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Glossary

Achiote Paste/ Powder

Reddish-brown paste or powder ground from annatto seeds with an earthy flavor. Used primarily in Mexican dishes like mole sauce cochinita pibil and tamales.

Agar-Agar

A vegetarian alternative to gelatin that is derived from algae - it is flavorless and has a firm but less jiggly texture than gelatin - can be found in powder or flake form.

Allspice

Similar to cloves but with a stronger flavor so it is mostly used in spice blends or very small amounts. .

Annatto Seeds

A tough reddish-brown seed with a woodsy aroma and an earthy flavor. When ground it is called achiote paste.

Asafoetida (Asafetida)

Used as a digestive aid in Indian cooking asafoetida has a strong odor that mellows out into a garlicky onion flavor.

Bain Marie

Fancy term for a water bath - a tecnique used to cook foods gently and uniformly - in the oven item being baked is placed in a larger dish and surrounded by hot or boiling water - on the stovetop a glass or metal bowl is placed over simmering water (this is often referred to as a double boiler).

Baking Powder

A leavening agent - it rises twice once when combined with a liquid and again when exposed to heat - this is important because it allows you to delay baking (so you can make the muffin batter in the afternoon but bake them fresh the next morning!).

Baking Soda

A leavening agent - requires an acid to work (ie. buttermilk yogurt lemon juice etc) - it rises only once and does so as soon as it is combined with the acid and liquid so it is best to bake items using only baking soda right away (and don't dilly dally once the batter is mixed)

Basil

Extremely aromaticand slightly lemony.

Bay Leaf (fresh/dry)

Adds a woodsy background note to soups and sauces.

Black Lime / Loomi

Ground from dried limes. Adds a sour kick to many Middle Eastern dishes.

Blanch

To cook briefly in boiling water usually used for vegetables or fruit, to prepare for freezing, and to ease skin removal.

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