COOKING TERMS A - Z

 

 

 

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

P

Packed - pressed or mashed together tightly, filling the measuring utensil with as much of the ingredient as possible.

Paella - a traditional Spanish one-pot dish of chicken, seafood, vegetables, rice and garlic flavored with saffron.

Pakora - a small, deep-fried snacks of India with chick-pea flour as an ingredient in the mixture. Vegetables, fish, or chicken are spiced with ginger, cumin, chopped onion, and garlic, blended with the flour, shaped into small patties, and deep fried. An American version makes appetizers by dipping chunks of raw vegetables into a fritter batter, and deep frying.

Palmier - a delicious flat flaky palm-shaped pastries made by layering puff pastry with sugar, rolling it, then slicing it thin and baking.

Pan-broil - to cook over direct heat in an uncovered skillet containing little or no shortening.

Pan-fry - to cook in an uncovered skillet in small amount of shortening.

Paper Cookery - en papillote is the French term for this process of cooking food in a container made from heavy paper.

Papillote - French term for fancy paper shapes and ruffles used to hide the ends of chop bones.

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.

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 Hungarian pepper.

Parboil - to partially cook a food briefly in boiling water before storing or finishing it by another method.

Parchment Paper - heavy grease-resistant paper used to line cake pans or baking sheets, to wrap foods for baking en papillote and to make disposable piping bags.

Pare - to cut off the outside covering. Applied to potatoes, apples, etc.

Parfait - a French dessert of frozen pudding, either ice cream or mousse layered with fruits or syrups and whipped cream.

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 parsley.

Pashka - a traditional Russian Easter cheesecake with nuts and candied fruit made in the form of a pyramid.

Passover Bread - see matzo.

Pasta - 1. Italian for dough or pastry 2. An unleavened dough formed from a liquid (eggs and/or water) mixed with a flour (wheat, buckwheat, rice or other grains or a combination of grains) and cut or extruded into tubes, ribbons and other shapes; flavorings such as herbs, spices and vegetables (ex. tomatoes and spinach) can be added to the dough; pasta is usually boiled and served with a sauce.

Pastrami - spicy smoked beef eaten hot or cold. Italian variation of corned beef.

Pâté (French for paste) - a paste made of finely ground liver or meat blended together with herbs and spices and baked.

Paupiettes - thin slices of meat or fish, stuffed, then rolled and cooked. Sometimes the meat is pounded to thin and enlarge it, before stuffing.

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.

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 pea.

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 worldwide.

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.

Pectin - substance that occurs in fruits or vegetables that acts as jelling agent in jams and other preserves. It is packed in bottles and sold commercially.

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 ends.

Pepitas - roasted pumpkin seeds.

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.

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 and garnish.

Pepperpot - a spicy stew without much sauce.

Pepper Steak - a beefsteak dipped in crushed pepper and sautéed in butter, then flamed with brandy. A sauce is made from the pan drippings and red wine. Also, a Chinese dish made with green pepper strips and thin-sliced beef.

Periwinkle - a small sea snail served roasted, poached, or raw, with wine sauce.

Persimmon - small acidulous plum-like tool used to crush or pound food in a bowl with rough interior surface - the mortar.

Petit Four - a small cake, usually bite-sized, which has been frosted and decorated.

Petit Suisse - an unsalted, very rich cream cheese rolled in paper in a cylindrical shape. In France, it is treated as a dessert, and served with sugar and cream.

Phyllo - pastry dough made with very thin sheets of a flour-and-water mixture; several sheets are often layered with melted butter and used in sweet or savory preparations.

Pickle - to preserve in seasoned and/or flavored vinegar, brine or oil. This is common for vegetables, especially cucumbers, fruits and meats.

Pignoli - pine nuts.

Pilaf / Pilaff / Pilau - a rice dish in which the raw rice is first simmered in a shortening or butter, then cooked with water or broth, and sometimes meat, poultry, fish or shellfish.

Pimiento - a large, heart-shaped pepper with red skin and a sweet flavor; used in paprika and to stuff olives.

Pinch - the amount of a dry ingredient that can be held between the thumb and forefinger (sometimes referred to as a dash). The equivalent measurement is approximately 1/16 of a teaspoon.

Pine Nuts - a nut with a tangy flavor reminiscent of pine, used in Mediterranean dishes, and brought to attention recently by the spaghetti sauce called pesto pignoli.

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.

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 a smooth, shapeable mixture through a decorating bag to make decorative shapes; to apply with a pastry tube.

Pissaladière - French. a tart, or pizza-type dish, made of baked dough with onions, tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, black olives and / or other garnishes.

Pistachio - a flavorful nut used for snacking when roasted, and for flavoring sweets and ice cream. It has a high iron content and a characteristic greenish tinge.

Pita - envelope of unleavened bread used for making sandwiches. Arab.

Pizza - a yeast dough, sometimes thick, sometimes thin, baked with such toppings as pureed tomatoes, shredded mozzarella cheese, sausages, olives, anchovies, etc. Versions of this dish, which originated in Naples, Italy, vary throughout the world.

Planking - a style of baking or broiling meat or fish on a piece of hard wood. Plank also describes a wooden carving or serving platter with grooves that keep juices from spilling; used for serving roasts.

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 Pudding - British holiday pudding made mostly of dried fruit, rarely with plums. It is steamed, then served with hard sauce.

Poach - to cook in liquid held below the boiling point.

Poi - Hawaiian dish of cooked and pounded taro root.

Polenta - Italian cornmeal pudding or mush, eaten hot or cold, usually with sauce and / or meats. It may be cooled and fried after cooking.

Popover - a batter muffin that is puffy and almost hollow, it has risen so high. The ingredients are about the same as for Yorkshire pudding, and like Yorkshire pudding, the batter is poured into already-heated containers. The beating period is critical and cannot be skimped on, as the leavening agent is egg, which must be thoroughly aerated.

Pork - the flesh of hogs, usually slaughtered under the age of 1 year.

Porringer - a child's dish used for porridge.

Port - a grape wine fortified with brandy, which often is used to flavor casseroles and desserts. It may also be drunk after dinner as a digestif.

Portabella - a very large crimini; the mushroom has a dense texture and a rich, meaty flavor.

Porterhouse Steak - a thick steak of high quality cut from the wide end of the sirloin.

Portmanteau - a French steak that has a pocket cut into the side into which oysters are placed. The pocket is sewn shut before the steak is cooked.

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.

Potato Flour - a flour made from potatoes. It is used as a thickening agent, like cornstarch.

Potatoes, Straw - potatoes grated or sliced into tiny sticks and deep fried.

Pot-Au-Feu - literally, "pot on the fire," this is one of the oldest ways with food in France - a thick soup, or thin stew. Often the cooked meat and vegetables are served with rock salt, after the soup has been drunk.

Pot Pie - a pie of meat or poultry and vegetables in a thick gravy, topped with a short pastry crust.

Pot-Roasting - a phrase that describes braising, the process of browning meat and then cooking it in very little liquid.

Potted Meat - cooked meat preserved in a jar.

Poultry - any domesticated bird used for food; the USDA recognizes six kinds of poultry: chicken, duck, goose, guinea, pigeon and turkey.

Pound - a basic measure of weight in the U.S. system; 16 ounces = 1 pound, 1 pound = 453.6 grams or 0.4536 kilogram .

Pound, to - in cooking, to flatten with a heavy tool. The process is intended to tenderize certain very tough or wiry fish (such as abalone), and to thin for fast cooking and tenderize, cuts of meat - veal scallops, for instance, to make scaloppini, and paupiettes.

Praline - a hard candy made of sugar cooked to 310 degrees on the candy thermometer, to which almonds or pecans are added. The candy is cooled in butter, then cracked and the confection is used as topping. It may also be poured directly onto a pudding or cake icing as a sweet garnish.

Prawns - crustaceans like shrimp. In some areas of the United States, the term is applied to any large shrimp.

Preheat - to bring the oven or grill to the desired temperature before placing the food in to cook.

Pressed Beef - the brisket which has been boned, salted and pressed

Printanier, à la - to be cooked or garnished with fresh spring vegetables. Printemps is the French word for spring.

Profiteroles - A miniature Cream Puff filled with either a sweet or savory mixture. Savory profiteroles are usually served as appetizers.

Proof - to allow a yeast mixture to rise in a warm, dry place. Also, to test yeast for potency.

Provencale, a la - a dish including garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and often black olives.

Prune - a dried red or purple plum.

Pudding - a general name for many thick, rich dishes, both sweet and savory. Puddings are generally made of an ingredient that thickens, like cornmeal, or include a thickener, such as cornstarch.

Puff Pastry - pastry that puffs when baked.

Pulses - the dried form of peas, beans, soybean, peanuts and other legumes.

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.

Puree - to process a food into a smooth paste, usually with a blender or food processor, or by pressing the food through a fine sieve or food mill.

 

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