Thanks to the likes of Masterchef, the Hairy Bikers and Best British Bake-Off, it’s never been a better time to unleash your inner chef.
Whether you’re looking to improve the quality of dish you’re making, want those stressful dinner times to be much calmer or simply love the process of digging out a recipe and seeing it through to the plate, here are some useful tips.
A lot of meal-times go wrong because there’s a sudden dash to the larder for something that you had forgotten which should have been on the hob five minutes ago while everything else is now threatening to slowly over-cook. Especially if you’re cooking for a few people, things will run like clockwork if you have everything chopped, diced, washed and looked out the day before. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Or something like that.
The healthy cat can still get the cream
Are you a fan of full, rich and creamy dressings? Well, who isn’t? They’re delicious of course, but if you’re worried about extra pounds stacking on, why not replace half the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt?
If you are about to sauté some garlic, a regular problem is trying not to burn it in the pan. The solution is to slice rather than mincing it. It’s more time-consuming (and your fingers might be a bit pungent for a while), but the results are well worth it.
On the sauce
This one is for fans of classic Italian cuisine: once you drain your pasta, grate some fresh Parmesan on top while it’s still hot so that once you add your sauce, it will stick to the pasta, making everything that bit more tasty. Alternatively, if you don’t want to use cheese at that point but would still like to have some extra flavour, then remove a small cupful of the pasta cooking water and pop it in later when you’re adding the sauce. The water’s starch will add a surprising element of creaminess.
What’s good this season
Many people add their herbs, salt and pepper at the start and leave it at that. Don’t be shy in adding seasoning throughout the cooking process as it should help bring out the flavours more.
Having your cake
Once you take your cake out of the oven, don’t even think about slicing it for at least 20 minutes as it will simply dry out. And always serve it at room temperature.
Do you have a cooking secret you can share with the group?