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Cooking Dictionary - "p"

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Pacanas - [Spanish] pecan nuts.

Pachola - [Spanish] thin, half circle-shaped piece of ground meat.

Paella - A Spanish rice dish originating in the town of Valencia. There are hundreds of recipes for paella, all claiming to be authentic. The only ingredients that are necessary for paella are rice, tomatoes, and saffron. Other ingredients are chicken, chorizo, mussels, squid, peppers, and beans. More elaborate preparations include shrimp, lobster, and duck.

Paillard - A piece of meat or fish that has been pounded very thinly and grilled or sautéed.

Pain - [French] bread.

Pain Perdu - "Lost bread." French toast.

Palillo - [Spanish] toothpick.

Palmier - A cookie made of sheets of puff pastry that are rolled in sugar and folded to resemble palm leaves. These cookies are baked until the sugar becomes caramelized.

Pámpano - [Spanish] pompano.

Pan - [Spanish] bread.

Pan dulce - [Spanish] sweet bread.

Panaché - [French] mixed.

Panada - A thick paste used as a binding agent for forcemeats. Flour panadas are made in a style similar to choux paste. Other types use bread crumbs or potato puree.

Panadería - [Spanish] bakery.

Pan-bagnat - A sandwich from southern France, consisting of small round loaves of bread which have been hollowed out and filled with onions, anchovies, black olives, and tuna, then drenched in extra virgin olive oil.

Pan-broil - To cook quickly in a hot skillet with very little fat or a sprinkling of salt.

Pancetta - Cured pork belly that is rolled and tied. Unlike American bacon, this is not smoked.

Pancita - [Spanish] stuffed sheep's stomach.

Pane - [Italian] bread.

Panela - [Spanish] white cheese made with rennet; slightly salty; it holds its shape when melted; normally sold in blocks or rounds; often sliced thick and broiled or baked; Monterey Jack can be substituted.

Panetone - An Italian cake made with a dough rich in egg yolks, traditionally served around Christmas time. The dough is studded with raisins, candied fruits and occasionally pistachios.

Panforte - A rich dense torte made of candied fruit and nuts.

Panino - [talian] sandwich.

Panko - Also known as Japanese breadcrumbs; coarse dry white breadcrumbs used for breading rellenos and other fried foods; similar to untoasted coconut in appearance; provides a nuttier, crispier crust than regular breadcrumbs; found in Asian markets and many grocery stores; ordinary breadcrumbs may be substituted if necessary.

Panna - [Italian] cream.

Panocha - Mexican brown sugar.

Panqués - [Spanish] pancakes.

Pansit - Wild rice noodles used in Filipino cooking. Soak in warm water for 15 minutes until supple, and drain before using.

Panzanella - A salad consisting of toasted cubes of bread tossed with vegetables and vinaigrette. The salad is then marinated for at least one hour. The bread should be very firm so that it will endure the soaking of dressing. Vegetables can include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions. Lots of garlic, capers, black olives, and anchovies are added to the salad.

Papadum - Flat lentil wafers that puff up when deep-fried. Used in Indian cuisine.

Papas - [Spanish] potatoes.

Papaya - Almost oval melon-like fruit with creamy golden yellow skin, orange yellow flesh and many shiny black seeds right in the center; when slightly underripe, the flesh is firm, and at this point it is good for making relishes; it is soft and very juicy when ripe; the skin contains a natural enzyme that tenderizes meat and is frequently included in marinades for that reason. Some weigh up to ten pounds, but most are about the size of a mango. Papaya will ripen at room temperature, so you can buy them firm; but eat when soft.

Papel - [Spanish] paper.

Papilotte, en - Baked in an oiled paper bag.

Pappardelle - Wide flat pasta noodles served with rich, hearty sauces.

Paprika - [Hungarian] translated to sweet red pepper. A spicy seasoning ground from a sweet variety of red pepper. It is used to season ragouts, stuffings, and sauces, and as a garnish.

Parathas - [Indian] triangular shaped, fried flaky breads. Like chapatis, they are made out of whole wheat flour, but they are prepared using a slightly different method. The dough for parathas is oiled, rolled, and folded several times, giving this bread its distinctive flaky texture. The result is a bread crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Parboil - Boil for a short time to partially cook.

Parch - To dry; to cook in dry heat until almost scorched.

Parchment paper - A silicon based paper that can withstand high heat. Often used to prepare sugar and chocolate confections because they do not stick to the paper at all. Parchment paper may be reused several times.

Parfait - [French] A dessert made of layers of fruit, syrup, ice cream and whipped cream, frozen and served in tall slender glasses.

Parfum - [French] flavor.

Parisienne - A white sauce with egg yolks.

Parmagiano-Reggiano - Cheese developed in northern Italy in the Parma and Reggio Emilia regions, the original Parmagiano-Reggiano reflects 800 years of tradition and is considered one of the great cheeses of the world. This hard cheese, aged 12 to 24 months or longer, is produced by artisans from the raw milk of cattle fed fresh fodder in their spring and summer pasture. Its uniform color ranges from a pale straw yellow to a deep yellow shade, and it is dotted throughout with barely visible holes. It has an exceptionally fine flavor, full but not pungent. Whole Parmesan cheeses are large and drum-shaped and may weigh 40 to 55 pounds (18 to 25 kg). Methods of production vary from one region to another, with different aging times and temperatures.

Parmentier - [French] any dish prepared with potatoes. The term is derived from Antoine Parmentier who introduced the potato to France.

Parmesan - [Italian] made from cow's milk, this nutty-sweet dry cheese is the best for grating. There is only one true Parmesan and that is Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Parmigiana - Prepared with Parmesan cheese.

Parrilla - [Spanish] broiler or grill.

Parrillada - [Spanish] grilled items.

Parsley - Whether curly or flat leafed and indispensable herb in cooking and garnishing. Flat leafed parsley has slightly better flavor.

Parsnip - Root vegetable that looks like a white carrot. Great in soups and stews, or puréed.

Pasa - [Spanish] raisin.

Pasilla chiles - Called a chilaca in its fresh form. The mature chilaca turns from dark green to dark brown. After drying (when it becomes a pasilla) it changes to a blackish-brown. It has a rich hot flavor and is generally ground and used for sauces. Pasilla means little raisin; in some places the Ancho chile is called pasilla chile; long, thin and dry with a dusky flavor; they are hot; thin fleshed, with flavors of dried fruit and licorice; anchoes may be substituted.

Passion fruit - Purplish-brown on the outside, filled with (edible) pits and orange flesh inside. Unadulterated, it is tart and hard to take. Passionfruit get its name from its flowers, which Spanish missionaries thought resembled symbols of Christ's Passion, such as the crown of thorns.

Pasta - All macaroni products. Any form of spaghetti or noodles.

    Angel Hair - In Italian, ,this fine spaghetti is called capelli d'angelo. Goes best with light, delicate sauces. Cooks in six minutes.

    Campanelle - This fancy-looking pasta with a cone shape and wavy edges traps and holds chunky sauces with meat and vegetables. Cooks in 13 minutes.

    Castellane - The ridges and conch-shell shape of this pasta help trap hearty sauces. Cooks in 13 minutes.

    Elbows - Short, curved tubes of pasta are available in different sizes. Most often associated with macaroni and cheese, elbows also can be used with other creamy sauces or with meat sauce. Cooks in seven minutes.

    Farfalle - Also called bow-ties or butterflies. They come in small, medium and large. Their large, flat surface makes them best for tomato, ,meat and vegetable sauces. Cooks in 11 minutes.

    Fettuccine - Translates to "little ribbons." This pasta is usually 1/4 inch thick and available straight or in coils. Its thickness makes it perfect for heavier sauces, such as alfredo. Cooks in 12 minutes.

    Fiori - In Italian,  fiori means flower. This pasta has rounded petals that provide extra surface area for chunky tomato-based sauces. Has lots of kid appeal. Cooks in seven minutes.

    Penne - Diagonally cut smooth tubes are great for trapping sauces. Those with ridged sides are called penne rigate. Cooks in 12 minutes.

    Rigatoni - Ridged tubes about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. This hearty pasta should be served with hearty, chunky sauces. Cooks in 13 minutes.

    Rotini - Short, 2-inch-long, corkscrew-shaped pasta that's good with chunky sauces. Cooks in eight minutes.

Pasta e Fagioli - A rich bean soup with pasta, in which a large sausage (such as cotechino) has been cooked. The soup is eaten first, followed by the sausage served with mustard and bread.

Pastel - [Spanish] cake; pie.

Pasteles - [Spanish] envelopes of dough made of plantains filled with tasty ingredients.

Pastelón - [Spanish] pie.

Pasteurize - [French] to sterilize milk by heating it to 60 to 82C or 140 to 180F degrees to destroy harmful bacteria. The term is derived from Louis Pasteur, who developed the method.

Pasticceria - [Italian] pastry.

Pasticcio - [Italian] pie.

Pastilla (Bistella) - A Moroccan pie made with chicken wrapped in phyllo dough. When finished cooking, the pastilla is dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

Pastina - Tiny bits of noodles.

Pastrami - Highly, spiced smoked beef, usually prepared from the shoulder cuts.

Pastry - Dough made with flour, butter and water and baked or deep-fried until crisp.

Pastry cream - A cooked custard thickened with flour. Some versions may use cornstarch or a mixture of the two starches.

Pastry wheel - Small, serrated wooden or metal wheel-like utensil for cutting and fluting pastry.

Pasty - Small pastry pie with a savory filling of meat, potatoes and onion.

Patatas - [Spanish] potatoes.

Patate - [Spanish] sweet potato.

Pâté - [French] a term referring to many different preparations of meat, fish and vegetable pies. The definitions of which have been altered through the years. Originally pat‚ referred to a filled pastry much like American or English pies. Now the term pâté en croute is used to describe these preparations. Pâté en terrine has been shortened to either pâté or terrine. A terrine is generally a finer forcemeat than that used for pâté, and is always served cold. Pâtés are coarser forcemeats and, as stated before, are often prepared in a pastry crust. We now use these terms interchangeably and inclusive of all styles of forcemeat. Look for definitions under ballottine and galantine.

Pâté a Foncer - A shortcrust pastry dough made with butter and strengthened with water. Used as a lining for meat or fish pies.

Pâté Brisée - A short crust pastry dough made with butter and eggs.

Pâté Choux - A paste used to make cream puffs, eclairs, and other more elaborate pastries. It is made by adding flour to boiling water or milk, which has been enriched with butter. Eggs are then added into the paste to leaven it. Savory pastries such as gougere may also be made with this paste.

Pâté de foi gras - A paste made of finely ground goose livers.

Pâté Feuilletae - A dough comprised of many alternating layers of butter and pastry. This is an extremely versatile dough though preparation of it is labor intensive and very difficult.

Pâté Sablée - Another type of sweet, short crust dough.

Pâté Sucrée - A sweet, short crust dough for tarts and tartlets.

Pâtés - [French] pasta.

Pâtisserie - [French] pastry.

Pato - [Spanish] duck.

Patty - Small, flat, round or oval shaped cake of food, such as potato cake or fish cake, which is served hot; small, flat, individual pie, such as a chicken patty, which is served hot or cold; small, round form for meats such as hamburger.

Patty cups - Paper cupcake holders.

Patty shell - A shell made from puff paste to hold creamed mixtures or fruit.

Paupiette - [French] a thin slice of meat, like a scallopine, which is stuffed and rolled. These may also be made of fish or vegetables.

Pave - [French] cold savory mousse mixture set in a square mold coated with aspic jelly; square sponge cake, filled with butter cream and coated with icing.

Pavo (guajolote) - [Spanish] turkey.

Paysanne - A dish prepared country-style. A vegetable garnish.

Peanut - Ground nut, eaten plain or roasted - sometimes salted and sometimes not. Used to make peanut butter and oils.

Peanut oil - This flavorful oil borders on all-purpose. Its flavor, though distinctive, is not overpowering, and it is a great oil for cooking (especially highly spiced foods and Asian dishes in which olive oil is out of place).

Pearl barley - De-husked barley grains, primarily used in soups.

Pearl onions - Tiny, marble-size onions that are difficult to peel but make a good side dish or addition to soups and stews. Frozen ones are easier to handle, but less flavorful.

Pease pudding - Puree of cooked, dried peas which is made into puddings, boiled and traditionally served with pork.

Pecans (Sp: pacanas) - An oil-rich native American nut; probably originated in Texas; grown commercially in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico and Texas.

Pêche - [French] peach.

Pêche Melba - Peaches served with a raspberry sauce.

Pecorino Romano - Hard grating cheese made from sheep's milk with a nutty, earthy flavor.

Pectin - Found naturally in fruits and vegetables, gelatin-like pectin is used as a thickener in jellies and jams. Available in liquid and dry forms.

Peel - A large tool, that looks like a shovel, used to slide pizza onto a hot stone.

Pemmican - Of Native American origin; dried, pounded meat mixed with fat and berries, pressed into cakes for survival food; was later adapted by the U.S. Army.

Penne - Quill-shaped pasta tubes with smooth sides. Those with ridges are called penne rigati. These are also called mostaciolli. Large quill-shaped tubes are called manicotti.

Peperoni - Made with peppers.

Pepinos - [Spanish] cucumbers.

Pepitas - [Spanish] pumpkin seeds with the shells removed.

Peppers

Anaheim: (ANN-uh-hime) Fresh, six inches long, can be green or red; mildly hot and fleshy, good for stuffing and grilling.

Ancho: (AHN-choh) Wrinkled skin, squat, dark red-brown; lots of pulp; sweet and medium hot, lots of flavor; used for making mole.

Arbol: (ARE-bowl) Skinny, small, hot; red or green when fresh; reddish brown dried; adds heat and flavor to tomato and tomatillo salsas.

Banana: Fresh, can be mild or slightly hot; roast on the grill to eat or use to season tacos.

Cascabel: (KAS-kuh-behl) Dry, smooth skin, brick red, one and one-half inches wide; fairly hot; woodsy, tobacco flavor; great in sauces.

Cayenne: (KI-yehn) Red fresh or dry; long, extremely hot; associated with Cajun food.

Chipotle: (chih-POHT-lay) Smoked jalapeno; dried, dull brown skin up to three inches long; also sold canned in adobo sauce; widely popular in United States to season simultaneously with heat and smoke.

Guajillo: (gwah-HEE-yoh) Dry, smooth skin, orange-brown, four-to-six inches long, medium-hot; used in sauces, menudo and to marinate meat.

Habanero: (ah-bah-NEH-roh) When fresh, orange to red; extremely hot and beloved for underlying fruitiness.

Jalapeno: (hah-lah-PEH-nyoh) Fresh, favorite supermarket pepper in green and red; medium-hot; thick flesh; roast and use as seasoning; chop for fresh and cooked foods.

Mata: (MAH-tah) Small; when fresh, extremely hot; use in fresh sauces or stir-fry into oil before adding vegetables; add to shaker jar with vinegar to make hot sauce.

Mora and morita: (MO-ruh and mo-REET-uh) Dried red jalapeno, two or three inches long, red-brown; smoked flavor; medium hot; used in salsas, soups, etc. (Moritas are smaller.)

Pasilla: (pah-SEE-yah) Long and narrow; dried, it is nearly black and wrinkled; soak then puree for complex, medium-hot red sauce; used in chili powder and mole; fresh, it is used like poblanos.

Peron or Manzana: (pay-RHON or mahn ZAHN-ah) Fresh, thin fleshed, meaty; medium hot to extremely hot; add to sauces or roast and peel for stuffing or rajas.

Piquin: (pay-KEEN) Small, dried, red; extremely hot; simmer in cooked sauces, soups, stews.

Poblano: (poh-BLAH-noh) Fresh, dark green or red; up to five inches long and three and one-half inches wide; medium-hot; always roasted before using for stuffing or rajas.

Pulla: (POO-yah) Dried, up to five inches long, light reddish brown; hot; used like arbol in sauces and for seasoning soups and stews.

Serrano: (seh-RRAH-noh) Fresh, two or three inches long in red or green; hot; used to season green sauce and fresh foods such as salsa and guacamole.

Pera - [Spanish] pear.

Perciatelli - Long macaroni.

Percolator - Two-part coffee pot which forces boiling water from lower half up through coffee grains contained in upper half, and finally filtered through a fine sieve.

Perdrix - [French] partridge.

Perejil - [Spanish] parsley.

Périgeux - A brown sauce made with Madeira wine and truffles.

Périgourdine - A Périgeux sauce with added goose liver.

Perilla - A Japanese herb that has a dark, russet-purple dentate leaf.

Persil - [French] parsley.

Persillade - A combination of chopped parsley and garlic, usually added to dishes at the end of cooking. nice combined with breadcrumbs as a crust.

Persimmon - A brilliant orange, smooth-skinned fruit that is terribly tart when unripe, but very sweet when fully ripe. Unlike most other fruits, there is no such thing as an overripe persimmon.

Pescado - [Spanish] fish.

Pesce - [Italian] fish.

Pesto - [Italian] a delicious sauce used for pastas, grilled meats, and poultry. This is made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Some versions will also add parsley and walnuts or pine nuts. The ingredients are ground into a paste and moistened with the olive oil. Pesto is also used to describe similar sauces that contain other herbs or nuts.

Petit Four - Small, decoratively iced, rich cookie or cake served on elaborate buffets or at the end of a multi-course meal.

Petit pain - [French] a roll.

Petit pois - [French] Tiny young green peas.

Petite marmite - A rich meat and vegetable soup.

Pfeffer - [German] pepper.

Pfeffernüsse - [German] Peppernuts; Small spicy cake balls, dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Phyllo Dough (Filo) - Paper-thin sheets of pastry dough for Middle Eastern baking. Can be found in most supermarkets frozen in boxes. Used for Greek Baklava and many other baked dishes.

Pib, pibil - Yucatecan pit barbecue; barbecued.

Picadillo - [Spanish] hash; shredded or ground beef, spices and other ingredients; normally used as a filling.

Picante - [Spanish] sharp, hot and spicy (to taste).

Piccata - [Italian] chopped meat.

Pichón - [Spanish] squab; domesticated pigeons.

Pickle - To preserve food in a vinegar or brine mixture.

Pickling salt - A fine-grained salt without iodine, used in pickled meat dishes. Found in all supermarkets.

Pico de Gallo - [Mexican] "beak of the rooster"; salsa cruda; very hot, raw salsa with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and serrano chiles; called salsa méxicana in Mexico.

Picoso - [Spanish] hot (to taste).

Pignoli - Pine nuts.

Piki - Indian bread baked as thin and crisp as paper.

Pilaf, Pilau - An Armenian, Greek or southern Russian rice dish with seasonings, often with meats, vegetables or poultry added.

Piloncillo - [Spanish] an unrefined cane sugar that is purchased in molded hard cones; It is beige to brown in color; the deeper the color, the more molasses flavor it has; dark brown sugar may be substituted.

Pilze - [German] mushrooms.

Pimenton - Mexican paprika; similar in taste to New Mexico ground red mild chile peppers.

Pimentos - A name used for roasted red peppers that have been canned or bottled in liquid. Used for stuffing green olives.

Pimienta - [Spanish] pepper.

Pimiento chile - Meaty and luscious with a tinge of spice; grown in California and southern United States; when dried, is ground into paprika; use fresh red bell peppers if pimientos are unavailable.

Pimienta negra - [Spanish] black pepper.

Pimientos dulces - [Spanish] sweet peppers.

Pin bone steak - A steak cut from the sirloin.

Piñas - [Spanish] pineapples; used in salsas, relishes, desserts and cocktails.

Pine nuts - Also pignoli nuts, small, pellet-shaped nuts. Expensive (wonderfully sweet and rich) little nuts that come from a large pinecone of Italy. May substitute slivered almonds. The Southwestern Pignons are similar.

Piñones - [Spanish] pine nuts, pignolis; seeds of the piñon pine which ripen in the crevices of pine cones throughout the desert Southwest; delicious raw or toasted; store tightly covered and either refrigerate or freeze them, depending on how soon they are to be used.

Pintade - [French] Guinea hen.

Pinto beans - Name taken from pintar (to paint); reddish-brown speckled beans that turn pink when cooked; used in traditional Mexican cookery; when a recipe title says "frijoles," it is most likely referring to pinto beans. Pinto beans make great refried beans; they are also good for beans and rice, chili, or served as a purée.

Pipe - To squeeze a paste-like mixture (usually frosting) through a pastry bag.

Pipián - [Spanish] sauce containing ground nuts or seeds and spices; Indian stew or fricassee thickened by its ingredients rather than by flour.

Piquant, Piquante - Spicy or sharp in flavor.

Piroshki - Small Russian meat pies, like empanadas, eaten for lunch or snacks.

Pissaladière - A southern French pizza consisting of a thick bread crust covered with cooked onions flavored with garlic. The pizza is then topped with black olives and anchovies.

Pit - (Or "stone.") To remove the pit or seed from a  fruit or olive.

Pita bread - Flat round bread made with or without a pocket.

Pith - The white cellular lining of the rind covering the flesh of citrus fruits.

Pizza - [Italian] Flat baked dough covered with various combinations of tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, sausage, cheese, etc.

Pizzaiola - [French] meat or chicken, cooked in red wine, tomato sauce and flavored with garlic;  plat du jour - dish of the day.

Plank - An oiled, grooved hard-wood platter, usually oak, on which meat is served and carved. Also, sometimes roasted on.

Plantains - Vegetable banana. Resemble bananas in size and shape but are starchier and not sweet. Both green (hard) and brown (ripe) are used in the cuisines of the Caribbean and South America. Ripe plantains can be peeled like bananas but not green ones. Most commonly sliced thin and fried. Found in some larger supermarkets, Hispanic and Caribbean markets. Also known as machos.

Plants - Four sacred plants of the Southwest Indians are beans, corn, squash and tobacco.

Plátano - [Spanish] banana; coarse-textured banana that cannot be eaten raw.

Plátano macho - [Spanish] plantain; a tropical plant resembling the banana; very large with a thick skin; the fruit is deeper yellow than that of the banana; cooked, unripe platana is eaten like a potato; when ripe, the skins are black, and this is when they are sweetest; platanas will ripen after being harvested.

Pluck - Offal; to remove the feathers from a domesticated or game bird.

Plugra butter - also known as European-style butter, has a higher butterfat and lower moisture content than regular butter, which makes pastries flakier and sauces smoother.

Plum sauce - An Asian sweet-and-sour sauce made from plums, apricots, sugar, and other seasonings. Sold in jars or cans, store tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Plum tomatoes - These oval-shaped tomatoes have great flavor. They are the best sauce tomato, because is quite thick in comparison to the round tomato.

Poach - To cook food simmered in a liquid, just below the boiling point.

Poblano chiles - "People chiles"; in dried form, known as ancho chiles; frequently used for chiles rellenos; dark green, almost black, ranging from mild to hot, they look like deflated bell peppers; normally roasted before using; when dried, it is called the ancho chile; in California it is usually called a pasilla chile; preferred choice for making chiles rellenos.

Poire Hélène - Cooked pears with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Poisson - [French] fish.

Poivrade - Made with pepper.

Polenta -The Italian version of cornmeal mush. Coarsely ground yellow cornmeal is cooked with stock or water and flavored with onions, garlic, and cheese. Polenta may be eaten fresh out of the pot, as a perfect accompaniment to stews. Polenta may also be poured into a greased pan and allowed to set. It is then sliced, sautéed, and topped with cheese or tomato sauce.

Pollo - [Spanish] chicken.

Pomegranate - A strangely constructed fruit - a labyrinth of seeds wrapped in fruit buried in a mass of inedible flesh surrounded by a tough skin. The pulp and juice surrounding the tiny seeds have a sweet-tart flavor. Pomegranate juice is used in making Grenadine and pomegranate molasses is available in Middle Eastern stores.

Pomegranate molasses - [Middle Eastern] also known as pomegranate syrup. Condiment prepared from yellow sour pomegranates cooked with sugar. Provides fruity and tangy flavor to savory dishes.

Pomidoro - [Italian] tomato.

Pomme - [French] apple.

Pomme de terre - [French] potato.

Pone bread - Corn bread.

Pooch - Cowboy favorite of stewed tomatoes, sugar and biscuits.

Popover - Indian fry bread.

Porcini - [Italian] also called cèpes, these meaty, large-topped mushrooms are a treat. Most frequently sold dried but becoming increasingly available fresh.

Porgy - Widely known as sea bream, there are many different varieties of this fish family in the United States and around the world. The most popular United States porgy is the scup, which is found in Atlantic waters. Porgies have a firm, low-fat flesh with a delicate, mild flavor. Although some grow to 20 pounds, most fall into the 1/2- to 3-pound range. They're available fresh and frozen, and are generally sold whole. The porgy is suitable for almost any method of cooking, including baking, grilling and frying.

Porridge - Hot cooked (usually oatmeal) cereal.

Porter house steak - A steak cut from the thick end of the tenderloin, or short loin, of beef.

Portobello mushrooms - Enormous version of cremini with robust flavor. Great when grilled, broiled, or sautéed.

Posole, pozole - Corn that has been treated with slaked lime to remove the tough outer husks of the kernels, then dried; thick stew made with hominy as an ingredient; the stew usually includes pork and chiles; also another name for hominy. The base of the soup is water flavored with onions, tomatoes (or tomatillos), and herbs. Hominy is cooked into this broth and condiments include minced onion, avocado, lime wedges, oregano, queso fresco, and fried pork skin.

Postre - [Spanish] dessert.

Potage - [French] thick soup.

Potato starch or flour - Starch made from dried potatoes ground into flour. Find in some Scandinavian shops, delicatessens and health food stores.

Pot-au-feu - A combination of stock with meat, bones, and vegetables, cooked together but often served as separate courses.

Pot roast - Beef cooked in a manner similar to braising, but on top of the stove.

Pothook - Bent iron for hanging a kettle over the fire.

Pots de crème  - Small custards, variously flavored.

Poule  - [French] chicken.

Poulet  - [French] young chicken.

Poultry Seasoning - Equal amounts of dried sage, dried thyme and dried marjoram.

Prairie coal - Cow or buffalo manure, dried and used in campfires.

Prairie strawberries - Red beans; also called Arizona strawberries.

Praline - In French cookery this is a powder or paste made of caramelized almonds and/or hazelnuts. American cookery refers to a candy consisting of caramel and pecans. Candy eaten in the Southwest; made from brown sugar and pecans.

Prawns - For culinary purposes, the same as shrimp. In the U.S., large shrimp are sometimes called prawns. The true prawn is a small shellfish closely related to shrimp, but it is European.

Preserves - Fruits or vegetables, whole or chopped, simmered in a sugary syrup.

Prickly pear - Egg-size fruit of the prickly pear cactus; the fruit is referred to as tuna; flesh is garnet-colored. Often made in to prickly pear jelly.

Printanier - [French] garnish of spring vegetables.

Profiterole - Tiny cream puff, filled with sweet or savory mixtures, served as dessert or hors d'oeuvres.

Prosciutto - The Italian word for ham, usually referring to the raw cured hams of Parma. Though once impossible to obtain in the United States due to USDA regulations, fine prosciuttos from Italy and Switzerland are now being imported. These hams are called prosciutto crudo. Cooked hams are called prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto is best when sliced paper thin served with ripe figs or wrapped around grissini.

Provençale - [French] in the Provence style; served with a spicy garnish of tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic in oil.

Prune - dried plum.

Puchero - [Spanish] stew.

Pudding - Like custards, thick, creamy mixtures of milk, sugar, and flavorings. Custards are thickened with eggs, puddings with cornstarch or flour.

Puerco - [Spanish] pork.

Puerro - [Spanish] leek.

Puesto - [Spanish] a stand in the market or on the street.

Puff paste, pastry - Layers upon layers of pastry dough, each separated by a film of butter. Time-consuming but fairly easy to make.

Pulp - The succulent flesh of a fruit.

Pulque - [Spanish] beer made by fermenting the juice of the maguey cactus (century plant).

Pulverize - To break a food down to powder by crushing or grinding.

Pumate - [Italian] sun-dried tomatoes.

Pumpernickel - A course black bread made with rye flour.

Pumpkin seeds - [Sp.] pepitas; husked inner seed of the pumpkin; seeds are roasted and used as a snack or garnish; when seeds are roasted and ground, used as a thickener and flavoring agent.

Purée - A thick soup made from a pureed vegetable base. To finely blend and mash food to a smooth, lump-free consistency. You can purée foods in a blender, food processor, or food mill.

Purse - [French] sieved raw or cooked food; thick vegetable soup which is passed through a sieve or an electric blender or food processor.

Purslane - Pink-stemmed purslane weed used as a vegetable and in salads.

Puttanesca - A piquant pasta sauce made of tomatoes, onions, black olives, capers, anchovies, and chile flakes. The hot pasta is tossed in this sauce prior to serving. Some recipes leave the ingredients raw, allowing the heat of the pasta to bring out the flavors.

Pyramide Cheese - A truncated pyramid is the shape of this small French chevre that is often coated with dark gray edible ash. The texture can range from soft to slightly crumbly and depending upon it’s age, in flavor from mild to sharp. It is wonderful served with crackers or bread and fruit.