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Glossary of Cooking Terminology - Dei termini della cucina
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Use the letters below to find a cooking technique you are looking for - If you have a cooking technique, submit it here.




Al denté: Past cooked a little less than usual. This gives the pasta a harder texture and the english translation is "Hard to the bite".



Baccala: This is dried codfish, either salted or sundried. Click here to go to the Baccala Recipe area

Biscotti: Italian cookie often hard in texture and lightly flavored with anise. Click here to go to the Biscotti Recipe area.

Bruschetta: Garlic and Olive Oil topped toasted bread topped with chopped Tomatoes and Basil. Click here to go to the Antipasto Recipe area.



Caramelising Sugar: Sugar is caramelized when it is melted into a clear golden to dark brown syrup, reaching a temperature from 320 to 350 degrees F. To start, add some water to dry sugar in a pot, stirring, until it reaches the consistency of wet sand. The acid from added lemon juice will help prevent recrystallization.Instead of using lemon juice, you could add acidity with vinegar, cream of tartar or corn syrup. Always start with a very clean pan and utensils. Any dirt or debris can cause crystals to form around it. Heat the pan over a medium flame. As the sugar melts, you can wash down the sides of a pan with a wet brush, which also prevents crystallization by removing any dried drops of syrup that might start crystals. As the caramel heats, it colors in amber shades from light to deep brown.

Cacciatore: An Italian combination meat and vegetable dish (ie: Chicken Cacciatore) in which vegetables are cooked in a hearty sauce with meat. Click here to go to the Cacciatore Recipe area

Carbonara: traditional pasta sauce consisting of garlic, eggs, and bacon served over pasta click here for carbonara recipe. Click here to go to the Baccala Recipe area

Carpaccio: thinly sliced whole beef tenderloin topped with a mustard - mayonnaise sauce.



Dolce: It can mean sweet and is also means "a dessert"






Focaccia: Italian pizza dough often topped with olive oil, herbs, garlic, and cheese. Click here to go to the Focaccia Pizza Recipe area

Fritto: Deep fried.



Gelato: Ice cream.

Genovese: Beef stew made with onions and tomato sauce (often used as a pasta sauce). Click here to go to the Genovese Recipe area

Giardiniera: Pickled vegetables usually preserved in a mason jar.






Imbrogliata: Scrambled.

Indiavolato: Spicy.

Integrale: Whole Wheat.












Marinara: A pasta sauce traditionally made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil. Variations: Capers, pitted black olives, crushed red pepper or diced chile pepper. The sauce first originated from Naples after the Spaniards introduced the tomato. The word marinara is derived from marinaro, which is Italian for “of the sea.” Because of this, many people mistakenly believe marinara sauce includes some type of fish or seafood. However, marinara sauce loosely translates as “the sauce of the sailors,” because it was a meatless sauce extensively used on sailing ships before modern refrigeration techniques were invented. Click here to go to the Marinara Recipe area

Mosto: pure, unrefined fruit juice used in wine and liquors. Grape mosto is used for winemaking as well as for flavoring many Italian sweets and meat dishes. There are other types of mosto too: malt mosto can be used to make beer, apple for cider, and cherry and prune for brandies and liqueurs.






Ossobuco: Ossobuco is made of braised veal shanks. Oven baked in a vegetable tomato sauce. Usually served with a side order of pasta.



Pasta: It takes 4 ounces of dry pasta per person. A 1 pound package of pasta should yield 4 servings. Use plenty of water (at least 4 quarts per pound) so that it doesn’t stick together. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the water. This avoids the pasta to stick together when it cooks. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of pasta. This will bring out the flavor of the pasta. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta. Stir the pasta often to prevent sticking. One pound of spaghetti takes aproximately. 8 to 10 minutes to cook but check it frequently until it’s "al dente" (firm to the bite). As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander. Combine the sauce and pasta in a bowl, mix well, and then serve.

Pancetta: Found in the fat belly or cheek of a pig, consisting of alternating layers of fat and lean tissue. It can be rolled, aged, salted or smoked.

Pasta - Long Form - Strand: Anything spaghetti-like that you can twist around your fork. These pastas are made in varying widths, from the thinnest angel hair to the plumpest bucatini. They can be round or flat (see ribbon pasta, the next bullet), solid or hollow, like bucatini.

Pasta - Ribbon: A sub-category of long form (strand) pasta. These are the flat cuts. Fettuccine, lasagne, linguine and tagliatelle are the better-known ribbon pastas.

Pasta - Tubular: From tiny to jumbo, smooth or ridged ("rigati"), straight-cut or diagonally cut [in this category, the seemingly same size pasta will have a different name if the ends are straight-cut versus diagonally cut]. Elbows, manicotti, penne and rigatoni are well-known cuts.

Pasta - Shaped: Farfalle (bow ties), fusilli (corkscrews), ruote (wagon wheels) are prominent examples. There are endless ways to twist and curl and shape pasta; hence, the hundreds of regional varieties.

Pasta - Stuffed: This group includes agnolotti, mezzelune, ravioli, tortellini and "dumpling" pasta like gnocchi.









Sauté: Sautéing is cooking food quickly in the right amount of oil and/or butter over high heat. You can use a skillet or saute pan, but make sure it is big enough to comfortably contain what you are cooking. To preheat you need high heat when sautéing to cook ingredients quickly, otherwise the internal moisture tends to push to the surface and your ingredients won’t brown.

Sauté with butter or oil? Butter will give your food the best taste and a wonderful golden crust but burns more easily. Olive oil produces a nice crust and will not burn as quickly, but also doesn’t leave as rich a flavor or color as butter alone. So, the Reluctant Gourmet uses a combination of the two. What you cook and the amount you’re cooking will determine how butter and oil you use.





















Zabaione: This dessert is made by whisking egg yolks with sugar and dry marsala wine in a deep bowl until a rich cream forms. Variations include the use of other sweet wines like Moscato, Vin Santo, Prosecco, and port. Click here to go to theZabaione Recipe area

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