The lan­guage of cook­ing

VANESSA CLARK nimmt Sie mit auf eine kuli­nar­ische Reise durch die en­glis­chsprachige Welt. Kochen Sie mit – und üben Sie ganz neben­bei den ein­schlägi­gen Wortschatz.

Spotlight - - CONTENTS -

Us­ing a won­der­ful se­lec­tion of recipes, Vanessa Clark in­tro­duces you to the words and ex­pres­sions you need to be able to talk about cook­ing in English.

Af­ter read­ing all the food-re­lated sto­ries in this is­sue of Spot­light, are you ready to cook? Great! Recipes have a lan­guage all their own, so if you’re go­ing to use English-lan­guage recipes, you might like a lit­tle help with some of the most com­mon terms used in them.

Let us take you on a three-course culi­nary tour of the English-speak­ing world, with prac­ti­cal tips and lan­guage ac­tiv­i­ties at each stop.

A starter from the UK

Pot­ted shrimps are a sim­ple, tra­di­tional dish from Lan­cashire and other coastal ar­eas in the north of Eng­land, where the small brown shrimps are caught. Shrimps are like small prawns. “Pot­ted” means that the shrimps are set in but­ter. Orig­i­nally, this was a way of pre­serv­ing shrimps (and other seafood), be­fore the days of re­frig­er­a­tion.

For our su­per-sim­ple recipe, you can use su­per­mar­ket prawns in place of the tra­di­tional shrimps. Buy prawns that are al­ready cooked and peeled, ready to use. Frozen prawns must be thawed be­fore us­ing. This dish will keep well in the fridge.

Pot­ted shrimps


150 g un­salted but­ter juice of ¼ le­mon a pinch of freshly grated nut­meg a pinch of cayenne pep­per

200 g cooked shrimps or prawns


Melt the but­ter in a pan over a low heat, or in the mi­crowave.

Add the le­mon juice and spices. Sea­son to taste.

Put the shrimps or prawns into in­di­vid­ual ramekin dishes. Pour the melted but­ter over them.

Chill un­til the but­ter is set.

Serve with fresh bread. Lan­guage tip

The in­struc­tion “sea­son to taste” means “add as much salt and pep­per as you like”. For a “pinch” of salt or pep­per, use your fin­ger and thumb to mea­sure a small amount.

1. Hot and cold

Most recipes in­volve mak­ing food hot­ter or colder. Match the in­struc­tions (A–G) to the cor­rect mean­ings (1–7).

A. bring to the boil B. sim­mer

C. chill

D. freeze

E. melt

F. set

G. thaw

1. Put the food in the fridge.

2. Heat a solid so that it be­comes soft and then a liq­uid.

3. Put the food in the freezer so that it reaches a tem­per­a­ture below zero. 4. Leave a liq­uid in a cool place so that it turns into a solid.

5. Heat wa­ter to 100 de­grees Cel­sius. 6. Take the food out of the freezer a few hours be­fore you need it.

7. Keep wa­ter boil­ing for a long time, but gen­tly.

A main course from Canada

Pou­tine is a dish from the French-speak­ing Cana­dian prov­ince of Que­bec. It’s a very ba­sic dish of French fries cov­ered in cheese curds and gravy. Leg­end says that it was in­vented in 1957, when a diner asked a chef to put cheese curds on to his fries. The chef protested with “Ça va faire une mau­dite pou­tine!” (“That’ll be a damned aw­ful mess!”), but he made it any­way — and pou­tine was in­vented. It’s now served ev­ery­where in Canada, in­clud­ing at Mcdon­ald’s.


Pou­tine has three el­e­ments: fries, curd cheese and gravy.

Pre­pare your gravy. In Ger­many, the near­est equiv­a­lent is to buy Braten­saft or Braten­soße in pow­der form and make it up ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions.

Pre­pare your fries. You can make your own fries in the clas­sic way by peel­ing and cut­ting pota­toes and then deep­fry­ing them; or you can cheat by us­ing oven fries.

Pre­pare your cheese. As curd cheese isn’t eas­ily avail­able in Ger­many, we sug­gest that you use moz­zarella in­stead. Al­low one ball per per­son. When ev­ery­thing is hot and ready, as­sem­ble the dish in in­di­vid­ual por­tions. Tear the moz­zarella and ar­range over the fries. Pour on the gravy. Et voilà!

2. Take a potato...

What can you do with a potato? Re­ar­range the let­ters to make the English in­struc­tions.

A. schälen

LEPE _____________________________________

B. schnei­den

SEILC _____________________________________ C. wür­feln

CEID _____________________________________

D. kochen

LOIB _____________________________________

E. braten

YRF _____________________________________

F. frit­tieren

PEDE-RYF _____________________________________

G. backen

EABK _____________________________________

A dessert from the US

Novem­ber is the month of Thanks­giv­ing, when Amer­i­can fam­i­lies come to­gether around the ta­ble to cel­e­brate. So, we’re go­ing to fin­ish our culi­nary trip around the English-speak­ing world with a taste of Thanks­giv­ing — a slice of pump­kin pie. Our recipe uses ready-made pas­try from the su­per­mar­ket to make it as sim­ple as pos­si­ble — or, as the id­iom goes, to make it “as easy as pie”.

Pump­kin pie


350 g ready-made pas­try

750 g pump­kin, peeled and chopped 150 g caster sugar a pinch of salt

½ tea­spoon salt

½ tea­spoon nut­meg

1 tea­spoon cin­na­mon

2 eggs, beaten

25 g but­ter, melted

175 ml milk


For the pas­try case:

Roll the pas­try out on a lightly floured sur­face.

Line a 20-cm pie tin with the pas­try. Chill for 30 min­utes.

Bake the case “blind” (i.e. empty) for 20 min­utes at 190 de­grees Cel­sius. Use a layer of dried beans to stop the pas­try ris­ing up dur­ing bak­ing.

For the fill­ing:

Place the pump­kin in a large saucepan, cover with wa­ter and bring to the boil.

Cover and sim­mer for 15 min­utes, or un­til soft.

Drain (let the wa­ter out) and al­low the pump­kin to cool.

Push the cooled pump­kin through a sieve (or use a blender) to make a puree.

Add the caster sugar, salt, spices, beaten eggs, melted but­ter and milk. Stir to com­bine.

Pour the fill­ing into the pas­try case. Bake at 180 de­grees Cel­sius for 35–40 min­utes, un­til the fill­ing has set.

3. Beat it!

Fill in the miss­ing let­ters to make the verbs in th­ese in­struc­tions from dessert recipes. Tip: All of the words can be found in our pump­kin pie recipe.

A. B __ __ t the eggs.

B. A __ d the sugar.

C. S __ __ r the in­gre­di­ents to com­bine them.

D. R __ __ l out the pas­try.

E. L __ __ e a pie tin with the pas­try. F. P __ __ r the mix into the pas­try case.

4. Sugar

If you en­joy bak­ing pies and other sweet treats, you’ll know that there are dif­fer­ent sorts of sugar. Match the names of the dif­fer­ent sug­ars to their de­scrip­tions.

A. gran­u­lated sugar B. caster sugar

(N. Am.: finely gran­u­lated sugar) C. de­mer­ara sugar

(N. Am.: light brown cane sugar) D. ic­ing sugar (N. Am.: pow­dered sugar)

1. A very fine white pow­der — for dec­o­rat­ing cakes.

2. The “nor­mal” sugar we use ev­ery day — for tea and cof­fee, and for most sweet recipes.

3. A lit­tle finer than “nor­mal” sugar — for light cakes and meringues. 4. A brown sugar, of­ten with large crys­tals.

Happy cook­ing!

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