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Beginners basics

Everything you need to know to begin your culinary journey to becoming (maybe not a MasterChef, but) a good cook...

The equipment

Coping in the kitchen is not about the tools you use, but it’s great to have some useful basics to get you started. Here are our kitchen cupboard must-haves: •  Pans: large pot, small non-stick saucepan, wok, frying pan •  Roasting tin •  Sharp knife •  Chopping board: one wooden, one plastic (for raw meat and poultry) •  Whisk •  Egg slice •  Tongs •  Spoons: wooden, plastic, ladle •  Vegetable peeler •  Tupperware containers •  Colander

The pantry

•  Oils: vegetable, extra virgin olive, sesame •  Soy sauce •  Tinned tomatoes •  Balsamic vinegar •  Pasta •  Rice •  Couscous •  Chickpeas •  Spices: ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, garam masala •  Salt and pepper •  Stock cubes (vegetable or chicken) •  Eggs

The fridge

•  Garlic •  Onions •  Chilli •  Fresh lemons •  Fresh herbs and leaves: parsley, coriander, basil, spinach •  Grated cheese •  Natural yogurt

The freezer

•  Frozen baby peas •  Whole chicken

The dishes

•  Scrambled egg – whisk 2 eggs per person and add splash of water, salt and pepper. Pour olive oil into saucepan, when warm add eggs and keep stirring until reaches desired consistency. •  Vegetarian couscous (2 people) – Pour 1 cup couscous into bowl with crumbled stock cube. Add  1 cup boiling water, swirl and cover. Leave for 3 minutes, then fluff with fork. Add drizzle of olive oil, 1 tin chickpeas, 1 handful spinach leaves, chopped parsley, 1tsp each of paprika, cumin and coriander and the juice of ½ a lemon. Crush ½ clove garlic and stir through yogurt to serve on side. •  Tomato sauce – fry chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add tin of tomatoes, stock cube and splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir through fresh basil and serve over pasta with grated cheese and a spinach side-salad. •  Fried rice – whisk one egg and pour into hot vegetable oil in wok to form a thin omelette. When cooked, set aside. Fry chopped onion and garlic until soft, add cooked rice, peas and drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce. Fry for 3 minutes, add chopped omelette and serve. •  Roast chicken – preheat oven to 190C. Place defrosted chicken in roasting tin and rub all over with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 20 minutes at end. Drizzle with lemon juice halfway through cooking. To tell if it’s cooked, insert a knife or skewer around the leg area and push against the flesh – if the juices run clear, it’s cooked. •  Chickpea curry – Fry chopped onion, 1 chilli and 1 clove garlic in vegetable oil until soft. Add 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tin chickpeas, 1tsp each of cumin, coriander and garam masala, 1 stock cube and 1 cup water. Simmer for 5 minutes, add handful spinach and serve with yogurt. (If you have leftover roast chicken, you can add with the chickpeas.)

The mantra

Don't be afraid of making mistakes while learning to cook, because errors can help teach you the correct way to do things and can also result in amazing creations! It's true that practice makes perfect. The more fearless you are, the better your food will become.