Culinary Terms P
Pailles: Potato straws.
Panada: A thick paste of flour and liquid or flour and butter with a little liquid used to bind together ingredients which would fall apart by themselves.
PAN-BROIL: To cook uncovered in a hot fry pan, pouring off fat as it accumulates.
Pane : To coat in egg and breadcrumbs.
PAN-FRY: To cook in small amounts of fat.
Papillote: Paper frills placed on chops for decorations. It also means food cooked in paper casings.
PARBOIL: To boil until partially cooked; to blanch. Usually this procedure is followed by final cooking in a seasoned sauce.
Pare : To peel
PARE: To remove the outermost skin of a fruit or vegetable.
Parfait:Ice-cream served in a tall glass and decorated with a variety of nuts and fruits
Parmesan : A very hard cheese made in Italy from cow’s milk. Used mainly for cooking.
Paysanne : To cut into even, thin pieces. triangular or round or square.
PEEL: To remove the peels from vegetables or fruits.
PICKLE:To preserve meats, vegetables, and fruits in brine.
Pimento : Red or green pepper pods used in salads or often as a colourful garnish.
PINCH: A pinch is the trifling amount you can hold between your thumb and forefinger.
Piquante : Sharply flavoured. Usually the word is Papplied to mustard or a sharp sauce.
Pistachio: Green-coloured nut kernels. Used as a garnish.
PLANKED: Cooked on a thick hardwood plank.
Plat du jour : Special dish of the day.
Plate : Pie, pastry or raised pie. or a paste.
Pluck: To remove feathers from poultry and birds.
PLUMP: To soak dried fruits in liquid until they swell.
POACH: To cook very gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point.
Poach: To cook just below boiling point in hot liquid.
POISSON:Fish in French.
#Poole : Roast done entirely or almost entirely in butter. The joint or poultry is first fried and coated with a thick layer of matignon wrapped in slices of pork fat covered with butter paper or aluminium foil and cooked in the oven.
#Pot-au-feu : A beef soup made with vegetables. and poured over French bread or toast.
#Potpourri : A stew of various meats and spices.
Praline :Burnt almond flavouring.
PRINTANIERE: Spring vegetable.
Pulse:Vegetables that grow in pods. e.g., peas. beans, lentils. etc.
#PUREE: To mash foods until perfectly smooth by hand, by rubbing through a sieve or food mill, or by whirling in a blender or food processor.
Purée:A smooth mixture obtained by rubbing cooked fruit, vegetables etc..through a sieve.
Palm Heart – A thin, flat crepe made from a batter of flour, egg and milk cooked quickly on each side in a greased frying pan or on a griddle and then served hot, usually folded over or rolled around a filling which can be either sweet or savoury. Pancakes are similar too, but thicker than crêpes. In North America pancakes stacked one upon the other and covered with maple syrup are a popular breakfast dish. Pancakes were traditionally cooked and eaten on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, a day of revelry and merrymaking before the fasting of lent.
Panettone – A cake made from sweet yeast dough enriched with egg yolks (which give it its colour), candied fruits and raisins. It is usually in the shape of a tall, round loaf. Panettone is a specialty of Milan, in northern Italy, where it is now made commercially for sale around the world. It is served with coffee for breakfast and is traditional Christmas fare.
Panforte – A flat, very rich cake with nougat like texture containing nuts, honey, candied fruit, and spices. It is a specialty of Sienna, in Italy and, because of its energy-giving properties is said to have been carried by the Crusaders on military expeditions.
Papaya – Also known as pawpaw, a large, oval-shaped tropical fruit smooth green to yellow skin, juicy golden flesh with a melon like texture and a central cavity filled with small black seeds. Serve fresh and fully ripe with a sprinkle of lime juice for breakfast or add cubes to fruit salad (it combines especially well with passion fruit). Under-ripe papaya can be cooked as a vegetable. The fruit is native to the Americans and is thought to have been taken to Europe by Portuguese explorers; it now grows in tropical regions throughout the world. Its name comes from the Caribbean name ababai. Papaya is in season in early summer.
Parfait – A chilled dessert served in a tall glass and eaten with a long-handled spoon. It usually consists of layers of custard, jelly, and ice-cream and whipped cream. The term also refers to a frozen rich custard dessert.
Passion Fruit – Also called granadilla, the egg-shaped fruit of the passionflower vine with sharp-sweet, juicy, fragrant orange pulp studded with small black edible seeds. The leathery skin varies in colour from pale yellow-green to pink, to deep purple-brown; it is smooth and shiny when immature and deeply dimpled when ripe. Passion fruit can be eaten fresh (scooped from the shell with a spoon) or the pulp can be added to fruit salads, yoghurt and ice-cream, mousse and dessert sauces, it is the traditional topping for pavlova. The passion fruit vine is native to tropical America. It was named by Spanish Jesuit priests in South America for its large flower in whose form they saw all aspect of the crucifixion of Christ (the three nails, the five wounds, the crown of thorns and the apostles). Passion fruit is in season in late summer but can usually be found fresh through the year; passion fruit pulp is available canned.
#Pastry – An unleavened dough made from fat (butter, margarine or lard), flour and sometimes sugar, and bound with water. Different types of pastry result from the kind of fat used and variation in the proportions of the ingredients. Shortcrust pastry forms the containers for sweet and savoury pies, flans and tarts; crisp, filo pastry and flaky puff pastry are used for dishes ranging from sausage rolls to delicate desserts; hot water crust pastry is used particularly for English game pies. Pastry is also a general term for sweet baked foods made with pastry dough.
Pastry Cream – See Crème Pâtissière.
Pâté Brisée – A shortcrust pastry made from a dough of flour, butter, margarine, or lard (or a mixture of these), sugar, egg, and water. It is mixed directly on the surface by placing the wet ingredients in a well formed in the centre of the dry ingredients and, using the fingertips, first mixing together the wet ingredients, then gradually drawing in the dry ingredients. It is called pâté brisée, literally ‘broken dough’, because the ingredients are ‘broken’ into one another. Pâté brisée is used in French cooking for both sweet and savoury dishes.
#Pâté Sucrée – Literally ‘sugar dough’, a sweet, crisp, shortcrust pastry made from butter or margarine (lard is never used), sugar and egg yolk and used in French cooking for flan cases and tartlets. It is mixed in the same way as pâté brisée.
Pavlova – A dessert consisting of a meringue case filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit (usually including strawberries and passion fruit pulp). The dish is attributed to Herbert Sachse, chef at a leading hotel in Perth, Western Australia, who created it in 1935 and named it in memory of the 1929 visit to the city, by the ballerina Anna Pavlova.
Pawpaw – See papaya.
Peach – A round, yellow to rosy pink, downy skinned, stone fruit with pale, fragrant, sweet, juicy flesh. There are two main types: slipstone or freestone (the flesh of which separates, easily from the stone), and clingstone (the flesh clings to the stone). The name comes through the French from the Latin Persicum malum, Persian apple. Peaches are in season from summer to autumn; they are also available canned, in syrup.
Peanut – Also called groundnut, the edible seed of a legume encased in brittle, pale brown pods that develop and ripen below ground. Peanuts can be eaten raw, roasted and salted as a savoury snack, or coated in toffee or chocolate as a confectionery (candy). Peanuts are important in the cooking of South East Asia as satay sauces are added whole to dishes. Peanuts are made into peanut butter and peanut oil is extracted from them.
Peanut Butter – A spread made from roasted peanuts and used in sandwiches (it combines well with celery, crisp bacon, raisins, honey and jam), on toast or as an ingredient in homemade satay sauce. It is available as either a smooth, creamy paste or a crunchy version containing pieces of crushed nut. Peanut butter was popularized in North America in the twentieth Century.
Pear – A tear-drop shaped fruit with yellow, green or light brown skin and juicy flesh. It can be eaten fresh, added to both fruit salads (it blends particularly well with raspberries and black currants) and savoury salads poached in syrup or wine and used in many other desserts such as mousses, soufflés, and tarts. The pear originated in Asia. It was introduced into Europe by the ancient Greeks and was popular fruit in ancient Rome.
Pecan Nut – An elliptical smooth-shelled nut containing a ridged kernel (similar in appearance to a walnut kernel) with a sweet buttery flavour. Whole pecan kernels can be eaten as a snack (either raw or roasted and salted) and are used whole in biscuit (cookies), cakes, breads and the American favourite, pecan pie; chopped and ground nuts may be sprinkled on ice-cream, used in pastry fillings are added to confectionery (candy). The pecan tree is native to Central North America. The nuts are available in the shell or shelled in airtight packs.
Pêche Melba – A dessert consisting of peaches poached in vanilla syrup, chilled, then served with vanilla ice-cream and fresh raspberry puree. The dish was created for Australian diva Dame Nellie Melba by the esteemed French Chef Auguste Escoffier. It was inspired by Melba’s performance in the opera Lohengrin. The peaches and ice-cream were originally served between the wings of an ice-carved swan and covered with spun sugar.
Pectin – A natural gelling agent that occurs in some fruits. When pectin-containing fruits are cooked with sugar they set into a firm jam and jelly. Blackcurrant, red currants, citrus fruits, cooking apples, quinces, gooseberries, and plums are high in pectin; strawberries and pears have very little. Under ripe or just contains more pectin than over-ripe fruit. Commercial pectin is available in powdered form.
Peppermint – A herb of the mint family grown mainly for the oil distilled from its leaves and flowers. Peppermint essence, it is used to flavour confectionery (candy), chocolate filling, cake icings, and the liqueur crème the menthe. The leaves can also be made into herb tea or chopped and sprinkled over fruit salad. Rats are said to detest peppermint.
Persimmon – A smooth-skinned, tomato shaped fruit with yellow to orange coloured flesh that is soft, sweet and jelly-like when fully ripe, but otherwise has a sharp astringent taste. Ripe persimmon pulp can be eaten plain, as a fruit, added to fruit salad, mousses, and custards, or used to top ice-cream; it is also made into jam. The persimmon is native to Japan and China, where it has been cultivated for more than a thousand years. Sharon fruit, a persimmon variety developed in Israel, can be eaten raw, even when firm and under ripe. Persimmon is in season in late autumn and early winter; it is also available dried.
Petits Fours – Fancy bite sized biscuit (cookies), cakes, or confectionery (candy) usually served with coffee at the end of a meal.
Pie – A sweet or savoury mixture topped with a pastry crust and baked; quite often pies have a bottom crusted as well – these completely enclosed pies are called double-crusted pies in North America. The term ‘pie’ is also used in North America for a bottom crust with a filling; in Britain this is usually called a tart.
Pineapple – A large, cylindrical tropical fruit with thick skin, a crown of cactus-like leaves and fragrant, sharply sweet, juicy, yellow flesh. Peeled, cored, and sliced, pineapple can be eaten fresh, as a fruit; diced, it is added to fruit salad, savoury salad and is an ingredient in sweet and sour dishes; chopped pineapple is used in cakes; grilled (broiled) pineapple rings are a traditional accompaniment for ham steaks (pineapple also combines well with chicken, pork and duck); pureed pineapple can be used in drinks and sorbets; and pineapple can also be made into jam. Raw pineapple contains an enzyme similar that found in papaya (pawpaw) which means it will not set in gelatin preparations; however, the enzyme is not present in the cooked or canned fruit. Pineapple is in peak season in spring, but can be usually be bought fresh throughout the year; it is also available canned, juiced and glacéed (candied). The fruit was named for its resemblance to a large pinecone.
Pine Nut – The small, slender, soft, pale seed shed by the fully mature cone of certain types of pine tree. Pine nuts add richness to stuffings, sauces (such as Pesto), salads, vegetable dishes, stews, cakes and biscuits (cookies) and are often used to garnish rice dishes.
Piroshki – Tiny filled Russian savoury pastries, served hot as a finger food, as a first course or as an accompaniment to soup. They can be made with yeast dough, choux pastry, short crust or puff pastry, and are filled with cream cheese, smoked pork, fish, chopped vegetables, game or poultry. They can be baked or deep-fried.
Pissaladière – A savoury flan with a filling of onions simmered in olive oil, garnished with anchovy fillets and black olives, and then baked. Pissaladière is a specialty of the Nice region of southern France and it is similar to the Italian Pizza – the cooked onions are placed on a circle of bread dough and coated with a paste made of anchovy puree, olive oil, cloves, thyme, bayleaf and pepper.
Pistachio Nut – A small, oval nut with a brown shell and a green kernel with a mild, slightly sweet taste. The nuts may be eaten from the shell, salted or unsalted as a snack; shelled pistachio nuts are added to pâtés, terrines, stuffings and spiced sausages and are used to garnish rice dishes; they are also used in confectionery (candy), ice-creams, cakes, sweet pastry fillings and biscuits (cookies). The shells are sometimes dyed red, a practice that began in the United States in the 1930s to cover blemishes. The pistachio nut is the fruit of a tree native to the Middle East which is now cultivated widely in the lands of the Mediterranean and in the south of United States.
Pitta Bread – A slightly leavened soft, flat, and wheat flour bread baked until puffed and hollow. Pitta can be either cut in half across the middle or slit open at the edges; either way a pocket is formed which can then be filled with hot meat (such as lamb cubes), vegetable mixtures (such as falafel) or with salad. Cut or torn into smaller portions, pitta bread is the traditional accompaniment to dips such as hummus bi tahini and baba ghannouj. It can also be used as a pizza base. Pitta is of Middle Eastern origin.
Pizza – A flat base of bread dough spread with various savoury toppings (tomato puree, cheese, salami, ham, seafood, chopped vegetables, anchovy and olives), seasoned with herbs and garlic, brushed with olive oil and baked, traditionally in a wood fired oven. Pizza is eaten hot, as first course; small portions or miniature pizzas can be served as finger food. Pizza originated in Naples, in southern Italy, where nineteenth century street vendors vied with each other to attract customers to their tasty fare – the classic Neapolitan pizza has a thin, crisp crust with a topping of tomato and mozzarella cheese. In Rome pizza is made in large, rectangular pans, cut into pieces and sold by weight. Sicily is the home of the thick-crust or pan pizza, rolled thicker than the Neapolitan original and baked in a greased pan.
Plantain – A tropical fruit closely related to the banana, but plumper and longer, with thick green skin and firmer, more fibrous flesh. Plantain is grilled (broiled), fried or barbecued and served as a vegetable, or it can be diced and added to curries, soups, casseroles and omelettes; it can become bitter if overcooked. Raw plantain is never sweet, even when fully ripe. Young leaves can be used in soups and salads.
Plum – A round fruit with smooth shiny skin that ranges in colour from deep purple to green, yellow or red, depending on the variety; it has sweet, juicy flesh and a flat stone. Raw plums can be eaten un-skinned as a snack; stoned, sliced and added to fruit salad; or pureed for use in sauces, ice-creams, and deserts. Plums may be stewed or poached, made into fillings for pies and tarts, cooked in fruit puddings and cakes or made into jam; spicy plum sauce combines well with roast meats (especially pork) and poultry. The plum is thought to have originated in western Asia. They grew in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; the Romans imported plum trees from Damascus and improved the quality of the fruit by grafting and cross-fertilization. Plums are in season in summer and early autumn; they are also available canned and dried as prunes.
Plum Pudding – A rich steamed or boiled pudding made with dried fruit (prunes, raisins, sultanas and glacé cherries), nuts, suet and rum or whisky. It has a dense, moist, cake-like texture. Plum pudding, decorated with holly flamed with brandy and served with brandy butter, traditional Christmas fare. Ice-creams, whipped cream, or custard can also accompany the pudding.
Pomegranate – A round, reddish-golden skinned fruit about the size of an orange. It is divided by walls of bitter-tasting pith into several chambers, each containing numerous seeds embedded in sacs of sweet, deep pink, jelly-like pulp. The seeds and pulp can be scooped from the shell and eaten or may be added to fruit salad; pomegranate juice is used to make grenadine syrup (a bright red, non-alcoholic drink used as a colouring and flavouring for cocktails, ice-cream, fruit salad and other desserts). The pomegranate is of Asian origin and spread west to the African shores of the Mediterranean many thousand of years ago. It was cultivated by the ancient Hittites, Persians, and Egyptians. It has long been regarded as a symbol of fertility. In Greek mythology Persephone, Goddess of spring, was condemned to spend half of each year in Hades for eating six forbidden pomegranate seeds – when she emerged from the shades the land quickened with the first sign of spring and, on her return to the underworld, stilled with autumn. The pomegranate is in season in late autumn.
Popover – An airy batter pudding or quick bread made from a batter of flour, egg, and milk (very similar to the mixture used to make Yorkshire pudding). Popovers are baked in greased muffin tins or cups in a very hot oven so they rise quickly, forming a crisp, golden shell while the inside remains moist and mostly hollow. Popovers should be eaten hot, either with butter and jam or honey, or split open and filled with a savoury preparation of meat or vegetables; herbs, grated cheese, or sugar may be added to the batter.
Poppy seed – The fine grey-blue seeds of the poppy plant. Poppy seeds have a strong, nutty flavour. They are often sprinkled on bread and savoury crackers, before baking; are added to pasta and potato dishes, and are used to make the traditional Jewish poppy seed cake. The poppy is native to Asia.
Port – A rich, sweet, fortified wine used to flavour duck and game dishes, sauces (such as Cumberland sauce), Pâtés, and desserts such as jellies, creams and syrups for poached fruit. True port is made from a variety of grapes grown in northern Portugal and shipped through the town of Oporto.
Praline – A confectionery (candy) made from almonds cooked in caramel, then cooled and crushed to a powder and used as a decoration for desserts. Praline can also be sprinkled over ice-cream or custard, or baked into biscuits (cookies), slices, and cakes.
Pretzel – A savoury snack made with a yeast-leavened dough that is formed into the shape of a loose knot, boiled in water, drained and then brushed with egg and sprinkled with coarse salt before baking. It may be either crusty, soft centered bread or a crunchy biscuit (cracker). The pretzel originated in the Alsace region on the German borders where it was traditionally served with beer. Commercially available pretzels are sometimes also made in the form of long sticks.
Profitroles –A small, choux pastry puff with a sweet or savoury filling. Profitroles are probably best known as a dessert filled with crème pâtissière or Chantilly cream and topped with chocolate, caramel, or coffee sauce.
Prune – The dried fruit of certain varieties of plum tree. Prunes have a dark, wrinkled appearance and sweet, rich flavour. They are generally soaked and then gently stewed, and served as a dessert or with breakfast cereal or as a filling for tarts and pastries. Prunes can be wrapped with bacon and grilled to serve as finger food or can accompany main course savoury dishes, such as pork, rabbit, and game. They can also be eaten as a snack (without the need to soak first). Sun-dried prunes have been known since the times of the ancient Romans; today dehydration is usually by artificial heat. Prunes are sold (either pitted or un pitted) in vacuum-sealed packs and cans.
Puddings – A hot, sweet dish, traditionally steamed or baked, eaten at the end meal. Puddings are many and varied and range from the rich fruit puddings eaten on festive occasions to rice pudding and bread and butter pudding. The term originally referred to all boiled dishes, and this tradition lives on in the name of several savoury mixtures such as steak and kidney pudding and black pudding.
Puff Pastry – A rich, crisp, flaky pastry used for both sweet and savoury dishes. Its airiness is achieved by a lengthy procedure of repeatedly rolling and folding the dough to give it a multi-layered form. During baking the pastry rises up four to five times its original thickness. Although its invention is widely attributed to seventeenth century French landscape painter Claude Lorrain (who in his youth trained as a pastry cook), it seems that pastry was made in the fourteenth century (the Bishop of Amiens listed puff pastry cakes in 1311) and may even have been known in ancient Greece. Puff pastry is commercially available frozen in sheets.
Puftaloon – Small cakes made by deep-frying rounds of a type of scone (biscuit) dough. They are served hot with butter, golden syrup or light corn syrup, or honey.
Pumpernickel – A solid, dark-coloured, strongly flavoured bread made from a mixture of rye flour, rye meal and cracked rye grains.
Pumpkin – In north America called winter squash, the large, hard skinned fruit of a trailing vine with golden, nutty-flavoured flesh and a central cavity filled with flat, oval seeds. There are many varieties ranging from small, round golden nuggets, to bell-shaped butternuts, pear-shaped hubbards, cylindrical banana pumpkins and plump, ribbed Queensland blues. Pumpkin can be served as a vegetable-steamed, boiled (and mashed) or baked; it can be stuffed, made into soups, scones (biscuits), pancakes, sweet pies, cheesecake, bread and chutney. The fragrant, trumpet-shaped blossoms can be chopped into salads, fried in batter or stuffed; pumpkinseeds can be toasted, tossed in salt, and eaten as a snack. Pumpkins are native to the Americas and were cultivated perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago, predating by several thousands of years the domestication of corn (maize) and beans. They reached Europe in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries when their properties of easy cultivation and long storage life made them valuable as winter fare.
Puree – A thick, creamy liquid or paste made by processing a solid food in a blender or food processor or pushing it through a sieve.