It can be difficult when you’re a food writer to know what it is your readers want. Some people are already expert cooks, others are still amassing knowledge, although of course there are always new techniques, ingredients and recipes to discover for even the most accomplished chef.
I spent a day recently cooking with my friend Claire (a curry for her and a fish pie for her husband, if you’re interested) and as someone who says she’s still learning she wanted to know more about the basics.
I try to cover all the bases when I’m writing a recipe but I am occasionally guilty of using terms like ‘a pinch of this’ and ‘a glug of that’.
I could use the excuse that I’m an instinctive cook and I am, but I certainly wasn’t when I started out. I remember cooking several things in my early days which were either woefully underdone (belated apologies to the group of friends I inadvertently subjected to a night in the bathroom as a 20-something tyro after failing to thoroughly cook a batch of kidney beans for a chilli) or under-catered (the friends who probably had to stop for a takeaway on the way home after I misjudged the quantities for a lamb polo).
I’ve improved, through trial and error and practice and although I’m still learning and I always will be, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.
So for Claire and readers like her I have introduced a new category in the listings that run down the side of the Mrs Portly pages. The idea is to cover the basics: recipes that as a cook you’ll use over and over again, often as part of another dish, like béchamel sauce and shortcrust pastry.
My apologies to anyone to whom this is old hat. You’ll have your own ways of doing these things and you won’t need me to tell you how to go about them. For anyone else, I hope this will eventually become a useful resource to which I can add as new items occur to me.
And if there’s anything you’d like to see in there yourself, drop me a message here (or email via the Ask Mrs Portly page if you’d like it to be private) and I’ll do my best to help.
Thanks and best wishes,