Cook’s Encyclopedia – B

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

baba: a small cake made from enriched yeast dough, often flavoured with candied fruits, and soaked with a rum or Kirsch syrup after baking. This dough is also used to make the larger savarin.
baby bok choy: also known as pak kat farang or Shanghai bok choy; is small and more tender than bok choy.
baby endive: also known as frisée; the tender, pale, inner leaves of young endive.
bacon rashers: bacon slices; made from cured, smoked pork side.
baekenhofe: an Alsatian 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.
bagel: small ring-shaped bread roll with a dense, chewy texture and shiny crust.
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.
baguette: the traditional long French bread “stick”, it has a crunchy brown crust and soft white chewy interior.
baine marie: a saucepan standing in a large pan which is filled with boiling water to keep liquids at simmering point. A double boiler will do the same job.
bake: to cook by dry heat in an oven or on a hot surface without direct exposure to flame.
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: to cook by dry heat in oven.
baking paper: also known as parchment, silicon paper or non-stick baking paper; not to be confused with greaseproof or waxed paper. Use it to line pans before cooking or baking and also to make piping bags.
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 neutralise the resulting sodium carbonate in the finished product. Buttermilk, yoghurt, sour cream, and citrus juice are adequate acid to use. You may also use baking soda to help neutralise 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 flavoured with lemon or rosewater.
ballottine: a 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.
balmain (or Moreton bay) bugs: a crustacean with white flesh and a rich sweet flavour. Substitute crayfish or prawns.
balsamic vinegar: a mild, extremely fragrant, wine-based vinegar made in northern Italy. Traditionally, the vinegar is aged for at least seven years in a series of casks made of various woods.
bamboo mat: makisua large or small mat made from bamboo sticks tied together with cotton string, essential when preparing rolled sushi; after use, wash well with scrubbing brush. Stand on end to dry thoroughly to avoid it becoming mouldy.
bamboo shoots: available canned and occasionally fresh. Peel fresh shoots down to the creamy inner part and boil to soften. Store unused bamboo shoots in water in the refrigerator, refreshing daily.
barbecue sauce: a spicy, tomato based sauce.
barley: a nutritious grain used in soups and stews. Hulled barley is the least processed form of barley and is high in fibre. Peral barley has had the husk discarded and been hulled and polished, much the same as rice.
barquette: a small oval shaped pastry shell with either sweet or savoury fillings.
barramundi: a member of the giant perch family; both wild and farmed varieties exist. Delicately flavoured, with soft flesh, barramundi is well suited to barbecuing, char-grilling, steaming, poaching and pan-frying.
basmati rice: long-grained white rice; wash before use.
baste: to brush or spoon cooking food with melted fat or the cooking juices from the dish.
bastourma: also referred to as pastourma, pastirma, this air-dried cured beef product is popular in Armenian and Turkish cuisines. Available from Middle Eastern butchers and delicatessens.
basquaise: food prepared in the style of Basque which often includes tomatoes and sweet or hot red peppers.
batter: to coat food in a mixture of flour and liquid prior to cooking.
bavarian cream (bavarois): a cream made with pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and stabilised with gelatine. This cream may then be poured into moulds, or used as a filling for cakes or pastries. Bavarian cream is often flavoured with fruit purees or alcohol.
bay leaves: aromatic leaves from the bay tree used to flavour soups, stocks and casseroles.
beans: borlotti – also known as roman beans; pale pink or beige beans with darker red spots. Eaten fresh or dried; also available in cans. Broad – also known as fava beans. Available fresh, canned and frozen; best peeled twice (discard outer long green pod and the sandy-green inner shell). Butter – also known as lima beans; sold dried and in cans; large, beige, mild-tasting bean. Cannellini – small white beans.
bean sprouts: also known as bean shoots; tender new growths of assorted beans and seeds germinated for consumption as sprouts.
bean thread noodles: also known as sun sen; made from extruded mung bean paste. Often known as cellophane or glass noodles because they are transparent when cooked. White in colour (not off-white like rice vermicelli), very delicate and fine; available dried in various size bundles.
bean thread vermicelli: glass-like thin hard vermicelli made from a type of bean flour. When cooked, they become transparent.
béarnaise: this is the most notable of all the hollandaise sauce variations. It is made with a wine and vinegar reduction flavoured with tarragon. This sauce makes a good companion to grilled meats and fish.
beat: to use a large spoon, or a rotary or electric beater, turn ingredients over and over rapidly to make the mixture smooth and light.
béchamel: a white mother sauce made from roux, milk and a studded onion.
beef: rump steak – boneless tender cut. Strips – prepared from blade, fillet, rib-eye, round, rump, sirloin and topside.
beetroot: also known as red beets or simply, beets; firm, round deep purple-red root vegetable and a refined smooth texture.
beignet: French word for fritter.
Belgian-style waffles: precooked round sweetened waffles sold packaged.
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.
benne seeds: an African term for sesame seeds.
besan: flour made from ground chickpeas. Also known as gram or besan flour.
betel leaves: this delicate green leaf, also known as wild betel leaf or char plu, is commonly eaten raw in Thai cuisine, where it is often used as a base or a wrapping for the small appetisers known as miang. The leaves are sold in bunches in Thai or Asian speciality shops.
beurre blanc: an emulsified sauce made of a wine or vinegar reduction blended with softened butter. This may be flavoured 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 stabilise the sauce for longer periods of time.
beurre maine: equal quantities of butter and flour kneaded together and added, a little at a time, to thicken a stew or casserole.
bicarbonate of soda: also known as baking soda.
bird chillies: these tiny chillies are extremely hot. When cutting chillies in general, wear thin rubber gloves. Be sure you wash your hands after handling them. The capsaicin, responsible for the spiciness, can cause severe pain if it gets into your eyes.
biscotti: dry Italian cookies flavoured with almonds, chocolate, or anise seed, used for dunking in coffee and sweet dessert wine.
biscuits: cookies
bisque: a shellfish based soup, that was traditionally thickened by crumbling in water crackers or biscuits; from whence it derived its name.
bitter apricot kernels: also known as Chinese almonds or bitter almonds; available from Asian food stores.
black bean sauce: a Chinese sauce made from fermented soy beans, spices, water and wheat flour.
black fungus (cloud ear, wood fungus, tree ear, or mouse ear): black fungus has little flavour of its own, but is prized for its crunchy texture. It is more commonly available dried and must be soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (until it is soft and jelly-like) before use. It is also available fresh.
black mustard seeds: also known as brown mustard seeds; used in most mustards.
black sesame seeds: mainly used in Asian cooking, black sesame seeds add colour, crunch and a distinct nuttiness to whatever dish they garnish. They can be found in most Asian grocery stores. Purchase the seeds regularly, as they can become rancid with age.
black soy sauce: containing Molasses and Soy Bean Extract. This sauce is used primarily as a flavouring agent but also to improve the visual appeal of certain dishes. Soybeans contain the most protein of any vegetarian food. However, they are high in unsaturated fat.
blanc: a cooking liquid made by adding flour and lemon juice to water in order to keep certain vegetables from discolouring as they cook.
blanch: dip food into boiling water for a few seconds. When blanching vegetables, put them directly after blanching into ice water to preserve their natural colour.
bland: lacking a strong taste or character.
blanquette: a white stew of lamb, veal or chicken, bound with egg yolks and cream and accompanied by onion and mushrooms.
blend: to evenly combine ingredients using a spoon or spatula.
blind bake: to bake or part-bake a pastry case before filling. Line pan with pastry. Place aluminium foil or greaseproof paper over pastry and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake pastry as directed in recipe, remove paper and beans 5 minutes before end of cooking time.
blinis: 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.
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.
blue swimmer crab: also known as sand crab or Atlantic blue crab.
blue-eye: white-fleshed fish.
blue-eye trevalla: previously known as blue eye and blue-eye cod. A firm, white, moist, large fish with a mild flavour. Usually sold in fillets and cutlets; suits all cooking methods.
blood orange: variety of orange with sweet flesh that ranges from bright red to ruby red.
bocconcini: small balls of fresh mozzarella, a delicate, semi-soft white cheese traditionally made in Italy from buffalo milk. Spoils rapidly so must be kept under refrigeration, in brine for 1 or 2 days at the most.
bok choy: also known as bak choy, pack choi, Chinese white cabbage or Chinese chard, has a fresh, mild mustard taste; use stems and leaves, stir-fry or braised.
boil: to cook food in liquid by bringing the liquid to a temperature at which it boils (that is, the temperature at which the liquid starts to bubble and turn into vapour).
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 flavoured syrup. Other common sauces are salsa verde and mayonnaise.
bonito flakes: dried bonito is shaved into flakes and is available in cellophane packs; larger, coarser flakes are used to make dashi while the finer shavings are used as a garnish. Keep flakes in an airtight container after opening.
bonne femme: dishes cooked in the traditional French ‘housewife’ style. Chicken and pork bonne femme are garnished with bacon, potatoes and baby onion; fish bonne femme with mushrooms in a white wine sauce.
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.
borlotti beans: also known as roman beans; can be eaten fresh or dried.
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.
bouchée: bite sized puff pastry cases, usually filled with a savoury filling and served as a canapé or savoury.
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 Provence, southern France. A charter for which has been arranged stating that all that sign it promise to follow the traditional recipe.
bouquet garni: a bunch of herbs, usually consisting of sprigs of parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, a bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves, tied in muslin and used to flavour stews and casseroles.
bourbon: an American whiskey made from corn, plus other grains. Aged for at least two years in oak barrels, it has a smoky, slightly sweet flavour.
bourguignon: 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.
bowles veal glace: a reduced veal stock made from natural ingredients, it provides an excellent base for sauce making. It is available in small jars from speciality butchers and delicatessens.
boyajian pure orange oil: citrus oil cold pressed from the rind of oranges. Available from specialty food stores and delicatessens.
braise: combination baking and stewing in covered pan (moist heat) in oven or top of cooker.
bran: the outer husk of grains such as wheat, containing a high percentage of fibre. 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.
brandy: spirit distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juice.
breadcrumbs: stale – one or two day old bread made into crumbs by grating, blending or processing. Packaged – fine-textured, crunchy, purchased, white breadcrumbs.
bresaola: a cured and dried beef fillet from Italy with a more delicate texture but stronger flavour than that of prosciutto. A Swiss version of this is called bunderfleisch. 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: rich yeast-risen bread made with butter and eggs. Available from patisseries or specialty bread shops.
brittle: easily broken into small pieces.
broad beans: available fresh, dried and frozen. Known as fava beans in the United States.
broccolini: a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale; is milder and sweeter than broccoli. Each long stem is topped by a loose floret that closely resembles broccoli; it is completely edible.
brochette: skewers of meat, fish, or vegetables that are grilled over a flame and simply served, also the skewer itself.
broil: the American term for grilling food.
brown: cook in a small amount of fat until brown.
brown bean paste: a seasoning made from yellow or black fermented and salted soy beans, this paste has been used by Chinese cooks to flavour food for thousands of years. There are two forms available: whole beans in a thick sauce, and mashed beans (sold as crushed or yellow bean sauce).
brown miso: brown miso (hatcho miso) is a fermented paste of soya beans, salt and either rice or barley. Miso is used extensively in Japanese cooking, for example, as an ingredient in sauces and pickles, as well as in soups, dressings and stocks. Brown miso has a richer flavour then white miso. It is available from Asian shops and health food stores.
brunoise: a brunoise cut is a small diced cut, approximately 3mm in size. Usually used for vegetables.
bruschetta: grilled slices of bread brushed with olive oil and fresh garlic. This was the original garlic bread.
brussel sprouts: small, spherical green vegetables, related to and resembling cabbage in both appearance and flavour. The best have tight heads and no odour.
bucatini: long, narrow tubes of pasta usually served with a hearty meat sauce.
buckwheat flour: although not a true cereal, flour is made from buckwheat grains and is available from health food stores.
buffet: an array of hot and cold foods, often elaborately garnished.
bulgur: cracked wheat made from the whole kernel that has been cooked and dried. Most commonly used in breads and tabbouleh salad.
butter: use salted or unsalted (sweet) butter; 125g is equal to one stick of butter.
buttered: to spread with softened or melted butter.
butter-cultured: cultured butter is butter churned from cultured cream (creme frâiche). 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.
butterfly: to slit a piece of food in half horizontally, cutting it almost through so that, when opened, it resembles butterfly wings. Chops, large prawns and thick fish fillets are often butterflied so that they cook more quickly.
buttermilk: sold alongside fresh milk in supermarkets; despite the implication of its name, is low in fat. Originally the liquid left after butter was churned, today, it is commercially made similarly to yogurt.
butternut pumpkin: a pear-shaped pumpkin with golden skin and orange flesh.
butter puff pastry: this is puff pastry made with butter rather that vegetable fat, which gives it a much more buttery flavour than standard puff. If you can’t find any, use ordinary puff pastry and brush it with melted butter to add flavour.

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