The key to making great food, keeping your family healthy and enjoying yourself in the kitchen is by getting some key cooking skills down. Why not try some of my 12 key skills to start. Practice makes perfect!
1. Boil an Egg
2. Use Shredded Chicken
You’ll be surprised by the volume of shredded chicken you amass from one fillet. Shredded chicken is easy to eat and therefore handy for children’s meals and school lunches. I also use shredded chicken for sandwiches, quesadillas, salads and pies.
A great option is to prepare some chicken on a Sunday, eat some then and shred the remainder for use later in the week. You can use a slow roast chicken recipe or poach a full chicken or skinless fillets, legs and thighs. To shred it, use two forks and separate the fibres, working with the grain and while the meat is still hot.
3. Perfect Your Pizza Base
Homemade pizza is not only more nutritious that takeaways or shop bought, it is also much easier to make than you think. The good news is that pizza bases can be made from a scone mix if you aren’t familiar with the more traditional yeast base. I always shape pizza bases in semolina because the family ‘love’ the takeaway taste. I’m not sure if this is really a compliment!!!
4. Make a Batch of Homemade Tomato Sauce
Homemade tomato sauce has none of the sugar or salt included in the shop bought versions as I found out in a previous article. I frequently make in bulk batch and freeze in portions ready to serve with pizza or with pasta and cheese. It is also delicious with potato wedges etc.
5. Learn to Make a Basic Cake mix using a healthier sugar and fat content.
I love baking and while I usually encourage families to bake only as a treat, there is no doubt that homemade is infinitely more delicious and the ingredients more superior than commercial produce.
Try coconut palm sugar, healthier oils and add a vegetable to make a more nutritious treat, such as this tasty carrot cake version.
6. Prepare Homemade Stock
Homemade stock is a much healthier option to stock cubes, because the cubes contain salt required for preservation. Roast chicken is one of the most popular Sunday roasts and when you’re preparing the chicken for shredding (see point two above), don’t waste the carcass – make your own stock and freeze or use immediately.
7. Cooking and Cooling Rice
Most of us don’t realize that cooked rice that is reheated can cause food poisoning. Knowledge and safe practice prevents the family from getting sick. Unlike most foods, excessive heat does not kill the microorganisms in contaminated rice.
Therefore, cooked rice must be cooled quickly and stored in chilled or freezing conditions to prevent contamination. To do this, simply remove the rice from the saucepan and divide into smaller portions and place in cold containers or over a bed of ice. Place in the fridge within 90 minutes.
8. Make Some Marmalade
So what if marmalade isn’t a meal. If it still features on your breakfast table, it is important not to accept the inferior shop bought versions full of setting agents with citrus flavouring. Only the zestiest, zingiest and natural flavoured and coloured should do. And it’s much easier to make than you think.
9. Get Involved with Potato Wedges
Leave the bags of chips/fries in the frozen aisle of the supermarket. They have no place in your kitchen. Learn how to make a much healthier and tastier option using the fresh white potato and the red sweet potato.
Making a roux sauce without measuring ingredients is a useful skill to develop. Using your eye as a gauge takes practice, but stirring continuously to prevent lumps and perfecting your homemade roux is very satisfying. You’re well on your way to becoming the ultimate home cook.
11. Love Your Spice Rack
Herbs and seasoning are all used as the last minute ‘remedy’ for dishes that just don’t taste ‘quite there’. Often this last minute solution doesn’t quite work however a pinch of two of sugar might just hit the right spot. I love my spices and herbs, but make sure you use your salt and pepper with a light hand!
12 . Learn to Properly Chop an Onion
There are very few savoury recipes that do not require a finely chopped (diced) onion. Learning how to chop it up correctly will speed up your prep time and in no time you’ll be like a pro.