Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking....X Y and Z

Well, we did it. We went through the entire alphabet of culinary terminology with this post of X, Y, and Z. By no means have we exhausted all the possibility terms, but we got a very good start.

As you know, the 2 Prickly Pears will be on a road trip to Florida. And what with getting settled we will be away from our blog for a few weeks. But don't dispare; we will be back with more words, more good recipes and lots and lots of tips to make your cooking oh so good.

So here they are, the final edition of culinary vocabulary:

Xavier - is a soup or consommé thickened with arrowroot or rice flour.]

Yam is a thick, starch tuber of various tropical vines native to Asia unrelated to the potato and sweet potato; has an off-white to dark brown skin, flesh that can range from creamy white to deep red and is less sweet that a sweet potato.
Yarrow - is an aromatic herb used in flavoring omelettes, stews and salads.
fresh yarrow
Yeast - is a raising agent. Yeast is a fungus which ferments sugars to produce carbon dioxide, which leavens flour mixtures.
Dried yeast
Yogurt - is a milk cultured with bacteria to give it a slightly thick consistency and sour flavor.


Zabaglione - is a whipped custard made with egg yolks and sugar gradually diluted over heat with Marsala or other wine, fruit juice, or liqueur.
Zander - is a large fresh-water fish with firm flesh.
Zest - is a thin, brightly colored outer part of the rind of citrus fruits. The oils make it ideal for use as a flavoring. Make sure you don't use the white (pith) just under the zest.  It is bitter.

Lemon Zest
Ziti - is long, thin tubes of macaroni.
Uncooked Ziti
Tips on Making the Perfect Pasta:
  1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of water for each pound of dry pasta. (You can divide this recipe depending on how much pasta you are cooking). Be sure to add plenty of salt to the water....should taste like the ocean.  This will add flavor to your pasta.
  2. Add the pasta with a stir and return the water to a boil.
  3. Stir the pasta occasionally during cooking.
  4. Follow the package directions for cooking times. If the pasta is to be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, undercook the pasta by 1/3 of the cooking time specified on the package.
  5. Taste the pasta to determine if it is done. Perfectly cooked pasta should be “al dente,” or firm to the bite, yet cooked through.
  6. Drain pasta immediately and follow the rest of the recipe.  NEVER rinse your pasta...NO NO and NO to rinsing.  Your pasta sause will cling to the pasta better.

Zucchini - is a moderately long cylindrical summer squash with smooth, dark green skin with a slightly bumpy surface, creamy white-green flesh and milk flavor; also known as a courgette (especially in Europe).
Zuppa Inglese - is an Italian version of the trifle.
Zuppa Inglese
Zwieback - is a biscuit or rusk that has been twice baked.
There you have it.  The X, Y and Z's of cooking terminology.  Not to mention the A, B, C's.....  We know you have been using your new words and creating nice dishes for yourself and family.  

Until we return, be well and go out and make something good!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Prickly Pear in Florida

Hello Kind Readers -

Very soon, Pam, Prickly Pear 2, will be moving to Florida.  She and I are taking a road trip to her new home.  This is a great change for Pam and a nice adventure for us both.  I'm honored to be her travel companion as she make this important and grand life change.

Our conclusion of the culinary terminology will be this coming Thursday. After that, we will be taking a short respite from the blog while we are on the road and getting Pam settled.  However, we will be chronically our travels with Facebook posts.  Many pictures will be taken and many, many tasty things will be experienced as we make our way south.

So look for us and we will keep you updated.  We'll be back with more posts on our blog soon.

The 2 Prickly Pears wish you peace and joy in all your life decisions.  As Prickly Pear 1 and the big sister to Prickly Pear 2, I wish Pam the best that life has to offer and more success and happiness than her heart and hands can hold!!!  I admire her courage and honor her talents and skills.

In the meantime, folks, go out and make something good. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking.....W

And so, we are on the "W's" in our never ending quest to understand culinary terminology.  Today is everything from wafers to woks.

Let's begin:

Wafer - is a thin, sweet biscuit.

A crispy wafer added to ice cream.
Waffle - a light, thin batter cake baked in a special grill called a waffle iron. Basic batter is the same as pancakes. This crisp, quick bread has a honeycombed surface of pockets that ideally hold puddles of butter and syrup.

a waffle with butter and syrup
Wasabi - is a spice that comes from a knobby green root of the Japanese plant wasbia japonica. It has the same warming or stinging nasal sensation as horseradish.

Wasabi plant
Wassail - is a festive drink consisting of wine (or ale) sweetened with sugar and flavoured with spices. This is an excellent holiday beverage for your winter parties.
Wassail at the holidays
Here's what you need:

1 1/2 quarts apple cider 
1 quart unsweetened cranberry juice
4 cinnamon sticks
10 allspice berries
1 small slice of ginger
1 orange, sliced
1/4 cup cranberries
1/2 - 1 cup brandy (optional)

Here's what you do:

Place all ingredients, except the brandy, in a large, non-reactive pot or crockpot and bring to a low boil.  Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Simmer for at least 2 hours (may be kept in a crock pot for 4 hours). About 15 minutes before serving, add the brandy and continue to simmer on low.

Strain out the spices and fruit and serve with cinnamon sticks and fresh slices of orange.
Watercress - a delicate leafy green from the mustard family with a peppery flavor.

Fresh watercress
Waterzooi - is a rich Belgian chicken or fish soup made with wine.

Water bath - is a gentle cooking technique in which a container is set in a pan of simmering water.

Water Chestnut - is the fruit of a water plant (genus Trapa) native to Southeast Asia; has a brownish-black skin, ivory to tan flesh, crisp texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavour; used in various Asian cuisine.

Water Chestnuts
Wellington - is a beef tenderloin baked in a rich dough until the meat is slightly rare and the crust is crisp and golden.

Beef Wellington

Welsh rarebit - is melted cheddar cheese, flavored with beer, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and served very hot over toast.

Welsh Rarebit
Whelk - is a marine snail.
Whip - is to beat a preparation with the goal of introducing air into it. Or, the balloon wire whisk often used to do so.

Whisk - to mix or vigorously move a mixture to aerate it i.e. to mix with a balloon whisk

White button mushrooms - is the most common variety of mushrooms with good earthy flavor. Can be eaten raw or cooked.

White Button Mushrooms
White chocolate - is cocoa butter flavored with sugar and milk solids. Does not contain cocoa solids.
White Chocolate
Wiener Schnitzel - a veal cutlet, breaded and fried.
Wiener Schnitzel
Wild Rice - the grains of a reed-like aquatic plant (Zizania aquatica) unrelated to rice; grown in the United States and Canada. The grains are long, slender and black, with a distinctive earthy, nutty flavor.
Wild Rice

Wok - is a bowl-shaped frying pan used typically in Chinese cooking.


We are very near the end of the alphabet. Just X, Y, and Z to go. Stay tune.

Now go out and make something good.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking....V

V follows U and that's where we are in our culinary vocabulary this week.  The V's offer us some unusual possibities and today's recipe is easy and will add great flavor to your baking.

Here we go.......

Vanilla  - is an essential flavoring that comes from the pod of a tropical vine, an orchid that climbs. It is commonly used in the United States as vanilla extract; it is also sold powdered or by the whole pod. In Europe, the pod is used to flavor sugar which is then used in baking.

Vanilla Beans
Vanilla extract - is an alcoholic solution that is intensely vanilla flavored.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract?  Here's how!

What you will need:
 9 medium vanilla beans
3 cups vodka or rum
Glass Jar or Bottle with tight fitting lid 

What you will need to do:

Using a sharp knife, slice the beans open lengthwise to expose the seeds. Tuck the beans in the jar and fill with liquor. Close the jar, shake it a few times, and place it in a cool, dark cabinet.

Let the jar rest in there for 8 weeks, shaking it again once or twice a week, or whenever you remember to. The mixture will get darker and darker over time.

You can start using your extract by the end of the eighth week. Use however much you need, and when you notice that you're running a little low -- that you've used, say, 20% of the extract -- top it off with more liquor (preferably of the same type) and shake again.
And every once in a while, when you're using a fresh bean in a recipe, you can add the empty pod.

If you continue to "feed" it this way, the extract will keep forever; just remove some of the older beans if the jar becomes too crowded.

Vanilla Sugar - is sugar flavored by vanilla beans. To make vanilla sugar, fill a large jar with sugar, break a vanilla bean in three pieces, press it into the sugar and leave for several weeks.
Vanilla Sugar

Veal - is meat  from calves slaughtered when younger than 9 months (usually at 8 to 16 weeks); has a lean, light pink flesh, delicate flavor and tender, firm texture.

Veloute - is a stock based white sauce that combines a roux with veal or chicken stock to thicken. 
Veloute made with chicken stock

Venison - is deer  meat, wild or farm raised.

Verjus - is a sour grape juice used in cooking.

Grape for Verjus
Vermicelli - is long, fine rods of pasta similar to spaghetti, but thinner.


Vermouth  - is a white apĂ©ritif wine of France, sweet or dry.
Glass of Vermouth

Veronique  - means to  garnished with white grapes.
Roasted chicken with roasted white grapes
Vichyssoise - is a cream of potato soup that is served cold.
Leek and Potatoes for Vichyssoise

Vidallia onion - is a sweet, white onion, usually large.

Vidallia onions
Vindaloo - is a highly spiced hot Indian curry made with meat or fish, distinctively a vindaloo has vinegar.
Pork Vindaloo
Vinaigrette - is the general term referring to any sauce made with vinegar, oil, and seasonings.

Vine tomatoes - are tomatoes picked before they are ripe and will continue to ripen at room temperature.
Vine Tomatoes

So there you have the "V's."  Remember, don't reach for the imitation vanilla flavoring.  Try making your own natural vanilla extract.  We think you will love the new flavors and possibilities.

Now, go out and make something good.  Don't forget to use your new terminology and impress your friends!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Frico with Potatoes

Cheese + potatoes = Happy tummy!!!

Last week we were watching Master Chef.  Luka made a Frico with potatoes.  There was no way we were going to not try this on our own!  So a searching we went for tips on how to make this frico.

So what is a frico? A frico, known in America as a cheese crisp, is an Italian food, typical of Friuli, which consists of a wafer of shredded cheese with a bit of flour, baked or fried until crisp. The cheeses include Montasio, Parmesan or mozzarella. Frico is often used as garnish for soups or stews. (definition from wikipedia)

However adding potatoes to a frico takes it to the next level!

Frico with potatoes and gouda chesse
So lets try it shall we?  This is how I made it but put your own twist on it.

2 cups potatoes - cut like you would if you are making harshbrowns
1 cup diced onions
1 cup cheese -  The most common cheese to use is montasio but I used gouda, it pairs well with potaotes.
  • Peel and cut potatoes
  • Dice onions
  • Heat olive oil in a flat pan.
  • Place onions and potatoes in pan and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook potatoes slowly until they are tender.  Try not to brown the potatoes.  You just want them cooked at this point.
  • When potatoes are cooked add cheese.  Form into a big circle like a pancake.  Turn heat up a little.  You want to brown the potatoes at this point.
  • Once one side of frico is brown, take another flat pan and place over the frico and flip. You may have to reshape the frico a bit.
  • Place the pan on the burner and brown the other side.
  • Once browned on both sides, transfer to serving plate.
It is a great side to serve with you favorite meat and veggies.  Or like us you can be selfish and eat it all by yourself (no sharing) and make a meal of it.

As always be bold and change the recipe.  Try different cheeses.  Add bacon or ham to it.  If you love veggies, experiment with them.  So many possibilities.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking....U

We are up to the "U's" now in our quest to learn the vocabulary of cooking.  Don't forget to look for the not-so-hidden recipe in today terms.

Let's do this, then:

Udon Noodles -  are Japanese wheat-flour noodles can be purchased either fresh or dried. They are often used in soups.
Udon noodles in soup
Ugli Fruit - is a Jamaican fruit with loose, yellow-green skin. The fruit is thought to be a cross between the tangerine and the grapefruit with a grapefruit-orange flavor.
Ugli Fruit
Umami - is a simultaneously sweet, salty and savory taste profile.

Unleavened - is a baked good, ie bread, that contains no agents to give them volume, such as yeast, baking powder, or baking soda.  Crackers are a form of a baked good that has no leavening.  So are tortillas.

Unleavened bread
Unmold - is to remove molded food from its container.

Unsalted Butter - is butter which contains no salt. Unsalted butter is more perishable than butter with salt.

Unsaturated Fat - is a  kind of fat that is in liquid form at room temperature.
Grapeseed Oil
Unsweetened Baking Chocolate - is chocolate that has no added sugar and is generally composed of 55% cocoa butter and 45% chocolate mass from the bean. It has an intense chocolate flavor that has to be tempered by sugar and other ingredients. 
Baking Chocolate
Upright Chicken Roaster - is a vertical, cross-braced metal stand used to roast poultry; prevents poultry from cooking in its own drippings.
Upright Roaster for Chicken
Upside-Down Cake - is a cake generally made by first covering the bottom of the baking pan with butter, sugar, and arranged fruit. A cake batter is then poured over the fruit. The baked cake is inverted onto a serving plate, which makes the fruit bottom the top of the cake.
Classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake

You will need:
1/4 Cup Butter 
2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
9 slices pineapple (drained if using canned)
9 Maraschino cherries (optional)
1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Shortening
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4 Cup Milk
1 Egg

Here's What You Do:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In 9-inch square pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.

Just a few more letters of the alphabet to get through and we have completed our first lessons in culinary terminology.

Good for you for expanding your vocabulary.  Now go out and make something good.