This is an ongoing list of cooking terms that are used in the UK, and a brief explanation of each. I’m also going to include differing names for vegetables, leaves and herbs that are used in some other countries, when I’m aware of them. If anyone would like to contribute to this page I’d love to here from you within comments.
*Aubergine ~ eggplant
*Beurre manié: is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces. After combining the ingredients the flour needs to be cooked out over low heat (any sign of scorching and it shouldn’t be used).
*Bicarbonate of soda: known as baking soda outside of the UK. It’s one of two leavening agents (baking powder is the other) used in baking ‘quick breads’.
*Blanch: usually refers to bringing a suacepan of water to a light boil, adding vegetables and simmering for several minutes only (timed according to the vegetable being used). Then drained and either plunged into cold water or steam allowed to dry off. Certain vegetables need to be blanched (at varying times) before they’re suitable for freezing. Tomatoes can be kept whole, pierced several times with the tip of a sharp knife, placed into boiling water for several minutes until their skins are peeling off. Drained, covered with cold water it’s then possible to remove their skins completely.
*Broad beans ~ Vicia faba. Sometimes known as fava beans
*Butter beans ~ Phaseolus lunatus. In the UK butter beans refer to either dried beans which can be soaked overnight and re-hydrated (then cooked), or can be bought in cans which are ready to use. They are sometimes known as lima beans, although I can’t determine if they are the same.
*Caramelise: To caramelise onions and/or shallots is to pan-fry over moderate heat until nicely golden. A splash of water can be added to keep them from drying out. Stock, Balsamic vinegar, besides others, can be used as well.
*Celeriac ~ celery root
*(mature) Cheddar cheese ~ sharp Cheddar
*Chickpeas ~ Cicer arietinum. Garbanzo beans
*Chips ~ French fries
*Coriander ~ cilantro
*Courgette ~ zucchini
*Cream, single = light & double = heavy
*Fadge ~ Northern Irish term for potato bread
*Frying pan ~ skillet. Normally a wide pan with sides that slop outwards. Used for pan-frying eggs, bacon, etc.
*Grana Padano ~ an Italian hard cheese similar to Parmesan (see below). It’s slightly softer, crumbs more easily and is nuttier in flavour. It’s one of the world’s first hard cheeses, created nearly 1,000 years ago.
*Green beans ~ sometimes referred to as French green beans.
*Hob ~ stove top
*Onion ~ generic term here in the UK is onion, which denotes the variety with a brown skin. White and red are used as a prefix to differentiate the other types, including Spanish onion which is a large, mild onion.
*Orzotto ~ a regional variation of risotto from NE Italy where pearl barley is used instead of Arborio rice. It’s a speciality of the city of Trieste.
*Parmesan ~ Parmigiano-Reggiano is an Italian hard cheese (only produced in specific regions), usually grated for pasta and salads. The French name and the English informal is Parmesan.
*Parsley ~ The generic is normally used to denote the curly leaf variety. Others include flat leaf Italian, and Russian.
*Pepper ~ capsicum or bell pepper. Pepper in the UK is the generic term to denote a green pepper. The red, orange and yellow is used before the term pepper to differentiate from each other.
*Rapeseed oil ~ canola
*Roux: a cooked mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter, used as the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté and sauce espagnole.
*Rub through: place a fine wire sieve over a suitable saucepan or bowl. Pour what is to be rubbed through (pan-fried tomatoes, for example) into the sieve, grab a wooden spoon and mash the contents. Then, simply rub/stir through until the contents are puréed. Remember to scrape all of the purée from underneath as well.
*Sauté: pan needs to be preheated quite hot (not to smoking point) with a little oil which will allow the ingredients to be heated evenly and at once as soon as food is added. Ingredients are stirred around in the pan, either by the use of a wooden spoon, or by repeatedly jerking the pan itself (sauté literally means “jumped”, a description of the motion of the ingredients as they are being cooked).
*Sauté pan: is a wide pan with straight sides. Apparently, this allows for more even cooking, especially at high to moderate heat.
*Swede ~ rutabaga. There’s some confusion with the name of this yellow vegetable that’s mostly purple on the outside. Here in England it’s called a swede. In some parts of Northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland it’s called a turnip. A turnip in England is a smaller white vegetable that’s coloured red, green or purple on top – something I’ve never seen on sale here. It’s also known as neeps in Scotland, hence the term for neeps’n'tatties – mashed swede and potatoes.
*Turnip ~ Brassica rapa. This is the white turnip, not to be confused with the yellow swede or rutabaga, which are usually small in size with their upper part a reddish, green or purple hue.