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Culinary Glossary

Glossary of terms used in my posts and recipes, plus some that are just good to know.

Al Dente
An Italian phrase used to describe pasta that offers a slight bit of resistance when bitten into. It’s not overcooked and mushy.
(aan-DOO-ee, ahn-DWEE, ohn-doo-yuh) – A spicy, smoked sausage of French origin made of pork chitterlings and tripe. It’s used often in Cajun cooking, especially in dishes such as jambalaya and gumbo.
Bouillon Cube
(bool-yahn) – Dehydrated stock or broth formed into a small cube. It usually contains dehydrated meat stock, vegetables, salt, spices, and MSG among other things. There are also vegetarian varieties.
Chili con Carne
A spicy stew made with meat, chilés (fresh, dried, powdered, or pureed), usually with tomatoes and onions, garlic, various spices, and oftentimes beans. A common part of southwestern cuisine, it is the official dish of the state of Texas.
To cut into small, uneven pieces.
To cut into cubes.
To cut into uniform pieces or cubes approximately 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch in size.
Holy Trinity
A term used in Cajun and Creole cuisine to refer to a base of celery, bell peppers, and onions used in gumbo, jambalaya, and other dishes.
To cut or chop into very fine, uneven pieces approximately 1/16 inch or smaller.
(meer-PWAH) – A French term referring to a mixture of diced or chopped carrots, onions, and celery that are cooked in a small amount of fat on low heat until soft – not browned or caramelized. It is used as a base to flavor braised meats and fish as well as stocks, sauces, and soups. There are usually two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery.
Mise en Place
(MEEZ ahn Plahs) – A French term referring to having everything in place before beginning to cook as a way to avoid chaos in the kitchen. All ingredients for a dish are made ready. Vegetables and fruits are peeled and cut. Ingredients are measured and prepared. Cookware, mixing bowls, etc. are in place and ready to use.
(mohl-kah-HEH-teh) – A pre-Hispanic type of mortar and pestle in use for, at least, a thousand years. It is made of basalt and found, historically, in Mesoamerica amongst the Aztec and Mayan cultures. It is still in use today and is commonly used to grind spices and make salsas.
A term used in Cajun and Creole cuisine referring to garlic when added to the “holy trinity” base of celery, bell peppers, and onions.
(roo) – A mixture of flour and fat used as a base for sauces. Typically, the mixture consists of equal weights of flour and fat. The fat is melted and the flour is added to it. It is then cooked and stirred until it reaches the desired color for the gravy or sauce to be prepared. The color can be anywhere from blonde to dark chocolate, depending on the requirements of the dish. Once the color is achieved, other ingredients for the sauce, such as stock, flavorings, and spices, are added to it.
An acronym for “Shit on a Shingle.” A colloquial term, reportedly coined by US servicemen during World War II to describe chipped beef gravy on toast. Today, it is also used to describe ground or chipped beef gravy on biscuits, even though biscuits are not very shingle-like. While it may sound like a derogatory term, SOS is generally well-loved by service members and civilians alike. It is considered a comfort food and for many veterans it brings back good memories of their military service. It is commonly served with eggs and grits for breakfast. Although, it can be served at any meal.
To cook quickly over fairly high heat in frying or sauté pan using a small amount of butter, oil, or other fat.
To cook in liquid heated on low heat to around 185 to 211 degrees Fahrenheit producing small bubbles that gently break the surface of the liquid. (As opposed to boiling which occurs in water at 212 degrees F and produces large, rolling bubbles.) Good for cooking broths, soups, stews, and sauces.