Whether a recipe calls for a nob of butter, aubergine or mixed spice, there are certain British foods and cooking techniques that may leave you reaching for the dictionary. Avoid getting lost in translation in the kitchen and learn these common cooking terms from across the pond.
What the heck is “mixed spice”? It’s a popular ingredient in British cookery, particularly in baking sweets and typically blends cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves or allspice. If you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, incorporate mixed spice into this Grand Plum Pudding recipe from Anna Olson.
When U.K. recipes instruct to ‘blitz’ ingredients, they’re not provoking a food fight. Instead, haul out your blender or food processor, and purée or chop the ingredients.
Knob of Butter
How much is a “knob of butter” that’s called for in British recipes? The meaning is fuzzy, but in North America, it works out to about a tablespoon. Basically, toss in just enough butter to line a pan for the frying process.
Another loaner word from the French, “courgette” is the British term for the summer squash that North Americans call “zucchini.” First arriving in Europe in the 1400s, the plant was dubbed “zucchini” in Italy and courgette in France. While the French slang stuck on the British Isles, “zucchini” followed Italian immigrants all the way to North America. Experiment with new and delicious ways to use this versatile veggie with these easy recipes.
A staple in English pubs, “bangers” translates as “sausage” in North America. It’s believed that the British word dates back to World War I, when meat was scarce and butchers stuffed the casings with cereal, water, rusk and other scraps. Mixed with hot oil, these sausages sizzled and popped when cooked over the bonfires in the trenches, leading ‘em to be dubbed “bangers.” Make your own “Bangers and Mash” with this recipe from Ina Garten!
“Toast soldiers” are a thing across the pond, referring to a thin strip of bread or toast that’s often served for brekkie. The nickname stems from their identical size and shape, and the fact that they line up in a row on the plate like soldiers. Make it yourself with this Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Fruity Toast recipe, slicing the toast extra thin.
Simply said, a “bap” is a U.K. word for a bread roll lightly dusted with flour. It’s considered the Scottish version of brioche, and especially popular for breakfast sandwiches. Pillowy and soft, it’s perfect for stuffing with bacon, cheese, lettuce, sausages, braised beef, or other tender meats. Try making your own bap rendition with this Dinner Buns recipe from Christine Cushing.
Lisa Jackson is a food and travel writer based in Toronto who loves sinking her teeth into new flavours across Canada and abroad.