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Glossary: A-C

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Açai berry: [ah-SAI-ee], a tropical fruit native to Central and South America. High in antioxidants and vitamins, its juice is often added to prepared juices.
Ancho chile powder: [ahn-CHO], dried poblano chiles ground to a powder.
Anise seed: [AN-ihs], the seed of a plant related to parsley with a distinct licorice flavor.
Asian pear: a firm, apple-like fruit with yellow-gold skin and juicy, sweet flesh.


To Blacken: a cooking technique used in Cajun cooking. Foods (traditionally fish) are coated with a spice blend, then sautéed in a very hot pan (usually cast iron) until a blackened crust forms.
Black-eyed peas: small ivory-colored beans with a black dot on the side. Usually sold canned and dried but sometimes available fresh.
To Butterfly: to split meat or seafood down the middle, slicing almost but not quite all the way through. The two halves are then opened like a book to resemble a butterfly shape.


Capers: [KAY-per], the flower bud of a shrub native to the Mediterranean. Sold either in brine or packed in salt, capers range in size from small like peppercorns to the size of marbles.
Celery root: a large root vegetable with a brown, knobby exterior. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer before cutting. Can be used raw or cooked.
Chipotle: [chih-POHT-leh], a dried, smoked jalapeño. Often found canned and packed in a spicy vinegar-based sauce called "adobo."
Chorizo: [chor-EE-zoh], a highly seasoned pork sausage used in Mexican and Spanish cuisines.
Chutney: a fruit-based, spicy condiment served in Indian cuisine.
Couscous: [koos-koos], a staple of North African cuisine, couscous is made from semolina flour. Most grocery stores carry instant versions that simply need soaking in hot water to soften.
Cream of coconut: a thick, sweet mixture of coconut paste and flavoring, water and sugar. Used primarily to make cocktails, do not confuse with coconut milk which is much less sweet and not as thick.
Cream of tartar: a by-product of the wine industry, cream of tartar is an acid deposited on the inside of wine barrels. It gives frostings a creamy consistency and acts as a stabilizer when beating egg whites.
Crème fraîche: [krehm fresh], a type of cultured cream that can be as thick as sour cream but isn't as tangy. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche doesn't curdle if boiled, making it ideal for finishing sauces.
Curry powder: a seasoning blend often made with up to 20 different ground spices. It almost always contains turmeric, which is what gives curry powder its distinct yellow color. Ranging from mild to very spicy, heat levels vary by brand.

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