[Easy English Blog] St Patrick and the Irish

St Patrick was born in England. He became a priest and went to Ireland sometime in the 5th century – that’s 1600 years ago. He is very important to Irish history. There are many stories about him. There are no snakes in Ireland and people often say that St Patrick forced all the snakes in Ireland to leave. Of course, the truth is that there were never snakes in Ireland but it is a good story!

Every year on March 17, the people of Ireland celebrate St Patrick’s Day. This is said to be the date of his death. Of course it was all so long ago that no one is very sure. St Patrick’s Day is a great festival in Ireland, and in many other countries too. Everyone enjoys listening to Irish music, and singing and dancing. In many cities there are parades on St Patrick’s Day.

Why do so many other countries celebrate St Patrick’s Day? The answer is very interesting but it is also sad.

The popular story is that sometime late in the 16th century, a famous explorer, called Sir Walter Raleigh, bought potato plants from South America. He planted them in the garden of his home in Ireland. Potatoes became very popular in Ireland and by the 19th century they were the main food for poor people. Then something terrible happened. The potatoes in Ireland caught a disease and would not grow well. By 1850, the poor people in Ireland had nothing to eat. Many people died and many others left Ireland and travelled to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Even more than 150 years later, the Irish traditions are strong in these countries. This is why St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in so many different countries.

 

Cooking something Irish

The days when many people only had potatoes to eat were long ago. There is wonderful food in Ireland. Some favourites are beef cooked with Guinness beer, bacon and cabbage, and Irish stew. But if you want to try something that is cheap, easy and tasty, why don’t you try colcannon? There are many recipes for colcannon but this is my favourite.

This is how I make colcannon.

I peel and chop some potatoes (maybe about 750g), and I put them in a pot with two teaspoons of salt, cover them  and boil them until they are soft. Usually potatoes are cooked in about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, I slice some cabbage thinly. I want about 200g of sliced cabbage.

I melt about 25g butter in a frypan and fry the cabbage until it is just soft. This takes about 3 minutes.

When the potatoes are soft, I drain the potatoes and put them back in the pot. I mash them. Do you know the word mash? It means to break the potatoes up with a potato masher. If you don’t have one – a fork will work.

Then I add about 75mls of cream, 75 g of butter and black pepper. If you have nutmeg in your kitchen it will make the colcannon taste very special – add just a little.

Then I stir the potatoes very well until they are like thick cream.

Mix in the cabbage and your colcannon is ready!

 

 

[Easy English Blog] Pumpkin and Feta Salad

Cooking and Recipes in English

Pumpkin Salad

Pumpkin and Feta Salad
Since it’s Halloween, I’ve been thinking about pumpkin. Pumpkin is very good for you so finding ways to feed pumpkin to your family is a good idea. Not just at Halloween but all year round.
Everyone in my house likes pumpkin, and this salad is a family favourite.
It’s very quick and easy if you have left over roast pumpkin. However, it tastes so good, that’s its worth cooking pumpkin just for this salad.

If you have to cook the pumpkin, cut it into wedges. Leave the skin on but take the seeds out. Rub the pumpkin with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Heat the oven to 180C and cook the pumpkin until the orange flesh is soft. You’ll find it’s easy to take the skin off after it’s cooked.

Salad recipe

  • Two cups of cooked pumpkin cut into 1cm cubes.
  • Half a cup of cubed feta cheese.
  • Half a cup of nuts or seeds (almonds, pinenuts, toasted pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds).
  • Toss the salad together gently with a dressing made from one tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and a small amount of oregano.

Thoughts and notes
This salad is best with pine nuts but I often don’t have any. They are expensive and they are not available in all supermarkets. So I sometimes make it with almonds.
If your family doesn’t like feta cheese, try the salad with cubes of cheddar cheese or cream cheese.
Almonds go very well with cheddar cheese and sesame seeds are very successful with cream cheese.
If you buy your feta cheese marinated in olive oil, don’t worry about the salad dressing. Just take a spoonful of the oil out of the jar and use that!

Happy eating!

halloween-decoration-11300115203X1E

[Easy English Blog] Japanese Cooking in English

Cookpad

Some of my students say, “I don’t have time to study English every day. I have to cook in the morning, afternoon and evening. It takes a long time.”

Now, they can study and cook at the same time!

There is a recipe site in Japan. It is called Cookpad.

It is Japan’s most popular and famous recipe site. Users of the site post recipes on their own recipe page. There are over 1.5 million recipes on the site!

Recently, Cookpad started an English version of the website. They are translating thousands of recipes from Japanese to English.

The site is great for people all over the world to learn about Japanese cooking and about Japanese culture. We think it is also good for people who want to study English! The English recipes are very easy to understand.

 

How you can use the site to study English (Our ideas):

1.  Print out the recipes and make some of the tasty dishes. (This kills 2 birds with 1 stone* – you can cook and study at the same time. No excuses!) 😉

2. Learn cooking vocabulary and phrases.

3. Teach your non-Japanese friends how to cook Japanese dishes.

4. Using the cooking vocabulary you learnt, write your own recipes in English and give them to your friends or teacher.

5. Ask your English teacher if you can have English class in the kitchen one day! Many community centres have kitchens you can rent for a few hours. You can make some of the recipes with your classmates!

Why not make* some tasty dishes in English this weekend? 🙂

The site is here: http://en.cookpad.com/

——————————–

*Kill two birds with one stone = solve 2 problems at the same time.

(So, you have to cook = problem 1. You have to study English = problem 2. Do them at the same time! Problem solved!)

(In Japanese: 一石二鳥 )

*Why not….? = How about…..? This is a suggestion.

(So, Why not make some tasty dishes? = How about making some tasty dishes?)

[Easy English Blog] A Mere Trifle

Cooking and recipes in English.

A friend bought me a packet of port wine jelly from Australia. In America, jelly is called jello.

I was wondering what to do with it. “It’s very popular in Australia,” my friend said. “People make trifle with it.”

“Ah,” I thought. “Trifle! I haven’t made trifle for years.”

This is what I did to make a trifle.

I made the jelly and put it in the refrigerator to set.

I made a pint (450ml) of custard. I was in a hurry so I used a packet of instant custard. Be careful though. You want the custard to be thick. So use only half the amount of milk that the instructions say.

I bought a sponge cake from the supermarket. I broke it up into pieces. I divided the pieces into three piles. I used one pile to make a layer of sponge cake in a glass bowl and poured some apple juice over it.

I chopped up the jelly and put half of it over the sponge cake.

I poured half the custard over that.

Then I repeated the layers; sponge cake with apple juice, jelly, custard.

I put the last pile of pieces of sponge cake on top. I put it in the refrigerator and forgot about until it was time for dessert. Then I decorated the top with cream and raspberries. Here is a picture. It’s not very pretty is it?

trifle

Trifle is a traditional English dessert. It usually has custard, sponge cake and fruit. Every family has their own recipe. Everyone has a strong opinion about the recipe and they are all different.

Some people soak the sponge cake in sherry. Other people use fruit juice. Many people use jelly in a trifle. My mother never did. She always spread the sponge cake with strawberry jam. The friend who gave me the jelly said, ”Where are the peaches? I always put canned peaches in trifle!”

So maybe a trifle is whatever you want it to be.

Have you ever made a trifle?

*Note: trifle is an interesting word. Look it up! It means something small and unimportant;  “a mere trifle”.

If you ever heard two cooks discussing dessert trifle, you might get another idea! Something large and rather important! This is because everyone has their own ideas about how to make a trifle. Modern trifles often have many ingredients so there are many things for cooks to disagree about.

The original trifles in the 17th century were probably rather simple desserts. Just fruit and custard or fruit and cream. They were also sometimes called fools.

This simple version “a trifle” is still popular in modern English cooking and it is called a fool. But  the modern trifle always has cake in it.

(P)

[Easy English Blog] Snow peas

Cooking and recipes in English.

snowpeas

 

A friend gave me a bag of snow peas. He had just picked them from his garden. So I made stir fried beef with snow peas.

I had some beef in the freezer so I defrosted it. I try to catch it before it is completely defrosted. It is easier to cut thin slices if the meat is still half-frozen.

Most recipes don’t have cashew nuts. But I added some because my family likes them.

Recipe (for 4)

400g thinly sliced beef

2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce

1 tablespoon (15ml) sherry or mirrin

1 tablespoon (15ml) sugar

2 tablespoons (30ml) of grated ginger

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 teaspoon (5ml) of cornflour)

2 cups snow peas

½ cup cashew nuts (if you like them)

2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used peanut oil)

chopped red and green peppers

 

This was very quick – I put the soy sauce, sherry, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and mixed them together well.

Then I added the garlic, ginger and beef, and stirred until the meat was mixed with the seasonings.

Then, I left it all for a few minutes.

I washed the snow peas  and took the leaves off the top. The ones in shops usually have these removed already.

I heated the oil and threw the contents of the bowl into the wok. When the beef looked almost done I added the snow peas and stirred.

I sprinkled the chopped red and green peppers on top, and the meal was ready.

 

Thought: My peas were very young. If you buy them in the supermarket, they might be older. So you might have to drop them into boiling water for a minute. Drain the peas and run cold water over them. Then shake them dry before you add them.

My friend also gave me a box of freshly picked strawberries so we had them for dessert. You have to love this time of year!

Stir fries are great when the weather gets hotter. They need almost no cooking so there is not too much heat in the kitchen.

 

Do you have a favourite stir fry combination?

(P)

[Easy English Blog] Corn fritters

Cooking and Recipes in English

On Saturday the temperature was 27o, so we had a BBQ.

I made corn fritters. One of my friends said, “Corn fritters! I haven’t eaten them for years!”

How about you? Have you ever eaten corn fritters? They are very easy to make.

I usually make corn fritters when we have a BBQ because I like to eat them with sausages and tomato salsa. They are good with bacon too.

Here is the photograph, my friend took of the fritters.

corn

I asked her, “Why are you taking a photograph?”

She said, “To remind me to make corn fritters sometime soon.”

I don’t know what recipe she uses, but this is how I made them on Saturday night.

 

  • I put half a cup (100cc) of flour, one teaspoon of baking powder and a little salt in a bowl.
  • I mixed it together and then added two eggs and mixed again.
  • Then I put in a can of whole kernel corn (450g), and a small handful of grated cheese. I like to add a lot of black pepper too.
  • Then I fried spoonfuls of the mixture in oil and butter. Not too much. Just about a tablespoon of each.

You can make fritters with creamed corn too. Sometime soon I will make some. I’ll tell you which style I think is better.

(P)

[Easy English Blog] Broccoli stalks

Cooking and Recipes in English

The Best  Part of Broccoli

We know that broccoli is good for us.  I also read that raw (uncooked) broccoli is better for health than cooked broccoli.

That’s good news for me. I don’t like cooked broccoli heads. If I eat the green heads of broccoli, I like them to be uncooked. In a salad maybe. Or with a nice dipping sauce.

broccoli-and-cauliflower-florets-02

I don’t like cooked broccoli heads but I love to cook broccoli stalks.

Do you cut the stalks off broccoli before you cook the heads? You are missing an amazing taste sensation.

DSC_0254

Broccoli stalks are amazing!

You cut off the heads and use them however you like. (If you are me, you eat them raw). Then you peel the stalks and cook them.

Broccoli stalks are great in stir fries or steamed vegetables. Cut them sideways so you have round shapes. Or cut them into sticks. It doesn’t matter.

They are tasty and crispy. They taste better than asparagus. Why not try and add them to your favourite vegetable recipe?

Or, save the stalks and look at your recipes for asparagus. You could use the stalks  instead of asparagus. They are cheaper, crunchier, (and I think), nicer.

Or you could try them raw with a dip. I ate them with an avocado and onion dip. Very tasty!

DSC_0255

Do you use broccoli stalks? How do you use them?

Try it and tell us what you think!

 

(P)