To avoid confusion we have tried to place all measurement-related stuff and vocabulary in one place: namely here!
Since we’re based in Europe we use metric measurements. However, most recipes are not so precise that conversion to US or British units is going to cause major problems. Sometimes we use teaspoon, tablespoon etc, but again these are based on metric conventions:
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) 5ml
- 1 dessert spoon (dsp) 10ml
- 1 tablespoon (tbsp) 15ml
r.tsp is a rounded teaspoon, likewise r.dsp, r.tbsp. h.tsp, h.dsp, h.tbsp refer to heaped spoons.
A useful site for conversions can be found here .
We use freshly ground sea salt where we can. For salting water for pasta etc. plain old table salt does just fine.
Normally freshly-ground black pepper, but sometimes freshly ground white pepper if we don’t want the pepper to leave flecks in the sauce or soup. Watch out with the white pepper: it seems to be more pungent (not necessarily hotter) so you don’t need very much.
There are lots of different types of onion. Unless otherwise stated we use the common yellow onions. Small means a little bigger than a golf ball and medium means about the size of a tennis ball weighing about 200g. We don’t normally bother with the very large Spanish onions as most dishes need less than one, which leads to waste. We’re normally talking about a medium sized onion.
Yellow onions are often a bit strong for use raw. In these cases white, red or Spanish onions are better. If chopped raw onion is called for, you can blanch yellow onion for a minute or so to make the taste milder.
As with onions, there are many types of shallot. We use the banana shallot as it’s the least fiddly to deal with.
The garlic we use has bulbs about the size of a golf ball. French or Spanish seems to taste a bit stronger than Chinese, which is good for allround use. Make sure the garlic is still firm as otherwise it can be bitter.
Unless otherwise stated tomatoes weigh about 100g each. They should always be ripe. This can be a problem with the Dutch greenhouse specimens, which the Germans disparagingly refer to as schnittfestes Wasser or water you can cut. However, if you buy a few days ahead and leave the tomatoes in a bowl, they usually continue to ripen, especially if they’re still on the vine. During the winter, you may be best sticking to recipes that call for tinned tomatoes as these were at least very ripe when tinned.
Unless otherwise stated an egg is a large hen’s egg weighing around 65g.
Normally unsalted but for most savoury dishes you can used salted too: just remember to go easy with any extra salt. Don’t even get me started about margarine!
Butter is normally not much good for frying as it burns too easily. However, clarified butter or ghee can withstand high heat and adds a lovely flavour to dishes.
There are many grades of cream. Single cream has about 20% fat and I’m at a loss to know what it’s good for. Double cream has a fat content of almost 50% and is good for cooking and whipping. Standard cream in Ireland has 38% fat content and is good for cooking and whipping. This is the cream we use normally.
What’s in a Name?
- Coriander = Cilantro
- Zucchini = Courgette
- Melanzana = Aubergine = Eggplant
- Scallion = Spring Onion = Green Onion