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Jan 19, 2008 06:58 AM

Tamasin Day-Lewis' cookery books, would someone please translate UK ingredients for US use?

I'm the lucky recipient of a lovely box of seven cookbooks by British food writer Tamasin Day-Lewis and I couldn't be happier. Her writing is intelligent, witty, educated and inspiring - there's hardly a single recipe that I've read which doesn't make me think, "hmmmm, that sounds delicious and do-able". Makes you want to cook everything in her books. The Cheddar-crusted leek tart from THE BOOK OF TARTS was everything you'd hope from the title.

Now, here comes the slightly sticky part, I am unfamiliar with some of the food terminology. So far, I've puzzled out "castor sugar" (superfine in the US), "icing sugar" (confectioner's) and "demerara sugar" (raw sugar) but can not find any help for "muscovado sugar". I hope that "cornflour" is US cornstarch and am guessing that "strong flour" is US bread or high-protein flour, "plain flour" is AP flour but am not entirely certain because Day-Lewis also mentions "white flour". Is "wholemeal" flour US wholewheat? Also, would someone please tell me what are nibbed almonds? Is the "dsrtsp" as in "1 heaping dsrtsp unrefined icing sugar" a dessert teaspoon?

I highly recommend getting your hands on one or more of these books. They're so refreshing after being beaten to death with the US mantra of quick&easy, fastfastfast. These books are written for those of us who truly enjoy the whole cooking process. There's not a Rachel Rayism to be found anywhere.

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  1. You are indeed lucky! Someone posted or paraphrased her recipe for Porcini and Red Onion Tart on the NYTimes website a few years ago (from her book "The Art of the Tart") and it was absolutely delicious! Wish I could help you with the translations...I'm sure some savvy 'hound will come to your rescue.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Sounds incredible. Do you by any chance still have the paraphrased version?

      1. re: LulusMom

        Since CH guidelines dictate that I cannot copy the recipe for you, I can say that it is absolutely delicious; rich without being cloying thanks to the eggy-mascarpone filling. That is mixed w/ rehydrated ceps (inc. some of their reduced liquid) and a couple of sweated red onions & either fresh sage or thyme leaves. Pile this into a whole wheat crust & bake until the middle is beginning to set.

        1. re: Sherri

          You are so kind. It really sounds wonderful, and I think I can take it from there. Thanks so much.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Yep, that's the recipe...the eggy mascarpone filling is luscious and the fresh thyme is excellent as it usually is with mushrooms...that recipe took me a long time to make that afternoon but it was totally worth it...had a lovely dark green salad and glass of chardonnay with it, and that was our dinner. Oh, one important note: do blind bake your tart shell before adding the filling.

          2. re: Sherri

            Actually, you can provide the complete list of ingredients, and then paraphrase the instructions and still be within our guidelines.

            Sounds delicious!

            1. re: The Chowhound Team

              Phew! I'll do that in the future. I did know that it is not possible to copyright ingredients, but wasn't sure how far I could go with interpretation. Thanks for the clarification.

              1. re: Sherri

                When you do paraphrase, do help us out by writing that the instructions are paraphrased, so that we know that.


                1. re: Sherri

                  Sherri, would you like for me to post (paraphrase) this recipe or would you like to do it?

                  1. re: Val

                    Val, would you please do it. I'm in the midst of boning out a whole breast of veal for Day-Lewis' "Stuffed Breast of Veal" from TAMASIN'S KITCHEN CLASSICS. This is a different take from my usual as it's stuffed w/ braised fennel, green olives & minced pork. Also, it uses the bones in the cooking of the dish as well as making a stock. Big Sunday project and I would appreciate your help. Thanks.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      Porcini Mushroom and Red Onion Tart (paraphrased)

                      3/4 cup dried porcini
                      2 medium size red onions, sliced finely in rings
                      2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
                      1 1/8 cups mascarpone cheese
                      1 large egg
                      3 large egg yolks
                      8-10 fresh sage leaves OR 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
                      Salt & pepper
                      One single crust pastry

                      Soak the dried porcinis in 1 1/2 cups warm water for about an hour,
                      turning to make sure they are re-hydrated.

                      Chill pastry dough, then roll and line pan. (I used a pie pan--you could probably use any tart pan.)

                      Preheat oven to 400, bake pastry blind with beans for about 10 minutes, then remove beans, prick pastry and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and brush with a little beaten egg. Set aside. Turn oven down to 350.

                      Strain mushrooms in fine mesh strainer, pressing gently and reserve liquid. Chop mushrooms coarsely. Saute onion slices in butter until softened. When softened, add mushrooms to onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Strain mushroom liquid, watching out for any grit or sand, into the pan and let it reduce completely, then pour mixture into a bowl and let it cool. (I left a little liquid in there.)

                      In a separate bowl, whip mascarpone, egg and egg yolks together, then add herbs. Add mushroom and onion mixture. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread in bottom of tart shell and bake for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 and cook for 25-30 minutes more. Check to see how loose it is. Remove from oven while still a bit shuddery and let cool for 10 minutes before eating warm.

                      Note: it took me some work to find the dried porcinis where I live and when I did, they were VERY expensive! Also had a hard time finding mascarpone but found both items at a good Italian deli/specialty store.
                      That might be why I said it took me all afternoon to make this! Gathering the ingredients was a challenge, that's all.

                      1. re: Val

                        Thank you so much - this really sounds incredible, and with the cold snap we're having, something nice to heat up the kitchen. Again, many thanks.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Muscovado is an unrefined sugar which has a strong molasses flavor. It is also known as Barbados or Moist sugar. It is very dark brown, and slightly coarser and stickier than most brown sugars.

            Cornflour could be either cornmeal, or masa harina. I guess you'd have to see which is better suited to your recipe????? Edit: Try this link..

            Wholemeal flour is whole grain flour, I believe. Edit:This is British site which explains various British food stuffs:

            3 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              Actually, UK cornflour is US cornstarch, not cornmeal. A roommate of mine when I was studying in London made this mistake - never try to make cornbread with cornstarch (or cornflour). It's truly inedible.

              1. re: Amuse Bouches

                Yes, according to MMRuth's reference below, I do see that. Curious how the definitions change from source to source! Confusing, to say the least.

              2. re: Gio

                Thanks for your helpful reply. Both links are treasures. I assumed that cornflour needed to be cornstarch because of the usage but was amused to read "corn flour is the same as American cornstarch except when it isn't" on another site.

              3. dsrtspn = dessertspoon

                It's a little smaller than a tablespoon (sort of between 2-3 teaspoons)

                2 Replies
                1. re: cackalackie

                  Thank you. I haven't come across this explanation anywhere else and appreciate that you took the time to help.

                  1. re: Sherri

                    By the way - I've found the glossary at this site quite helpful in terms of figuring out English ingredients:


                    I'm amused though how the measurements in English cookbooks use both the metric system and then measurements like "a wineglass of" in the same recipe - or at least I've noticed that in Hopkinson's books.

                2. Muscovado, occasionally available at Trader Joes.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: wolfe

                    Also here in Manhattan in many gourmet markets - made by the same people who make caster sugar - forgetting the name right now.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      MMRuth, could you be thinking of India Tree? For what it's worth, I'd never shell out those prices for their caster sugar, as the US superfine is a perfectly fine match, at a fraction of the cost.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Yes - that is what I was thinking about - and thanks for that cost saving tip!

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Sur la Table carries India Tree sugars ...