Try everything once (so you can do a better job as a contestant on MKR in 2017)

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My Kitchen Rules has started again for another year and I’ve been watching keenly to see which meals I’d like to try for myself. Unfortunately I think I could do better than a few of the disasters this years’ bunch have served up. It seems like they are just not hitting the mark, but I do remember last years’ bunch of MKR contestants weren’t so awesome at the beginning either but they did improve out of sight by the end of the series.

So far this year we’ve had a dismal offerings on some of the basics, such as:

  • Apple pie (Nev and Kell)
  • Carrot cake (Jessica and Marcos)
  • Lasagna (Jessica and Marcos)
  • Caesar salad (Cheryl and Matt)
  • Seafood (Carmine and Lauren)

It makes me wonder whether these teams had tried making their dishes first?

Aside from the failures of these MKR contestants, I want to share with you why it’s so important to try making everything and anything you can – because a well informed and well practiced cook knows how to make their meals better!

What should you try making?

Well, it’s really up to you what you want to try, however to give yourself a wide range of knowledge and skills you’ll need to try many recipes which use many different ingredients.

To give you some inspiration, here are some of the things I’ve tried to make from scratch:

  • Jam, and more jam – one worked out and the other didn’t.
  • Bread – sandwich bread, rolls and savoury bread pullaparts.
  • Bagels
  • English muffins
  • Apple pie
  • Chai tea
  • Ice cream
  • Beef pies
  • Salad dressings
  • Pastry
  • Mayonnaise
  • And all sorts of cakes, muffins and slices.

I still have a few things on my list to try making such as my own ricotta, feta and pasta but I’m proud of all the things I have been able to make to date. Some worked well, others didn’t. But along the way I learnt valuable lessons about flavour combinations, cooking times, what “doneness” looks like for various ingredients, how hot to warm up milk before it splits, what the right consistency of dough looks like, etc.


How do you start making these things?

If you have aspirations of being a pastry chef, start making a hundred and one different baked goods.

If you have aspirations to open a restaurant, start making a hundred and one different dinner recipes.

If you’re vegetarian, start making a hundred and one different vegetarian meals.

And if you just want to be a normal home cook who can get dinner on the table, start by making some of the meals you would like to make for your own family – it’s how I started.

I wanted to make my own beef pies because I didn’t want to feed my husband the pre-made ones from the supermarket any more. I made my own ice cream just to see if I could (I made it the traditional way and then I made it Gemma’s way and I loved both). And I made jam because I didn’t like the super sweet fake ones available at my local supermarket (real jam shouldn’t contain gelatine!).

The best way to start, is to just find something you’ve been making for ages and see if you can find a recipe for it – and you will because the internet has hundreds of recipes!

Do you need to make everything yourself?

No, not at all!

The entire idea of trying everything once is to give you all of that background information that you don’t get from reading a recipe. The recipe can tell you how the meat is supposed to look, but you won’t actually know what that looks like until you try it yourself. And then you’ll be able to get it to the stage at which you prefer it – so you can make your steak medium rare or keep your chicken breasts juicy rather than dry.

There is no rule to tell you that you must make everything yourself. If in the process of learnning to make pasta sauce you use bought pasta and bought pesto, so be it. Once you have the pasta sauce down you’ll think about making your own pesto, then when you’re comfortable with that you can try your own pasta.

Cooking, and good cooking, really is just a process of developing skills upon each other. And thats why during February I wrote my series on Back to Basics. Start with good kitchen organisation, know which ingredients do what, make sure you practice and then you’ll be able to enter into MKR in 2017 knowing you’re going to out shine the competition. I might just see you there!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make something new today!

Tell us, what have you made recently that was something new? Will you make it again? Leave a comment or share it with me @SpicedAnecdotes on Twitter.

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