- Pressed or mashed together tightly, filling
the measuring utensil with as much of the ingredient
Paella - A Spanish dish consisting of
rice, saffron, a variety of meat and shellfish,
garlic, onions, peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables.
It's named for the wide, shallow pan it's cooked
Palm Hearts - Hearts of young palm trees.
Palm Sugar - Known as gula jawa (Indonesian),
gula Malacca (Malaysian), nahm tahn beep (Thai).
Ivory to light caramel colored sugar cakes. Its
flavor is extracted from coconut flower or palm.
It is similar to brown sugar. In fact, if you
can't find it, you can substitute maple sugar
or brown sugar blended with a little maple syrup
(to moisten) for palm sugar.
Pan Fry - To brown and cook foods in fat
in a shallow pan, where the fat does not completely
cover the food.
Panbroil - To cook a food in a skillet
without added fat, removing any fat as it accumulates.
Pancetta - An Italian cured meat made from
the belly (pancia) of the big (the same cut used
for bacon). It is salted but lightly spiced, but
Panforte - A dense, flat Italian cake filled
with hazelnuts, almonds, honey, candied citron
and citrus peel, cocoa and spices.
Pansotti - A stuffed, triangular pasta popular
in the Italian region of Liguria.
Papaya - Native to North America, the papaya
is a large fruit which is golden yellow when ripe.
Ripe papaya has an exotic sweet-tart flavor. The
fruit is sometimes called pawpaw.
Papillote, En - A food (ex. fish with a
vegetable garnish) enclosed in parchment paper
or greased paper wrapper and baked; the paper
envelope is usually slit open tableside so that
the diner can enjoy the escaping aroma.
Pappardelle - Plain pasta, usually homemade,
shaped in broad ribbons with fluted edges, cut
into short pieces (¾-inch wide by 12 inches
Paprika - A blend of dried red-skinned
chiles; the flavor can range from slightly sweet
and mild to pungent and moderately hot and the
color can range from bright red-orange to deep
blood red; used in Central European and Spanish
cuisines as a spice and garnish; also known as
Paraffin - A waxy substance used for coating
items such as cheese and the tops of jars of jams
and jellies to keep air out, thus preventing spoilage.
Parboil - To boil a food briefly, until
partially done. A food might be parboiled before
adding it to faster-cooking ingredients to insure
all ingredients are evenly cooked.
Parchment Paper - A heavy moisture and
grease-resistant paper used to line baking pans
and wrap foods to be baked.
Parcook - To partially cook an item before
storing or finishing by any number of other cooking
Pare - To remove skins and peels from fruits
or vegetables with a small knife or peeler.
Pareve - A Jewish term which describes
food made without dairy or animal
ingredients. According to Jewish dietary laws,
animal food can't be eaten at the same meal with
dairy food, but pareve food may be eaten with
Parfait - A dessert consisting of ice cream,
layered with a dessert sauce, fruit, or liquer.
Parmesan Cheese - A cow's milk cheese whose
taste ranges from sweet to sharp. It is a hard
cheese, most suitable for grating. Most often
served with Italian food.
Parsley - An herb (Petroselium crispum)
with long, slender stalks, small, curly dark green
leaves and a slightly peppery, tangy fresh flavor
(the flavor is stronger in the stalks, which are
used in a bouquet garni); generally used fresh
as a flavoring or garnish; also known as curly
Parsnip - A long, white root vegetable with
feathery green leaves. Its look and taste is similar
to a carrot and it can be cooked in much the same
Partially Set - Term for the state of a
gelatin mixture that has thickened to the consistency
of unbeaten egg whites.
Pasilla Chili Peppers - Medium-hot chili peppers
that are generally 6 inches to 8 inches long and
1 inch to 2 inches in diameter. These rich-flavored
peppers are blackish-brown in color and sometimes
referred to as chile negro.
Passion Fruit - This purple fruit has a
smooth skin that wrinkles as it ages and highly
fragrant orange pulp filled with many tiny edible
seeds. The flavor is tangy but sweet. It can be
chilled and eaten as is, added to fruit salads
or used as a flavoring for baked goods, preserves
Pasta - Pasta may refer to any of a wide
variety of noodles from a variety of countries.
Italian pasta is usually made with a dough of
durum or semolina wheat flour, liquid, and sometimes
egg. Pasta made with semolina flour is generally
superior, since it doesn't absorb too much water
and stays somewhat firm when cooked al dente.
Pasteurize - To kill bacteria by heating
liquids to moderately high temperatures only briefly.
French scientist Louis Pasteur discovered the
solution while he was researching the cause of
beer and wine spoilage.
Pastina - A small pasta, of any shape but
frequently round; used in soups.
Pastry Bag - A cone-shaped bag with openings
at both ends. Food is placed into the large opening
then squeezed out the small opening which may
be fitted with a decorator tip. It has a variety
of uses, including decorating cakes and cookies,
forming pastries, or piping decorative edgings.
Bags may be made of cloth, plastic, or other materials.
Pastry Blender - A kitchen utensil with
several u-shaped wires attached to a handle. It's
used to cut solid fat (like shortening or butter)
into flour and other dry ingredients in order
to evenly distribute the fat particles.
Pastry Brush - A brush used to apply glaze
or egg wash to breads and other baked goods either
before or after baking.
Pastry Wheel - A utensil with a cutting
wheel attached to a handle. It's used to mark
and cut rolled-out dough, and may have a plain
or decorative edge.
Pat - To take the underside of the hand
and gently press a food. The purpose might be
to pat dry ingredients onto the surface so they
will adhere during cooking, or to pat with a towel
to remove excess moisture.
Pâté - An appetizer, paté
usually consists of seasoned, finely ground or
strained meat, poultry, or fish. Paté is
usually cooked in a crust or mold (may be called
terrine) and is often served with crackers or
Pate a Choux - Cream puff paste. It is
a mixture of boiled water, fat, and flour, beat
in whole eggs.
Patty - A thin, round piece of food, such
as a hamburger patty or a peppermint patty.
Paupiettes - Thinly sliced meats wrapped around
Paysanne - French name avariety of vegetables
cut in a small square, usually about 1/4".
Used in soups or granish for meats and seafood.
Peach - A medium-sized stone fruit (Prunus
persica) native to China; has a fuzzy, yellow-red
skin, pale orange, yellow or white juicy flesh
surrounding a hard stone and a sweet flavor; available
as a clingstone and freestone.
Peach Melba - A dessert created in the
late 1800s by the famous French chef Escoffier
for Dame Nellie Melba, a popular Australian opera
singer. It's made with two peach halves that have
been poached in syrup and cooled. Each peach half
is placed hollow side down on top of a scoop of
vanilla ice cream, then topped with Melba sauce
(a raspberry sauce) and sometimes with whipped
cream and sliced almonds.
Peaks - The mounds made in a mixture. For
example egg white that has been whipped to stiffness.
Peaks are "stiff" if they stay upright
or "soft" if they curl over.
Peanut - A legume and not a nut (Arachis
hypogea), it is the plant's nut-like seed that
grows underground; the hard nut has a papery brown
skin and is encased in a thin, netted tan pod
and is used for snacking and for making peanut
butter and oil; also known as a groundnut; earthnut,
goober (from the African work nguba) and goober
Peanut Oil - Clear oil pressed from peanuts;
very useful in cooking and as a salad oil. Peanut
oil has a delicate flavor and high smoke point,
making it perfect for deep-frying.
Pear - A spherical to bell-shaped pome
fruit (Pyrus communis), generally with a juicy,
tender, crisp off-white flesh, moderately thin
skin that can range in color from celadon green
to golden yellow to tawny red and a flavor that
can be sweet to spicy; pears can be eaten out
of hand or cooked and are grown in temperate regions
Pearl Onions - Mild-flavored onions about
the size of a small marble; often cooked as a
side dish or pickled as a condiment or garnish.
Peas - The edible seeds contained within
the pods of various vines; the seeds are generally
shelled and the pod discarded; although available
fresh, peas are usually marketed canned or frozen.
Pecan - The nut of a tree of the hickory
family (Carya oliviformis), native to North America;
has a smooth, thin, hard, tan shell enclosing
a bilobed, golden brown kernel with beige flesh
and a high fat content.
Pecorino Romano - The Pecorino cheeses
are made from sheep's milk in Italy. Romano is
the best known. Parmesan is a good Romano substitute.
Pectin - Pectin is a natural substance
used to thicken jams, jellies, and preserves.
Pectin is naturally present in fruits, but most
don't have enough to jell. The alternative is
to cook the mixture until it's reduced to the
desired consistency. Pectin will only work when
combined with a specific balance of sugar and
Peel - To remove the outside covering,
such as the rind or skin, of a fruit or vegetable
with a knife or vegetable peeler.
Penne - Italian for pen or quill and used
to describe short to medium-length straight tubes
(ridged or smooth) of pasta with diagonally cut
Pepper - The fruit of various members of
the Capsicum genus; native to the Western hemisphere,
a pepper has a hollow body with placental ribs
(internal white veins) to which tiny seeds are
attached (seeds are also attached to the stem
end of the interior); a pepper can be white, yellow,
green, brown, purple or red with a flavor ranging
from delicately sweet to fiery hot; the genus
includes sweet peppers and hot peppers.
Peppercorn - Peppercorns are small berries
from a vine plant. The black peppercorn is picked
when it is almost ripe, then dried. Whole ground
or cracked, black peppercorns produce our everyday
black pepper. The milder white pepper is made
from the dried inner kernel of the ripe berry.
Peppermint - An herb and member of the
mint family (Mentha piperita); has thin stiff,
pointed bright green, purple-tinged leaves and
a pungent, menthol flavor; used as a flavoring
Perciatelli - Pasta whose shape is similar
to that of spaghetti, but with a hollow center;
also called bucatini.
Persillade - A mixture of paste garlic,
finely chopped parsley, a little olive oil, and
sometimes bread crumbs.
Persimmon - A round fruit with a glossy
skin that can range in color from yellow to deep
orange with sweet, creamy orange flesh. All persimmons
have a characteristic astringent flavor that causes
the mouth to pucker when they are not ripe.
Pesto - Pesto is an Italian basil sauce.
Many variations of this sauce exist including
different nut based pestos, different herb based
pestos, sun dried tomato pesto, and black olive
Petit Four - Small bite-size cakes, petits
fours are usually square or diamond-shaped. They're
typically coated with icing and decorated.
Pheasant - A game bird with dark flesh
and an average weight of 1.5 to 2 lbs.
Phyllo - A Greek pastry, phyllo is made
up of tissue-thin layers of dough. The dough is
used for dishes such as baklava and spanikopita.
It can usually be found frozen in supermarkets.
Phyllo is sometimes spelled filo.
Picadillo - A Spanish dish made up of ground
pork and beef, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other
foods, depending on the region. In Mexico, picadillo
is used as a stuffing.
Picante - Spanish for flavored with hot
Picholine Olive - French green olive, salt-brine
cured, with a subtle, slightly salty flavor; sometimes
preserved with citric acid in the United States.
Sauce - A sweet and sour, mild hot pepper
sauce from Jamaica.
Pickle - To preserve food in a vinegar
mixture or seasoned brine. Cucumbers, cauliflower,
onions, baby corn, and and watermelon rind are
some of the most popular foods to pickle.
Pickling Spice - A combination of spices
usually including mustard seed, bay leaves, cinnamon,
pepper, allspice, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom.
Pickling spices are used primarily for pickling
foods, but may also be used to season certain
Pico de Gallo - Literally rooster's beak,
a coarse uncooked tomato salsa.
Pierogi - Polish dumplings filled with
a minced mixture, such as pork, onions, cottage
cheese and seasonings.
Pilaf - A side dish of rice or other grains
cooked in a broth with seasonings and sometimes
tossed with vegetables or meat. Also known as
Pimiento or Pimento - A large red, sweet
pepper. Pimientos are usually found diced in cans
and jars and are added to dishes to enhance the
color and flavor.
Pinch - As much of an ingredient that can
be held between the thumb and forefinger. A very
small, approximate amount.
Pine Nuts - The blanched seeds from pine
cones. Other names are: Indian nut, piñon,
pignoli, and pignolia.
Pineapple - A tropical fruit (Ananas comosus)
with a spiny, diamond-patterned, greenish-brown
skin and swordlike leaves; the juicy yellow flesh
surrounds a hard core and has a sweet-tart flavor.
Pinon - Pine nuts, seeds of large pine
cones. Used in deserts and breads or roasted and
enjoyed as nut meats.
Pint - A unit of volume measurement equal
to 16 fl. oz. in the U.S. system.
Pinto Bean - A medium-sized pale pink bean
with reddish-brown streaks; available dried; also
known as a crabeye bean and a red Mexican bean.
Pipe - To squeeze icing or other soft food
through a pastry bag to make a design or decorative
Piquant - A term which generally means
a tangy flavor.
Piquante Sauce - A sauce made with shallots,
white wine vinegar, gherkins, parsley, and a variety
of herbs and seasonings.
Pit - To remove the seed from a piece of
fruit by cutting around the sides of the fruit
and pulling the seed away from the flesh.
Pita - A round, Middle Eastern flat bread
made from white or whole wheat flour. When a pita
is split, the pocket may be filled to make a sandwich.
Pizzelles - Thin decoratively patterned
Italian wafer cookies that are made in an iron
similar to a waffle iron. They may be flat or
rolled into ice cream cones.
Plantains - Also known as machos. The plantain
is a green skinned, pink fleshed banana which
is usually flatter and longer than a regular banana.
It also contains more starch and less sugar. It
is usually eaten fried, mashed, or in stews in
South American, African, and West Indian cuisine.
Plastic Wrap - A thin sheet of clear polymers
such as polyvinyl chloride; clings to surfaces
and is used to wrap foods for storage.
Plum - A small to medium-sized ovoid or
spherical stone fruit (Prunus domestica) that
grows in clusters; has a smooth skin that can
be yellow, green, red, purple or indigo blue,
a juicy flesh, large pit and sweet flavor.
Plum Sauce - Also known as duck sauce,
plum sauce is a Chinese condiment made from plums,
apricots, vinegar and sugar. It has a thick, jam-like
consistency and tart-sweet flavor. Plum sauce
is used predominately as a dipping sauce for roasted
meats and fried appetizers.
Poach - To cook food in liquid, at or just
below the boiling point. For eggs, meat, or fish,
the liquid is usually water or a seasoned stock;
fruit is generally poached in a sugar syrup.
Poblano Chili Pepper - A dark, sometimes
almost black green chili pepper with a mild flavor.
Best known for its use in "Chili Rellanos".
Poêle - A method of cooking (usually
in a covered pot) where foods are cooked in their
own juices. Also referred to as butter roasting.
Poi - A Hawaiian dish made from cooked
taro root that has been pounded to a smooth paste
and mixed with water.
Polenta - A mush made from cornmeal, polenta
may be eaten hot or cooled and fried. Polenta
is a staple of northern Italy.
Pollo - Spanish term for chicken.
Polyunsaturated Fat - A fatty acid with two
or more double bonds between carbon atoms; the
good kind of fat.
Pomegranate - A red to purple fruit with thin
leathery skin and hundreds of crunchy seeds encased
in translucent, sweet-tart flesh. The seeds are
separated from the flesh by a bitter membrane
that should be discarded.
Pone - A round, flat food, such as corn
Poppy Seed or Poppyseed - Tiny bluish-gray
seeds of the poppy plant. Poppy seeds are often
sprinkled on food, used as a filling, or added
to a variety of foods, such as cakes, breads,
and salad dressings.
Porcini - A large wild mushroom with a
smooth cap and thick stem. Porcini mushrooms have
an earthy flavor.
Pork - The flesh of hogs, usually slaughtered
under the age of 1 year.
Portabella - A very large crimini; the
mushroom has a dense texture and a rich, meaty
Porterhouse Steak - A cut of meat from
the rear end of the short loin. The name originates
from the days when it was served in public alehouses
that also served a dark beer called porter. It
consists of a hefty chunk of tenderloin with an
even heftier chunk of sirloin tip. Some folks
like to remove the tenderloin to serve separately
as filet mignon.
Posole, Pozole - Hominy stew made with
dried lime-treated corn and combined with pork
Pot Liquor, or Pot Likker - The liquid
left after cooking greens, vegetables, or other
food. It's traditionally served with cornbread
in the South.
Pot Sticker Wrappers - Very thin sheets of
dough made from flour, eggs and salt; used for
small meat and vegetable filled dumplings known
as pot stickers, as well as for won ton and egg
Pot Roast - A large piece of meat browned
in fat quickly and then cooked in a covered pan.
Potage - French term for a thick soup intended
to serve as a complete meal. It defines a soup
with a thickness that is between consomme and
Potassium - A mineral used primarily to
assist the transmissions of nerve impulses and
to develop protein. Good potassium sources include
green vegetables, kiwi, bananas and other fruits.
Potato - The starchy tuber of a succulent,
nonwoody annual plant (Solanum turberosum) native
to the Andes Mountains; cooked like a vegetable,
made into flour, processed for chips and used
for distillation mash.
Poultry - Any domesticated bird used for
food; the USDA recognizes six kinds of poultry:
chicken, duck, goose, guinea, pigeon and turkey.
Poultry Seasoning - A blend of herbs and
spices, poultry seasoning usually contains sage,
celery seed, thyme, savory, marjoram, onion, and
Pound - A basic measure of weight in the
U.S. system; 16 ounces = 1 pound, 1 pound = 453.6
grams or 0.4536 kilogram .
Praline - A confection made with pecans
and brown sugar.
Prawn - Term commonly used for any large shrimp,
although a true prawn has a thinner body and longer
legs than a shrimp, and an average market length
of 3 inches or 4 inches.
Preheat - To allow the oven or pan to get
to a specified temperature before adding the food
to be cooked.
Preserve - To prepare foods for long storage.
Some ways to preserve food are drying, refrigeration,
freezing, canning, curing, pickling, and smoking.
Preserves - A thick cooked mixture of whole
or cut up fruit, sugar, and usually pectin.
Pressure Cooker - A cooking pot made to
cook food under pressure. The pressure cooker
has a locking lid and a valve system to regulate
the internal pressure. Cooking time may be reduced
by as much as 50% without destroying the nutritional
value of the food.
Prick - To make small holes in the surface
of a food, usually using the tines of a fork.
Pie crust is usually pricked.
Primavera - Italian for "spring style,"
this term refers to the use of fresh vegetables
as a seasoning or garnish in a dish.
Prime Rib - Meats found in supermarkets
labeled "prime rib" are most often actually
Proof - 1) To "prove" yeast is
alive by dissolving it in warm water and setting
it aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes.
If it swells and becomes bubbly, it is alive.
2) Proof is an indication of the amount of alcoholic
content in a liquor. In the U.S., proof is twice
the percentage of alcohol. If a liquor is labeled
80 proof, it contains 40% alcohol
Proof Box - A sealed cabinet that allows
control over both temperature and humidity.
Prosciutto - The Italian word for ham.
Protein - Protein can be found in both
animal and vegetable sources, and provides the
body with energy while performing a large number
of other functions.
Provolone Cheese - Pale yellow, sharp Italian
cheese originating in the southern province of
Catania, made from cow's or buffalo milk. Most
provolone is aged for two to three months, though
some is aged six months to a year or more.
Prune - A dried red or purple plum.
Puff Pastry - A rich, multilayered French
pastry made with butter, flour, eggs, and water.
Puff pastry is made by placing chilled butter
pats between layers of dough, then rolling the
dough, folding it in thirds and letting it rest.
The process is repeated several times, producing
a dough with hundreds of layers of dough and butter.
When baked, the moisture in the butter creates
steam, which causes the dough to separate into
Pulse - An action used with processors
and blenders. If a recipe tells you to pulse,
turn the start button on and off rapidly serveral
times or until the ingredients are appropriately
Pulverize - To reduce to powder or dust
by pounding, crushing or grinding.
Pumate - Italian for sun-dried tomatoes.
Pumpkin - A spherical winter squash with
a flattened top and base, size ranging from small
to very large, fluted orange shell (yellow and
green varieties are also available), yellow to
orange flesh with a mild sweet flavor and numerous
flat, edible seeds.
Punch Down - To deflate a risen dough.
With your hand, press on the dough until the gas
Purée - Food that has been mashed
Purslane - A small plant with reddish stems
and rounded leaves. Purslane can be eaten cooked
or raw and has a mild flavor.
Puttanesca - A piquant pasta sauce made
of tomatoes, onions, black olives, capers, anchovies,
and chile flakes.