A helpful style sheet for recipe writing.

Jane-Anne Hobbs gives you some helpful tips.

by: Jane-Anne Hobbs | 02 Aug 2011
 
recipe

What's this all about?

This is my own editorial style sheet, and I use it to try to keep the language, measurements and food terms on my blog consistent.  'Try' being the operative word!  Often I don't have time to check every word I've written against this list, but I do my best to use it as a guide when I'm writing a blog post.

This list isn't mean to be prescriptive, and I recommend that you use it to create your own personal style sheet. Copy and paste it into a Word document, and add to it as you go along!
 
For some general tips and hints about writing recipes and blog posts, please click here.

Metric measurements

You can denote teaspoons, tablespoons and cups in any way you choose, as long as you use the same abbreviations consistently. The abbreviations shown below are what I prefer to use. (To find more information about how much wet or dry ingredient is contained in a  teaspoon, tablespoon, and so on, see below.)

> tsp for teaspoon/s (but you can also use 'teaspoons' or 'tspn')
> T for tablespoon/s (you can use 'tablespoons' or 'tbsp' or 'Tbsp')
> cup for cups (you can also use 'C')
> g for grams
> litre/s (avoid using the letter 'l')

Use teaspoon, tablespoon or cup measurements wherever possible. Remember, most people own a set of cups and teaspoons, but very few have an electronic scale!

- Always give alternative measurements. For example, 1 cup (250 ml) sugar; 2 tsp (10 ml) sugar; 1 cup (250 ml/250g) butter
- Remember that butter is the one ingredient where its weight is always equal to its volume. In other words 125 g butter = 125 ml butter
- Place a space between the numeral and the measurement abbreviation:

> 2 tsp not 2tsp
> 30 g not 30g   
   
- Avoid the word ‘dessertspoon’ as the meaning of a dessertspoon varies from country to country.
- All spoon and cup measures are level; that is, not heaped up. When using crucial ingredients such as baking powder or gelatine, heap the powder in the teaspoon, then level it off with the back of a knife. Don't press or pack the powder into the teaspoon or tablespoon measure.
- Do round off your measurements. It's inconsiderate to ask a reader of your recipe to measure out 65.5 ml sugar, or 57 ml flour.  I promise that a teaspoon or two of flour or butter here or there won't cause your recipe to fail. (Although please note that when it comes to crucial ingredients such as gelatine and powerful essences - like vanilla or almond extract - it's essential that you give a precise measurement, to within 1 ml, which is just under a quarter of a teaspoon.)

- In South Africa, a 'teaspoon' equals 5 ml (millilitres), a 'tablespoon' is equivalent to 15 ml, and a 'cup' is equivalent to 250 ml, regardless of whether you are measuring liquids or dry ingredients.

Here is an easy-reference list showing how many millilitres are contained in South African teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. Note: All these measurements have been rounded off, for convenience. 

For example, a third of a cup is actually 83.333 ml, but  in this list it is rounded off to 80 ml.
 
¼ teaspoon......1.25 ml
½ teaspoon......2.5 ml
1 teaspoon.......5 ml
2 teaspoons.....10 ml
3 teaspoons.....15 ml.....1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon....15 ml
2 tablespoons...30 ml
3 tablespoons...45 ml
4 tablespoons...60 ml.....¼ cup
¼ cup..............60 ml
? cup..............80 ml
? cup..............160 ml
½ cup..............125 ml
¾ cup..............190 ml
1 cup...............250 ml
1½ cups...........375 ml
2 cups.............500 ml....½ litre
3 cups.............750 ml
4 cups.............1 litre

American terms for S.A. ingredients
 
It's not essential to give alternative names for common ingredients, but your American readers will appreciate it.

aubergine, brinjal.......eggplant
baby marrows...........zucchini
beetroot....................beet
bicarbonate of soda....baking soda
biscuits.....................cookies
bread flour.................strong flour
broad beans...............fava or lima beans
candyfloss.................cotton candy
caster sugar...............superfine sugar
chickpeas..................garbanzo beans
chips.........................French fries
clingfilm.....................plastic wrap/saran
coriander....................cilantro
cornflour.....................cornstarch
courgette....................zucchini
crystallised ginger.......candied ginger
desiccated coconut.....shredded coconut
digestive biscuits.........graham crackers
flour........................... all-purpose flour
golden syrup...............corn syrup
ice lolly.......................popsicle
icing...........................frosting
icing sugar..................confectioner’s sugar
jam.............................jelly
jelly.............................jello
mielie meal..................cornmeal
mince..........................ground beef
peanut.........................ground nut
rice flour......................ground rice
spring onion.................scallion
sweets........................candy
Swiss chard................ silver beet
golden syrup................corn syrup
tomato sauce...............ketchup

How to spell food words

- There are several acceptable variations of many of the words below, especially the French words. All that matters is that you choose one version of a word or term, and stick to it.
- Add your preferred spellings to this list as you go along!
- The word list below reflects South African spellings of some common ingredients.
- All these terms should appear in roman (not italic) text.  You can italicise foreign food terms, if you like, but I don't see the point.
- Similarly, words should be written all in lower case unless a) they appear as the first word in a sentence or b) they are shown with an initial upper-case letter in the list below.
- I use the English –ise suffix, not the American –ize. The choice is yours, but be consistent.
- (pl.) means plural.

A
à la carte
à la king
aïoli
al dente
alfalfa
allspice not all spice
amaretti (biscuits)
amaretto (liqueur)
anchovette see Peck’s Anchovette
angelica
anglaise not Anglaise
Angostura bitters not angostura bitters
anise
apéritifs
arrabbiata
arrowroot
arugula see rocket
atchar
au gratin
aubergine not eggplant or brinjal
B
baby marrows see courgette
baguette
bain-marie not bain marie
bains-marie (pl.) not bains-maries (although both are acceptable)
baklava
Basmati or Basmati rice not basmati
bay leaf not bayleaf
béarnaise
béchamel
beurre manié
biltong
biryani see breyani
bisque
blancmange
blini
boerewors
bok choi see pak choi
bombe
bouillabaise
bouillon
bourguignon
braai
braaier (person who braais)
braaing not braai-ing, braai’ing or braaiing (although all are acceptable)
braais not braai’s
breadcrumbs not bread crumbs
breyani not biryani (both are correct)
brinjal see aubergine
brioche
brûlée
bunny chow
C
calamari not kalamari or calamary
Cape gooseberries see also gooseberries
cappuccino
capsicum/s see pepper
caramelise not caramelize
carcass
cardamom
casserole
cassoulet
caster sugar not castor sugar (both are correct: pick one and stick to it!)
cast-iron casserole (use hyphen)
cast-iron pot (use hyphen)
cayenne pepper
celeriac
chapati not chapatti (both are acceptable)
chapatis (pl.) not chapaties
char-grill not chargrill
chateaubriand
cheesecloth not cheese cloth
chickpeas not chickpeas or garbanzo beans
chicory
chiffonade
chilli not chillie or chili
chillies (pl.) not chillis or chilis
chimichurri
choucroute
chouriço (for Portuguese sausage)
chorizo (for Spanish sausage)
cilantro see coriander
clafoutis
clingfilm not cling film or clingwrap
compote
concassé
confit
consommé
coriander (Use ‘coriander seeds’ to refer to dried coriander seeds, and ‘ground coriander’ to refer to powdered coriander seeds. Use ‘Fresh coriander’ to refer to the leaves of the coriander plant.)
coulis
courgette not baby marrow or zucchini
couscous not cous cous
crème anglaise not Anglaise
crème brûlée
crème chantilly
crème fraîche not cream fresh or creme fraiche
crême caramel
croquettes
crouton
crudité
crudités (pl.)
cumin
cupful not cup ful or cup full
D
dauphinoise
defrost not de-frost
deseed not de-seed
desiccated coconut not dessicated coconut
devein not de-vein
dhal
dhania see fresh coriander
Dijon mustard
duchesse
duxelle
E
éclair
edamame not edamane or endamame
egg wash not eggwash
eggplant see aubergine
endive
entrée
escalopes
F
fan-assisted oven
farfalle
fenugreek
feta not fetta or Feta
fillet not filet or file
filleted
filo see phyllo
fish paste not fishpaste
flambé
flambéed (past tense)
flameproof not flame proof
floret not florette
fondant
frangipane not frangipani
fresh coriander not cilantro or dhania
frisée
frittata not fritatta
fumet
G
galangal
galette
ganache
garam masala not garam marsala
garbanzo beans see chickpeas
gâteau
gâteaux not gateaus
gazpacho
gelatine not gelatin
ghee
glacé
glycerine
gnocchi
gooseberries (when referring green, English variety) see also Cape gooseberries
granadilla not passion fruit
granita not granité
gratin
greaseproof paper not grease proof paper
gremolata
ground coriander see also coriander, fresh coriander, dhania
H
hard-boiled eggs not hardboiled eggs
harissa
herbes de Provence not herbes de provence
hollandaise
hors d'oeuvre
horseradish
HP sauce not H.P. sauce or hp sauce
hummous not hummus or hoummous (all are acceptable)
I
ice cream (Note, two words, unless you’re using it as a compound adjective that modifies the noun it precedes. For example, Vanilla Ice Cream but Vanilla Ice-Cream Cake)
J
julienne
jam not jelly
K
kaffir lime leaves (Avoid this term. See lime leaves)
kalamari see calamari
kebabs not kebobs
kofta
korma
kulfi
L
lardons
lemongrass not lemon grass
lime leaves not kaffir lime leaves
limoncello not Limoncello
litchi not lychee
litchis (pl.)
lumpfish roe not lump fish roe
lychee see litchi
M
macaron (French meringue biscuit)
macaroon (coconut biscuit)
mange-tout not mangetout or mange tout or snow peas
marinade (noun)
marinate (verb)
marjoram
marsala (fortified wine) see also masala
masala (spice mix) not marsala
mascarpone
mayonnaise
meatballs not meat balls
meunière
microplane
mielies not mealies (both are acceptable)
mirepoix
mizuna
moussaka
mousseline
N
naan
naartjie not tangerine or clementine
nasturtium
Niçoise not niçoise or nicoise
noisette
non-stick pan not nonstick
nori
O
okra
oregano not oreganum (both are correct)
osso buco not osso bucco or ossobuco (although both are acceptable)
ovenproof dish not oven-proof dish
oxtail
P
paella
paillard
pak choi not bok choi or bok choy (both are acceptable)
pakoras
palette knife
pancetta
panna cotta not pannacotta or pana cotta
papillote
paprika
passion fruit not passionfruit
pâté
pawpaw not papaya (both are correct)
Peck’s Anchovette not anchovette
pepper not capsicum. Specify colour of pepper: green, red, yellow or orange.
peri-peri not periperi
perlemoen not abalone (both are correct)
phyllo not filo
piccata
pilaf not pilaff
piperade
polenta
porcini
pot-au-feu
praline
Provençale
purée
puréed (past tense)
puttanesca
Q
quesadilla
quiche
quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’)
R
ragoût (a main-dish stew)
ragu (an Italian meat sauce)
raita
ramekin
ratatouille
redcurrant not red currant
rémoulade
rhubarb
rillettes
risotto
rocket not arugula or roquette
roquette see rocket
rösti
roti not rooti
rotisserie
roulade
roux
S
sachet
saké
salsa
salsify
samoosas not samosas (both are correct)
saté (Indonesian kebabs)
sauté
sautéed (past tense)
savoury not savory
scallion see spring onion
semifreddo not semi freddo or semi-freddo
shortbread not short bread
sliver not slither
snoek
snow peas see mange-tout
sosatie not sesatie
sosaties (pl.)
soubise
soufflé
spanakopita not spanakopitta
spätzle not spaetzle (both are correct)
spoonful not spoon ful or spoon full
spring onion not scallion
spuma
sugarsnap peas not sugar snap peas
sweetbreads
Swiss chard
T
Tabasco sauce not tabasco sauce
tablespoon not table spoon
taco/s
tahini not tahina (both are acceptable)
tandoor (oven)
tandoori (cooked in a tandoor oven)
tapenade
taramosalata
tartare sauce not tartar
teaspoon not tea spoon
terrine
tikka
tofu
toothpick
tzatziki not tsatsiki (both are acceptable)
V
velouté
verjus
vermicelli
vichyssoise
vinaigrette
vindaloo
vol-au-vent not vol au vent
W
Worcestershire sauce
Z
zucchini see courgettes

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