A warm evening in early summer. A long table set for a meal with long tined forks and fancy menus. Then ten ordinary people and two celebrity chefs enter the fold and you’ve got a feast brewing in the kitchen and backstabbing happening out at the table.
That’s right – its MKR season!
I am fully back into the swing of My Kitchen Rules, and I’m watching TV each night waiting to see what happens next.
Only, there’s one problem this year. Well, I’m not sure its one problem or two.
Is it that Pete and Manu don’t like any of the meals?
Or is it that the contestants just can’t cook that well?
Now, as a diligent writer I’ve been trying to find some of the episodes from last year’s My Kitchen Rules to compare. I just get the feeling that more of the contestants last year got higher scores in the round one instant restaurants than the contestants this year. I remember the Captain (David) and Corinne got a low score, but the Surfer Dads, Paul and Blair, seemed to know what they were doing, as did the young Besties from Tasmania, Thalia and Bianca, and the Proud Mums, Bree and Jessica, seemed to do well in almost all the rounds. I just haven’t felt the same pull as last year in terms of cooking skill.
Are you thinking the same?
Okay, there are some really yummy looking meals coming from those kitchens, but there are plenty of mistakes being made. And its the mistakes I want to talk about now.
So, here are the eight biggest mistakes I’ve noticed so far from the 2015 MKR season, and my tips on how you can fix them:
- Don’t cook a meat you know nothing about until researching it. Rob and Matt just made that mistake with their quail. Seriously, look up how to cook one and try it a few times before serving to guests! (That’s what husbands and kids are for – they are your guinea pigs and critics all at once and they are always very honest).
- When baking always measure your ingredients. Sherri and Emilie made this mistake for their baked doughnuts. I thought they looked great, but they rose too much, which means there was too much self-raising flour in them. Emilie took a chance at not measuring and that came back to haunt her. Baking is a science, so don’t mess with the rules on this one.
|If you don’t already, get some measuring cups and spoons for baking,|
- Don’t lose concentration as mistakes can happen. Carol and Adam seemed to lose track and had to make their raspberry ripple cheesecake 3 times! The first time I’m not sure what was wrong with it, as I missed the beginning of the show, but in the second attempt Carol forgot to put the raspberries in. Major mistake when you’re presenting a raspberry cheesecake! So I say again, don’t lose focus! All sorts of mistakes can happen when you do, like the time I got burnt or when I set fire to the baking paper.
- If its raw, cook it longer! Annie and Lloyd debated this with their baked fish and Rob and Matt had trouble with this for their brownie. Seriously, who wants to eat raw fish and raw cake mix? Eeww! No thanks! So, if in doubt, put it back in the oven or turn the stove on again. Don’t crank the heat up too much, just keep it at a gentle heat. And only give it a few minutes, because that might be all it needs. Too long and its all too overcooked and dry and you’ve got another problem on your hands.
- Lemon juice will begin to cook your meat for you. Ash and Camilla may have known this moments after they were critiqued by Pete and Manu, but lemon juice will begin to cook your meat for you. While most of us aren’t cooking steak tartare like Ash and Camilla, we could be using a lemon based marinade for our meat. I overcooked the chicken strips the other night as my Thai lemon and chilli marinade did most of the cooking for me before I even got the chicken into the fry pan. I only really needed to heat the strips for a minute or two, not the 8 minutes I actually gave them.
- Don’t let one flavour overpower the other flavours. There was a lot of talk about this when Annie and Lloyd made their rosewater and raspberry mousse. It also came up with Gina and Anna when everyone complained that there were too many prunes on the tart they made for dessert and when Eva and Debra used way too much ginger. While its fine to eagerly share something you love with others, do keep in mind that not everyone loves what you love. Especially when it comes to tastes from cultures other than your own. I love paprika and cumin and use them in everything, but whenever I cook for mum she always thinks there is too much of each spice in my meal. Go easy on the ingredient you love when cooking for others, but make it as you like it when cooking for yourself.
- Carefully consider your portion sizes. If you’re feeding kids, make the portions tiny. If you’re feeding adults, give them adult size portions. Kat and Andre didn’t seem to get this when they cooked up a very stingy entrée, main and dessert at their instant restaurant. What’s a decent size? Well, there are portion guides on websites like the National Heart Foundation website or in books like the CSIRO total Wellbeing Diet that you can check out. What you can do straight away is check out some of the portion sizes of foods listed on the packets themselves. I always do too much pasta, and after reading a packet or two have reduced the amount I cook by half. My hubby and I were still very satisfied with the meal, but we weren’t rolling around the couch after dinner because I’d cooked too much.
|This is enough pasta for 4 people.|
- You must season your meals. Okay, what is seasoning? Its the worst name cause it means nothing to those who don’t know, but it is simply adding salt and pepper to your meal. And its an area where so many cooks go wrong, as Gina and Anna found out for their flathead entrée. When cooking from scratch you need to season the food as you cook, and then just before serving test it again to see whether it needs a bit more salt. Always under salt as its easier to add a tiny bit more than to have to figure out how to make a dish less salty. If you’re using packets when cooking, check the salt content first. If its something that’s full of salt, like soy sauce, you probably don’t really need to season the dish. But always, always, always check the seasoning before serving!
|Seasoning means adding salt and pepper.|
Hope these ideas have helped. Give them a go and let me know what you think.
So, who do you think will be eliminated from the second instant restaurant round?