How To Be A Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

Want to impress your mates next time they come over to eat? Have a desire to prove to your family that you are indeed the best cook of them all? Well, look no further friends for here is how to become a better cook in just 5 easy peasy steps.

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1. Get to know the lingo. Don’t know your al dente from your al forno? Well, get to know. Talking the talk is everything in this game and even if your food sucks, you can convince people that it doesn’t by explaining it in the right way. Try saying things like ‘for dinner today we have goujons of cod in a spiced panko crumb on a bed of whipped pea puree served with crispy potatoes’ instead of ‘here’s your fish fingers, chips and mushy peas’. By the time they’ve worked out what they’re eating you will be telling them what’s for pudding and they’ll have no time to process how dreadful it was.

2. Similar to the above, you can fool people into thinking they are eating good food if you make it look nice. The key here is to arm yourself with some seriously oversized plates and bowls. Drizzle some kind of sauce on the plate then put everything in neat little piles and always work in threes or fives. Odd numbers of things just look more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Convince yourself. When creating your masterpieces in the kitchen, channel your inner alter ego. If you want to be Nigella you be Nigella. Go squeeze yourself into a tight little dress, put on a pair of killer heels and a slick of lipstick and make sure you turn everything you say into a slutty innuendo. Lick the spoon playfully whilst winking at the non existent camera and own it. Your chocolate mousse may very well taste like crap but you looked good making it and anyone that sees how much effort you put in will surely pretend it tastes good too.

4. Practice. Good cooks don’t just turn great over night. They have to work at it. So even if you just pick one dish to perfect that’s fine. Yes, everyone that comes into your home will have to try your brownies, but hey, by their fifth visit they may actually get something good and surely that’s progress. Keep going!

5. Lastly, and this is an important one, don’t let anyone criticise you. Maybe your dad will say that his chicken was raw in the middle or the mashed potato was lumpy, but just brush it off. You don’t work this hard just to get negative feedback so don’t let it affect you. It’s perfectly fine to argue with dinner guests should they challenge your cooking skills (though really they shouldn’t if you have correctly followed steps 1-4) but if they do just give them a firm warning that they won’t be invited back.

I really hope this helps turn you from a mediocre cook into a great cook, like me!*

*this is a joke. Kind of.

How to Host a Dinner Party

Ever wanted to host one of those super chic grown up dinner parties but have no idea where to start? Read on for my fool-proof idiot’s guide on how to host the perfect dinner party.

Step One: Decide who you want to invite. Anyone who has allergies or special dietary requirements should be relegated to the reserves and only invited under very extreme circumstances. Your friend with the gluten intolerance can stay at home with a Marks and Spencer’s ready meal for one, she doesn’t need to know that you’re hosting the dinner party of the century. Likewise, that vegetarian couple who witter on about saving the planet one chicken at a time can bore off, no-one likes them anyway.

Step Two: Once you have finalised your guest list and it contains the few remaining non-fussy friends you have left, it’s time to work on your menu. The food needs to be as flashy and pretentious as possible, so dig out the cookbooks and get to work on menu planning. Your main goal here is to find recipes that look good on Instagram, we’re going to get the guests drunk so they won’t care what it tastes like but your 578 followers will want to see results. Avocado continues to be very photogenic and #cauliflower will get you a few extra likes.

Step Three: Wander aimlessly around Sainsbury’s searching for the ever elusive tahini so that you can make your special recipe hummus, then make your way to the most crucial aisle, the wine section. Aim for a bottle per person, plus another for luck. You want to ensure good vibes at your dinner party and the only way to do that is for everyone to be drunk. No point going for the expensive plonk either, just get the one with the prettiest label and it’s guaranteed to look expensive. Your shallow dinner party loving friends won’t care that it tastes like bleach if you tell them that its £30 a bottle and the girls from TOWIE drink it. Not all lies are bad.

Step Four: Before you can even contemplate cooking anything, you need to make your home look picture perfect so that you can show off to your guests. This may involve taking the week off work prior to your party, or hiring a decorator to re-vamp your house to fit in with the latest trends. I’m thinking marble everywhere. At the very least, wash your hand towels, buy some flowers and light a candle in every single room of the house. Diptyque will score you brownie points, as will Jo Malone, but if you would prefer not to sell an organ for the luxury, Yankee normally have a good sale section.

Step Five: Start your cooking preparations either the day before or the morning of your party. Have as much prepared in advance as possible so that you can concentrate on contouring your face instead of sweating over a hot stove. Your guests won’t even mind the food going stale when they have their very own Kim Kardashian serving it to them.

Step Six: It’s finally time for your guests to arrive! Your house looks and smells lovely, you’re all glammed up and your food is prepared. Cook any last minute bits that you need to do whilst your guests enjoy that ‘delicious’ wine you bought and start serving up on your nicest plates. To make life easier, I suggest leaving everything in the middle of the table so that your guests can help themselves, less work for you and the fat one can take as much as they like without the shame of asking you for more. Keep conversation flowing by fishing for compliments on how nice the food/home decor/your new lipstick is, and make sure everyone takes plenty of pictures showing what a great time you’re having. Post your triumphs to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram using all appropriate filters and hashtags. #bestdinnerpartyever

Step Seven: End the night by asking if anyone would like a coffee from your new all singing, all dancing coffee machine, and cursing when someone actually does as it takes 17 minutes to make a soy latte machiatto with caramel drizzle. All commit to doing it again with no real intention of doing so as this one night has cost you a week’s wages, a month’s worth of washing up and a hangover that’s probably going to stick around for the entire weekend. See your guests off with lovey dovey air kisses, close the door, kick your shoes off and quickly check Instagram to see how many likes your pavlova got.

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These gorgeous rhubarb and rose bellini cocktails would go down a treat at your sophisticated soiree. The recipe will be up soon, stay tuned!

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