Best Chef ever

1 Simple trick to make you the best Cook ever.

I know you are thinking that this is not possible, how could ONE thing take you from being the worst possible cook, to the best ever cook! Well I am going to let you in on the secret……..FOLLOW THE RECIPE!

 

Have I confused you even more? Well let me explain just a little bit and hopefully some light will shine for you or a bell will ring (well… we can hope).

 

People have always told me that I am a good cook, and this always puzzled me. I had no great professional skill, I just followed the recipe and whatever it was turned out yummy (most of the time at least). I know for a fact I have no magical skills (if only…) or anything more special than anyone else.

 

But I am the type of person who does exactly as I am told. If someone says: “do it”, I eagerly get to “it”, to the best of my ability, anxious and eager to please. So if a recipe says “beat the butter until white and fluffy” I beat the living daylights out of that butter until it is as white as snow and as fluffy as a bunny’s tail!

 

I have realised as I have got older that most people are not like me (and I am not saying this in a negative way, as being an eager beaver is also not always ideal), but people have said to me, “Oh I can’t be bothered with beating the butter, I just melted it!” and then they wonder why my shortbread is short, light and crispy and theirs is tough and doughy. Or “separate eggs and beat the eggs whites until stiff”, “Oh, I can’t be bothered to do that, I just throw the eggs in” and wonder why my cake is light and fluffy and their cake is as dense as Yorkshire pudding. Or “fold ingredients together”, “Oh, I just throw them all in the food processor” and ditto the result from above.

 

So…. more detail on “following the recipe”:

 

  1. If the recipe says “pat out the dough”, then PAT it out! Do not bash it flat within an inch of its life. Gently tip it onto a floured surface and delicately pat it out to the required thickness. I am thinking here of scones which need the lightest touch to get them perfectly risen once baked. PHOTO
  2. If the recipe says “don’t over-mix” then don’t put it in a food processor because as soon as you press the button the batter will be “over-mixed”. By hand, gently fold the ingredients together until moistened. 
  3. If the recipe says “separate the eggs” then I recommend you separate those little suckers, one by one. By that I mean, break each egg open over a small bowl so if by chance you break the yolk you can discard the whole egg (give it to the dog) and start again. The reason for this is that enzymes from the yolk taint the egg white (you might not even be able to see it) but it will ruin your whites when you are trying to beat them stiff. DON’T think you can salvage the white, you can’t! Trust me! And if you have done this over a small bowl you will not have to discard your entire 8 eggs you were separating. 
  4. “Whip egg whites until firm”, Put the egg whites in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat slowly at first and then speed up until the egg whites are stiff and stick to the bowl even if it is turned upside down (yes that stiff!). 
  5. “Fold ingredients together” which is exactly as it says, take a spoon in your hand and gently scoop the ingredients over each other in a bowl until just combined. Don’t beat them together whatever you do! 
  6. Beating the butter until white and creamy: this is essential if you want a light crisp texture, especially in shortbread or biscuits (recipe). You need to get the butter as white and creamy as possible. To do this it is best to use an electric mixer of some kind. When you think it’s white enough, just give it another 5 minutes…. Don’t be in a rush here! 

 

Are you getting the picture?

 

The key is that some very clever Chef person has made up this fantastic recipe for us minions to have a go at making some heavenly meal/cake/yummy thing. But what do we do? We make a complete hash of it by not following the recipe.

 

So I promise you if you just follow the recipe and not take shortcuts, your food will turn out a whole lot better than you ever thought possible. Just remember to trust that the clever Chef person who created the recipe, they know what they are doing.

 

Go on then, get cracking (the eggs), give it a shot and let me know if it worked for you.