Words Beginning with the Letter P



A rice dish with saffron, shell­fish, vegetables and chicken all cooked together with a strong flavouring of garlic and served in the same shallow earthen­ware or metal dish in which it is cooked. Traditional Spanish.



A soup made with jerusalem artichokes.



There are several forms of this basic thickening used with meat, fish or vegetable creams or forcemeats:

1. A thick béchamel suce.

2. Bread soaked in milk or stock.

3. Flour, butter and water made into a paste, like choux.



Flat cake served traditionally on Shrove Tuesday-made by frying a thin batter of flour and eggs in a thick pan to form very thin cakes. Served with lemon and caster sugar or a savoury filling.



A sweet, easily digestible South American tropical fruit, the juice of which is also used in tenderising meat. See also Tenderise.



A case made of paper or foil for cooking en papillote: raw food, such as cutlets or small fish, is placed with seasoning on the centre of a piece of buttered greaseproof paper or aluminium foil, which is then folded round the food to pre­serve the juices while it is baked for 15-20 minutes in a moderate oven. The paper is removed before serving.



Hungarian in origin, paprika is a spicy pepper ground from sweet red peppers or pimientos. Some varieties are milder than others and suit different dishes. See also Capsicum.



The process of half cooking, for instance potatoes, by part boil­ing them, before completing cooking by another means.



A spiced gingerbread baked in a shallow tin and cut into squares when cold. Has a high proportion of oatmeal and is best kept for several days before eating. Traditional York­shire.


Parma ham

Smoked but uncooked ham from Parma served in paper ­thin slices with figs or melon, as a starter.



Denotes a dish containing potato or garnished with it, for instance potage Parmentier, cream of potato soup. Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, was an 18th century French agronomist who helped establish the potato as a popular vegetable in France.



A rich, spicy-flavoured cheese, very hard and large, made from skimmed milk in the Parma district of Italy. Is excellent for cooking and a good accompaniment for pasta and soups because it is the only cheese that does not become elastic when heated. Is better bought in the piece and grated as needed; goes perfectly with Gruyère for a mornay sauce or a gratin dish, and traditionally served with pasta and some soups.


Parsley (Carum)

The most common herb of all, once called the 'herb of health'. Nowadays it is used mostly as a garnish, but it can be made into a good jelly to eat with bread and butter or a delicious soup. Whole sprigs are used for garnishing fish, stalks used in a bouquet garni.



Sweet, aromatic winter root vegetable, tapering in shape and creamy white in colour. It is peeled and sliced in fingers or rounds before being boiled, then possibly mashed with butter or fried.



There are two main varieties of this small game bird, the English or grey and French, which is slightly larger and has red legs. The latter is more common, particularly in the eastern counties of England, but the grey partridge is prized for its flavour and when young should be plainly roasted and served with game chips, fried crumbs, strong gravy and bread sauce. The French bird is at its best when more mature. Older birds are better braised or casseroled. See also Game.



A Russian Easter speciality: a sweet made of curd cheese, cream, chopped almonds and dried fruit and allowed to set in a special mould.


Passion fruit

Egg-sized fruit of the granadilla (passion flower) vine, originally South American; small quantities are imported fresh into Britain.



Paste of flour, water and sometimes eggs, Italian in origin and sold dried in a wide range of shapes such as spaghetti, macaroni, tagliatelle, etc. Cooked by gentle simmering in salted water and usually served with a rich sauce.



Louis Pasteur invented the process of sterilising milk by heating it to 130-160°F and keeping it at that heat for some time before cooling. This prevents fermentation and helps the milk to keep. See also Milk.



Basically pastry consists of flour and fat bound with water, baked or boiled and sweetened or made savoury according to the purpose for which it is to be used. Some of the many types are:

Flaky pastry: For meat pies, sausage rolls, etc.

Hot water crust: For raised pies. Puff pastry For vol-au-vents, bouchées, mille-feuilles, etc.

Rough puff: As for flaky, also apple dumplings.

Shortcrust: For flans and fruit pies.

Suet crust: For steak and kidney pudding, roly-poly.


Some French and continental types:

Pâte brisée: For savoury flans and pies.

Pâte sucrée: For tartlets, flans, pâtisseries.

Pâte frolle (almond): For gâteaux, flans.


Pastry cream

Traditional filling for pâtisseries. Made by boiling a mixture of flour, cornflour, egg yolks, milk and sugar and then folding in egg white. Flavoured with chocolate or coffee for éclairs or with orange, vanilla or other flavour for flans, tartlets, etc. Also known as confectioner's custard and in France as crème patissière.


Pasty [See Patty]


Pâte [See Pastry]



Although the word in French means a pie, it is generally used nowadays for savoury mixtures, principally of chicken, calves 'or pigs' livers and other meat, poultry or game, either smooth or coarse in texture. They have no pastry crust and are cooked in a terrine and served cold as a first course, either scooped from the pot with a spoon or cut in slices, with hot toast and butter. They should be well seasoned and have a proportion of fat, as well as some brandy or sherry, to help them keep.



The name given in France to small pastries and cakes.



Flaky, shortcrust or puff pastry made into small pies with various fillings; a bouchée. The name is said to be a corruption of the word pasty. A tartlet mould is sometimes called a patty pan. See also Turnover.



A thin slice of meat or fish spread with a farce, rolled up, tied and cooked. Usually served with a sauce.



Peasant-fashion. Often braised meat or poultry, with onions, celery, carrots, turnips, etc.



There are a number of types of this common vegetable almost all of them requiring the peas to be shelled from the pod before cooking. An exception is the French mange-tout variety which, as the name indicates, is cooked and eaten pod and all. Good peas should fill the pod, not be too old or large, and are traditional accompaniments for spring lamb or roast duck. The marrowfat pea is the best for canning. Fresh peas are usually plain boiled with mint for flavouring and possibly served with a knob of butter. See also Chick-pea and Split pea.



The English peach, with its whitish, soft and melting flesh, has to be grown either under glass or against a sunny wall in Britain. The other main variety, the Hale, with its firm, deep yellow flesh, generally used for preserving or canning, is imported from the Mediterranean or South Africa. The Hale is larger than the English, but both have the same plush skin with deep pink to red flushes. English peaches are on sale from mid-July to mid-September, the others being available at most times, those from South Africa at Christmas time.



Common name for a groundnut (also called a monkey nut) which has two kernels to a pod-shaped husk, pale brown in colour. The kernels have a pinkish-brown skin and may be eaten with or without the skin, raw or cooked, usually roasted and salted. They have a high oil content and are used for groundnut oil and for peanut butter, which is eaten on buttered bread or toast.



There are two main types of pear: dessert and cooking. Of the former, many are grown in England and some are imported from South Africa in early spring and Italy in summer. In good condition eating pears are delicious, but they can easily become 'sleepy' or too ripe, and this condition is not easy to determine until the fruit is opened. Best-known varieties of dessert pear are:


Williams Pear (or William's Bon Chrétien): Medium size, early maturing (late August and September). Very juicy and sweet white flesh; pink-flushed very smooth skin.

Conference: Elongated shape, later maturing (October). Fine flavoured flesh of creamy-yellow colour; skin is brownish-green.

Doyenne de Comice: Large size, late maturing (November and December). Extremely good flavour in its creamy-white flesh; rough brown skin.

Beurre Hardy: Round pear with firm, white and juicy flesh and a good flavour; smooth, dark green skin. Mostly imported into Britain.

Cooking pears are usually small to medium sized and very hard. There are a number of recipes for cooking them, but they are delicious peeled, halved and cored and poached in a thin syrup with a strip of lemon rind until they assume a rich, brownish-red colour.


Pearl barley [See Barley]


Pease Pudding

Pease pudding is to boiled pork what dumplings are to boiled beef. Soak split peas overnight, drain, boil in a cloth for an hour or two; drain and mash or purée in an electric blender. Beat in butter and egg, tie up in cloth again and boil for last 45 minutes with pork. Turn out of cloth before serving.



A nut, the kernel of which is not unlike that of a walnut. It grows on hickory trees in the southern and western states of North America.



A natural gum-like substance which is present to some extent in most fruit before it is quite ripe. It is essential to obtain a good set in jams and jellies. For fruits like strawberries, which have little pectin, the necessary addition may be made by stewing citrus fruit pith with the fruit or by adding commercially prepared pectin.



Black and white peppers are aromatic spices which streng­then food flavours without mas­king them. The white is less pungent than the black. Both peppers are produced from berries of the pepper plant, a climbing vine native to the East Indies. The ripe berry freed from its skin makes white pepper; black pepper is the whole berry picked before it is ripe. As ground pepper loses its flavour quickly it is better to have a pepper mill and grind pepper­corns as needed. White pepper is used when black specks would spoil a dish's appearance. See also Allspice, Capsicum, Mignonette.



The distinctive flavour of a plant of the mint family which is cultivated for its oil. The plant also grows wild.



Freshwater fish abounding in British rivers and lakes, but of little value in the kitchen; very boney, white and friable flesh.



A region of France famous for its truffles.A la périgourdine means a dish will have truffles in it, and probably foie gras.



Fermented juice of pears, made into a drink in the same way that apple juice is made into cider.



A fruit not unlike a tomato in appearance, with a round shape and smooth skin which turns from yellow to red as it ripens. The flesh, however, is a different texture and has a tart taste. Persimmons are eaten raw when ripe or used in drinks.


Pestle and mortar

A pestle and mortar, the trade mark of some pharmacies, is used in the kitchen for pounding meat, fish, etc., to make smooth creams or for grinding and mixing spices. An electric blen­der nowadays makes the job easier. The mortar or bowl, is made of metal, marble or stone and the pestle of wood.


Petite marmite

A strong, chicken-flavoured, semi-clear soup, named after the French earthenware soup pot or marmite.


Petits fours

Miniature fancy cakes and bis­cuits of many kinds, served at weddings or garden parties or with coffee at the end of a meal.



A game bird of very handsome appearance available from the beginning of October to the end of January. Can be roasted, pot-roasted or casseroled, but care should be taken with cooking to prevent flesh from becoming dry. Pheasants are hung for 5-7 days before being eaten; the hen bird is more succulent and has more flavour than the cock.


Physalis [See Cape Gooseberry]



Mixed vegetables pickled in mustard sauce.



A high-strength brine solution for pickling or salting meats.



Vegetables such as onion, cucumber, cauliflower, red cabbage, preserved or 'pickled' in spiced vinegar.



The term pie denotes meat, game, poultry or fruit, which is cooked in a pie dish with a covering of pastry. A raised pie is one in which the contents are completely enclosed in crust, for which special moulds are made.



The pig has been throughout history and still remains, probably the most valuable source of everyday meat in many parts of the world. It is specially bred for the table as a porker; or as a bacon pig it provides bacon, gammon and hams, smoked or unsmoked (green). Almost every part of the pig is made use of in some way or other. See also Pork, Sucking pig.



Small bird usually treated as game but which may be killed and sold at any time. Some are bred specially for eating, but wild (or wood) pigeons are also good eating. See also Squab.



A large freshwater fish. In France it is much sought-after for making quenelles, for which its friable, white flesh is particularly good. Can also be eaten stuffed and roasted.



Another name for a Scotch pancake, drop scone or girdle cake. Crumpets are sometimes called pikelets.


Pilau or Pilaff

A way of cooking rice, with or without pieces of chicken or other meats: the rice is stewed in a stock, generally with herbs or spices, until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice tender.



Small fish, mostly used for canning, found off the coast of Cornwall; like a small herring.



Sweet red peppers sold in cans are usually called pimientos; the fresh ones being known as sweet peppers. See also All­spice and Capsicum.



A fruit imported from many tropical parts of the world either fresh or in cans. It has a very distinctive shape and flavour. The fresh pineapple is the most delicious, particularly raw, but all varieties may be used in sweets, drinks, ices and jams.


Pine nut or Pine kernel

Very small nut, not unlike an almond in flavour, found on some pine trees.



A Russian pastry turnover made from yeast dough like that of a brioche with a savoury filling of meat, fish, vegetables or cheese. Can be either baked or fried. May be a sort of pancake roll with a savoury filling, to be eaten with soup or as part of an hors d'oeuvre.



A savoury tart or flan filled with tomatoes and onions, with a garnish of black olives and anchovies. Comes from the Nice district of southern France.



Pistachio nuts are the small, bright-green kernels of the nut of the pistacia tree (Pistacia vera). They are dried like al­monds and may be salted; their sweet, slightly aromatic flavour goes well in confectionery, for instance white nougat and in creams and ices.



In a citrus fruit the pith is the white part between the flesh and the coloured rind or zest, of the fruit and in which the pectin of the fruit is to be found.



Named after the French town where it originated, a round, flat puff pastry gâteau filled with a rich almond paste.



An Italian dish to be eaten straight from the oven. It con­sists of a round of a light bread dough as the base; on this traditionally is a covering of mozzarella or Bel Paese cheese, tomatoes and anchovy fillets, the whole being brushed with olive oil before being baked. There are, however, numerous variations on this theme.



A flat white fish which abounds in European waters and although not the tastiest is very popular in Britain. Medium-sized, creamy-white with a red tinge on the underside, the plaice has a grey-brown back with characteristic orange spots. Cuts very easily into four fillets and is usually fried in batter or egg and breadcrumbs.



Few people know the difference between a plantain and a banana. The plaintain, being bigger and with a more fibrous and firmer flesh, is used for banana fritters or for baking.



The entrails, heart and lights of an animal which are plucked out (hence the name) after it is slaughtered.


Plum (Prunus domesticus)

A fruit well-known in Britain both for eating and cooking, ripening in late summer and early autumn. Best-known of the many varieties are:

Victoria: Oval-shaped, large, with a red and yellow colour, on sale in August. Good for all purposes.

Early Rivers: Small, red and sweet, on sale late July and early August. Good for jam, bottling or cooking.

Gage or Yellow: Large, with a yellowish-green colour. Generally used for jam and cooking; a small 'greengage' plum is used for dessert but is not as good as the real greengage.

Czar: Large dessert plum with a purple colour and fair flavour. Ripens late.

Damson: See Damson.

Mirabelle: Not well-known in Britain (but a liqueur is made from it in France), very like the small, bright-red cherry plum; ripens at end of July and early August and is useful for cooking.



A method of cooking, in a liquid which should be kept at a maximum of 200°F (boiling point of water is 212°F). At this temperature the liquid hardly trembles at all. If water is being used, only small crystal bubbles will be seen on the sides or bottom of the pan.



White wine or vinegar is reduced and added, with herbs and chopped gherkin, to a demiglace sauce, making it a piquant sauce for dishes like steaks, cutlets, brains, liver.



The Italian name for a meal made of maize (corn) which is used in cakes, bread and gnoc­chi. Semolina is sometimes used as a substitute.


Polonaise (à la)

A garnish made by frying fresh white breadcrumbs in butter, pouring this over the dish (including the butter) and then sprinkling with a mixture of sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and chopped parsley; the whites of the hard-boiled eggs may also be chopped and added to the garnish. Generally used on asparagus or cauliflower.


Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Tart, delicious fruit of the pome­granate tree which grows in North Africa. Has a rough, reddish-brown skin and is filled with a red pulp in which are large seeds. Grenadine syrup is made from the juice, which is also used as a flavouring for jellies and ices.



Boned anchovies and elderberry juice made into a ketchup.


Poppy seed

The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has fine grey seeds which bakers sprinkle on some bread and bread rolls before baking.



The flesh of a pig, the best being that of a pig which has been specially fattened and fed on milk, although there is a tendency now to leaner and smaller pork joints. A classic pork dish is roast with apple sauce, but pork may also be pickled or salted and in this case would be boiled and served with pease pudding. See Bacon and Ham.



Once the staple diet of the Scots, a mixture of oatmeal and salted water cooked until creamy. Nowadays it is gener­ally taken as a breakfast food, and new processes of treating oats make it possible to cook them in a few minutes instead of the old method in which the oats had to cook for 45 min­utes, possibly in a double saucepan, while being stirred occasionally with a wooden spoon or spurtle. Outside Scot­land porridge is eaten with sugar and milk or cream, but in Scotland it is taken with just a little extra salt and cold milk.



A fortified dessert wine from the Oporto region of Portugal; used in some dishes such as jugged hare.


Porterhouse steak

A steak cut from the wing-rib of beef and known in America as a T-bone steak. It should be about 1½ inches thick.


Portugaise (à la)

Denotes that a dish has a strong tomato flavour or con­tent.



Once administered for a cough or cold, posset is made by heating milk and adding ale, wine or treacle, thereby curdling the milk. Should be strained before serving.


Potato (Solanum tuberosum)

The common potato is a staple food, cheap, easily produced in most countries, with a high calorie content. First brought to Europe in the 16th century from Latin America. Grows as a tuber; different varieties are suited to different dishes and they range from floury, for mashing, to the waxy varieties that are ideal for salads. Some varieties will keep if stored throughout the winter. They may be cooked in a host of ways including frying, boiling, baking and roasting.

Sweet (or Spanish) potatoes are a tuber of the Batatas edulis plant, reddish-brown in colour; usually they are boiled and mashed.


Potato flour [See Fécule]



The name given in France to a dish of boiled beef cooked with root vegetables in a deep marmite (casserole) with water. Unlike its English equivalent, the beef is fresh, not salted ; the broth is served as a soup for a first course.



1. Herbs for use in cookery.

2. Mixed sliced root vegetables and herbs sold ready for use in stews or soups in northern England.



A whole joint or bird is put into a deep pan, browned, vegetables and herbs added, the lid put on and the whole simmered gently. It should be basted frequently. Cooking may be completed in a turreen in the oven after browning. Either way is an excellent means of dealing with cheaper meat cuts.



A caponised hen bird. See also Capon.



A sauce used with broad beans, veal and sweetbreads, made by finishing a velouté sauce with an egg liaison, lemon juice and chopped parsley.



The term applies to birds bred specially for the table, such as chicken, duck, turkey, goose, guinea fowl.


Poussin [See Chicken]



Burnt sugar and almonds in a confection which can be added to soufflés, creams, ices, etc., after being crushed or ground. See also Nougat.



A crustacean with long whiskers and horny proboscis, bright red and shiny when cooked. Prawns range in size from the English variety, about 1½ inches up to the 5 inch variety found in the Pacific. Best fresh in season, but available frozen (shelled) all the year round. In England prawns are sold fresh by the pint or shelled and frozen by weight.

Dublin Bay prawns or Scampi are a different crustacean, similar to a langoustine or baby crawfish, with a hard shell.



Fruit which has been preserved with sugar. See also Jam.



A German savoury biscuit serv­ed with beer; has a distinctive loose knot shape.



A small ball of choux pastry. Profiteroles au chocolat are filled with chocolate cream and coated with chocolate sauce.



Style of cooking in the Pro­vence region of France, charac­terised by the use of garlic, oil and tomatoes.



A special type of plum which has been dried and normally needs soaking before stewing. A new drying process has produced a fruit which does not need soaking.



A game bird of the grouse family, hardly ever seen in the shops nowadays. Found on high ground the ptarmigan has brown plumage which changes to white in winter.



Meat, sausages and beans in a stew; a Spanish and Latin American dish.



1. A loose term for the sweet course.

2. Sweets apart from creams and soufflés, particularly steamed or baked puddings, apple fritters, etc.

3. Meat, such as steak and kidney or steak and oysters, completely en­closed in a suet dough in a pudding basin and steamed or boiled. See also Black Pudding and White Pudding.


Pulled bread

Using two forks, pull the crumb from the inside of a loaf while it is still hot, and bake in small pieces in a moderate oven until crisp. Serve with soups.



In culinary language the name for dried vegetables such as peas, lentils, beans. The seeds of pod-bearing plants.



Unbolted rye flour is made into a black bread in the Westphalian region of Germany and eaten buttered or dry with sausage. Imported into Britain very thinly sliced, in packets.



An orange-coloured vegetable of the gourd family, with an enormous range of sizes. Can be boiled, mashed, baked or as a vegetable. Its yellow, slightly sweet flesh is used for pie filling, particularly on Thanks­giving Day in the United States.



An alcoholic drink very suitable for parties, which can be made strong or weak according to taste with a mixture of spirits such as rum or whisky. Also contains sugar, lemon or lime, hot or cold water and other ingredients.



A thick cream formed by passing cooked meat, vegetable or fruit through a sieve or electric blender or by beating.


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

A herb not often grown nowadays. An annual plant, the leaves of which can be pickled like nasturtium seeds and the shoots of which are used in salads.