Confidence in the Kitchen + Recipe!
CONFIDENCE IN THE KITCHEN!
Confidence is key. This age old saying applies just as much in the kitchen as much as it does in every other sphere of daily life.
For some, cooking is pure joy, but for most it’s a bloomin’ pain. Likewise, for some, eating is a considered and sublime experience to be enjoyed, whilst for others eating is simply a necessary exercise to refuel. How do we shift from one camp to the other, so we can cook and eat with confidence, and join the ones who make it appear so effortless?
To build confidence in the kitchen, three ingredients are essential: a little guidance, a little preparation and a whole lot of practice. Take on all three and you’ll be well on your way from loathing cooking to loathing it less… dare I say even loving it!
Here’s a little guidance to get you started:
Buying fresh food in season affects the price and the flavour.
If you find yourself unaware of the seasons, a simple way to identify what’s in season when, is to look at where the food you are buying was grown.
For example: asparagus is a Spring/Summer vegetable (in the southern hemisphere) and at that time, what’s available in the supermarkets and fruit markets will be Australian grown with the price going as low as $0.99 a bunch. Out of season, the asparagus will most likely be imported from Mexico or Peru (that’s a long way for a bunch to travel to your table) and, because of that, it will cost closer to $4.99 a bunch. Another way to recognise the seasons is to buy from farmers’ markets, where you can often meet and chat with the people who grow your food.
Menu planning for the week ahead reduces the stress of what to have for dinner.
This can be done in a rigid form, planning exactly what meal to have/recipe to follow each evening, or in a more flexible manner, buying enough meats and vegetables for your week ahead and then identifying what you cook each night as the week unfolds. How planned you are depends on whether you are more comfortable following a chosen recipe or instead letting your creative juices flow and making it up as you go! Shopping ahead is a huge time saver.
Having a handful of happy favourites on rotation makes meal time easier.
Cook what you - and those you are cooking for - enjoy. Identify the recipes or dishes you feel confident rolling out and do them often. There is nothing like happy consumers to build confidence in the kitchen. Choose to try new recipes on the nights or weekends, when you have more time. If you are entertaining, why not play it safe and reduce the stress by cooking something you know? There’s no need to apply unnecessary pressure to a social occasion by taking on a dish for the first time – you’re not on MasterChef after all!
Cook smarter, not harder – multiply your efforts without extra effort!
Prepare or cook more than you need, with the intention of saving on effort later in the week.
Whenever I cook a soup, curry, bolognese or even a roast, I double up on quantity.
Refrigeration shelf life is longer than you imagine.
For example, a double portion of bolognese gives you two different meals in a week: spaghetti bolognese and lasagne. When I roast chicken, I roast two, meaning cold meat is leftover for sandwiches or to add to soups or salads in the following days. A curry served with rice and green beans on Monday can be repeated later in the week, served instead with a lentil dahl, cucumber raita and naan bread. Do yourself a favour and double up, then mix it up!
Hope these tips give you fresh confidence to tackle the need to feed. I’ve included a simple recipe for you for those occasions where you need some easy to do food, fast! x j
ASIAN STYLE COCONUT AND CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
This fragrant and spicy soup is simple to prepare and quick to cook. It will warm you inside and out.
what you need
2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
1/4 cup green curry paste
500g chicken thigh fillets, finely sliced
270g packet dried noodles (any Asian variety)
1 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
3cm piece ginger, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely sliced
3 green shallots, finely sliced
225g can bamboo shoots, drained
1/2 bunch coriander (roots, stalks & leaves),
washed and finely chopped
handful each of coriander leaves and Vietnamese
what you do
1. Combine the coconut milk, curry paste and 100ml water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, simmer for a further 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook noodles in a separate pan of boiling water for 5-10 minutes, depending on variety and thickness. Once noodles are cooked, drain and refresh under cold running water to prevent them from over-cooking.
3. Add all remaining ingredients to the soup, and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add the noodles, cook for a further 2 minutes to heat through. Serve topped with fresh herb leaves.
V option: Substitute diced and steamed vegetables (such as pumpkin or sweet potato) for the chicken.
GF option: Use rice noodles rather than wheat.
coconut milk is widely used in Southeast Asia and other tropical countries. It is often the staple fat source in these cuisines, where the rest of the diet is mainly fish, a little meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables. From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body. Canned coconut milk is readily available at the supermarket. Once opened it must be refrigerated and used within a few days or it will sour.
©Jane Grover – Recipe from ‘NAKED FOOD the way food was meant to be’
Jane Grover is a chef now home cook, a wife and mother, a cookbook author and budding writer, an enthusiastic gardener and dynamic presenter. Her current work involves teaching others in cooking classes and LIVE cooking shows. She also consults on recipe development, cookbook publishing, does food prep and styling for food related shoots, and dabbles in food and travel writing. Jane's delightful nature, love of people and knowledge of food leave audiences and all who she works with, inspired and empowered to cook and eat well and lead a healthier lifestyle.
When she is not off travelling with Mr G on a delicious adventure, you'll find her at home in her kitchen and garden, tinkering with a new recipe or unearthing a fresh crop of potatoes. Jane lives happily on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband Paul (Mr G), their three adult children, Logan the dog and six hens.
For more of Jane’s work make sure you check out https://www.janegrover.net/ and her instagram @janegrover_ !