Make sure your knife is sharp – a blunt knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one. As you can see, I like using a large knife rather than a small one; I find large knives much easier to handle.Treat your knife with respect for yourself and those around you. This is a tool that needs to be handled responsibly.Chop carefully, keeping an eye on what you’re doing. It’s important to look at what you’re doing and focus on it.
Peel the onion and cut it into quarters. Pull off a segment of the onion, place it on the chopping board and hold it firmly in place with one hand.First chop the onion segment lengthways, then turn the onion slices round and chop them across into very little pieces.When you watch the video you’ll see that I use the hand holding the onion to guide my knife, making sure that my thumb is tucked in behind your fingers so that it is protected.When I chop, I keep the tip of the blade on the board and rock the rest of the blade up and down, rather than lifting the whole blade up off the surface.Don’t rush when you chop – that’s the way accidents happen. Chop your onion patiently a segment at a time into very small pieces. That’s the way to chop an onion finely.
Buying chicken may sound easy, but are you buying the right type? This chicken buying guide shows you how to buy the right chicken type.
These days, the most common chicken people buy is skinless chicken breast fillets. And don’t get me wrong, they have their place when you want chicken that will cook quickly and absorb a lot of flavour. But read this “Chicken Buying Guide” on what chicken to buy and discover that, when it comes to chicken, there really is no such thing as a bad cut.The cheapest and best way to buy chicken is always to buy a whole bird and then chop it up yourself – but I know everyone doesn’t necessarily have the time or the confidence to tackle that task.So if you’re not buying a whole chicken, the type of chicken you need depends on what you’re planning to make with it.The darker meat around the legs has seen more exercise than the paler flesh around the chicken breast, so it suits slower cooking in casseroles or stews, because it’s tougher but also has more flavour. The tenderer breast meat is good for quick cooking, stir-fries or grilling, although drumsticks are also great on the barbecue.
When it comes to choosing fresh tomatoes, look for ripe but firm, unblemished tomatoes with a rich, red colour. Tomatoes grown in lots of sunshine taste the best.
The humble tomato, in my opinion, is all too often taken for granted. If you stop and think about it, so many dishes that are family favourites use tomatoes in one way or another, from Spaghetti Bolognese to Tomato soup.When it comes to choosing fresh tomatoes, look for ripe but firm, unblemished tomatoes with a rich, red colour. Tomatoes grown in lots of sunshine taste the best.If you grow your own tomatoes, you can find yourself with a glut to use up. Making your own tomato chutney or tomato sauce for freezing is a great way to preserve them. Don’t waste any unripe green tomatoes either; these can be used to make green tomato chutney.The great thing about cooking with tomatoes is that they go well with so many flavours, from onion and garlic to lemon or chili. Herbs are very good with tomatoes; like basil, bay, rosemary and thyme.
These small, round tomatoes are noted for their sweet flavour. Use them in salads or as the base for a cooked tomato sauce or soup. They also add a lovely touch of colour to dishes.
Tinned chopped tomatoes are a store cupboard essential that everyone should have in their kitchen. During the winter months, when fresh tomatoes lack flavour, a tin of tomatoes is a great way to add tomato flavour to dishes like sauces or stews.
This traditional Italian ingredient is made by drying tomatoes in the sun. The drying process means that the tomatoes retain a powerful flavour and chewy texture, and can be used later on in the winter. Sold dried or in oil, they can be added to pasta sauces, stews or as part of an antipasti platter.
Cooking meat to a specific liking is a fine art. Beef steak has several types, whereas chicken needs to be cooked through. See our tips on how to get it right.
Timing is everything in the kitchen. Knowing when your meat is safely cooked and equally not over-cooking it are both key to cooking meat successfully. This beef steak cooking guide will show you how to cook a steak to your guests’ liking, while the Chicken and Roast cooking guide will show you how to tell when your bird is done to perfection.When it comes to cooking beef steak, remember that as long as it’s handled hygienically, it’s perfectly safe to serve beef rare, indeed even raw. The classic French dish, steak Tartar, for example, is made from very good quality raw beef steak, minced and served. The same goes for Carpaccio.While some people enjoy their steaks “blue” (that is, quickly seared on the outside but still raw and indeed barely warm, on the inside), others prefer it well done. That’s fine; it’s up to you. Remember, a good restaurant will always ask you how you like your steak done – they know it’s a personal choice.How to tell when a steak is cooked? It’s tricky to come up with a hard and fast answer, as each steak will cook differently depending on a number of factors, including how thick it is, its water content, and how hot the pan is. One useful guide, though, is what’s called the “thumb test” in which you judge the steak by feeling it. The rarer the steak is, the softer it feels when pressed; the firmer it feels, the more cooked it is.
With a relaxed hand, bring the tips of your index finger and thumb together. The muscle at the ball of your hand will feel soft and spongy. This is what a rare steak feels like. The meat inside will be bright red.
With a relaxed hand, bring the tips of your thumb and third finger together. The muscle at the ball of your hand will offer more resistance, which is the feel of a medium steak. The meat will have a pinkish center.
With a relaxed hand, bring the tips of your little finger and your thumb together. The muscle at the ball of your hand will feel resistant and very firm, this is how a well done steak feels. The meat should not be pink inside at all.With regard to roasts, a useful gadget to test how a joint of meat or bird is cooked is a meat probe thermometer. A meat probe thermometer tells you the internal temperature of the piece of meat. Stick it deep into the middle of the joint (but not at the bone) and wait while the temperature reading stabilizes. Using a meat probe thermometer takes the guesswork out of the process, as you’ll be able to accurately tell whether your meat is cooked to the right extent.Chicken must be cooked through properly, with the safe internal temperature for chicken being 80°C. Beef and lamb can be served at various stages of rareness, with recommended internal temperatures being 50°C for very rare, 55°C for rare, 65°C for medium, and 75°C for well done.Cooking is something you learn to do by spending many long, hot hours in the kitchen working hard to learn the skills needed. Don’t be disheartened if at first you don’t get a dish quite right. Learn from your mistakes and try again. Always pay attention to the dish you are cooking – how it looks, smells and feels.