Al dente: In Italian, it means “to the tooth” or “to the bite”. The term is used to describe the texture to which pasta should be cooked so that it is firm but not hard.
Baking powder: A leavening agent (powder which contains sodium bicarbonate) used in cakes, muffins and fluffy pan-fried sweet cakes (pancakes, waffles).
Blanched almonds: Almonds from which the skins have been removed. To do this, blanch the almonds in boiling water for a few seconds and squeeze them between the fingertips to remove the skins.
Blanching:Briefly submerging a food in boiling water. It may be used to clean almonds, soften tender greens or make citrus fruits less bitter.
Bresaola:An Italian charcuterie of air-dried beef with a dark red colour and superb flavour.
Capers: A thorny plant that grows mainly in rocky or uncultivated ground; it adds flavour to salads and sauces and may be pickled and stored in vinegar. It is best picked fresh in May, June and July.
Castor sugar: A very fine sugar with the smallest crystals. It dissolves easily and is used in custards, mousse and meringues.
Chives: Their taste is somewhat similar to onions, but finer and more delicate, and their green leaves are very thin and cut with scissors. They add a decorative touch to soups and salads.
Confit:Fruit or vegetables preserved in sugar for several hours with brandy poured over them. The term is also used for meats or poultry preserved in their own fat. The best known types are duck or goose confits.
Cornflour:Flour made from corn. It is a powder used to thicken sauces or custards. Niseste, or cornstarch, is a similar product.
Cretan cherry tomatoes:Small tomatoes usually sold in bunches with a wonderful sweet flavour and tight, crisp skin. They are great in salads, as well as in summer pies.
Cultivated mushrooms:These mushrooms are cultivated and can be found year-round. There are small, medium and large ones and may be called champignons. Oyster mushrooms have also become popular cultivated varieties.
Foie gras: ΣThe light-coloured, fattened liver of the goose for which geese are specially raised (and force-fed) in certain areas of south-western France. An exquisite and very expensive deli item.
Gorgonzola: An Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It is in the same category as Roquefort cheese, but it is softer, milder, creamier and less salty.
Gratin: A food that is cooked or finished off in the oven so that it acquires a golden brown crust on top using grated cheese and breadcrumbs.
Mediterranean Hartwort:Small plants with serrated leaves and an intense fragrance (in some areas they are called shepherd’s needle). It is essential in making Greek pies and particularly popular in the Peloponnese, Crete, the Ionian Islands and Santorini.
Mélange: In French, it means “mixture”, and comes from the verb “melanger” which means “mix”.
Pecorino: A hard Italian cheese used in the same way as parmesan. It has a sharp, penetrating and salty taste.
Purslane: A refreshing succulent leaf vegetable that can be added raw to summer salads with garlic and yoghurt. It may be stored in vinegar or white wine and in salt. In Izmir and the Turkish coastal areas, it is also added to chicken casseroles.
Shelled walnut:The fruit of the walnut after removing the hard shell.
Sorrels: Greens with a tart flavour collected in fields in spring and winter. They add flavour to pies and risottos.
Stinging nettles: Stinging nettles have a fine aroma and sweet flavour and are used mainly in Crete as a pie filling, but also in soups and risotto. The only drawback is the histamine in their leaves which can cause allergic skin reactions.
Sun-dried tomatoes: Tomatoes that have been dried in the sun and dehydrated. They are usually stored in olive oil and make a wonderful addition to salads along with fresh white cheeses, or used in pasta dishes.
Tomato concassé: Peeled, chopped tomatoes in a tin, ready to use and available from a variety of tomato product companies.
Tyrovolia: A sour cheese from Mykonos. Kopanisti cheese is made from this, either sour or salty or sweet.
Vrouves (sinapis): Vrouves” in Greece refers to all the wild greens eaten as vegetables. In fact, there are five types of plants which all belong to this category of sinapis (white and black mustard, hill mustard, hedge mustard, Greek mustard).