By Alina Sheinkman
Every time I pick up a beautifully designed cookbook and flick through the food images, my mouth instantly waters at the thought of tasting this masterpiece on a plate. Doesn’t yours? With the increasing interest in cooking shows such as MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules, I’ve been itching to try my newly developed chef skills (if you can call visual absorption a developed skill!). So here goes…
Step 1: deciding on a recipe
With a huge variety of cookbooks available for every taste and cuisine, the task of deciding on a recipe can seem overwhelming. Our suggestion is to start with the basics. Most of us have a few cookbooks gathering dust on a shelf, so start by picking one that looks good and brushing off the dust. Have a browse to see if anything tickles your fancy and gets those taste buds juicing. If you are looking for some new inspiration, here are some great cookbook titles to refresh your collection. We chose “Delicious. Simply The Best” as it has inspiring yet accessible recipes that are perfect for novice cooks as well as experienced foodies looking for new ideas.
Now the task of deciding on a recipe. Here is a quick checklist you can use:
Do I feel like…
- Savoury or sweet?
- What cuisine?
- A quick meal or extravagant affair?
Skip to the right section and pick the recipe with the best pictures. Easy as pie! (yumm…pie) But not for today. We are salivating at the “Herb-rubbed lamb cutlets with pea & feta salad”.
Step 2: gathering ingredients
This is the easiest part of the whole process. You are given a list, so go shopping! Make sure to select the freshest ingredients with bright colours.
A handy tip – it’s best not to enter a supermarket on an empty stomach as inevitably you will end up with a whole trolley of products that were not originally on your shopping list.
When you get back to your kitchen, organise yourself by laying out all the ingredients in their correct quantities, so you don’t have to keep going back and forth to the ingredients list. You can just focus on the method and prepare that beautiful dish!
Step 3: cooking time!
The fun part as I like to call it. This is where you can get your hands dirty and delve into the depths of the recipe. But remember – hygiene first.
Feel free to experiment with the flavours and add or remove certain (not critical) ingredients depending on your taste. We opted to eliminate the chilli in our dish, but doesn’t it look beautiful?
Step 4: how to plate your food like a pro
The secret to making your food cookbook worthy is all about the presentation. Decide on a plating style to impress your dinner guests or impress yourself. Our favourites are “rustic” and “modern contemporary”.
|| Modern Contemporary
Once you have a style in mind, you can choose a plate that will make your dish pop! Look at your plate as a canvas and use your food to create art.
Regardless of your style, there are some universal guidelines to follow:
- Arranging in odd numbers always looks better than even numbers. Always.
- Play to all the senses, a feast is not only for your stomach but for your eyes too!
- Don’t garnish for the sake of it, the flavours should complement each other.
- Keep it simple – less is more.
- Add height, build your dish in layers or look for ways to stand food up.
- Don’t rush. Take it slow and drizzle or sprinkle carefully.
- Use contrasting colours.
Step 5: photography
All works of art must be chronicled as they are likely never to be repeated again. Or at least they’ll never be the same again so each attempt must have a pretty snap. Our resident photographers have given us a few suggestions. It’s important to think about the lighting, shadow is good if placed at the right angle. Make the dish your focal point, a little artistic mess in the background will add some colour and life to your photos.