Glossary  B

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Balsamic vinegar (bal-SAH-mihk): A red-brown Italian vinegar that has a sweet-sour flavor. Made from white Trebbiano grapes and aged in wooden barrels. White balsamic vinegar is made from Italian white wine vinegar and the boiled down musts (crushed pulp and skins) of white grapes.

Barley flakes: Resembles and can be cooked like oatmeal. Available in natural foods stores.

Barley flour: Flour made from a hearty grain dating back to the Stone Age. Available in specialty and health-food stores.

Basmati rice (bahs-MAH-tee): A long-grained brown or white rice that is aged to enhance its perfumy aroma and nutlike flavor. Particularly good with Indian or Asian dishes.

Bean thread noodles: Also called cellophane noodles, these translucent threads are made from the starch of green mung beans. Sold dried, they must be soaked briefly in hot water before using. They can also be deep-fried.

"Beef" stock: Powdered vegetarian flavoring mixed with water to make stock. Available in natural food stores or by mail order.

Belgian endive (EN-dyv; AHN-deev): A whitish-green, cigar-shaped head of bitter greens closely related to chicory.

Black bean sauce: A pungently flavored bottled Chinese condiment made from fermented black beans, rice wine and garlic. Sometimes also flavored with chilies.

Black-eyed peas: Small, tan Asian legume with a black circular "eye," introduced to America via the African slave trade. Available fresh or dried. Also called cowpea as it was originally grown as animal fodder.

Black mustard seeds: Often used in Indian cookery. Brown mustard seeds can be substituted. Available in specialty markets.

Blood orange: A small specialty orange with a sweet-tart taste and orange flesh streaked with bright red.

Bouquet garni: A bunch of herbs tied together or placed in a cheesecloth to flavor soups, stews and broths. The classic trio is parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Tie the bouquet garni string to the pot handle for easy removal of the herbs.

Brown rice syrup: Thick syrup made from cracked brown rice and barley. Also called rice malt. Used as a sugar substitute in sweets and desserts.

Bulgur: Cracked wheat that has been hulled and parboiled.

Burdock root: Slender root vegetable with brown skin and white flesh. Sweet, earthy flavor and crisp texture.