Acetic Acid - wine or cider, fermented beyond the stage of alcohol. In diluted form, it is vinegar. Also, acetic acid is used in preserving fruits to keep flesh from discoloring, and in freezing.
Achar/Achard - pickles and salt relishes used in the cooking of India
Achira - South American plant used as arrowroot
Acid Rinse - a bath of acidulated water used to prevent discoloration of peeled fruits and vegetables that brown when exposed to air
Acidulated Water - cold water with vinegar, lemon or lime juice added.
Acorn Squash - a small to medium-sized acorn-shaped winter squash with an orange-streaked dark green fluted shell (orange, yellow and creamy white varieties are also available), pale orange flesh, large seed cavity and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
Ade - a fruit drink made by combining water with sugar, boiling until the sugar dissolves, then adding a citrus juice and ice
Adjust - in cooking, the term means the cook must taste before serving, and add seasonings to suit his or her own sense of what the right flavor is
Adobo - a Philippine national dish of braised pork, chicken, or fish. Also, a seasoned Mexican sauce made with vinegar and chilies
Aemono - a Japanese salad served with dressing, or the dressing itself
Agar-Agar - seaweed used as a thickening agent, as is gelatin
Aiguillettes - thin strips of meat or fish.
Aïoli - A strongly flavored garlic mayonnaise from the Provence region of southern France. It's a popular accompaniment for fish, meats and vegetables.
Aji-No-Motto - Japanese name for monosodium glutamate, MSG, used by Oriental cooks on occasion to revive a dish that has turned out tasteless.
Akavit/Aquavit - Scandinavian form of distilled alcohol made from grain or potatoes, and flavored with caraway seeds.
à la - French, literally, “prepared in the style of”.
à la King - an American dish of diced foods, usually chicken or turkey, in a cream sauce with pimientos, mushrooms, green peppers and sometimes sherry.
à la Maréchale - small cuts of meat and poultry which are breaded and fried in butter. Green asparagus tips and truffles are usual in the garnish.
à la Mode - literally, “following the fashion”. In the United States, it is food that is served with ice cream; in France it names braised meat smothered in sauce.
à la Nicoise - dishes with black olives, tomatoes, garlic, anchovies and dried cherries. Also, a candy of caramelized sugar and browned almonds.
à la Printanier - to be cooked or garnished with fresh spring vegetables. Printemps is the French word for spring.
à la Provencale - a dish including garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and often black olives.
al Dente - Italian for to the tooth; used to describe a food, usually pasta, that is cooked only until it gives a slight resistance when one bites into it; the food is neither soft nor overdone.
Albondigas - a Mexican dish of spiced meat balls. Also found in Spanish, Brazilian, and Scottish recipes.
Albumin - a protein found in egg white, milk, green plants, seeds, and animal blood.
Ale - a fermented drink; the original term for beer.
Almond Extract - a concentrated flavoring made from bitter-almond oil and alcohol, widely used in pastries and baked goods.
All-Purpose Flour - is made from a blend of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat. It's a fine-textured flour milled from the inner part of the wheat kernel and contains neither the germ (the sprouting part) nor the bran (the outer coating). U.S. law requires that all flours not containing wheat germ must have niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and iron added. These flours are labeled "enriched." All-purpose flour comes in two basic forms — bleached and unbleached — that can be used interchangeably. Flour can be bleached either naturally, as it ages, or chemically. Most flour on the market today is presifted, requiring only that it be stirred, then spooned into a measuring cup and leveled off.
Allspice - a member of the pimento family and native to tropical regions in the western hemisphere; has leathery leaves, white flowers and small, brown berries, has a flavor reminiscent of a mixture of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and pepper; also known as Jamaican pepper.
Allumettes - cut into matchstick sizes and shapes. Also, a puff pastry used for hors d’oeuvres.
Aluminum Foil - a thin pliable sheet of aluminum; easily molded, conducts heat well, can withstand temperature extremes and is impervious to odors, moisture and air; used to cover foods for cooking and storage.
Almond Paste - a mixture of sugar, almonds, and rose water traditional among Christmas foods in Europe. Used to make marzipan and for decorations.
Altitude (High) Cooking & Baking - Simply put, the weight of air on any surface it comes in contact with is called air (or atmospheric) pressure. There's less (or lower) air pressure at high altitudes because the blanket of air above is thinner than it would be at sea level. As a result, at sea level water boils at 212°F; at an altitude of 7,500 feet, however, it boils at about 198°F because there's not as much air pressure to inhibit the boiling action. This also means that because at high altitudes boiling water is 14 degrees cooler than at sea level, foods will take longer to cook because they're heating at a lower temperature. Lower air pressure also causes boiling water to evaporate more quickly in a high altitude. This decreased air pressure means that adjustments in some ingredients and cooking time and temperature will have to be made for high-altitude baking, as well as some cooking techniques such as candy making, deep-fat frying and canning. In general, no recipe adjustment is necessary for yeast-risen baked goods, although allowing the dough or batter to rise twice before the final pan rising develops a better flavor.
Amaretto - liqueur with the flavor of almonds although it is often made with the kernels of apricot pits. The original liqueur, Amaretto di Saronno, is from Saronno, Italy.
Amandine - a dish garnished with sautéed almonds.
American Cheese, Processed - any of the group of U.S. cheeses made with emulsifiers to increase smoothness and pasteurized milk to increase storage life; 51% of the final weight must be cheese.
Anadama Bread - yeast bread made of cornmeal and white flour with molasses.
Anchovy - a small fish usually stored in olive oil or salt. Anchovy is sold for flavoring.
Angel Food Cake - a light, airy cake made without egg yolks or other fats; its structure is based on the air whipped into the egg whites; traditionally baked in a tube pan.
Angelica - a sweet herb used to flavor a variety of liqueurs and drinks. Candied, it is used in baking, especially fruit cakes.
Anise - a small annual member of the parsley family native to the eastern Mediterranean region; has bright green leaves with a mild licorice flavor that are sometimes used as an herb or in salads.
Antipasto - assorted hors d’oeuvres, Italian style. Often included are ripe black olives, green stuffed olives, garlic sausage slices, salted anchovy curled on a sliced tomato, cooked dried beans in a vinaigrette dressing, prosciutto (thinly sliced fat ham) with cantaloupe.
Aperitif - a cooked, usually sweet, wine, taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Appetizer - a small serving of food or beverage served before or as the first course of a meal.
Apple - a pome fruit with generally firm flesh, which can range in flavor from sweet to tart, encased in a thin skin, which can range in color from yellow to green to red; apples can be eaten out of hand, cooked or used for juice and are grown in temperate regions worldwide and available all year, particularly in the fall.
Apple Butter - a very thick preserve of cooked apples.
Apricot - a small stone fruit with a thin, velvety, pale yellow to deep burnt orange skin, a meaty golden cream to bright orange flesh and an almond-shaped pit; it is highly perishable, with a peak season during June and July; the pit's kernel is used to flavor alcoholic beverages and confection.
Aqua Vitae - Latin, “water of life,” used to describe clear distilled liquors and brandies.
Arborio Rice - an ovoid, short-grain rice with a hard core, white color and mild flavor; it becomes creamy when cooked and is used for risotto.
Areca Nut - Betel nut, East India pepper plant. It is chewed in Asia to aid digestion.
Aroma - describes flavor and fragrance, both closely related.
Arrack/Arak/Raki - strong liquor distilled in North Africa and in Arab lands. It is drunk in very small portions.
Arrowroot - A flour used to thicken clear liquids because it does not cloud.
Artichoke - the large flowerhead of a plant of the thistle family; has tough gray-green petal-shaped leaves with soft flesh (which is eaten) underneath, a furry choke (that is discarded) and a tender center (called the heart which is also eaten); also known as globe artichoke.
Arugula - a leaf vegetable with dark green, spiky, dandelion-like leaves and a strong, spicy, peppery flavor; used in salads; also known as rocket, rugula, and rucola.
Asian Pear - there are so many varieties of Asian pear that no one description can apply to them all. Generally though this fruit is round with speckled tan skin and has a crisp, firm, grainy white texture similar to that of a pear, an apple or at times, a water chestnut. The taste is a cross between an apple and a pear - has a slight perfume quality. Native to China and Japan, Asian pears are also grown in many states in the U.S. They may be eaten raw or cooked.
Asparagus - a member of the lily family with an erect stalk and small, scale-like leaves along the stalk, capped by a ruffle of small leaves; a young stalk is tender with a slightly pungent, bitter flavor, an apple green color and a purple-tinged tip; becomes tougher as it ages.
Aspic - a jelly produced from the stock of meat fish, fowl or a liquid held together with gelatin.
Athol Brose - a Scottish drink made of whisky, oatmeal, and cream sweetened with honey.
au Gratin - a French term referring to a dish with a browned topping of bread crumbs and/or grated cheese; also known as gratiné.
au Jus - French term for roasted meats, poultry or game served with their natural, unthickened juices.
au Naturel - dishes cooked as simply as possible and served with a minimum of accompaniments.
Avocado - a tropical fruit with a single large pit, spherical to pear shape, smooth to rough-textured skin with a green to purplish color and yellow to green flesh with a buttery texture and high unsaturated fat content; generally used like a vegetable and consumed raw; also known as an alligator pear.