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Culinary Software Services - Home Page Food Lover's Glossary
of Culinary Terms

Copyright© 1998-2008 by Culinary Software Services, Inc.®

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Baba - A small cake made from enriched yeast dough, often flavored with candied fruits, and soaked with a rum or Kirsch syrup after baking. This dough is also used to make the larger savarin.
Baekenhofe - An alsacienne stew made of pork, lamb, and beef layered with potatoes and onions. The meat is first marinated in wine and herbs for a minimum of 24 hours, then assembled and baked in a paste sealed casserole until the meat is buttery tender. The juices are reduced and the top is browned under the broiler. Crisp bacon and fried leeks are used to garnish this dish.
Bagna Cauda - Meaning "warm bath", this is a dip made of anchovies, olive oil, and garlic. Unlike the French anchoiade, this is served warm and is not emulsified. Bread and raw vegetables are served with this dip.
Bain-Marie - Simply a water bath. It consists of placing a container of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked in this manner either in an oven or on top of a range. This technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. It can also be used to keep foods warm.
Baked Alaska - A dessert comprised of sponge cake topped with ice cream and covered with meringue. The dessert is then placed in a hot oven to brown the meringue before the ice cream can melt.
Baking Powder - A leavening agent combining an acid with bicarbonate of soda to form the gas which enables baked products to rise. The chemical reaction between the acid and the soda produces carbon dioxide to leaven the product. The most common form of baking powder is the double acting variety, which produces gas upon mixing and again at high temperatures. Always store this tightly covered.
Baking Soda - A leavening agent which is used as an essential ingredient in baking powder. When used alone as a leavener, recipes must include some type of acid to neutralize the resulting sodium carbonate in the finished product. Buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, and citrus juice are adequate acid to use. You may also use baking soda to help neutralize the acid in recipes that call for large amounts of fruit.
Baklava - A very sweet dessert made of layers of flaky pastry filled with a mixture of ground nuts and sugar. The pastry is sliced, baked, and brushed with a honey syrup flavored with lemon or rose water.
Ballottine - A pâté-like dish in which forcemeat is stuffed back into the boneless carcass from which the forcemeat was made. This may include fish, poultry, game birds, or even some cuts of meat. The mixture is wrapped in muslin and poached or braised. These dishes may be served hot or cold.
Balsamic Vinegar - A wonderfully fragrant vinegar made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes. The juice is then heated and aged in wooden barrels, evaporating and concentrating in flavor. The resulting vinegar is deep rich brown with a sweet and sour flavor. Well aged balsamic vinegars are very costly, some reaching an astronomical $200 an ounce. Most balsamic vinegars found in the US are not "aceto balsamico tradizionale", but un aged balsamic vinegar. These vinegars lack in body and flavor that the well-aged balsamic vinegars possess, yet have a fair sweet and sour balance of flavor not found in any other vinegars.
Bangers - British colloquial term for sausages. "Bangers and mash" are sausages and mashed potatoes.
Barding - The practice of wrapping lean cuts of meat to be with thin slices of back fat. The converse of this is larding, in which long strips of fat are inserted into the cut of meat to keep it moist during cooking.
Barquette - A small oval shaped pastry shell with either sweet or savory fillings.
Basquaise - Food prepared in the style of Basque which often includes tomatoes and sweet or hot red peppers.
Bavarian Cream - A cream made with pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and stabilized with gelatin. This cream may then be poured into molds, or used as a filling for cakes or pastries. Bavarian cream is often flavored with fruit purees or alcohol.
Bearnaise - This is the most notable of all the hollandaise sauce variations. It is made with a wine and vinegar reduction flavored with tarragon. This sauce makes a good companion to grilled meats and fish.
Bechamel Sauce - This is a white sauce made with milk or cream and thickened with a roux. Bechamel sauce is generally used as a base for other more complex sauces, though it may be used alone for binding or moistening.
Beignet - A French term for a type of doughnut. Dough or batter is deep fried and dusted w/sugar or glazed with a flavored syrup.
Belle Helene - Best known as the name of a dessert with poached pears, ice cream, and chocolate sauce. It is also a term used in French cookery as a name for a garnish to grilled meat dishes.
Benne Seeds - An African term for sesame seeds.
Beurre Blanc - An emulsified sauce made of a wine or vinegar reduction blended with softened butter. This may be flavored in many ways, for fish, vegetables, and poultry dishes. This is a very tricky sauce and does not hold for long periods of time. Because of this, modern versions add a touch of cream to stabilize the sauce for longer periods of time.
Beurre Manie - A mixture of flour and butter kneaded to a smooth paste. This is then used in small quantities to adjust the thickness of sauces and stews. The sauce must then be boiled briefly to remove the starchy taste of the flour. For this reason, beurre manieé is used in situations where only a small quantity is needed.
Biscotti - Dry Italian cookies flavored with almonds, chocolate, or anise seed, used for dunking in coffee and sweet dessert wine.
Bisque - A rich shellfish soup made with the shells of the animal. The soup is enriched with cream and Cognac and garnished with pieces of the shellfish meat. This name is also used to describe vegetable soups prepared in the same manner as shellfish bisques.
Bistella - See pastilla for a definition.
Blanch - Cooking foods in boiling water for a brief period of time. This applies primarily to vegetables so as to reduce their final cooking time. But blanching may be done to fish or meat as well.
Blanquette - A stew of white meats, usually veal, without initial browning. The sauce is thickened with roux and enriched with cream.
Blini - A small pancake made of buckwheat flour and leavened with yeast. These pancakes are often brushed with large amounts of melted butter and served with caviar and sour cream. Other versions may be made of vegetable purees or semolina flour.
Blintz - A stuffed crepe or thin pancake. The filling is usually made of a fresh cheese or cottage cheese, and often topped with fresh fruit or fruit preserves.
Boletus - A family of wild mushrooms known for their rich taste and meaty texture. Porcinis and cepes are two members of this family of mushroom.
Bollito Misto - An Italian stew consisting of various cuts of meat, including zampone, boiled in a rich broth with vegetables. The whole dish is served with cornichons, pickled onions and a variation of chutney called mostarda di Cremona. These are whole or large pieces of fruit cooked in a spicy mustard flavored syrup. Other common sauces are salsa verde and mayonnaise.
Bordelaise - This is a term primarily used to describe a brown sauce that includes shallots and red wine. Some versions of this sauce include slices of bone marrow added at the end of cooking. Fish dishes with this name will be cooked with white Bordeaux wine.
Borscht - A rich soup from Eastern Europe containing beets or cabbage. Other ingredients may include potatoes, beans, meat or sausage. The best known of these soups is a cold version based on beets and served with sour cream, but hot versions are very common.
Bouchee - A small round puff pastry shell used for sweet or savory fillings.
Boudin - Smooth sausages of two types. Boudin blanc contain veal, pork, and chicken. Boudin noir are made with blood and rice or potatoes. The latter type are popular in European and Creole cooking.
Bouillabaisse - A rich fish stew from southern France. This was once a poor man's meal made of any fish available. Modern versions include lobster and shrimp. The broth is flavored with garlic, orange peel, fennel, and saffron. Olive oil is added to the stew and rapidly boiled to blend it into the broth. The stew is served with croutons and rouille, a variation of aioli.
Bouquet Garni - A sachet of herbs, containing parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Variations may include rosemary, marjoram, fennel, leeks, celery leaves, and black pepper.
Bourguignonne - Foods cooked in the style of Burgundy. This includes red wine, mushrooms, pearl onions, and bacon.
Bourride - Another fish stew from southern France. Here the broth, in which large pieces of fish are poached, is strained and thickened with aioli. The two are then served together in shallow bowls with bread or croutons.
Bran - The outer husk of grains such as wheat, containing a high percentage of fiber. White flours have the bran removed. Whole wheat flours may contain all or part of the bran.
Brandade - A puree of salt cod mixed with olive oil and potatoes. Another version of brandade is covered with Gruyere cheese and browned in the oven. Both are served with croutons.
Bresaola - A cured and dried beef filet from Italy with a more delicate texture but stronger flavor than that of prosciutto. A Swiss version of this is called bundnerfleisch. This style is pressed into a rectangular shape and has a bit drier texture than bresaola. Both are served thinly sliced with bread and fruit or pickled vegetables.
Brioche - A very rich bread with butter and eggs. Brioche is baked in many shapes though the brioche e tete is best known. The dough can be flavored with nuts or candied fruit, as well as herbs and spices. It may also be used to wrap foods like coulibiac. Slices of toasted brioche are the perfect companion to foie gras and gravlax.
Brochette - Skewers of meat, fish, or vegetables that are grilled over a flame and simply served.
Brunoise - A very fine dice usually applied to vegetables.
Bruschetta - Grilled slices of bread brushed with olive oil and fresh garlic. This was the original garlic bread.
Bucatini - Long, narrow tubes of pasta usually served with a hearty meat sauce.
Buffet - A vast array of hot and cold foods, often elaborately garnished.
Bulghur - Cracked wheat made from the whole kernel that has been cooked and dried. Most commonly used in breads and tabbouleh salad.
Butter - A cooking and eating fat that is made from sweet or sour cream and, by federal law, must contain a minimum of 80% butterfat. Butter absorbs odors easily and is highly susceptible to rancidity. To avoid either of these problems, store butter in the refrigerator no longer than 2 weeks. For longer storage, butter may be frozen for up to 6 months without deterioration.
Butter-Cultured - Cultured butter is butter churned from cultured cream (cream fraiche). Most butter produced in the U.S. before 1920 was cultured butter, but in the 20's, the U.S. Government guaranteed the sale of every pound of butter produced, so quality became a non-issue and sweet cream butter prevailed.
Buttermilk - Originally a by-product of butter making, buttermilk is commercially produced by adding lactic acid culture to skimmed or partially skimmed milk.









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