macadamias: native to Australia, rich and buttery nut; store in refrigerator because of high oil content.
macaire: a potato pancake made with seasoned potato puree.
macaroon: a small round cookie that has a crisp crust and a soft interior. Many versions bought commercially have been thoroughly dried. These cookies may be made from almonds, though coconut is common in the US. The may also be flavoured with coffee, chocolate, or spices. Amoretti, from Italy, are a type of macaroon.
macerate: soaking fruit or vegetables in wine, liquor, or syrup so that they may absorb these flavours. Salt and sugar macerations are used to draw excess moisture out of the food for a secondary preparation. This is done for canning, jam and preserve making, and to remove bitter flavours from vegetables.
mache: a wild lettuce with small round leaves that may be used for salads or cooked and used as you would spinach. The taste is a little less pronounced than spinach. Mache grows wild, and can be found in the fall. It is cultivated in France, Italy, and the US from September to April.
madeira: fortified wine heated during aging, ranging in flavour from sweet to very dry, which can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes, while the lighter versions make an excellent aperitif.
madeleine: a small shell shaped cookie or cake made from a rich batter similar to g,noise. These may be flavoured with almonds, lemon, or cinnamon.
magret: the breast meat from a mallard or Barbary duck. These ducks are specially raised for foie gras. Their breasts are large and have a much thinner layer of fat than do the Peking or Long Island duckling.
mahi mahi: erroneously thought by some to be related to dolphin. This very large game fish has firm-textured flesh with a distinct central red muscle running the length of the fillet. Well suited to barbecuing, char-grilling, pan-frying and baking.
Malay curry powder: generally consisting of dried spices including cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, turmeric, black peppercorns and dried red chillies, ground in varying proportions. In Malaysia, different combinations of these are specifically labelled for meat, fish or vegetable curries. Available from Asian food stores.
malibu: coconut-flavoured white rum.
malt: a sweet powdered extract derived from malted barley.
mandarin: a type of orange with an easily removable skin and ranging in size from the golf-ball-sized clementine to the tennis-ball-sized tangerine.
mandoline: a hand-operated implement with adjustable blades for thick to very thin slicing, shredding and cutting into straw-sized sticks. Ideal for shredding carrot and daikon (Japanese white radish), similar results will be achieved with the shredding mechanism of the food processor or a plastic V-slicer. As a last resort, use the coarse side of a grater.
mango: tropical fruit originally from India or South-East Asia, with skin colour ranging from green through yellow to deep red. Fragrant deep yellow flesh surrounds a large flat seed. Mango cheeks in a light syrup are available canned.
mango cheeks: two halves of mango flesh surrounding the seed.
maple-flavoured syrup: also known as golden or pancake syrup. It is not a substitute for pure maple syrup.
maple syrup: a thin syrup distilled from the sap of the maple tree.
marengo: a chicken stew made with wine, tomatoes, and garlic. The stew is served over toast, garnished with crayfish and fried eggs. The modern versions of this omit the eggs and substitute shrimp for the crayfish. Of course, other liberties have been taken with this recipe to include black olives, peppers, and veal. The dish is said to have been served to General Bonaparte after his army’s defeat of the Austrians in the battle of Marengo, made from whatever ingredients the Chef could scrounge at the time.
margarine: a solid fat invented in 1869 by the French chemist Henri Mege-Mouries. Margarine was first invented to replace butter in cooking and baking. It was then made solely of beef fat. Margarine is now made with a variety of fats, alone or with others, along with the addition of water, whey, yellow colouring, and vitamins. Beef fat is still used today, but with a higher consciousness towards a healthier diet, it is very rare.
marinade: a seasoned liquid, usually an oil and acid mixture, in which meats or other foods are soaked to soften and give more flavour.
marinara: Italian ‘sailor’s style’ cooking that does not apply to any particular combination of ingredients. Marinara tomato sauce for pasta is the most familiar.
marinate: to soak raw foods in an aromatic liquid. To increase tenderness and impart flavour.
marron: a freshwater crustacean indigenous to Western Australia; substitute with scampi or yabbies.
marsala: a sweet fortified wine originally from Sicily.
mars bars: a chocolate and caramel confectionery bar.
maryland: leg and thigh of fowl still connected in a single piece with bones and skin intact.
marzipan: an almond paste with the addition of egg whites. This mixture is kneaded into a smooth paste and used to wrap or layer cakes and candies. Marzipan is also shaped into figures of animals, fruits, and vegetables, and sold in pastry or candy shops.
mascarpone cheese: a fresh, unripened, thick triple-cream cheese with a delicately sweet, slightly acidic flavour.
mask: to cover cooked food with sauce.
matafan: a thick pancake eaten sweet as a snack, or savoury as an accompaniment to cheese. They are also made with bacon, spinach, and potatoes.
matelote: a French fish stew made with wine. The Alsatian version of this dish is made with freshwater fish, Riesling wine, and thickened with cream and egg yolks. The Normandy version includes seafood and is flavoured with cider and Calvados. These stews are normally embellished with pearl onions and mushrooms.
matjes herring: a reddish herring that has been skinned and filleted before being cured in a spiced sugar-vinegar brine.
mayonnaise: rich, creamy dressing made with egg yolks, vegetable oil, mustard, and vinegar or lemon juice.
measuring cups: cups for the accurate measurement of dry ingredients.
measuring jug: jug with scale on the side for the accurate measurement of liquids.
measuring spoons: different sized spoons for the accurate measurement of small amounts.
melba: the name of a popular dessert invented by Auguste Escoffier, named after Dame Nellie Melba. Poached peach halves are served with vanilla ice cream and topped with fresh raspberry sauce.
melt: to heat until liquefied.
membrillo: also known as quince paste, this Spanish fruit paste is made by cooking quince, sugar and water to a thick paste. Sold in round tins, tetra packs or blocks.
menudo: a soup similar to pozole with the addition of tripe and meat broth. This, too, is served with assorted condiments for the diners to choose from.
meringue: whipped egg whites to which sugar has been added to form a stiff paste. These are used to lighten mousses, cakes, and pastry creams. Unsweetened versions are used to lighten forcemeats. Meringue is also baked in a very low oven, forming crisp shells which are filled with fruit or ice cream. Small dried meringue shells are called vacherin.
merguez: small, spicy sausage traditionally made with lamb; recognised by its chilli-red colour. Found in butchers, delicatessens and sausage specialty stores.
mesclun: a mixture of baby lettuces and other salad leaves, also known as gourmet salad mix.
microwave: to microwave – to cook or heat in a microwave oven. A microwave – an oven which used high frequency electromagnetic waves to cook or heat food.
mignonette: this is a term used to describe coarsely ground pepper used for au poivre preparations and in bouquet garni. This is also used to describe small round pieces of meat or poultry.
mille-feuille: small rectangular pastries made of crisp layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. This may also include savoury fillings of similar presentation. The word mille-feuille means ‘thousand leaves’.
mince: to grind into very small pieces.
minced steak: ground beef, also applies to pork, veal and lamb.
mince meat: also known as ground meat.
minestrone: an Italian vegetable soup with beans and pasta or rice. This may contain any number of vegetables, but for authenticity, meat is never added.
mint: a refreshing sweet herb available in many varieties, with spearmint and peppermint being the most common. Japanese shisoalso known as perilla or beefsteak plant; a member of the mint family. Red shiso is less aromatic and used mainly to colour and spice pickles.
mint jelly: a condiment usually served with roast lamb; packaged or homemade jelly flavoured with mint flakes.
mirepoix: a mixture of chopped onion, carrot, and celery used to flavour stocks and soups. Ham or bacon are sometimes added to a mirepoix, depending on the specific preparation.
mirin: sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking; sometimes referred to simply as rice wine but not to be confused with sake, rice wine made for drinking.
miso: fermented soybean paste. There are many types of miso, each with its own aroma, flavour, colour and texture; can be kept airtight, up to a year in the refrigerator. Generally, the darker the miso, the saltier the taste and denser the texture. Salt-reduced miso is available. Brown or dark brown karakuchi also known as aka miso, saltiest miso, often more bitter in taste; has very thick texture. Light brown amakuchi also known as chukara. Mild or medium salty. White shiro sweet miso for salad dressings, sauces, soups. Yellow shinshu deep yellow, smooth miso; fairly salty but tart. Good for general cooking.
miso soup: the base is a blend of dashi and miso paste with two or three added solid ingredients such as tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Ready-to-serve Instant Miso Soup is available from Japanese food stores and is sold like instant soup (just add boiling water). Four types are available: aka miso (brown), shiro miso (white), with wakame or tofu.
mix: to combine ingredients so they are evenly blended.
mixed peel: candied citrus peel.
mixed salad leaves: mixed baby leaves also sold as salad mix, mesclun or gourmet salad mix; a mixture of assorted young lettuce and other green leaves.
mixed spice: a blend of ground spices usually consisting of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
mixing bowl: all purpose bowl used for combining foods.
mizuna: a wispy, feathered green salad leaf.
molasses: this is a syrup resulting from the crystallisation of raw sugar from the sap. Additional processing results in darker and stronger tasting molasses called black strap.
mole: an assortment of thick sauces used in Mexican cooking made of chillies. These sauces are made with one or many chillies, and flavoured with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nuts, seeds, and chocolate. Their flavour is rich, smoky, and very complex. Some recipes are made with fresh herbs and have a green colour. Chicken, turkey, and pork are then simmered in this sauce.
monkfish: also known as stargazer because of the upwards position of its eyes. Highly regarded, firm white, moist, meaty flesh; sometimes called “poor man’s lobster” due to the similarities in taste and texture. Particularly good baked, braised or stewed.
monounsaturated fats: one of three types of fats found in foods. Are believed not to raise the level of cholesterol in the blood.
morel: this is a wild mushroom with a dark brown, honeycombed cap and hollow stem. These are very dirty mushrooms and must be cleaned carefully. Morels possess a wonderful earthy flavour, making them good candidates for soups, sauces, and fillings. Can be bought fresh or dried.
mortadella: a delicately spiced and smoked Italian sausage made of pork and beef.
moussaka: a Greek layered dish of eggplant and lamb with tomatoes and onions. This is all bound with Bechamel sauce and cooked au gratin.
mousse: Sweet or savoury dishes made of ingredients which are blended and folded together. These mixtures may be hot or cold, and generally contain whipped egg whites to lighten them. Cream is also used to lighten these dishes, though when used in large quantities, these preparations are called mousseline.
mousseline: as stated above, these are fine purees or forcemeats that have been lightened with whipped cream. The term is also used to describe a hollandaise sauce which has unsweetened whipped cream folded into it.
mousseron: a wild mushroom with an off-white to beige colour. The flavour is full-bodied and the texture is fleshy like boletus.
mulligatawny: a curried chicken soup adapted by the British from India. Originally the soup was enriched with coconut milk and embellished with almonds and apples. Newer versions make a lighter broth and flavour this with curry and coconut.
mung bean vermicelli (cellophane or glass noodles): are made with a mixture of mung bean and tapioca starches, and water. They are sold dried in tight opaque bundles. They are difficult to cut or seperate, so try to buy in smaller bundles or cut with scissors. They can be deep fried straight from the packet, eaten as a soft noodle, and are ideal for soups and hotpots. Soak in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then rinse and drain. They have a soft gelatinous texture, and become almost transparent.
muscat: a sweet, fruity dessert wine, made from the grape of the same name; is almost caramel in colour.
mushroom soy sauce: made from combining dark soy sauce with straw mushrooms and a little sugar, giving it a subtle mushroom flavour. Complements Cantonese recipes using mushrooms, and can be used as a dipping sauce. Available from Asian food stores.
mushrooms: button small, cultivated white mushrooms having a delicate, subtle flavour. Flat large, soft, flat mushrooms with a rich earthy flavour; often misnamed field mushrooms. Oyster (Abalone) grey-white mushroom shaped like a fan. Shitake also sold as donko mushrooms; available fresh and dried. Have a unique meaty flavour, which is stronger when dried. Swiss brown also known as cremini or roman; light to dark brown mushrooms with full-bodied flavour. Button or cup mushrooms can be substituted.
mussaman curry paste: this curry is generally milder than other kinds. The usage of cinnamon, cloves and star anise create this distinctive flavour. Always keep curry pastes in an airtight container. They can be kept under refrigeration for several weeks, however with age they will lose flavour.
mussels: buy from a fish market where there is reliably fresh fish. Must be tightly closed when bought, indicating they are alive. Before cooking, scrub shells with a strong brush and remove the ‘beards’. Discard any shells that do not open after cooking.
must: unfermented juice as pressed from grapes.
mustard: American a slightly sweet, mild, bright yellow mustard. Dijon a pale brown, distinctively flavoured, mild French mustard. Honey dijon dijon mustard mixed with honey. Seeded also known as wholegrain. A French-style coarse-grain mustard made from crushed mustard seeds and dijon-style French mustard. Japanese karashi hot mustard available in ready-to-use paste in tubes or powder from Asian grocery stores. Wholegrain also known as seeded. A French-style coarse-grain mustard made from crushed mustard seeds and dijon-style French mustard.
mustard oil: pungent oil made from pressed mustard seeds. Extremely hot, so use sparingly and store in the refrigerator. Available from supermarkets.
mustard pickles: also known as piccalilli; a chunky relish that is good served with baked ham or leftover cold meat or poultry.
Cook’s Encyclopedia – M
macadamias: native to Australia, rich and buttery nut; store in refrigerator because of high oil content.