Gourmet Glossary: T
Tabasco Sauce: A hot, spicy sauce made from vinegar and red chili peppers.
Taco: In Spanish means a sandwich made with a tortilla. Like a sandwich, it can be made with almost anything and prepared in many different ways. The taco can be eaten as an entree or snack. They are made with soft corn tortillas or fried corn tortillas folded over.
Tagine: An earthenware dish with a conical shaped lid. Also known as a tajine.
Tahini: The equivalent of peanut butter; only it is made from 100% crushed sesame seeds. It can be used as a sandwich spread, or mixed with a variety of other seasonings such as garlic and onion or cayenne pepper for a tasty dip or salad dressing. Tahini is a key ingredient in hummus, the traditional Middle Eastern chickpea spread.
Tamale: A Mexican dish consisting of seasoned chopped meats or vegetables enclosed in corn masa (dough) and wrapped in a softened cornhusk.
Tamarillo: An oval, red, tropical fruit.
Tamarind: A spice made from the pressed pulp of tamarind pods.
Tangerine: A small orange citrus fruit. Mandarins and satsumas are varieties of tangerine.
Tapa: A Spanish food served in small appetizer-sized portions. The word translates as “cover.” In Spain, tapas are served between meals, or maybe before that late dinner that begins at 10:00 p.m., in tapas bars.
Tapioca: In its fresh form is called “Yuca,” but Yuca is another name for what is the root of the cassava plant. To confuse things further, this root is also known as “manioc,” “mandioca,” and in some instance “tapioca”. Raw it has a bland and sticky quality and is used in cooking the way you would a potato (it can be boiled, mashed, fried, etc.). Cassava is a bushy plant producing tubers, the starchy underground stem of the plant, that have fed the indigenous people of the Americas for millennia and much of Africa since the 17th century. Cassava ranks sixth among crops in global production. Cassava was introduced to Africa by the Portuguese more than 300 years ago and today is the primary carbohydrate source in sub-Saharan Africa.
The tapioca most people are familiar with is tapioca flour or pearl tapioca, which is made from dried cassava.
Tapioca Flour: A thickening agent in the same way as you would use cornstarch.
Tarragon: A herb, often with an aniseed flavor, used as a flavoring.
Tartare: 1. A sauce made from mayonnaise, capers and gherkins. 2. Steak tartare raw minced beef served with egg yolk. 3. A meat served raw, as in tuna tartare, salmon tartare, etc.
Tarte Tatin: An apple tart that is cooked under a lid of pastry, served upside down.
Tasso: A dried smoked product that is seasoned with cayenne pepper, garlic and salt and heavily smoked. The word tasso is believed to have come from the Spanish work “tasajo” which is dried, cured beef. Although this delicacy is often thinly sliced and eaten alone, it is primarily used as a pungent seasoning for vegetables, gumbos, and soups.
Terrine: A meat pâté made in a deep dish with straight sides.
Tempeh: A product of soybean fermentation, tempeh is usually sold frozen or refrigerated and needs to be cooked before eating. Tempeh has a firm texture and a flavor similar to mushrooms. It can be sliced or cubed and used in sandwiches, on kabobs, in stews and chilis, or added to stir-frys, and casseroles.
Temper: (1) To slowly bring up the temperature of a cold or room temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot or boiling liquid. Adding the hot liquid gradually prevents the cool ingredient (such as eggs) from cooking or setting. The tempered mixture can then be added back to hot liquid for further cooking. This process is used most in making pastry cream and the like.
(2) To bring chocolate to a state in which it has snap, shine, and no streaks. Commercially available chocolate is already tempered but this condition changes when it is melted. Tempering is often done when the chocolate will be used for candy making or decorations. Chocolate must be tempered because it contains cocoa butter, a fat that forms crystals after chocolate is melted and cooled.
Tempura: A Japanese method of preparing deep-fried foods. To prepare tempura, raw foods (seafood or fresh vegetables) are all cut up and then dipped in a batter made of egg yolks, flour, oil and water. They are then dropped into boiling oil until brown.
Teppanyaki: A Japanese term for grilling meats and poultry. It combines traditional grilling with western beef cuts to create “Japanese steak house.” Diners sit around a large metal griddle to watch an entertaining chef chop, flip, and cook beef, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables served with a soy sauce-citrus juice sauce (ponzu).
Tex-Mex: The cultural blending of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico cuisine.
Texas Toast: A toast served with lunch or dinner and usually larger in size and density then regular toast.
Thickening: A preparation of butter and flour, egg yolks or cream used to thicken and bind soups or sauces.
Thousand Island Dressing: Made from bits of green olives, peppers, pickles, onions, hard-boiled eggs and other finely chopped ingredients.
Thyme: A gray-green aromatic leaves and small purple flowers, used as a flavoring.
Tian: French word describing a shallow, earthenware casserole, as well as the food that it contains. A tian can be any of various dishes, but originally referred to a Provencal dish of gratined mixed vegetables.
Timbale: A layered dish cooked in a mold (timbale) and turned out.
Toad-in-the-hole: A British dish consisting of a Yorkshire Pudding batter and cooked link sausages. When baked, the batter puffs up around the sausage. The best English sausages to use for this dish are Lincoln or Cumberland sausages.
Toast: (1) Bread that has been browned by a dry heat source. It is a French term, ultimately from a Latin words meant “to parch.”
(2) The drinking toast was first found around 1700, and the custom was said by writers at the time to be a recent one. It is “a person or thing in honor of whom people drink.” This term was originally used for a lady who was considered highly regarded. It was a figurative use of the “heat-browned bread” – so called because a woman so honored was said to give flavor to the drink comparable to that given to the toast.
Toast Points: Toasted bread slices, with crust cut off, cut into four diagonal (triangle) pieces.
Tofu: A bland ingredient made from cooked soy beans.
Tomatillo: Also called tomate verde in Mexico, which means, “green tomato” and they are considered a staple in Mexican cooking. It now grows everywhere in the Western Hemisphere and is common in Texas gardens. This compact fruit, about the size of a cherry tomato, grows to maturity inside of a husk. They can range in size from about an inch in diameter to the size of apricots. They are covered by a papery husk, which may range from the pale green color of the fruit itself to a light grocery-bag brown. The husks are inedible and should be removed before use.
Topside: Cut of beef from the rear of the animal.
Torte: German word for “cake.” It is a cake that uses groundnuts as the predominant dry ingredient in place of most or sometimes all of the flour. Although they may be single layered, tortes are often sliced into several layers and filled with whipped cream, jam, or butter cream. Tortes make a great dessert for the Jewish holiday of Passover, when flour can’t be used.
Tortellini: Filled pasta that has been twisted to form a ring usually two inches in diameter. They are stuffed with meat, vegetables, or most commonly, cheese.
Tortilla: (1) In Spain it is an omelet; (2) In Tex-Mex cooking, it is a round, unleavened thin bread made of either corn flour or wheat flour. Tortillas in Mexico almost always mean corn tortillas.
Tournedos: A small round slice of the center of a fillet of beef. Also known as filet mignon.
Trattoria: Traditionally, a trattoria in Italy, is considered one notch below a “ristorante” in price and fanciness of surroundings (an informal atmosphere). A trattoria is sometimes considered “holes-in-the wall.”
Treacle: Dark viscous sugar syrup.
Tres Leches Cake: Also called Three-Milk Cake. A dense, moist cake topped with a cloud of vanilla whipped cream. What makes it unusual is that after baked, it is soaked in a mixture of three different milk products: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream, hence the name Tres Leches. The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and “mouth feel” for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy.
Trifle: A cake well soaked with sherry and served with boiled custard poured over it. The English call this cake a Tipsy Cake or Pudding and Tipsy Hedgehog. The word “trifle” comes from the Old French “trufle,” and literally means something whimsical or of little consequence.
Trinity: A Louisiana Cajun/Creole seasoning trio which is an equal combination of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
Tripe: The stomach of a cow, pig or sheep.
Tri-tip Roast: A Californian term. The meat for this cut is taken from the middle meat across the back, just ahead of the hindquarters. Tri-tip roasts will vary from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and are about two inches thick. While tri-tip is pretty much unknown east of California, asking for the “bottom sirloin butt” would tell a butcher what you were looking for, even if he couldn’t deliver it. It also is called “triangular” roast because of its shape.
Truffle: An underground rounded, irregular shaped fungus with a distinctive.
Truffle oil: Extra-virgin olive oil that is infused with the essence of gourmet mushrooms. It is the most economical way to enjoy the flavor of truffles; a drop or two of this oil will enhance sauces, pastas, and salads.
Truss: To secure food (usually poultry or game) with string, pins, or skewers so that it maintains a compact shape during cooking. Trussing allows for easier basting during cooking.
Tuile: A thin, crisp cookie that is placed over a rounded object (like a rolling pin or a mold) while still hot from the oven. Once cooled and stiff, the cookie resembles a curved roof tile. The classic tuile is made with crushed almonds but the cookie can also be flavored with orange, lemon, vanilla or other nuts. Tuiles belong to a category of small fancy cookies, pastries, or confections called “petits fours.”
Tuna: (1) Tuna is a member of the mackerel family and can reach a length of 5 to 6 feet and weight anywhere from 20 to as high as 1,500 pounds. They travel in schools and spend the winter at the bottom of the ocean. The four varieties of tuna used for canning are the albacore tuna, the yellow fin, the blue fin, and the striped tuna. They vary in color, and the flesh may be white, pink, or darkish tan.
(2) Refers to a refreshing fruit, which grows on Nopal Cactus (Opuntia). In some parts of the world, they are called prickly pear fruit or cactus pears. They are about the size of a large kiwi fruit and are usually pale green or crimson red in color. The large number of seeds inside is edible. You see them in parts of the United States, Greece, India and Australia.
Turbinado Sugar: A form of raw sugar which has been steamed-cleaned. It has larger grains than granulated sugar. It has a molasses flavor and the color is lighter than brown sugar.
Turbot: A flat, firm fleshed sea fish.
Turducken: A 15-16 pound de-boned turkey (except for wing bones and drumsticks), a fully hand de-boned duck, and a fully hand de-boned chicken, all rolled into one and stuffed with lots of delicious stuffing (Three kinds of stuffing are layered between the three kinds of meat). This regional delight has become one of the latest food fads. From the outside it looks like a turkey, but when you cut through it, you see a series of rings making up the three birds and stuffing.
Turmeric: A yellow spice, used as a coloring and flavoring.
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