Tools & Ingredients
Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to their higher amylopectin starch content; thus, it has a starchy taste but blends well with other flavours. It is used to make risotto. Arborio rice is also used for rice pudding.
Baharat is a spice mixture or blend used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Baharat is the Arabic word for 'spices' (the plural form of bahār 'spice'). The mixture of finely ground spices is often used to season lamb, fish, chicken, beef, and soups and may be used as a condiment. Typical ingredients of baharat include: Allspice, Black peppercorns, Cardamom seeds, Cassia bark, Cloves, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds, Nutmeg, Dried red chili peppers or paprika
Barberry: edible berries, rich in vitamin C, but with a sharp acid flavour. In Europe for many centuries the berries were used for culinary purposes in ways comparable to how citrus peel might be used. Today in Europe they are very infrequently used. The country in which they are used the most, is Iran where they are referred to as "Zereshk" (زرشک) in Persian. The berries are common in Iranian (Persian) cuisine such as in rice pilafs (known as "Zereshk Polo") and as a flavouring for poultry meat. Due to their inherent sour flavor, they are sometimes cooked with sugar before being added to Persian rice. Iranian markets sell Zereshk dried. In Russia they are sometimes used in jams (especially the mixed berry ones) and extract from them is a common flavouring for soft drinks and candies/sweets.
Bay leaves were used for flavoring by the ancient Greeks. They are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in the Americas. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, vegetable dishes, and sauces. The leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet) and removed before serving (they can be abrasive in the digestive tract). As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme.
A bouillon cube is dehydrated bouillon (French for broth) or stock formed into a small cube. It is typically made from dehydrated vegetables, meat stock, a small portion of fat, salt and seasonings, shaped into a small cube. Vegetarian and vegan types are also made. Bouillon is also available in both granular or powdered form.
Bulgur is a cereal food made from the groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. Bulgur is a kind of dried cracked wheat. It is most common in European, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine. It has a light, nutty flavor. In the United States, bulgur is produced from white wheat in four distinct grinds or sizes (#1 Fine, #2 Medium, #3 Coarse and #4 Extra Coarse). The highest quality bulgur has particle sizes that are uniform thus allowing a more consistent cooking time and result.
Caraway plants are actually a member of the carrot family, related also to coriander and cumin. It's native to central Europe and then spread to other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Both the roots and the seeds are edible. If you ever get your hands on some, the roots can be cooked just like carrots. Caraway seeds, is'ha is Arabic, are highly aromatic and have a distinctive earthy anise flavor. They pack a lot of punch for such tiny little seeds. Most recipes only use a teaspoon or less. Do not mistake these with black sesame seeds. They are not the same at all!
Cardamom sometimes Cardamon, is a spice made from the seeds of several plants. They are recognized by their small seed pods, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin, papery outer shell and small black seeds. It is the world's third-most expensive spice, surpassed in price per weight only by vanilla and saffron. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more smokey, though not bitter, aroma, with a coolness some consider similar to mint. Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but little is needed to impart flavor.
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated and canned in a sweet and tangy purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and some other spices, for a ruddy sauce that packs wicked heat but with plenty of balance and body.
A colander (or cullender) is a bowl-shaped kitchen utensil with holes in it used for draining food such as pasta or rice. A colander is also used to rinse vegetables. The perforated nature of the colander allows liquid to drain through while retaining the solids inside. It is sometimes also called a pasta strainer or kitchen sieve.
A kind of wheat known in English as durum wheat. Couscous is not cooked, but rather steamed over hot water. Couscous is served as a side-dish, or as a main dish. The couscous grain is rather dry, and absorbs plenty of liquid. The couscous that is sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried; the package directions are usually to add 1.5 measures of boiling water or stock and butter to each measure of couscous and to cover tightly for five minutes. The couscous swells and within a few minutes it is ready to fluff with a fork and serve. Pre-steamed couscous takes less time to prepare than regular couscous.
Curry powder is a spice mix of widely varying composition based on South Asian cuisine. Most curry powder recipes include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers in their blends. Depending on the recipe, additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, nutmeg, long pepper, and black pepper may also be included.
Dried Chillies: These whole chillies are dried and very potent and spicy.
Dried lime (also known as: black lime; noomi basra (Iraq); loomi amani (Iran); loomi (Oman)) is a lime that has lost its water content, usually after having spent a majority of their drying time in the sun. They are used whole, sliced or ground, as a spice in Middle Eastern dishes. Dried limes are used to add a sour flavor to dishes, through a process known as souring. Dried limes are strongly flavored. They taste sour and citrusy like a lime but they also taste earthy and somewhat smoky and lack the sweetness of fresh limes. Because they are preserved they also have a slightly bitter, fermented flavor, but the bitter accents are mainly concentrated in the lime's outer skin and seeds.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavor that doesn’t fade when they are dried or cooked. They are used as an ingredient in soups, sauces, risotto, and stews. Porcini mushrooms are among the most popular of all edible mushrooms. In dried form, they have a more intense flavor since mushrooms contain over 80% water.
Dried Tart Cherries
Dried tart cherries are a type of dried fruit. They consist of cherries which have been subjected to a drying process. I love the ones at Trader Joe's.
Dry (Rusk) Toast
A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread. It is mainly eaten as a cracker or a dunking biscuit, particularly with tea.
Farina is milled wheat most often used to prepare hot cereal for breakfast. The word "farina" is Latin, meaning meal or flour. It is made from the germ and endosperm of the grain, which is milled to a fine granular consistency and then sifted. This results in a carbohydrate-rich food. When enriched, it is one of the best sources of dietary iron available, especially for vegetarian diets, with most brands offering as much as 50% of the recommended daily value in a single 120-calorie serving. For commercial cereals the bran and most of the germ are removed and is sometimes enriched with Vitamin B and iron. Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal, and Farina Mills are popular brand names of breakfast cereal.
Farro is a whole grain, much like other whole grains such as barley, quinoa, and wheat berries. It is is actually a specific type of common wheat, but a few different varieties of wheat are sometimes called farro. Farro looks quite a bit like a more oblong and larger barley grain and has a similar taste and texture. Like barley, farro is still a bit chewy when cooked, rather than soft and mushy. Farro and barley can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
Fava beans are generally eaten while still young and tender, enabling harvesting to begin as early as the middle of spring for plants started under glass or overwintered in a protected location, but even the main crop sown in early spring will be ready from mid to late summer. Horse beans, left to mature fully, are usually harvested in the late autumn, and are then eaten as a pulse. The immature pods are also cooked and eaten, and the young leaves of the plant can also be eaten, either raw or cooked as a pot herb (like spinach).
Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in North India, South India, Pakistan, and other South Asian cuisines.The composition of garam masala differs regionally, with many recipes across India according to regional and personal taste, and none is considered more authentic than others. The components of the mix are toasted, then ground together. A typical Indian version of garam masala contains nothing but: Black and white peppercorns, Cloves, Cinnamon, Mace (Nutmeg), Black and green cardamom pods, Bay leaf, Cumin.
Ghee or Clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat. Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the components to separate by density. The water evaporates, some solids float to the surface and are skimmed off, and the remainder of the milk solids sink to the bottom and are left behind when the butter fat (which would then be on top) is poured off. We make ours at home but my favorite is this Middle Eastern brand above.
Gnocchi: These are various thick, soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or similar ingredients, with or without flavorings of herbs, vegetables, or sweet things like cocoa or prunes. The dough for gnocchi is most often rolled out, then cut into small pieces of about the size of a cork. They are then pressed with a fork or a cheese grater to make ridges which hold sauce. Alternatively, they are simply cut into little lumps. Gnocchi is usually eaten as a replacement for pasta as a first course, but it can also be served as a contorno to some dishes.
Dumpling wrappers, also known as dumpling skins, gyoza wrappers, or potsticker wrappers, are thin sheets of dough made with wheat flour and water. Typically, they're round, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and come stacked in a plastic wrapper. Dumpling wrappers are stocked in the refrigerator section of Asian markets and some supermarkets.
Hoisin sauce is a thick, pungent sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It is darkly colored in appearance and sweet and salty in taste.
Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous or maftoul in Arabic, is similar to regular couscous in that it's a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour. Because of its size, Israeli couscous has a slightly chewy texture, similar to barley, and, because it's toasted, it has a slightly nutty flavor. Like regular couscous and other whole grains, however, Israeli couscous is rather bland on it's own, and needs to be prepared with seasonings, spices, sauces or fresh herbs. Israeli couscous can be used in salads, soups or as a base for chicken or fish. It works well when prepared like a rice pilaf.
A spice blend that will help you give breads, pasta, spaghetti sauce and other dishes an Italian flair. It is a distinctive dried herb blend.
Kabseh Spices: The spices used in kabseh are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg.
Katayfi dough is basically shredded phyllo dough.
This is a red powder food coloring used solely to color the dough of the Middle Eastern pastry Knefe. When it is introduced to heat, the red powder turns orange, giving the Knefe its authentic color.
Mahleb or Mahlab is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the Mahaleb or St Lucie cherry). The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction. The seed kernel is ground to a powder before use. Its flavour is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry, and similar also to marzipan. Mahleb is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods and cakes. It has been used for centuries in the Middle East and the surrounding areas as a flavoring for baked goods. Recipes calling for the fruit or seed of the “ḫalub” date back to ancient Sumer. In recent decades, it has been slowly entering mainstream cookbooks in English. In Greek American cooking, it is the characteristic flavoring of Christmas cake and pastry recipes. In the Arabic Middle East, it is used in ma'amoul scones. In Egypt, powdered mahlab is made into a paste with honey, sesame seeds and nuts, eaten as a dessert or a snack with bread. In English, mahlab is sometimes spelled mahalab, mahlep, mahaleb, etc.
Mandoline Slicer: Cut, slice, grate or julienne foods quickly and easily with a mandoline slicer. It usually offers interchangeable blades that can make thick, medium or thin slices.
Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese thickened by the addition of certain acidic substances such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or acetic acid. Mascarpone is a mild and creamy fresh cheese with a consistency similar to soft butter or thick crème fraîche and a fat content between 70 and 75 percent. You may know it as the key ingredient in the decadent Italian dessert tiramisu.
Mastic (Greek: Μαστίχα) is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In pharmacies and nature shops, it is called "Arabic gum" (not to be confused with gum arabic) and "Yemen gum". In Greece, it is known as the "tears of Chios," being traditionally produced on that Greek island, and, like other natural resins, is produced in "tears" or droplets. Chios mastic is a known spice in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is commonly used for baking and cooking, adding its aroma to foodstuffs such as brioches, ice-cream and other desserts.
Mortar & Pestle
A mortar and pestle is a device used since ancient times to prepare ingredients or substances by crushing and grinding them into a fine paste or powder. The mortar is a bowl, typically made of hard wood, ceramic or stone. The pestle is a heavy and blunt club-shaped object, the end of which is used for crushing and grinding. The substance to be ground is placed in the mortar and ground, crushed or mixed using a pestle.
Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or aril of the seed. Nutmeg is usually used in powdered form. But, in my experience the taste of freshly ground nutmeg is far better than the already ground powder.
Orange Blossom Water
Orange blossom water is a clear, perfumed by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms for their essential oil. Orange flower water has been a traditional ingredient used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.
This essential water has traditionally been used as an aroma flavoring in many Mediterranean traditional dessert dishes. Orange flower water is also used as an ingredient in some cocktails.
Pomegranate molasses is a syrup produced from boiling and reducing pomegranate juice. It is a key ingredient of Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean cooking. It is astringent and tart, yet has hints of sugar. It is normally used to add a sour note to a dish as with lemons, tamarind or sumac.
Powdered milk or dried milk is a manufactured dairy product made by evaporating milk to dryness. One purpose of drying milk is to preserve it; milk powder has a far longer shelf life than liquid milk and does not need to be refrigerated, due to its low moisture content.
Purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.
Red Pepper Paste
Pepper or capsicum paste is a common element in Turkish cuisine. A unique ingredient from Turkey, pepper paste is a highly concentrated puree made from various types of cooked and peeled capsicums. It gets used in a variety of dishes, from dips, spreads, and salads to stews, pilafs, soups, marinades, and in fillings for dolma (stuffed vegetables), borek (pastries), and pide (Turkish pizza).
Rose water is a flavored water made by steeping rose petals in water. It is used to flavor food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.
Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines. Confectioneries and liquors also often include saffron.
Sangak is a plain, rectangular, or triangular Iranian whole wheat leavened flatbread. The bread is baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven. There are, normally, two varieties of this bread offered at Iranian bakeries: the generic one which has no toppings; and the more expensive variety which is topped with poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds.
Seven Spice Baharat
7 Spice or Seven Baharat is a delightful mixture of the most fragrant spices from the Middle East. It is a mix of black pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Shatta: This is a popular hot sauce made from wholly grounded fresh chili peppers by mixing them with oil (usually olive). Vinegar, garlic, or other spices are commonly added. This can always be substituted with Sambal Olek. They are 90% similar.
Sherry is fortified wine of Spanish origin, that typically has a distinctive nutty flavor. The main styles of sherries, listed from driest and palest to sweetest and darkest are fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso, cream, and Pedro Ximénez. The paler, usually drier, sherries are made chiefly from Palomino grapes, and the sweeter, richer sherries from Pedro Ximénez and sometimes muscat grapes.
Sumac: The fruits of the genus Rhus are ground into a reddish-purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a tart, lemony taste to salads or meat. In Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and tashi is added to salads in the Levant. In Iranian (Persian and Kurdish) cuisines, sumac is added to rice or kebab. In Jordanian and Turkish cuisines, it is added to salad-servings of kebab and lahmacun. Rhus coriaria is used in the spice mixture za’atar.
A low salt, mild tasting and meltable soft cheese similar to Mozzarella. Karoun's Sweet Cheese is ideal for use in Middle Eastern desserts like Kunafi Bi Jeben and Halawa Bi Jeben.
Tandoori masala is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.
Trader Joe’s Freshly Shaved Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago Cheese Blend
This is a TJ's-exclusive combo, an intriguing mix of rich, firm Parmesan that's aged at least 10 months, savory & sharp Romano and nutty & sweet Asiago – both of these cheeses are aged a minimum of five months. Each cheese is cut into generous shavings and blended together just for us – every bite will treat you to a flood of formaggio flavors. It's easy to enjoy with pasta, in salads and soups, atop burgers and steaks, or in a very grown-up grilled cheese sandwich.
Truffle butter is a compound butter, which means that butter is mixed with another ingredient, in this case, truffles. It can be used to flavor various dishes and enhance recipes, or on its own, spread on bread or crackers. Truffle butter also happens to be incredibly delicious, versatile and addictive.
Truffle oil is a modern culinary ingredient used to impart the flavor and aroma of truffles to a dish. The ingredient is commonly used as a finishing oil in a variety of dishes, including truffle fries, pasta dishes, pizzas, and puréed foods such as mashed potatoes and deviled eggs. Truffle oil is generally available in all seasons and relatively steady in price. It is popular with chefs, home cooks, and diners because it is significantly less expensive than fresh truffles. This has also led to a market growth in the product and an increase in the availability of truffle-flavored foods. Truffle oil is controversial as a flavoring ingredient, as some truffle oil is artificially produced and may lack the complex flavors and aromas of fresh truffles.
Vanilla sugar is made of sugar and vanilla beans or sugar mixed with vanilla extract.
Vermicelli is a traditional type of pasta round in section similar to spaghetti. In Italy vermicelli is slightly thicker than spaghetti but in the United States it is instead slightly thinner. Vermicelli, called she'reya in Arabic, is used in one of the most common ways of cooking rice in the Middle East. The vermicelli is browned by frying with oil or butter, then rice and water are added.
Yeast is used in baking as a leavening agent, where it converts the food/fermentable sugars present in dough into the gas carbon dioxide. This causes the dough to expand or rise as gas forms pockets or bubbles. When the dough is baked, the yeast dies and the air pockets "set", giving the baked product a soft and spongy texture.