Special guest post: Rosa Mitchell, Britannia Living
This week Rosa Mitchell of premium kitchen supplier Britannia Living shares her tips on how to make cooking fun again. From new flavours to streamlining your kitchen, these are simple tips any home cook can adopt.
Admit it, you’ve been neglecting your kitchen, haven’t you? Busy work schedules, fussy eaters, the cost of fresh ingredients and the thought of all the washing up can make what once was a hobby feel more like a chore.
It can sometimes be tough to fit in cooking after a long day at work, but cooking for yourself can be a fun and healthy alternative to take outs and ready meals. We have come up with 5 different ways you can adapt your lifestyle so you fall back in love with cooking!
1. Remember what made you fall in love in the first place
What did you absolutely love making when you first started cooking? Was it a basic Victoria Sponge, a beginner’s spaghetti bolognese or even simple rice crispy cakes?
Whatever it was, why not have a go of making it again? Even if your culinary skills have improved greatly since then and you consider yourself a master chef, going back to basics and cooking whatever first made you feel great may reignite your love for the kitchen.
This piece of cooking can be something to be enjoyed by yourself, you can teach the recipe to others or you can feed all your friends and family with your creations.
Using old recipes, however simple they may be, will add a nostalgia to the process and take the pressure off. You don’t need to make something incredible, just something fun!
2. Reboot your kitchen
If you’ve gone off cooking and begun to rely on the same few dishes, take outs and ready meals, it may be time to give your kitchen a reboot. A cluttered kitchen can be a real turn off, and almost all dishes can be made with a few key utensils; pots, pans, a measuring cup, a chopping board and a good knife.
The only things you should have on your countertop are things you know you will use regularly. Streamline your kitchen so your extravagant utensils are put away until a recipe actually calls for them. Once your kitchen is clear and clean, it will be much easier to begin cooking again.
3. Explore new flavours
As well as trying old favourites, why not add a bit of excitement to your cooking routine and try out one meal you’ve never dared making before one night a week?
This doesn’t have to be a lobster souffle or anything else extravagant, but trying new flavours you have previously avoided or combining different flavours can really bring the excitement back into cooking.
You have the opportunity to be really creative and brave here. Why not try something simple at first, like egg and beetroot (the flavours go together really well), and then move onto something more exotic like butternut squash and lime, strawberry and tomato, and even avocado and chocolate!
This should be a trial and error exercise, as not many people will be able to get these strange combos right the first time, and they may not be for everyone. Go as crazy as you want, and don’t worry about getting things wrong. Discover what really works for you and your family and before you know it you will be desperate to get back into the kitchen every evening,
4. Take influence from different cultures
Where did you go on your favourite holiday? Do you remember what the food was like?
Making meals influenced by different cultures and places can help you to learn exciting dishes that you may never have attempted before. You could plan a Spanish week, an Indian week and a Mexican week, where you discover different dishes from all these places, or simply use them as an influence when adding flavours, sauces, or sides.
If you have a holiday planned for the future, you could attempt to make the national or local delicacy to get you even more excited about your trip, or prepare yourself for what you might be faced with!
5. Get everyone involved
When you first started cooking, who taught you? Was it your mum, your dad, a friend? Even if you taught yourself, taking on the role as teacher and passing on your hints, tips, skills and knowledge can be a great way to reignite your passion for the kitchen.
Assigning your children the role of “little helpers” will keep them entertained and is great for some quality bonding time. Why not make the effort to spend at least two nights a week cooking with your children, making each of your favourite meals and teaching them about nutrition in the process?
If you don’t have children, you could invite a friend or family member over once a week and share your favourite meals, recipes, ingredients and flavours to create a scrapbook of truly original and personal dishes.
The more people involved in the process, the more fun it can be. Before you know it, you may be cooking every night.
Celebrity chef Lisa Marley of The Cocoa Box, also currently works with kitchen appliance supplier Britannia Living and knows the importance of keeping cooking exciting:
“Even the biggest food lover can sometimes fall back on convenience, but taking the steps to bring excitement back into the kitchen, creating your favourite dishes and taking the pressure off can all help bring that love back. Some people see cooking as a chore, but when done right, it can be a passion.”
The Perfect Summer Roasted Vegetable Quiche
Lisa has also created a tasty and simple quiche recipe. A quiche is a classic yet versatile dish that can be made in a variety of ways using different seasonal ingredients, creating lots of tasty flavour combinations.
Lisa Marley urges all budding chefs to try out this surprisingly simple dish:
“People underestimate how simple making your own pastry at home can be. It doesn’t need to be complex, and by making your own from scratch you can experiment with flavours and spices for that extra wow factor. If you have time, why not roast your favourite vegetables beforehand? Roughly dice the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and roast until softened before continuing with the recipe as stated.”
Preparation time: 25 minutes / Cooking time: 45 minutes
For the pastry:
- 125g plain flour
- 125g rye flour
- 1 teaspoon of dried dill
- 60ml olive oil
- 120ml of hot water
For the filling:
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 100g red pepper, de seeded and diced
- 150g courgette, chopped
- 5 large eggs
- 150ml whole milk
- 3 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160° fan) or Gas Mark 4.
- Place all of your pastry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until a ball is formed. Turn your dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour, to avoid the dough sticking.
- Lightly dust the dough and a rolling pin with more flour before you begin. Roll your dough out until it is flat enough to cover a tart tin with an overlap. Line your tin and trim away the excess dough.
- Rest your dough (in the tin) in the fridge for 35 minutes before removing and lining with baking paper. Prick the base all over with a fork and cover with baking beans to help the dough keep its shape when baking. Bake for 12 minutes in the oven.
- Remove your pastry and take off the baking parchment and baking beans. Return the pastry to bake for a further 3 minutes until the pastry is golden in colour and sandy to touch.
- Place your vegetables on a baking tray and coat generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 10 minutes until the vegetables are browning nicely.
- Whisk the eggs and milk together and season with dried herbs.
- Spread out the vegetables evenly on the pastry base. Pour over the egg mixture and place back in the oven to bake for a further 20 minutes.
- If you wish, add cheese for the last five minutes. Goats cheese, feta or parmesan are great choices to enhance the Mediterranean flavours of this quiche.
- Ensure you have a slight wobble in the centre of your quiche for a perfectly cooked dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.
So, what are you waiting for? Put away the take out menu, turn the stove on, and create something wonderful!