Cooking tips from Ainsley Harriott
Try these great cooking ideas from TV cook, Ainsley Harriott:
Simmering and boiling
Sometimes the terms simmering and boiling can be a bit confusing – but they are slightly different. When something is simmering it’s just under boiling temperature, small bubbles will slowly come to the surface now and then. When something is boiling it’s hotter with bigger bubbles coming up fast and a lot of steam rises up quickly. When heating something like a soup or baked beans, you’ll want to slowly simmer it but when cooking pasta, it’s best to boil it.
Chopping an onion
It doesn’t matter what your onion looks like once you’ve chopped it up, so don’t worry too much about the size of the pieces. A good place to start though is to cut the peeled onion in half, then place each half flat side down on a chopping board. For small pieces cut the onion in half horizontally once, then chop down vertically. For bigger pieces, or strips of onion, just chop straight down.
Using herbs and spices
One way to add big flavour to your foods without adding extra fat or salt is to use herbs or spices. Dry versions keep for ages in the cupboards so it’s worth stocking up on a few key ones. Don’t forget some fresh herbs like parsley or coriander can be frozen and if you freeze ginger, it makes it much easier to grate into food. Sage is great with pork, rosemary with lamb, and mixed herbs are great for tomato sauces.
How hot should you go?
You don’t always need to have the heat on the highest setting when you’re cooking. Turn the gas or hob down to low when you’re softening vegetables like onions and go higher when you’re boiling pasta or veg, or just want to cook something quickly on each side.
Use the freezer
Frozen veg is just as good for you as fresh, so stock up when you’re in the supermarket and it’ll always be on hand to use. You can use it as more than just a side dish too – adding things like peas or sweetcorn into the saucepan you’re boiling pasta in for the last few minutes of its cooking time is a really easy way to include them in your meal. Or you could boil frozen peas in low salt stock and some other veg and blend to make a soup.
Measure out your pasta before you cook it so you don’t end up eating too large a portion or wasting it. Generally pasta doubles in size once it’s cooked so put half the amount you want to finish with in the pan. Cook it according to the instructions with plenty of water.
What do you need?
You don’t need much to get started in the kitchen. A saucepan, frying pan, oven dish, baking tray, chopping board, sharp knife, spatula and colander will cover everything you need. You can get most of these cheaply too.