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The Measure of a Chef

The measure of a chef lies in the precise and careful measuring of ingredients to achieve consistent quality in every cooking endeavor. Rest assured: every cook can obtain good results, too, with the help of a few simple weighing and measuring devices readily available around the kitchen. Let’s find out what this equipment is called in French and how the system works.

 

As you may have noticed in Yabla's cooking videos, all the recipes use the French metric system as opposed to the imperial system. So, everything is given to you in grammes, kilogrammes (grams, kilograms) and mililitres, litres (milliliters, liters) instead of cups, pints, and ounces. In the video below, the chocolate log recipe calls for many ingredients, all of them measured in grammes (grams):

 

Ensuite, vous ajoutez cinquante grammes de beurre en morceaux

Then, you add fifty grams of butter cut in pieces

Captions 34-35, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de Noël

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That same recipe uses mililitres (mililiters) for liquids:

 

Vous ajoutez deux cent cinquante millilitres de crème chaude

You add two hundred fifty milliliters of hot cream

Caption 31, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de Noël

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If you are not familiar with the metric system, you can choose to convert measurements, which can be a complicated process, or you can simply use une balance (a kitchen scale) set to grammes. In the video below, the baker uses une balance électronique (an electronic scale):

 

Le boulanger a tout d'abord mesuré les ingrédients sur une balance électronique.

First of all, the baker measured the ingredients on an electronic scale.

Captions 5-6, Apprends les métiers Boulanger

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Alternatively, you can use a variety of devices such as un verre doseur (a measuring cup):

 

Tu rajoutes de la farine sans verre doseur, pas besoin

You add some flour without a measuring cup, no need

Captions 26-27, Sophie et Patrice Les crêpes

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Or, if precision is not crucial, you can resort to a drinking verre (glass), which is roughly equivalent to une tasse à mesurer (one measuring cup). (In France, drinking glasses generally come in smaller sizes than American ones.) In the video below, JB uses un verre d’eau (a glass of water) for his tarte aux mirabelles (mirabelle plum tart):

 

Et ensuite ajouter l'équivalent d'un verre d'eau

And then add the equivalent of a glass of water

Caption 17, JB La tarte aux mirabelles

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To measure smaller quantities, you can use une cuiller à mesurer (a measuring spoon). “A teaspoon” is une cuiller à café (“a coffee spoon") or une petite cuiller ("a small spoon"). Une cuiller à café holds cinq millilitres (five milliliters). In the video below, the cook adds a little flavor to his crêpes with une petite cuiller de rhum (a teaspoon of rum):

 

Comme on est entre adultes, une petite cuiller de rhum.

Since we're among adults, a teaspoon of rum.

Caption 77, LCM Recette: Crêpes

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The same recipe calls for deux cuillers à soupe (two tablespoons, literally "soup spoons") of melted butter:

 

Et deux cuillers à soupe de beurre demi-sel fondu.

And two tablespoons of melted, lightly salted butter.

Caption 49, LCM Recette: Crêpes

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Note that cuiller (spoon) has two spellings that are equally common: une cuiller or une cuillère. The pronunciation and gender remain the same.

 

You can also say une cuillerée (a spoonful) for indicating quantities, as in this natural remedy for sore throats:

 

Presser un citron bio. Ajouter deux cuillerées à café de miel pour les maux de gorge.

Squeeze an organic lemon. Add two teaspoons of honey for a sore throat.

 

Now that you know how to measure ingredients, you need to be able to turn on votre four (your oven) at the correct temperature. The oven can be set at various temperatures: doux, moyen, chaud (cool, medium, hot). In the video below, Sophie bakes her madeleines in un four chaud (a hot oven), approximately equivalent to 230-250 Celsius:

 

Et ensuite je mets à four chaud

And then I put it in a hot oven

Caption 63, Sophie et Patrice Les madeleines

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Indeed, France uses the metric system, which includes Celsius, while the US and a few other countries use Fahrenheit. To give you an idea, the most common baking temperature is 180 degrés Celsius, which is almost equivalent to 400 degrees Fahrenheit:

 

Et vous pouvez préchauffer votre four à cent quatre-vingts degrés.

And you can preheat your oven to one hundred eighty degrees [Celsius].

Caption 56, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de Noël

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In addition to oven temperatures set in Celsius, some gas ovens have un thermostat (a thermostat) ranging from 1 to 6. As indicated in the video below, thermostat cinq (thermostat five) is equivalent to 160 degrees Celsius:

 

On les placera au four à cent soixante degrés ou thermostat cinq, pendant quinze minutes.

We'll place them in the oven at one hundred sixty degrees [Celsius] or thermostat five, for fifteen minutes.

Captions 40-41, Aurélien et Automne Oreo fait maison - Part 2

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Now you that you can calculate quantities in French recipes, it’s time to measure your success in the kitchen and… in French!

 

Happy measuring!

Vocabulary

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