Includes sweeteners, herbs, spices, chocolate, and extracts.
When first opened, sparkling wine becomes effervescent as bubbles of carbon dioxide gas escape from the liquid. It was first produced by Dom Pérignon in the 17th century, who cried out after sampling it, "Come quickly. I am drinking stars!" Champagne is perhaps the finest example of sparkling wine, and is named for the region in France where it's produced. The brand Dom Pérignon is considered to be the finest champagne. Sparkling wine and champagne are rated by their relative sweetness. The driest is brut, followed by extra dry, sec, and the sweetest of all, demi-sec. Sparkling wines are used to toast special occasions like weddings and the New Year, but they're also served before meals. They're especially nice with caviar.Learn more
Varieties: By crystal size: Regular sugar = fine granulated sugar = table sugar = standard granulated sugar = extra-fine granulated sugar is the standard table sugar we're all familiar with. Superfine sugar = ultrafine sugar = bar sugar = instant dissolving sugar = berry sugar = castor sugar = caster sugar dissolves more quickly, and is recommended for sweetening beverages, and for making meringues, cakes, soufflés, and mousses. To make your own, grind standard granulated sugar in a food processor or blender for about a minute. Baker's special has a grain size between standard granulated and superfine. Bakers use it in cakes because the fine granules improve the texture. Sanding sugar has larger granules that sparkle when sprinkled on baked goods and candies. Coarse sugar has a larger grain size than regular granulated sugar. It tends not to change color or break down at high temperatures. It's similar to (and often mistaken for) sanding sugar. By source: Beet sugar is derived from sugar beets, while cane sugar is derived from sugar cane. Both beet and cane sugars are 99.95% sucrose, but many bakers claim that the remaining .05% of trace minerals and proteins makes a difference, and that cane sugar performs better. Some cane sugar is processed using a by-product of animal bones, so some vegetarians prefer beet sugar to cane. Some manufacturers don't specify whether their product is beet sugar or cane sugar.Learn more
Sunflower seeds are nutritious snacks. They're often sold in their shells, which you're supposed to crack open in your teeth and spit out after you've eaten the kernel within. Shelled sunflower seeds are also available for the more fastidious, and for cooks who want to add the seeds to breads, salads, casseroles, and trail mixes.Learn more
Varieties include iodized salt, which contains the flavorless additive potassium iodide to prevent goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), and non-iodized salt. Some recipes call for non-iodized salt, since iodine can impart a bitter taste and adversely react with certain foods. For example, iodine darkens pickles and inhibits the bacterial fermentation needed to make sauerkraut. Table salt also contains small amounts of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent, and dextrose, a stabilizer. The anti-caking agent in both iodized and non-iodized salt doesn't dissolve in water, so if you pickle or can with it, it will turn the liquid cloudy or else settle on the bottom of the jar. The preserved food will taste the same, mind you, but it won't look as appealing. This is more of a problem for pickles, which are immersed in lots of liquid, than for other canned goods. To prevent the cloudiness, use pickling salt, which contains no additives.Learn more
The French are especially fond of this aromatic, anise-like herb. They often use it to flavor delicately flavored foods like eggs, fish, cheese, and chicken, and it's an indispensable ingredient in sauce béarnaise and in the herb mixture the French call fines herbes. Use it sparingly--a little goes a long way. Frozen tarragon is an excellent substitute for fresh, but use the dried version only in a pinch.Learn more
This popular herb vinegar is used to make Béarnaise sauce and vinaigrettes. It's easy to make at home. Just put one or two sprigs of clean, fresh tarragon in a bottle of warm white wine vinegar, tightly seal the bottle, and let it stand for at least a few days.The sprigs will eventually become bitter, so remove or replace them after a few weeks. Make sure that the vinegar you use has an acidity level of at least 5% (this information is given on the label). Don't add too much tarragon to the bottle, or you may reduce the acidity of the vinegar so much that it loses its ability to preserve.Learn more
Ordinary Tokay table wine is mediocre, but some Tokay grapes are affected by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that pokes holes in their skins and makes them shrivel on the vine. This concentrates the sweetness and makes for an exquisite dessert wine. Look for bottles labeled Tokay Aszú, the Hungarian name for botrytised Tokay wine.Learn more