Blog_Domestic Goddess_Fiona Sherlock

Photo: Fiona Sherlock

Many people often think that as a half Italian and half Sri Lankan woman, my life is spent in the kitchen, as judging by my DNA make-up I must absolutely LOVE cooking!

I hate to shatter anyone’s illusions, but a few years ago I would have been in the kitchen for the exact time needed to cook a meal and then escaped as quickly as I could.





However, as I have got older and married a man who really appreciates his food I have become much more interested in cooking. So much so that I now absolutely love exploring new recipes, reading cookbooks and trying out different dishes. Every week I go through all my cookbooks and recipes online and prepare my menu for the week.


Yes, I know that sounds super organised but believe me, it’s the only way I can manage my hectic teaching schedule and ensure that I am still preparing freshly-cooked meals. I also like to have variety in my menu so a pre-prepared menu allows me to create this variety.

I’ve noticed that many of my clients who stay with us appreciate this diversity and have taken a real interest in my menus. So much so that I often include a cooking lesson in my course for those who share my passion.

Like listening to music, watching films and reading books, a passion for cooking is a great way for learners to improve their English vocabulary. Not only does it help you with your reading skills (recipes), but it also helps you improve your listening skills especially if you enjoy watching cooking programmes.

Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off
Photo: Independent

Here in the UK, we have a huge number of cooking programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, Caribbean Food Made Easy, Indian Food Made Easy and so the list continues. We also have a number of well-known chefs on television, for example, Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, Gordon Ramsay, Raymond Blanc and of course, Jamie Oliver.

I know from a number of my German, Swiss and Russian clients that Jamie Oliver is particularly famous in these countries. In fact, one of my Russian clients told me that she has learned a lot of her English by watching Jamie Oliver’s programmes. Indeed, she was the one who gave me the idea for this post. Thank you, Tania.

I plan to dedicate the next few posts to the theme of cooking and baking. I will be giving you some vocabulary and expressions related to food preparation and cooking, some cooking idioms and I will be exploring some of the expressions that are used in spoken British English. Jamie Oliver uses a lot of these in his programmes and they often confuse non-native speakers.

Blog_Let's get cookingLet’s start with some basic verbs related to food preparation and cooking.

Food Preparation

Before you start cooking, you need to prepare the food. This could be anything from:

  • washing vegetables like spinach, broccoli,cabbage
  • slicing thinly or thickly onions, carrots, celery
  • peeling carrots, potatoes
  • chopping finely or coarsely or into chunks onions, garlic, ginger, carrots
  • shredding cabbage, cucumber
  • marinating meat
  • whisking the eggs or cream
  • grating cheese


Blog_Cooking VerbsAfter you have prepared the food for cooking you might need to:

  • melt some butter in a pan
  • bring to the boil
  • simmer gently
  • steam some vegetables or fish
  • fry some mushrooms
  • grill the tomatoes
  • roast the vegetables or meat
  • stir-fry some chicken
  • scramble the eggs

While you’re cooking

You will need to:

  • stir gently, constantly or occasionally
  • whisk the hollandaise sauce
  • turn the meat over
  • season with salt and pepper
  • sprinkle some herbs or spices


To really understand the meaning of these verbs, you need to see them in context. The best way to do this is to take a look at a recipe in English. You can find all sorts of delicious recipes online from these websites:

Make a list of all the cooking verbs you find and check their meaning in the dictionary.

In the next post, I shall explore some cooking programmes and pick out some expressions that are commonly used in British English.

In the meantime, happy searching and please do share with me any delicious and mouth-watering recipes that you find.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it. And if you’d like to receive my posts directly into your Inbox, why not subscribe to my blog?

Ciao for now.