured into molds, or used as a filling for cakes or pastries. Bavarian cream is often flavored with fruit purees or alcohol.
Bay boletes or boletus
This wild mushroom is often found in areas where conifers grow. A member of the ‘cep’ family (cep in France, porcini in Italy), it is a robust and meaty mushroom that dries well. Often used in risottos or omelettes or simply fried with a little garlic.
Bay leaf
Also called laurel leaf or bay laurel, this aromatic herb is native to the Mediterranean. Turkish bay leaves are milder than the California variety. Used to flavor soups, vegetables, and meats. Normally removed before serving.
Bay leaves
An evergreen shrub, cultivated for ornament and for its aromatic leaves. Bay leaves are one of the most commonly used culinary herbs: a leaf is always incorporated in a bouquet garni and is good for casseroles, stews and pickling. Bay doesn’t lose anything through being dried.
Bean curd
Cheese-like product made from soybean milk. Buy fresh in cakes in most supermarkets. Can be found in cans also but the flavor is far inferior.
Bean sauce
A soybean condiment that is an essential ingredient in stir-fries. It is labeled either "whole bean sauce" or "ground bean sauce," which tends to be saltier. Available in Asian markets and many supermarkets.
Bean sprouts
The crisp, tender sprouts of various germinated beans. Mung bean sprouts, used often in Chinese cooking, are the most popular. However, other seeds and beans, such as alfalfa seeds, soybeans, and wheat beans are also sprouted.
Bean Threads
A form of translucent Chinese noodle. These are not true noodles, but are made from the starch of mung beans. Also called "cellophane noodles."
Beans
There are many varieties of bean; they can be divided into two main groups: those with edible pods (green beans), including the French bean and the runner bean, and those of which only the seeds are eaten, such as haricot beans.
Bear
A large, partly carnivorous quadruped found in America, the Arctic, and in Europe. Bear steaks should be cooked like beef, except that they are generally marinated for a couple of days in oil and vinegar or wine to help tenderize the meat.
Bear sign or bear claw
Fried pastry similar to the modern doughnut.
Bearnaise
This is the most notable of all the hollandaise sauce variations. It is made with a wine and vinegar reduction, egg yolks, butter and flavored with tarragon or other herbs. This sauce makes a good companion to grilled meats and fish.
Bearnaise Sauce
A classic French sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, white wine, tarragon, black peppercorns and shallot. It is finished with egg yolks and butter. It is good served with any plain meat or fish.
Beating
Process of mixing food to introduce air and make it lighter or fluffier. Tools utilized to beat an ingredient or mixture include a wooden spoon, hand whisk or electric mixer.
Beaver
A semi-aquatic animal of the rodent family. The tail is considered the best part to eat. Care must be taken when skinning to avoid severing the musk gland, which will permeate the entire flesh when cut.
Bechamel sauce
A white sauce given extra flavour by infusing the milk with carrot, onion, celery, black peppercorns, blade mace and bay leaf for 30 minutes. Bechamel is the base for many other sauces and was named after its inventor, Louis XIV's steward Louis de Bechamel.
Beechnut
The small, triangular fruit of the beech tree that has been used since prehistoric times. The flavor has been described as a cross between a hazelnut and a chestnut. Usually roasted before serving. Used in breads and pressed for oil.
Beef
The meat from cows, steers (males castrated when very young), heifers (females that have never borne a calf) and bulls under 2 years old. The eight USDA grades are Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner.
Beef fillet (filet mignon)
This tender but expensive boneless cut of meat comes from the small end of the tenderloin. It should be cooked quickly by frilling or sauteing. Not an overly flavorful cut of meat.
Beef stock
Real beef stock is superior to any. But consomme or bouillon (mostly salt) may be substituted in a pinch.
Beef Tartare
A dish of coarsely ground beef. The meat is normally high-quality, lean, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and seasonings. Beef tartar is often served with a raw egg placed on top, along with capers, parsley, and onions.
Beefalo
A cross between the American bison (commonly called buffalo) and cattle, the beef strain being dominant. The dark red meat of beefalo is very lean and has a somewhat stronger flavor than beef.
Beer
A low-alcohol beverage brewed from malted barley and cereals (such as corn or rye) mixed with yeast (for fermentation) and flavored with hops. Since about 90% of beer is water, the water used in very important to the taste of the beer.
Beerwurst
A German cooked sausage with a garlic flavor and a dark red color. Normally used as lunch meat. Also know as "Bierwurst."
Beet
A firm, round-rooted vegetable with nutritious leafy greens. Commonly known as the garden beet. In addition to the garden beet, are the spinach or leaf beet ("Swiss chard"), the sugar beet, and the mangold, which is used mostly for fodder.
Beignet
A French or Creole version of doughnuts. Dough or batter is deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar or glazed with a flavored syrup.
Bell peppers
Also known as sweet peppers, bell peppers are "mature" when they turn bright green, but they are not yet ripe; their flavor is sharp, even acrid at this point. If picked after they have changed to red, yellow, or orange their flavor will have mellowed considerably.
Belle Helene
Best known as the name of a dessert with poached pears, ice cream, and chocolate sauce. It is also a term used in French cookery as a name for a garnish to grilled meat dishes.
Belly-Fish
This large low-fat, firm-textured salt-water fish has a mild, sweet flavor that compares with lobster. Sometimes referred to as "poor man's lobster." Also called "angler fish," "monkfish," and "goosefish."
Benedictine
A sweet liqueur named after the Benedictine monks of Normandy who first created it in the 16th century. This liqueur is based on cognac and flavored with various aromatics, fruit peels, and herbs.
Bercy
A French sauce with white wine and shallots as a base.
Berliner-Style Sausage
Cooked, smoked sausage -- Made of cured, coarsely ground pork and some mildly cured, finely chopped beef; contains no seasoning other than sugar and salt; available in rolls or packaged slices.
Bermuda onion
This big, sweet, ivory-colored onion truly does not come from Bermuda. A sweet, crisp topping for sandwiches, this onion is also a good choice for everyday cooking. Bermudas have a shorter shelf life than the basic yellow onion. Also called Spanish onion.
Besan
Used in East Indian cooking, besan is a pale yellow flour made from ground, dried chickpeas. This nutritious, high-protein flour is used for myriad preparations including doughs, dumplings, noodles, a thickener for sauces and in batter for deep-fried foods. Besan, also known as gram flour can be found in Indian or Asian markets. Store, wrapped airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Betty
a baked dessert dating to Colonial America, It is a baked pudding made with layers of spiced sweetened fruit (usually apples) and buttered bread crumbs. Apple Brown Betty is made with brown sugar and sliced apples.
Beurre Blanc
An emulsified sauce made of a wine or vinegar reduction blended with softened butter. This may be flavored in many ways, for fish, vegetables, and poultry dishes. This is a very tricky sauce and does not hold for long periods of time. Because of this, modern versions add a touch of cream to stabilize the sauce for longer periods of time.
Beurre Manie
French for ‘kneaded butter’, beurre manie is a paste of flour and softened butter, usually in equal parts, used to thicken sauces and stews.
Beurre Noir
A tart sauce made with browned butter mixed with vinegar.
Bibb Lettuce
A type of butterhead lettuce with soft, loose, tender whitish-green leaves and a mild flavor. Other butterhead lettuce varieties include "Boston" and "buttercrunch."
Bigarade
A sauce, usually served with duck, which includes orange juice and orange rind.
Binder
An additive used to improve the binding properties of lean meat or poultry or meat and/or poultry mixtures. Binders have strong affinity for water, therefore misuse binders may cause the product to be adulterated with excess water.
Binding
A method of preparation that adds eggs, cream, melted fat or roux to a dry mixture in order to hold it together and keep the mixture from separating.
Bird’s eye chillies
A general term for tiny chillies which are extremely pungent and spicy. Sometimes used to describe Thai chillies which are, paradoxically, Mexican in origin.
Birria
Spanish name given to a dish of seasoned meat, then barbecued or steamed.
Biscochitos
Crispy anise-flavored cookies native to New Mexico; cut into stars or other decorative shapes and traditionally served at Christmas.
Biscotti
Twice-baked Italian biscuits flavoured with aniseed, chocolate or almonds. These hard, crunchy biscuits are ideal for dipping in dessert wine or coffee.
Biscuit
1. A small cake of shortened bread leavened with baking powder or soda. 2. Chiefly British. a. A thin, crisp cracker. b. A cookie.
Bison
Also know as the "American Buffalo," bison is presently raised on game farms. The meat is very tender and tastes quite a bit like lean beef. It has no pronounced gamey flavor.
Bisque
A rich, creamy soup, usually made with shellfish.
Bistella
See Pastilla for a definition.
Bitter Melon
The fruit of a tropical climbing herb in Africa and Asia. It is similar to a cucumber and is used as a vegetable in meat dishes, fish dishes, and in soups. Also called "Balsam pear" or "bitter gourd."
Bitters
A liquid combination of cloves, cinnamon, quinine, nutmeg, rum, dried fruits, and other root and herbal extracts. Primarily used in cocktails.
Bittersweet chocolate
Often used in cake and cookie recipes. Bittersweet or semisweet chocolates are often used interchangeably, although bittersweet generally has more chocolate liquor, a paste formed from roasted, ground cocoa beans. Semisweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor while finer bittersweet chocolates contain 50% or more chocolate liquor. Both chocolates have a deep, smooth, intense flavor that comes from the blend of cocoa beans to dairy products. Sugar, vanilla extract, and cocoa butter are added to the chocolate liquor to create an even richer chocolate flavor.
Blachan
A pungent shrimp paste used in very small amounts as seasoning in Thai soups and curries.
Black (turtle) bean (frijoles negros)
Native of the Yucatan; satiny black on the exterior, creamy white inside, with a hearty, almost smoky flavor; commonly used in soups and low-fat sauces, side dishes, salads and pureed; cooked beans can be rinsed and added to salsas for visual interest. This multipurpose dried bean is medium-sized (up to one-half inch long), round to almost square, and deep black with a white line and interior.
Black Beans
Also known as "turtle beans" or "black turtle beans," these beans have black skin, cream-colored flesh, and a sweet flavor that forms the base for black bean soup.
Black bream
The black bream is a dark grey sea fish with tough scales that need to be removed before cooking; relatively inexpensive, it is delicious either as fillets, stuffed or baked.
Black butter
A classic accompaniment to fish, particularly skate and plaice. Made by browning butter in a pan and adding lemon juice and parsley.
Black Cod
This saltwater fish, which is not a true cod, has a soft textured flesh and a mild flavor. Its high fat content makes it a good fish for smoking. Also called "sablefish."
Black pepper
The pepper plant is a climbing vine, native to India, Java and the Sunda Islands. The fruits ripen from green to red and finally to brown. Black pepper is whole red peppercorns, sold dried. They can be used whole, crushed or ground to add heat and flavour to a dish. Freshly ground peppercorns have much more flavour than bought ready-ground pepper.
Black potatoes
Varieties of potato with deep purple flesh which are known individually as Purple Congo potatoes, Blue Salad potatoes or Truffe de Chine.
Black Pudding
This large link sausage is made of pig's blood, suet, bread crumbs, and oatmeal. It is generally sold precooked. Also known as "blood sausage."
Black Radish
A large plant thought to be of Oriental origin. These plants are grown chiefly for their pungent peppery root, which can get up to 2 pounds or more. This radish is popular in Germany and in the East.
Black rice
Milled rice is white in appearance, but the outer bran layer can be brown, red or black. Raw black rice appears charred and, when cooked, appears much like the color of blackberries. There are many varieties of black rice from China, Thailand and Indonesia.
Black Russian
a. Large, full-flavoured tomato with dark purply-black skin. Good for slicing, in salads, stuffing and baking with garlic and parsley.
b. A cocktail made with vodka, coffee liqueur and ice.
Black Salsify
Also called "Scorzonera," this is a black-skinned variety of salsify. Most varieties of this vegetable are grayish or pale golden in color.
Black Turtle Beans
Also known as "black beans," these beans have black skin, cream-colored flesh, and a sweet flavor that forms the base for black bean soup.
Black Walnut
A highly fat walnut that is better used with other foods than out-of-hand. Used in cakes, confections, and ice cream.
Black-eyed peas
A small beige bean of the legume family with a round black "eye" located at its inner curve. This bean is popular, particularly in the south. Also called the "cowpea." Varieties with yellow "eyes" are called "yellow-eyed peas."
Blackberry
Also called "bramble," these are the largest of the wild berries, up to 1 inch long when mature. Look for plump, deep colored berries without hulls. (If hulls are present, the berries were picked too early and will be tart.)
Blackfish
A lean, delicately flavored Pacific Ocean fish that is popular in Chinese cookery. Also called "Black Trout" and "Chinese Steelhead."
Blackstrap Molasses
Thick, black syrup, produced from sugar cane. In the UK and Australia, simply known as molasses. It produces a bitter flavor.
Blanch
To plunge food, such as vegetables, into and out of boiling water for just a few seconds or minutes, to allow the minimum time for cooking; this preserves colour and texture and lessens strong flavours, and can also loosen the skins of nuts or tomatoes before skinning.
Blancmange
A simple stove-top pudding made with milk, sugar, and vanilla, thickened with cornstarch.
Blanquette
A stew or white meat (veal, lamb or poultry) cooked in white stock or water with aromatic flavourings. A sauce is made with the liquor left over after cooking. Blanquettes are also made with fish and vegetables.
Bleach
To make white or colorless by means of chemicals or the sun's rays.
Blender
Electric liquefier with a glass or plastic container into which ingredients are added. A set of rotary blades is attached to the base of the vessel and rapidly reduces most ingredients to a smooth, or blended, consistency.
Blending
Preparation method that combines ingredients with a spoon, beater or liquefier to achieve a uniform mixture.
Blind baking
A method of preparing a pastry case before adding the filling to prevent the bottom becoming soggy and undercooked. The pastry is baked with a lining and beans before it is filled.
Blintz
A very thin pancake that is rolled up to encase either sweet or savory fillings. The most common fillings are cottage or ricotta cheese, fruits, and meat mixtures. Often sauteed and served with sour cream.
Blood Sausage
Also known as "blood pudding" and "black pudding" in Ireland. This large link sausage is made of pig's blood, suet, bread crumbs, and oatmeal. It is generally sold precooked.
Bloody Mary
Invented by Pete Petiot at Harry's Bar in Paris, 1921. This drink contains vodka, lemon juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and V 8, tomato juice, or cocktail juice.
Blue cheese
This type of cheese has been treated with molds that form blue or green veins that give it its characteristic flavor. Blue cheeses, including Danablu, Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton, tend to increase in flavor and aroma with age.
Blue corn
A variety of corn with blue-gray kernels; indigenous to the Southwest and originally grown by Pueblo Indians; dried and ground blue corn is more flavorful than yellow cornmeal.
Blue Crab
Named after its blue claws and dark blue-green shell, this crab is found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It is sold in both its soft and hard-shell stages. The "soft-shell crab" is simply a blue crab caught just after molting.
Blueberry
The blue-black berries of this plant are smooth-skinned, round, juicy, and sweet. Look for firm, uniformly sized blueberries that are indigo blue with a silvery frost.
Bluefin Tuna
Regarded as the highest grade tuna; used in top-class restaurants for sashimi and sushi.
Bluefish
A fatty, fine-textured fish that is also known as "bulldog of the ocean" because of its tenacity. Found in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Discard the dark oily strip that runs down its center to prevent a strong, fishy flavor.
Bluegill
One of a large number of North American freshwater fish closely related to the perch. Known for their bright, sunny colors, bluegill are also known as "sunfish."
Boar
An uncastrated male swine. In culinary terms, it is the male of a wild boar species found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and the U.S. Young boar is the best eating and is often prepared roasted, grilled, braised, or smoked like ham.
Bobwhite
A small game bird of the partridge family that resembles a small, plump chicken. The flesh is white and delicately flavored. Most of these birds are raised on bird farms today. Known also as "quail."
Bockwurst
A German ground-veal sausage that is flavored with chopped parsley and chives. This sausage is normally sold raw. Bockwurst is traditionally served with bock beer, particularly during the Bavarian bock beer festivals.
Boiling
Preparation method which cooks a liquid at a temperature of 212F or 100C.
Bok Choy
Also called Chinese cabbage, this variety of cabbage has crinkly, thick veined leaves which are thin, crisp, and delicately mild. Choose firm, tightly packed heads with crisp, green-tipped leaves. It is best suited to brief stir-frying or steaming to keep its mild flavour.
Boletus
A family of wild mushrooms known for their rich taste and meaty texture. Porcinis and cepes are two members of this family of mushroom.
Bolillos
Mexican hard rolls which are similar to French bread; also a short rolling pin 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches or more long which rolls tortillas to a uniform thickness.
Bollito
A boiling bean native to the Southwest; an ancestor of the pinto bean; takes a bit longer to cook; often used in broth-style side dishes of Mexican cuisine.
Bollito Misto
Italian dish of pieces of meat boiled in stock, including chicken, ox tongue, pigs’ trotters. Served on New Year’s Eve in northern Italy with lentils and preserved, candied fruit. The meat represents good health, the lentils wealth and the fruit good spirits.
Bologna
Also known as "baloney." This is a highly seasoned sausage meat that takes its name from the Italian city of Bologna. True Italian sausage is called "mortadella."
Bolognaise
A term that applies to several dishes inspired by Italian cookery from the Bologna region. Bolognaise sauce is a thick sauce based on various vegetables and meats.
Bolognese sauce
Ragu bolognese, also known simply as ragu, is the all-purpose thick Italian sauce made from minced beef and tomatoes. It can form the basis of lasagne or be served with spaghetti.
Bombay duck
Dried fish from India and Bangladesh, crumbled over stews and curries.
Bombe
A rich dessert containing cream or custard mixtures arranged and frozen in a mold.
Bonbel Cheese
A mild-flavored semi-soft cheese sold in small paraffin-coated rounds. It is pale cream in color. Its smooth, buttery texture makes it popular with fruit, sandwiches, and salads.
Boniato
Also called batata, this is a popular tuber in both Latin America and Asia. The blotchy skin may be purplish or reddish, and the inside is white or creamy and slightly mealy when cooked. It tastes like a cross between white and sweet potatoes, and can be treated like either. The flavor somewhat suggests roasted chestnuts.
Boning
Preparation process which removes bones from meat, poultry, game or fish.
Bonito
Large fish from the same family as tuna and mackerel. Bonito is an oily fish and is prepared in the same way as tuna.
Bonito flakes
The dried flakes of a dark, full-flavored fish, used in the Japanese soup stock dashi, which is among the simplest stocks to make. Bonito flakes are available in Asian markets.
Bonne femme
Cooked home-style; often with a creamy mushroom sauce.
Borage
This European herb has a flavor similar to that of cucumber. Both the flowers and leaves are used in salads. The leaves are also used to flavor teas and vegetables.
Bordelaise
This is a term primarily used to describe a dark brown sauce that includes shallots and red wine, vegetables, and garlic. Some versions of this sauce include slices of bone marrow added at the end of cooking. Fish dishes with this name will be cooked with white Bordeaux wine.
Borecole
A non-heading member of the cabbage family. Also called "kale." Cultivated for over 2,000 years, this vegetable can be prepared and eaten in much the same way as spinach.
Borlotti beans
A large, plump bean, pinkish brown in colour with reddish brown streaks; rarely found fresh in this country but readily available dried, it is widely used in Italian cooking.
Borscht
Also known as "borsch." This is a beet soup. It is prepared with beets and an assortment of vegetables with meat and/or meat stock. It is served hot or cold and is often garnished with a dollop of sour cream.
Boston lettuce
Part of the butterhead family, this simple lettuce sports soft but fairly well-defined heads with lots of loose outer leaves. The bland tenderness mingles nicely with some bitter loose leaf and super-crisp romaine.
Botanas
Plugs; stoppers; appetizers served with drinks.
Boterhamworst
Cooked, smoked sausage -- Dutch-style sausage made of veal and pork, finely chopped and blended with coarsely chopped pork fat and seasonings.
Bottle Gourd
A common variety of hard-shelled gourd, also called "white-flowered gourd" and "Calabash gourd." This gourd is used in the West Indies to produce a very popular syrup. Its shell is often used to create bowls and other utensils.
Bouchee
A small round puff pastry shell baked blind used for sweet or savory fillings.
Boudin
Acadian pork blood sausage, highly seasoned and containing rice. The proportion of blood to rice produces "white" or "red" boudin. It originated among the Bayou communities. Smooth sausages of two types. Boudin blanc contain veal, pork, and chicken. Boudin noir are made with blood and rice or potatoes. The latter type are popular in European and Creole cooking.
Bouillabaisse
Stew made of a variety of fish, saffron and tomatoes, traditionally associated with the Provence region of France, especially Marseilles. There are many 'authentic' recipes for bouillabaisse.
Bouilli
Meat used to prepare soup which is then served as a separate course.
Bouillon
A flavor-concentrated powder of dehydrated beef, chicken or vegetable stock. Dehydrated bouillon must be dissolved in a hot liquid before using.
Boule
A ball-shaped loaf of bread that's baked without a pan in the oven.
Bouquet garni
A small bunch of herbs, classically bay leaves, parsley stalks and thyme, wrapped in a leek leaf or piece of celery and tied with string; ideal for flavouring soups, stews and stocks during cooking and removed before serving.
Bourbon
Named after Bourbon county, Kentucky. Straight bourbon is distilled from a mash of at least 51% corn; blended bourbon contains at least 51% straight bourbon; sour mash is made by adding some of the old mash to ferment each new batch.
Bourrride
Another fish stew from southern France. Here the broth, in which large pieces of fish are poached, is strained and thickened with aioli. The two are then served together in shallow bowls with bread or croutons.
Boysenberry
Created by horticulturist Rudolph Boysen in 1923 by crossing a raspberry, blackberry, and a loganberry. It is shaped like a large raspberry and has a rich sweet-tart flavor.
Brains
Gourmets say that sheep's brains are best, followed by calves, then pigs. Often boiled with salted water and a dash of vinegar, then reheated with butter and capers or deep fried in egg and bread crumb batter.
Braising
A method of cooking foods (most often used for meats) by quickly browning in oil and then cooking slowly in liquid (wine, stock, etc) in a covered pot .
Bramble
These are the largest of the wild berries, up to 1" long when mature. Look for plump, deep colored berries without hulls. (If hulls are present, the berries were picked too early and will be tart.) More commonly known as "blueberry."
Bran
The outer layer of grains such as wheat or oats. This outer layer is normally removed during the milling process. Bran is a good source of carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, and fiber.
Brandade
A puree of salt cod mixed with olive oil and potatoes. Another version of brandade is covered with Gruyere cheese and browned in the oven. Both are served with croutons.
Brandy
A liquor distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juice. Brandies are aged in wood, which contributes to the flavor. The finest brandies are called "cognacs."
Bratwurst
A German sausage made of pork and veal and seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, and coriander or caraway. Each German district has its own special variety of this sausage. Also called "brotwurst."
Braunschweiger
A smoked German liver sausage made with eggs and milk. It is soft enough to spread and is usually served at room temperature.
Brazil Nut
A large nut with a very hard shell, cultivated in Brazil and Paraguay. The white kernel is very nutritious with a high fat content and can be eaten raw or used in cooking in the same way as coconut.
Bread
To dip foods into a liquid (beaten eggs, milk, etc) then coat food with bread crumbs.
Bread crumbs
There are two kinds of bread crumbs - fresh and dry. They should not be used interchangeably. Fresh crumbs can be made in a food processor or blender/ Dried bread crumbs are lightly browned and may be plain or flavored. They can be bought or made from good quality stale bread.
Bread Flour
A high gluten flour made from hard wheat. Perfect for yeast breads.
Breadfruit
This fruit is native to the Pacific. The fruit is up to ten inches in diameter and it has a bumpy green skin and a bland cream-colored center. Breadfruit can be baked, grilled, fried, or boiled, and served as a sweet or savory dish.
Breadnut Tree Seeds
The seeds of a tree from the mulberry family that is grown in Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. These seeds are boiled, ground into flour and made into bread. Also called "Jamaican breadnut" and "Ramons."
Breads
Any type of yeast or quick breads
Bresaola
A cured and dried beef filet from Italy with a more delicate texture but stronger flavor than that of prosciutto. A Swiss version of this is called bundnerfleisch. This style is pressed into a rectangular shape and has a bit drier texture than bresaola. Both are served thinly sliced with bread and fruit or pickled vegetables.
Bretonne
An Espagnole sauce with onions.
Brick Cheese
This pale yellow semi-soft cheese comes from Wisconsin and is brick shaped. When young, it has a mild flavor; as it ages, however, it becomes almost as strong as Limburger cheese.
Brie Cheese
This cheese has an edible white rind and a cream-colored, buttery soft inside that should ooze when ripe. French brie is considered the world's best. Made from whole or skim milk.
Brine
Salt and water solution used for pickling and preserving.
Brioche
A slightly sweet, French yeast bread, rich with butter and eggs. The traditional shape has a fluted bottom and a topknot and is made in a special mould. Good as a sweet bread or served with cheese or pate.
Brisket
Cut of beef from the belly, used for slow roasting, casseroles, stews or mince.
Broad Bean
Also known as the "fava bean," "faba bean," and "horse bean." This bean looks like a very large lima bean. The pod is inedible unless the plant is very young. Avoid pods bulging with beans as this is an indication of age.
Broccoli
This vegetable is related to the cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. It is a deep green vegetable that comes in tight clusters of tiny buds that sit on stout edible stems.
Broccoli raab
Broccoli raab, or rape, is more bitter, and has more stems and leaves than head broccoli, which has more florets. It can be found from fall to spring in markets with specialty produce sections, and can be used in any broccoli recipe.
Brochette
Cubes of meat or fish and vegetables threaded on to a skewer and then grilled or barbecued.
Broil
Using intense heat to cook food (usually meats) by placing it directly under a broiler or on a grill. This is a low-fat way to cook as the fat drips away.
Broilers
Also called fryers or broiler-fryers, these are young chickens weighing from 1 1/2 to 4 pounds. They can be broiled, sauteed, fried, roasted, and braised.
Broth
Liquid in which meat, poultry or vegetables have been simmered. Closely related to stock.
Brown
To cook food quickly (usually meats) over high heat by either frying or broiling until the surface browns sealing in all the succulent juices
Brown beans
Smaller and rounder than American beans, these are used in Scandinavian dishes. found in specialty stores or Scandinavian markets.
Brown Rice
This is the entire rice grain minus only the inedible husk. The nutritious, high-fiber bran coating gives it its distinctive light tan color and nut-like flavor. The presence of the bran means a shorter shelf life (about 6 months).
Brown sugar
White sugar combined with molasses. The darker the brown sugar, the more molasses that is used.
Browned flour
Wheat flour browned in an oven or skillet; favored by Mexican and pioneer cooks for gravies and stews.
Brownie
A dense, chewey cake, usually made with chocolate in a large tin and cut into squares.
Browning
Preparation method, usually in a skillet or pot on the stove top, which sears in the outer surface of meat to seal in the juices.
Brulee
Finishing method applied to dishes such as cream custards finished with caramelized sugar glaze. Can be done with a torch or under the broiler.
Brunoise
A very fine dice usually applied to vegetables.
Bruschetta
Italian bread, sliced and grilled or toasted then brushed with garlic and olive oil. Served as a starter or snack with a variety of toppings. A French baguette would make a good alternative.
Brussels sprouts
This vegetable is a member of the cabbage family and, in fact, looks like miniature heads of cabbage. The smaller spouts are more tender. Storing Brussels sprouts too long will produce a strong flavor.
Brut
This is a term that refers to the driest champagnes. Brut champagnes are even drier than formulations labeled "extra dry."
Bucatini
Long, narrow tubes of pasta usually served with a hearty meat sauce.
Buckwheat
A type of grain used extensively in eastern European cooking. Buckwheat flour is traditionally used to make blinis - small pancakes eaten with caviar.
Buckwheat Groats
Also known as "Kasha." Buckwheat groats are the hulled, crushed kernels of buckwheat. Normally cooked like rice and is available in coarse, medium, and fine grains.
Buffalo
Also know as the "bison," buffalo is presently raised on game farms. Buffalo meat is very tender and tastes somewhat like lean beef. It has no pronounced gamey flavor.
Buffalo Fish
This freshwater fish, which belongs to the sucker family, is similar to carp. It offers a coarse but sweet, low-fat flesh that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.
Buffet
A vast array of hot and cold foods, often elaborately garnished.
Bulghur
A nutritious staple in the Middle East, bulghur consists of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed. It has a tender, chewy texture and can be made into a pilaf. It is sometimes confused with "cracked wheat."
Bulgur wheat
Processed wheat made from the whole kernel that has been cooked and dried, used a lot in Middle Eastern dishes. Most commonly used in breads and tabbouleh salad. Three grinds; fine, medium, and coarse. Find in fancy supermarkets or gourmet stores.
Bullhead
A small, freshwater catfish that usually weighs in at under a pound. Its flesh is lean and mild in flavor.
Bullock's Heart
Also called "Custard Apple," this tropical fruit tastes like a cross between pineapple, mango, and strawberry. The flesh is cream-colored and has the texture of firm custard.
Bundles
A measured unit of casings ready for sale in salted, pre-flushed, or tubed form; bundles will be either hog casings or sheep casings consisting of 91 meters (100 yards).
Bundt cake
A ring-shaped cake baked in a tube pan that has fluted sides.
Bunuelo
A thin, deep-fried Mexican pastry. It is normally sprinkled with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Burbot
A freshwater cod with a lean white flesh and a delicate flavor. It is normally poached, baked, broiled or sautéed.
Burdock
This slender root vegetable has brown skin and grayish white flesh. Used in soups as well as with vegetables and meats. Known by the Japanese as "Gobo."
Burger
1. A sandwich consisting of a bun, a cooked beef patty, and often other ingredients such as cheese, onion slices, lettuce, or condiments. Often used in combination: a cheeseburger. 2. A similar sandwich with a nonbeef filling. Often used in combination: a crab burger; a tofu burger.
Burgundy
One of the most famous wine growing regions in France (and therefore in the world). Burgundy wines tend to be more robust and full bodied than bordeaux wines.
Burrito
Burros (Arizona) and burritos (New Mexico and Texas) Flour tortillas stuffed with meats, beans, cheeses and chile sauces or any combination thereof.
Bush Nut
More commonly known as the "Macadamia nut." This is a small, round, brown nut with a buttery, slightly sweet flavor and a high fat content. Used in a variety of dishes.
Butcher's knots
Butcher's knots are slip knots that make it possible to tighten and loosen string as needed when rolling a boned roast.
Butter
This product is made by churning cream until is reaches a semi-solid state. By U.S. law, butter must be at least 80% butter-fat. The USDA grades butter quality based on flavor, body, texture, color and salt. The grades are AA, A, B, C.
Butterbean
A pale green, plump-bodied bean with a slight kidney-shaped curve. Baby limas are smaller and milder than the Fordhook variety (which are not mature baby limas). More commonly known as the "lima bean."
Butterfish
This small, high-fat fish has a tender texture and a rich, sweet flavor. Found off the coast of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, this fish is also called the "dollarfish," "Pacific pompano," and "pomfret."
Buttermilk
Buttermilk is the liquid that is left over when milk is churned to butter. It has a sour taste and is often used in scones and soda breads. It can also be used to replace milk for a healthier milkshake.
Butternut
This is the seed of a giant tree that grows in the Amazon jungle. The kernel of this nut is white, rich, and high in fat. Also known as "Brazil nut."
Butternut Squash
Large winter squash that looks like a pear-shaped baseball bat. This vegetable weights about 2 to 3 pounds and has a sweet orange flesh. Used in breads, stews, soups, muffins, and puddings.
Butterscotch
Butterscotch flavor is a blend of butter and brown sugar.
Button mushroom
This is the standard, white, cultivated mushroom. Button mushrooms work well in concert with "wild mushrooms," which are more intensely flavored, but also more expensive.