Food Dictionary

Vacherin
A seasonal cheese that is made in the winter months in France and Switzerland. Ripe after two to three months, the crust of this cheese encases a runny textured cheese that has a mild, sweet and creamy taste. It is so soft that, traditionally, it is eaten with a spoon. A vacherin is also a cold dessert made of a ring of meringue or almond paste filled with ice-cream, so-called because its shape and colour are similar to the cheese.
Valencia Rice
Valencia rice (sometimes sold as paella rice), is a large white oval grain. Grown in Spain, it is similar to Arborio. It's the rice used for paella, the Spanish dish that pairs rice with seafood, chicken, rabbit or chorizo and vegetables.
Valencienne
A sauce for rice containing tomatoes, mushrooms, meat strips, and grated cheese.
Vanilla
There are over 20,000 types of orchid, but only one produces anything edible--the vanilla plant. "Vanilla extract" comes from macerating beans into an alcohol/water solution. "Imitation vanilla" comes from treated wood-pulp byproducts.
Vanilla pod
The sweetly fragrant dried pods of the vanilla orchid, a native of Mexico, which can be used either whole or split to reveal the aromatic seeds, and then stored in a sugar jar to impart its flavour, or used directly in custards, creams and milk puddings. Vanilla essence or extract is the concentrated liquid extract of vanilla pods which can be used as flavouring in place of the real thing.
Vanilla sugar
Granulated sugar flavored with vanilla by enclosing it with a vanilla pod in an airtight jar.
Veal
Calves that are slaughtered from 1 - 3 months of age. "Milk-fed" veal are unweaned calves. "Bob veal" is under a month old; "baby beef" is 6 - 12 months old. To keep their flesh from darkening, these animals are not fed grains or grasses.
Veal Loaf
Cooked meat specialty -- The meat in the loaf is primarily veal with some pork.
Vegetable marrow
This edible squash-like gourd, also known as "marrow squash," is related to the zucchini. It has a bland flavor and is often stuffed with a meat filling.
Vegetable Oil
Any of a wide variety of non-animal oils. Most vegetable oils--with the exception of coconut and palm oils--are lower in saturated fats than are animal-derived oils.
Vegetable Oyster Plant
Also known as "salsify," this biennial herb is cultivated for its root which is used as a vegetable. Its taste hints of a delicately flavored oyster. Can be found in the U.S. in Spanish, Italian, and Greek markets.
Vegetable shortening
An vegetarian alternative to lard often used in baking and when basting meat.
Veloute
An extremely smooth creamy sauce of various stock bases thickened with a roux. This is used as a base for other more complex sauces, though it may be used alone.
Velvet
A term used in Chinese cookery: meat strips to be stir-fried are coated first in cornflour, or egg white and cornflour, to protect them while frying.
Venison
This term covers the meat from antelope, caribou, elk, deer, moose, and reindeer. Venison is probably the most popular large game meat eaten today.
Verjus
A sour grape juice which can be used in cooking.
Vermicelli
Pasta made into long thin strands, often used in soups. The name means ‘little worms’ in Italian.
Vermouth
A white wine that has been steeped with an infusion of herbs, plants, roots, leaves, peels, seed, and flowers. It has a aroma and taste designed to be served as an apertif (appetizer).
Vichy
A sparkling mineral water from Vichy, France.
Vichyssoise
A soup made from potatoes, leeks and cream, served cold, garnished with chopped chives. The name is also used to refer to any cold soup based on potatoes and another vegetable.
Victual
Food or other provisions.
Vienna Sausage
A small frankfurter, often served as an hors d'oeuvre.
Vigo Coloring
Common substitute for the yellow color of saffron. Can be found in small envelopes in any Latin American, Mexican, or Cuban market.
Vinaigrette
A cold sauce made from a mixture of vinegar, oil, pepper and salt, to which various flavourings can be added: herbs, mustard etc. Vinaigrette is used mostly for dressing green salads. The choice of oil (olive, sunflower, walnut etc) and vinegar is made according to the type of salad. Lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar.
Vine Spinach
An edible leaf from a tropical plant that is cultivated in certain parts of France. Vine spinach may be prepared in any manner appropriate for spinach. Also called "basella."
Vinegar
A weak solution of acetic acid and water used in pickling, preserving, tenderizing, and to add a sour flavor to foods. Cleopatra dissolved a perfect pearl in vinegar and drank it in front of Mark Antony as a demonstration of her wealth.
Vitello Tonnato
Thinly sliced roast or braised veal, served cold with a creamy, piquant tuna sauce. This combination may sound a bit unusual, but is surprisingly delicious.
Vodka
An eastern European spirit distilled from grain. It has neither taste nor smell, although some vodkas are flavoured with spices, plants, leaves or fruits.
Vol-au-Vent
A round case of puff pastry with a pastry lid which is filled after baking and served as a hot starter or hors d'oeuvre. The filling is made up of meat, seafood or vegetables in a sauce.