I was delighted to be invited to the Tesco Real Food magazine cookery event last week, where 5 blogger s whipped up at Jubilee street party spread at the Cookery School. I’m a self-taught cook and conscious of my hazardous chopping skills and limited knowledge of the basics so was ready to learn some new tricks and tips from the inspirational principal of the school Rosalind Rathouse (@RosalindsW1).
The top 11 things I learnt at Cookery School
1. A sharp knife is essential for good chopping and slicing.
2. When chopping, always keep your hand on top of your knife so you don’t cut your finger off. It sounds obvious but I sometimes find my fingers wandering around my onion or carrot. Luckily my knives are so blunt they can’t do much damage.
3. Place used knives into the little side sink away from the pots and pans. I’ve scratched my hand before in the sink so will always remember to do this from now onwards.
4. For whizzy, professional looking chopped herbs, bunch together into a ball and then chop in a circular motion listening for the crunch.
5. Blanche onions in hot water then stick in the fridge before adding to salads, couscous etc. It takes the overpowering taste away.
6. Taste as you cook – very obvious.
7. Don’t double dip to taste or contaminate your surface with dirty spoons. Keep a little rankin handy to put store used utensils.
8. Poach chicken. This took minutes. It’s simple to do and a very healthy way to cook chicken. I’m going to try this for sandwiches, chicken salad and picnics as it’s much less messy than roasting.
9. The secret of a great bake is all in the mixing. Cream the butter and sugar or egg and sugar until white. No wonder super-cooks love their KitchenAid mixers.
10. I wouldn’t say homemade custard is simple to make but the taste is sensational. You can turn homemade custard into ice cream too – it’s the same recipe.
11. The top tip of the night was to use the microwave to toast nuts. Microwave for 30 seconds on high, shake and put back in. Keep doing it until you have lovely brown tasty nuts.
A big thank you to head chef Rosalind. As with all great teachers, Rosalind made everything – including whisking custard – look simple. She was a stream of top tips and quick shortcuts and revitalised my interest in cooking at home – and being a little bit braver and more experimental in the kitchen.