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Paella

A traditional Spanish dish of rice and saffron that usually includes tomatoes, chicken and seafood

Pak choi

Also known as bok 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.

Pancakes

Also known as crªpes. Thin, flat cakes made by shallow frying on both sides a thin layer of batter of flour, milk and eggs. Can be sweet or savoury, served by themselves or used to wrap other ingredients.

Pancetta

Cured belly pork used in Italian cookery, usually either in thin slices or thicker cubes. Its flavour is salty, sweet and slightly aniseed. Either dry fry in its own juices or fry in oil and then use to flavour the rest of the dish. It can be grilled unti

Panettone

A large round yeasted fruit cake from Italy, traditionally eaten at Christmas and Easter. It can be served as a dessert, accompanied by a sweet wine.

Papaya

Also called a paw paw. A fruit with green skin, fragrant and sweet orange flesh and black seeds.

Papillote (en)

The term en papilotte is used to describe a dish cooked in a parcel that protects the food from the high heat of the oven and keeps in the aroma and flavour. The dish is usually served in the parcel so that each diner can unwrap their own. Greaseproof pap

Pappad

Pappad, flat, sun-dried wafers made from moth beans (moth dal) paste. This is eaten fried or roasted as a snack, and gravied as a main course dish.

Paprika

Milder than cayenne, paprika is the ground red powder of mild and hot peppers and is an important ingredient in Hungarian goulash and in Spanish sausages and salamis.

Parboil

To boil vegetables until half cooked. Used to part-cook potatoes and other hard root vegetables prior to roasting them at a high temperature to ensure that the inside is cooked while the outside crisps up well.

Parma ham

Leg of pork which has been treated with salt and spices before being matured for a few months under special temperature- and moisture-controlled conditions. Unlike other hams, Parma ham is never cooked or smoked. Also known as prosciutto, Parma ham is Ita

Parmesan

Hard, grainy cow's-milk cheese extensively used in Italian cuisine, often grated over dishes, as in spaghetti bolognese. Parmigiano reggiano is the true parmesan cheese, manufactured from 15th April to 11th November in the province of Parma and also Bolog

Parsley

Herb used as flavouring and garnish or eaten as a vegetable. Available as curly or flat-leafed varieties.

Pashka

A traditional Russian dessert for celebrating Easter. Made from curd cheese, cream, almonds, chocolate and dried fruit.

Passata

A smooth tomato sauce that you can buy in bottles or packets, with or without herbs.

Pasta

A dough made from durum-wheat semolina, water and often eggs which is kneaded and cut into a wide variety of shapes. Eaten with sauces, stuffed, or added to soups for bulk. Bought fresh or dried, it is used in dishes from Italy to China. It is sold dried

Pasteurising

Method of sterilising milk by heating it to 60 - 82°C (140 - 180°F) to destroy the bacteria. The term is derived from Louis Pasteur, who developed the method pastry Dough made with flour, butter and water and baked or deep-fried until crisp.

Pastrami

Usually prepared from the brisket, pastrami is well-seasoned pickled beef and gets its name from the Romanian word, pastra, to preserve. After the meat has been cured, it is rolled in a special mixture, obtainable commercially from spice merchants, and th

Pastry funnel

If the filling of a pie is not firm enough to mound, support the pastry by placing a pastry funnel in the centre of the dish before putting in the filling. After placing the pastry on top of the filling, cut a few small slits in the pastry or a cross on t

Pastry wheel

Small, serrated wooden or metal wheel for cutting and fluting pastry.

Pasty

Small pastry pie with a savoury filling.

Patty pan

Small, circular, green or yellow courgette with fluted edges.

Paupiette

Thin slice of meat or fish rolled round a savoury filling.

Pave

#1. Cold savoury mousse mixture set in a square mould coated with aspic jelly. #2. Square sponge cake, filled with butter cream and coated with icing.

P¢t©

Literally, a p¢t© is a French pie, but the word is now most often taken to mean a rich paste made of liver and other meats, a p¢t© en terrine.

P©rigeux

P©rigeux sauce is a demi-glace sauce made with the addition of finely diced or chopped truffles. It is served with small cuts of meat, poultry or game.

Peanut

Also known as a groundnut. This edible nut is the seed of a member of the pea family, not a true nut. The pods mature underground and each contain 2-4 seeds. Peanuts can be roasted, salted and eaten whole or used in cooked dishes. Peanut or groundnut oil

Pearl barley

De-husked barley grains, used in soup.

Pease pudding

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

Pecan

A North American nut related to the walnut, high in vitamins and minerals. Widely used in sweets, especially pecan pie, but can be used in savoury dishes.

Pectin

Substance extracted from fruit and vegetables. Used to set jellies and jams.

Penne

Pasta tubes shaped like quills.

Peppercorns

White, green and black peppercorns are berries from the same plant, picked at different stages of maturity, and are used whole and ground.

Percolator

Two-part coffee pot which forces boiling water from lower half up through coffee grains contained in upper half, and then filtered through.

Perdrix

Partridge.

Perry

An alcoholic drink, similar to cider, made from varieties of perry pears; the single variety perry is still and made by artisan producers who may be hard to find, but sparkling perry is readily available in supermarkets.

Pesto

A green Italian sauce for pasta, typically made from pine nuts blended with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. The sauce can be stirred into freshly cooked pasta, spooned on to thick soups, toasted on bread or added to mayonnaise and sala

Petit four

#1. Tiny sponge cakes, iced and decorated. #2. Small fruits, e.g. grapes and cherries, coated in sugar glaze. #3. Marzipan coloured and shaped to resemble miniature fruits.

Petit pois

Tiny young green peas.

Pickle

To preserve meat or vegetables in brine or vinegar solution

Pilaff

A dish of savoury rice to which meat, fish or chicken may be added.

Pilchard

Pilchards are an oil-rich fish. Sardines, which are baby pilchards, are sold whole, fresh or frozen while pilchards are mainly processed and canned.

Pimento

Green or red pepper.

Pine nut

Pine nut or pine kernel. The small edible seed of the stone pine which grows in the Mediterranean region. Pine nuts are rich in protein and oily - so they tend to go rancid quite quickly. They are used in many savoury dishes, especially vegetarian ones.

Pink fir apple

A knobbly, pinky-beige skinned, waxy potato, good for use in salads

Pintado

Guinea fowl.

Pipe

To force meringue icing, savoury butter, potato puree, etc. through a forcing bag fitted with a nozzle, to decorate various dishes.

Piquante

Pleasantly sharp and appetising.

Piri-Piri

Piri-piri is an African word for chilli and also a hot chilli sauce used in Portuguese, African and Brazilian cookery. The Portuguese introduced chillies to their African colonies after discovering them in Brazil so piri-piri plays a major part in the fie

Pistachio

Nuts that have a distinctive open shell, allowing them to be roasted and salted whole. Eaten as a snack or used for cooking. Pistachios go best with veal, port and poulty. The green colour makes it very popular for creams and ice-creams. In confectionery

Pita bread

A Middle Eastern flat bread which can be opened up to form a pocket which cab be stuffed with a variety of fillings. Throughout the Middle East, pitas are served with meals or cut into wedges and used to dip in dishes such as baba ganoush and hummus.

Pitahaya

The fruit of a central American cactus, the pitahaya has a deep pink, dense flesh and mild sweet flavour. It adds vibrant colour to fruit salad.

Pith

In citrus fruit, the white cellular lining to the rind covering the flesh

Pizza

Open-faced pie consisting of a rich yeast dough, topped with tomatoes, cheese, anchovies and olives.

Pizzaiola

Meat or chicken, cooked in red wine, tomato sauce and flavoured with garlic.

Plaice

Orange-spotted flat sea fish available whole or in fillets. Can be grilled, fried or poached.

Plat du jour

Dish of the day.

Pluck

#1. Oftal. #2. To remove the feathers from a domesticated or game bird.

Poaching

Cooking food in simmering liquid, just below boiling point.

Polenta

A cornmeal porridge that is the traditional basic dish of northern Italy. Polenta can be eaten fresh or, when set, cooked in a variety of ways.

Polenta

Corn meal, made from maize, which is dried and ground.

Poppadom

A thin, lentil-flour round which when fried swells dramatically into a crunchy golden wafer. They are available at health food stores, supermarkets and delicatessens and are eaten with or crumbled over curries and other Indian dishes.

Poppy Seeds

Adds a nutty crunch to cakes, breads, fruits salads, cheese sauces, and noodle dishes.

Portabello mushroom

Flat dark open mushroom, good for roasting, baking and stuffing.

Porterhouse steak

2.5 cm (1 inch) slices which are cut from Scotch fillet (British/Australian porterhouse); 5 cm (2 inch) slices with bone and fillet which are cut from the loin in the section nearest to the rump and are usually roasted (American porterhouse).

Potage

Thick soup.

Poussin

A small immature chicken, sometimes called a spring chicken. As the bird is only four to six weeks' old, the flavour has not developed and there is not much flesh on the bones, but one bird is perfect for a single serving. Poussins benefit from a rich stu

Praline

A sweet made of almonds and sugar invented for the French Comte du Plessis-Praslin by his cook in the 1600s.

Prawn

Shellfish available in different varieties, fresh or frozen, in or out of shell. Can be boiled, steamed, fried or barbecued.

Preserved lemons

Popular in Moroccan dishes, these are lemons that have been preserved in brine

Preserving

Keeping food in good condition by treating with chemicals, heat, refrigeration, pickling in salt or boiling in sugar.

Prickly pear

The fruit of a type of cactus containing yellow or pink edible seeds with a sweet and mild flavour; care needs to be taken when handling this fruit as the prickly needles in the skin can stick into your hands.

Profiterole

A small bun made with choux pastry and usually filled with cream and covered with chocolate

Prosciutto

The Italian word for ham, used in the names of raw hams such as prosciutto di Parma. Parma ham is served in very thin slices.

Puff pastry

very light pastry made in layers that expand when cooked, leaving large air pockets inside. Used for sweet or savoury dishes.

Punch down

To deflate yeast dough after it has risen fully. It is not necessary to literally "punch" down the dough; it only needs to be gently deflated.

Pur©e

1. Sieved raw or cooked food. 2. Thick vegetable soup which is passed through a sieve or an electric liquidiser

Puy lentils

Small slatey-blue lentils grown in France and Italy that keep their shape during cooking.

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