With the vast amount of cookery shows on TV and what seems like thousands of different cookbooks on the shelves, taking the first step into cooking can seem a little bit daunting. But you don’t need to be the next Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson to make simple and healthy food, especially for the kids.
And to all those who say that they simply cannot cook, it’s just about getting interested in trying.
Barbara Crick, who runs Emsworth Cookery School, is running a course this Sunday about helping children grasp the basics of cooking. The school also runs a course for adults about developing confidence in the kitchen.
She says: ‘Learning to cook the basics means it will taste better and it will also save you a lot of money. It never takes very long to feed a family of four, less than 30 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
‘There is so much information out there for people so it doesn’t surprise me if some people find it confusing. If you learn 10 basic recipes, you can quite easily adapt them to make 100.’
Some of the foods Barbara suggests you start with are eggs, potatoes, pasta and rice. Once you’ve mastered them, you can start branching out into different areas.
Her course at Emsworth Cookery School encourages people to learn the basic sauces for a lasagne, but then shows how they can be used elsewhere.
Barbara says: ‘Hopefully it gives people more confidence to try something new in the kitchen. The white sauce can easily be changed to go with fish and the lasagne sauce can easily be changed to become a curry sauce.
‘It’s also important to have the basic equipment in your kitchen to cook with. Don’t go crazy and buy all sorts of gadgets, just the basics to get you going.’
For more information, go to emsworthcookeryschool.co.uk
SPICY SAUSAGE RICE (Serves 4)
Olive oil, for frying
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
5 spiced sausages, e.g. Italian chilli
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
200g long-grain rice
Half a glass of white wine
500ml chicken stock
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add a glug of oil to a heavy-based casserole dish and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the pepper and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Slit the sausage skins and crumble the sausage meat into the pan, then cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until coloured. Add the smoked paprika and mix. Season to taste.
Add the rice and stir well to mix thoroughly and absorb the flavour. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine and scraping any bits stuck to the bottom. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid almost entirely absorbed.
Remove from the heat, gently fold in the spring onions, tomato and parsley and serve.
HOW TO FRY ONIONS
If frying onion, don’t slice it too thinly or it will burn before it has had a chance to caramelise. Never rush cooking an onion. Always give it five or six minutes in the pan on its own.
From Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, published by Hodder & Stoughton, £25. Available now.