Food Dictionary

Paella
A traditional Spanish dish of rice and saffron that usually includes tomatoes, chicken and seafood.
Paillard
A piece of meat or fish that has been pounded very thinly and grilled or sauteed.
Pak Choi
Also known as bok choi, this leafy green Chinese vegetable belongs to the cabbage family. It is best suited to brief stir-frying or steaming to keep its mild flavour.
Palm Kernel Oil
This oil comes from the nut or kernel of the fruit of the African palm tree. Like palm oil, it too is very high in saturated fat. It is used in the making of margarine. Often listed in the ingredients as "palm oil."
Palm Oil
The reddish-orange oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of the African palm tree. Contains a very high percentage of saturated fat.
Palmier
A cookie made of sheets of puff pastry that are rolled in sugar and folded to resemble palm leaves. These cookies are baked until the sugar becomes caramelized.
Pan-bagnat
A sandwich from southern France, consisting of small round loaves of bread which have been hollowed out and filled with onions, anchovies, black olives, and tuna, then drenched in extra virgin olive oil.
Pan-broil
To cook quickly in a hot skillet with very little fat or a sprinkling of salt.
Panada
A thick paste used as a binding agent for forcemeats. Flour panadas are made in a style similar to choux paste. Other types use bread crumbs or potato puree.
Panboil
To cook uncovered over high heat in a pre-heated, lightly-greased heavy pan, constantly removing any fat that accumulates.
Pancakes
Also known as crepes. Thin, flat cakes made by shallow frying on both sides a thin layer of batter of flour, milk and eggs. Can be sweet or savoury, served by themselves or used to wrap other ingredients.
Pancetta
Cured belly pork used in Italian cookery, usually either in thin slices or thicker cubes. Its flavour is salty, sweet and slightly aniseed. Either dry fry in its own juices or fry in oil and then use to flavour the rest of the dish. It can be grilled until crisp and then crumbled over pasta, rice, salads and soups. If unavailable, use thinly sliced, unsmoked, streaky bacon rashers.
Panela
White cheese made with rennet; slightly salty; it holds its shape when melted; normally sold in blocks or rounds; often sliced thick and broiled or baked; Monterey Jack can be substituted.
Panetone
An Italian cake made with a dough rich in egg yolks, traditionally served around Christmas time. The dough is studded with raisins, candied fruits and occasionally pistachios.
Panforte
A rich dense torte made of candied fruit and nuts.
Panko
Also known as Japanese breadcrumbs; coarse dry white breadcrumbs used for breading rellenos and other fried foods; similar to untoasted coconut in appearance; provides a nuttier, crispier crust than regular breadcrumbs; found in Asian markets and many grocery stores; ordinary breadcrumbs may be substituted if necessary.
Panna cotta
The name for this cold dessert from Italy means cooked cream, although not all recipes call for the cream to be actually cooked. To make panna cotta, cream is added to gelatine and then flavoured with a wide variety of ingredients such as vanilla or cinnamon. The mixture is then cooled until it sets and is served with a sweet sauce.
Panocha
Mexican brown sugar.
Pansit
Wild rice noodles used in Filipino cooking. Soak in warm water for 15 minutes until supple, and drain before using.
Panzanella
A salad consisting of toasted cubes of bread tossed with vegetables and vinaigrette. The salad is then marinated for at least one hour. The bread should be very firm so that it will endure the soaking of dressing. Vegetables can include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions. Lots of garlic, capers, black olives, and anchovies are added to the salad.
Papadum
Flat lentil wafers that puff up when deep-fried. Used in Indian cuisine.
Papaya
Also called a paw paw. A fruit with green skin, fragrant and sweet orange flesh and black seeds.
Papillote
The term en papilotte is used to describe a dish cooked in a parcel that protects the food from the high heat of the oven and keeps in the aroma and flavour. The dish is usually served in the parcel so that each diner can unwrap their own. Greaseproof paper is the better wrapping to use as foil does not puff up as well.
Pappardelle
Wide flat pasta noodles served with rich, hearty sauces.
Paprika
Milder than cayenne, paprika is the ground red powder of mild and hot peppers and is an important ingredient in Hungarian goulash and in Spanish sausages and salamis.
Paranut
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."
Parathas
Triangular shaped, fried flaky breads. Like chapatis, they are made out of whole wheat flour, but they are prepared using a slightly different method. The dough for parathas is oiled, rolled, and folded several times, giving this bread its distinctive flaky texture. The result is a bread crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Parboil
To boil vegetables until half cooked. Used to part-cook potatoes and other hard root vegetables prior to roasting them at a high temperature to ensure that the inside is cooked while the outside crisps up well.
Parboiled Wheat
A nutritious staple in the Middle East, made of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed. It has a tender, chewy texture and can be made into a pilaf. Also called "bulghur."
Parch
To dry; to cook in dry heat until almost scorched.
Parchment paper
A silicon based paper that can withstand high heat. Often used to prepare sugar and chocolate confections because they do not stick to the paper at all. Parchment paper may be reused several times.
Pare
To remove skin from fruits and vegetables using a knife.
Parfait
An American parfait consists of ice cream layered with flavored syrups and whipped cream, then topped with chopped nuts and a maraschino cherry. A French parfait is a frozen custard with egg yolks, sugar, whipped cream and flavorings.
Parisienne
A white sauce with egg yolks.
Parmagiano-Reggiano
Cheese developed in northern Italy in the Parma and Reggio Emilia regions, the original Parmagiano-Reggiano reflects 800 years of tradition and is considered one of the great cheeses of the world. This hard cheese, aged 12 to 24 months or longer, is produced by artisans from the raw milk of cattle fed fresh fodder in their spring and summer pasture. Its uniform color ranges from a pale straw yellow to a deep yellow shade, and it is dotted throughout with barely visible holes. It has an exceptionally fine flavor, full but not pungent. Whole Parmesan cheeses are large and drum-shaped and may weigh 40 to 55 pounds (18 to 25 kg). Methods of production vary from one region to another, with different aging times and temperatures.
Parmesan
Hard, grainy cow's-milk cheese extensively used in Italian cuisine, often grated over dishes, as in spaghetti bolognese. Parmigiano reggiano is the true parmesan cheese, manufactured from 15th April to 11th November in the province of Parma and also Bologna and Mantua. Parmesan is always best grated just before use. The world's finest quality parmesan is "Parmigiano-Reggiano." After it is aged 3 years, it is called "Stravechhio." At 4 years, they're called "Stavecchions." U.S. parmesans are aged about 14 months.
Parmigiana
This term refers to foods that have been cooked with Parmesan cheese.
Parrot Fish
Any of various chiefly tropical marine fish, especially those of the family Scaridae. These fish are called parrot fish because of the brilliant coloring and the shape of their jaws. "Also called "Pollyfish."
Parsley
Herb used as flavouring and garnish or eaten as a vegetable. Available as curly or flat-leafed varieties.
Parsley Root
A parsley subspecies grown for its beige carrot-like root which tastes somewhat like a cross between a carrot and celery. Used in stews and soups. Also eaten as a vegetable.
Parsnip
The edible creamy-white root of the parsnip plant. Used as a vegetable and prepared using just about any cooking method. The sweet flavor of the parsnip develops only after the first frost, when the cold converts its starch into sugar.
Pashka
A traditional Russian dessert for celebrating Easter. Made from curd cheese, cream, almonds, chocolate and dried fruit.
Pasilla chiles
Called a chilaca in its fresh form. The mature chilaca turns from dark green to dark brown. After drying (when it becomes a pasilla) it changes to a blackish-brown. It has a rich hot flavor and is generally ground and used for sauces. Pasilla means little raisin; in some places the Ancho chile is called pasilla chile; long, thin and dry with a dusky flavor; they are hot; thin fleshed, with flavors of dried fruit and licorice; anchoes may be substituted.
Passata
A smooth tomato sauce that you can buy in bottles or packets, with or without herbs.
Passion fruit
A tropical fruit native to Brazil, but now grown in the U.S, New Zealand, and Australia. The flavor is sweet, yet tart, and has a perfumy tropical fragrance. Used as a table fruit, as well as for sherbets, candies, and beverages.
Pasta
A dough made from durum-wheat semolina, water and often eggs which is kneaded and cut into a wide variety of shapes. Eaten with sauces, stuffed, or added to soups for bulk. Bought fresh or dried, it is used in dishes from Italy to China. It is sold dried or fresh.
Pasta Campanelle
This fancy-looking pasta with a cone shape and wavy edges traps and holds chunky sauces with meat and vegetables. Cooks in 13 minutes.
Pasta Castellane
The ridges and conch-shell shape of this pasta help trap hearty sauces. Cooks in 13 minutes.
Pasta e Fagioli
A rich bean soup with pasta, in which a large sausage (such as cotechino) has been cooked. The soup is eaten first, followed by the sausage served with mustard and bread.
Pasta Elbows
Short, curved tubes of pasta are available in different sizes. Most often associated with macaroni and cheese, elbows also can be used with other creamy sauces or with meat sauce. Cooks in seven minutes.
Pasta Farfalle
Also called bow-ties or butterflies. They come in small, medium and large. Their large, flat surface makes them best for tomato, meat and vegetable sauces. Cooks in 11 minutes.
Pasta Fettuccine
Translates to "little ribbons." This pasta is usually 1/4 inch thick and available straight or in coils. Its thickness makes it perfect for heavier sauces, such as alfredo. Cooks in 12 minutes.
Pasta Fiori
In Italian, fiori means flower. This pasta has rounded petals that provide extra surface area for chunky tomato-based sauces. Has lots of kid appeal. Cooks in seven minutes.
Pasta Penne
Diagonally cut smooth tubes are great for trapping sauces. Those with ridged sides are called penne rigate. Cooks in 12 minutes.
Pasta Rigatoni
Ridged tubes about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. This hearty pasta should be served with hearty, chunky sauces. Cooks in 13 minutes.
Pasta Rotini
Short, 2-inch-long, corkscrew-shaped pasta that's good with chunky sauces. Cooks in eight minutes.
Pasteles
Envelopes of dough made of plantains filled with tasty ingredients.
Pasteurize
To kill bacteria by heating milk (or other liquids) to a moderately high temperature for a brief period. Milk is a beverage that benefits from this process. Pasteurization was discovered by the French scientist, Louis Pasteur.
Pastilla (Bistella)
A Moroccan pie made with chicken wrapped in phyllo dough. When finished cooking, the pastilla is dusted with sugar and cinnamon.
Pastina
Tiny bits of noodles.
Pastrami
A highly seasoned preserved meat made from beef dry-cured with salt or saltpeter. The seasonings include garlic, ground pepper, cinnamon, red peppers, cloves, allspice and coriander seeds. Commonly served as a sandwich on rye bread.
Pastry
Dough made with flour, butter and water and baked or deep-fried until crisp.
Pastry cream
A cooked custard thickened with flour. Some versions may use cornstarch or a mixture of the two starches.
Pastry wheel
Small, serrated wooden or metal wheel-like utensil for cutting and fluting pastry.
Pasty
Small pastry pie with a savory filling of meat, potatoes and onion.
Pate
Literally, a pate is a French pie, but the word is now most often taken to mean a rich paste made of liver and other meats, a pate en terrine.
Patty
Small, flat, round or oval shaped cake of food, such as potato cake or fish cake, which is served hot; small, flat, individual pie, such as a chicken patty, which is served hot or cold; small, round form for meats such as hamburger.
Patty cups
Paper cupcake holders.
Patty pan
Small, circular, green or yellow courgette with fluted edges.
Patty shell
A shell made from puff paste to hold creamed mixtures or fruit.
Patty tin
Baking tin with 6, 9 or 12 shallow round compartments used for making individual pies and tarts.
Paupiette
A thin slice of meat, like a scallopine, which is stuffed and rolled. These may also be made of fish or vegetables.
Pave
Cold savory mousse mixture set in a square mold coated with aspic jelly; square sponge cake, filled with butter cream and coated with icing.
Paysanne
A dish prepared country-style. A vegetable garnish.
Pe-Tsai
This form of Chinese cabbage features an oval-shaped heart with very tightly closed leaves. It can be prepared in any manner appropriate for other green cabbages. Also used raw in salads and marinated in a manner similar to red cabbage.
Pea
Peas are popular members of the legume family. There are many varieties of peas, some of which were cultivated by the Greeks and Romans long before Christian times. Peas are a fair source of protein, iron, and vitamin A.
Peach
This fruit is third in importance in the U.S. (behind apples and second-place oranges). There are two general classifications: Freestone, in which the pit falls freely away from the flesh, and Clingstone, in which it does not.
Peanut
Also known as a groundnut. This edible nut is the seed of a member of the pea family, not a true nut. The pods mature underground and each contain 2-4 seeds. Peanuts can be roasted, salted and eaten whole or used in cooked dishes. Peanut or groundnut oil is widely used in cooking and margarine manufacture.
Peanut oil
A clear oil derived from peanuts. It has a high smoke point which makes it useful for frying. The fat in peanut oil is approximately 50% monounsaturated and 30% polyunsaturated.
Pear
A fruit from to the rose family which includes apples, plums, cherries, apricots, and strawberries. There are over 5,000 varieties of pears. It improves in texture and flavor after it is picked. France is the leading pear-growing country.
Pearl barley
De-husked barley grains, primarily used in soups.
Pearl onions
Tiny, marble-size onions that are difficult to peel but make a good side dish or addition to soups and stews. Frozen ones are easier to handle, but less flavorful.
Pearl Rice
A short-grain sticky rice, sometimes called sushi rice. It is grown across Asia, California and Arkansas.
Pease pudding
Puree of cooked, dried peas which is made into puddings, boiled and traditionally served with pork.
Pecan
A North American nut related to the walnut, high in vitamins and minerals. Widely used in sweets, especially pecan pie, but can be used in savoury dishes. Probably originated in Texas; grown commercially in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico and Texas.
Pecorino Romano
Hard grating cheese made from sheep's milk with a nutty, earthy flavor.
Pectin
A natural gelling agent found in ripe fruit. Pectin is an important ingredient in making jams and jellies. Some fruit have high pectin levels – eg citrus fruit, blackberries, apples, redcurrants - but others are low in pectin – eg strawberries – so lemon juice is added to strawberry jam to help the set.
Peel
A large tool, that looks like a shovel, used to slide pizza onto a hot stone.
Pemmican
Of Native American origin; dried, pounded meat mixed with fat and berries, pressed into cakes for survival food; was later adapted by the U.S. Army.
Penne
Pasta tubes shaped like quills.
Peperoni
Made with peppers.
Pepitas
Edible pumpkin seeds that have had their white hull removed. There are green, and have a delicate nutty flavor. These seeds are often roasted and salted. Pepitas are popular in Mexican cookery.
Pepper Steak
A beefsteak sprinkled with black pepper, sautéed in butter and served with a sauce made from the drippings, stock, wine, and cream. Also refers to a Chinese stir-fry of steak strips, green peppers, and onion cooked in soy sauce. Pepperoni - A highly spiced dry sausage made of pork and beef. Seasoned with salt, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic. Often thin sliced and served as an appetizer or as a topping for pizzas.
Peppered Loaf
Cooked meat specialty -- Pressed beef and pork loaf; distinctive seasoning of cracked peppercorns.
Pepperoni
Sausage made of beef and pork, seasoned with red pepper and coarse ground.
Perch
Any of a number of spiny-finned freshwater fish found in North America and Europe. The best known U.S. perch is the "yellow perch." Perch have a mild, firm, low-fat flesh. The saltwater white perch and ocean perch are not true perches.
Perciatelli
Long macaroni.
Percolator
Two-part coffee pot which forces boiling water from lower half up through coffee grains contained in upper half, and finally filtered through a fine sieve.
Perigeux
Perigeux sauce is a demi-glace sauce made with the addition of finely diced or chopped truffles. It is served with small cuts of meat, poultry or game.
Perigourdine
A Perigeux sauce with added goose liver.
Perilla
A Japanese herb that has a dark, russet-purple dentate leaf.
Peron or Manzana pepper
Fresh, thin fleshed, meaty; medium hot to extremely hot; add to sauces or roast and peel for stuffing or rajas.
Perry
An alcoholic drink, similar to cider, made from varieties of perry pears; the single variety perry is still and made by artisan producers who may be hard to find, but sparkling perry is readily available in supermarkets.
Persian Walnut
Also called "English walnut," this nut is widely available and features a plump, crispy meat.
Persillade
A combination of chopped parsley and garlic, usually added to dishes at the end of cooking. nice combined with breadcrumbs as a crust.
Persimmon
A warm-weather fruit of which there are two important varieties: "Hachiya" (Japanese persimmon) and the "Fuyu" which is milder. The Fuyu is smaller. Both should be completely ripe before eaten. Used in baked goods and desserts.
Pesto
A green Italian sauce for pasta, typically made from pine nuts blended with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. The sauce can be stirred into freshly cooked pasta, spooned on to thick soups, toasted on bread or added to mayonnaise and salad dressings. Red pesto contains grilled red pepper or pimiento.
Pesto Sauce
An uncooked sauce of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan or pecorino cheese. Often served with pasta.
Petit Four
A small fancy biscuit or cake often served at the end of a meal.
Petite marmite
A rich meat and vegetable soup.
Pheasant
A medium-sized game bird related to the partridge and the quail. The female's flesh is plumper, juicier, and more tender. Farm-raised birds have a somewhat milder flavor than wild varieties.
Phosphate
An additive used to increase the water-retaining capacity of meat and poultry tissue. Misuse of phosphate solutions may cause the product to be adulterated with excess water.
Phyllo
This word is Greek for "leaf." It refers to the tissue-thin layers of pastry dough used in Greek and Near Eastern preparations such as Baklava and Spanakopita.
Phyllo Dough (Filo)
Paper-thin sheets of pastry dough for Middle Eastern baking. Can be found in most supermarkets frozen in boxes. Used for Greek Baklava and many other baked dishes.
Pib, pibil
Yucatecan pit barbecue; barbecued.
Picante Sauce
A hot and spicy sauce, most often tomato-based. "Picante" means "pepper hot."
Picatta
A classic Italian dish that consists of veal or chicken that has been seasoned and floured, sauteed, and served with a sauce made from the pan drippings, lemon juice, and parsley.
Piccalilli Pepper
A highly seasoned pickled vegetable relish. The vegetables can include cucumber, cauliflower, beans, onions, sweet peppers, etc.
Pickerel
A small (between two and three pound) variety of the freshwater pike. Pickerel are know for their lean, firm flesh.
Pickle
A food that has been preserved in vinegar or a seasoned brine. Commonly pickled foods include cucumbers, pearl onions, cauliflower, baby corn, pig's feet, watermelon rind, and herring. Flavors include dill, sweet, and sour varieties.
Pickle and Pimento Loaf
Cooked meat specialty -- Made from finely chopped lean pork and beef with sweet pickles and pimentos added.
Pickling salt
A salt that contains no iodine.
Pickling Spice
A blend of seasonings used to flavor pickles, including varying combinations of allspice, bay leaves, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mustard seeds, and peppercorns.
Pico de Gallo
A topping made from fresh tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers.
Pierogi
A Polish specialty consisting of half-moon-shaped noodle dumplings filled with a mixture, often of pork, onions, cottage cheese, and seasonings. Served as a first course or side dish.
Pig's Feet
The feet and ankles of a pig. Available fresh, pickled, and smoked. Fresh and smoked pig's feet are used in sauces, soups, and stews. Pig's feet are called "trotters" in England.
Pigeon
A widely distributed bird that is normally eaten only when young. Squabs are young pigeons that have never flown are therefore very tender. Squabs are normally under a pound and about 4 weeks old. May be prepared like chicken.
Pigeon Pea
A tiny grayish-yellow legume that can be eaten raw but is more often dried and split. Popular in the southern states, pigeon peas are prepared in a manner similar to other dried beans.
Pignoli
Pine nuts.
Pike
A family of fish that includes the pike, pickerel, and the muskellunge. These freshwater fish have long bodies, pointed heads, vicious teeth, and provide a lean, firm, bony flesh. Used in French "quenelles" and the Jewish "gefilte fish."
Piki
Indian bread baked as thin and crisp as paper.
Pilaf
A dish that starts with browned rice or bulgur and adds cooked vegetables, meat, seafood, or poultry. It originated in the Near East and is called know as "Pilau."
Pilchard
Pilchards are an oil-rich fish. Sardines, which are baby pilchards, are sold whole, fresh or frozen while pilchards are mainly processed and canned.
Pili Nut
A nut from a tree native to the Philippines and other Pacific Islands. This light brown, triangular nut has a smooth, hard shell. Normally roasted before being eaten and is added to rice dishes and used to make confections.
Pimenton
Mexican paprika; similar in taste to New Mexico ground red mild chile peppers.
Pimentos
A name used for roasted red peppers that have been canned or bottled in liquid. Used for stuffing green olives.
Pimiento chile
Meaty and luscious with a tinge of spice; grown in California and southern United States; when dried, is ground into paprika; use fresh red bell peppers if pimientos are unavailable.
Pin bone steak
A steak cut from the sirloin.
Pina Colada
A tropically flavored alcoholic beverage made with coconut cream, pineapple juice, and rum. The coconut-pineapple flavor has also become popular in desserts and candies.
Pinch
a measure of dry ingredients that is normally the amount that can be held between the thumb and forefinger, usually much less than 1/8 teaspoon
Pine Nut
Or pine kernel. The small edible seed of the stone pine which grows in the Mediterranean region. Pine nuts are rich in protein and oily - so they tend to go rancid quite quickly. They are used in many savoury dishes, especially vegetarian ones.
Pineapple
An exceedingly juicy fruit with a distinctive tangy sweet taste. Pineapples must be picked when ripe because they won't ripen off the plant. The English named this fruit for its resemblance to a pine cone.
Pink Bean
A reddish-brown dried bean used to make refried beans and chili con carne. This bean, which is popular in the western U.S., can be used as a substitute for "pinto beans" in just about any dish.
Pink fir apple
A knobbly, pinky-beige skinned, waxy potato, good for use in salads.
Pink Salmon
A lower fat variety of salmon. Also called the "humpback salmon."
Pinocchio
An high-fat nut from inside the pine cones of certain pine trees. These nuts are expensive because it is labor-intensive to heat the pine cones and remove of the nut. These nuts have a pungent pine flavor. Also called "pignolia."
Pinto beans
Name taken from pintar (to paint); reddish-brown speckled beans that turn pink when cooked; used in traditional Mexican cookery; when a recipe title says "frijoles," it is most likely referring to pinto beans. Pinto beans make great refried beans; they are also good for beans and rice, chili, or served as a puree.
Pipe
To squeeze a paste-like mixture (usually frosting) through a pastry bag.
Piquant, Piquante
Spicy or sharp in flavor.
Piquin pepper
Small, dried, red; extremely hot; simmer in cooked sauces, soups, stews.
Piri-Piri
Piri-piri is an African word for chilli and also a hot chilli sauce used in Portuguese, African and Brazilian cookery. The Portuguese introduced chillies to their African colonies after discovering them in Brazil so piri-piri plays a major part in the fiery food of Mozambique – chicken, fish, seafood and vegetables are all cooked with piri-piri.
Pissaladiere
A southern French pizza consisting of a thick bread crust covered with cooked onions flavored with garlic. The pizza is then topped with black olives and anchovies.
Pistachio
Nuts that have a distinctive open shell, allowing them to be roasted and salted whole. Eaten as a snack or used for cooking. Pistachios go best with veal, port and poulty. The green colour makes it very popular for creams and ice-creams. In confectionery it is especially associated with nougat.
Pistachio Nut
The edible seed of a certain small evergreen tree. Naturally tan-colored, these nuts are often dyed red to make them stand out in a dish of mixed nuts. Available raw or roasted, salted or unsalted.
Pit
(Or "stone.") To remove the pit or seed from a fruit or olive.
Pita bread
A Middle Eastern flat bread which can be opened up to form a pocket which cab be stuffed with a variety of fillings. Throughout the Middle East, pitas are served with meals or cut into wedges and used to dip in dishes such as baba ganoush and hummus.
Pitahaya
The fruit of a central American cactus, the pitahaya has a deep pink, dense flesh and mild sweet flavour. It adds vibrant colour to fruit salad.
Pitanga
The yellow to deep red, cherry-like fruit of a Brazilian tree of the myrtle family. These fruit, which are now grown in the U.S., are slightly acid and are eaten out-of-hand and used in jams and jellies. Also called "Surinam cherry."
Pith
The white cellular lining of the rind covering the flesh of citrus fruits.
Pizza
Flat baked dough covered with various combinations of tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, sausage, cheese, etc.
Plaice
Orange-spotted flat sea fish available whole or in fillets. Can be grilled, fried or poached.
Plank
An oiled, grooved hard-wood platter, usually oak, on which meat is served and carved. Also, sometimes roasted on.
Plantains
Vegetable banana. Resemble bananas in size and shape but are starchier and not sweet. Both green (hard) and brown (ripe) are used in the cuisines of the Caribbean and South America. Ripe plantains can be peeled like bananas but not green ones. Most commonly sliced thin and fried. Found in some larger supermarkets, Hispanic and Caribbean markets. Also known as machos.
Plants
Four sacred plants of the Southwest Indians are beans, corn, squash and tobacco.
Pluck
Offal; to remove the feathers from a domesticated or game bird.
Plugra butter
also known as European-style butter, has a higher butterfat and lower moisture content than regular butter, which makes pastries flakier and sauces smoother.
Plum
There are hundreds of varieties of this edible fruit. Colors include blue, green, purple, red, and yellow. The flesh is thick and juicy and the flavor ranges from sweet to tart. Plums are eaten out-of-hand and used in sauces and desserts.
Plum sauce
An Asian sweet-and-sour sauce made from plums, apricots, sugar, and other seasonings. Sold in jars or cans, store tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
Plum tomatoes
These oval-shaped tomatoes have great flavor. They are the best sauce tomato, because is quite thick in comparison to the round tomato.
Poach
To cook food gently in a liquid at or just below its boiling point. Meats are normally poached in stock, eggs in lightly salted water, fruit in light sugar syrup.
Poblano chiles
"People chiles"; in dried form, known as ancho chiles; frequently used for chiles rellenos; dark green, almost black, ranging from mild to hot, they look like deflated bell peppers; normally roasted before using; when dried, it is called the ancho chile; in California it is usually called a pasilla chile; preferred choice for making chiles rellenos.
Poblano pepper
Fresh, dark green or red; up to five inches long and three and one-half inches wide; medium-hot; always roasted before using for stuffing or rajas.
Poha
Also known as "cape gooseberry," this fruit has a bitter-sweet, juicy flesh. This fruit is eaten out-of-hand and used with meats, pies, jams, and savory foods.
Poire Helene
Cooked pears with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Poivrade
Made with pepper.
Pokeberry Shoots
Shoots from the pokeweed shrub, a native of North America. The root is poisonous. The young leafy shoots are picked and cooked the same way as asparagus, except that it is boiled twice (each time in fresh water).
Polenta
A cornmeal porridge that is the traditional basic dish of northern Italy. Polenta can be eaten fresh or, when set, cooked in a variety of ways.
Polish Sausage
Also called "kielbasa," this is a highly seasoned smoked sausage of Polish origin made from pork and (sometimes) beef. It is flavored with garlic an other spices. It can be served cold or hot.
Pollack
This low to moderate fat fish has firm, white, flesh with a delicate, somewhat sweet flavor. Pollack is often used to make imitation crab meat. Also known as "Coalfish" or "Saithe," this saltwater fish is a member of the cod family.
Pollyfish
Any of various chiefly tropical marine fish, especially those of the family Scaridae. These fish are called parrot fish because of the brilliant coloring and the shape of their jaws. "Also called "parrot fish."
Pomegranate
The pomegranate is an orange-sized fruit with a hard leathery skin. Inside are hundreds of edible seeds with a sweet pleasantly acidic taste. Pomegranates are eaten out-of-hand, used in salads, and sprinkled over desserts.
Pomegranate molasses
[Middle Eastern] also known as pomegranate syrup. Condiment prepared from yellow sour pomegranates cooked with sugar. Provides fruity and tangy flavor to savory dishes.
Pomelo
Also called "shaddock" and "pumello," this large citrus fruit is very similar to large grapefruits, but can weight up to 25 pounds. May be prepared and served any way that grapefruits are prepared and served.
Pomfret
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 "butterfish."
Pompano
This saltwater fish is a succulent, fine-textured fish with a mild delicate flavor. This expensive, moderately fat fish is considered by many experts as America's finest fish.
Pone bread
Corn bread.
Pooch
Cowboy favorite of stewed tomatoes, sugar and biscuits.
Popcorn
A variety of corn with small, hard kernels and a large endosperm. When heated, these kernels explode from internal pressure to produce an inside-out white popped corn. Can be eaten as a breakfast food or flavored and served as a snack.
Popover
Indian fry bread.
Poppy Seed
These small, dried seeds of the poppy plant have a crunchy, nutty flavor that find use in baked goods, salad dressings, and a multitude of cooked dishes. 900,000 poppy seeds weight about a pound.
Porcini
Rich and velvety texture mushroom; woodsy flavor which is stronger when dried. Simmer in soups and sauces.
Porgy
Also know as "Scup" or "Porgie." These saltwater fish are generally lean, and coarse-grained. Porgy is often grilled, poached, and pan-fried.
Pork
The flesh of domestic swine. Today's pork is leaner (1/3 fewer calories) and higher in protein than a decade ago. And with improved feeding techniques, trichinosis has become extremely rare. Most pork is slaughtered at 6 to 9 months.
Pork Chitterlings
The small intestines of freshly slaughtered pigs. They are cleaned and simmered until tender. Chitterlings are served with sauce, added to soups, battered and fried, and used as sausage casings.
Pork Lard
Rendered and clarified pork fat. The best lard is "leaf lard" which comes from the fat around the pig's kidneys. Unprocessed lard has a very strong flavor and a soft texture. Processed lard is firmer and milder.
Porridge
Hot cooked (usually oatmeal) cereal.
Port
A fortified Portuguese wine with an alcoholic strength of more than 16.5%. Brandy is added to the wine part way through the fermentation process. Port is most often served as an after-meal drink.
Port du Salut Cheese
A semi-soft cow's milk cheese that was first made by 19th century Trappist monks at the monastery of Port-du-Salut in France. It has a mild, savory flavor and a smooth texture that goes well with fruit.
Porter house steak
A steak cut from the thick end of the tenderloin, or short loin, of beef.
Portobello
Mushroom. Thick-fleshed with sanity caps; rich and hearty flavor. Best used for grilling, burger-style.
Posole, pozole
Corn that has been treated with slaked lime to remove the tough outer husks of the kernels, then dried; thick stew made with hominy as an ingredient; the stew usually includes pork and chiles; also another name for hominy. The base of the soup is water flavored with onions, tomatoes (or tomatillos), and herbs. Hominy is cooked into this broth and condiments include minced onion, avocado, lime wedges, oregano, queso fresco, and fried pork skin.
Pot Cheese
A soft, fresh cheese made by draining cottage cheese longer to produce a cheese that is drier. When drained longer still, "farmer cheese" is formed.
Pot roast
Beef cooked in a manner similar to braising, but on top of the stove.
Pot-au-feu
A combination of stock with meat, bones, and vegetables, cooked together but often served as separate courses.
Potassium Sorbate
The Potassium Salt of Sorbic Acid, a novel, highly efficient, safe and nonpoisonous food preservative. It is the substitute for the Sodium Benzoate as a traditional preservative. Potassium Sorbate is a inhibitor for mold, yeast and aerobion.
Potato
The edible tuber of a plant from the nightshade family. "Russet" or "Idaho" potatoes have a long, rounded shape and many eyes. The less starchy medium-sized "round whites" and "round reds" are also called "boiling potatoes."
Potato Flour
This very fine gluten-free flour is made from cooked, dried, and ground potatoes. Also called "potato starch." Used as a thickening agent and in some baked goods. Corn flour and starch has replaced potato flour for the most part.
Potato Starch
This very fine gluten-free flour is made from cooked, dried, and ground potatoes. Also called "potato flour." Used as a thickening agent and in some baked goods. Corn flour and corn starch have pretty much taken its place today.
Potato starch or flour
Starch made from dried potatoes ground into flour. Find in some Scandinavian shops, delicatessens and health food stores.
Pothook
Bent iron for hanging a kettle over the fire.
Pots de creme
Small custards, variously flavored.
Potted Meat
A meat that has been cooked and ground to a fine paste, lightly seasoned, and packed.
Poultry
Any domesticated bird chicken, turkeys, ducks, geese, or guineas)
Poultry Seasoning
Equal amounts of dried sage, dried thyme and dried marjoram.
Poussin
A small immature chicken, sometimes called a spring chicken. As the bird is only four to six weeks' old, the flavour has not developed and there is not much flesh on the bones, but one bird is perfect for a single serving. Poussins benefit from a rich stuffing to add flavour.
Prairie coal
Cow or buffalo manure, dried and used in campfires.
Prairie strawberries
Red beans; also called Arizona strawberries.
Praline
A sweet made of almonds and sugar invented for the French Comte du Plessis-Praslin by his cook in the 1600s.
Prawn
Shellfish available in different varieties, fresh or frozen, in or out of shell. Can be boiled, steamed, fried or barbecued.
Prawns
For culinary purposes, the same as shrimp. In the U.S., large shrimp are sometimes called prawns. The true prawn is a small shellfish closely related to shrimp, but it is European.
Preserved lemons
Popular in Moroccan dishes, these are lemons that have been preserved in brine.
Preserves
Fruit cooked with sugar and usually Pectin, used as a spread for bread, Preserves differ from jam in that the chunks of fruit are medium to large rather than the texture of thick puree.
Prickly pear
The fruit of a type of cactus containing yellow or pink edible seeds with a sweet and mild flavour; care needs to be taken when handling this fruit as the prickly needles in the skin can stick into your hands.
Primavera
Italian word for "spring style." Culinarily, it refers to the use of fresh vegetables as a garnish to various dishes--often pasta. The vegetables are most often raw or blanched.
Processed cheese
Some amount of cheese cooked together with dyes, gums, emulsifiers and stabilizers (American cheese, Laughing Cow, rambol).
Profiterole
A small bun made with choux pastry and usually filled with cream and covered with chocolate.
Prosciutto
The Italian word for ham, used in the names of raw hams such as prosciutto di Parma. Parma ham is served in very thin slices.
Provolone Cheese
An Italian cow's milk cheese with a firm texture and a mild, somewhat smoky flavor. Most provolone is aged 2 to 3 months, but some is aged for a year or more. Aged provolone is often grated.
Prune
A dried plum. Traced back to Roman times, the prune is popular for its ability to store well. Commercial dehydration has replaced sun-drying as the method of producing plums.
Psyllium
A plant, also known as "fleawort," that is valued for its high fiber content. The powdered seeds of this plant are often used as a laxative.
Pudding
Like custards, thick, creamy mixtures of milk, sugar, and flavorings. Custards are thickened with eggs, puddings with cornstarch or flour.
Puerto Rican 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 "Barbados cherry."
Puff Pastry
A very light pastry made in layers that expand when cooked, leaving large air pockets inside. Used for sweet or savoury dishes.
Pulla pepper
Dried, up to five inches long, light reddish brown; hot; used like arbol in sauces and for seasoning soups and stews.
Pulp
The succulent flesh of a fruit.
Pulque
Beer made by fermenting the juice of the maguey cactus (century plant).
Pulverize
To break a food down to powder by crushing or grinding.
Pumpernickel
A course black bread made with rye flour.
Pumpkin
A large orange gourd related to the muskmelon and the squash. Pumpkins are popular in pies, but can be prepared like any winter squash. The seeds, which are known as "pepitas," are often husked and roasted to produce a nutty snack food.
Pumpkin seeds
The edible seeds of the pumpkin. These seeds are hulled to reveal a green seed with a delicate nutty flavor. These seeds are often roasted and salted. Also called "pepitas," these seeds are popular in Mexican cookery.
Puree
Used to describe either the act of making a smooth sauce or paste from various ingredients or the final result.
Purslane
A garden herb with a reddish green stem, thick leaves, yellow flowers, and a mild acidic fatty flavor. Purslane is used in salads, used as a potherb in soups and gumbos, and can also be eaten raw. Also called "pussley."
Puttanesca
A piquant pasta sauce made of tomatoes, onions, black olives, capers, anchovies, and chile flakes. The hot pasta is tossed in this sauce prior to serving. Some recipes leave the ingredients raw, allowing the heat of the pasta to bring out the flavors.
Puy lentils
Small slatey-blue lentils grown in France and Italy that keep their shape during cooking.
Pyramide Cheese
A truncated pyramid is the shape of this small French chevre that is often coated with dark gray edible ash. The texture can range from soft to slightly crumbly and depending upon it’s age, in flavor from mild to sharp. It is wonderful served with crackers or bread and fruit.