I have built up great confidence in the kitchen and now absolutely adore cooking. It’s my down time, when I’m at my most relaxed. I love nothing more than turning on some music, putting on an apron, opening the fridge and seeing what I can whip up. While I have lots of gorgeous recipe books, I now rarely stick to ingredients or directions, though I suppose I was never one to colour within the lines...
When I was in my early twenties, my friends would know to line their stomachs before coming to eat at mine, as inevitably my experimentation would fall short of my hopes. (Think Bridget Jones' inedible blue soup…). But I continued to try and fail many times. The problem was that I hadn’t mastered the basics and if I’m honest, I was too impatient. I didn't feel confident or happy in the kitchen. Learning how to bake has helped me with this immensely and I will certainly share more tips and strategies to help you become a more competent home cook at a later date.
But today I want to address the number one saboteur for the home cook and that is a lack of confidence in the kitchen.
Confidence in the kitchen
I now love entertaining and really do take any opportunity to have friends come together to share food, stories and music. Yet this is something that once seriously stressed me out. To overcome this fear I simply moved from frantic to relaxed and confident and now I love seeing people enjoy my food. It is just one of life's simple pleasures. How did I make this transition? I gave up on trying to create perfect food, I stopped following complicated recipes with too many ingredients and I started mastering a couple of very simple, yet flavoursome dishes. These things combined certainly helped grow my confidence.
And so what I think is absolutely key for anyone trying to shift to a less processed diet, is having the confidence to cook from scratch. So many of my clients tell me that they don't have time and that they don’t feel confident in the kitchen. In addressing the issue of time, I suggest you check out my strategies and advice to address this here.
In an effort to address the second issue, confidence, this week I’m sharing a recipe that is fool proof and simply delicious. I love it because it’s an eye pleasing dish, it tastes amazing and it really only consists of three ingredients.
Simple recipes are always the best in my opinion. They are usually easily adaptable, as you can often substitute one ingredient if you don't have it with something similar. They are quick to make, and, with good quality ingredients, the flavours speak for themselves. With that in mind, when you are starting off, favour simple over complicated and always buy the best ingredients you can afford.
Simple recipes will definitely help grow your confidence and reinforce your resolve to cook more as you feel proud of your creations. Remember- positive associations breed repeated behaviours.
So when it comes to addressing confidence, try this dish. Think of it as that little black dress that you know you can throw on and you’re guaranteed to feel amazing!
Butternut Squash & Ricotta
Butternut squash is such a versatile vegetable, I love to roast it and use it as a base for soups salads and this simple hearty dish. This recipe serves 2.
- 1 Small Squash
- 1–2 garlic cloves (unpeeled), lightly bashed
- A few sprigs of thyme ( only if you have it
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve
- 100g ricotta
- 30–40g thinly sliced parma ham/bacon lardons
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190 C /370 F/ gas 5. Peel and deseed the squash, then cut into chunks.
- Put into a roasting dish with the garlic and a few thyme sprigs, if using. Trickle over the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 40–50 minutes, or until the squash is tender and starting to caramelise, giving it a stir halfway through cooking. Discard the garlic and thyme and leave to cool completely.
- Put the roasted squash on individual plates or a large platter.
- Dot the ricotta over the top. Tear the ham into shreds and scatter over the squash and ricotta. Tear the leaves from the rest of the thyme sprigs, if you have them, and scatter over the dish.
- Season with pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Finish with a little squeeze of lemon juice, then serve.