Food Dictionary

Rabbit
Rabbit meat is mostly white, fine textured and mildly flavored. Domesticated rabbit is generally plumper and less strongly flavored that wild rabbits. Rabbit can be prepared in any manner suitable for chicken.
Raccoon
A North American mammal that served as an important food source for pioneers. The flesh is mostly dark meat, and the fat is strong in flavor and aroma. Young raccoons are usually roasted; older raccoons should be braised or stewed.
Raclette Cheese
A cow's milk cheese from Switzerland. It is semi-firm and dotted with holes--similar to Gruyere.
Radicchio
A crisp variety of chicory with a bitter, peppery taste. Radicchio has small hearts, red with white veins, and is generally used in salads mixed with other salad leaves.
Radish
A popular salad vegetable that is the root of a plant from the mustard family. The flavor of radish can vary from mild to peppery, depending on the variety and the age.
Rag Gourd
The fruit of any of several tropical vines of the gourd family. The dried insides of these gourds can be used as a sponge. Also called the "sponge gourd."
Ragout
A French stew of meat, poultry or fish. The term is also used to describe a sauce.
Ragu
Meaty, slow-cooked tomato sauce, ideal with lasagne, raviloi, and other fresh pasta.
Raised pie
A pork, ham or game pie that is made with hot water crust pastry.
Raisin
A dried grape. Raisins have a higher sugar content and a different flavor from grapes. Raisins are eat out-of-hand and used in cereals, puddings, cookies, cakes, muffins, stuffings, salads, and rolls.
Rambutan
A relation of the lychee, this exotic fruit has a brown leathery skin with soft spines and a white, translucent flesh that resembles the lychee in taste and texture.
Ramekins
Individual ovenproof baking dishes made of ceramic, porcelain or glass and used in the preparation of custards and other miniature sweet or savory dishes.
Ramen Noodles
Most of us recognize ramen noodle from the dried, curly variety found in those inexpensive instant noodle soup packages. Made with an egg-based dough, ramen are usually served with meat and vegetables in a flavorsome broth. Because fresh ramen is not always easy to find, fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles or Italian pasta make an adequate substitute.
Ramons
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."
Rapeseed Oil
An oil expressed from rapeseeds. Contains more monounsaturated fat than any other oil except for olive oil. Marketed in the US as "Canola Oil."
Ras el Hanout
A Moroccan spice mixture that can contain up to 100 different spices and is used in couscous, rice, meat and vegetable dishes; like garam masala, the mixture of spices in ras el hanout depends on the maker and the spices available, but may include cardamom, cayenne, aniseed, nutmeg, mace, ginger, galangal or even dried ground rosebuds.
Raspberry
A strongly-flavored berry made up of many connecting drupelets (individual sacs of fruit, each with its own seed). Varieties include golden, black, and red. The red type is the most common. Attached hulls indicate immaturity.
Ratafia
Flavoring made from bitter almonds; liqueur made from fruit kernels; tiny macaroon.
Ratafia biscuits
Light biscuits made with almond essence, very similar to the Italian amaretti biscuit. Used in trifles or crumbled into puddings.
Ratatouille
Vegetable stew trypical of Provencal cookery, made from aubergines, courgettes, sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic simmered in olive oil with herbs.
Ravigote
A veloute sauce with added onions, herbs, white stock and vinegar; served cold.
Ravioli
Small, square pasta cases that are stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables and cooked in water and served with tomato sauce and grated cheese.
Raw sugar
The residue left after sugar cane has been processed to remove molasses and refine the sugar crystals. Because raw sugar contains contaminants such as molds and fibers, it is (in the US) purified.
Raw-milk cheese
Made with unpasteurized milk (parmigiano reggiano, Swiss gruyere, French roquefort, traditional cheddars).
Ray
This kite-shaped fish features edible fins. The fish is firm, white, and sweet; similar to the texture and taste of scallop. Also known as a "Ray."
Razor clam
A long, thin, razor-shaped clam, considered one of the most delicious of clams; eaten raw or cooked.
Recess cake tin
Sponge flan pan.
Reconstitute
To bring a dried, dehydrated food back to its original consistency by adding a liquid.
Red Banana
Available in some markets is the short, chubby red banana. This variety of banana is sweeter than the extremely popular yellow variety known as the "Cavendish."
Red beans
Sometimes referred to as "the Mexican strawberry" in the Southwest; brighter in color than the pinto bean and lacks the surface streaks of the slightly smaller pinto bean; similar to and interchangeable with pinto beans. Medium-size, dark red beans akin to kidneys and pintos.
Red Curry Paste
A spicy condiment used in Thai cooking. Rather hot, with it's main ingredient being red chili peppers. Found in some supermarkets and Oriental markets.
Red Pepper
A hot red pepper powder made chiefly from the dried ripe pepper Caspsicum frutescens. While very hot to most people, it is not as hot as chili pepper, which is sometimes sold as cayenne. Also called "cayenne."
Red pepper flakes
The dried flakes of dried ripe red hot chile pepper. Most are quite hot.
Red Perch
This important commercial fish is a member of the rockfish group. Also known as "ocean perch," although it is not a true perch.
Red Rice
Rice with a reddish-brown bran layer, a nutty taste and chewy consistency. Red rice is often marketed as Wehani (also called Russet), Bhutanese red rice and Thai red rice.
Red Snapper
This is the most popular of a few hundred species of snapper. This is a lean, firm-textured saltwater fish. Some species of rockfish and tilefish are also called snappers, but are not.
Redeye Salmon
Prized for canning, the sockeye salmon has a firm, red flesh. Also known as the "sockeye salmon."
Redfish
This important commercial fish is a member of the rockfish group. Also known as "ocean perch," although it is not a true perch.
Redhead
A saltwater fish belonging to the wrasse family. Also called "California Sheesphead." Its meat is white, tender, and lean.
Reduce
To evaporate by fast boiling a flavoured liquid, such as a sauce or syrup, in order to concentrate the flavour or to thicken it.
Reduction sauce
A sauce that uses as its base the pan juices that are created from the stove-top cooking or oven-roasting of meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables.
Reform sauce
An English sauce based on poivrade sauce which contains shallots, red wine, herbs and vinegar, reform sauce has the rich combination of port, gherkins, tongue, mushrooms and hard-boiled egg whites, and is best served with either lamb or game.
Refried Beans
Also known as "frijoles," refried beans are "pink beans," "pinto beans," or "red beans" that have been mashed then fried, often in lard.
Relax
Term used to describe 'resting' pastry after rolling out to prevent shrinkage.
Relish
a. A spicy or savory condiment or appetizer, such as chutney or olives. b. A condiment of chopped sweet pickle.
Remoulade
This classic French sauce (or salad dressing) is made by combining mayonnaise (usually homemade) with mustard, capers and chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies. It is served chilled as an accompaniment to cold meat, fish and shellfish.
Render
To cook a food over low heat until it releases its fat.
Rennet
An extract from the stomach of cows or sheep, used to curdle milk for cheese making. A vegetarian alternative to rennet is now used in making vegetarian cheese.
Renuevos de rastrojo
[Spanish] tumbleweed shoots; they have a wild bean flavor and can be used as a vegetable or in salads.
Reuben Sandwich
A sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on sourdough rye bread.
Rhine
This term refers to fine German white wines that are smooth, not too dry, relatively low in alcohol, have a delicate fragrance, and are often slightly effervescent.
Rhubarb
The rhubarb is a very tart member of the buckwheat family. It is generally eaten as a fruit but is actually a vegetable. It is used in sauces, jams, and desserts. Rhubarb leaves contain the toxin "oxalic acid" and should not be eaten.
Rib steak
A steak cut from the rib portion, that part of the beef from which the standing rib roast or rolled rib roast is also taken; a club steak.
Ribeye Steak
A tender, flavorful beef steak that comes from the rib section between the chuck and the short loin.
Rice
Long-grain rice (including basmati rice) cooks in firm, dry kernels; short-grain or medium-grain, rice cooks up moist and slightly sticky, as its outer outer layer absorbs more liquid than long-grain rice.
Rice Bran Oil
An oil pressed from the outer hull (the "bran") of the rice grain.
Rice Flour
Rice flour can be used to thicken soups and stews, as well as providing an alternative to wheat flour in cakes and biscuits.
Rice noodles
Common in Southeast Asia, we can find these dried in supermarkets and in Asian markets. Can be served after soaking in hot water, but best when soaked and then boiled quickly.
Rice paper
An edible paper made from rice and used to wrap dumplings, Vietnamese summer rolls, and other Asian foods; edible, glossy white paper made from the pith of a tree grown in China. Frequently used for macaroon base.
Rice sticks
Clear noodles made from ground rice. Available in varying widths. Found in most Asian markets and larger supermarkets.
Rice vinegar
Wine vinegar made from rice wine used in oriental cookery.
Rice wine
An essential ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cooking and other Oriental cuisines. This sweet wine is low in alcohol and is made by fermenting freshly steamed glutinous rice. Also known as mirin or sake, rice wine is used in sauces, marinades and glazes.
Ricer
A plunger-operated utensil that is the best tool for making mashed potatoes. It also rices potatoes for potato dumplings.
Ricotta
An Italian ewe’s milk curd cheese that when unripened is creamy, soft and smooth. It can be eaten fresh with fruit or flavoured with sugar and cinnamon as it has rather a bland flavour. It is used in many Italian dishes especially as a stuffing for ravioli or in pastries.
Riddling
An important step in removing sediment from Champagne. Bottles are placed in racks and then turned by hand or machine over weeks or months until they are upside down and the sediment has settled on top of the corks, whereby the sediment is readily removed.
Riesling
This is the classic white-wine grape of Germany that is believed to be native to the Rhine Valley. It is responsible for the finest German wines and has been successfully transplanted to California, Chile, Austria, and Italy.
Rigatoni
Large ribbed pasta tubes.
Rijsttafel
A Dutch word, meaning "rice table." It is a Dutch version of an Indonesian meal consisting of hot rice accompanied by several (sometimes 20 or 40) small, well-seasoned side dishes of seafoods, meats, vegetables, fruits, sauces, condiments, etc.
Rillette
A paste made from pork, rabbit, goose or poultry meat cooked in lard. The smooth pounded meat is potted and served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.
Ring tin
Baking pan
Ripened (aged) cheese
The drained curds are cured by heat, bacteria and soaking. Salt, spices and herbs or natural dyes (certain cheddars) may be added. Aging in a controlled environment begins.
Risotto
Italian dish made from rice cooked with stock, similar to a stew or broth. Other ingredients are added as required.
Rissole
Dish made of chopped meat or fish mixed with breadcrumbs, shaped into balls or cakes and fried.
Roast
To cook food in an oven, using dry heat.; placing food on a spit before a fire; or surrounding food with hot embers, sand or stones.
Roasters
These are somewhat older and larger chickens (3 to 5 pounds), delicious when roasted, poached, or braised.
Robert
A spicy brown sauce containing onions and vinegar, served with game and other meats.
Robert Sauce
One of the oldest brown sauces, invented in the 17th century by Frenchman Robert Vinot. Made with butter, flour, onions, wine bullion, seasoning, and French mustard. Used with goose, pork, and venison.
Rock salt
A salt derived from the huge seams of impacted salt that have formed below the dried-out, underground saline lakes of prehistoric times.
Rocket
Also known as arugula. This green salad vegetable is popular in Mediterranean countries. The leaves have a slightly bitter, peppery flavour and should be gathered when young. Rocket is a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C.
Rockfish
A low-fat fish of the Pacific Coast. There are two categories: the elongated varieties are milder and softer, and include Yellowtail and Goldeneye. The more full-flavored deep-bodied types include Bocaccio, Chilipepper, and Shortbelly.
Roe
A seafood delicacy with two varieties: "Hard roe" is the female fish's eggs. "Soft roe" (also called "white roe") is the milt (male reproductive glands filled with seminal fluid) of the male fish. Salted roe is called "caviar."
Rogan josh
A spicy, rich red lamb stew from India.
Roggenbrot
Rye bread.
Romaine Lettuce
Also called "cos," this variety of lettuce is long and cylindrical. Its broad, crisp leaves are used in Caesar salads.
Roman Bean
Also known as "Cranberry beans," these beans are buff-colored and feature reddish streaks. Used to add interest and visual appeal to salads and dishes like succotash.
Romano Cheese
One of several types of Roman cheese, all of which take their name from the city of Rome. The sharp and tangy "Pecorino Romano" comes from sheep's milk. The very sharp "Caprino Romano" comes from goat's milk.
Rompope
Mexican eggnog.
Root Beer
Created in the mid-1800s by pharmacist Charles Hires. The original root beer was very low in alcohol, and was made by fermenting a blend of sugar and yeast with various roots, herbs, and barks such as sarsaparilla and sassafras.
Roquefort Cheese
Called "the king of cheeses," this blue cheese in made from sheep's milk and aged in the limestone caverns of Mount Combalou near Roquefort, France. This cheese is creamy rich and has a pungent and slightly salty taste.
Roquette
This slightly bitter, aromatic salad green has a peppery mustard flavor. Look for bright green, fresh-looking leaves. Makes a lively addition to salads, soups, and sauteed vegetables. Also called "arugula."
Rose
A red wine made with the skins and stems removed almost immediately. This gives it its light pink (rose) color. It is light-bodied, slightly sweet, and served cold. In the U.S., the term "blush wine" is replacing the term "rose."
Rose Apple
The oval, yellow fruit of various tropical trees belonging to the myrtle family. These fragrant fruits not generally eaten out-of-hand but are most often used in making jams, jellies and confections.
Rose Hip
The ripe reddish-orange fruit of the rose that is often used to make jellies, jams, syrups, teas, and wines. Because of their high vitamin C content, rose hips are dried, ground, and sold in health-food stores.
Rose water
A flavoured water made by distilling rose petals, rosewater is essentially a flavour used in Eastern cooking. Its fragrance can be added to jellies and syrups, and it is often sprinkled over cakes and milky puddings.
Rosefish
This important commercial fish is a member of the rockfish group. Also known as "ocean perch," although it is not a true perch.
Roselle
A tropical plant of the mallow family that is cultivated for its thick, red calyx and bracts, used in making jellies and as a cranberry substitute.
Rosemary
An aromatic shrub native to Mediterranean countries whose evergreen leaves are used either fresh or dried. Rosemary has a very pungent taste, so not much is needed to flavour a marinade, a stew or a grill. It goes particularly well with lamb, veal, sausagement and some tomato sauces. A sprig of rosemary gives a delicate flavour to milk used for a dessert.
Rosti or roesti
A large Swiss potato cake made from layers of sliced or grated potatoes, fried until golden.
Rotini
Short spirals of spaghetti noodles.
Rouille
A pungent Provencal sauce to serve with bouillabaisse, made from chillies, garlic and oil.
Roulade
Rolled meat, chocolate cake, vegetables, etc.
Round steak
Meat from the thick central portion of the hind leg.
Roux
A roux is a cooked mixture of equal quantities of butter and flour that is the base for sauces such as white sauce and bechamel.
Rugula
This slightly bitter, aromatic salad green has a peppery mustard flavor. Look for bright green, fresh-looking leaves. Makes a lively addition to salads, soups, and sauteed vegetables. Also called "arugula."
Rum
A slightly sweet liquor distilled from fermented sugar-cane juice or molasses. Most of the world's rum is produced in the Caribbean.
Rump
Cut of beef from the lower back, sold as roasting joints and steaks - slightly less tender than sirloin.
Rumrunner
A cocktail made with white rum, orange juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, and orange bitters. Often served on ice and garnished with a twist of orange.
Russian dressing
Basically a simple mixture of mayo and ketchup.
Rutabaga
A root vegetable from the mustard family that resembles a large turnip. Also known as "Swedish turnips," this vegetable can be prepared any way that turnips can be cooked.
Rye
A hardy annual cereal grass related to wheat. Rye flour is often mixed with wheat flour to make rye breads. The seeds are used to make flour, malt liquors, whisky, and Holland gin. "Pumpernickel" is a heavy, dark bread made of rye flour.
Rye Whiskey
American law requires that this liquor be made from a minimum of 51% rye. Straight ryes are from a single distiller; blended ryes are a combination of several straight ryes.