Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Cooking USA style
One of my birthday presents was a Star Trek Cookbook (my son must want me to live long and prosper fatly!)
Luckily the recipes have been translated to allow us to use all-human ingredients...but not-so-luckily it's all in American.
Over this side of the pond, we weigh our dry ingredients. Over there - you use cups.
So far, so bad.
Wet ingredients are OK though (or so I thought) because we both use pints and fluid ounces. But wait - they're not the same!!!
My new best friend explained that a US cup is 8 fluid ounces...whereas a UK cup is 10 fluid ounces. Looks like I'd better buy an American measuring cup.
Back to the dry stuff. Can't be too hard to scoop out a cup of flour, can it?
But apparently it can. My new best friend says :" It's also important to realise that when an American recipe calls for "1 cup of flour", there is an assumption in how this is measured. Scooping out of a bag will compress the flour, and a cup can easily end up containing an extra quarter or even half an ounce, and this could make a big difference to the results. Instead, the "official" measuring technique is to stir the flour with a spoon to "aerate" it, then pour it into the measuring cup and level it off with a straight edge. Don't pat it down, or tap the cup on the workbench to level it off.
However, this only applies to very powdery dry ingredients, like flour. Other ingredients, like rice, brown sugar or fats, should be packed firmly in the measuring cup to avoid air gaps."
Oh good grief.
Even now I'm not ready to cook. Many recipes call for a "stick" of butter (although it seems even in America some of you prefer to buy your butter in "cubes", like the lower of these two!
In the UK we don't buy butter in sticks. We buy butter in 250gm packs.
My new best friend says "You normally buy butter in packs of a pound, consisting of four sticks, and they're usually marked in quarters (sometimes in eighths), making it easy to measure off, say, 2oz of butter, or "half a stick"."
Yet sometimes the recipe asks for "half a cup" of butter. What on earth do you do? Squash the butter in?
What would Neelix do?
I know what I did...made an English recipe chocolate cake, cut in half horizontally and sandwiched with raspberry jam!
The new part to me was the icing (USA = frosting?) I melted some chocolate (actually I burnt some chocolate to the bottom of the pan, went out and bought some more, then melted some chocolate) mixed in some raspberry jam (USA = jelly?) and some icing sugar (USA don't know what this is, the very fine powdery type) and a little water. Absolutely yummy!