Insider tips to take your home cooking to the next level
Cooking is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK and our top tips will help you to achieve professional results at home.
The Great British Menu is back on our TV screens, and with cooking now one of the most popular hobbies in the UK, it seems the show, and others like it, is inspiring home cooks to take to the kitchen and cook up a storm. If you love to cook, our insider tips will help you take your cooking to next level and ensure you impress your guests at your next dinner party.
One of the key aspects of professional cooking is the need to be organised. Before you start cooking your dish, prepare and set out all your ingredients so that they’re ready to use; it may seem like a lot of work up front (and a lot of dishes to wash!) but it really does save time and stress in the long run. If you’re working from a recipe it’s also vital to read it thoroughly before you begin – it’s all too easy to miss a key ingredient or get a quantity wrong and completely ruin the dish.
Master the basics
To be a great cook it’s important to first master the basics. You’ll need to learn how to make pastry, how to make a great sauce, and how to cook different cuts of meat or types of fish. You should also set about refining your palate and discovering what classic flavour combinations go well together. There are some great cookbooks out there to help you master the basics of good cooking or, alternatively, you may find it useful to attend a cookery course. Once you have a solid grounding in the basics and are confident in your cooking you can branch out and start experimenting to reflect your own taste and style.
Try something new
Cooking is all about experimentation so don’t be afraid to try something new (although it’s usually a good idea to do a test run before launching it on your unsuspecting guests!). Try out unusual flavour or texture combinations, or think about using unfamiliar techniques such as water bathing or pressure cooking. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out, even the professionals get it wrong sometimes – cooking is a learning curve, and every mistake you make helps you to become a better chef in the long run.
Have the right tools for the job
Having the right tools for the job is essential if you want to achieve professional results. At the very least you need to invest in good quality pans in a range of sizes, as well as a good set of knives (and don’t forget to keep them sharpened). A multi-tasking blender is another kitchen essential and, for cakes and desserts, a freestanding mixer is always useful. If you are confident in your cooking and want to become more adventurous, you may want to purchase more specialist tools such as a pasta maker or even professional sous vide equipment.
All in the presentation
As we’ve all seen on MasterChef or The Great British Menu, presentation can make or break a dish. Be sure to give your meals a professional edge by paying care and attention to their final presentation. When planning a dish, think about how you want it to look on the plate and what you need to do to achieve that result – for example, do you need a certain style or shape of crockery? Some of the basic rules of good presentation include leaving empty space around the edge of the plate and creating a good colour contrast.
As with most things in life, practice really does make perfect, so get in the kitchen and practice your skills as often as you possibly can. And who knows – we might well see you on a future episode of MasterChef!