[soliloquy id=”4777″]Yesterday I was asked what one thing I would change if I was suddenly put in charge of the UK’s food policy. It didn’t take me long to think of an answer – I’d get everyone cooking in schools. It’s a bit of a generalisation, but many parents today can’t cook so in turn their children don’t learn to cook from them and the school syllabus is seriously limited when it comes to this essential lifeskill which has the potential to make real change to our everyday lives.
Cookery should be fun and give people the opportunity to get creative while nourishing themselves, family and friends. There are some dishes which can easily be tweaked to make other meals, so for example, our Duke of Edinburgh Award and University survival classes often start with lasagna. From this the cooks can then see how easy it is to adapt the tomato sauce into spaghetti bolognese or a chilli and the white sauce can be tweaked to macaroni cheese or a herby sauce for fish or chicken.
Working with local schools for the last 5 years I have delivered a wide variety of After school cookery lessons covering simple dishes such as stir-fries and fruit crumbles through to homemade pasta, sushi and Thai curries. These young cooks soon see how easy it is to create delicious dishes from simple ingredients- it might not look perfect at the end but it always tastes fabulous!
There’s only one of me and while I love working with schools, I’ve come to realise that the best way to use my time is to train the staff at schools so they can deliver even better lessons to the children they teach. Many already cook a little with the children, but need inspiration to build on this. I’ve just completed 3 training sessions with the Teaching Assistants at Waterloo School and from September the 10 recipes will be delivered to their children. The 10 recipes cover 5 savoury and 5 sweet dishes including shepherds’ pie, stir-fry with spicy rice, chicken pie, toad-in-the-hole, traybakes and strawberry tiramisu. Do get in touch if I can be of assistance in your school!
So if you have keen cooks at home, here are my top five of the dishes you should be able to cook by the end of Senior school & some recipe ideals-
- Spaghetti bolognese – click here for a bolognese to impress.
- Eggs cooked at least 5 ways – can they boil, scramble, make an omelette, poach and fry an egg? Poaching can be the one that catches people out – try putting clingfilm loosely over a cup, grease it and then drop an egg in. Seal tightly then drop into boiling water. Keep an eye onto it and remove from the clingfilm once the egg white has set.
- Vegetable pasta bake – I’ll never forget one of my 6th formers asking me how to cook pasta – they had no idea you boil it in water – they thought it was cooked in oil! Make a simple sauce from a fried onion, tin of tomatoes and any vegetables you have to hand. Stir through cooked pasta, grate over some cheese and pop under the grill.
- Homemade pizza – homemade dough and a few toppings cost a fraction of a takeaway price so master this recipe and you’ll always impress your friends – Jamie Oliver’s version here makes lots – you might want to halve this recipe!
- Ice-cream – did you know you can make homemade ice-cream without an ice-cream maker? Whisk 300ml double cream to soft peaks, stir in 150ml condensed milk and your choice of flavourings – try melted chocolate or raspberries!