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Topic: Cooking in the UK  (Read 33627 times)

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Cooking in the UK
« on: May 16, 2007, 04:46:52 PM »
A lot of us move over to the UK bringing with us all of our American cookbooks, American cup measures, etc. But once we take root on the other side of the Atlantic, we start accumulating British cookbooks, watching British cooking programmes on television and buying British cooking magazines. So how do we reconcile the two? Here are some tips:

Measurements:


Most British recipes written since the 1970s use metric, rather than Imperial, measurements. There are several good websites around to help you convert metric to imperial measurements, and vice versa. A couple of my favourites are Gourmet Sleuth and the Science of Cooking, but there are plenty of others as well. Just do a Google search and you’ll come up with hundreds to choose from.

Some shops (Lakeland, for instance) sell handy fridge magnets with common conversions printed on them. If you don’t want to print things out, or forever be running back and forth to the computer, this might be a good option for you.

Another option is to buy some kitchen scales which measure in both ounces and grams. You don’t have to spend a fortune - most supermarkets sell cheap scales which will serve your needs. Of course, you can spend more and buy from a cooking shop, but it’s not necessary.

In addition to measurements, you’ll need to translate oven temperatures from Fahrenheit to Centigrade. Some of you also may have cookers with gas marks, rather than temperatures. A simple guide is:

225º F - 110º C - gas mark ¼
250º F - 130º C - gas mark ½
275º F - 140º C - gas mark 1
300º F - 150º C - gas mark 2
325º F - 170º C - gas mark 3
350º F - 180º C - gas mark 4
375º F - 190º C - gas mark 5
400º F - 200º C - gas mark 6
425º F - 220º C - gas mark 7
450º F - 230º C - gas mark 8
475º F - 240º C - gas mark 9

*Convection ovens are far more common in the UK than in America. If you have one, you should reduce the cooking time and the temperature by about 20%.

Whether you choose to translate an American recipe to British, or a British recipe to American, my advice would be to jot down the new measurements right in the cookbook next to the old ones. This will make it easy for you the next time you use that recipe - particularly if it’s a family favourite you use again and again.

If you find yourself with a pre-1970s (pre-metrication) British recipe, you’ll see that it looks familiar, in that it will probably use pints, quarts, etc. However, you should know that British pints and quarts are not the same as American ones. Again, check with an online conversion table for specifics, but here are the basics:

1 British pint = 1.201 US pint
1 British quart = 1.201 US quart

If you didn’t bring over your American measuring cups, spoons, etc., when you came but now wish you had, fear not. A lot of shops in the UK now stock them.

Equipment

You’ll find that some familiar cooking equipment from the US goes by completely different names in the UK. Here are a few examples:

cheese cloth = muslin
blender = liquidiser (or mixer)
sieve = strainer
frying pan = skillet
parchment = non-stick baking paper
(to) whip (or beat) = (to) whisk
(to) broil = (to) grill

Ingredients

If you’re new to the UK, you might also find yourself at a loss when shopping for ingredients for your favourite American recipe. Before you wind up in the middle of Tesco, screaming, “Where’s my Crisco?” you should know that there are substitutes available in the UK. Also, many food items are identical, but are known by completely different names. Here’s a partial list of substitutions or ‘next-best-things‘:

all-purpose flour = plain flour
all-purpose flour with baking powder = self raising flour
arugula = rocket
baking soda = bicarbonate of soda
beet = beetroot
belgian endive = chicory
bell peppers = sweet peppers
bread flour = strong flour
brown sugar = soft brown sugar
cake flour = extra-fine plain flour
cilantro = coriander
corn meal = polenta
corn starch = corn flour
corn syrup = golden syrup (might be iffy depending on the recipe, but give it a try)
cream of wheat = semolina or farina
Crisco (shortening) = Trex (vegetable fat)
dark chocolate = plain chocolate
eggplant = aubergine
extract = essence
farmer’s cheese = quark
fava beans = broad beans or butterbeans
frosting = icing
graham crackers = digestive biscuits
green beans = French beans
ground meat = minced meat
heavy cream = double cream
lima beans = broad beans or butterbeans
light cream  single cream
molasses = treacle
navy beans = haricot beans
peanut oil = groundnut oil
powdered sugar (or confectioners sugar) = icing sugar
raw unrefined sugar = muscovado sugar
rutabaga = swede
scallions (or green onions) = spring onions
shrimp = prawns
snow peas (or sugar peas) = mange touts
summer squash = marrow
superfine sugar = caster sugar
tenderloin = fillet
white raisins = sultanas
whole wheat = whole meal
zucchini = courgette

Please add any comments or helpful tips! Happy cooking!  ;D
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 05:11:52 PM by chary »
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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 05:01:41 PM »
i just want to say thanks, i now have no excuse at converting hubby's american recipes.
Sharon-UK






Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2007, 05:10:26 PM »
THANK YOU!!!!  This is brilliant!


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2007, 05:19:53 PM »
Brilliant Helen! That is so useful. Can I just add a couple of things to your list?

Biscuits = scones (NOT the same but can be used as a substitute)
Cookies = biscuits

 :D
« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 07:15:07 PM by Britwife »


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2007, 05:24:33 PM »
Biscuits = scones
Cookies = biscuits

Thank you! I knew I'd forget a few.
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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 05:32:25 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef

I can't figure out how to get the pictures, but it gives diagrams of american and british cuts of beef.  I was stumped for a long time trying to figure out what to buy.


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 05:38:48 PM »
I can't figure out how to get the pictures, but it gives diagrams of american and british cuts of beef.  I was stumped for a long time trying to figure out what to buy.

Thanks so much for that, Kathleen! I don't eat red meat, so it wouldn't have occurred to me to include this info! Here are the pictures:

American cuts of beef


British cuts of beef
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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007, 05:40:55 PM »
I think for a lot of U.S. recipes work better with strong four, rather than plain, because of the gluten levels.  So I use strong flour for my cookies.  But that might be just me. 


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2007, 06:04:11 PM »
This *is* very useful, thanks!  Now I can get baking--I was afraid of the oven with its gasmark measurements.  I'll try using strong flour for my cookies as well.
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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2007, 06:35:18 PM »
Regarding meat cut translations - talk to a butcher.  Even if you prefer to buy at the supermarket, one trip to the butcher can help you figure out what cut you need.  Tell them what the cut is called in the US (may or may not help).  Explain the cooking method, taste, and finished texture of the meat.  They should be able to tell you what the cut is called here or recommend something similar.


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2007, 02:22:35 AM »
Chary, this is absolutely Brilliant!!


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2007, 10:17:52 AM »
Thanks for putting this together! Now if someone can just do something about not having the measurements on the sticks of butter! I usualy eyeball it, and guess, and I know that a half of a stick of country life or other kind of butter is the same size as a US stick of butter, but if someone came up with (or knew of) a gadget to measure butter without using spoons, it would be amazing!

Also, for baking, personally, I find UK recipes using weights for ingrediants are much more successful than US recipes wtih cake measures. t might just be the way that I bake...


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2007, 11:16:51 AM »
but if someone came up with (or knew of) a gadget to measure butter without using spoons, it would be amazing!

I weigh butter. Using a conversion table, I translate what half a stick of butter is in grams, then just weigh it out. Easy!
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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2007, 11:37:14 AM »
I weigh butter. Using a conversion table, I translate what half a stick of butter is in grams, then just weigh it out. Easy!

Ah, and where can I get such a conversion chart???


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Re: Cooking in the UK
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2007, 11:41:18 AM »
Ah, and where can I get such a conversion chart???

See my original post. I use Gourmet Sleuth. Just enter butter as the food item, then select salted, unsalted, whipped, etc. Then it lets you convert from sticks to grams.  ;D
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