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Metric ingredient conversions [ Wednesday, 06 Feb 08 | 10:47 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |confusedconfused]

Recently I have been cooking more “from scratch”. And that entails using recipes. Most ingredients are stated in grams and I have a scale that claims to be accurate to 2 grams (28 grams equals one ounce). But when the quantity is small, they use the equivalent of “teaspoons” and “tablespoons”. Trouble is, I left my sets of measuring spoons in the US and can’t find them in the stores here. OK, so laugh at me.

A couple of weeks ago I made crema catalana, but you may know it as the essentially similar crème brûlée. I was doing OK until it came to the corn starch. Unfortunately I used the conversion factor for sugar of 1 tablespoon equals 15 grams. So the dessert was too “starchy” and not as “custardy” as it should have been. (Fortunately Ruben thought it was great.) After scanning the Net, I found that for cornstarch, I should have used the conversion of 8 grams per tablespoon. So I had used close to double the correct amount of corn starch.

To add another wrinkle, it turns out that not all teaspoons/tablespoons are created equal. There are differences in size between the various “British heritage” countries (read US/UK/Australia). I have no idea about which to use here on the Continent. I would assume the Imperial (UK) size, but when the recipe comes from a US company, what then?

Any suggestions from the many cooks out there?

P.S.: When I was but a wee lad, my mother, whose family was English, told me "A pint's a pound the world around." She should have said "A pint is a pound in the US and 20 ounces everywhere else."


[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 06 Feb 08 | 15:01 (UTC)
Really. Spanish cuisine was traditionally made "a ojo", guessing.
Only Simone Ortega brought proportions, but even that book needs guessing :)
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[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Wednesday, 06 Feb 08 | 17:36 (UTC)
My sister-in-law's aunt brought out a book of her mother's recipe's and it's just hilarious, since of course she cooks everything a ojo. (Writing it was fun, I'm told: "How many onions do you put in that, abueli?" "Oh, enough.") I especially like the recipe for sopa de ajo, where every ingredient is preceded by unos/unas.
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Wednesday, 06 Feb 08 | 18:17 (UTC)
But that's the way it is!
Honestly, not until that Simone Ortega book arrived, proportions were determined, but as I said, I've found a couple of mistakes myself (like a bechamel sauce which asked for 400 g of flour for 1 liter of milk, when 100g is enough)
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 07 Feb 08 | 09:20 (UTC)
I have Simone Ortega's book in English and it presents both SI and Imperial measurements. I found a couple of instances of using pints and deduced from the corresponding SI measure that it is indeed the pint used in the UK and not the US. Fortunately for nearly all recipes she uses fluid ounces for which there is no ambiguity. In the US cookbooks use cups, which of course are different in the UK.

I also check to see if there is the same recipe in other cook books for comparison of ingredients and/or techniques. Sometimes the differences are significant.

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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Saturday, 09 Feb 08 | 15:14 (UTC)
Hey, you need to come to my house for homemade cooking!
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Saturday, 09 Feb 08 | 18:49 (UTC)
Likewise! I am doing more cocina española y catalana these days.

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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Sunday, 10 Feb 08 | 12:48 (UTC)
Today I'm cooking
"Alubias pintas al vino tinto"
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[User Picture]From: squalidbear
Wednesday, 06 Feb 08 | 16:48 (UTC)
Richard used to say, "A pint of clear water weighs a pound and a quarter"... except in the US ;)
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