When I tell people that I am a food blogger I invariably always get the question ‘are you a good cook’? And I still don’t know how to answer it. Sure, I can take almost anything out of my pantry and throw them into a good meal, and sure, I have cooked for my mother without worrying.
One of the people whose cooking I most admire (who fed me all of the time when I first moved to London) is Aunty I. I look down the list of what the recent Circulon survey identifies as a good cook, and she hits all of them. She never needed to use a cookbook, she could tell exactly what would go with what, would feed 10 people at the drop of a hat always with delicious food. Except for one famous time when she was too busy talking and only knew that the rice was burning by the fire alarm going off – and even then she just whipped up some cous-cous.
Now she IS a good cook – a natural.
And when I tried to learn from her, I had to do it methodically. I didn’t have her experience, so I gave myself all the advantages I could. I made sure I had good equipment, wrote down the recipes carefully, including timings to the minute (try asking an expert to measure their ingredients, or try interpreting ‘some beans’ ‘a bit of lamb’ ‘a few onions’) and made sure my pantry was stocked with all the pantry staple she used. I learned.
And ate lots of different food and got ideas.
Many years later – and I can do it.
I have just read through Circulon survey on what makes a good cook, and I think I am there. In fact, the bits about having the right equipment are the bits that have slotted into place in the past couple of years. Luckily, in this job, I’ve been able to try out loads of things to find what really is good. My knives have got better and so have my pans (tested out some Circulon pans, and folks, they are seriously good – tough enough to be used every day yet light and easy to use). And if you have good pans and sharp knives, then you’ve pretty much got all the kit you need to be a good cook.
TOP 50 SIGNS OF A GOOD COOK:
- Can rustle up anything from scratch
- Loving to eat as well as cook
- Willing to experiment and try all foods and ingredients when cooking at home
- Being happy to prepare food in front of guests
- Always being able to whip something up when there’s virtually nothing in the cupboard
- When making a roast dinner everything finishes cooking at the same time
- Can identify certain herbs from appearance
- Can throw things together knowing that the different combinations (of various foods, herbs, spices) will go together and taste fab
- Experiments with dishes by adding a twist on classics
- Experimenting with recipes more than once a week
- Being able to laugh if things go wrong in the kitchen
- Can identify herbs and spices by the taste
- Knowing what herbs go in each dishes
- Can chop things really finely, safely
- Always have eggs and milk in the fridge
- Home-makes all condiments and sauces
- Owning a spice rack
- Always the one people go to for cooking tips
- Knows what every utensil in the kitchen does
- Have a very well stocked pantry with all kinds of ingredients, i.e.: masala leaves, curry powder, mustard seeds, different types of oils: olive, avocado, roasted sesame seed, peanut, truffle, canola
- Doesn’t need Oxo to make gravy
- Will offer for extra people to stay to dinner at a moment’s notice
- Rarely eat takeaways
- Knows exactly how long to cook a perfectly poached egg
- Knows how to peel fruit and veggies most efficiently
- Knowing and practicing cooking terms like: ‘Al dente’, broil, blanch, clarify, deglaze, flambé, gratin, etc.
- Always wanting to try a new dish when eating out
- Being able to guess what is in a dish just from the taste
- Never needing to use a cookbook
- Always the designated cook for large family gatherings
- Know when a cake is done without having to stick a cocktail stick in it a hundred times
- Knowing measurements without having to actually measure
- Owns good quality cook-ware
- Writes a detailed list for the food shop
- Knowing which wine to pair with certain meat or fish
- Owning a full set of herbs/spices
- Enjoying a messy kitchen
- Don’t need a timer
- Understanding what all the symbols on the oven mean
- Can chop an onion in seconds
- Being able to cook steaks perfectly using the thumb technique
- Can always add in just the right
- Knowing what ‘Bain Marie’ is and having the perfect pans for it
- Knowing the correct pronunciation of unusual or exotic foods
- Knowing which wine to drink with meat
- Can flip a pancake perfectly
- Knows how to prepare celeriac
- Mum goes round for Sunday dinner rather than the other way round
- Always read food magazines
- Owns set of fancy knives
So are you a good cook? What do you think makes a good cook?
This post is sponsored by some really lovely folk. Thank you for supporting them, as they make it possible for me to continue dreaming up recipes, travel plans and much more for you. Opinions as always, are my own.