Test your cooking knowledge with cooking anecdotes from A to Z


Growing up in the Victoria area, Anthony Telford learned all he could about growing and cooking food.

But even years later, after working in kitchens across the country since the age of 15, the now Sydney-based chef found himself frustrated trying to find quick answers to common cooking questions.

Anthony Telford. Photo: Supplied

His new book, The kitchen thinks, aims to remedy that, with over 600 tips, tricks, tips and explanations for anyone who loves to cook.

Put your culinary knowledge to the test with this A-to-Z glossary of less common food terms.


The liquid extracted from canned chickpeas is known as aquafaba and is a very useful alternative for vegan cooks. Aquafaba mimics the functional properties of egg whites, making its use in meringue-type desserts a blessing for vegans and for those with allergies to eggs.


Broccoli flower is a relatively new vegetable, no doubt developed by bored agronomists. A cross between broccoli and cauliflower, it has a bright light green color and a milder flavor than either of its parents.

Sour milk

Clabber is a curd or curd (the name derives from the use of the word as an archaic word for pantry). Raw milk is left to stand for two or three days until it curdles. The cream is removed to produce crème de clabber or crème fraîche. The clabber is eaten as is or with a little black pepper or nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar and a hint of crème fraîche. It can also be strained overnight through cheesecloth to produce a kind of cottage cheese.


Not Homer Simpson’s favorite beer, but the name of an English pudding: plum duff is a type of steamed pudding with dried fruit – really another name for plum pudding or Christmas pudding.

Ep Nitrogen

Ep Nitrogen is a pungent herb used primarily in bean dishes in Central American countries, Mexico, and New Mexico. It is said to make beans more digestible. Also available in powder.

To trick

Fou is a simple dessert made with crushed or mashed fruit mixed with cream (usually whipped cream). The name is said to derive from “fouler”, the French word for crushing. The fruits can be fresh, poached or simmered. Fruits that are high in acid, such as raspberries, rhubarb, and passion fruit, are generally associated with nuts, but mango, apricot, and papaya also work.


From the ancient Romans comes this fermented fish sauce. An excellent condiment, full of rich umami flavors. Good chefs won’t waste any part of the fish to make their own garum.


Horchata is a milk substitute made from chufa (tiger) nuts, the tiny tuberous roots of a Middle Eastern plant or almonds. Mexican horchata, also a milk substitute, is made from rice and tastes completely different.


Isinglass is a gelatin-like thickener obtained by cleaning and drying the inner lining of the air or swim bladders of a number of species of fish, particularly sturgeon and cod. It is used to thicken or clarify in particular in the wine industry where it is used as “finer”.


Jujube a small fruit also known as Chinese date. The skin turns from yellowish green to red when ripe (although it can be eaten before it is fully ripe). The skin and flesh are crispy and sweet, and can be cooked, candied, dried or simply eaten fresh.


Kombu is a main ingredient in dashi. This seaweed enhances the taste of many dishes as it is an exceptional source of monosodium glutamic acid, the natural version of the chemical monosodium glutamate flavor enhancer. Look for very dark, almost black examples of this dried seaweed, remembering not to wipe off the white residue on the surface, which contains a lot of flavor.


Loofah is picked, sold and used when it is not ripe. (Overripe fruit forms sponge-like fibers which, when dried, turn into those rough bath sponges that women love and men just don’t get.) Asian grocery stores, some resembling large okra, called elbows. Chinese loofah or okra, others called loofah or sponge gourd. In most cases, treat loofah as you would zucchini.

mole sauce

Mole sauce, a Mexican sauce to accompany meat, was invented by a nun, based on an ancient festive dish eaten by the Aztecs. It’s made with Mexican chocolate (not the same as the chocolate used to make candies and desserts), often as little as 30 grams for a recipe to serve with a whole chicken. The other ingredients in this thick sauce include lots of red chili, onion, garlic, herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley), tomatoes, sesame seeds, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. Mole served with chicken and turkey tastes better than it looks.

Close-up of an essential beneficial Ayurvedic herb namely kalonji Nigella / Â Kalonji / Â Charnushka iStock (not black cumin!)

This slightly bitter aromatic spice is used to add a nutty touch to curries and breads. Photo: iStock


Black seed, also known as kalonji or charnushka in the United States, is the teardrop-shaped, black, prickly seed of a bush found throughout India. This slightly bitter aromatic spice is used to add a nutty touch to curries and breads, as well as in Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine. Kalonji should not be confused with black sesame seeds (kalonji seeds have a more angular shape), black onion seeds, or black cumin.


Okra, also known in many English speaking countries as lady’s fingers or ochro. A member of the mallow plant family, which includes durian, cocoa, and cotton. Okra is valued for its edible green pods and popular in the southern United States, West Africa, India, and South Asia. When cooked, the characteristic viscous or gooey texture is valued for its ability to help thicken moist dishes such as sauces, soups (okra) and stews. Dried okra can also thicken sauces. Viscous mucilage can be reduced by adding acidic foods such as tomatoes. Young okra leaves can be cooked the same way as beet or dandelion greens, or in a salad. Okra seeds can be roasted and ground to form a caffeine-free substitute for coffee.


Purslane is an edible weed, classified as a succulent. Its leaves are thick and tender, with a slightly sour and peppery flavor. The stems are tinged with pink, so the plant is as decorative as it is spicy. Purslane is best eaten raw or sautéed before using in soups and stews, as it can be viscous, with a texture like okra, when cooked. Alternatives to purslane are hard to find; some say it’s similar to watercress or spinach which is interesting because watercress and spinach don’t taste the same so I suggest you ignore them. As a fresh leaf, the best you can hope for is lamb’s lettuce, a very distant relative.

Quark Rokeby Farms

The quark is traditional in the cuisines of the Baltic, Germanic and Slavic countries. Photo: Rokeby Farms


Quark or quarg is classified as an acid-setting cheese. The quark is traditional in the cuisines of the Baltic, Germanic and Slavic countries. Commonly mistaken for a curd (like cottage cheese), it’s actually made from sour milk that has been fermented with a mesophilic bacteria and traditionally rennet-free – although dairies in the modern era use rennet. Quark is eaten like labna (strained yogurt), but not quite so sour. Used fresh or in cooked, sweet or savory dishes.

rubber husband

The rubber husband is not a marital helper, but a hollow rubber tube used to peel garlic quickly. A garlic clove is placed in the tube and rolled back and forth several times, and the skin just peels off. Handy to keep in the drawer and available at good kitchen utensil stores.


A salamander is a commercial oven grill used in restaurants. It is designed to finish a dish by giving it a crust, or to flash foods with a quick heat source before serving.

Hot fruit tea with oranges and cinnamon tea istock

Herbal infusions tend to be called herbal teas. Photo: iStock


Originally, herbal tea simply meant “barley water”, but today it more often refers to herbal infusions. Tea is a more common word for all infusions, whether made from tea leaves or from herbal or fruit blends, while most herbal teas are made from herbal remedies.

Ugly fruit

The Ugli fruit is a hybrid of grapefruit, orange and tangerine. It tastes similar to grapefruit but is sweeter. The outer skin is a distinctive mottled green and yellow that peels easily to reveal an easily segmented pulp with few seeds. Correctly pronounced “hoo glee” but most westerners call it for its appearance: “ugly”.


Verjuice is made from unfermented unripe or unripe fruits, mainly grapes. This sour liquid is similar to vinegar but not as harsh. Used in medieval times and the Renaissance, verjuice has made a welcome comeback. It is ideal for deglazing pans, sauces and dressings. Verjuice can be hard to find on supermarket shelves, so look for it in specialty grocery stores, food halls and markets.

Wax leg

Wax jambu, also known as Java apple, is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Small pear-shaped fruit with a waxy skin and crunchy, juicy flesh, it is subtly sweet and looks like an apple. Wax jambu is usually eaten fresh, although some lower-quality varieties are bland and eaten with a pinch of sugar. Available throughout Asia, but hard to find elsewhere.


Xocolati is also known as Mexican hot chocolate.


Yuba is the skin that collects on top of a vat of frozen soy milk, used in making noodles and yuba leaves, thin sheets of tofu skin that can be rehydrated and wrapped around others. food or fries and smashed then sprinkled on salads or vegetables.

Zigzag vine

The zigzag vine is a tropical fruit native to eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Eaten fresh with an almost orange sherbet flavor.

This is an edited excerpt from The thought of cooking: the wisdom of cooking by Anthony Telford, Sporr, RRP $ 60.49. Buy Now (Hardcover, Paperback, Digital)


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