Baba ganoush

A traditional Middle Eastern aubergine puree, made with garlic and tahini.


Thinly sliced cured and smoked pork with or without the rind.


A traditional Jewish round yeast bun, with a chewy crust and a hole in the centre.

Bagna cauda

A dip for raw vegetables made from butter, anchovies, garlic and oil.


Also known as a French stick, a baguette is easily recognisable by its classic long, thin distinctive shape.

Baileys Irish Cream

A creamy, sweet blend of Irish whiskey and cream.

Bain marie

Can mean a large pan of hot water, or 'bath', in which a smaller pan is placed for cooking contents or to keep foods warm, or a double saucepan with water in the lower half.

Bake blind

To bake a pie crust without a filling.

Baking powder

This is made from bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and a mild acid (usually cream of tartar).


A traditional Middle Eastern sweet pastry made up of layers of filo pastry brushed with melted butter and sweetened chopped nuts.

Balsamic glaze

A rich, flavoursome syrupy glaze made from balsamic vinegar produced in Modena in Italy.

Balsamic vinegar

A dark brown vinegar from Modena, Italy, made from reduced grape juice aged in wooden casks. The best quality product can be over 100 years old but is more commonly sold at 3 to 4 years of age.

Bamboo shoots

These, as the name suggests are the young edible shoots of different varieties of bamboo plants.

Bamboo shoots:

Cone-shaped, light-coloured shoots of tropical bamboo, usually sold canned in Chinese or oriental provision stores.

Bara brith

A traditional cake-like fruit bread from Wales.

Barbary duck

Bred in large quantities in France, Barbary duck is less fatty than the common duck. It requires careful basting when cooking so that it doesn’t dry out.


To cover lean meat cuts with a layer of speck or bacon to prevent them from drying out during the cooking process.


Much used herb in Mediterranean cookery.

Basmati rice

Basmati is an Indian rice with very small but long grains, with a distinctive flavour. It should be rinsed before cooking.


A white sea fish with three varieties - silver, sea and striped - sold as steaks and fillets. Can be barbecued, grilled, steamed, poached or baked. Good with strong flavourings.


To brush or spoon pan juices, rendered fat or a special basting mixture over meat while oven-roasting or grilling to prevent it from drying out. A spoon, basting brush, baster or even a few sprigs of fresh herbs, tied together and lightly crushed, may be


Moistening meat or poultry with pan juices during roasting by using a spoon or bulb baster.


A rather thin, creamy mixture consisting mainly of eggs, plain flour and milk.

Batterie de cuisine

An expression, commonly used by top chefs, to describe the essential equipment every good cook needs for the preparation of food in the kitchen.

Bay boletes or boletus

This wild mushroom is often found in areas where conifers grow. A member of the ‘cep’ family (cep in France, porcini in Italy), it is a robust and meaty mushroom that dries well. Often used in risottos or omelettes or simply fried with a little garlic

Bay leaves

These are the leaves of a southern European evergreen shrub Lauracea Laurus nobilis. They are an important component of a bouquet garni.

B©arnaise sauce

A classic French sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, white wine, tarragon, black peppercorns and shallot. It is finished with egg yolks and butter. It is good served with any plain meat or fish.

B©chamel sauce

A white sauce given extra flavour by infusing the milk with carrot, onion, celery, black peppercorns, blade mace and bay leaf for 30 minutes. B©chamel is the base for many other sauces and was named after its inventor, Louis XIV's steward Louis de B©cha


A cognac-based herbal liqueur.

Bean curd:

Fermented soya beans pressed into a slab.

Bean sprouts:

The young sprouts of the mung bean


There are many varieties of bean; they can be divided into two main groups: those with edible pods (green beans), including the French bean and the runner bean, and those of which only the seeds are eaten, such as haricot beans.


Mixing food to introduce air, to make it lighter and fluffier, using a wooden spoon, hand whisk or electric mixer.

Beef dripping

Dripping is the fat that drips from a joint during roasting, it is clarified and forms a solid fat that is sold in blocks.

Beef olives

Meat cut into thin slices, rolled up with a filling.

Beurre mani©

French for ‘kneaded butter’, beurre mani© is a paste of flour and softened butter, usually in equal parts, used to thicken sauces and stews.


Another name for the vegetable okra or ladies fingers.

Bicarbonate of soda

Also known as baking soda or sodium bicarbonate.


These tiny dark bluish purple summer berries are similar in appearance to small blueberries.

Bimblim / Bilimbi:

Sour, gherkin-shaped fruit. It is used as a souring agent.


Adding eggs, cream, melted fat or roux panada to a dry mixture to hold it together.


Traditional Italian almond biscuits also known as Cantuccini.


A rich, creamy soup, usually made with shellfish.


Small meat patty made from raw minced beet and bread, and bound together with egg.


A pungent shrimp paste used in very small amounts as seasoning in Thai soups and curries.

Black beans, fermented:

Soya beans, strongly flavoured and preserved

Black bream

The black bream is a dark grey sea fish with tough scales that need to be removed before cooking; relatively inexpensive, it is delicious either as fillets, stuffed or baked.

Black butter

A classic accompaniment to fish, particularly skate and plaice. Made by browning butter in a pan and adding lemon juice and parsley.

Black pepper

The pepper plant is a climbing vine, native to India, Java and the Sunda Islands. The fruits ripen from green to red and finally to brown. Black pepper is whole red peppercorns, sold dried. They can be used whole, crushed or ground to add heat and flavour

Black potatoes

Varieties of potato with deep purple flesh which are known individually as Purple Congo potatoes, Blue Salad potatoes or Truffe de Chine.

Black pudding

A type of sausage made from blood (usually pig's), cereal (such as oatmeal) and fat (often suet) and flavoured with herbs and spices.

Black Russian

Large, full-flavoured tomato with dark purply-black skin. Good for slicing, in salads, stuffing and baking with garlic and parsley.

Black treacle

Made by refining molasses (a by-product of sugar refining).


Vegetables are placed in boiling water for a few minutes (the exact time depends on the type of vegetable) and are then drained and dipped in iced water. The vegetables are now ready for freezing. Green vegetables prepared this way retain their colour dur


Veal, poultry or rabbit stew in a creamy sauce

Blini (bliny)

Pancake made of buckwheat and yeast, and traditionally served with caviar and sour cream.

Bluefin tuna

Regarded as the highest grade tuna; used in top-class restaurants for sashimi and sushi.



Bok choi

Also known as pak choi, this leafy-green Chinese vegetable belongs to the cabbage family. It is best suited to brief stir-frying or steaming to keep its mild flavour.

Bollito misto

Italian dish of pieces of meat boiled in stock, including chicken, ox tongue, pigs’ trotters. Served on New Year’s Eve in northern Italy with lentils and preserved, candied fruit. The meat represents good health, the lentils wealth and the fruit good

Bolognese sauce

Rag¹ bolognese, also known simply as rag¹, is the all-purpose thick Italian sauce made from minced beef and tomatoes. It can form the basis of lasagne or be served with spaghetti.

Bombay duck

Dried fish from India and Bangladesh, crumbled over stews and curries.

Bombil / Bombay duck:

Bombil / Bombay duck: is a slim, soft fish, tastes best batter or crumb fried.


Large fish from the same family as tuna and mackerel. Bonito is an oily fish and is prepared in the same way as tuna.

Borlotti beans

A large, plump bean, pinkish brown in colour with reddish brown streaks; rarely found fresh in this country but readily available dried, it is widely used in Italian cooking.

Borsch or borscht

Eastern European soup usually made with beetroot, and served with a good dollop of soured cream.


A little puff pastry case, slightly larger than a vol-au-vent, baked blind and filled with a sweet or savoury filling. A pastry lid may be placed on top.


Stew made of a variety of fish, saffron and tomatoes, traditionally associated with the Provence region of France, especially Marseilles. There are many 'authentic' recipes for bouillabaisse.

Bouquet garni

A French term meaning a bunch of herbs.


In the style of Burgundy, e.g. cooked with red wine.


Browning in hot fat and then cooking slowly, in a covered pot, with vegetables and a little liquid.


A traditional South African stew prepared only with mutton or lamb.


Salt and water solution used for pickling and preserving.


Soft bread made of rich yeast dough, slightly sweetened.


Cut of beef from the belly, used for slow roasting, casseroles, stews or mince.


Skewer used for grilling chunks of meat, fish and vegetables over charcoal or under a grill.




U.S. term for grilling.


To fry meat in a mixture of cooking oil and butter until brown, before cooking it using one of the moist-heat cooking methods. Browning improves the flavour and appearance of the meat.


A dense, chewey cake, usually made with chocolate in a large tin and cut into squares.


Searing the outer surface of meat to seal in the juices


Applied to dishes such as cream custards finished with caramelised sugar glaze.


Italian bread, sliced and grilled or toasted then brushed with garlic and olive oil. Served as a starter or snack with a variety of toppings. A French baguette would make a good alternative.


A type of grain used extensively in eastern European cooking. Buckwheat flour is traditionally used to make blinis - small pancakes eaten with caviar.


Buttermilk is the liquid that is left over when milk is churned to butter. It has a sour taste and is often used in scones and soda breads. It can also be used to replace milk for a healthier milkshake.

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