Jaggery [JAG-uh-ree] n. Dark unrefined sugar used primarily in India.
Jaggery is a dark, coarse sugar that either comes in a very soft cake or in a larger, crumblier cone that has to be broken up before use. It can be made from either sugar cane or palm tree sap, and it has a dark, very intense flavor that gives depth and earthiness to the Indian sweets that contain it.
We like it as an alternative to brown sugar; it's less processed and carries more depth of flavor. Try it crumbled over oatmeal! It can be found in any Indian grocery, usually as a thick cake or cone wrapped in plastic.
Chinois [sheen-WAH] n. Fine meshed conical strainer used to make smooth soups and sauces.
The word chinois (or chinoise) comes from the French for Chinese. In the kitchen it refers to a very fine mesh strainer that works like a food mill or food processor to strain and smooth soups and sauces. There is a similar tool called a China cap, which is shaped like a chinois, but is made purely of metal with small holes punched in the sides, which gives a slightly chunkier texture.
The two are often confused. Here's a China cap for sale, labeled as a chinois, and here's a chinois at Bed Bath and Beyond for $99.99.
Hoggett [hoggett ] n. A young sheep, older than a lamb but not yet considered mutton.
No, it's not the name of a character from Harry Potter or Dickens, nor is it anything to do with pigs or hogs. Hoggett is a sheep somewhat older than a lamb, but too young to be classified as mutton. In New Zealand they consider a sheep a hoggett if it's between one and two years old. In the United States hogget is an animal from one and a half to two and a half years old, but you will probably not find it here outside of a specialty butcher or local farm.
Jugging [jugging] v. Stewing meat, usually whole game, in a closed container.
Jugging is pretty much a synonym for braising, but it's older and less often used now. The most familiar use of jugging was the classic recipe for jugged hare, which involves stewing an entire wild hare or rabbit with juniper berries, red wine, stock and herbs in a closed jug or pot, then serving with a sauce made with the hare's blood. Rabbit is a very lean meat, so this method of long steaming in a closed container is an excellent way to enjoy its flavor.
This dish was known as civet de lièvre in France, and similar jugged dishes or stews of wild game are sometimes still called civet.
Braise [BRAYSE] v. To fry food then cook it slowly in liquid in a closed vessel.
We've got braising on our minds around here, for reasons to be revealed shortly, so we went back to our Harold McGee to read up on all things braising. The word braise originated in the 18th century, coming from the French word for "live coals," which were piled under and on top of a closed cooking pot.
Today, braising is most often used to refer to any long-cooked stew that involves meat, especially large, tough cuts that need long cooking to tenderize and break down connective tissue. But a braise is really any dish where the main ingredient is lightly fried or browned to create flavor, then slowly cooked in liquid at a low temperature.
Boxty [BOX-tee] n. Traditional Irish griddle pancake made with shredded potatoes and often served with meat.
St. Patrick's Day is Saturday and we certainly will take the opportunity to cook some traditional Irish comfort foods. Boxty, a fried pancake made with both shredded and mashed potatoes, is chief among these. The word may come from the Irish bacstai, which refers to this method of cooking or roasting over an open fire. Check out a recipe for boxty at Epicurious and another at BBC Food: Boxty Pancakes with Black Pudding, Bacon and Mustard Cream.
Pissaladière [pee-sah-lah-DYEHR] n. Tart topped with anchovies, onions, and olives - a specialty of Nice, France
As Clotilde says over Chocolate & Zucchini, it's hard to go wrong with an onion tart. And when you love salty things, adding anchovies and olives only increases our intense attraction to this appealing and rustic dish.
This is a case of Provencal and Mediterranean cooking meeting up at the beach - it's a specialty of the beach towns along the Cote d'Azur. It's also an instance of the cross-pollination between French and Italian foods that occurs in this area, with the seafood, Parmesan cheese and Nicoise olives all playing their part. Links to recipes below...
Rémoulade [ray-muh-LAD] n. Classic French sauce, usually an accompaniment to meat or shellfish.
Rémoulade usually includes all our favorite things: pickles, capers, anchovies, mustard and mayonnaise. It's like five condiments rolled into one very pungent and tasty sauce - which, according to Wikipedia, may have originally been concocted to help cover the taste of meat gone bad.
Pastillage [pa-steel-ahj] n. Modeling paste made from gelatin and confectioners sugar, used to make pastry decorations.
Pastillage is one kind of decorative and edible paste that bakers and pastry chefs have used for many years to creatively adorn their confections. Along with fondant and gum paste, pastillage can be molded into many different shapes, and tinted.
Pastillage dries harder than fondant, and it makes relatively sturdy little decorations. I tried my hand at pastillage recently and I was rather surprised at how easy it was to work with.
Khoya [koya] n. milk solids created by slowly evaporating milk over heat.
This weekend I had the time and inclination to finally try carrot halwa for the first time. The first step in this classic Indian dessert is to slowly cook finely grated carrots with a half gallon of milk. As the milk slowly evaporates, it leaves behind a thick, creamy solid, known as khoya, or mawa. Khoya, whether cooked all the way down to a solid or left in its slightly softer state, is the base of many Indian sweets.