June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

  • The six rules of barbecuing

    28 April, 2016 The six rules of barbecuing

    Even the best cooks can be stumped when it comes to cooking to perfection over coals. We ask Ben Tish to tell us the six most important rules of barbecuing so we can grill with confidence over the long weekend.
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November, 2015

October, 2015

September, 2015

August, 2015

July, 2015

  • Eat like an Italian

    20 July, 2015 Eat like an Italian

    If you’ve ever been on holiday to Italy, like us, you’ve probably eaten classic pizzas, pastas and risottos until you’re fit to burst. While sticking with what you know isn’t always a bad thing, delve a little deeper and you’ll find the true heart of the region; eating cotoletta in Milan, beans in Florence and artichokes in Campania will open up a whole new world of Italian cooking. We spoke to three Air B’n’B hosts about the food of their region, must-eats while you’re there, and asked about the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out.
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  • Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    06 July, 2015 Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    With so many Michelin-starred chefs on the site, we challenged Cooked writer Imogen Corke to test her mettle on some of the trickier recipes. This week, she cooks Atul Kochhar’s cod in nilgiri korma gravy from his latest cookbook, Benares.
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May, 2015

  • Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    22 May, 2015 Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    We ask our authors ten questions about their life long love of food. This week, we speak to Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot on her Plate, about roast dinners, tuna tacos, and why you should never run your finger through hot caramel.
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  • The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    01 May, 2015 The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    Each week, we take some of our favourite recipes and give them a little tweak to make perfect packed lunches.
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Side dishes: be inspired

13 June, 2017

Food writer Ed Smith, of RocketandSquash food blog, amongst other things, is a huge fan of the often-overlooked side dish. We’ve all read recipes that finish with ‘eat with potatoes and greens’ or ‘goes well with rice’ but Ed thinks it’s time for a change…

Have you noticed that what we call side dishes actually make up the bulk of a meal? In fact, they’re often the best bit, whether it’s roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding alongside a rib of beef, or crunchy salads and pickles to go with a Japanese or Korean dinner. Good sides lift a meal from being just fine to being truly delicious or memorable. And, here, I’ll show you how easy it is to do.


Match your sides to the centrepiece

Vermouth-braised red onions

This means match your sides to the meat. Or fish. Or vegetables. Or cheese. Or tofu, Or egg. Or, indeed, a gaggle of sides. Sounds obvious, but easy to overlook. Think leeks and pumpkin with lamb and onions and cauliflower cheese with beef, all classic pairings that work well so use as your starting point and work other accompaniments around it.


How many sides to prepare?

Spring greens in shiitake dashi broth

I think ‘meat and two veg’ is a pretty strong rule of thumb to go by. Often, it’s best to keep things simple, that way you can concentrate on making sure that everything you’re cooking is perfect. Alternatively, every recipe in my book has suggestions of what it goes with, so why not try ditching the meat part completely and make a well-balanced feast from three, four or five of the recipes in the book instead?


Feature a mixture of complementary textures

Sweet potato and rosemary hash-rosti

Fried and roasted things are awesome aren’t they? Anything with a crisp and caramelised edge. But, you need variety – you can have too much of a good thing. When making a meal, think, does your centrepiece have a natural sauce, or is it quite lean and dry? If it’s the former, limit your heavily dressed, wet or creamed side dish. If it’s the latter, then definitely make sure you include a liquid, purée or dressing to punctuate the savoury flavours and to lift your meal.


Ensure your plate is a pretty one

Sherry cherry tomatoes

By this I mean, we really do eat with our eyes, so think about the colour. If you take away the odd sprinkle of fresh herbs or pomegranate seeds, you’ll see that the vast majority of meat, fish and vegetables are brown. It’s up to the side dishes to bring a flash of colour.


Balance the flavour

Mum's bulgar wheat salad

If your centrepiece is sweet through sauces and spices, roasted root vegetables or sides like sweetcorn or peas, you’ll need something plain and earthy alongside. Or even sour, bitter or peppery flavours to add contrast. On the other hand, if your centrepiece or sides are plain, earthy, sour, bitter or peppery, then seek out something sweet!


Anything else?

Have a think about where you’re going to cook things, how long that will take and whether anything could or should be done in advance. Be realistic! There’s no point trying to do something interesting with everything on the plate. Select, one, maybe two things to make an effort with, and if more sides need to be added, just cook them plainly (but perfectly) and allow the ingredients to speak for themselves. Finally, remember the seasons. If you start with one seasonal item the other parts of your meal tend to fall into place around it.



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