pak choi – (Cantonese: ‘white vegetable’) member of the cabbage family with chunky, crispy stalks. Normally used cooked in Oriental dishes. Known as ‘bok choy’ in North America.

paella – (Spanish) Valencian rice dish with seafood and meat

pakora – deep-dried vegetable fritter which originated in India

paleo diet – The Paleolithic diet, often abbreviated to the paleo diet, is based mainly on foods presumed to have been available to humans in Paleolithic times. It’s also sometimes called the caveman diet or stone-age diet.

panada or panade – term for the paste of choux pastry before the eggs are added

panada or panado – a type of bread soup

pancetta – Italian cured pork belly (like streaky bacon)

paneer – cheese made from fresh milk curds used in Indian cookery

paner – (French) to coat with egg and breadcrumbs before frying

panettone – a type of sweet Italian bread, often associated with Christmas

panini – (Italian) a toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta

panna cotta – (Italian: ‘cooked cream’) dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and cooked in a mould

papaya – large orange-fleshed fruit with a flavour similar to a peach

papillote, en – (French: ‘in parchment’) cooking technique in which food is baked inside a sealed wrapping of greaseproof paper or tin foil.

pappardelle – (Italian: pappare, ‘to gobble’) large, broad, flat egg noodles

paprika – a spice made from air-dried fruits of the chilli pepper family

parboil – partially cook in boiling liquid

parfait – (French: ‘perfect’) enriched ice-cream made from a sugar, egg yolk and double cream base

Parmesan – hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk

parsley – widely used culinary herb. The curly variety is used in traditional British cooking, whilst the flat-leaved is common in Mediterranean and other cuisines.

parsnip – a member of the carrot family with cream-coloured, sweet white flesh

partridge – medium-sized game bird

passata – (Italian: ‘strained’) sieved or strained puréed tomatoes

pasta primavera – (Italian: ‘spring pasta’) an Italian dish of pasta, sauce and vegetables; some cooks also add fish, eg salmon. Primavera can also be made with risotto instead of pasta.

pastilla or bastilla – (Spanish: ‘little pastry’) traditional Moroccan pie

pastry – a container or cover for other foods.  Basic pastries are made from a dough of flour, fat and liquid, which is then shaped and baked.

pâtisserie – a type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. It’s also a term for these types of food.

paupiette – (French: from Italian polpetta, ‘rissole’) thin slice of meat or fish wrapping a savoury stuffing

pavé – (French: ‘slab’) square sponge cake layered with butter-cream, mousse or pâté prepared in a square mould

pavlova – meringue dessert topped with whipped cream and fruit, named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova

peach – sweet, juicy fruit with a velvety skin

pear – fruit related to the apple but with a slightly granular texture

peas – small green legumes which grow inside pods

pecan – nut related to the walnut, native to America

pecorino – (Italian: pecora, ‘ewe’) hard Italian ewe’s milk cheese

peel – to remove the skin from vegetables and fruits using a knife or a peeler

peel – a long-handled flat paddle used to place bread and pizza in the oven

peperonata – (Italian: peperon, ‘chilli’) Southern Italian stew made from peppers and vegetables

pepper – (also known as ‘bell pepper’, ‘capsicum’) large, sweet, mild fruit related to chillies

persillade – (French: persil, ‘parsley’) seasoning mixture of parsley chopped together with garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar

pesto – (Italian: pestare, ‘pound’) Italian name for any sauce made by pounding ingredients together. (See also pesto Genovese)

pesto Genovese – usually shortened in the UK to just pesto. Consists of basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil pounded together and finished with finely grated Parmesan and pecorino cheeses.

petits fours – bite sized items of pâtisserie, served with coffee after a meal

piatto – (Italian) plate or dish

piccata – (Italian) escalope

pieds de mouton – (French) sheep’s trotters; also a type of wild mushroom

pilaf – Turkish dish of long grain-rice simmered in a seasoned broth. Known in South Asia as ‘pulao’.

pilchard – a large sardine

pimento or pimiento – large, sweet red chilli pepper

pimentón – Spanish paprika

pinch – very small quantity of a dry, powdered ingredient lifted between forefinger and thumb and added directly into the food being prepared

pineapple – large, sweet tropical fruit with yellow flesh

Pinot Gris – white grape variety used to make wine in the Alsace style. Pino Grigio is the same grape variety but the wine is made in the Italian style.

Pinot Noir – red grape variety used for making wine

Pinotage – South African red grape variety used for making wine

pipe –  a decorative technique achieved by putting a soft mixture into a piping bag and squeezing it through the bag’s nozzle to create interesting shapes for presentation purposes eg mashed potatoes on a pie or butter cream on a cake

piri-piri – the Portuguese term for African bird’s-eye chilli.

pirozhki – (Russian: pirozhok, ‘pie’) small savoury pastries, with a variety of fillings, baked or fried

pissaladière – (French)  a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France, similar to an Italian pizza.

pistou –  a Provençal cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil.  Like the Italian pesto without the pine nuts.

pit – to remove the stone or seed from a fruit or vegetable

pith – bitter, white layer underneath the outer layer of a citrus fruit

plancha, à la – (Spanish) grilled on a metal plate

pluck – the heart, liver and lungs of an animal used as food, eg for haggis

poach – to cook by submerging in a liquid, eg water, stock, milk or wine

polenta – Italian staple made from maize flour

pomegranate – round red hard-skinned fruit containing lots of edible little white seeds which are held in ruby-coloured sacs filled with sweet, juicy flesh. Sometimes hailed as a superfood.

pork – meat of the pig

potato – widely used tuber which comes in a large number of varieties

pot-au-feu – (French: ‘pot on fire’) classic French dish of meat and vegetables cooked in stock

poussin – (French) young chicken, less than 28 days old at time of slaughter

praline – almonds caramelised in sugar, crushed and added to confections

prawn – edible crustacean (shrimps are small prawns)

prosciutto – Italian, seasoned air-dried ham; often eaten raw but can also be used as a wrapping for cooked foods, eg scallops.

Prosecco – Italian white sparkling wine, like Champagne but cheaper because of bulk production methods

prove – the final rising of a bread dough before it’s baked

provençal – (French) sauce of tomatoes, onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil

pumpkin – winter squash with hard yellow or orange skin and soft, fibrous orange flesh

punt –  also known as ‘kick-up’, refers to the dimple in the bottom of a wine bottle

puttanesca – (Italian: ‘whore’s style’) pasta sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers and garlic

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