The Quick Guide to Great Cooking
One of the main pieces of advice about how to be a good cook is that you should enjoy cooking. This sounds obvious but there's no point slogging away in the kitchen every night creating gourmet meals from scratch, if you're getting hot and bothered and feel really stressed by the time you eat your dinner.
RelaxationA good cook is a relaxed cook and the best way to be relaxed in the kitchen is to gain confidence. This means confidence with your appliances and equipment, knowledge of ingredients and also the confidence to experiment with recipes and to be able to add your own individual twist. The only way to achieve this is by practising and a student household should give you ample opportunity to get lots of practise in. After all, who isn't going to turn down the offer of someone preparing dinner for them?
Start at the BeginningIf you don't have much cooking experience, the best thing to do is start at the beginning. There's no shame in sticking to really basic recipes and meals while you're still learning as, once you've perfected these, you can quickly move on to more complicated dishes. Gradually start to introduce new ingredients to your cooking; try new vegetables and spices and different cuts of meat and experiment with more unusual cooking techniques. By doing this gradually, you will build up your repertoire and your confidence.
Keep it RealMost people have a small selection of 'dinner party dishes'. That is, recipes that they know off by heart and that they can rustle up with ease if people come round for a meal. It's a good idea to cook what you know when you're entertaining: a dinner party isn't really the time or place to experiment with something completely new - if things don't go according to plan, you'll get very stressed. Also, timings can very easily get overlooked and there's nothing worse than listening to guests' stomachs rumbling when the meal isn't even halfway to being served. Start with some classics such as lasagne or roast chicken and then broaden your repertoire. Practise new recipes on your housemates and ask for some constructive feedback.
Top TipsHere are a few tips to get you on the path to kitchen genius!
- Always read a recipe through a couple of times before you start cooking.
- Get all the ingredients out of the cupboards and prepped before you start cooking.
- Source local produce and visit farm shops and markets for inspiration and more unusual ingredients.
- Don't expect everything to go perfectly the first time round - even professional chefs need to practise new techniques and dishes.
- Once you've got a bit of confidence, try tweaking recipes to suit your personal taste and the contents of your fridge - this will lead you naturally on to creating your own recipes from scratch.
- If you have space, grow your own herb garden: fresh herbs really liven up dishes and taste much better than dried. Most herbs are easy to grow and you'll only need the space of a deep windowsill to get a fairly decent selection.