Please help, I just can't cook and it is getting me down!

(96 Posts)
dubaipieeye Thu 17-Feb-11 16:29:26

Just thrown away another horrible effort (beef in red wine in the slow cooker) - third time this week. Am in tears and have had huge row with DH after he tasted it and meekly suggested that we order out. sad

I'm new to all this stay-at-home-Mum-do-the-cooking thing and the cooking element is really getting me down. I have bought a slow cooker and done a couple of lovely chickens in it, a nice spag bol and a good chilli but that is about the extent of my repetoire. My son is 4mo and I am getting worried about weaning him now - what will I feed him? We now live in Dubai (you may have guessed!!) but when we lived and both worked in London we lived on M&S food - the like of which is not available here and I am now lost. My Mum was a terrible cook when we were younger (baked beans and pasta, as spag bol!) but she has suddenly become a domestic goddess - not sure how envy

I have tried the Delia cookery course but honestly I just find that this and lots of cookbooks just encourage you to buy loads of expensive and fancy ingredients that you never use again. Food is incredibly expensive here and I hate waste. I need to learn to cook standard, basic family fare. I don't want to bake, make my own pasta etc etc...just know how to feed the three of us without relying on pasta n sauce every night. Please help - this is really getting me down Thank you.

iPhoneDrone Thu 17-Feb-11 16:32:50

you need to build up to a 4/5 simple meals you can cook easily

lasagna
roast
korma (using the left over roast)
jacket potatoes, quiche, salad
sausages, mash, onion gravy, veg

(these are the first meals I learnt to cook)

scurryfunge Thu 17-Feb-11 16:39:38

Just stick to one trusty book for all the basics. Don't bother with fancy tv chef's book who do encourage extensive and expensive ingredients.

this has all the basics and I use it all the time.

dubaipieeye Thu 17-Feb-11 16:43:13

That book looks brilliant, thank your scurry. IPD that's what I need but getting there is the challenge - I am useless!

iPhoneDrone Thu 17-Feb-11 16:47:12

lasagna is the easiest meal there is

if you can master a basic tomato sauce you are halfway there to about 5 dishes already

bronze Thu 17-Feb-11 16:49:46

Actually I'm going to go againsy Scurry and say try Jamie Olivers Ministry of food

GandalfyCarawak Thu 17-Feb-11 16:52:33

I agree with scurry. I have one basic cookbook, and was absolutley crap 5 years ago. But I've followed really simple (and inexpensive) recipes from this book, and as my confidence increased, I wanted to do more.

Good luck

dubaipieeye Thu 17-Feb-11 17:12:23

Thank you all, I am heading to the bookshop tomorrow and will look at both books. I think I need to be really disciplined about following recipes - I generally get and overwhelming urge to "just chuck stuff together" thinking that it'll be fab - but it generally SUCKS! Doesn't help that my mother in law is a brilliant and smug cook. She sat me down at Xmas and told me she was worried that DH was malnourished shock! LOL things are not that bad ...

painfullyhonest Thu 17-Feb-11 17:48:36

I love cooking and have given lessons to novices before. You can pm me if you like and tell me what you'd like to learn and I can talk you thru it.

ShirleyKnot Thu 17-Feb-11 18:00:59

Hello!

I think you have been given some great advice so far, and I just wanted to say that when you are learning to cook, you must Follow The Recipe to the letter!

I believe that cooking is a learned skill the same as reading. You wouldn't give a 6 year old War and Peace to read, and by the same token, when you first start cooking you can't expect to be able to throw a few ingredients in a pan and create something wonderful!

So don't feel embarrassed, follow some simple tasty recipes, get used to the different ways food react with one another, how long they need to cook for etc, and before too long you'll be Nigella-ing all over the show

Good luck

I love our Good Housekeeping cookbook as it has recipes and also instructions on complete basics - like how long to boil or steam carrots for. It is really easy to follow.

Maryz Thu 17-Feb-11 18:12:46

You need to learn one new dish a week. No more. When you have mastered that (made it a few times), then move on. Bear in mind that every second recipe will be crap, so don't beat yourself up and move on.

Remember a couple of meals a week can be done with chicken fillets, cut up small and browned and a bottle of pasta sauce thrown on top and served with pasta (or curry sauce thrown on top and served with rice), until your repetoire increases.

Beef is the hardest, because the meat quality varies and it can take hours to cook. Delia Smith does a very easy "cheat's" Beef Stroganoff, and an equally easy "Beef Goulash" which is beef with onions, green pepper, tomatoes and paprika.

I would avoid wine for the moment - if it isn't cooked off it can taste raw and bitter. Beef in Guinness is easier (with mushrooms and onions).

pongonperdy Sat 19-Feb-11 12:24:17

There is a book called what to cook and how to cook it. My husband loves it as it shows you what to dp step by step.

bodencustomer Sat 19-Feb-11 12:31:43

I'll second the 'Good Housekeeping Cookery Book' that Breatheslowly linked to, nice recipes and all the basics in it. Fancy ingredients not needed but you can make a posh meal if you want to. I use it most days for everyday and am on my second copy because the first one got worn out. It's the one cookery book that I wouldn't be without. Did I say that I like it?

EmmaBGoode Sat 19-Feb-11 12:33:20

I live in Dubai and I'm a great cook. You can come round to me for some lessons or to borrow some cooking books, if you like.

Teapot13 Sat 19-Feb-11 12:44:44

There are lots of families that live on chicken, spaghetti bolognese and chili!

I agree that you need to use a good, simple cookbook. As I have cooked more and more I have really learned that some cookbooks are great and in some the recipes just aren't tested very well. It isn't always me when a dish doesn't come around.

Get a good fritatta recipe as well.

There are lots of things you can roast that are delicious -- like potatoes and sweet potatoes, and chicken! (All good weaning foods, too!)

Here is a really, really easy recipe that makes a good impression:

www.marthastewart.com/recipe/roasted-cod-with-pota toes-and-olives

Martha Stewart's Everyday food has a lot of great recipes and they are mostly simple and healthy.

Chil1234 Sat 19-Feb-11 15:12:45

I started cooking with the Delia Smith Complete Cookery course when I was 19... about a hundred years ago!

My best tips for cooking succes are....
- Use trustworthy, basic recipes. Delia v good for this as she does 'try and test' her recipes.
- Use good ingredients. Garbage in = garbage out.
- Prepare/find all your ingredients before you get cooking and set them out in bowls ready to go in the pot. This means you're not thrashing around looking for something at a crucial stage and it makes things go more calmly.
- Use a timer. Some cooks can get away with glancing at the clock occasionally but, if you're a novice, it's really easy to over/undercook something accidentally - especially if you've got children to distract you
- Make the same dish several times because, each time, you'll find it easier, quicker and you'll also be able to tweak things that you didn't like first time around. NB.. do not make something for others that you haven't tried on your nearest and dearest first!!!

I'd also say 'sling the slowcooker'... never understood why people have those. Good luck

dubaipieeye Sat 19-Feb-11 16:56:08

Thank you all for the great advice and kind offers of help! I have dried my eyes, hauled myself to the shops and bought the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food book. The recipes look great and are exactly the kind of food we like to eat. I am starting with the spag bol recipe as a) I feel reasonably confident with it and b) his recipe contains more veg than I would usually use so it's got to be an improvement. I will post back and let you know how I get on.

Painfully honest and EmmaBGoode I am really chuffed with the offers of one on one help! I will start with my spag bol then pm you both. Thank you smile

I am going to keep coming back and reading this thread as you've all given me so many good ideas. You are all very kind! grin

Catsmamma Sat 19-Feb-11 17:03:47

well if you can do spag bol and chilli you can also do moussaka and cottage pie, so there's two more recipes to try

also you can use the cooked mince base to make a pie, use ready made pastry on a dish, fill and cover, serve with veg.

can only echo other advice really...a good basic cook book, master a few dishes and vary those to suit until you gain your confidence.

One tip is to please remember to season, never underestimate the difference a good pinch of salt and pepper make.

Good luck!

You are halfway there with the jamie book, i'm great at complicated recipes but i couldnt do the basics, jamie is great at this.

however, and i'm putting my hard hat on as i say this.... i'm not keen on my slow cooker, ive tried, i really have, but things come out tasteless. try jamies beef in red wine on the hob, its lush, however i would add a bit of stock as i found that it dried out without!

Oh and try his roasts, i'd never made my own gravy till i got MOF and its just so fab!!

Good luck and keep asking questions its the only way you will learn!

abgirl Sat 19-Feb-11 22:28:31

Really really recommend the chicken tikka masala in the JO Ministry of Food book - it's lovely, as are the meatballs too actually. Hope your bolognaise goes well tomorrow.

Also don't sling your slowcooker, getthis and try the lamb pilaff - gorgeous!!!

fivegomadindorset Sat 19-Feb-11 22:30:08

My sister is not a good cook and has done really well with Jamie. If you live in Dorse more than willing to come and help.

I think you just need to learn a few basics tbh. Dishes containing red wine need reducing on a hot hob, only once they have sweetened and lost that vinegary taste, should you transfer to the slow cooker.

givemushypeasachance Sat 19-Feb-11 23:52:33

The internet has a lot of free stuff - video demonstrations on youtube or videojug, and guides for students like www.studentcook.co.uk/ which are aimed at novices.

dubaipieeye Sun 20-Feb-11 04:46:43

Thank you all, I am reading and absorbing (unlike my beef!) x

beijingaling Sun 20-Feb-11 05:28:04

The first rule is:

Read the recipe all the way through.

The second rule is:

Get all the ingredients out onto your work surface. (this helps you check you have everything)

The third rule is:

Prepare all your ingredients first. (it means more washing up but also you won't do the thing where you have to turn everything off half way through to chop your onions)

The forth rule is:

Read the recipe all the way through again.

The fith rule is:

Follow the recipe.

Here endeth the lesson.

beijingaling Sun 20-Feb-11 05:37:48

Also a basic mince recipe is the most versatile dish ever.

Cook with pasta for spaghetti Bol. Eat with mash for a deconstructed shepherds pie. Add kidney beans and eat with rice. Top with bought pastry for a pie. Cook off all the liquid and use with tacos.

A good veg soup recipe is brilliant for a healthy, cheap meal.

Frozen peas and sweetcorn are your friend as they just need heating.

Get a good weaning book for your little one.

As someone else said cooking is a skill that must be learnt just like anything. It won't happen over night but you'll get better and more confident every time.

Lollypolly Sun 20-Feb-11 06:08:06

Why not watch a free video on ehow and follow it step by step. Or you could join an online cooking school but you'll have to pay - this one looks good

Might be easier than following a recipe....

dubaipieeye Sun 20-Feb-11 14:41:37

Some more great advice - thank you.

So - today DH called and told me he'd been promoted. So, using a Jamie recipe, I have his favourite meal (vindaloo - typical man!) on the hob. He deserves me at least making the effort I think! It smells good but thus far seems a bit more liquid than it should by now but I think that is because I am doing it in a large saucepan and not a "casserole style pan" that Jamie suggests. What is a casserole style pan?

Also - I substitued fresh coriander for ground as I couldn't get fresh. Is there a simple rule for how much of a dry herb you should substitute for fresh?

Thanks for holding my hand through this!!

nannynick Sun 20-Feb-11 15:12:06

Jamie also has some basic recipes on Jamie's Home Cooking Skills which has step by step pictures, such as Shepherd's Pie.

I also find that the Mumsnet Recipes can be good, especially for things like biscuits and muffins. Chocolate Chip muffins (Rainbows17) is great, though I only use 100g of chocolate - still very chocolaty and toddler enjoys bashing the chocolate with a hammer to make it into small chunks.

beijingaling Sun 20-Feb-11 20:36:34

How did the curry gi.. I'm a good cook but shit at curry.

Taste, taste, taste all the way through -but not with raw chicken in the pan- to check flavour.

If its too liquid at h end of cooking time you can usually by turning the heat up to evaporate more liquid and make it thicker. Keep stiring. Be aware this will make flavors stronger so season with salt at the very end or the food will be too salty.

There isn't a simple rule for dry herbs but generally dry herbs are only suitable for longer cooking as it takes longer to get the flavor out of them. Tbh I usually use about 1tsp of dry herbs as there is so little flavor in them.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Sun 20-Feb-11 20:46:53

you can't go wrong with Ministry of Food, it's a great book to start on.

Lollypolly Mon 21-Feb-11 05:29:10

I think I know what's happening with your coriander.... There are 2 types of coriander: fresh, green coriander that is a herb and coriander seed, which is little brown beads that are sold whole (to crush) or ready ground. I suspect you headed for the one you know more about and might have found the coriander seed in the spice section in little bottles. It's very popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.

I doubt it would have made much difference to the end result, which I hope was delicious grin

Generally, "soft" herbs (coriander, basil, dill, parsley, chives etc) are added at the end and not cooked but give their flavour "raw". Tougher, "woody" herbs (rosemary, thyme etc) are cooked with food to soften them and release their flavour - they are not always served in food and often removed so their flavour is just left behind. Hth....

dubaipieeye Mon 21-Feb-11 05:44:40

Thank you again. The vindaloo was a success - not perfect, but certainly edible and tasty! Will try it again next week and see if I can improve it. I've looked through the book for more descriptions of the mystery pan (which he seems to use a lot) and I think he means a saute type pan so I am off on the hunt for one today. Waitrose here I come.

Baby waking now so I am off but I would like to say that you are all fab!

mnistooaddictive Mon 21-Feb-11 05:50:55

How to feed your whole family by Gill Holcombe. You can get many of her recipes online. They are simple basic recess that do not require a lot of equipment and are easy. She dies weekly meal
Plans as well.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Mon 21-Feb-11 05:54:12

I don't know what a casserole-type pan is, but I would guess that he means a big heavy-bottomed pan, the sort that you can simmer something in for hours without it burning. The thicker the bottom of the pan, the better it distributes heat evenly across the food, so you don't end up with burnt bits sticking to the middle of the bottom, and cool on the outsides.

Re: ground coriander vs fresh - they're two different flavours. Ground spices should be cooked for a couple of minutes near the beginning of the curry - so, saute your onions, garlic, ginger until soft, and then add all dry spices and stir for a minute or two.

Fresh herbs should be added right at the end.

Others are right, though - if you know chili and spag bol and roast chickens, you already have a lot of the basics.

The other other thing I wanted to say is - your baby is only four months old. I know you want to get the hang of cooking, and it's a useful skill to have, but don't feel that just because you're at home caring for a baby, you also have to be a perfect home maker, cook, etc. Having a baby doesn't magically make you a domestic goddess, the two jobs are unrelated. If it's all too much for you, there's nothing wrong with talking to your husband and working out a cooking roster. A four month old is hard, hard work, and when I had one, I did not do all the cooking.

beijingaling Mon 21-Feb-11 06:00:01

By a Casserole pan he means like a Le Creuset ie something that has a heavy bottom and can go from stove top to oven.

wordsonascreen Mon 21-Feb-11 06:00:58

dubai : park n shop on Al Wasl road sell fresh coriander

(have also found with Jamie O;s curries I have to halve the water)

Recommend you try the chicken in cream thing in the 20 min section its fool (or me) proof

sethstarkaddersmackerel Mon 21-Feb-11 09:34:49

a casserole dish will always have a well-fitting lid and be oven-friendly (ie won't have plastic handles that would melt in the oven) but only some of them are designed to go on the hob as well; if you don't have one that can go on the hob you can usually bring things to the boil in a normal saucepan then tip them into your casserole to go in the oven.

you don't have to spend a fortune and get Le Creuset - stainless steel eg this cheap one from Argos works too, even if not quite as nicely.

dubaipieeye Mon 21-Feb-11 13:50:25

Tortoise, thank you, your post made me cry (just a little!) - that's exactly the kind of pressure I've been putting myself under...I used to have a hectic job in an investment bank (you may be surprised given my grammar at times wink) and I really pushed myself hard in my career. I feel the need to do the same at home/with baby - it's mad, I know. That said, as times goes by I am gradually letting up so fingers crossed by the time DS graduates I will be totally chilled.

Words: I live on the AW Road but have previously banned myself from Park n Shop frenzies shopping as I can pop in there for a pint of milk and come out 500dhs lighter (love the hardware section for some reason), but next time I make the curry I will send DH on a coriander run - thanks for the tip.

Seth: sadly no Argos in Dubai, but I think I know better what I am looking for, thank you.

Everyone else, thank you for the continued support - I made Jamie's lasagne today! He mmay be a mockney plonker but it is looking ggood grin. Will come back tomorrow and let you know the outcome.

chimchar Mon 21-Feb-11 14:02:20

brill dubai... have only just seen this and was going to recommend jamies MOF book.

another fantastic starter book is this

whilst its based on cooking for one, it gives portion sizes, how to prep veg, and has all the basic recipes for stuff like pancakes, soups, gravy, how to cook rice/pasta etc... i cook loads, but often refer back to it as a reminder.

keep up the good work!

wordsonascreen Mon 21-Feb-11 14:10:17

I know what you mean grin I'm trying to wean myself off it (have just spent 300 aed on milk and seemingly dust)
and back onto the co op (am finding it hard going tbh)

dubaipieeye Mon 21-Feb-11 17:33:16

oooh words I live right by the co op but I don't go in there because the Emirati girls on the check outs SCARE me! Spesh the one who sits at the end check out by Maccy Ds...shudder. Love Choitrams staff and singing along to Dubai 92 while I'm buying my yogs wink

Anyhoo, just a quickie to say that my lasagne was good! Very good! Better than the curry.

Not sure why I didn't get this before - the key to cooking appears to be RECIPES...DOH DOH and double DOH smile

thejaffacakesareonme Mon 21-Feb-11 19:07:28

I know you are probably few months off starting weaning but when you do I can recommend the Annabel Carmel weaning cookbook. I've tried quite a few of the recipies and they are quite tasty. The only downside is that they can take quite a while to cook. If you doubled the quantities you could feed two or three adults as well as having a couple of child portions.

notcitrus Mon 21-Feb-11 19:24:46

I second 'what to eat and how to cook it' - MrNC is severely dyslexic and gets mixed up in the kitchen, but with it he's produced some really impressive meals recently, and it's full of stuff I actually want to cook too.

It has pictures of all the ingredients prepared and step by step colour pics of the food, so you can chop until your onion is like the picture, brown the meat to look like the pic, etc.

I found with a young baby I started doing lots of roasts - take chicken, smear with butter, shove some herbs inside, chop some veg, put round chicken, drizzle oil on, shove in oven at 180C for a couple hours. Doesn't matter if you forget it for another hour or so!

A glass (Pyrex) casserole dish will be fine and cheap.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Mon 21-Feb-11 20:01:57

I used to do massive stews and freeze loads of portions, because I could start in the morning and prep the veg at odd moments when the baby was happy, then put it all on and leave it for ages while it cooked, or if it needed switching off or stirring I could do it with one hand while still holding the baby.
then that was lots of dinners sorted.

the other thing I found handy was bake-in-foil dinners, which Jamie has a bunch of in the third Naked Chef book: you get it all ready (chicken or fish, some veg and some lemon, oil, herbs, wine etc) when you have a moment in the morning then when it's time it can be put in the oven (again with one hand).

I don't know if you are finding this but I have always found my babies have wanted most attention at the end of the day which is just when you want to be cooking dinner, so it is good to have a variety of means up your sleeve for doing everything earlier in the day when the baby is easier.

thejaffacakesareonme Mon 21-Feb-11 21:00:45

I'm sorry, I've just checked. It wasn't the Annabel Carmel book I used, it was Gina Ford's Baby and Toddler cookbook. I also had an Annabel Carmel book but never really used it. I found it had some good basic recipies for things like fish pie that could be used for the whole family.

tomatoplantproject Tue 22-Feb-11 14:35:35

I have a few tried and tested recipe books that are totally fail safe.

Jamie Oliver is always good.

Delia is good for traditional food.

The first Leon cook book is good for super delicious recipes like meatballs, their fish parcels and chicken couscous.

And I swear by my Rachel Allen cookery book for cakes and biscuits.

I also advocate learning one new recipe a week. You don't then have to keep struggling with new things. And not everything works.

FindingStuffToChuckOut Tue 22-Feb-11 14:35:52

When you are more experienced, know about tastes, timings etc you will be able to chuck things together & made dinner. In the meantime, you are learning. I thought the How To Cook books by Delia were quite good. Ditto How TO Eat by Nigella.

There are also some excellent websites like BBC Food where you can search for recipes by ingredients (ie what is locally available, in season etc).

Some tasty basics I'd try:

Puttenesca pasta sauce - serve with salad.
Salads - try making different dressings to jazz up the salad: french, mustard, balsamic, avocado etc
Spag Bollognase.
Cabonara
Lamb Chops (grilled) with Hassleback potatoes and salad.

Living in Dubai why not look out for a good basic Mediterranean cookery book too - local ingredients will surely be cheaper?

I love Tasty Diaries and have used more recipes from this web site than anywhere else. She used to send out a weekly newsletter but sadly this seems to have stopped. Website still a great resource.

FindingStuffToChuckOut Tue 22-Feb-11 14:40:37

love [[ http://tastydiaries.com/newtasty/quick-assembly-parmentier-of-pea-and-cauliflower-puree-with-curried-beef this]] and NO FANCY INGREDIENTS!!!!

FindingStuffToChuckOut Tue 22-Feb-11 14:41:18

sorry crap link - try this

PercyPigPie Tue 22-Feb-11 14:44:23

Your MIL sounds a nightmare for starters - what a dreadful thing to suggest! Presumably he is a grown man who could throw himself together a healthy sandwich if he felt malnourished. Hoping she is not in Dubai with you.

I agree with whoever said that your baby is only 4 months old and you must be pretty tired anyway. I would stick to simple and quick things that don't need much fiddling with as if you have another baby in a couple of years, it will be a while until you have time at supper time for fiddly recipes.

Risotto is a good one as you add bits and pieces and can then quickly wander off and do something with the baby in between. Simple, easy and very satisfying. Chops and roasts are good because then you only have to worry about the vegetables as they cook themselves.

Whoever said lasagne is the most simple meal ever must have more patience than me. I always find it needs a pan for the cheese sauce, pan for the mince, endless chopping and then a really hard to clean baked hard dish at the end of it all! Don't forget things liked fresh fish baked in foil parcels in the oven. If you go to Waitrose they have bags that they put fresh fish into with herb butter and lemon which makes it easier - not certain they would have that in Dubai, but ask anyway as they don't advertise it.

A previously successful career does not mean you will find parenting and this domestic grunge easy unfortunately. I find people who find it easiest seem to be the mums who are not remotely driven and can go with the flow - it takes a while to learn that particular skill! Good luck (btw when we weaned our first, I could cook nothing and am now a reasonably able cook for day to day stuff).

MmeLindt Tue 22-Feb-11 14:49:44

I really like MOF and Jamie's 30 min meals.

With the 30 min meals I find I am not worrying about timing, as it is all set out in a logical order. Just allow yourself 60 mins not 30.

Not keen on Delia, I find her recipes a bit faffy.

I have a few simple recipes that I have made up myself, once you are more confident you will be able to bung stuff in a pan. For now, stick to recipes.

I also use food.com - there are a lot of US recipes but you should be able to get most of the ingredients in Dubai. I like US recipes as they often use cup measures so less faff with weighing stuff.

CrystalStair Tue 22-Feb-11 14:53:32

All great advice on here. And don't worry. The first time I cooked on my own I made a tuna and tomato pasta sauce, with raw chopped onion, raw garlic and handfuls of dried herbs and forgot to cook it. Just mixed it in a bowl and put it on the the over-cooked gooey pasta. Gross. BUT I am a really good cook now, mostly because of making a lot of mistakes and gaining confidence through them (after initial pissed off/upset moments). Once I got going and began to trust what worked things improved really fast. You'll be fine.

I am really interested in what other ingredients are available in Dubai that we don't have in the UK? Or is it very international for all the ex-pats? If you're interested in just reading about Middle Eastern food Claudia Roden is fantastic. I cook her stuff now - lots of things with cumin, lamb, mint, yogurt...not hard to do either.

TobyLerone Tue 22-Feb-11 15:48:53

Jamie Oliver is great for easy things. But to be honest, I get the vast majority of recipes from the internet. If you can read, you can follow a recipe.

I gave my bf cooking lessons when we first got together. He can now make various passable dishes (risotto being a favourite).
I'm happy to offer whatever help I can, too

Chica31 Tue 22-Feb-11 15:57:33

Thank you so much dubaipieeye, you have really inspired me. I am a useless cook, we live in Spain so I have no access to M and S either, plus ready meals here are terrible. I am on maternity leave too, DD2 is 3 weeks.

I was feeling so guilty as DH is coming in from work and cooking still, after picking up DD1 etc... He is an ex mitchlin starred chef so all his meals taste wonderful, he just seems to throw it in and magic!

So, today I have cooked a lentil soup...and even if I do say so myself it tastes OKish, well not as good as DH's but its a start.

It was the recipe in Red magazine.
In a large saucepan over a medium heat, dry fry half a teaspoon each of cumin seeds and coriander seeds for around 30 secs, until fragrant. Add a splash of oil and diced carrort and onion and sweat gently stiring from time to time, until soft. Tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes, the same amount of vegetable stock or water and a teacup full of red lentils. Simmer until the lentils are soft, around 25 mins, then blitz with a blender. If it is a bit thick add more stock or water. Adjust seasoning and serve with a dollop of yoghurt.

DH better make the right noises tonight, sometimes he isn't very encouraging about my cooking!

DoubleDegreeStudent Tue 22-Feb-11 16:57:24

I second Nigella Lawson - How to Eat. My family has three copies - my mum has one, my sister bought herself one when she left university and I bought mine in my first year. It was written when her children were relatively small and has a really good section on cooking for children (including baby purees and the like), as well as cooking for one/two rather than whole families and a really good low fat section for when you're feeling rubbish about yourself.

I find Nigella's writing to be the most supportive, if a cookbook ever can be.

Also, foil is your friend. When my boyfriend went to university pretty much all he could cook was fish in foil parcels. It might take a bit of trial and error to work out timings depending on the size/type of fish you use, but just put in on a piece of foil with some seasoning if you want, scrunch the foil together and put in a moderate oven. Same works for chicken breasts (between 20 and 30 minutes at gas mark 6 should work) and it stops them drying out.

Good luck!!

boobellina Tue 22-Feb-11 17:08:05

I loved my MOF until it mysteriously got burned - ok I set it on fire with the gas ring! Am also a huge fan of Nigella too, her new one Kitchen has some great easy recipes in it.

Why don't you think about subscribing to the BBC Good Food magazine - not sure how that would work in Dubai but I subscribed for a year and it really helped me out with loads of new ideas and great pictures. Now I just head to the website because it is free

BlingLoving Tue 22-Feb-11 18:19:17

I second most of the advice on here. DH is slowly learning to cook and generally finds recipes from simple books like Jamie's MOF the best way. He is loving the Chilli recipe in there although has decided to up the meat quota as it felt a little too saucy/beany.

The other thing he's doing, which is perhaps less exciting, but does result in perfectly tasty, nutritious meals, is that he's mastering the art of preparing something very simple like a piece of fried salmon, which he serves with mixed vegetables. he doesn't do anything fancy with them - just boils or steams them and serves with olive oil or some butter. But with a good piece of fish or a nice lamb chop, that's still delicious and both of us are happy.

He regularly does fish fingers, salmon or lamb chops in this way. Salmon he cooks with sesame oil and he puts some rosemary on the lamb, perhaps with some garlic in the pan. Fish fingers are served with mayo and ketchup! grin

BlingLoving Tue 22-Feb-11 18:21:04

Oh, he's also mastered the basic (Jamie) omelette:

Fry whatever you're planning to use as the filling in the pan. Lower your heat so it's not too hot and pour in 2-3 beaten eggs. Let them cook gently. Once the top is almost firm, scatter some cheese on top and then flip half the omelette over. Cook for another minute. Serve.

This serves one person. You can either do a bigger version for two and just split it in half, or do two quick ones.

Bizzyashell Tue 22-Feb-11 19:16:12

The Good Food website is fab. Breaks everything down into how easy to cook n how long it takes. Loads of free recipes and you can create a binder with your faves in to go back to time and time again. And it's free.

Canella Tue 22-Feb-11 19:19:04

started the thread thinking - oh she should make Jamie's Ministry of Food lasagne - and now i've got to the end and you have!! its a great place to start because it looks and tastes great but there's no faffing with making white sauce! I also use that recipe now for making my bolognese sauce even when i dont make the lasagne. I swap the tinned tomatoes for passatta tho - think its too runny otherwise.

Well done you for getting started - I'm not a great/adventurous cook but think once you get 5 or 6 basic meals under your belt you'll feel much better!

anna26anna Tue 22-Feb-11 19:48:07

Just wanted to say - you shouldn't feel bad about the slow-cooker recipes not working out. We eat all types of food and I love to cook, but in the last couple of years the few things we've been disappointed with have been slow cooker efforts. I wouldn't recommend it as a good place to start.

We move to Dubai at the end of this week. I hope to find some cookery demo's to attend - was figuring that some of the more famous hotel restaurants must offer them. Sometimes their menus are complicated, but they often have simple ideas which are really helpful in everyday cooking, and I go away inspired about food all over again.

Another great resource is the video demos on BBC Food (think they are called Get Cooking?). They are just a few minutes each and fit nicely into a baby's feeding time, for example. I particularly remember the bechemel sauce one, it changed the way I make sauce forever, never had a lumpy sauce since

Anna

northerngirl41 Tue 22-Feb-11 20:14:13

What you really need are simple, easy recipes which don't take hours on end....

Now Delia has some kind of a death wish on that front, because despite claiming that she is idiot-proof, the amount of faffing and measuring of things involved creates the biggest mountain of washing up you have ever seen!! And it's all nicey nice and mumsy until you read the actual recipes and it vaguely threatens you with disaster should you not weigh the cheese you are about to sprinkle over a dish. Throw her out for a start.

Jamie Oliver is pretty robust for ingredients actually - I often substitute or guess-timate things in his recipes and it usually turns out out. This I believe is the mark of a good cookbook!

Start small: Vegetable soup. Fry onions in some oil in a big pan, cut up some carrots, swede, potato, parsnip, anything else you have lying around in the fridge to similar sizes and fry for 5 mins making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add chicken stock. If you are really lazy as I am, sprinkle the stock cubes over the veggies and then drown in boiling water from the kettle. Season to taste. Put the lid on and simmer for 30 mins-an hour. Blitz using handheld blende.

Rissotto is v easy. As is fish pie (I never actually bother to cook the fish before chucking it in the pot, covering with white sauce and spreading mashed potato on top).

Surely being in Dubai there is v little cooking needing done anyway? Can you not get away with lots of salads???

I learned most of my cookery basics from a studenty cookbook entitled Meals in Moments. They are all fairly easy, using ingredients which are easy to find, and none of them are particularly expensive to make, but very tasty for minimal effort. No poncey, faffing around recipes. Even DH can make the recipes - foolproof! here

fairtradefloozy Tue 22-Feb-11 21:35:24

When I was a student I used a book called Grub on a Grant. The reason I suggest it here is because it was cheap (you mentioned food costs), really simple and gave some good short cuts as well as basically being aimed at people who can't cook, but still want to eat! I still use it tbh.

fairtradefloozy Tue 22-Feb-11 21:36:42

Same thoughts, two little monkeys!

Popbiscuit Tue 22-Feb-11 22:41:37

My tip is: Always remember to cook your onions down properly. They need a good ten minutes or so to get soft and "see through" or else you get that raw-onion effect in the finished dish. The same does NOT go for minced garlic; it only needs a minute or two otherwise it gets bitter and scorched.
Ditto the thoughts on the slow cooker; I've never had any luck with this type of cooking. I think you need to master the basics before using a slow cooker.
It's fun to peruse cookbooks. Get some from the library and dig in; they will inspire and educate simultaneously.

Frawli Tue 22-Feb-11 22:45:39

If your current book doesn't work out, this is a good basic, it's also Good Housekeeping, nice and simple, lots of pics for all the steps.

Frawli Tue 22-Feb-11 22:54:42

Also, I have learnt loads from the telly! Try and watch some food programmes if you can, you will pick up loads of tips and techniques and it's good because you can actually see what the food should look like at each stage of cooking.

I have loads of recipe books but actually most of them I don't cook from, LOL. One book I have tried a few recipes from and they've all been simple and turned out well is this one by Ainsley Harriott.

Most of the recipes I try are supermarket ones, check out Asda and Sainsbury's websites. Not sure if Tesco have recipes online too, I usually get them from the in-store mag. These are nearly always pretty simple.

And don't feel bad about the slow cooker meal not working out for you, it's taken me many attempts to get a decent stew out of it. Make sure you use a tough cut like shin or stewing beef, use very little liquid too, and make sure you have lots of flavouring like stock cube, dried herbs, tom puree, worcestershire sauce etc. Chin up.

baggyfanny Tue 22-Feb-11 23:26:23

.

Cosmosis Wed 23-Feb-11 10:21:58

my dh bought himself [[http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginners-Cookbook-Usborne-Cookbooks-Fiona/dp/0746085389/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298456040&sr=1-1 this book] to gain more confidence in the kitchen and I think it's great for beginners, lots of pics of how things should look at what stage. I think it's aimed at children but it's got good basics in as well as some cakes and biscuits.

Sounds like you are doing really well now!

Cosmosis Wed 23-Feb-11 10:22:19

oh bum linky fail this book

MarineIguana Wed 23-Feb-11 10:28:23

Good advice and recommendations, but I just wanted to say that I'm an experienced and reasonably good cook and can do a lot of things, but slow cooker stews and casseroles - though they're supposed to be easy - often turn out a bit strange for me as well.

My standbys are often tomato-sauce based, just a basic sauce with chopped onions cooked slowly in a bit of oil for a few minutes, tin of chopped tomatoes, sprinkle of herbs and simmer for a bit. Then you can combine with cooked mince to make spag bol, cottage pie or shepherd's pie, lasagne etc., or with lentils and sausages for a stew, or various veg for a pasta sauce and so on.

Also cooking chicken and fish in foil parcels with various herbs or spices, lemon juice, bit of oil and white wine etc. is very easy.

Maryz Wed 23-Feb-11 10:36:36

I just wanted to pop back in here and say well done.

And reading this: "the key to cooking appears to be RECIPES", just made me laugh smile.

OTheHugeManatee Wed 23-Feb-11 10:53:49

In case no-one's said this before, one really important thing to do as you're learning is to keep tasting. It's easy to follow all the instruction but forget to taste until the end, and then wonder what's gone wrong.

You can also 'correct' flavours that have gone wrong, to an extent. For example:

- Overdone the salt in a stew - add more veg, tomato, potato etc
- Too sour - add a bit of sugar or honey
- Too much chili - add yoghurt
- Tastes a bit bland - add a teeny bit more salt, chili, lemon juice, garlic as appropriate
- You often don't need more salt, but just a bit more acid - keep some vinegar or lemon juice (bottled or fresh, whatever you can get hold of) for this

IMO, unless it's burned or you've done something bonkers like add half a pound of cloves to a pound of mince, most stews and simple dishes can be rescued.

Good luck!

Udderly Wed 23-Feb-11 11:03:18

Another good cook rubbish slow cooker here. I also have a nearly 4 month old and I find anything that can be chucked in the oven and forgotten about is good.
One fail safe thing I do is chicken wrapped in bacon stuffed with philadelphia. Cut a pocket in the chicken breast, bung in some philly, and wrap the whole breast in bacon. Bung in the oven at 180C for about 40 mins. The philadelphia website probably has a recipe.
I don't eat fish, but my mother smears philly over cod, then sprinkles chopped bell peppers and chopped nuts over it and bungs in the oven.
A variation on that is to put whole chicken fillets into a pyrex dish, cover with chopped peppers, onions, and if you fancy them courgettes , cover and cook in the oven for about 40 mins.
Serve any of the above with baked potatoes - i'd just wrap in tin foil and bung in the oven a little earlier than the dishes.
Also, when making lassagne / cottage pie / moussaka etc., I always make some to freeze. I get 8 portions out of my pyrex dish and I but foil conrainers (the size you would get fried rice in a chinese). I put a portion in each one, label and freeze. On days I can't be arsed cooking, I take them out to defrost in the morning, take off the cardboard lid, cover in foil and reheat in the oven.

Badgerwife Wed 23-Feb-11 12:03:47

What an interesting thread! I totally agree with your comment that the 'key to cooking is following RECIPES'. I was a useless cook when I started, but I improved dramatically when I invested in a basic recipes book, which I keep using even for basic stuff because of the measurements (apart from maybe pasta dishes because I just throw in onions, veg and bacon with some tomato sauce and it seems to work everytime).

This I learnt from my mum's mistakes. She is still not a good cook at all, and gets upset when people remark on it, but she simply will not use a recipe and just trusts her instincts, sadly, her instincts are sh*t and I guess her tastebuds too...

ChunkyBrewster Wed 23-Feb-11 12:32:58

badgerwife you make me laugh - I think our mums must be related

sethstarkaddersmackerel Wed 23-Feb-11 14:45:57

I so agree that the key to cooking is recipes and I would add to that: all sorts of supposedly difficult cooking scenarios are easy if you just have the right recipe

eg dinner party, do something you can cook in advance; cooking for 20 people, do something that's not too fiddly and scales up properly; etc etc.

witchwithallthetrimmings Wed 23-Feb-11 15:00:21

while i think recipies are really important, you can never feel confident in the kitchen unless you have a set of techniques to do the basics.
I would learn how to do some really simple meat or fish and two veg type dishes and start learning about seasoning and flavouring through making salads or adding a bit of zing to veg. (tossing them in garlic and chilli for example).

FindingStuffToChuckOut Wed 23-Feb-11 16:08:57

My sister doesn't really cook very much and my Mum brought her this book to boost her cooking skills & confidence. All the recipes have 4 ingredients - there are a few other similar themed titles available on amazon

mathanxiety Wed 23-Feb-11 19:08:06

Sling the slowcooker is the best advice. There is probably nothing more guaranteed to make a meal taste like rubber cardboard than a slowcooker. The only thing I ever do in the slowcooker is a whole chicken with lemon and garlic stuffed inside.

fifi25 Wed 23-Feb-11 22:38:35

schwartz slow cooker mixes (beef and tomato ones lovely)

Lentil soup- half a bag of lentils, prepared soup mix, 2 knor ham stock cubes, boil 10 min, add quatered potatoes and bacon simmer for 30 min. Salt pepper and loads of crusty bread.

Ready made meatballs and an onion. Fry til browned then add ready made supermarket sauce of choice and cubed peppers (i like cherry toms) simmer for 10 min. Serve with pasta and garlic bread.

Chicken onion mushrooms, fry then add maysan curry powder mix simmer for 15 min (usually found in butchers). Serve with boil in the bag rice.

Hope these help grin

WhoSleptInMyPorridgeAndBrokeIt Thu 24-Feb-11 00:38:11

I pride myself blush on being a decent cook BUT the one thing I absolutely CAN'T do is meat! Thing is, I don't eat it (no ideology, just always hated red meat) and I just can't get the hang of cooking it. I'm forever scared that it's not gonna cook through so I end up severely overdoing it Took me a while to master chicken, too. One thing I've learnt is, it's always easier to cook meat/chicken chopped to small chunks than whole.

I can share two very simple fish recipes. One is whole fish, one is fillets. Both go well with potatoes (boiled/mashed/chips/baked), rice, veg or pasta (tagliatelle/linguine + fish and you need no sauce!).

Whole: my adaptation of the French "sea bass in a salt crust" recipe.
To serve two, you'll need:
- 2 small/medium size fish, scale on, approx 250-400 g each. Or you could do one big one. Ask the fishmonger to gut it. Do NOT have it scaled as some recipes suggest coz then it'll salt through to death while cooking.
(It can be any fish really, not just sea bass, but be careful with fish that have very fine scales (e.g. trout) as they tend to get too salty if slightly overdone.)
- a lot of salt, at least 1 kg but I'd have 2.5 kg handy. Ideally it should be rock salt, but I've used ordinary table salt.
- any fresh herb you can find: dill, coriander, chives, leeks or rosemary are all great. Or anything else you think will go with fish. I'd avoid mint tho. If there's no fresh herb you can get hold of, bay leaves will do.
- casserole, frying pan, or any oven-proof dish big enough to accomodate your fish but not too big so you don't waste too much salt.
- lemon wedges or lemon juice to serve (optional)

Rinse the fish with cold water. Chop heads off if a bit too big for your dish. Stuff the cavities with herb.
Pour some salt into the dish so as to cover the bottom. A 1/2 inch deep layer is plenty. Lay the fish on top of the salt and por the rest of the salt in. Fish should be completely covered. Try not to get any salt into the body cavity. Sprinkle on top with some water (that'll form a salt crust).
Stick in the oven preheated to 190-200C and cook for 25-30 mins (less for smaller fish, more for bigger).
When it's done, take the dish out of the oven and stick on top of some newspaper sheets. Crack the crust with something heavy like a big knife or a mallet. Brush or shake off onto the newspaper enough salt to expose the fish. Carefully move the fish onto a plate. Using a knife and fork, skin the fish. Now it's up to you whether you'll want to serve it as is, or take it off the bone (in which case it'll look a bit messy, but then you'll have less mess while eating).
The good thing about this recipe - it's much simpler than it looks (it'll prob take you less to do it than it took me to type it up!) and because the fish cooks in its own juices, it'll never be too dry or, erm, smell of fish grin

Fillet recipe
You'll need:
- 2 fish fillets, ideally salmon. Skin on or off, doesn't matter.
- 3-5 bay leaves
- optional: some fresh herb (see above for types of herb)
- optional: 2-3 cloves, several black peppercorns
- pinch salt to season (+ ground black pepper if not using peppercorns)
- sheet of foil, or a small lidded oven-proof dish, just big enough to stuff the fillets it tightly

Preheat oven to 180-190C. Rinse fish in cold water. Put onto the foil/in the dish, season with salt/pepper/cloves, lay bay leaves and herbs on, under and between the fillets. Wrap the foil tightly around the fish and put on a baking tray OR put lid on dish if using a dish. Stick in the oven for 20-25 min.
When done, unwrap the foil and remove all the debris including fish skins with a knife and fork.

Both these recipes are baby/toddler-friendly as well, although I'd forgo pepper/cloves if cooking for a little one.

Enjoy! wine

WhoSleptInMyPorridgeAndBrokeIt Thu 24-Feb-11 01:06:24

How to PAINLESSLY cook rice to perfection

You'll need:

- 80-100 ml rice per person
- water (for quantity, see below)
- oil or butter
- salt and (optional) spice
- medium-sized saucepan, ideally one with a thick bottom. Avoid non-stick saucepans as the bottom layer of the rice tends to get very dry in those.

for whatever reason few ppl I've met know the trick, but there's a very simple way to boil rice so it's not sticky or dry. All you need is ONE measure of (dry) rice and just under TWO measures of water. So, to serve two you'll need 200 ml rice and about 380 ml water. Some varieties of short-grain rice need slightly less, say 350-360 ml water. For whatever reason PUDDING RICE available in the UK needs 1.5 measures of water, I suspect it must be pre-steamed. But that's the only variety of rice I know of that needs that little.
Rinse the rice in cold water. Drain well. Put the rice into the pan. Pour in water.
Put on the hob and turn heat up to max. When water begins to boil, turn the heat right down and give the rice a quick stir so it doesn't stick to the sides. Salt (1/4 - 1/3 teaspoonful's fine). If using any spice, now's the time to chuck it in. Add 1-2 table spoonfuls of oil, or if using butter, leave that till the end. Give it another quick stir. Cover with a lid.
THAT'S IT!! Now all you need to do is wait till the rice soaks up all the water and air holes become well visible. That'll take approx 15-25 min depending on how hard the rice is. My mum usually cooks it on low heat for 15 min, then turns the heat off and leaves the pan on the hob for a further 10-15 min (the hob will still be hot so the rice will cook through but there's no danger it'll burn).
When done, add butter and stir.

whatdidIJUSTsay Thu 24-Feb-11 04:15:49

How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three ... - Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher... by Gill Holcome is also an excellent book, full of really simple recipes with very readily avalaible ingredients. It also has shopping lists and menu plans to help you get the best out of each meal by using leftovers and so on.

dubaipieeye Thu 24-Feb-11 05:52:24

Wow blush

Have had a sick baby for a couple of days but now I am back to this thread and, blimey, I am on the mumsnet homepage (a "culinary klutz", no less wink) and have had lots and lots more wonderful advice. I will try to respond to you lovely of people individually later, but thanks * a million. Glad this is help some other kitchen disasters out too!

Masterchef here I come.

BlingLoving Thu 24-Feb-11 10:27:13

If we're giving tips on foolproof preparation for things, here's mine for couscous. This will work every single time.

1. Ignore the instructions on the packet.
2. Pour required amount of couscous into a bowl (approximately 30g per person if you want to measure it out).
3. Pour over boiling water from kettle, shaking the bowl slightly to make sure the water is going all the way down and not simply being absorbed at the top. Stop pouring when the water is covering the couscous by about 1/2 cm.
3. Cover with a plate of some clingfilm and leave for 5 minutes.
4. Stir through with a fork and some butter or olive oil
5. Add any flavourings etc you want (or if you're DH, simply pile on a plate and eat with whatever else you're having)

Flavouring ideas

1. Premade "rubs" in different flavours. DH particularly likes an Egyptian one his mother sends us.
2. Chopped herbs (parsely, mint, thyme, coriander are all good together or alone) and some lemon
3. Raisens, sultanas or other chopped dried fruit. Add some chopped nuts too if you feel like it.

It is also absolutely delicious as a meal with roasted vegetables. Make sure to include some tomatoes when you're roasting the veg as they will give it a lovely juiciness which will soak into the couscous. Top with some feta or goats cheese and/or toasted pine nuts for extra luxury.

Or make it as a salad with roasted veggies, excluding the tomatoes, and use olive oil and lemon and some chopped parsley and mind as a dressing. You could add a spoon of yoghurt to the dressing too.

BlingLoving Thu 24-Feb-11 10:28:05

chopped parsely and MINT for the dressing.

dubaipieeye Fri 25-Feb-11 02:18:46

Hello All

I just wanted to come back and acknowledge all the lovely responses I've had on here - you've been fab and I feel much more positive about cooking.

I've bought the Annabel Karmel weaning book - so DS won't starve wink and DH and I have lived on left over (delicious) lasagne for most of the week! It was a real help to have some "proper" food in the fridge as DS cut his first tooth yesterday and he's been hard work all week with teething pain - bless.

I am planning to do the following next week:

1 x lasagne (to practice)
1 x Jamie recipe curry (again, to practice although perhaps not the vindaloo as it was a bit spicey for me)
1 x jacket pots
1 x left over
1 x beans on toast/omlette or similar
1 x pizza (we ALWAYS have a pizza night at the weekend)
and 1 x slow cooker chicken (we seem to be divided on the slow cooker issue but I do find chickens easy in there)

and I feel quite calm about it all grin

Chica - I am glad I am not alone and glad this thread is helping you. Your little one is only 3 weeks old though! I think you have an even better excuse than me for not cooking...

Anna26Anna - Le Meridien in Garhoud do cooking demos and I've heard they are pretty good. If I can return your favour by offering any Dubai advice please let me know - even if you want to pop round for a cup of tea sometime...just pm me...moving is scary but Dubai is a great place to live - especially if you have kids. The weather is just about perfect now so it's a great time to arrive. If you haven't already take a look at expatwoman.com for help and advice.

The lady who asked about local cooking and local ingredients (sorry can't seem to scroll back and find your name). Emirati/bedouin cooking has been a little swamped by Indian and Lebanese cuisine here (most of the population are Indian or south east Asian and Lebanese food seems to be very popular amoungst all Arabs.) I found this article for you - it's about the father of a boy I taught for a while (he was MORTIFIED that his father was a chef) and is quite telling about the local attitude to cooking! MrEbdowa

All those who have recommended cookbooks - every last one is now on my Amazon wish list so hopefully I will build up a decent collection that'll see me through.

And finally to those who have taken the time to type out recipes, thank you. It is most appreciated smile

DPE!

MmeLindt Fri 25-Feb-11 11:26:45

Sounds great.

Won't be long before you are serving up home made pizza

princess1300 Fri 25-Feb-11 11:58:24

hi
i would just like to know your experiences of catering companies?
where they good or bad?
what advice would you give to a new catering company?
Thanks

kitchenidiots Wed 16-Jan-13 19:57:42

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 16-Jan-13 23:07:27

Your meal plan liooks lovely and I'm so glad that you are feeling chilled. Haven't posted before but most of what I wanted to say has been said before. Just wanted to second the slow cooker thing. I'm a ok cook, but can't get on with my slow cooker. Think the advice of using your regular cooker before trying out too many recipes in your slow cooker is a good one.

I also could never get on with Annabel Karmel, every child I know weaned her way is fussy any the thought of cooking special meals just for one person just seemed a bit crazy to me. I weaned DS on fruit and veg purees, then just started mashing our food. Dd was a total spoon refuser, so was weaned on our food straight away.

Have a look at the blw if you want an an alternative view, and don't forget Mn weaning advice and section smile

sashh Thu 17-Jan-13 04:31:55

I actually learned to cook from watching ready steady cook when I was ill for a few months.

Before that I could follow a recipe, but not make anything up.

OK here's a simple one. Before you start shove a couple of potatoes in the oven to bake and buy a bag of salad so you are only using one pan.

Leave the potatoes for about an hour - they should be soft to press, througha tea towel you do not want to burn.

OK your shopping list

2 salmon steaks (easier for a first timer than fillets)
1 carton of double cream or creme fresh, at a pinch you could use philadelphia
1 jar of whole grain mustard
prying pan
oil - I like olive but veg would be fine

put the pan on the hear and turned up full
pour a little oil over both 'sides' of the steaks, so not the skin or inside. Add about a teaspoon of oil tothe pan.

put the steaks in the pan and turn it down to medium.

Watch the steak turn light pink from the bottom to the middle and then turn them over.

Now watch the pink rise from the bottom to meet the pink in the middle.

Add two teaspoons of the mustard and enough cream / creme fresh to cover the base of the pan.

Use a wooden stirer/wooden spoon to mix the mustard and cream, turn the heat up and and keep mixing.

As soon as the cream starts to bubble it is done, turn off the pan, put the fish with the salad and baked potato on a plate, pour the cream mixture over and eat.

You can do this with chicken or other fish and it is good with pork steaks, if they are available in Dubai.

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