Cajun - A culinary style of French and Southern origins, associated with the deep south. There are numerous well known dishes, such as Jambalaya, that come from this cuisine.
calorie - An energy unit of measure. It is defined as the energy required to heat one gram of water by one degree C. at sea level. Fat and alcohol both have nearly twice the calories per unit of weight than carbohydrates and proteins.
canapé - An appetizer or hors d'oeuvre of bread or crackers with some savory topping.
cannelloni - A large, tube-shaped pasta. They are generally boiled, stuffed, and served with a sauce.
cannoli - Italian dessert of deep fried pasta shells filled with a sweet ricotta cheese mixture.
Canola oil - This Canadian oil is made from the rapeseed. Who'd want an oil named after the rapeseed? It is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, making it a relatively healthy oil.
capellini - Thin pasta, slightly thicker than "angel hair" pasta.
capers - The flower but of a bush native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. It is picked, dried and then pickled in a vinegar brine. After rinsing, capers add a piquancy to sauces and condiments or as a garnish to meats and vegetables.
cappuccino - An Italian coffee beverage of espresso, a little steamed milk, topped with steamed milk foam and cocoa powder.
caramel - A candy produced by melting sugar to between 320 F. and 350 F. When cooled, it is hard and brittle. Soft caramel, used as an ice cream topping, is made by mixing butter and milk with the caramel.
caramelize - A cooking technique of topping a dish with sugar and then melting the sugar with high heat. This is the technique used to make
caviar - Classic, famous appetizer of sturgeon roe (eggs). Beluga caviar is considered the best, coming from the
Caspian Sea of Russia and Iran. Lesser caviars are available from other fish species.
cayenne - Bright red, very hot chili pepper. Used to make cayenne pepper, or ground for soups and sauces.
celery - A popular vegetable; stalks and leaves are used extensively in salads, appetizers, soups, and more. Originally considered a medicinal herb.
Celsius - A temperature scale where 0 is the freezing point of water, and 100 is the boiling point (at sea level.) F = 32 + C * 9/5.
chafing dish - A dish kept above a heat source to keep food warm.
chard - A vegetable related to the beet, used for its leaves and stalks. High in iron, and vitamins A and C.
cheese - A milk-derived product produced in hundreds of forms using many methods. Popular cheeses include hard, aged cheeses like parmesan, firm cheeses like cheddar, and soft cheeses such as brie.
cherries jubilee - A famous dessert of dark red cherries, sugar, and brandy, flamed then served over ice cream.
chervil - A mild, anise-flavored herb related to parsley.
chestnut - A large, sweet nut of the chestnut tree. Prepared in a variety of ways after removing the shell and inner skin (not just roasted over an open fire, with Jack Frost nearby.)
chickpea - Also called garbanzo beans, these large peas are common in Mediterranean, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes.
chives - A hardy, perennial herb (Allium schoenoprasum) of the lily family, with small, slender, hollow leaves having a mild onion odor: used to flavor soups, stews, etc.
chocolate - A highly refined and processed derivative of cocoa beans. True chocolate must be made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, both derived from the processing of cocoa beans. The addition of sugar and spices produces the various bitter to sweet chocolates used in baking. Milk solids are added for milk chocolate.
chowder - Most often thought of as clam chowder, but really is any thick and chunky soup.
clarified butter Butter with milk solids removed. This form of butter is good for frying as it has a higher smoke point than butter containing the milk solids. Easy to make by slowly melting butter in a bowl until the solids settle to the bottom. Then chill until hardened, turn over, and skim off the solids.
coddle - Slow cooking of eggs in hot water. Used as a way to reduce the danger of salmonella poisoning from tainted raw eggs, when raw eggs are called for in a recipe (such as in Caesar Salad.)
coffee - World-wide popular beverage produced by steeping roasted, ground coffee beans. Coffee flavor is produced by hundreds of chemical compounds, and is among the most complex of any food or beverage.
cognac - A fine brandy from the Cognac region of France. Various grades, such as VSOP and XO indicate how long the product as aged.
Coleslaw - A shredded or chopped salad of red or white cabbage and mixed with mayonnaise, vinaigrette or other dressing. Variations include such ingredients as chopped onion, celery, red or green bell pepper, carrots, or herbs. Traditional American coleslaws are made with a cream and vinegar sauce (along with other ingredients), while Dutch and German variations are vinegar based and the cabbage may or
may not be partially cooked. There is often some sugar added for a sweet and sour effect.
compote - A dessert dish of fruit which has been slowly cooked in a syrup, then chilled
consommé - A clarified meat or fish broth which can be used as a soup or sauce base.
cooking slow - Process which cooks food with a low, steady, moist heat often over a period of 8 to 12 hours. A slow cooker or crock pot is an
electric appliance which can cook the dish while you're away and doesn't heat up the kitchen. Some vegetables may become over-cooked before other ingredients are done but could be added later in the cooking time or partially cooked on the stovetop and added at a later time.
cooking spray - Aerosol cans sold in grocery stores containing vegetable oil or sometimes olive oil which can be sprayed in a fine mist. Especially good for "oiling" cooking pans so food does not stick. Gourmet stores also carry pump sprayers such as one marketed under the name "Misto" which can be filled with the cooking oil of your choice to use as a spray. One of the benefits of using cooking spray is that fewer calories are added than if the pan is coated in oil.
cream - The milk-fat portion of separated milk. Cream is categorized by the amount of milk fat. Light cream contains about 18-30% fat, light whipping cream 30-36%, heavy whipping cream 36-40%. Half and half is a blend of light cream and milk, with about 12% fat.
cream of tartar - A powdery acid that comes from deposits inside wine barrels. It is added to candy and frostings for a creamier consistency and to egg whites before beating to improve stability and volume.
crème brulee - A custard dish that is topped with sugar that is
caramelized under a broiler or with a torch.
crème fraiche - Cream that has fermented into a thick, tangy sauce. It doesn't curdle when boiled, so it can be added to soups or sauces. Often used as a fruit or dessert topping.
Crock pot - An electric cooking pot with a crockery liner in which foods are cooked on lower temperatures for a longer time period. The advantages are being able to cook a recipe overnight or while you are at work without having to watch or worry about it. The flavors have a chance to blend nicely and cheaper cuts of meat usually come out very tender. Also referred to as a "slow cooker".
crown roast - A preparation of meat, where a rib section is tied in a circle with the rib ends up. Often, the center is filled with vegetables or stuffing.
curdle - The separating of milk into curd and whey (the solid and liquid. Acids, such as vinegar or lemon juice, can curdle milk, as can boiling.
cure - The process of treating food to preserve it. Curing methods include smoking and salting. Salting can be done by dry packing or by soaking in brine.
dandelion greens - A slightly bitter green that can be used in salads, or cooked like spinach.
dash - A small measure of an ingredient, generally considered to be about 1/16 teaspoon, though it isn't measured. The cook instead adds a single splash of liquid or a pinch of dry ingredient.
deglaze - The addition of liquid to a pan of cooked meat, followed by stirring to loosen the stuck bits of meat from the pan. As the liquid reduces, it becomes a sauce flavored by the meat. Usually, stock or wine is used as the liquid.
devein - To remove the vein from the back of a shrimp.
dice - To cut food into small cubes about 1/4 inch or 5mm across.
dill - An annual, pungent herb, used in a variety of dishes and cuisines.
dollop - An indeterminent measure of soft food, such as whipped cream, spooned onto a dish or other food.
double boiler - A two-pot arrangement where the lower pot contains simmering water and the upper pot nestles inside, allowing foods to cook gently without burning.
drained and rinsed - When cooking vegetables in order to get them to stay at that crisp-tender stage, drop into boiling water. When the vegetable, such as green beans, reaches the desired stage of doneness, drain the vegetable into a colander and quickly rinse with cool water. Return to the cooking pan, off the flame, and cover to keep warm. This will halt the cooking process.
dredge To lightly coat food with flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, etc. before frying to help to brown the food.
drippings - The liquid and melted fat left from cooking meat in a pan.
drizzle - To slowly pour a fine stream of liquid over a dish.
dumpling - A dough ball cooked in a liquid, such as soup.
Dutch oven - A large, normally cast iron, pot with a very tight fitting lid that prevents steam from escaping during cooking.