Tuesday, 30 September 2014

FIVE ways to improve your cooking starting NOW.

Following is my quick list of FIVE simple ways that I believe will really help improve your cooking.
An easy step by step guide to success if you like!
There are countless things you can do to improve but this quick list is achievable for all cooks- whether you are a beginner or an established cook.
Not one of them involves buying expensive equipment or having a state of the art kitchen- I don't believe that is what makes anyone a good cook.

1.) READ the recipe.
By read it I mean to read it over and over. Each time you read it you will probably see a step you missed before.
Most of you will have watched cooking competition shows and seen time & time again the participants who miss vital parts to a recipe only to wonder what happened to their masterpiece. HEARTBREAKING.  A recipe is like a person holding your hand through the steps. Make use of it & let it be what takes away the stress.
It may help you to make some quick step by step notations of your own to have handy.
If you are unsure of a cooking term, then google it ahead of cooking to find out exactly what the instructions mean. Or ask me! I love to help people out in the kitchen- that is what this blog is ALL about!

Preparation is your best friend in the kitchen.
A cook who has a plan is a cook who will have more success.
That said, I love to fly by the seat of my pants but if you are a beginner having all of your food chopped and a plan of action you will find the whole cooking experience far more enjoyable. Once you have gained confidence you will be able to be more spontaneous and you will notice you get speedier at things too.

3.) Have SHARP knives.
There is NOTHING more frustrating to me than working with blunt knives.
It may be worth paying someone to professionally sharpen your knives to see the best result but let me tell you it is WORTH every penny!
Despite what you may think, you are LESS likely to cut yourself with a super sharp knife than you are with a blunt knife.

4.) Stop STIRRING.
This is a step that lots of beginners get wrong and that is ok! Most of us are starting out. This tip can be a total game changer for a LOT of people.
Our natural tendency in the kitchen is to stand over those pans and stir, stir, stir.
It's fun and it feels as though we are doing good things. Sometimes though we are not doing our cooking any favours by stirring. All in good time!
There is real value to be gained in terms of flavour by starting off at a high heat and leaving your meat still in the pan to develop a good brown coating.
YES it will spit and sound crayzee loud! This is all good stuff- (using a splatter guard may be helpful to you to achieve this!)
As the meat develops this lovely browned effect it will separate itself away from the pan,  naturally coming away from the surface so there is no need to stir. You can then turn it and repeat on the other side.
Stirring reduces the heat on the cooking surface and then the meat stews- not what we want.
Even if you are making a stew- start off by caramelising your meat by leaving it STILL.
There is a place for stirring but it is not all the time!

None of us started of as brilliant cooks. Anyone who is a good cook has practised a LOT.
I started cooking for the family when I was TEN years old. That means I have had more than 30 years experience and countless failures along the way. Every single failure was a lesson learnt. TRUE! Failing is an important part of becoming a success.
Start with simple dishes and simple techniques and gain confidence in the small steps along the way before you venture to more difficult techniques. It is fine to have a small repertoire of dishes that you feel good about cooking before you broaden your horizons!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but five ways which will really help you in the kitchen to achieve success.

Happy cooking
(feel free to share this list around to as many people as you think need to read it).

Very soon you'll be a Master of the kitchen just like the Swedish Chef!


  1. 6. Pre-heat your oven.... For waaaaay longer than you think. I can't remember where I read this tip, but it has improved my baking a lot. Especially when I had my old, cheap & nasty electric cooker.

  2. I'd also add clean as you go. And yes, I couldn't agree more with read the recipe- I've constantly had to encourage people in classes I've taught over the years!


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