Glossary P

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Palm sugar: Also called jaggery, this is a course, unrefined sugar made from the sap of various palm trees or from sugar-cane juice. It comes in two forms, a soft honey butter texture and a harder cake-like texture. The harder form can be crushed for sprinkling on foods.

Phyllo dough (FEE-low): Tissue-thin layers of pastry used in Greek and Middle Eastern dishes such as baklava. Phyllo means "leaves" in Greek; also called filo. Available frozen in supermarkets.

Pimiento (pih-MEN-toh): Sweet red pepper with succulent flesh that is more aromatic than that of its cousin, the red bell pepper. Also called pimiento, the Spanish word for pepper. Available fresh in late summer and fall, bottled year-round. Much of the pimento crop is used to make paprika.

Pine nuts: Seeds from the pine cones of certain evergreens. Their mild, pine-like flavor is enhanced by toasting. Also called Indian nuts, pignolias or pinons.

Pistou (pees-TOO): A mixture of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil. It's the French version of Italy's pesto.

Poblano chili: Dark green, shiny, curvaceous pod about the size of an elongated green bell pepper. On the heat scale it is medium to hot with a raisin-like flavor. Look for poblanos in the produce section of well stocked supermarkets. Poblanos are stuffed with cheese and coated in an egg batter for the famous Mexican dish, chiles rellenos.

Polenta: A cornmeal mush that is a staple in Northern Italy. It is eaten hot like porridge or cooled and cut into squares that are sometimes grilled.

Porcini mushrooms: An edible, wild mushroom also known as cepes. Pale brown with a smooth, meaty texture. Seldom available fresh in the U.S., but often available dried in specialty markets.

Portobello mushrooms: Large tan or brownish mushrooms with relatively flat caps reaching 6 inches across. Meaty flavor and texture, can be grilled whole or sliced.

Powdered mustard: Dry mustard packed in a small, square tin; also called English mustard. Very hot.

Pumpkin seeds: Also known as pepitas, these are a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes. Freed of their white hull, the seeds are dark green and have a delicate flavor that can be heightened by toasting in a dry pan. Purchase shelled at natural foods store and Mexican markets.