Includes sweeteners, herbs, spices, chocolate, and extracts.
This enormously popular Italian vinegar is prized for its sweet, fruity flavor and mild acidity. It's terrific for deglazing pans, dressing salads and vegetable dishes, and for seasoning everything from grilled meat to poached fruit. Its quality varies enormously. Expensive artisan-made balsamic vinegars (labeled traditional or tradizionale) are aged in wood barrels for at least 12 years and can cost over $100 per bottle. They're exquisitely complex, syrupy and only slightly acidic. Those who can afford them often drink them as they would a vintage port, or use them in desserts, where their sweetness and subtleties can be shown off to best advantage. Cheaper commercial brands are watered down with wine vinegar and artificially colored, but they're fine for most recipes.Learn more
Basil is widely used in Mediterranean countries, where it flavors everything from pasta sauces to pesto, and in Southeast Asia, where it's often stir-fried with other ingredients. There are numerous varieties, ranging from the more pungent Asian basils to the sweeter and milder European varieties. Use dried basil only in a pinch--it's not nearly as flavorful as fresh.Learn more
Bay leaves are a staple of Mediterranean cuisines, lending a woodsy flavor to sauces, stews, and grilled meats. It's best to add whole leaves, then remove them before serving the dish. The Turkish bay leaf is smaller and less potent than the California bay leaf, but more highly prized due to the complexity of its flavor. Dried leaves are a good substitute for fresh.Learn more
These wines are made from berries, including blackberries, loganberries, cranberries, elderberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, boysenberries, and currants. They tend to be very sweet, and some are fortified to raise the alcohol level. They're usually served chilled as a beverage, or poured on ice cream or fruit as a dessert.Learn more
This is a sweetened chocolate that's heavy on the cocoa solids and light on the sugar, giving it a rich, intense chocolate flavor. Many pastry chefs prefer bittersweet to semi-sweet or sweet chocolate, but the three can be used interchangeably in most recipes. The best bittersweet chocolates contain at least 50% cocoa solids.Learn more