There are thousands of different varieties of rice but my favourite is Basmati. It is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and is known as the King of rice for very good reasons. The aroma is unique and it tastes fantastic. Cooking rice is not difficult but it is important to buy a good quality rice such as Tilda. The cheaper varieties contain broken grains which leach starch into the cooking water and make the rice sticky. There are two main ways of cooking rice (a) the Open Pan Method and (b) the Absorption Method. I prefer the first method as it is more reliable when working with different hobs and pans. The most important things to remember when cooking Basmati rice is (a) rinse (b) cook in lots of boiling water (c) don’t stir (d) don’t overcook

A sneaky peek into the day of a happy baker making bread. Flour, water, salt, time and passion, is all you need to make good bread (…you might want to get an oven also…) This video was made by Vincent Talleau a talented young baker working with the Aston Bakery in Waterloo. He really hopes that young people will want to become bakers after watching it, and also to have more respect for bread in general, once they see how much work goes into making good bread.

See how many mistakes you can find in this video clip from Jamies Home Cooking Skills Programme

A soft margarine like Stork makes an excellent sponge and it can be used straight from the fridge. The mixture should turn paler in colour and look fluffy. When you think it is ready, beat for a couple of minutes more!

A microplane is a brilliant bit of kit for zesting. An everyday grater is fine for cheese but zest just gets clogged up in the little holes.

A soft dough is key to good bread – it also makes kneading a lot easier. The dough will get less sticky as it is kneaded so try not to add flour at the beginning. Rubbing a little oil onto the worktop beforehand is a good tip. Remember to use your dough scraper to clean up before wiping down to avoid clogging up your dishcloth.

Equal quantities of butter and plain flour mixed together = a “roux”. Remember the formula 25g butter + 25g flour + 300ml milk for a medium consistency sauce. Just double or treble these quantities if you want more sauce. Using a balloon whisk as well as a wooden spoon makes it easier to get a lump free sauce. (For every day cooking there is no need to bother with the onion, bay leaf and cloves)


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