Culinary Terms O-P



A wine-tasting term for the characteristic toasty or spicy, vanilla-like aroma and flavor of a wine that has been aged in oak barrels; a moderate amount is desirable, an excessive amount is not.


Coarsely ground oats that are cooked as a hot cereal and used in baking.


A cereal grass (Avena sativa) with a highly nutritious grain kernel.

Oats, Instant

Rolled oats that have been partially cooked and then dried before rolling.

Oats, Quick-Cooking

Rolled oats cut into smaller pieces to reduce cooking time.

Oats, Rolled

Steamed oat groats rolled into flat flakes; also known as old-fashioned oats.

Oblique Cuts

Also known as roll cuts; small pieces of food, usually vegetables, with two angle-cut sides.


Any of several varieties of cephalopod mollusks found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea; generally, they have a large head and tentacles but no cuttlebone; the skin is gray when raw and turns purple when cooked and the lean, white flesh has a firm, somewhat rubbery texture and a mild flavor; also known as devilfish.

Offset Spatula

A tool with a flat, unsharpened stainless steel blade with a bend or step near the handle, forming a Z shape; the end of the blade is rounded and blunt; available in a variety of lengths and widths; used for spreading batter, filling and frosting cakes and pastries and moving items from one place to another, depending on the size of the blade, an offset spatula may also be referred to as a grill spatula or a cake spatula.

Oignon Pique (ohn-nawng pee-KAY)

French for “pricked onion”; a bay leaf tacked with a clove to a peeled onion; used to flavor sauces and soups.


Fats (generally derived from plants) that are liquid at room temperature.


A tasting term used to describe the greasy surface of some foods, created by excessive use of oil in their preparation or the presence of natural oils (e.g.,hard cheeses).


The seed pod of a tropical plant (Abelmoschus esculentus) of the hollyhock family native to Africa; the oblong, tapering pod has ridged green skin and a flavor reminiscent of asparagus and is used like a vegetable in African and southern U.S. cuisines; because it develops a gelatinous texture if cooked for long periods, it is also used as a thickener; also known as gumbo and ladies’ fingers.

Old Bay Seasoning

The proprietary name of a spice blend containing celery salt, dry mustard, paprika and other flavorings; used in shellfish preparations.


The small fruit of a tree (Olea europaea) native to the Mediterranean region; it has a single pit, a high oil content, a green color before ripening and a green or black color after ripening and an inedibly bitter flavor when raw; it is eaten on its own after washing, soaking and pickling or pressed for oil; available in a range of sizes, including (from smallest to largest) medium, colossal, supercolossal and jumbo.

Olive Oil

An oil obtained by pressing tree-ripened olives; it has a distinctive fruity, olive flavor and is graded according to its degree of acidity; used as a cooking medium, flavoring and ingredient.

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin

Olive oil produced from the first cold pressing, the finest and fruitiest; it has a pale straw to bright green color and not more than 1% acid.

Olive Oil, Light

An olive oil resulting from the last pressing; it has a very mild flavor, light color, high smoke point and up to 3% acid.

Olive Oil, Pure

An olive oil that has been cleaned, filtered and stripped of much of its flavor and color by using heat and mechanical devices during the refining process; it has up to 3% acid.

Olive Oil, Virgin

Olive oil with 2% acid; it has a less fruity flavor than extra virgin olive oil and a pale yellow to medium yellow-green color.

Omelet; Omelette (AHM-leht)

A dish made from beaten eggs, seasonings and sometimes milk or water, cooked in butter until firm; it can be plain or filled with sweet or savory fillings and served flat or folded.

Omelet Pan

A shallow pan with gently curved sides, a flat bottom and a single long handle; available with a nonstick surface and in 6-to 10-in. diameters.

One-Two-Three-Four Cake

A simple American yellow cake with a recipe that is easy to remember: 1 cup shortening, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs plus flavoring and leavening.


1. Any of a variety of strongly aromatic and flavored bulbous vegetables of the lily family (genus Allium) and native to central Asia; flavors range from relatively sweet to strongly pungent, the color of the outer papery layer ranges from white to yellow to red, the shape ranges from spherical to ovoid and sizes vary depending on the variety (larger onions tend to be sweeter and milder); an onion can be eaten raw, cooked like a vegetable or used as a flavoring.
2. Commonly, a medium-sized to large spherical to slightly ovoid onion (Allium cepa) with a bright golden yellow outer layer, crisp white flesh and strong, pungent flavor; also known as a yellow onion.

Onion Flakes

Onions that have been dried and cut into flakes.

Onion Pique (ohn-nawng peeKAY)

French for “pricked onion”; a bay leaf tacked with a clove to a peeled onion; used to flavor sauces and soups.

Onion Powder

Dehydrated grated onions.

Onion Salt

A mixture of dried powdered onions and salt.

On The Half Shell

Raw shellfish served in their bottom shell, usually on a bed of crushed ice with lemon juice, cocktail sauce, horseradish, ketchup or other condiments.


Not transparent. A beer- and wine- tasting term for a product such as a stout or a dark red wine through which light does not penetrate.

Open-Faced Sandwich

A slice of bread topped with foods such as cheese, cucumbers, sliced meats and so on; served cold or hot (it is usually heated by pouring hot gravy over it).


1. Traditionally used to describe the class of compounds found in or derived from plants or animals; now also included are all other carbon compounds.
2. Foods, usually plant foods sold fresh or minimally processed, that are grown without chemicals or other incidental food additives such as pesticides.

Organic Farming

A method of farming that does not rely on synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers.


Italian for barley and used to describe rice-shaped pasta


A very flavorful caviar; the medium-sized crispy eggs are golden yellow to brown and quite oily.

Osso Buco; Ossobuco (AW-soh BOO-koh)

An Italian dish consisting of veal shanks braised in olive oil, white wine, stock, onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery and lemon peel, garnished with gremolada and served with risotto.


A large flightless bird native to Africa; its meat is lean and purple, turning brown when cooked, and has a flavor similar to that of lean beef.

Oven-Dried Tomato

A tomato that has been dried in an oven; it has a dark red color, a chewy texture and a flavor that is not quite as strong as that of a sun-dried tomato.

Oven Frying

A method of frying without turning; the food usually meat, is dredged in flour, rolled in melted fat, placed on a baking sheet and baked in a hot oven; also known as ovenizing.


A description for a baking dish or other item of cookware, usually made of glass, pottery or ceramics, that can withstand an oven’s high temperatures.

Oven Spring

The rapid rise of yeast goods in a hot oven, resulting from the production and expansion of trapped gases.


Heat-resistant dishes of glass, pottery or ceramics used for baking and serving foods.


To allow a yeast dough to rise (ferment) too long.


1. A chemical reaction between a substance and oxygen; it changes the nature of the substance, usually to its detriment.
2. An energy-releasing metabolic process during which a nutrient breaks down and its components combine with oxygen.


A fabricated cut of the beef primal round or veal primal leg; it is a portion of the tail and contains many bones but is quite flavorful.


A member of a large family of bivalve mollusks found in saltwater regions worldwide; generally, they have a rough gray shell (the top shell is flat and the bottom is somewhat convex) and a grayish tan flesh with a soft texture and briny flavor; they are eaten raw or cooked; there are four principal types of domestic oysters: Atlantic oysters, European flat oysters, Olympia oysters and Pacific oysters.

Oyster Cracker

A small, round, slightly hard cracker; it is traditionally served with oyster stew.

Oyster Knife

A knife used to pry open oyster shells; it has a fat, 3-in.-long, pointed, arrow shaped blade and usually a protective flange for the hand; also known as a shucking knife.

Oysters Rockefeller

An American dish of oysters served hot on the half shell with a topping of spinach, bread crumbs and seasonings.

Paella (pah-AY-lyah)

A rustic Spanish dish of rice, vegetables, sausages, poultry, fish and shellfish seasoned with saffron.

Paella Pan

A wide, shallow pan with slightly sloping sides and two handles; often made of metal or earthenware, it is used for cooking paella.

Paiola (pah-ee-oh-lah)

A Portuguese sausage made with pork and fat and seasoned with paprika, pepper and garlic.

Panada; Panade

1. Something other than fat added to a forcemeat to enhance smoothness, aid emulsification or both; it is often béchamel, rice or crustless white bread soaked in milk.
2. A mixture for binding stuffings and dumplings, notably quenelles; it is often choux pastry, bread crumbs, fangipane, pureed potatoes or rice.


A dry-heat cooking method that uses conduction to transfer heat to food resting directly on a cooking surface; no fat is used and the food remains uncovered.


A flat, round, leavened bread cooked on a griddle and served with butter and sweet syrup, especially for breakfast; also known as griddle cake and flapjack.

Pancetta (pan-Cheh-tuh)

An Italian pork belly bacon cured with salt, pepper and other spices (it is not smoked); available rolled into a cylinder and used to flavor items such as pasta dishes, sauces and forcemeats.


An Italian Christmas bread from Verona; similar to panettone and baked in a star-shaped mold; the eggs and butter give it a golden color.


A market form for fish in which the viscera, gills and scales are removed and the fins and tail are trimmed.

Pan Dulces (pahn dool-chays)

Mexican and Latin American sweet breads eaten for breakfast.

Panettone (PAH-neh-TOH-nay)

A sweet Italian yeast bread filled with raisins, candied citrus peel and pine nuts; traditionally baked in a rounded cylindrical mold and served as a breakfast bread or dessert.


A dry-heat cooking method in which the food is placed in a moderate amount of hot fat.

Pan Gravy

A sauce made by deglazing pan drippings from roasted meat or poultry.


Large-flaked, unseasoned Japanese bread crumbs.

Panna Cotta (PAHN-nah COTT-ta)

An Italian dessert consisting of a simple molded custard made with gelatin, usually served with fresh fruit or chocolate sauce.


A wide variety of edible flowers (genera Achimenes and Viola) with a flavor reminiscent of grapes and used as a garnish.


A slightly elongated and curved medium-sized fruit native to North America; it has a smooth yellowish skin, a pale yellow flesh, a custardlike texture, many seeds and a flavor and aroma reminiscent of a banana and pear.


A large pear-shaped tropical fruit (Carica papaya); it has a yellowish skin, a juicy orange flesh (that contains papain) and a central mass of black seeds encased in a gelatinous coating; the peppery seeds are edible, and the flesh has a sweet, astringent flavor.

Papillote, en

A food (e.g., fish with a vegetable garnish) enclosed in parchment paper or a greased paper wrapper and baked; the paper envelope is usually slit open table side so that the diner can enjoy the escaping aroma.


Italian for broad noodles and used to describe broad, flat strips of pasta.


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 and Hungarian sweet pepper.


The wax coating applied to the rinds of some cheeses to protect the cheeses during transport and increase shelf life; generally the paraffin is red, black, yellow or clear.


Partially cooking a food in a boiling or simmering liquid; similar to blanching, but the cooking time is longer.

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.


Partially cooking a food by any cooking method.


To remove the thin outer layer of foods such as fruits (e.g.,apple) and vegetables (e.g.,potato) with a small, short-bladed knife known as a paring knife or with a vegetable peeler.

Parfait (pahr-FAY)

A dessert composed of layers of ice cream, sauce and whipped cream served in a tall, narrow glass. 2. A French frozen custard or water ice usually flavored with fruit.

Paring Knife

A small knife used for trimming and peeling produce or detail work; it has a 2- to 4-in.-long rigid blade.

Parisienne; Parisian

The smaller scoop on a two-scoop melon ball cutter; 2. Small spheres of fruit or vegetables cut with a tiny melon ball cutter.

Parker House Rolls

A white flour yeast roll shaped by folding each individual round of dough in half along an off-center crease before baking; named for the Parker House Hotel in Boston.

Parmesan (PAHR-muh-zahn)

1. A Parmigiana-Reggiano-style cheese made from cow’s milk in places other than Italy.
2. An imprecisely used term to describe any grana or grana-style grating cheese.
3. A dish whose main ingredient (e.g.,veal cutlet) is dipped in an egg mixture and then bread crumbs, Parmesan and seasonings, sautéed, and covered with a tomato sauce; sometimes a slice of mozzarella is melted on top before adding the tomato sauce.


A hard grana cheese made in Italy’s Parma region from cow’s milk; it has a golden yellow interior, a hard, oily rind and a spicy, rich, sharp flavor; aged for 2-3 years, it is used for grating;also known as Geniune Parmigiano and Parmigiano.


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.


A root vegetable (Pastinaca sativa) with bright green, feathery leaves; the long, tapering root has a creamy-white skin and flesh and a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of a carrot.


A name used incorrectly for the fresh poblano and its dried forms, the ancho and mulato.

Passion Fruit

A small ovoid tropical fruit (Passiflora edulis); it has a wrinkled, purple skin, a soft, golden flesh with tiny edible seeds and a tropical sweet-tart flavor; often used as a flavoring for sauces and beverages; also imprecisely known as granadilla.


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 (e.g. tomatoes and spinach) can be added to the dough; pasta is usually boiled and served with a sauce.
3. The second course of an Italian meal, served after the antipasto.

Pasta Fork

A long, scooplike fork with 1-in-long blunt tipped prongs with slots between; used to lift and drain pasta and portion single servings of already sauced pasta; also known as a spaghetti fork or spaghetti rake.

Pasta Machine, roller-type

An electrical or manual tool with a series of smooth rollers that roll, flatten and thin pasta dough; the dough is then passed through notched rollers, which cut it into ribbons.

Pasta Pot

A tall pot with a capacity of 6-8 qt; it has a perforated basket insert that holds the pasta and, removed from the water, acts as a strainer.

Pasta Primavera

An American dish of pasta with a sauce of sautéed vegetables.


To sterilize a food, especially milk, by heating it to a temperature of 140-180 F (60-82.2 C) for a short period to kill bacteria.

Pastillage (Pahst-tee-azh)

A paste made of sugar, cornstarch and gelatin; it may be cut or molded into decorative shapes.


A cut of beef (usually from the plate, brisket or round), rubbed with salt and a seasoning paste containing garlic, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cloves and coriander seeds, then dry cured, smoked and cooked.


1. A dough made with flour and shortening and used for the crust of pies, tarts and the like.
2. A food made with such a dough.
3. A term used broadly and imprecisely for all fancy sweet baked goods, including cakes, sweet rolls and cookies.

Pastry Bag

A cone-shaped bag with two open ends, the smaller of which can be fitted with a plastic or metal tip; the bag is filled with icing, cream, dough or batter, which is squeezed through the tip in decorative patterns or designs; available in a range of sizes and variety of materials; also known as a piping bag.

Pastry Blender

A tool with several U-shaped metal wires attached to a wooden or plastic handle; used to cut cold fat into flour.

Pastry Brush

A small brush used for applying glaze, egg wash and the like to doughs, buttering pans and brushing excess flour from dough; available in a variety of sizes, with either a round or flat head and natural or nylon bristles.

Pastry Cream

A rich, thick custard made with milk, eggs, sugar and flour or cornstarch, and cooked on the stove top; used to fill éclairs, tarts, cakes and other pastries; also known as crème patissiere

Pastry Tip

A small cone-shaped metal or plastic insert for a pastry bag; the small end of each tip is cut, bent or perforated so that the mixture forced through it will form various designs or patterns; used for piping creams, fillings, frostings and other soft mixtures into decorative shapes and patterns.

Pastry Wheel

A small tool with a thin, sharp wheel (plain or fluted) attached to a short handle; used for cutting doughs.

Pate (pah-TAY)

1. French for pie.
2. Traditionally, a fine savory meat filling wrapped in pastry, baked and served hot or cold.
3. A pork, veal, lamb, beef, game, fish, shellfish, poultry and/or vegetable forcemeat that is seasoned and baked; it is served hot or cold.

Pate A Choux (path uh SHOO)

French for cream puff dough or choux pastry.

Pate Brisee

French for a rich, flaky short dough used as a crust for sweet or savory dishes.

Pate En Croute

A pate baked in a pastry dough such as pate au pate.

Pate En Croute Mold, oval fluted

An oval metal mold with hinged sides embossed with a fluted pattern; the sides lock in place along the rim of the bottom plate and are easily removed when the pate is finished; traditionally used for meat and game pates en croute.

Pate Sucree (paht soo-kray)

A dough containing sugar that produces a very rich, crisp (not flaky) baked product; also known as sweet dough, it is used for tart shells.

Patty Melt

A dish that consists of a ground beef patty on a slice of bread, garnished with grilled onions and cheese, topped with another slice of bread and grilled until the cheese melts.

Paupiette (po-pee-et)

A thin slice of meat, poultry or fish spread with a savory stuffing and rolled, then braised or poached.


Foods cut into flat squares of approximately 0.5 X 0.5 in. and 0.25 in. thick (12 X 12 X 6 mm).


A medium-sized stone fruit (Prunus persica) native to China; it has a fuzzy, yellow-red skin, a pale orange, yellow or white juicy flesh surrounding a hard stone and a sweet flavor; available as clingstone and freestone.

Peach Melba

A dessert made with poached peach halves, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce; created by the French chef Auguste Escoffier for the opera singer Nellie Melba.


A legume and not a true nut (Arachis hypogea); it is the plant’s nutlike seed that grows underground, the hard seed has a papery brown skin and is encased in a thin, netted tan pod; the seed is used for snacking and for making peanut butter and oil; also known as a groundnut, earthnut, gober (from Africa word nguba) and goober pea.

Peanut Butter

A paste made of ground peanuts, vegetable oil (usually hydrogenated) and salt; available in smooth and chunky styles.

Peanut Oil

A clear oil obtained by pressing peanuts; it has a delicate flavor and a high smoke point and is used as an all-purpose culinary oil.


A spherical to bell-shaped pome fruit (Pyrus communis), generally with a juicy, tender, crisp, off-white flesh, a 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.

Pearl Onion

A small onion with a white to yellow outer layer, a white flesh and a mild flavor; it is usually cooked like a vegetable or used in stews and soups.

Pearl Sugar

A coarse granulated sugar used for decorating pastries and confections; also known as sanding sugar and crystal sugar.

Pear Tomato

A small pear-shaped tomato with a bright red or golden yellow color; eaten raw or used as a garnish.


The edible seeds contained within the pods of various vines of the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae); the seeds are generally shelled and the pod discarded; although available fresh, peas are usually marketed canned or frozen.


The nut of a tree of the hickory family (Carya oliviformis) native to North America; it has a smooth, thin, hard, tan shell enclosing a bilobed, golden brown kernel with a beige flesh and a high fat content.

Pecan Pie

A dessert from the American South made with a single flaky crust filled with a very sweet, rich mixture of butter, eggs, brown sugar and pecans, then baked until firm.


A unit of volume measurement equal to ¼ bushel; in the U.S. system, it is equal to approximately 538 cu. in. or 8 dry quarts.


An Italian term referring to any cheese made from only ewe’s milk; most are aged have a white to pale yellow color and a sharp, pungent flavor and are classified as grana.

Pecorino Romano

A ewe’s milk Romano.


1. A polysaccharide present in plant cell walls.
2. A gummy, water-soluble dietary fiber that can lower blood cholesterol levels by modest amounts.
3. A food additive used as a thickener in foods such as jams and jellies.


To remove rind or skin. A wooden or metal tool with a long handle and large blade used to transfer pizzas and yeast breads to and from a baking or baking sheet in the oven; also known as a baker’s peel or pizza paddle.

Peking Duck

A Mandarin Chinese dish consisting of a duck whose skin is separated from the meat by means of an air pump; the duck cavity is stuffed with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, leeks, brown sugar and ginger, trussed and hung, coated with flour and honey and then roasted.


Italian for pen or quill and used to describe short to medium-length straight tubes (ridged or smooth) of pasta with diagonally cut ends.

Peperoncini (peh-peh-rohn-CHEE-neh)

Italian small, sweet, green or red peppers, usually pickled.


Italian for chile pepper.


The fruit of various member 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 and can have a flavor ranging from delicately sweet to fiery hot, the genus includes sweet peppers and hot peppers.


The berry of the pepper plant (Piper nigrum), a climbing vine native to India and Indonesia; it has a brown color when fully ripened and is available in three principal varieties; black, green and white

Peppercorn, Black

A peppercorn picked when green and dried in the sun until it turns black; it has a slightly hot flavor with a hint of sweetness; whole or ground, it is the most commonly available peppercorn.

Peppercorn, Green

An unripened peppercorn that is either freeze-dried or pickled in brine or vinegar; it has a soft texture and a fresh, sour flavor similar to that of capers.

Peppercorn, White

A peppercorn allowed to ripen on the vine; the berry is then fermented and its red-brown skin removed; it has a light white-tan color and milder flavor and aroma than those of a black peppercorn; available whole or ground.

Pepper Grinder; Pepper Mill

A grinder used to crush peppercorns; many can be adjusted to produce fine to coarse granules.


An herb and member of the mint family (Mentha piperita); it has thin, stiff, pointed, bright green, purple-tinged leaves and a pungent, menthol flavor, used as a flavoring and garnish.

Peppermint Oil

The essential oil of peppermint; it has a sharp, menthol flavor and is used as a flavoring for sweet dishes.

Peppermint Schnapps

A mint-flavored distilled spirit; it has a lighter body than crème de menthe.


A slender, firm , air-dried Italian sausage made from beef or pork, seasoned with chiles and red and black pepper.

Pepper Steak

1. Beef steak coated with coarsely ground black peppercorns; it is sautéed in butter and served with a sauce made from the drippings, stock wine and cream; sometimes flamed with brandy or Cognac.
2. A Chinese stir-fry dish consisting of beef, green pepper and onions cooked with soy sauce and other seasonings.

Pequin; Piquin

A small, conical dried chile with an orange-red color, a thin flesh and a sweet, smoky flavor.


Foods and beverages that can spoil or deteriorate rapidly, even under appropriate storage conditions.

Pernod (pair-noh)

A French licorice-flavored pastis; similar to absinthe but made with oil of wormwood.


The proprietary name of a French mineral water.

Persillade (payr-se-yad)

1. A food served with or containing parsley.
2. A mixture of bread crumbs, parsley and garlic used to coat meats, usually lamb.


A spherical fruit with a glossy yellow to bright red skin, an orange-red flesh, a jelly-like texture and a sweet flavor when ripe; also imprecisely known as kaki and Sharon fruit.


An Italian pasta sauce made from basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan or Pecorino. 2. In the United States, a term imprecisely used to describe a sauce or spread made principally from one herb (e.g., basil or cilantro) mixed with olive oil and a sharp, hard cheese, with pine nuts sometimes added.

Petite Syrah; Petit Sirah (peh-teete sih-RAH)

1. A red wine grape planted in California; derived from the Durif variety grown in France’s Rhone Valley, it is sometimes used as a blending grape.
2. A red wine made from this grape; it generally has a full body, an intense, spicy aroma and a light to deep red color.

Petit Four

A French term for any bite-sized cake, pastry, cookie or confection served after a meal or with coffee or tea. A French confection consisting of a small piece of filled sponge cake coated with fondant icing and elaborately decorated.

Petroleum Wax

A food additive refined from petroleum and used as a chewing gum base or protective coating on cheese and raw fruits and vegetables.

Pfeffernuesse (FEF-ferr-noos)

A hard, round, spicy German Christmas cookie flavored with honey and black pepper.

Phyllo; Filo

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


Spanish and Portuguese for spicy.


An Italian dish of thinly sliced chicken or veal, lightly floured, sautéed in butter and sprinkled with lemon juice.


To preserve food in a brine or vinegar solution.

Pickling Spices

A spice blend used to flavor the solution used to pickle foods or as a seasoning; generally the blend contains whole or coarsely broken allspice, red chile flakes, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and ginger.

Pico De Gallo (PEE-koh day GI-yoh)

Spanish for rooster’s beak and used to describe a relish of finely chopped jicama, onions, bell pepper, oranges, jalapenos and cucumbers.


1. A pastry consisting of a sweet filling in a pastry crust baked in a slope-sided pan, it may have a bottom crust only or a top and bottom crust.
2. A savory meat or vegetable filled turnover or pastry.
3. A sweet fruit mixture baked in a deep dish with only a top crust (e.g., cobbler).

Pierogi (peer-OH-gee)

A Polish dish consisting of dumplings or noodles stuffed with mixtures such as pork, onions, and cottage cheese or cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes and rice and boiled, baked or fried.


The young swine of either sex weighing less than 120 lb.

Pig, Suckling

A pig slaughtered when it is 6-8 weeks old; the meat has a light-colored flesh with a succulent flavor and a tender texture.


A substance that contributes color to a food or processed food; either naturally occurring (e.g., the yellow-orange beta-carotene pigment found in carrots) or a chemical additive.

Pigs In Blankets

1. Sausages (usually small cocktail sausages) wrapped in pie or bread dough.
2. Breakfast sausages wrapped in pancakes.

Pilaf (PEE-lahf)

A cooking method for grains; the grains are lightly sautéed in hot fat and then a hot liquid (usually stock) is added; the mixture is simmered without stirring until the liquid is absorbed.


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

Pimento cheese

Any cheese (typically cheese spreads, Neufchatel-style cheese and cream cheese) to which chopped pimientos have been added.

Pina (PEE-nayh)

Spanish for pineapple.

Pina Colada

A cocktail made of rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut served over ice and garnished with a pineapple chunk.


A traditional measure of volume; refers to the amount of a seasoning or other food one can hold between the thumb and forefinger, approximately 1/16 teaspoon.


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.

Pineapple Corer

A tall tool with two concentric rings with serrated teeth; as the corer is pressed down over the pineapple, one ring separates the flesh from the skin and the other separates the core from the flesh.

Pine Nut

The nut of various pine trees (genus Pinus); it has a shell that covers ivory-colored meat, a rich distinctive flavor and a high fat content; also known as a pine kernel and Indian nut.

Pink Peppercorn

The dried berry of a South American rose plant; it has a rose color and a bitter, pinelike flavor and is available dried or pickled in vinegar.

Pink Salmon

A variety of salmon found in the Pacific Ocean from California to Alaska; it has a bluish-green skin with numerous black blotches, a lean, soft pink flesh and a mild flavor and is generally used for canning; also known as a humpback salmon.

Pinot Blanc (PEE-noh BLAHN)

1. A white wine grape considered to be a true Pinot and planted in France (Alsace), Germany, Austria, Italy and California; also known as Weissburgunder (in Germany and Austria) and Pino Bianco (in Italy).
2. A white wine made from this grape; dry and crisp but with less flavor than a Chardonnay; because of its high acidity, it is suitable for making sparkling wine.

Pinot Gris (pee-noh gree)

A white wine grape grown in Italy, Germany, France and parts of central Europe; the resulting wine is generally full bodies; also known as Pinot Grigio (Italy), Tokay d’Alsace (Alsace) and Rulander (Germany).

Pinot Noir (PEE-noh n’wahr)

1. A red wine grape grown worldwide, including, France’s Champagne and Burgundy regions, Germany, Italy, central Europe, California and Oregon; also known as Spatburgunder (in Germany) and Pinot Nero (in Italy).
2. A red wine made from this grape; it has a medium to deep ruby red color and a minty or black cherry medium to deep ruby red color and a minty or black cherry aroma; also used to make a rose wine and sparkling wines.

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.


Forcing a material, such as icing, chocolate, buttercream or choux pastry, from a pastry bag in a steady and even manner to form specific shapes or decorative designs.

Piping Gel

A sweet but flavorless, colored transparent substance made from sugar, corn syrup and vegetable gum; used for decorating cakes and pastries.

Pirouettes (pir-oh-ET)

Thin wafer cookies that are curled tightly around a dowel while still hot; the ends are often dipped in melted chocolate.


A pale green nut (Pistacia vera) encased in a hard, tan shell that is sometimes dyed red with food coloring or blanched until white; it has a delicate, subtle flavor.

Pita; Pita Bread; Pitta; Pitah

An oval-or round-shaped, hollow Middle Eastern flatbread leavened with yeast; it is often split open or cut crosswise to form a pocket, then filled with a stuffing; also known as pocket bread.


The bitter, white membrane found in citrus fruit between the rind (zest) and the pulp.


A fruit such as a plum or apricot that has had its pit removed.


A tool used to remove stones from cherries and olives; it has two handles; the top one has a metal shaft and the bottom one is ring shaped and holds the fruit; when squeezed together, the shaft pushes the pit through the fruit and out the hole; also known as a stoner.


An Italian dish consisting of a flat pie or tart made from bread dough topped with any of a variety of foods, but principally tomato sauce and cheese (often mozzarella) and baked.

Pizza Dough

A yeast dough used as the crust for pizzas; it may be thick and bready or thin and crisp.

Pizzelle (peets-TSEH-leh)

A large, crisp, round Italian cookie made from a rich batter of butter, eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla; the batter is cooked on a pizzelle iron.

Pizzelle Iron

Similar to a waffle iron, it is a tool with two embossed or intricately carved 5-in-wide disks hinged together and attached to a long handle and used to make pizelle; the iron is heated on the stove top, the batter is poured in and it is all returned to the stove to bake; the pattern imprints onto the cookies.

Plank; Planked

A method of cooking and serving meat or fish on a seasoned board; some of the wood flavor is imparted to the food.

Plantain; Plantain Banana

A starchy banana (Musa paradisiacal) with a green skin, a fairly firm pinkish flesh, a fatter, longer shape than an eating banana and a squashlike flavor; used for cooking much like a squash; also known as a cooking banana.

Plat Du Jour (pla duh zjur)

French menu term for the speciality of the day.

See my plated entrees


To place foods on a plate; it can be done with extreme care to create an appealing visual impression.

Plattar (PLAH-tar)

Small Swedish pancakes, traditionally served with lingonberries.


To remove the feathers from poultry and gamebirds.


A small to medium-sized ovoid or spherical stone fruit (genus Prunus) that grows in clusters; it has a smooth skin that can be yellow, green, red, purple or indigo blue, a juicy flesh, a large pit and a sweet flavor.

Plump, To

A cooking technique to which dried fruit is soaked in a liquid until the fruit softens and swells slightly from absorbing the liquid.

Plum Pudding

A steamed breadlike British dessert containing spices, prunes and other dried fruit; usually served warm, flamed with rum or brandy and accompanied by hard sauce.

Plum Sauce

A spicy, fruity sauce made from plums, chiles, vinegar and sugar; used in Chinese cuisine as a dip and flavoring; also known as duck sauce.

Plum Tomato

A medium-sized ovoid tomato with a meaty flesh and a red skin (a yellow variety is also available); also known as an Italian tomato or Roma tomato.


A moist-heat cooking method that uses convection to transfer heat from a hot (approximately 160-180F (71-82C) liquid to the food submerged in it.

Poblano (poh-BLAh-noh)

A long, tapering fresh chile with thick flesh, a medium to hot flavor and a dark green color tinged with purple or black; sometimes known imprecisely as pasilla.


The outer covering of certain seeds such as peas and beans.

Polenta (poh-LEHN-tah)

1. Italian for cornmeal.
2. An Italian dish made by cooking cornmeal with a liquid until it forms a soft mass; it is eaten hot or cooled, cut into squares and grilled or fried.


A medium-sized fruit (Punica granatum) with a thin, red to pink-blushed yellow, leathery skin and many seeds encased in a pinkish translucent flesh separated by an ivory-colored, bitter membrane; the flesh has a sweet-tart flavor and the seeds are crunchy.

Pomegranate Syrup

A thick sweet-sour syrup made by boiling the juice of sour pomegranates; also known as grenadine molasses.


1. A variety of corn that explodes when it is exposed to dry heat (the moisture and air inside the kernel expands, forms steam, splits the hull and turns the kernel inside out); available as unpopped seeds and fully popped, plain or flavored.
2. Small pieces of battered and deep-fried shrimp, chicken, clams and the like.


A batter quick bread baked in a muffin shape; the crust is crisp and brown and the interior moist and almost hollow.

Popover Pan

A heavy baking pan used for making popovers and Yorkshire pudding; similar to a muffin pan but with deeper, tapered indentions that are spaced farther apart.

Poppy Seed

The tiny, round, hard, blue-gray seed of the poppy (genus Papaver); it has a sweet, nutty flavor and is used in baked goods or processed for oil.

Poppy Seed Oil

Oil made from poppy seeds; it has a pale color and a pleasant, delicate flavor and is used principally as an ingredient or flavoring.


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

Pork Loin Roast, full

A subprimal cut of the pork primal loin; it is a roast taken from either end of the loin or can be the entire trimmed loin.

Pork Sausage

Any of several varieties of fresh sausage made from ground pork and pork fat, typically seasoned with pepper and sage; sold as links, patties or in bulk and also available smoked.

Try my 25 Favorite Pork Tenderloin Recipes

Pork Tenderloin

A subprimal cut of the pork primal loin; it is the tender, lean tenderloin muscle and can be used as is or further fabricated into medallions.


A sweet fortified wine made in northern Portugual from red and white wine grapes such as Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional, Mourisco and Shite Malvasia; traditionally served with dessert or after a meal.


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

Porterhouse Steak

A fabricated cut of the beef primal short loin; this tender cut contains a distinctive T-shaped portion of the backbone and large portions (on either side of the center bone) of the loin eye muscle and tenderloin; also known as a king steak.


The starchy tuber of a succulent, nonwoody annual plant (Solanum tuberosum) native to the Andes Mountains; it is cooked like a vegetable, made into flour, processed for chips and used for distillation mash.

Potato, Mealy

Any of a variety of potatoes (e.g., russet) with a high starch content, low sugar content, low moisture content and thick skin; used principally for baking, deep-frying and making into whipped or pureed potato dishes; also known as a baker or starchy potato

Potato, Waxy

Any of a variety of potatoes (e.g., red potato) with a low starch content, high moisture content, high sugar content and thin skin; used principally for boiling; also known as a boiling potato.

Potato Buds

A form of dehydrated mashed potatoes; the granules or nuggets require some stirring for reconstitution.

Potato Chips

Very thinly sliced, deep-fried potatoes, usually salted; also called Saratoga chips because they were first made in Saratoga Springs, New York; also known as potato crisps.

Potato Flour

An ultrafine, soft, white powder that is the pure starch obtained by either soaking grated potatoes in water or grinding cooked, dried potatoes; used as a thickener or for baking (alone or blended with wheat flour); also called potato starch.

Potato Masher

A utensil with an inflexible zigzag wire and a wooden or metal handle; it is used to reduce high-starch vegetables such as potatoes or parsnips to a soft, fluffy mass.

Potato Nest

A dish consisting of shredded potatoes deep-fried in hot fat in a potato nest basket; it is used as a container for serving certain foods.

Potato Nest Basket

An assemblage of two wire baskets, one smaller than the other; shredded potatoes are placed in the larger basket, and the smaller basket is placed on top of the potatoes; the assemblage is submerged in hot fat and cooked; available in various sizes.

Potato Salad

A dish of cooked, sliced or diced potatoes bound with mayonnaise and flavored with ingredients such as onions, green peppers, cooked eggs, herbs and spices; usually served chilled.

Potato Salad, German

A dish of cooked, sliced or diced potatoes bound with a vinegar dressing, flavored with bacon, bacon fat and onions and served warm.

Potpie; Pot Pie

A casserole dish of meat or poultry and vegetables in a rich sauce topped with a crust and baked.

Pot Roast

To cook a piece of meat by first browning it in hot fat and then braising it in a covered pot. A subprimal cut of the beef chuck or round primals; it is usually tough and flavorful.

Pot Stickers

Small Chinese dumplings made of won ton wrappers with a meat, fish, shellfish and/or vegetable filling, either fried or browned and then cooked in a broth or steamed; usually served with dipping sauces; also generally known as Chinese dumplings.


Any domesticated bird used for food; the USDA recognizes six kinds of poultry; chicken, duck, goose, guinea, pigeon and turkey; each includes various classes.

Pound Cake

A dense, rich cake originally made with 1 lb each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs.

Praline (PRAY-leen)

A rich, fudgelike candy made with cream, brown sugar and pecans, shaped into small flat patties; popular in Louisiana and Texas.


1. An anadromous shrimplike crustacean with a narrower body and longer legs than a shrimp; it has an average market length of 3-4 in., firm, pearly white flesh and a sweet, delicate flavor.
2. A term used imprecisely to describe any large shrimp.


To cook a food partially or completely before using it to complete a dish.


To bring an oven, broiler or pan to the desired temperature before putting in the food.

Preserved Lemons

Lemon slices or chunks cured in a salt-lemon juice mixture; used as an ingredient or flavoring, especially in Moroccan cuisine.


A food from which liquids have been extracted under pressure.

Pressure Cooker

A pot with a locking lid and a valve for escaping steam, usually available in 4 to 10 qt. capacities and sometimes with a wire basket insert; food is quickly cooked and tenderized under the high heat of steam pressure.

Pressure Cooking

A method of cooking food in a pressure cooker at specific levels of pressure; the higher the pressure, the higher the temperature at which water boils; by cooking food in a liquid under pressure, the trapped steam cooks the food in less time than conventional methods of steaming.


A hard, crisp snack food made from a slender rope of leavened dough that is coated with salt and baked into a loose knot or stick.


To make small holes in the surface of the food, especially an unfilled pie crust.

Prickly Pear

The small barrel- or somewhat pear-shaped fruit of a species of cactus (Opuntia fiscuindica); studded with small sharp pins and stinging fibers, it has a green to purplish-red skin, a soft yellow-green to deep pink flesh with numerous black seeds, a melon-like aroma and a sweet, bland flavor.


Agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables but usually not herbs or grains.

Profiterole (pro-FEHT-uh-rohl)

1. A miniature cream puff filled with either a sweet or savory cream or custard.
2. A French dessert consisting of small cream puffs filled with pastry cream, ice cream or Chantilly cream, usually mounded into a low pyramid and topped with chocolate sauce.


To allow shaped yeast dough products to rise a final time before baking. A technique used to determine whether yeast is viable; the yeast is dissolved in a warm liquid with a small amount of sugar, then allowed to rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes; if the mixture wells and become bubbly, the yeast is active and the mixture can be used to leaven dough.

Proof Box

A cabinet or room in which heat and humidity are controlled to create the correct environment for proofing yeast doughs.

Prosciutto (proh-SHOO-toh)

Italian for ham and used to describe a seasoned, salt cured, air-dried product that is not smoked.

Prosecoo (pro-SHE-co)

An Italian white wine grape grown in the Veneto region. 2. The wine made from this grape can be still, frizzante or spumante; all three can be dry or amabile.


A group of compounds composed of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen atoms necessary for manufacturing, maintaining and repairing body tissues and as an alternative source of energy (4 calories per gram); protein chains are constructed of various combinations of amino acids.


An Italian pasta filata cheese traditionally made from water buffalo’s milk but now also cow’s milk; it has a light ivory color, a mild, mellow flavor and a smooth texture that cuts with crumbling; shapes include a sausage, squat pear and piglet.


1. A dried red or purple plum.
2. A variety of plum grown in Italy.
3. French for plum.


1. A soft, creamy cooked dessert made with eggs, milk, sugar and flavorings and thickened with flour or another starch.
2. The dessert course of a British meal.

Pudding Mold, steamed

A bucket-shaped mold with plain or fluted sides and a central tube; the lid is clamped in place and has a handle on top; used for steaming puddings.

Puff Pastry

A rich flaky pastry made by enclosing fat, usually butter, in a sheet of dough, rolling the dough out, and continuing to fold and roll the dough until many thin layers of fat and dough are created; as it bakes, the layers rise and separate slightly, due to the steam released by the fat; it is used in many preparations, both sweet and savory (e.g., napoleons, palmiers, tart shells, vol-au-vents and fleurons); also known as pasta sfogliata and pate feuilletee.

Pulled Meat

Shredded cooked meat, usually barbecued or roasted beef or pork, torn from a larger cooked cut such as a shoulder, it is typically used for sandwiches.

Pulled Sugar

Sugar cooked to the hard-crack stage, then kneaded and pulled by hand until it is soft and pliable enough to shape into flowers, ribbons, fruits and other decorative shapes; these decorations are assembled into elaborate centerpieces or displays or used to garnish pastries, especially fancy cakes.


The flesh of a fruit.


A food that has been reduced to a powder or very fine grind.


1. Coarsely ground rye flour.
2. A coarse, dark German-style bread with a slightly sour flavor; it is made with dark rye flour and molasses; also known as Westphalian rye bread.


A spherical winter squash with a flattened top and base; can range in size from small to very large and has a fluted orange shell (yellow and green varieties are also available) , a yellow to orange flesh with a mild sweet flavor and numerous flat, edible seeds.

Pumpkinseed Oil

A thick oil made in Austria from pumpkinseeds; it has a dark brown color and a slightly toasted flavor with a hint of pumpkin.

Punch Down

A folding and pressing technique used to deflate fermented yeast dough to expel and redistribute pockets of carbon dioxide and to relax the gluten.


1. A sharp, biting, sometimes acrid or bitter aroma or flavor.
2. A wine-tasting term for a heavy, penetrating strong aroma, usually indicating a high degree of volatile acids.

Pupu Platter; Pu Pu Platter

A tray with a selection of hot and/or cold hors d’oeuvre; it is available at many Chinese and other Asian restaurants in the United States.

Pure Bar

A beverage facility that serves only nonalcoholic beverages.


To process food to achieve a smooth pulp. A food that has been processed by mashing, straining or fine chopping to achieve a smooth pulp.


The juices remaining in a package after fresh, cooked or cured meat is removed.

Purple Potato

A moderately long, slightly spherical potato with a thick purple skin and bright purple, mealy flesh; similar to a russet potato; also known as a blue potato.


Any cone- or pyramid-shaped object or formation used to display or present foods, especially items such as fruits or sweetmeats.