With plenty of deceptively easy recipes and fantastic tips, Lorraine Pascale's new series, How to Be a Better Cook, shows people with no kitchen confidence how to pull off an impressive meal for friends and family. Here are her top 10 tips!
Lorraine Pascale is a pro in the kitchen, but you may be surprised to know she only began to cook until she was in her 30s. Proving it's never too late to learn, Lorraine teaches novices in her new series How to Be a Better Cook, exactly that!
With a bit of enthusiasm, confidence and her top 10 tips below, you too can impress friends and family with delicious and easy-to-make dishes.
When it comes to entertaining, we all know a dessert is the final showstopper. For something simplistic yet equally impressive, try griddling with peaches or other firm fruit such as pineapple or mango. Griddling is a great technique as it cooks food quickly and gives a lovely char-grilled flavour. Within a couple of minutes, the intense heat caramelises the natural sugars in the fruit and concentrates the flavour. Try this delicious Grilled Peach, Burrata and Basil Salad with Dijon Dressing.
2. Salad Dressings
A salad without any dressing is a big no-no when it comes to entertaining, yet you don't have to pull out all the stops or just resort to buying a store-bought version. The basic rule of a salad dressing is three parts oil, to one part vinegar. A salad dressing only requires four supermarket ingredients: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and a tiny squeeze of lemon. It's all about learning to balance flavours and trusting your own taste buds.
Piping doesn't have to be a technique left to the professionals. The secret is to hold the bag completely upright and keep the pressure constant by twisting the top.
4. Puff Pastry
If there's one readymade ingredient to have, it's puff pastry. This flaky goodness is so versatile and can be used in various sweet and savoury dishes. When using puff pastry for sausage rolls, substituting traditional mince for chorizo and lemongrass, turns an every day party treat into something special. Try these Chorizo and Lemongrass Pastry Puff Scrolls.
5. Italian Inspired
An Italian menu is great for busy parents, looking for quick and adaptable meal ideas. Getting creative with ingredients will not only save you time, but also improve the flavour factor. Adding prawns makes a pasta dish seem more special, shallots not only cook faster than onions but are also sweeter, and using fresh chilli is a simple way to add a fiery kick and colour.
6. Involve Kids
Sharing the workload in the kitchen with your little ones will not only save on time, but also allow you to bond. Throw out the idea of frozen fish fingers, and make your own with seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs (a production line of these three ingredients in the kitchen is easy for the kids to follow!) Buy a nice piece of fish, chop into sticks, dip in the mixture, and bake. If you're not keen on fish, you can easily substitute with chicken. Try these Simple Tortilla Pizza Bites.
The trick to making a good sauce is to chop all ingredients roughly the same size and cook slowly over a gentle heat. Depending on the type of dish, there are various ways of imparting extra flavour. For example, add plenty of onion and tomato to a stock, or for a great pasta sauce add in capers or olives. A simple salsa is also useful to learn and goes with so many dishes.
8. Poaching Eggs
For poaching, it's all about getting the temperature just right. To poach means less than a simmer; simmering means the water is barely bubbling. A poach should be that there's hardly any bubbles breaking the surface and if you drop the eggs in gently, they won't splay out quite so much. Another tip: for a deliciously runny yolk, give eggs about four minutes.
9. Quick Roast
When you think of a roast, a lot of time spent in the kitchen is probably what comes to mind. To save time, consider buying a spatchcock roast chicken (flattened roast chicken). The reason it cooks faster is that there is a larger surface area for heat to act on.
To flavour the meat, put slits in the chicken and push slices of garlic into them and drizzle with oil. The first stint in the oven should be at a high temperature to crisp up the skin, and then back to a lower temperature to finish cooking. For an accompaniment, try using sweet potatoes instead of regular spuds as they are quicker to cook too.
10. Healthy Twist
Swapping store-bought ice cream for a DIY version is not as complicated as you think, and can actually be healthier for you! Simply mix Greek yoghurt, icing sugar and vanilla. Set in the freezer for a few hours, but be sure to take out around 20 minutes before serving to ensure it's not too hard for you to actually scoop out of the container.
'Lorraine Pascale: How to Be a Better Cook' starts June 4 at 7pm, only on LifeStyle FOOD. Don't miss it!