learn home cooking

This blog teaches everything needed to know about learning to cook at home. You'll learn the cooking tips and ways to create mouth watering dishes that are bursting with full flavours of spices even on a tight budget. Also you'll learn on how to spice up simple dishes, also how to do quick cooking and low fat cooking as well as cooking italian/chinese food the home style.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

cooking quick tip-lesson 2

Hi, welcome to lesson 2 in this series of cooking quick tips. Anyone benefitted from lesson 1, i'll love to hear from. Ok on lesson 2, i'm going to talk about other ways of having your vegetables beside roasting or steaming it like that.You'll have to agree it can get a but boring eating food cooked the same way. For the purposes of this lesson, i'll take a trip back into my african heritage and dig up recipes on how to prepare a simple green vegetable dish that can go with basically anything from rice to boiled potato/roast potato.
For the purposes of this lesson 2, i'll use spinach as the green vegetable, the reason for this is that it is readily available in the frozen section of most local grocery shops. If you live in Uk,it can be found in Tesco, Sainsbury and other nearby local grocery shops. Plus it has already be cleaned and reasy for use.

So preparing this for 1/2 persons, the needed ingredients are:
1) One bag of frozen spinach( you'll only need a handful of this)
2) Palm Oil( Plam Oil is extracted from the palm nut kernel of the palm tree. Palm tree is found mostly in tropical areas of the world e.g Africa. Palm Oil has a high continent of vitamin D. For most africans, it is the used in cooking soups and it has a distinct flavour. If you live in Uk, Tesco now sells palm oil in their foreign food section. Check out other grrocery stores, failing that, check out your local ethnic shops. But if this fails, have your sunfloweroil ready and a tube of tomato puree/ 2 tomaotes. i'll esplain how you can use this as a substitute at the bottom of this blog.
3) Smoked mackrel fish( tip: any other smoked fish will do, if you livein Uk, M&S does the best smoked fish because it has the right taste, not too salty. Substitute for other smoked fish from other grocery stores if you are on a tight budget
4) two onions
5) Prawn stocks( any other stock flavour will do)

Preparation:
Ensure that the spinach is thawed then add 3-4 handfuls of the spinach into a boiling water. Boil thisfor no more than 2 mins. Drain off excess water using a sieve( Because spinach contains a lot of water, by boiling it for a few mins, it ensure that the excess water is has is lost without losing the nutrients in the vegetables.)

Heat up 5 tablespoons full of the palm oil in a pot on a low to medium heat. If you don't have palm oil, heat up 5 tablespoon full of sunflower oil, if you are going to use fresh tomatoes, make sure that it is deseeded. The easiest way is to chop up each tomato into four and then scoop out the seed.

Cut your onions into rings and then add to the Oil( palm oil or sunflower oil, which ever that you are using). Cook for about 3 -4 mins

Add the tomatoes if you are using this, otherwise add the spinach and cook on a medium to low heat for 5 mins

Add the stock to taste

then add the smoked fish, cover and cook on a low heat for 2mins.

Turn off heat and serve on a bed of rice dish, or potato

As usual this is guaranteed to be cooked under 30mins. As usual i look forward to your comments, till then, have a blessed day. Chichi

cooking quick tip-lesson 2

Thursday, July 20, 2006

cooking quick tips-lesson 1

Hello and welcome to this blog. Now i know that in todays world, there are numerous cookery books for all types of dishes, you name and i bet you could find it. Howver one main problem that i hear and see the folks around me talk about isn't that they are not interested in learning how to cook,hey who wouldn't be proud to have their friends/family over for a meal and jsu tlap up all their praises on "a wonderful meal or best meal eaten in a long time". But the main hinderance is that there is no time at all left to cook these meal let alon learning on how to cook them at home. SO what we have is the desire to learn but not the time to do it.
So i've decided to dedicate time to showing you tips on how to save time in your cooking and ways and alternatives ingredients to use in your home cooking if you don't have the rght ingredient with you at the time. Fasten your seatbelt and lets take off.
Lesson 1
Now if you are going to have green salad as part of your meal, don't spend all the little time you have buying the green vegetables individually, simply have a look in your grocery store for the all ready prepared and pre-packed green salad, check out what sort of green vegetable that it contains. Tip- stay away from red or whit cabbage as it tends to make one feel bloated for a day or two. Even though these prepacked says on the pack "washed and ready to eat". I'll say, once you are home , throw them in a sieve and wash them again with salt. Salt tends to take out any hidden dirt that may be hiding in the vegetables. Why bother to wash these, i'll have worked in an environment where they pack these vegetables. Although it is clean but it is nothing like you mother you will take the time and patient to clean these vegetables out.
For home made dressing to go with the salad. Heat up 3/4 tables spoons of olive il on a very low heat, squeeze a quarter of lemon into the pot, add 1to1 and half teaspoon of french mustard and add honey to taste, add a pinch of salt and pinch of thyme. cook for a minute or two and swich off gas. Leave to cool for 20mins and pour all over your salad. Now if you don't have honey at use, you can use sugar, preefrably brown sugar but it's always handy to have a bottle of honey at home. As usual , i look forward to all comments, till then, have a blessed day, chichi

Sunday, July 16, 2006

roasting chicken/food

Hi, so ok i've been off the blogging scene for a while now, all due to dealing to family situations and emergencies. But in that time i've tried out various other ways of cooking up your simply tasty food. So in today's blog, i'll be talking about adding flavours to your roast chicken. This can simply work for any dish that you choose to roast- steak, pork etc.
Now i know that most people are used to simply adding sprinkling salt and pepper to the chicken right after glazing/marinading the body of the chicken with salted/unsalted butter. But for most people of african/carribean descendant, the chicken remains untasty and very plain. So this is what you do to add more full flavour to your roast dish. You'll need to have these handy in your kitchen:

  • stock ( these comes in chicken, beef, vegetables and prawn flavour. tip: i use the chicken stock for everything especially if you are on a tight budget)
  • rosemary herb
  • mixed herbs( consists of thyme, coriander, parsley, oregano etc) tip: get this rather than getting these herbs indiviidually especially if you are on a budget.
  • alligator pepper( this is sometimes called the "camerounian pepper", as it is definitely hotter than the scotch botnet. It comes dried and then grounded and the colour is dark brownish in colour. Warning: do not use your finger to touch these peppers as it is very hot
  • Cinnamon( grinded preferably) optional
  • Butter( doesn't matter if it is salted/unsalted)

This is what you do. A day before you are to roast the chicken ( medium size), melt the butter in a pan and add half a teaspoon of roemary herb spice, half a teaspoon of mixed herbs, 2-3 chicken stocks, a teaspoon of cinnamon. Let this cook on a very low heat ffor no more than 2 mins. Turn off and leave to cool. Once cool, turn contents into a container and put in a fridge to solidify. Leave for at least 12hours, this way the now spiced butter has solidified. On the d- day of roasting, give your chicken a thorough clean. Use lemons as it gets rid of the slimy feeling on the chicken and then marinade the chicken with your now all spiced butter and put in the oven, leave to roast for at least 45mins. What you get at the end of your roasted chicken is a new flavour of your usual roasted chicken. Better still if you can marinade the chicken at least 6-12 hours before roasting. The taste goes right threw to the bones. This is the secret of most carribean dishes. The power of marinade. Any excess spiced butter left, simply store away in the freezer . This can stay from anything up to a year.

Can't wait to hear your responses for those of you who try this out. In the meantime keep checking back for more home cooking tips.Till then, have a blessed week

Chichi

Friday, June 16, 2006

cooking italian food- meatballs the home style

Now, I did promise to continue teaching you how to learn home cooking. Continuing on my list of spices to have stocked up at home, include "tumeric"spice. This spice is bright yellow in colour and used extensively in the asian community in cooking their dishes, this spice is responsible for the yellowish colour of the curry. Keep reading as i'll be introducing more and more spices to you as we continue. Now we are going to learn how to prepare and cook the meatballs the home style. Those meatballs sold in their tins does a great injustice to the handmade home style meatballs. Now participating in cooking this meatballs, your kids will definitely love this and would feel proud to have prepared their own dinner. For this dinner, you'll need the following, use your judgement as this depends on the number of people you are cooking for. Working on the presumption that this dinner is for two persons:
  • 2 packets of pre-packed lean minced meat( you can get this from tesco and other grocery shops if you live in UK. If not, you can get this in any big grocery shops around where you live . If not try your local butcher, otherwise, make your own minced meat using chumps of meat put through your multi-purpose blender. NOTE: make sure the blender is multi-purpose. Multi-purpose blender do cost more, good one is the kenwood multi-purpose blender)
  • One clove of garlic
  • spices- curry,nutmeg,all purpose seasoning,knorr chicken cubes (although you can always get other various flavour of maggi cubes which includes vegetables, beef, prawn. Maggi cubes are normally used in cooking by the african people. This simple cubes has the added power of bringing out the full flavour of your dish. They can be bought in Tesca, Sainsbury and other grocery shops, please ask for maggi cubes in your local shops. If not i'll be help you purchase this . Email me for details
  • 2 tins of peeled/ chopped tomatoes. Alternatively you can blend a handfull of fresh tomatoes, red/white onions, scotch bonnet pepper ( optional, if you want this spicy) , the red pepper
  • a tube of tomato puree
  • the red, yellow and green pepper
  • sunflower oil

Instructions:

Chop the garlic very finely and add to the minced meat. Add three pinches of curry, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of the all purpose seasoning ( cooking tip- all purpose contains bit of most seaoning regularly used especially salt, use sparingly), two cubes of the knorr chicken/vegetables- cooking tip, make sure that the knorr cubes are finely crushed. Now mix all these together with your hand, kneading this and ensuring that the spices are evenly distributed. Now roll between your hands making small balls (get your kids to help out here, ensure that they wash their hands and roll up any of their sleeves)

Heat up some oil in your frying pan( cooking tip- ensure that the oil is set at a medium heat, if the oilbecomes very hot, switch it off and wait for the oil to cool. Cooking when the oil is extremely hot only cooks your food on the surface and not deep in) Now add the small balls of meatballs and fry it till the meat looks cooked/ well done. This should take about 3-4mins. Drain any excess oil on a kitchen towel rolled out on a plate

Blend your tomatoes, adding one large onion , scotch pepper if you prefer it hot and very spicy. Blend till it is very fine. Heat a little oil and add the contents of the blender. cover and cook on high heat till the blendered tomatoes is thick, very much like the texture of tomato puree (cooking tip- to find out if your blendered tomatoes has no water left in the mixture, dip your wooden spoon into the tomatoes and look to see if the tomatoes drip off the spoon like water, if it does then it still has a lot of water content, if it doesn't then the water content has reduced.) Waiting for the tomatoes to dry up should take no more than 10mins on a high heat and 15 minutes on a low to medium heat. Once this happen, reduce heat, then add two cubes of knorr cubes, two pinches of curry, a pinch of tumeric, a pinch of all all purpose seasoning, apinch of rosemary, two pinches of thyme. Add the meat balls and let cook for 2mins( cooking tip- always leave your spices to cook for about 2mins, this releases the full flavour of the spices as most spices have been dried and grounded. )

Add the tomato puree . Slice your red/yellow/ and green pepper diagonally as this helps to cook the food quicker, ( Tip- reason why chinese vegetables in the chincese take away is cut diagonally) and add to your the tomatoes on fire. Add salt to taste( cooking tip- be careful as the knorr cubes contain salt to a certain degree and so does the multi-purpose seasoning. Personally i don't add any extra salt). Leave to cook on a low heat for about 2/3 mins and turn off heat. You can eat this with spaghetti/pasta for a trully italian meatball dish or eat with rice.

As always, i will love to hear from any one that have tried out this homes tyle recipe. Like always, everything i suggest here i cook for my family and close friends and this meal has never disappointed.

Till then, have a blessed day

Chichi

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Your essential kitchen tools to learning home cooking

With the thousands of kitchen accessories and cooking utensils out there, how is one to know the most essential things to have in the kitchen?? Now cooking has gone far beyond the beans on toast, it involves cooking italian dishes, chinese dishes, mediterrean dishes etc. People require and demand far more exotic food and tasty food. Now inorder to have the essential kitchen gadgets/tools, i recomment that you have the following:
1) A wok
2) Tefal set of cockery pots and pan( they are well known for their coated non- sticky base). They definitely can be used to roast vegetables in the oven. Trust me, if you are on a budget, this does go a long way. Get the frying pan tefal pan if you are on a tight budget.
3) Wooden spoons ( quite handy as the heat from the stainless stell pot cannot travel unto the wood, also it's easier when cooking stir fry to handle) Wooden spoons can be gotten from any good cockery shop around your area. If you cannot find this, let me know so that i can get these for you.
4) Kitchen Foil ( this again comes in very handy when you have to roast /cook straight from the oven)
5) Cling Film ( an absolute essential tool when you want to cook food using only the steam from the food, cling film forces an ordinary pot to become a pressure cooking pot, don't believe me?? hang in there and wait and see
6) Blender ( i always go for kenwood products simply for their durability and ease of use), however there are other good makers out there.
7) Chopping Board- where possible, go for the hard palstic one: It is far more easier to clean and incase of any accidents, there is less damage to yourself. Personally, i won't go for the glass one due to the delicate and fragile nature of glass and it does tend to weigh much more on the other hand. The old style of chopping board which was made from wood, which over a period of time wears off and will leave little pieces of wood in your food (Not good if you are entertaining or cooking for your other half, can be quite embarrassing if your guests/ partner discover a tiny piece of wood in the dish that you have laboured for so long to cook). This happens as the wood gradually becomes soft from constantly been in washed in water after regular use. Nowadays, most chopping board are made from plastic and can be found in various sizes.Go for the medium size. You can comfortably dice up/chop up your vegetables without chopping off your fingers and i've found that the cost of upgrading to the medium from the small size is quite very little.
8) Knife set- I always go for the set of knife with rigged edges as oppose to the smooth edges. The rigged edge knife will not need to be re-sharped. The smooth edge knife set over a period of regular use can become blunt and you will need a knife sharpner. If you do have children, please keep all sharp objects away from them.They can be kept in a seperate kitchen drawer away from the cutlery set.
9)Oven Glove to put/take out hot food from the oven
10) Surely the alst but not the least, you'll need SPICES. This is the secret behind indian food , chinese food etc. It is simply the secret behind every cooking. So you'll need the following: Curry-( this comes in either mild/hot. The hot curry simply makes food more colourful as opposed to hotness of chilli, whilst the mild curry simply is not as colourful as the hot curry), Thyme, Rosemary, all purpose seasoning, black pepper ( ground & whole ones), Whte pepper, salt etc.....If you already ahve these in your kitchen, well done but if you haven't, what are you waiting for? let's start cooking, i'll reveal all the other spices that you too can use to enhance the full flavour of your food and turn out great tasting meal anytime anyday. Watch the space for more chef secrets

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hi, Welcome to this blog dedicated to explaining everything needed to turn out mouth watering dishes every time. There is no secret to cooking but knowing how to combine your ingredients as well as how a pinch of spice can only make your dish have that exotic taste and giving it a fuller taste. Now what i know about cooking has been learnt from my grandmother who taught me the power of cooking and the power of spices. I will be going through these spices and how to use them in every day food for that exotic taste. I 'll also explain the most esential kithcen tools needed in every kitchen, quite handy if you are on budget. How to make the most of your fridge freezer space. How to involve your cjhildren in cooking and preparing your dinner. Why do i care so much, one may ask? Cooking is a passion and a hobby and don't considr it a chore at all plus people need to know that they can actually cook prepare and cook their own meals without much paying way over the odds. Till then, have a blessed day, Chichi