Words Beginning with the Letter M



One of the best-known types of Italian pasta, in the form of a ¼-inch diameter tube. Like other pasta, cooked by simmering in water until tender, drained and mixed with a sauce. One of the most popular dishes is macaroni cheese; in Victorian times mac­aroni figured as a milk pudding.



A rich, round biscuit made from ground almonds, egg white and sugar. In France, where it originated, the best-known macaroon comes from Nancy.



A spice made from the tendrils covering a nutmeg, more deli­cate in flavour than the nutmeg itself. Ground mace is used with mixed spices in stuffings and vegetable dishes. Blade mace, with the tendrils left whole, is used in béchamel sauce, etc.



A macédoine of fruit consists of peaches, bananas, pears, etc., sliced up, mixed and covered with a thick syrup. Macédoine of vegetables is usually carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc., diced and mixed with peas or beans and then served cold with mayonnaise or hot with a white sauce.



To soak or infuse in liquid. Usually used of fresh or glacé fruit soaked in brandy, rum or liqueur.



A fighting fish with a well­marked blue/silver skin caught off British coasts and in northern waters from May to September. If eaten fresh, the flesh is firm and crisp, but if left more than a few days it becomes tasteless and oily.



A wine from the Spanish territory of the same name which may be taken like sherry as an aperitif or like port, as a dessert wine (the same sort of glasses are used). Varies from dry and pale to rich brown; may also be used in a demi-glace or brown sauce to go with a fillet of beef, braised ham or other dishes (sauce madère).


Madeira cake

One of the best-known English cakes, baked from a rich genoese mixture in which the proportion of butter and eggs to flour is high. Traditionally baked with a slice or slices of citron peel placed on the top.



The English madeleine is a Victoria sponge mixture put into round-topped castle pudding moulds and baked. The cakes are then given a red jam glaze, rolled in shredded coconut and decorated with a glacé cherry each. The French madeleine is a small cake of genoese mixture baked in a small, cockle shell mould.


Madère [See Madeira]


Maid of honour

A type of pastry which originated in Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey: consists of a rich almond cheesecake baked in a puff pastry case.



A dish that is without meat.


Maître d'hôtel

1. The person in charge of the restaurant; slightly more than a head waiter, however, since the maître d'hôtel should be experienced in cookery and able to make some dishes at the table, such as steak tartare, steak au poivre, etc.

2. A simple method of preparing or finishing a dish, for instance maître d'hôtel butter is butter mixed with chopped parsley and lemon juice, added as a finishing touch to plain fish or grilled meat.



Indian corn kernels; often made into a meal (polenta) for bread, scones and pudding. See also Indian corn, Polenta.



A Spanish wine that is sweet and heavy. Malaga raisins, very sweet, are made from muscat grapes.



One of the best-known and most frequently caught of game ducks. See also Duck.



Barley or other grain in which fermentation has changed the starch into sugar; used in distillation and brewing. Bakers make a malt loaf by adding an extract of malt to their dough.


Mandarin [See Orange]



A vegetable slicer: a blade, usually slanted and which can be adjusted for thickness, is set in a rectangle of wood or metal and the vegetable sliced by rubbing it up and down over the blade.



A tropical fruit not imported to Europe in any great quantity, and therefore expensive to buy fresh. The fruit varies in colour from rich yellow to olive green with a soft, juicy but stringy pulp and with a sweet and delicate flavour. Mango chutney is well-known in Britain; tinned mangoes are good for cooking but lose much of the flavour of the fresh fruit.


Maple syrup

The sap of the sugar maple tree, made into maple syrup by boil­ing and refining, which stops it fermenting. This syrup is a traditional accompaniment to waffles, American pancakes and hot sweets, and is also used for flavouring. The sugar maple or Acer saccharinum grows mostly in Canada and the northern United States.



A liqueur made from the marasca or wild black cherry which grows in Dalmatia, Yugo­slavia. The seeds as well as the flesh of the fruit are used, giving the liqueur its characteristic nutty taste.



An eau-de-vie made from the pressings or crushed pulp of grapes pressed for wine.



A classic chicken dish said to have been created hurriedly on the night of June 14, 1800, after Napoleon had fought and defeated the Austrians on the battlefield at Marengo. He ordered his chef, named Dunand, to prepare a celebration meal but because of their position all they could find consisted of a small hen, six crayfish, some eggs, tomatoes and garlic, oil and a frying pan. The worthy and resourceful chef produced a sauté which, with some brandy from the Emperor's flask, brought praise from Napoleon who said, 'You must feed me like this after every battle'.



A cooking fat which may be manufactured from animal fats or vegetable oils, particularly useful for making light pastry or cakes. It can be produced more cheaply than butter. Vegetable margarine is frequently used in place of butter when animal fats have to be excluded from the diet.



A liquid in which meat, fish or poultry is allowed to soak, or marinate, for a certain length of time before being cooked. The process is used extensively in French cookery, the purpose being to help tenderise the food concerned as well as give it extra flavour. The marinade may have various ingredients according to the food con­cerned, but usually consists of oil, wine, sliced onions and carrots, and various herbs or spices. If it has been boiled and cooled before use it is called a marinade cuite, it is otherwise known as a marinade crue. Some foods may marinate for days before cooking, others for only a few hours.



A method of cooking mussels or other shellfish with white wine. The term is also used for certain fish dishes which have mussels as a garnish.


Marjoram (Origanum)

Sweet marjoram is one of the best-known herbs, often used in stuffings for veal or lamb; there are other types of the herb.



A preserve of citrus fruits, boiled with sugar as for jam.



Fruit pulp boiled with sugar and reduced to the consistency of a fruit cheese; used as a filling in a flan where the fruit is placed on the uncooked pastry. Some European countries, particularly Spain, make confectionery this way, cutting the marmelade into squares.


Marrons glacés

Glazed chestnuts. Whole chestnuts are peeled and cooked, then poached for hours in sugar syrup. The strength of the syrup is increased as cooking progresses, the chestnuts becoming semi-clear before they are finally glazed with a specially beaten sugar mixture. This is a complicated confectionery process which makes the finished sweet expensive; it is not recommended for making at home


Marrow (bone)

The bones, particularly the shank-bones, of a bullock or calf are filled with a marrow which becomes a jelly when cooked. Marrow bones make a delicious savoury served hot with pepper and dry toast.


Marrow (vegetable)

A vegetable of the gourd family, of which there are numerous sizes and shapes sold under various names in different countries. The flesh of the ordinary marrow is tender if eaten young; may be cooked in many ways, but is best stewed in butter, stuffed or fried in breadcrumbs.



A sweet Sicilian wine, traditionally used for zabaglione; not unlike a Madeira but not as good quality. Mostly used in cooking.



A thick paste made from ground almonds and sugar; generally used as a base for icing on Christmas, wedding and birthday cakes or in confectionery.



Denotes fish stewed in wine, usually according to the region where it is made, such as matelote bourguignonne, a fresh water fish stew made with the red wine of Burgundy, or normande, sea fish with white wine and cream.



A sauce for dressing cold meats, salads, etc., made thick and rich by mixing egg yolks and oil and sharpening the taste of this with vinegar or lemon juice.



One of the oldest drinks, brewed extensively in the Middle Ages but now made only rarely in England. It is made from honey­combs after they have been cleared of honey, and flavoured with certain spices and herbs.



There are variations in the standard measures used in Britain, the United States and Continental Europe.



Meat (or possibly some other food) cut into small oval or round pieces. See Tournedos. Also the name for a round piece of French flan pastry which has been iced and given a marbled effect with chocolate or con­trasting colour icing.



A fruit about plum size, brown and with a firm flesh, grown on the medlar tree (Mespilus ger­manicus). Used for medlar jelly, fruit cheese or may be eaten raw, but in all cases it must be very ripe.



The great chef Escoffier paid his tribute to the singer Dame Nellie Melba with a dessert called Peach Melba: a peach cooked in a vanilla-flavoured syrup and served with ice cream and a purée of fresh raspberries.



There are numerous types of this fruit, which is a member of the same family as the cucumber. The most familiar in Britain are:

Honeydew A green, rough skinned fruit, quite large. The flesh has a honey taste and a pale colour. Medium priced. Available after midsummer.

Cantaloup With the Charentais, usually the most expensive in Britain. Largish, skin divided into segments and rough-textured. August-September.

Charentais Pale-green in colour and available in early summer; comes from the Charente region of France and is small but sweet, with a delicious flavour.

Spanish water Yellow skin, sweet flesh, medium to large in size; available in later summer, usually cheap and often called Honeydew despite the differences between the two.

Watermelon Better known in hotter climates, but now imported into England: large and round, characterised by green, smooth skin, red flesh and black seeds. Sweet but thin flavour, available in summer.


Melt [See Milt]



The dishes chosen for a particular meal (rather than the card listing all the dishes available, say, in a restaurant). This structure, or planning, of a meal is important both nutritionally and otherwise. In the past a menu was far more impressive than now, when a three-course lunch and maximum five-course dinner are more fashionable. In the case of the latter the five are usually chosen from hors d'oeuvre, soup, fish, entrée, remove or relevé, sorbet, roast, entremets and dessert.



A mixture of egg white and sugar thought to have been invented in the early 18th century by a Swiss pastrycook named Gasparini. Suisse, cuite and italienne are the three main types:

Suisse Two ounces of caster sugar to each egg white, which is stiffly whipped before the sugar is folded in. Used in meringue shells with crème chantilly, or on top of a dessert.

Cuite Means cooked, but in fact this meringue is not cooked but has egg whites and sugar whisked together over hot water. This gives a harder meringue than the suisse, used as a base for creams, in petits fours or for meringue baskets.

Italienne Used more by professionals than in the house, this requires a sugar thermometer because lump sugar is made into a syrup and boiled to 260°F before being poured on to whisked egg whites and whisked again. Used in such dishes as baked alaska and in pâtisseries.



Whole fish or fillets to be cooked by this method are floured lightly and fried to a golden-brown colour in foam­ing butter. They are then re­moved and set aside and the pan cleaned; more butter is added and when cooked to a nut-brown colour, herbs and lemon juice are added to form a beurre noisette which is served over the fish.



Another name for white pepper which is coarsely ground.



A liquid secreted by the mam­mary glands of animals, that of the cow being the most com­monly used in Britain, although some goat's milk is also used. Contains high proportions of protein and fat. Widely used as a drink, and in puddings, sauces and cold sweets. Most of the milk sold in Britain is now first subjected to a heat-treatment or pasteurised, to destroy harm­ful bacteria. The lactic acid in such milk is destroyed by pasteurisation and natural sour­ing cannot take place; milk required for home-made curds and cheese must therefore be unpasteurised. For their culinary purposes, pasteurisation makes little difference.



A French pastry made with thin, crispy puff pastry built up in layers with whipped cream and raspberry or strawberry jam or pastry cream, topped with thin fondant or glacé icing and cut into slices. Sometimes known as vanilla slices. Large rings of baked puff pastry built up on one another and the centre filled with cream and fruit is called a gâteau mille-feuille.


Milt (or Melt)

1. In fish, the soft roe.

2. In meat, the spleen, which once was thought to have the same function as fish roes.



Traditional filling for a Christmas mince pie consisting of finely chopped suet, dried fruit, apples, candied peel, almonds, spices and preferably a good lacing of rum or brandy to help it keep.


Minestra and Minestrone

Minestra is a purely vegetable soup; minestrone is similar but may contain pieces of bacon or ham. Both are Italian and served with Parmesan cheese, although minestra is said to have origi­nated in Spain.



A sweet, aromatic herb, very good for mint sauce and general flavouring. Some mints are scented: apple, pineapple and eau-de-cologne, the two latter being particularly good as a tea or for flavouring a fruit or wine cup. Apple mint is a good substitute for sage in a stuffing or for flavouring an apply jelly.



Generally used as a base for a braise of meat, or to give flavour to certain sauces, a mirepoix is a mixture of diced root vegetables, sometimes with raw bacon or ham added.



The region of Mocha in Arabia produces a particular variety of coffee bean; by extension anything with a coffee flavouring may be described as 'mocha'.


Molasses [See Treacle]


Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

A chemical substance obtained from some food proteins and used to bring out the flavour of certain foods. It is said to decrease certain tastes, for instance the bitter or metallic taste in tomato purée, and increase flavours in foods like sausages, bouillon cubes and meat extracts, as well as canned foods. It has no recognisable flavour.



One of the edible fungi, grey to yellow-brown in colour and with a honeycombed, spongy cap. Morchella esculenta is probably the commonest of the various varieties of morel. May be found in the hedgerows or woodland clearings in spring, and cooked like mushrooms.



A variety of cherry with a tart, acid taste and a semi-translucent, deep red colour. Used for making cherry brandy and for jams; picked in late July and early August.



A béchamel sauce containing cheese (mornay sauce). A dish of egg, vegetable or fish coated with mornay sauce, and then glazed under the grill or in the oven.


Mortadella [See Continental Sausages]



The French name for salt cod. The classic ingredient for making a brandade, after it has been well soaked.



A white wine from the Mosel valley in Germany, fine and not unlike a hock; comes in the same shape bottle as the hock, but instead of being brown, its glass is green.



A receptacle to hold a mixture in a certain shape while it sets, or is baked. Of the infinite number of possible shapes, some of the most common are:

Bombe For making ices. Used to be of copper with a tight lid so that it could be buried with its contents in salted ice.

Border Plain ring, flat on top for setting vegetables, etc., in a jelly or cream.

Charlotte Round mould, 3-4 inches deep, with sides sloping slightly so that they may be lined with sponge fingers. See Charlotte.

Cornet Conical, horn-shaped individual mould. usually in metal, around which pastry cases can be baked to hold sweet or savoury fillings, or on which slices of ham, etc., may be shaped to take a savoury filling. Cornets of paper are used for piping small quantities of cream or icing.

Dariole (Castle pudding) Plain cylindrical shape for setting individual dishes of, say, prawns in aspic, or for baking or cooking individual dishes.

Savarin A ring mould with a rounded top, rather than flat. See also Savarin.

Timbale A high border or charlotte shape for meat or fish creams; if made with a tube in the centre is a tube mould. (A dish served en timbale is one piled up in a circle.)



A dish from Turkey or Greece featuring spiced mutton, aubergines and tomato with cheese sauce.



A sweet mousse is made with whole eggs and extra yolks beaten with sugar and cream, flavoured and frozen or set with gelatine. Savoury mousses are made by enriching fish, meat or cheese with cream and setting with a very small quantity of gelatine if necessary.



A mousse. However a sauce of eggs and cream is also called mousseline.



Raw rolled oats, raw diced apple, or other fruit, and cream mixed together and served cold, possibly as dessert or as a breakfast dish. (Swiss origin.)



A teacake made of the same yeast batter as crumpets, but browned on both sides and thicker. The mixture is poured into metal muffin rings set on a baking sheet, and then baked until set and risen. They are then turned upside-down to brown the other side of the muffin. Muffins are served hot, pulled apart rather than cut, and buttered thickly.



The large, deep purple black­berry-like fruit of the mulberry tree (Morus nigra), whose leaves are used to feed silk­worms. Mulberries have a sweet -acid flavour, make a good compote or syrup, but are not grown or sold commercially in Britain.



1. Grey mullet is a medium­-sized fish weighing 3-6 Ib with firm white flesh and silvery skin like a bass. Throughout the summer it appears in shoals off the coast of Cornwall; cooked like cod or haddock.

2. Red mullet is a much smaller fish which gets its name from its pink, rosy skin. It has a distinctive short barb under the lower jaw. In season from May to September. Sometimes called the 'woodcock of the sea', as the liver is sometimes left in the fish after cleaning through the gills.



A soup with a peppery, curry flavour; served clear or thick.


Mushroom (Agaricus campester or Psalliota campestris) (common or field mushroom)

Common mushrooms nowadays are extensively cultivated and comparatively inexpensive, although some are still found wild in late summer and early autumn. Buttons, caps and flats are the three main types of cultivated mushroom. The small, white and firm variety of button mushroom is known as champignon de Paris; flats have the best flavour, but are not so good for keeping.



Sometimes called the 'Poor man's oyster', a small salt-water mollusc which is plentiful from September to April. Sold by the pint or quart, eaten cold with vinegar after being lightly boiled, or in a soup-stew like moules marinières or as a garnish.



In Britain mustard is sold as a fine, dry flour ground from the seed of Sinapis alba, a plant of the Brassica family. The seed itself is used as a spice in pickling; the name mustard comes from the fact that the seeds were boiled in a 'must' (vinegar). In France mustard is sold as a paste, often with herbs added.


Mustard (salad)

Mustard seeds will sprout quickly in a warm atmosphere if planted in light soil or on damp flannel. Commercially they are sown in small punnets and these are sold for the first sproutings which are used as salad. See also Cress.



Sheep more than eight months old. See Lamb. If mutton is properly cooked it is delicious.