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Sizzle Glossary

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Glossary of terms from Sizzle - Sensational Barbecue

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Ancho chilli

A dried poblano chilli, brick-red to mahogany in colour, with a sweet, mild and fruity flavour. Ancho are usually toasted to develop the flavour and then soaked to soften before use.
Aubergine (eggplant)

There’s no need to salt aubergines unless there is a lot of green immediately under the skin (the greenness indicates immaturity, which may make the aubergine taste bitter). In this case slice or cut aubergine as directed, then place layers in a colander sprinkling each layer with salt. Put a plate under the colander and leave aubergine to drain for 30 minutes, then pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper and carry on with the recipe.
This long stick of crusty bread is also known as French bread or a French stick.
Balsamic vinegar
This superior vinegar, a specialty of Modena in Italy, is made using a centuries-old technique. The juice of trebbiano grapes is boiled down to a syrup, then poured into wooden barrels where it is left for at least five years, in some cases much longer. The resulting vinegar is aromatic, spicy and sweet-sour to taste and should be used sparingly. Most of the cheap balsamic vinegars contain caramel, not grape syrup.
Banana leaves
Banana leaves can be used as a plate on which to serve barbecued food (wash and shake dry first). If the middle rib is removed the leaves can be shaped into cones and used as food containers. Pass the banana leaves over a flame to soften them and make them flexible, or blanch in boiling water for a few seconds. The softened leaves can also be used as wrappers for fish, vegetables and meats. Use natural string to tie the parcels.
Ground from a type of chick pea, this flour is used as a thickener, in batters, and as a flavouring. It’s also known as channa flour.
Bird’s eye chillies
These small, hot chilli peppers with a fruity, plummy flavour provide a tingle on the tongue when used in moderation, and an explosive fiery heat when used generously. Dried bird’s eye chillies are stipulated throughout this book. Use whole or crushed, as directed.
Toasted bread (preferably ciabatta or thick-crusted textural bread) rubbed with garlic and doused with extra virgin olive oil.
Butterflied leg of lamb
To butterfly a leg of lamb, remove the bone and trim away excess fat. A good butcher will butterfly a leg of lamb for you at no cost. The lamb can then be seasoned, rolled and tied before roasting, or cooked flat on the barbecue.
The term buttermilk was used to describe the liquid residue of milk or cream after it was churned to make butter. These days ‘cultured’ buttermilk is made by adding a natural culture to standard milk or skimmed milk. The addition of buttermilk makes baked items (e.g. scones) lighter, as well as adding a slight tang.
Capers, salted
Capers are the unopened flower buds of a Mediterranean shrub. Picked while still tightly clenched, they are dried in the sun, then layered in barrels with rock salt or with vinegar. It is this process which enhances their flavour. Capers packed in salt have a more authentic caper flavour than those packed in vinegar or brine. Check that the salt is white, not yellowing (an indication of age). Wash off loose salt before using and soak the capers in several changes of warm water until they lose any excessive salty taste. If using capers in brine, drain them well, rinse under running water and leave to drain again before using.
Chicken fillet (tenderloin)
This is the long, thin pointy strip of tender meat that can easily be separated from the breast itself. Use sliced chicken breast as a substitute.
Chorizo sausages
A Spanish pork sausage flavoured with paprika and garlic of varying degrees of hotness. Fresh, soft chorizo sausages need to be cooked, but dried versions can be served in the same way as salami, or sliced and fried and served hot as tapas.
Italian in origin, ciabatta is a slipper-shaped flattish loaf of bread with a holey texture, a distinctive sour taste and a thin, chewy crust. Use it fresh, rebake it until crisp, or use for bruschetta.
Coconut cream, canned
A thick form of coconut milk that separates in the can into two distinct components: a rich cream and a watery liquid. Either scoop off the rich cream from the top and use as directed in curries, sauces or desserts (the watery liquid is good to use in soups, curries or baking, or to cook rice) or shake the can to get a smooth milk.
Couscous, instant
The little dried semolina pellets, which constitute instant couscous, can be quickly softened in hot water or stock and served in place of rice or potatoes.
Craisins are dried cranberries that have been halved and then sweetened to make them palatable (fresh cranberries are too astringent to eat without sugar). Known as a nutrient-dense fruit, rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, they’re a proven preventative of urinary tract infections. Craisins contain all the goodness of cranberries. Nibble on them as you would raisins or dried fruit; add to fresh and dried fruit salads; use in stuffings for turkey, chicken, duck and quail; or add to muffins and fruit loaves.
Creamy Dijon mustard
A rich and creamy mustard flecked with crushed mustard seeds, use this as you would Dijon mustard (although you can be more generous with it because it is quite mild). It’s particularly good in dressings because it helps to thicken and emulsify.
Cumin seeds, toasted
Toasting cumin seeds gives them a rich earthy aroma and flavour. Put the seeds in a small, dry frying pan and set it over a medium heat. Toast the seeds for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until they start popping, darken in colour and smell fragrant. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder, or pulverise them with a mortar and pestle. Toast more than you need and store the remainder in an airtight jar once cool.
Demerara sugar
These hard light-brown crystals with a mild caramel flavour get their name from Demerara, Guyana. They are especially good to use for forming a crunchy topping on baking. Dried oregano, Sicilian and Greek A particularly sweet and fragrant form of oregano which becomes more potent once it is dried, it should be stored in a container away from light. Before using, rub it between the palms of your hands to release its fragrance.
A ground mixture of fragrant spices and nuts which can be used as a dunk with bread and oil, as well as a flavouring in and on things, or stirred into yoghurt and served as a sauce.
Fish sauce
A thin pungent sauce made from salted fermented fish, which (although it sounds revolting) is the key flavouring in many Asian dishes. It works by seasoning the food rather than imparting a fishy flavour.
When ginger is very young and fresh, it has the texture of a crisp apple and doesn’t need peeling; at this stage it is milder in flavour and can be used liberally. Look for plump, firm clumps of ginger (called hands), avoiding any that are withered, as they will be pungent and coarsely textured. The best way to store ginger is to wrap it in absorbent kitchen paper and keep it in the vegetable crisper. This prevents it from getting moist and then rotting (it will eventually shrivel). It can also be kept in the freezer in a zip-lock bag and grated from the frozen state, and it can be immersed in a jar of sherry, providing an aromatic liquid to add to Chinese-inspired dishes.
Greek yoghurt
This thick and creamy yoghurt is usually made from sheep’s milk. If not available, place the required amount of natural yoghurt in a sieve lined with a piece of absorbent kitchen paper. Drain for 30–60 minutes before carefully turning out into a bowl, and peeling off the paper.
Sometimes spelled haloumy, in Cyprus this salty sheep’s milk cheese is flavoured with dried mint and in Lebanon with black cumin seed. It is squeaky and rubbery when raw, and meltingly tender when heated.
Kaffir lime leaves
The fresh leaves of the makrut lime tree are wonderfully fragrant, smelling somewhat sweeter than lime zest, and fresh and citrusy clean. They can be rolled and sliced exceedingly thin (it’s best to remove the leaf stem first), and added to uncooked dishes, or the double-leafed leaf (shaped like two arrowheads pointing in opposite directions) can be added whole to curries, stuffed inside fish or floated in soups. Dried leaves are a poor substitute; use lime zest or lemon zest instead.
Kecap manis
Also known as ketjap manis, this Indonesian thick and sweet soy sauce – made from soya beans, palm sugar and spices including star anise – is available from Asian food stores. Refrigerate after opening.
Kumara are sweet potatoes. They make a great mash and can be used successfully in soups and salads, pies and quiches. They also roast well and make great fries. Kumara can be baked in their jackets or skins, which are particularly nutritious.
Lamb shortloin
This boneless lean piece of meat (about 20cm long and weighing around 200g) is cut from the middle loin and is obtained by removing the rack and cutting between the twelfth and thirteenth ribs. It is also known as lamb backstrap.
Lamb tenderloins
Like the eye fillet of beef, this piece is the tenderest of all the lamb cuts. It’s a small lean strip, 2–3cm thick, about 20cm long (once trimmed) with the grain running lengthways. Remove the silverskin before using. Allow 2 per person, and cook for 2–3 minutes only.
Lemon- and mandarin-infused olive oil
These extra virgin olive oils infused with citrus essences are reasonably easy to source but if not available, use extra virgin olive oil to which has been added a little finely grated zest and juice of an orange or lemon.
Mango cheeks
This term refers to the fleshy ‘cheeks’ on each side of the large, flat mango seed.
Manuka honey
The honey made from the flowers of the manuka tree (native to New Zealand) possesses an earthy, oily, herbaceous aroma and flavour. Rich, dark and intense, it has antibacterial and anti- fungal properties. As a substitute use an intensely flavoured thick honey.
Minced meat
Minced meat quickly loses its freshness due to its preparation and exposure to air. Buy freshly minced meat and use on day of purchase or soon after. Cook thoroughly.
A specialty sausage from Bologna traditionally made from pure pork, it has a captivating aroma and a mild spicy, savoury flavour. Available in sizes from 500g up to a giant sausage weighing 100kg!
Mozzarella, bocconcini
Traditionally, mozzarella was made from buffalo’s milk, but it is now usually made from cow’s milk and sold as a fresh cheese or vacuum-packed in whey. Bocconcini is the Italian name for small bite-sized balls of mozzarella.
Mozzarella, buffalo
Mozzarella cheese made from buffalo’s milk is softer and creamier than cow’s milk mozzarella, with a high moisture content and a delicate sweet milky-earthy flavour. It melts more easily than cow’s milk mozzarella.
Olives, queen
These large green olives originate in Spain. With their meaty texture and sweet and mildly briny flavour, they’re good for using in cooked dishes and on kebabs as they hold together.
Parmesan cheese
Authentic parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) has an intoxicating aroma and a spicy flavour with an interesting granular texture. Parmesan lookalikes tend to be highly seasoned, soapy, dry, coarse-textured or inferior in some way. Real parmesan melts without running, browns well, isn’t greasy and doesn’t become rubbery. It is quickly digested (even by infants) and low in calories. Buy it in the piece, keep it treble-wrapped in aluminium foil and store it in the door or the coolest part of the fridge. If storing for a long period, change the foil every so often and wipe the rind clean. Grate parmesan as required, because it quickly loses its aroma and flavour.
All parsley used in the recipes in this book is of the flat-leafed variety, often called Italian parsley. It has a fresh, grassy flavour. Regular parsley can be substituted if it’s not available.
This long thin and soft Turkish bread can be toasted or crisped in the oven, split and filled.
Pine nuts
Pine nuts are the seeds of the stone pine. Small and creamy coloured, when the nuts are fresh they smell sweet and aromatic and have a nutty creamy taste. More expensive than other nuts because they are difficult to harvest, they require a period of drying during which time the cones ripen and reveal the nuts within. Use pine nuts whole in sweet and savoury dishes. Pine nuts turn rancid quite quickly; buy them in small quantities and store in a container in the freezer.
Polenta is a type of porridge, usually made from ground corn, which is cooked by slowly adding it to boiling liquid, usually water or sometimes milk, and cooking until it thickens. It can be served as is, with butter and cheese, or topped with a meaty sauce or stew, or cooled and cut into shapes and fried, grilled or baked. In the Vento region of Italy you’ll find a white polenta which has a milder corn flavour. It is often sold pre-boiled, in a slab, ready to fry, grill or bake. Polenta can also be made from buckwheat, a specialty of Treviso, Italy. It remains a staple food in the north of Italy and it’s also popular in Tuscany. It is standard fare in most Balkan countries, too.
Polenta, instant
Regular polenta gives off a pronounced corn aroma as it cooks and has a richer corn taste and ‘gruntier’ texture than instant polenta, but most people will find these differences hard to detect. If you’re a purist use regular polenta, which will take around 25 minutes to cook. But if you’re a speedy cook, opt for the instant variety – it will cook in about 5 minutes.
Potatoes are either waxy or floury, but some potatoes are less waxy or less floury than others and are known as all-purpose potatoes. All-purpose potatoes do most jobs well, but may not shine at any particular one.
Waxy potatoes
Waxy describes the texture of the potato. New potatoes are waxy because their sugar has not yet converted to starch, as it will with age. Waxy potatoes are good for salads because the potato holds together after slicing or dicing. And if you want to add potatoes to a casserole, use waxy ones because they will hold their shape. Examples: most freshly-dug spring potatoes such as Jersey bennes, early season desiree, early season Duke of York, draga, concorde, maris anchor, nicola, kipfler.
Floury potatoes
Floury describes the texture of the potato. A floury potato is low in moisture and sugar and high in starch. Floury potatoes are excellent for mashing and for roasting and cooking in embers. They also make good chips and wedges. Use floury potatoes to thicken soups because they will dissolve in the soup and thicken the liquid. Examples: agria, rua, Dakota, russet Burbank, desiree, sebago, King Edward.
This is the French term for a baby chicken weighing around 450–500g.
Sometimes referred to as Parma ham, this is sold either as prosciutto crudo, a raw ham cured by air and salt (not, as is often presumed, by smoking) or prosciutto cotto, a cooked version. In this book, prosciutto refers to the raw, cured ham. It is sliced very thin with a strip of sweet-tasting fat attached (the fat is part of the experience, giving the cured meat a softer edge). It can be served as an antipasto component, used to wrap around food, or added to stuffings and pasta sauces.
This means to rinse with water. Vegetables are refreshed with a cup or two of cold water after blanching or cooking for any of the following reasons: to halt the cooking process, to remove strong flavours, or to help keep the colour. When refreshing pasta or rice, use warm water, as cold makes the starch tacky.
Salt is the most indispensable ingredient in the kitchen. It draws out nuances of flavour which, had the food been left unsalted, may have lain dormant. Compensating for not using salt in the cooking by sprinkling it on the cooked food is not the same – you are likely to taste only salt.
Sambal oelek
Made from pounded chillies, salt and vinegar or tamarind, a sambal (meaning relish or sauce) is used to spice up dishes. Sometimes spelled sambal ulek or sambal olek, it is available as a pre-prepared condiment.
Sea salt
Comprising small crystalline flakes of salt, a good sea salt is completely natural, has no additives or bitter aftertaste and has a less aggressive taste than common table salt. Sea salt flakes are easily crumbled and dissolve in dressings and sauces (rock salt is much harder and should not be used on top of baked items, such as bread, because it becomes hard enough to crack teeth – it’s good for quickly salting a large saucepan of boiling water).
Shallots, crisp fried
You can cook sliced shallots gently for 30–40 minutes until crisp or buy them ready-made from Asian food stores. Sprinkle them over dishes or add to peanut sauces or condiments. They’re wonderfully sweet and mildly pungent.
Shallots, fresh
These small clusters of bulbs that grow like garlic have a mild onion flavour and can be used raw, or fried or roasted. As their size varies greatly, in this book I have specified a cup quantity of sliced shallots (e.g. ½ cup), rather than a quantity of bulbs.
Sherry vinegar
Sherry vinegar, from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, is made by the traditional ageing method used for making fine wines and sherry (which involves aging it for at least six months, and sometimes for years). It’s sharp and refreshing, with hints of oak and caramel. Use sparingly in sauces, gravies and stuffings, or splashed over vegetables and meats.
Splatter screen
This useful round fine-wire mesh screen can be placed over a frying pan while food is frying. It lets air come and go but confines most of the splatters to within the pan – and it’s dishwasher proof.
Sugar, granulated
Granulated sugar is just another way to describe regular white sugar (the sort you serve with tea). It’s used in syrups because it produces a clearer result than the more ‘dusty’ caster sugar, which can produce a cloudy syrup. Caster sugar is finer and is used in baking because it is easier to cream with butter or mix with other ingredients.
Sugar, palm
Palm sugar is made from the sap extracted from young palms, boiled down to a syrup. It has an intense, sweet caramel-like flavour. Grate or chop before use. Store any leftover palm sugar in an airtight container.
This thick, oily paste made from toasted sesame seeds is also known as tahina. Mix with yoghurt and garlic or with cooked, mashed aubergine and garlic to make a delicious dip.
Thai basil
Thai basil (horapa) has a subtle, sweet licorice flavour, quite different to the deeply aromatic herb associated with Italian cooking, and is used to flavour curries, soups and salads.
Tomatoes, canned
Tomatoes need lots of sun to develop their full, sweet flavour. Italian canned tomatoes generally have a vibrant orangey-red colour, a meaty texture with few seeds, thick (not watery) juice, and a sweet, fruity taste that tastes as if they’ve been packed in sunshine.
Tomatoes, green
Unripe green tomatoes are crisp and fruity tasting and have quite an acidic bite. They can be floured or crumbed and fried, or used in salads. You’ll need to order them from your greengrocer.
Tomatoes, Roma
These oval-shaped fleshy tomatoes are good for sauce because they have more flesh than water. They’re also good for slow-roasting.
Tomatoes, skinning
When tomatoes are eaten fresh, as in a salad, there is usually no need to remove the skins unless they are tough. But if the tomatoes are to be used in soups, sauces or vegetable stews, it is advisable to do so. The skin tends to separate from the flesh during cooking and float to the surface. It has a tough texture and looks unappetising. Another reason to discard them is because cooked tomato skins are not easily digested. The skins can be removed by immersing the tomato in hot water so it swells, making the skin taut and causing it to burst. Do this by dropping the tomatoes into a saucepan of boiling water and leave for 12–20 seconds, depending on how ripe they are. Lift out the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of cold water. If a tomato is difficult to peel, repeat the process. If the tomato looks fluffy or furry, it was in the water for too long and has started to cook; reduce the time for any further tomatoes.
Tomatoes, vine-ripened
Tomatoes ripened on the vine have much more flavour than those grown indoors. Use them in salads.
Vanilla extract
Vanilla essence is a cheap imitation form of vanilla. Look for vanilla extract, which is made from real vanilla.
Verjuice, made from unripened white grapes, is used as an acidulant in much the same way vinegar and lemon juice are used, although it is milder than both. Use verjuice to deglaze pans and roasting dishes, or add it to vinaigrettes and sauces. Refrigerate once opened.

   © 2010 Julie Biuso
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