Macadamia Nut - a round, costly, and delicious nut sold shelled and bottled. It is the fruit of a subtropical evergreen native to Australia but most that reach the market come from Hawaii (also grown in California). Seeds were brought to Hawaii in 1880, and the nuts first were offered on the market in the 1930’s.
Macaroni - 1. Dried pasta made from a dough of wheat flour and water. 2. In the United States, specifically, short elbow-shaped tubes of pasta.
Mace - 1. A spice that tastes and smells like a pungent version of nutmeg. 2. Mace is the bright red membrane that covers the nutmeg seed. After the membrane is removed and dried it becomes a yellow-orange color. It's sold ground and, less frequently, whole (in which case it's called a "blade"). Mace is used to flavor all manner of foods, sweet to savory.
Macerate - 1.To soak a food (usually fruit) in a liquid in order to infuse it with the liquid's flavor. A spirit such as brandy, rum or a liqueur is usually the macerating liquid.
Madeleine - a small cake baked in a shell-shaped mold. Also, a garnish of artichoke bottoms, onions and green beans.
Madrilène - a consommé flavored with tomato, usually served cold.
Magnum - a single bottle with a capacity of two bottles or about 2/5 gallon, or 160 centiliters.
Maître D’Hôtel - head waiter, but on menus, a dish that is cooked quickly and simply with parsley as the featured flavor.
Maître D’Hôtel Butter - a parsley butter excellent with grilled meats or fish and vegetables, especially carrots. The recipe calls for butter, minced parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper blended. (Be wary of mincing the parsley in a blender; overblended in a blender or a processor, parsley releases a bitter juice that spoils the food it is combined with. You can avoid overblending by cutting only a small handful at a time in the machine).
Maize Bread - American corn bread, also known as corn pone, spoon bread, egg cake and ash cake. Each of these is made by a somewhat different method, but all have cornmeal as the base.
Malt - sprouted barley used to brew beer or distill spirits.
Malted Milk - a drink made from powdered wheat and malted barley extracts, mixed with milk and sometimes, added flavorings like chocolate, strawberry, etc.
Mandarin - 1. Any of several varieties of a small citrus fruit (Citrus reticulata) native to China, including the mandarin, dancy, tangerine clementine and satsuma. 2. A citrus fruit; generally has a somewhat flattened spherical shape, loose yellow to reddish-orange rind, orange flesh and a sweet flavor that is less acidic than that of an orange.
Mango - a tropical fruit the size of a small pear, in its original species, but today mango hybrids are as large as small or medium grapefruits. From India, and a key ingredient in some of the best chutneys, notably Major Grey’s. The fruit is yellow shaded red when ripe, and is peeled before eating. Best chilled, and ripe enough to be softly yielding. Delicious taste between a pineapple and a very ripe peach.
Manioc - Cassava, the source plant for tapioca.
Maple Syrup - a reddish-brown, viscous liquid with a sweet distinctive flavor, made by reducing the sap of the North American maple tree.
Maraschino - a sweet liqueur made from cherries. Also, red cherries in maraschino syrup, which are used in mixed drinks and with desserts, such as fruit salad and as a garnish on drinks.
Maraschino Cherry - 1. A cherry marinated in maraschino liqueur and used for garnishing cocktails, desserts and baked goods. 2. A pitted cherry macerated in a flavored sugar syrup and dyed red or green; used for the same purposes as a traditional cherry.
Marbled - a term for meat streaked with fat. When cooked, marbled meat is juicy and exceptionally tender, so this is a mark of a high-quality piece, especially sought after in steaks and beef roasts.
Marc - eau-de-vie, a spirit distilled from the residue of grapes or other fruit after wine has been pressed and strained. Calvados is the marc made of apples.
Maréchale, à la - small cuts of meat and poultry which are breaded and fried in butter. Green asparagus tips and truffles are usual in the garnish.
Marennes - a type of oyster found in French waters. Highly prized for flavor.
Margarine - a butter substitute made from animal or vegetable fat and butter flavored.
Marinade - a seasoned liquid blend, usually acid-based with wine, vinegar, yogurt or lemon juice, or a dry spice rub.
Marinate, to - to cover food with a marinade for a specified amount of time before cooking to make it more flavorful, more moist and/or more tender. (Food should be covered and refrigerated while marinating.).
Marinière - to cook shellfish with white wine. Also, a garnish with mussels.
Marjoram - an herb and member of the mint family (Origanum marjorana) native to the Mediterranean, has short oval, pale green leaves, a sweet flavor reminiscent of thyme and oregano and a strong aroma; also known as sweet marjoram.
Marmalade - a citrus jelly that also contains unpeeled slices of citrus fruit.
Marmite - a heavy metal or earthenware pot.
Marmite, Petite - French dish. A rich broth called consommé double, it includes chicken and beef with vegetables and herbs. The words mean “small pot”.
Marrow - a squash. Also, the inner substance of meat bones, usually shin bones.
Marzipan / Marchpane - a combination of almond paste, sugar and egg whites used in making pastry and small fruit shapes for holidays.
Mash - to crush or pound, generally used in connection with cooked root vegetables, such as potatoes and turnips.
Matelote - a rich fish stew flavored with red or white wine and herbs.
Matzo - a type of thin unleavened bread special to the Passover feast celebrated by the Jews. It resembles a cracker. Also, unleavened dumplings.
Mayonnaise - a cold, thick, creamy sauce consisting of oil and vinegar emulsified with egg yolks; used as a spread or base for a salad dressing or dip.
Mead - an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water.
Measuring cups, dry - vessels, usually made of plastic or metal, with a handle and a rim that is level with the top measurement specified; used to measure the volume of dry substances and are generally available in a set of 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1-cup capacities; metric measures are also available.
Measuring cups, liquid - vessels, usually made of glass, plastic or metal, with a handle and a spout that is above the top line of measurement; specifically used to measure the volume of a liquid and are generally available in 1, 2, and 4-cup to 1-gallon capacities; metric measures are also available; also know as glass cup measures.
Meat - 1. The flesh (muscles, fat and related tissues) of animals used for food. 2. The edible part of nuts.
Medallion - a small, coin-shaped slice of meat or fish.
Melba Toast - thin slices of bread baked slowly until crisp. Named for the coloratura soprano, Dame Nellie Melba, who was the toast of international society early in 21st century.
Melon - a member of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae; grown on vines worldwide, these fruits generally have a thick hard rind, many seeds and a sweet juicy flesh; there are two principal types: muskmelons and watermelons.
Melt - to liquefy by heat.
Meringue - a mixture of egg whites beaten with sugar and baked into cookies or used as a pie topping. The addition of sugar to a meringue is critical; poured in too quickly, the meringue will fall and will not be usable.
Meunière - French for literally, “in the style of the miller’s wife”, dusted with flour and sautéed in butter.
Mexican Corn Truffle - A nickname for Huitlacoche (also spelled cuitlacoche) a fungus which grows naturally on ears of corn (Ustilago maydis). The fungus is harvested and treated as a delicacy. The earthy and somewhat smoky fungus is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, soups and other specialty dishes.
Microwave Cooking - a heating method that uses radiation generated by a special oven to penetrate the food; the raidiation agitates water molecules in the food, creating friction and heat; this energy then spreads throughout the food by conducting (and by convection in liquids).
Microwave Oven - a specially constructed and wired oven that cooks with microwaves, a form of electromagnetic radiation used in radar and telecommunications. Microwave ovens tenderize foods more rapidly than conventional cooking instruments.
Mignonette - coarsely ground white or black pepper.
Mille-Feuilles - literally, “a thousand leaves”, this is the flaky pastry the Middle East introduced into European cuisine, layered with cream, and topped with jam and icing.
Milt - the reproductive gland of a male fish, also known as soft roe.
Mimosa - a garnish of grated hard-boiled egg yolks, named for the tree flower that is a spry of tint yellow fluffy balls.
Mince - to cut or chop food into very small pieces; smaller than chopped.
Mincemeat - a preserve of chopped apples, suet, dried fruits, candied peel, sugar, spices and brandy or rum. It is matured for a month or more and used in holiday pies and in some recipes for fruitcake.
Minestra - Italian; a thick soup of meat and vegetables.
Minestrone - a minestra with pasta.
Mint - herb used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. In the West, commonly used to make tea as well as a sauce served with lamb roasts.
Minute Steak - a boneless steak cut one quarter inch thick, and criss-crossed with cuts for tenderizing. It is intended to be sautéed in 1 minute. To cook it longer is to toughen it.
Mirepoix; Mirepois - French term for a mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sautéed in butter. Sometimes ham or bacon is added to the mix. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish.
Mise en place - A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.
Mix - to combine ingredients into a uniform mixture with a stirring motion.
Mixed Grill - a combination of grilled meats, such as liver, steak and bacon garnished with tomatoes and mushrooms. It is usually served with fried potatoes.
Mocha - a rich coffee originally grown in Mocha, Yemen. The beans are almost without bitterness in the best grades. Mocha also describes a combination of chocolate and coffee used to flavor cakes and candies.
Mode, à la - literally “in the mode”. Meats à la mode are braised with vegetables and served with gravy. In the United States, à la mode usually refers to food topped with ice cream.
Molasses - a thick, sweet, brownish-black liquid that is a by-product of sugar-refining; used in breads, cookies and pastries for its distinctive, slightly bitter flavor and dark color.
Mold, to - to shape food, usually by pouring the liquefied food into a mold. When the liquid is cooled it will retain the shape of the mold.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - an amino acid derived from gluten of soybeans. Used in Oriental cooking to improve the flavor of a dish that has not come up to par.
Monterey Jack cheese - Originated in Monterey, California, thus the name. It is also called California Jack or simply Jack cheese. It is a member of the Cheddar family and is a mild, white cheese aged only three to six weeks. The texture of Monterey Jack cheese depends on the type of milk used. If whole milk is used, the cheese will be semi-soft; if skim milk is used, it will be harder and can be used for grating. It has a mild, somewhat bland flavor. It has good melting properties, making it excellent for sandwiches as well as for cooked dishes. Some versions contain flavorings such as jalapeèo pepper, black pepper, garlic, vegetable and dill.
Morel - a small, very tasty mushroom.
Mornay - white sauce with egg, cream, and cheese added.
Mousse - a molded dish based on meat or sweet whipped cream stiffened with egg white and/or gelatin (if mousse contains ice cream, it is called bombe).
Moussaka - a traditional dish of the Balkan peninsula, and generally known as Greek. There are many variations, but all are layered casseroles of vegetables and ground meat. A good example is a combination of eggplant with tomatoes and lamb.
Mousse - a dish usually based on beaten egg whites and yolks, baked into a savory or a sweet. A mousse can be a puree of meat, poultry, fish or vegetables, served hot or cold. As a dessert it is an extra-light pudding flavored with fruit, lemon or chocolate, and served warm or cold with or without cream.
Mousseline - a sauce with whipped cream added. The name for small molds of poultry, game fish and shellfish and cream, served hot or cold.
Muddler - a thick rod used to crush and mix fruit and sugar in drinks. Also, used to free the bubbles in champagne.
Muffin - a drop batter baked in individual pans and served as a quick bread.
Mulled Wine - Wine, usually red, that is heated, but not boiled, with sugar and spices, such as cinnamon stick, ground mace and whole cloves.
Mulligatawny - English version of chicken or lamb soup served with rice. The original is Indian.
Mush - a cooked cereal made by boiling cornmeal. Best served with melting butter and a little sweet syrup.
Mushroon - any of many species of cultivated or wild fleshy fungus, usually consisting of a stem, a cap (which may have gills) and mycelium; available fresh or dried and eaten raw, reconstituted or cooked.
Mustard - any of several species of a plant that is a member of the cabbage family; the seeds are used for a spice and the leaves are eaten as vegetables.
Mussels - edible mollusks found under seaweed clinging to the rocks by the seashore. Like other shellfish, mussels are subject to a condition called “red tide”, which occurs in some spring seasons and renders the shellfish poisonous. Therefore, before harvesting mussels, check with the local authorities to be sure they are safe.
Mutton - meat of the mature sheep, that is 1 year to 18 months old. The meat is a darker color than lamb, and strongly flavored.