Cooking Tips for Students by Michelin Star Chef, Raymond Blanc

You can stop onions making you cry by…

Cutting the onion near hot running water or a cloud of steam.  Try using a kettle or saucepan – the steam draws the vapours from the onion, dissolving them in the air.

The 5 ingredients you should always have in your shopping basket are…

  1. Onions (the basis of so many dishes)
    2. Tinned tomatoes (so versatile)
    3. Tinned pulses and beans (very healthy and perfect for bulking out meals on a budget)
    4. Dried herbs
    5. Wine (not just for drinking, but good for adding flavour!)

5 foods that are great for your body are…

  1. Garlic (adds oomph to most savoury dishes and is good for your immune system)
    2. Fruit & veg (it can be tricky to get your five a day so think creatively, whether its adding veg to your bolognaise, making fresh soups, or whizzing up a smoothie the morning after the night before)
    3. Fish (the omega oils in fish like salmon and tuna will boost brain cells)
    4. Red wine!
    5. Eggs (great source of protein)

A great dish to do when you’re on a tight budget is…

Make something hearty like beouf stroganoff that you can have for lunch the next day. Half the ingredients to make a smaller dish if there’s less people. It’s simple measures like this that can help when you’re on a tight budget. If you stick to simplicity and use ingredients you have, or know you will use again, wastage can be avoided and costs cut be cut.

Maman Blanc (my mother, who my cooking inspiration comes from) taught me all about not wasting food, the importance of seasonality and generosity. So I make my dishes simple, delicious and seasonal.

A really versatile ingredient to have is…

Eggs – you can do so much with them, whether it is whipping up a simple omelette for a mid-week supper, or poached on toast for a quick but nutritious breakfast that will kick start your day.

You can make a pasta dish more exciting by…

Sauté mushrooms in olive oil, finely chopped garlic and a splash of wine. Allow the wine to reduce then add a dollop of crème fraiche and stir through your cooked pasta of choice (spaghetti works well). For something a little different you can add a little pinch of tarragon to the mushrooms when cooking. If cooking for friends you can scatter over some chopped flat-leaf parsley for that final flourish.

A great tip when cooking meat is…

Don’t add the meat to a pan too soon! Add a thin layer of oil to the bottom of a stainless steel or cast iron pan. Heat the oil until it’s very hot and you see ripples, but not so hot that it’s smoking. Then, add the meat. And if you’re cooking skin-on chicken, be sure to place it in the pan skin-side down.

Students can improve their cooking skills by…

Moving away from the ready meals! It’s amazing how much you can learn, budget and improve your diet by taking the time to prepare your own meals… and they will be tastier too. There are days when I am ready to drop but it is never too much effort to toss some meat on the grill and rustle up some pommes frites.

Wine can be used in cooking for…

Boeuf Bourguignon – a classic French dish with red wine, lardons, baby onions, mushrooms and smooth mash.

The key to making a successful roast dinner for your flat mates is…

Timing – make sure everything is ready at the right time. Allocate ten minutes for the meat to sit and make sure the potatoes, veg and accompaniments are served piping hot, as soon as they are ready.

A slightly more challenging dish that students should try is…

Cheese soufflé! It does take practice to crack this one, but once you’ve mastered it your friends will be in awe!

A fun desert to try making with your friends is…

Madeleines with warm chocolate sauce. Relatively easy to make, but great fun to share with your friends.