Food and Recipes

food header


Despite the fact that I can’t stand cooking, and quite frankly, I can’t cook and rarely cook, I do love eating.  I have an extremely sweet tooth and if you are like me, then your eyes will be bigger than your stomach. I have 3 favourite sweet treats: Banofee Pie, Carrot Cake and Chocolate Brownies, when made by my mate Tom.

chinese takeawaysI have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and I’m really keen on spicy food.  I grew up on Indian food and cornflakes and when I was at university nobody in my house could even spell the word ‘COOK’ so we lived on beer, diet coke and Mexican and Chinese takeaways.    I lived with my brother for 5 years and for 4 of those years we didn’t even know how to turn on the oven.  I lived on cucumber and toast and he lived at other people’s houses when it was dinner time. How outrageous!

washing upAccording to many sensible people, learning how to cook is a useful skill and although I think cookery classes should be a compulsory subject at school, I would rather have root canal than do all that slicing, chopping, grating, whisking, boiling, baking and frying.  Moreover, what about all that washing up!

I’m sorry, but there are so many other things I could be doing, not least, ‘chewing the fat’ with my mates in the pub, playing pool or watching paint dry. Some people were not born to cook, and I certainly fall into that category.

If I had more money and influence, I would employ George Clooney or David Beckham to do all my cooking and washing up.  Ok, never say never,  I may change my tune in the future and be tempted to take up a cookery class or learn a few of the basics, but it’s very, very, very unlikely.  So, if anyone has the mobile number of George, then please do the right thing and pass it on.   David is very much in love with Posh Spice, so really I don’t want to step on her toes.

Banana Cake
OMG, what is it?

Last year, at the request of the Inglés Málaga community I did bake a Banana and Walnut Cake.  And this is what my face looked like:

As you know, cooking anything more than toast, or toast and cheese, or toast and cucumber, or toast and butter, IS a huge challenge for me. So nobody will be surprised that my face looked like this after 3 hours in the kitchen, and my cake looked like that.

Janette bakes a cake!

If you want to read the recipe and see the whole disaster in pictures then click here: Banana Loaf Recipe

If you have time, the energy and the correct ingredients and cooking utensils I would recommend this recipe. However, if you don’t have time, the energy then I can recommend some wonderful bakeries in Málaga. Seriously, baking cakes and bread, let’s not ‘go bananas’, let’s go shopping!


food vocabularyVocabulary, vocabulary; it’s sooooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating; there are so many words, so many expressions, so many collocations, so many phrasal verbs.  How am I supposed to remember them all?

The answer is: first, learn what you are interested in, or what will be useful to you.  For example, I know a lot of Spanish words for fruit and vegetables but I don’t know a prawn from a lobster.

Why?  Well, firstly, I’m a lazy learner and secondly because I don’t use this vocabulary. If you are going abroad, you will find it useful to be able to understand a restaurant menu, and if you are like me and like a cheeky drink at the end of the day, you will be lost without the vocabulary for your favourite pre dinner drink.   Do you want it: ‘ straight up’ or maybe ‘on the rocks’ or maybe like James Bond ‘shaken not stirred’.  Of course, it depends on what your cup of tea is.

If you are not like me and you enjoy cooking, then why not follow a recipe and cook a dish or two.  One of the most memorable methods pf learning is by doing it. So, if you fancy making something then put your apron on and get cooking. Do you fancy?

  1. A mojito
  2. A Caprese Salad
  3. Spinach and Feta Pie
  4. A Forest Fruit Smoothie ( OMG – this woman puts cabbage in a smoothie – that’s disgusting!!)


All these idioms use vocabulary connected to FOOD, but do you know what they mean? Can you write sentences using them? If you are not sure about a word or phrase, why not ask the Inglés Málaga community to help you?




To have a bun in the oven

Jan won’t come to the bar because she has a bun in the oven.


The big cheese

I thought I was just going to interview the secretary, but they let me talk to the big cheese himself.


The bread and butter

Just explain the bread and butter of your report. You don’t have to go into details.


To bring home the bacon

My husband has had to bring home the bacon ever since I stopped working


To be as cool as a cucumber

I thought I was afraid of flying, but I was as cool as a cucumber during the flight.


To be not (my) cup of tea

Opera isn’t my cup of tea.


To be full of beans

The kids were full of beans after the circus.


To be nuts about (something or someone)

I’m nuts about Brad Pit, he is gorgeous.


To be a piece of cake

The exam was a piece of cake.



I worked as a waitress in a restaurant to earn some extra money. However, unfortunately for my purse and my self-esteem, I was fired after 3 weeks.  I was given the boot because the big cheese said I didn’t have the skills to do two of the following actions.  Which two do you think I my boss said I couldn’t do?

  1. To seat customers
  2. To pour water
  3. To take orders
  4. To serve food
  5. To clear tables
  6. To take the bill
  7. To lay the table


Do you know all this vocabulary?  Truth be told, I don’t.  For example, what the hell is that under the sink? Anyway, I’ll start you off:

  1. Cupboard or Kitchen Cabinet
  2. Kitchen Roll
  3. Dish drainer or Dish Drying Rack
  4. ……
  5. ……


READING ACTIVITY ONE: Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie
How to make a quick and healthy smoothie:

Berry Smoothie
Yummy, yummy in my tummy!



Slice the banana into your blender or food processor and add the berries of your choice. Whizz until smooth. With the blades whirring, pour in juice or water to make the consistency you like. Toss a few extra fruits on top, drizzle with honey and serve.

Giving it a twist

Use melon or a slightly over-ripe mango instead of the banana. Or add a pot of low-fat natural yogurt to make an extra-creamy smoothie.

Per serving: 123 kcalories, protein 2g, carbohydrate 29g, fat 0 g, saturated fat 0g, fibre 3g, salt 0.02 g

READING ACTIVITY TWO: Greek Salad Omelette

Greek Salad Omelette
How to make a quick and healthy supper:

Delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner



  1. Heat the grill to high. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl with the chopped parsley, pepper and salt, if you want. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the onion wedges over a high heat for about 4 mins until they start to brown around the edges. Throw in the tomatoes and olives and cook for 1-2 mins until the tomatoes begin to soften.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the eggs. Cook the eggs in the pan, stirring them as they begin to set, until half cooked, but still runny in places – about 2 mins. Scatter over the feta, then place the pan under the grill for 5-6 mins until omelette is puffed up and golden. Cut into wedges and serve straight from the pan.
TryMake it meaty For a non-vegetarian version why not ripple over slices of ham or bacon before scattering over the feta, then grill until crispy.

Per serving (for 4)

371 kcalories, protein 24g, carbohydrate 5g, fat 28 g, saturated fat 9g, fibre 1g, salt 2 g

READING ACTIVITY THREE: Plum and Almond Crumble Cake

Plum and Almond Crumble Slice Cake
How to make a buttery tray bake, full of in-season fruit and spice

Got a sweet tooth?
Got a sweet tooth?


  • 250g pack butter (this must be very cold)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 140g plain flour , plus 25g/1oz
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • approx 6 plums , stoned and cut into sixths
  • 50g flaked almonds


  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin with baking paper. Put the butter, sugar and ground almonds into a food processor, then pulse until the mixture resembles very rough breadcrumbs. Spoon out half the mix into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 140g flour into the mix in the processor and whizz until it just forms a dough. Tip into the tin and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden. Leave to cool for 10 mins.
  3. To make the filling, put the remaining butter and the sugar and almond mix back into the processor, saving a few tbsp for the topping. Add the eggs, the 25g flour, cinnamon and baking powder and whizz to a soft batter. Spread over the base.
  4. Top with the plum pieces and a little extra caster sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 20 mins, then sprinkle with the remaining crumble mix and flaked almonds. Cook for another 20 mins or until golden. Leave to cool in the tin before slicing.

TryMake it by hand

If you don’t have a food processor, rub the ingredients for Step 1 together with your fingers. Pop the bowl in the fridge for 10 mins if the butter turns greasy. For the rest of the recipe, use a pair of electric beaters, or a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl.

Nutrition Per Serving

360 kcalories, protein 7g, carbohydrate 26g, fat 26 g, saturated fat 9g, fibre 2g, sugar 18g, salt 0.37 g/div>

LISTENING ACTIVITY ONE:  Jamie Oliver Cooks the Perfect Cheese Omelette

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver Cooks a cheap, delicious main dish

Improve your listening skills and your vocabulary by watching Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, showing you how to make a cheap, delicious main dish: The perfect cheese omelette

If you enjoy cooking then why not check out Jamie Oliver’s book: Quick Summer Meals –
10 Dinners in 10 Minutes or Less

These ten recipes can each be made in about ten minutes (or thereabouts depending on your speed). They use fresh summer produce, and take the usual heat of summer in mind. Cold soups, substantial salads, light meals, and no-cook ideas are all here with plenty of bright ripe tomatoes, cooling cucumbers, and prolific courgettes in the mix.

LISTENING ACTIVITY TWO:  How to Make Butter Biscuits?

butter biscuitsImprove your listening skills and your vocabulary by watching quick recipe videos. These video are clear, simple and short.  GREAT!!

Fancy making butter biscuits? Find out how to do it here

LISTENING ACTIVITY THREE: Restaurant English: Eating Out

ordering foodFancy improving the English language you might use in a restaurant or when talking about food?

  1. Ordering Food in the USA: Listen to two people and a waitress ordering food in a restaurant
  2. Eating Out in London. Listen to a BBC podcast about going out to eat in London
  3. Food in Britain. Watch a British Council Video about British Food


SPEAKING ACTIVITY ONE:  Expressing Opinions and Reasons

places to eatHere are some pictures showing people eating in different situations.

  1. First, talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these places.
  2. Then decide which place is the healthiest.

SPEAKING ACTIVITY TWO:  Talking about Likes and Dislikes – Expressing Opinions and Reasons

Can you talk about the following issues?

  1. What’s your favourite dish? What kind of food do you like?
  2. Has your taste in food changed?
  3. Do you prefer eating alone or with other people?
  4. Do you prefer eating to cooking?
  5. Do you have a balanced diet?
  6. How important is a healthy diet?
  7. Do you think that cooking should be compulsory at school?
  8. Did you study cookery at school?
  9. How would you teach children to have a healthy diet?
  10. When was the last time you ate at a restaurant?  Did you have fun?
  11. What are the important things to think about when selecting a restaurant?
  12. How does advertising affect the food we eat and the food we buy?
  13. What kind of fast / convenience food would you really hate to give up?
  14. Whose responsibility should it be to educate children about health issues?
  15. Do you think we should worry about the food we eat? 
  16. Have you ever been on a diet?
  17. Are celebrities to blame for societies’ eating disorders?
  18. Do you agree that taking regular exercise is good for people?
  19. If you could change one think in your lifestyle to make it healthier, what would you change? Why?
  20. Do schools in your country teach young people about keeping healthy?  Do you think they should?

SPEAKING ACTIVITY THREE: Describing Photographs

cooking classThis photo shows some people learning to cook.  Can you describe the photograph and say how they might be feeling?

To help you might want to consider the following questions:

  1. Where are they?
  2. What are they doing?
  3. What are they wearing?
  4. What are the key objects in the photograph?
  5.  Why might they be learning to cook?
  6.  Do they seem to be having fun?

SPEAKING ACTIVITY FIVE:  Role Play: Ordering Food in a Restaurant

Read and practice a sample conversation between a waiter and a customer.

  1. Role play in a Restaurant


WRITING ACTIVITY ONE:  Restaurant Review

sea view restaurantImagine you have seen this announcement in a magazine.

Have you eaten at a local restaurant recently? If so, why not write a review for our Food section, telling other readers what the restaurant and the food was like?

Write your review. All published reviews will receive a free meal for two at the restaurant.

Do you want to read a restaurant review?  No problem. Restaurant Review



Come Dine with MeChannel 4, a British TV broadcaster, is looking for new contestants for the next season of: Come Dine with Me. Come Dine with Me is a popular reality TV show where contestants compete to win £1000.  In order to win the prize money they have to cook a meal for 4 people and entertain three guests who are complete strangers.

You think you have got ‘what it takes’ and have decided to apply to be a contestant.

To apply, all you have to do is write a postcard to Channel 4 answering the following four questions:

  1.  What main course would you cook and why?
  2. What type of a person would be a nightmare dinner guest?
  3.   How would you describe yourself?
  4.   Why you would make the perfect host?

 If you need inspiration, why not check out the auditions for the South African version of Come Dine with Me.

All responses must be less than 100 words.

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