publication date: Aug 23, 2011
author/source: Fiona Beckett
Over the next four weeks we’re planning to teach you some cooking basics and hopefully improve your cooking skills if you know a bit already.
Of course there are thousands of cookery books and programmes out there but they sometimes assume a level of knowledge beginners don’t have.
So our 'course' is going to be mainly based on explaining a general approach to different dishes and showing you how to get the best results.
A lot of people will tell you you don’t need recipes and in a sense this is true. You can just go to the fridge, pull out a few ingredients out and turn them into something edible and often this is what experienced cooks do. But it doesn’t always seem as easy as that if you’ve hardly ever set foot in a kitchen.
The most useful advice about recipes is to read them through before you get started. Right through to the end. Obviously you’ll need to have done this if you need to buy the ingredients but once you’ve got them it’s worth doing again and laying everything out you’re going to use (including the equipment you're going to need)
The reason is that once you start the recipe you may need to work quickly and you won’t want to stop and hunt around for an ingredient or find you’ve left a crucial one out. Chefs work this way and its called the mise en place.
It’s also a good discipline because if there’s more than one element to the dish you can work out the sequence in which you need to cook them. For example if you’re making spaghetti bolognese there’s no point in cooking the pasta then making the sauce as the pasta is likely to go gluey and stick together while its hanging around. You want your sauce ready as you finish cooking and draining it.
Or if you need to heat a pan to sear some meat you can put it on the hob to warm up so that you don’t end up stewing the meat rather than browning it.
As I suggested the other day feel free to stray off-piste once you get a few techniques under your belt but if you're a total novice you’re most likely to get good results if you start off following a recipe pretty well word for word
Tomorrow: How to cook pasta
For some more great recipes and tips get a copy of our Ultimate Student Cookbook - 288 pages! Out now!