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Ingredient Glossary

AJI - Aji (singular form) is what the Peruvians call chile peppers. The species in particular is capsicum baccatum.

ALLSPICE - The dried, unripe berry of a small tree. It is available ground or in seed form, and used in a variety of dishes such as pickles, casseroles, cakes and puddings. Also known as Jamaica Pepper.

AUBERGINE - see Eggplant

BAGEL - Chewy bread with a hole in the middle - round, and 3-4 inches in diameter. The origin is Russian-Jewish. Can come with many types of toppings on it. Dough is boiled then baked with toppings such as onion, garlic, poppy seeds etc. Flavours can also be kneaded into the dough. On the east coast usually used as a breakfast bread but can also be used as a sandwich bread.

BEETROOT - Called beet in US. The red, succulent root of a biennial plant (Beta vulgaris). Often dressed with vinegar and served cold and sliced, but can also be served hot and is the basis of one of the most well-known borschts.

BELL PEPPER - see Capsicum

BERMUDA ONION - A large sweet onion with several regional names. May also be known as Spanish Onion, and possibly 1015 onion.

BISCUITS - in the UK, equivalent of US cookies (small, sweet cakes). In US, In the US, a type of nominee bread made of flour, milk, and shortening, usually served with breakfast - small, and similar to what much of the world refers to as 'scones'.

BLACK TREACLE - see Sugar and Other Sweeteners

BRINJAL - see Eggplant

BROCCOLRABE - A green bitter vegetable unless harvested young. Looks like broccoli but has skinnier stalks. The leaves, stems and florets are eaten. Really good sauteed with garlic and olive oil and served over pasta. Also known as Italian Broccoli, rabe, rapini.

CABANOSSI - a salami-type sausage popular in Southern Europe.

CAPSICUM - A large fleshy pepper with a sweet/mild flavour. Can be orange, red, yellow, green or black. Also known as Bell Pepper.

CASTOR/CASTER SUGAR - see Sugar and other sweeteners .

CHICKEN MARYLAND - in Australia, refers to chicken leg with both thigh and drumstick attatched. In the US, refers to any parts of chicken, crumbed, browned in hot fat, baked and served with cream gravy.

CHICKPEAS - Cicer arietinum. Also known as garbanzo beans, ceci beans.

CHINESE PARSELY - see Cilantro

CHOCOLATES - If you don't have unsweetened baking chocolate, substitute three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of fat (preferably oil) for each one ounce square.

US dark chocolate is the same as UK plain chocolate, that is, the darkest and least sweet of the chocolates intended for eating (also called bittersweet). What is called milk chocolate in the UK is called milk chocolate in the US, too, but many people simply refer to it as "chocolate". The stuff called "semi-sweet chocolate" by some folks is the US dark or UK plain. "Bitter chocolate" is, apparently, the UK term for high quality plain chocolate.

Some manufacturers apparently distinguish between "sweet dark," "semi-sweet" and "bittersweet" (Sarotti is one), but they seem to be minor variations on a theme.

Chocolate chips are not necessarily a substitute for bar chocolates, because the chips have something added to them to slow down melting.

CIDER - widely varying definition! A drink (almost) always made from pressed apples, to many people but not all it is alcoholic. US usage is typically that 'cider' is not alcoholic and 'hard cider' is. If in doubt, ask the person who posts the recipe what they mean.

CILANTRO - the leaf of the coriander plant. Also called Chinese/Thai/ Mexican parsley, and green coriander

CLOTTED CREAM - Traditionally served with tea and scones; a 55% (min) milkfat product made by heating shallow pans of milk to about 82 degrees C, holding them at this temperature for about an hour and then skimming off the yellow wrinkled cream crust that forms.

COCKLES - clams

CONCH - A Mollusk Gastropod - "Strombus" - Abundant in US only off Florida Keys, where it is illegal to take and has been for about 10 years. Most conch now comes from Caribbean islands such as Turks and Caicos, Trinidad, or Honduras. One Conch steak typically weighs 1/5 to 1/3 lb appx. These sell for prices ranging from $4.99 - $6.99 per pound. These steaks are taken home, beaten with device such as a rolling pin, (to tenderize) then cubed for conch salad or conch fritters.

CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR - see Sugar and other sweeteners

CORDIAL - in the US, a synonym for liqueur. In UK, New Zealand and Australia, a thick syrup (which may or may not contain real fruit) which is diluted to give a non-alcoholic fruit drink

CORNFLOUR - A starch usually made from wheat. Used to thicken sauces etc. Also called cornstarch.

CORNMEAL - ground corn (maize).

COURGETTE - see Zucchini

COUSCOUS - The separated grain of the wheat plant. When dried and milled, it becomes semolina flour, which is what pasta is made out of. However, as a grain, it makes a terrific rice substitute that has the advantage of being more flavorful (nutty with an interesting texture as long as it is not over cooked) as well as about five times quicker to make than rice.

CREAM OF WHEAT - Also called farina.

CREME FRAICHE - Pasteurised cream to which a lactic bacteria culture has been added. Used in French cooking, it is thick and slightly acidic without actually being sour.

DAIRY PRODUCTS - Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk both come in cans, both are thick and a weird color . . . but are not, as I thought when I was small, the same thing. Sweetened condensed milk is, as the name implies, mixed with sugar or another sweetener already. It isn't found everywhere, but this recipe makes a good, quick substitute: Mix 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry (powdered) milk and 1/2 cup warm water. When mixed, add 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

If a recipe calls for buttermilk or cultured milk, you can make sour milk as a substitute. For each cup you need, take one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice , then add enough milk to make one cup. Don't stir. Let it stand for five minutes before using. Powdered baking buttermilk may also be used.

The minimum milk fat content by weight for various types of cream:

Clotted Cream55% 
Double Cream48% 
Heavy Cream36% 
Whipping Cream35%30%
Single Cream18%Light Cream
Half Cream12% 

DESSICCATED COCONUT - dried coconut shreds, similar to US coconut shreds. In the US, coconut is usually sold sweetened, this is not so common in other countries.

DIGESTIVE BISCUITS - A wholmeal biscuit (cookie) with a honey taste. Can be substituted for graham crackers, but are not exactly the same thing.

DONAX - clams.

DOUBLE CREAM - see Dairy Products

EGGPLANT - A purple, vaguely egg-shaped vegetable. Called brinjal in parts of India and aubergine in various other places.

ESCARGOT - Snails. They can be terrestrial, freshwater or marine. Escargot is the common name for the land gastropod mollusk. The edible snails of France have a single shell that is tan and white, and 1 to 2 inches diameter.

ESSENCE/EXTRACT - While the words may be used interchangeably US-UK all essences are extracts, but extracts are not all essences. A stock is a water extract of food. Other solvents (edible) may be oil, ethyl alcohol,as in wine or whiskey, or water. Wine and beer are vegetable or fruit stocks. A common oil extract is of cayenne pepper, used in Asian cooking (yulada). Oils and water essences are becoming popular as sauce substitutes. A common water essence is vegetable stock. A broth is more concentrated, as in beef broth, or boullion. Beef tea is shin beef cubes and water sealed in a jar and cooked in a water bath for 12-24 hours. Most common are alcohol extracts, like vanilla. Not possible to have a water extract of vanilla (natural bean) but vanillin (chemical synth) is water sol. There are also em ulsions lemon pulp and lemon oil and purees (often made with sugar) Oils, such as orange or lemon rind (zest) oil, may be extracted by storing in sugar in seal ed container. Distilled oils are not extracts or essences. Attar of rose (for perfume) is lard extracted rose petal oil.

FARINA - see Cream of Wheat

FATS - Shortening is solid, white fat made from hydrogenated vegetable oil. (One popular brand name is Crisco, and many people call all shortening Crisco.) It is common in the US, tougher to find in some other parts of the globe. In my experience, you can usually but not always substitute butter or margarine for shortening. The result will have a slightly different texture and a more buttery taste (which in the case of, say, chocolate chip cookies seems to be an advantage!). Sometimes this doesn't work too well. Not to sound like a broken record but - try it out before an important occasion.

Copha is a solid fat derived from coconuts, it is fairly saturated and used in recipes where it is melted, combined with other ingredients and left to set.

Lard can be successfully substituted in some recipes, for example it makes very flaky pastry.

Deep frying requires fats/oils with heat-tolerant properties. Butter and margarine, for example, are right out, as are lard and olive oil. Corn and peanut oils are both good.

FAVA/BROAD BEANS - Favas as a green vegetable are popular in Europe. In the North, e.g. Britain and Holland they are called 'broad beans' and grown as a summer crop, planted in early spring, and in Italy they are planted in fall and harvested in January, and also planted in January and eaten in April and May. They are grown for animal forage in Italy as well. They come in various sizes, but in general they are large and flat.

FEIJA~O - Portugese for beans, the default is black beans. Not to be confused with:

FEIJOA - A waxy green fruit about 3" long. Although it is not a guava you may know it as a Pineapple Guava. Feijoa sellowiana is an evergreen shrub, growing to 10-16 ft. It thrives in subtropical regions but is hardy and once established will tolerate moderate frosts. They are either eaten raw (with or without the skin) or made into jellies, sauces and chutneys.

FILBERTS - see Hazelnuts

FIVE-SPICE - A blend of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and Szechuan pepper, used in Chinese cooking

FLOURS - US all-purpose flour and UK plain-flour can be substituted for one another without adjustment. US cake flour is lighter than these. It is not used much anymore, but if it does come up, you can substitute all-pupose/plain flour by removing three tablespoons per cup of flour and replacing it with corn starch or potato flour.

Self-raising flour contains 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt for each cup of flour. B

US whole wheat flour is interchangeable with UK wholemeal flour.

GALANGA - Used in Thai cooking, galanga is a rhizome similar to ginger in many ways. Tom ka gai (chicken in coconut milk soup) uses galanga, chicken, green chiles, lemon grass and lime juice as well as coconut milk.

GARBANZO BEANS - see Chickpeas

GRAHAM CRACKERS - A wholemeal biscuit (cookie) with honey and soda taste. Can be substituted for Digestive Biscuits but are not exactly the same thing.

GRANULATED SUGAR - see Sugar and other sweeteners

GREEN ONIONS - see Scallions

GREEN SHALLOTS - an inaccurate but occasionally used name for Scallions

GRILL - In the UK, the same as US broiler; in the US, a device for cooking food over a charcoal or gas fire, outdoors.

GRITS - Usually a breakfast item in the US Southern region. Made from the kernel of corn. When corn has been soaked in lye and the casing has been removed it becomes Hominy. The lye is rinsed out very well and the corn is left to harden. Then the swollen hominy is ground up to the texture of tiny pellets. When boiled with water, millk and butter it becomes a cereal similar to cream of wheat. It's used as a side dish for a good old fashioned Southern breakfast. Sometimes you can make it with cheese and garlic for a casserole.

HABANERO PEPPER - A type of hot chili. The Scotch Bonnet Pepper is similar.

HALF AND HALF - a mixture of half cream and half whole milk

HARD ROLLS - A sandwich type of roll that is a little crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Can be made with poppy seeds or sesame seeds or plain. Often called a Kaiser roll

HARISSA - Harissa is a paste of chilis and garlic used to enhance North African food (and is fairly popular in other parts of the Mideast, though it is probably of Berber origin). It is fairly similar to the Indonesian sambal olek.

HAZELNUTS - A small nut with a hard, glossy shell. Also known as filberts.

HEAVY CREAM - see Dairy Products

HING - Also known as asafoetida, and devil's dung. A light brown resin sometimes used as a substitute for garlic ands onions, or in its own right and not as a substitute for anything, it can be found in Indian groceries. Claimed properties : laxative, aphrodisiac, colic cure. A required ingredient in the Indian Tadkaa - the small amount of oil used to roast mustard seeds and similar other ingredients before adding them to the main dish.

HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS - Also known as sprinkles or as nonpareils : small round balls of multicoloured sugar used as toppings on cakes and desserts.

ICING SUGAR - see Sugar and other sweeteners

KEY LIMES - Citrus fruit, about the size of golf balls, and round. The fruits are pale yellow-green, the juice is yellow and very tart, more so than standard limes. Grow in Florida, the Keys and other tropical places in the Caribbean. Used in Key Lime Pie, with egg yolks and condensed milk and in a Sunset Key with amaretto.

LADYFINGERS - little, fairly dry, finger-shaped sponge cakes. "Ladies' fingers" is another name for okra.

LEAVENING AGENTS - Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It must be mixed with acidic ingredients to work. Baking powder contains baking soda and a powdered acid, so it can work without other acidic ingredients.

LEMONADE - in the US, a drink made of lemon juice, sugar and water; in the UK, a carbonated drink that doesn't necessarily contain anything closer to a lemon than a bit of citric acid. Sprite (TM) and 7-Up (TM) are examples of what would be called lemonade in many countries.

LOX - Brine-cured salmon.

MALANGA - the word used in the Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean for Taro root (or a close relative of Taro.) It is prepared by either boiling and mashing like potatos, or slicing and frying into chips. It is also used in soups as a thickening agent.

MARROW - US summer squash. Also 'vegetable marrow'.

MASA HARINA - Masa is a paste made by soaking maize in lime and then grinding it up. Masa harina is the flour made by drying and powdering masa. It is used in mexican cooking for items such as corn tortillas. The literal meaning is "dough flour".

MASCARPONE - A soft Italian cheese (similar to cream cheese). An important ingredient in Tiramisu.

MELON - a family of fruits. All have a thick, hard, inedible rind, sweet meat, and lots of seeds. Common examples: watermelon, cantaloupe (aka rock melon).

MIRIN - sweetened sake (Japanese rice wine)

MIXED SPICE - A classic mixture generally containing caraway, allspice, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and ginger, although cinnamon and other spices can be added. It is used with fruit and in cakes. (In America 'Pumpkin Pie Spice' is very similar).

MOLASSES - see Sugar and other sweeteners

NUTELLA - A thick smooth paste made from chocolate and hazelnuts. Doesn't seem to be particularly easy/cheap to come by in much of the US, but in many countries it is inexpensive and common. Can be spread on plain biscuits (cookies), bread, toast, pancakes, or just eaten from the jar.

PAVLOVA - A dessert (invented in New Zealand, not Australia :-) The main ingredients are sugar and eggwhite. A pavlova has crisp meringue outside and soft marshmallow inside, and has approximately the dimensions of a deep dessert cake. Commonly pavlovas are topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, especially kiwifruit, passion fruit or strawberries.

PAWPAW - papaya, also persimmons in some places, or even a third fruit, Asimina triloba. It's best to check with the recipe author.

PERIWINKLES - These small relatives of the whelk are "Littorina littorea". Popular in Europe but not in US. New England "winkles" are a different species from those found in the Gulf of Mexico

POLENTA - same as corn meal, also, a thick porridge made from cornmeal (also known as 'cornmeal mush', 'mamaliga')

POUTINE - French fries with cheese curds and gravy.

POWDERED SUGAR - see Sugar and other sweeteners

RHUBARB - Rhubarb should be cooked because cooking inhibits or destroys the oxalic acid it contains. The oxalic acid in raw rhubarb or in rhubarb leaves is toxic.

ROCK MELON - see Melon

ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS - Lamb or cattle testicles, breaded and deep fried (like oysters)

SAMBAL ULEK (SAMBAL OELEK) - A paste made by crushing red chillis with a little salt. Can be made by crushing chopped deseeded chillis in a mortar with salt, or purchased at some delicatessens or Asian food stores.

SANTEN/COCONUT MILK - Can be bought in cans or in powdered form, or made as follows: To 2.5 cups boiling water add the grated flesh of one coconut (or 4 cups dessicated coconut). Leave to stand 30 minutes, squeeze coconut and strain. Use within 24 hours. Known as narial ka dooth in India, santen in Indonesia and Malaysia. High in fat - look for the reduced fat variety if you're on a fat-restricted diet

SCALLION - Variety of onion with small bulbs, long stiff green leaves. Usually eaten raw. Also called spring onion, green onion.

SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER - Capsicum tetragonum. Similar to Habanero Pepper.

SCRAPPLE - Scrapple is boiled, ground leftover pieces of pig, together with cornmeal and spices. Good scrapple, particularly served with a spicy tomato catsup, is food for the gods. Bad scrapple, especially with too little cornmeal, with too much grease, or undercooked, is an abomination in the eyes of the horde.

SCUNGILLI - Also a Mollusk Gastropod - "Buccinidae" - found in more temperate waters than conch, with a darker meat and stronger flavor, perhaps less "sweet". This is more properly known as "whelk". These are generally removed from their shell and sold already steamed and ready to eat. The meat is kind of a circular meat, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter, perhaps 10 to 20 of these in a pound.

SELTZER - Plain soda water

SHALLOTS - Small pointed members of the onion family that grow in clusters something like garlic and have a mild, oniony taste. Not the same as green/spring onion.

SINGLE CREAM - see Dairy Products

SPANISH ONION - see Bermuda Onion

SPRING ONION - see Scallions

SQUASH - a family of vegetables. All but two have a thick, hard, usually inedible rind, rich-tasting meat, and lots of seeds. There are also things called summer squashes, which have edible rinds, milder meats, and usually fewer seeds. An example of this type is the Zucchini.

STARCHES - UK corn flour is the same as US cornstarch. Potato flour, despite its name, is a starch, and cannot be substituted for regular flour. It often can be substituted for corn starch and vice versa. Cornmeal or polenta is not the same thing as cornstarch or cornflour! What one can buy labelled 'polenta' really looks no different to cornmeal though, so hey, lets not panic too much. Polenta is commonly used to describe cornmeal porridge but may also be used to mean plain cornmeal. Beware.

If you don't have cornstarch/corn flour, you can use twice the amount of all-purpose/plain flour. However, unless whatever you're adding it to is allowed to boil, the result will taste starchy.

SUGAR AND OTHER SWEETENERS - UK castor/caster sugar is somewhat finer than US granulated sugar. There is a product in the US called superfine sugar, which is about the same as UK castor/caster sugar. Usually, you can use granulated sugar in recipes calling for castor/caster sugar and vice versa, but i've gotten reports of times this didn't work so well! As usual, give the recipe a trial run with the substitute some time when it doesn't need to be perfect. Corn syrup is common in the US but not always elsewhere. Sugar (golden) syrup can be substituted.

Corn syrup comes in two flavours - dark and light. Light corn syrup is just sweet, dark has a mild molasses flavour. Some people have substituted dark corn syrup for golden syrup in ANZAC biscuits and found it sucessful. A common US brand is Karo.

Golden syrup is a thick, golden brown (fancy that) byproduct of cane sugar refining. The taste is mostly sweet, although there is a slight acidic, metallic component. Lyle's is a common brand spoken about in rec.food.cooking, the New Zealand brandname is Chelsea.

If desperate, a plain sugar syrup may be a possible substitute, boil 2 parts sugar, 1 part water. This could be messy. You may want to thin it out with water. Again, you may want to try this out on your own before making something for a special occasion.

Black treacle and blackstrap molasses are similar but not identical.

SWEDE - US rutabaga

TAMARI - Tamari is a type of soy sauce, usually used in Japanese food. You can easily substitute with Chinese Light Soy or regular Japanese soy sauce.

TANGELO - Citrus fruit cross of a tangerine and a pomelo. Larger than a mandarin and a little smaller than an average-size orange. Skin colour is a bright tangerine and they mature during the late mandarin season. Mandarins, Tangerines or Oranges may be used instead.

TERASI - A kind of pungent shrimp paste, used in very small quantities. May be crushed with spices, grilled or fried before adding to other ingredients. Also known as balachan/blacan (Malaysia), kapi (Thailand) and ngapi (Burma).

TOMATO SAUCE - in UK/NZ/Australia, a homogeneous dark red sauce containing (typically) tomatoes, sugar, salt, acid, spices, sometimes (blech) apple - much the same thing as US tomato ketchup. In the US, a more heterogeneous concoction, served in and on foods such as pasta.

TWIGLETS - A stick-shaped cracker-textured snack. Taste mostly of yeast extract, but also contain cheese as an ingredient. Have 4 calories each and 11.4g fat per 100g.

UNSALTED BUTTER - What it says, butter without the 1.5 - 2% added salt that 'normal' butter has. Often recommended for cooking. Many people prefer the taste of unsalted butter. In areas with high quality dairy products the use of unsalted butter where it is called for may not be so important, since the salt is not so likely to be covering the taste of a low-quality product.

VEGEMITE/MARMITE - Not the same thing, but similar enough to not deserve separate entries. A thick brown paste made mostly from yeast extract, most commonly spread thinly on toast or sandwiches. The taste is mostly salt plus yeast. Despite the occasional rumor, neither contains any meat.

WHIPPING CREAM - in US, cream with at least 30% butterfat

ZUCCHINI - A long, green squash that looks something like a cucumber. Also known as vegetable marrow, courgette.

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