Restau­rant re­view

Lynda Booth re­veals her 10 tips to make life easy in the kitchen, plus she shares her fail­safe pasta recipe with Áilín Quin­lan

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside -

LYNDA Booth called her new book Fear­less Food in a bid, she says, to coun­ter­act the fact that more and more peo­ple are grow­ing up with “a sus­pi­cion about food” and a lack of con­fi­dence in their kitchen skills.

“For them, food has be­come a threat,” ex­plains Lynda, who runs her state-of-the-art, award­win­ning cook­ery school, Lynda Booth’s Dublin Cook­ery School which has twice been voted Best Cook­ery School in Ire­land.

“They con­stantly an­a­lyse what they can and what they can’t eat,” says Lynda.

“That’s re­ally where the ti­tle comes from — it’s about tak­ing the threat out of what should be a great plea­sure in life. Cook more, an­a­lyse less, that’s the theme!

The use of the word “fear­less” in the ti­tle also refers to hav­ing con­fi­dence in the kitchen, she adds:

“Cook­ing can be stress­ful if you’re not a con­fi­dent cook or if you don’t have a reper­toire of dishes that you can draw on.

“My task is to smug­gle in some tech­nique along the way so that if you cook one dish, you’re well on the way to hav­ing ideas for vari­ants.

“It’s a book that will make a cook of you — you just won’t re­alise it!” Lynda’s 10 tips on how to cope with cook­ing and the kitchen:

1

Have at least three good-qual­ity sharp kitchen knives:

“You should have a very good, medium to large, gen­eral chop­ping knife, a small util­ity knife, for chop­ping gar­lic, for ex­am­ple, and a good ser­rated knife which is suit­able for ev­ery­thing from carv­ing a joint of meat to peel­ing but­ter­nut squash,” she ex­plains.

2

En­sure your kitchen boasts a well-stocked cup­board and fridge:

“Try to en­sure you al­ways have in­gre­di­ents such as bay leaves, nice olive oil and grains such as cous-cous, bul­gar rice and dif­fer­ent types of rice — wild rice, thai rice, bas­mati rice for ex­am­ple, as well as dif­fer­ent kinds of pasta,” she ad­vises, adding that it’s also a good idea to have tins of chick­peas and co­conut milk in stock, along with a sup­ply of spices such as cumin co­rian­der and smoked pa­prika, some bal­samic vine­gar, pesto and soy sauce.

3

In­vest in good qual­ity saucepans that will last for years. Add a good qual­ity non- stick fry­ing pan to your col­lec­tion, and think about a grid­dle pan:

“Some of my favourite pieces of equip­ment are my non-stick fry­ing pan and my cast-iron grid­dle pan for cook­ing things like fish, aubergines and cour­gettes,” she says. Don’t for­get to get a non-slip mat for putting un­der your chop­ping board to en­sure it won’t slip — how­ever, a wet tea-towel or dish­cloth will work well also.

4

Sea­son as you go: “Sea­son when you’re sweat­ing your onions for ex­am­ple - sea­son­ing with a lit­tle salt brings out the flavour,” says Lynda who ad­vises that the cook should care­fully con­trol the amount of salt with a fin­ger:

“The rule is ‘ a lit­tle as you go,’ she says, adding that when pre­par­ing joints of meat for roast­ing, it’s a good idea to sea­son the meat well in ad­vance of cook­ing - overnight, for ex­am­ple. “It will mas­sively en­hance the flavour,” she ex­plains.

5

Cook what is in sea­son — “at the mo­ment for ex­am­ple, you’ll get lovely parsnips, car­rots, baby turnips, ten­der-step broc­coli and cavolo nero,” she points out. Use them, she ad­vises.

6

Think ahead and batch-cook. When you have the time, dou­ble or triple the quan­ti­ties for a par­tic­u­lar dish, and then freeze in batches for con­sump­tion later in the week or the fol­low­ing week.

7

Make your own stock. “If I have a roast chicken I’ll al­ways use the car­cass for a stock - make the stock, re­duce the broth and freeze it in ice cube trays. It’s a very sim­ple process and it’s ba­si­cally only about time on the stove while you get on with things.”

8

When drain­ing pasta, re­serve some of the pasta cook­ing liq­uid and add a dash of it back into the pot to mix with the sauce, she sug­gests:

“This cre­ates an emul­sion which coats the pasta when you serve it.”

9

Buy parme­san in a chunk, not ready­ground. Wrap in cheese pa­per or tin­foil, not in plas­tic. “Af­ter it’s used, keep the rinds whole and wrapped in tin­foil for use later on — it gives great depth and flavour to soups and casseroles,” Lynda ex­plains.

10

Have hardy herbs to hand — grow your own herbs, she ad­vises, even if it’s just in a pot on the win­dowsill: “Rose­mary and thyme are hardy herbs and very use­ful in the kitchen!”

Fear­less Food (€30.00) can be or­dered from www.dublin­cook­eryschool.ie and is on sale in ma­jor book stores

Lynda Booth says her book will make a cook out of the reader — they just won’t re­alise it’s hap­pen­ing.

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