Cook’s Encyclopedia – A

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abalone: a mollusc, related to a sea snail, similar in flavour to a clam. It may be cooked by various methods and is best suited to very long or very short cooking times. Also called “Awabi” in Japanese cuisine and “Loco” in South American cuisine. It has been over-harvested and is very expensive when available. A small amount is being commercial raised.
accompaniment: a sauce or food served with a dish, e.g. mint sauce is an accompaniment to lamb.
achar: very spice relish from the cuisine of India and the Caribbean Islands. Achar may be made from fruits or vegetables.
acidulated water: water with added acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, which prevents discolouration of ingredients, particularly fruit or vegetables. The proportion of acid to water is 1 teaspoon per 300mL.
adobado: paste or sauce made from chillies, vinegar, and other seasonings. Used as a seasoning for meats.
aerate: to add a gas to, or to let the air act on (something). In bread making, adding air to the mixture makes the bread light and fluffy.
aged balsamic vinegar: a fragrant, sweetish vinegar from Modena, Italy, made from concentrated grape juice and aged in wooden barrels for at least 10 years.
agnolotti: a small half-moon shaped ravioli.
aiguillette: long, thin slices of poultry breast or some other meats.
ail: French word for “garlic”.
aioli: a garlic mayonnaise.
ajo: Spanish word for “garlic”.
albumen: the protein of egg whites.
al carbon: Spanish term for a dish relating to grilled or containing meat.
al dente: Italian cooking term for ingredients that are cooked until tender but still firm to the bite; usually applied to pasta.
al forno: Italian term describing a dish cooked in the oven.
alfredo: a pasta sauce originally consisting of butter, cream, and the finest parmesan cheese available.
almond paste: a sweet paste made from finely ground blanched almonds mixed with powdered sugar and enough glucose or syrup to bind it together.
all-bran: a low-fat, high-fibre bran-based breakfast cereal.
allspice: also known as pimento or Jamaican pepper; available whole or ground.
almond: flat, pointy-ended nuts with pitted brown shell enclosing a creamy white kernel which is covered by a brown skin. flaked: paper-thin slices of almond.
almond essence: a synthetically produced substance used sparingly to impart an almond flavour to foods.
almond meal: also known as ground almonds; the nut is powdered to a flour-like texture, for us in baking or as a thickening agent.
al pastor: a term used in Spanish and Italian referring to a dish cooked in the style of shepherd cooking, usually over a grill or spit.
amaretti biscuits : cruchy or soft small Italian-style macroons based on ground almonds.
amchoor: sour, unripe mangoes that are dried and sold in slices and powder. Its primary use is in Indian cooking, giving foods a sweet/sour flavour.
americaine: method of serving seafood, usually lobster and monkfish, in a sauce flavoured with olive oil, aromatic herbs, tomatoes, white wine, fish stock, brandy and tarragon.
american-style pork spare ribs: well-trimmed mid-loin ribs.
anchoiade: a dip made of pureed anchovies mixed with garlic and olive oil. Raw vegetables and bread are served with this dip.
andouille: a sausage made from the stomach and the intestines of pork. The sausage is dried and smoked, then boiled or steamed to finish cooking. Andouille sausage is used regularly in Creole cooking, but it is popular in French cooking as well. The Creole version of this sausage is much spicier than those made in France.
angel hair pasta: small, circular nests of very fine, delicate pasta.
angelica: the leaves can be used fresh in savoury dishes and both stems and leaves are used for herb teas.
anglaise: cooking style for simple cooked dishes such as boiled vegetables. Assiette anglaise is a plate of cold cooked meats.
annatto seed: also called achiote seed, these seeds are used as a food colouring and a spice in cooking from Latin America and Southeast Asia.
antipasto: Italian for ‘before the meal’, it denotes an assortment of cold meats, vegetables and cheeses, often marinated, served as an hors d’oeuvre. A typical antipasto might include salami, prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts, anchovy fillets, olives, tuna fish and Provolone cheese.
arborio rice: plump white rice which can absorb a large quantity of liquid without getting mushy. Use in risottos. Substitute with carnaroli rice.
arrowroot: used mostly for thickening; cornflour can be substituted.
arroz: Spanish term for “rice”.
artichoke: a name shared by three unrelated plants: the globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke and Chinese (or Japanese) artichoke. Considered the true artichoke, the globe artichoke it is the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal shaped leaves.
artichoke hearts: centre of the globe artichoke; sold in cans or loose, in brine.
au gratin: food sprinkled with breadcrumbs, often covered with cheese sauce and browned until a crisp coating forms.
asafoetida: a spice used in India and the Middle East for cooking or as a condiment to be sprinkled over food after it has been cooked. It has a bitter taste and a pungent aroma similar to garlic and truffles.
asiago: a semi-firm Italian cheese with a rich, nutty flavour. Yellow with tiny holes it comes in small wheels with glossy rinds and is made from whole or part-skim cows milk. When young Asiago is used as a table cheese; aged for over a year, it becomes hard and suitable for grating.
asparagus: vegetables that grow as shoots; the straight, firm stalks, which range from pencil-thin to as thick as your thumb, are prized for their delicate flavour, particularly the tender tips.
aspic: a jelly made from stock, fumet, wine, or fruit juices used to mould dishes. These preparations are often elaborately decorated for use on buffets. Both savoury and sweet foods are set in aspic. Cubes of aspic are a common garnish to fine pâtés and foie gras.
aubergine: the French word for eggplant.
au naturel: food served raw, e.g. oysters.
aurore: this is a term associated with sauces that have tomato puree or concasse added to it.
avruga: a black fish roe from the golden herring, imported from Spain. Available from specialty food stores.
azuki beans: small reddish brown beans.

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