Quarantine blues? Unleash your inner chef and go from “um” to “yum”

In the time of quarantine, home cooking is on the rise. Embrace your inner Julia Child with these beginner-friendly tips!

By Jeremiah Capacillo

Beginners better start with an easier feat: Scrambled eggs

In pre-Covid-19 times, cooking at home wasn’t exactly considered to be hip and happening. Jam-packed schedules made it hard to find time for the kitchen. Takeout and delivery were pre-pandemic norms, and dining out at your city’s trendiest restaurants was a weekend treat.

Of course, quarantine disrupted all that. Restaurants around the world shut down and locked-in folks found themselves reckoning with their once-neglected kitchens.

Now, the home chef trend is currently on the rise. More people are discovering the joys of cooking and food-centric publications like Bon Appetit are gaining subscribers by the thousands. Recipes from chef influencers like Alison Roman are even going viral (you may know her from trendy kitchen hits like #TheStew, #ThePasta, or #TheCookie).

Today, our social media feeds are filled with photos of freshly baked pastries and mouth-watering pastas. Are you a cooking newbie and want in on the action? Here are some pro tips and tricks!

Start easy. Let’s be realistic – as a kitchen newbie, it may not be the wisest decision to attempt a flashy foie gras flambé right out of the gate. Avoid overly-ambitious recipes and focus on simple ones that allow you to hone basic culinary skills. How about scrambled eggs? Behold:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix two eggs, salt, pepper and Japanese mayo. Beat thoroughly until well mixed.
  2. In a small non-stick pan, melt a half-tablespoon of butter. Once the foam subsides, add in your egg mixture.
  3. Cook over low heat for around two minutes, stirring constantly until small curds begin to form.
  4. Once the eggs appear fluffy yet are still runny on top, turn off the heat and transfer to your plate. Garnish with salt and pepper, to taste.

Prep your essentials. Despite what anyone may tell you, you don’t need a whole roster of fancy kitchen equipment. Before you fill your online cart with an avalanche of pricey cookware, remember to stick to these ten basics:

  • Non-stick skillet
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • An eight-quart large pot
  • Large cooking spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Baking sheet pan
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Mesh strainer

Simplify the process. Some recipes may ask you to make your own pizza crust or chocolate ganache from scratch. Complicated! Look, purchasing ready-to-prepare options online is perfectly acceptable for newbies. As Ina Garten says, “store bought is fine” – and if it’s good enough for celebrity chef Ina, then it’s good enough for you.

Chicken teriyaki: An easier classic for home chefs

Plan ahead. In the kitchen, getting the flavour and texture just right is half of the battle. The real challenge lies in scheduling all the things you need to do to make your recipes come to life. Think about your schedule and try to forecast what dishes you’ll make for the week, what ingredients you’ll need, and when you’ll go to the grocery.

Get inspired. The internet is Neverland when it comes to finding great recipes. Bon Appetit’s treasure trove of pro-chef-tested recipes include buttermilk pancakes, which kitchen novices can easily prepare using flour, buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, sugar, butter and salt. Buzzfeed’s Tasty has several dishes that range from the easy (three-ingredient chicken teriyaki!) to the outlandish (meatball-stuffed garlic bread, anyone?).

Spice it up.  Spices are like Instagram filters for your food – they kick the flavor up a notch. Salt and pepper are essential starting points, but feel free to experiment with other, less familiar spices. Ground basil adds an earthy herbal warmth, lemon zest gives a clean citrus bite and cayenne pepper adds a dash of heat tinged with sweetness. Round up your spice rack with eight beginner spices that’ll bring exciting new sensations to your everyday meals.

Stay sharp. There are few things more excruciating than preparing a meal and chopping vegetables with a dull kitchen knife. A sleek chef’s knife is a game changer for food prep; if you were to spend extra for one kitchen tool, this is it. Sharpen it a few times a year (you can do it with a mug!), and always remember to chop safely with the tips of your fingers tucked inwards. Pro tip: for better control, choke the handle with your thumb and index finger and press forcefully just right above the handle.

For the advanced kitchen warriors: Cheesy meatball-stuffed garlic bread

Use your hands. Your hands are the best kitchen tools. Kneading dough, moulding cookies, tearing salad greens? Use your hands! Also as you continue to cook, try to develop your sense of touch when it comes to telling how “done” certain food items are. And ripeness of fruit can all be determined via touch. Just like with any skill, it comes through practice.

Practice food safety. More than ever, now is the time to be extra thorough in observing food safety measures. The Center for Disease Control gives four steps: clean hands and surfaces, separate raw ingredients, cook at the right temperature and chill promptly. Likewise, and this should go without saying, but always remember to wash your hands before and after cooking!

Now that you’re starting to cook more, you can begin thinking of ways to brighten other people’s lives with your food. Maybe send fresh pastries to friends and family members? Or put a spin on your usual Zoom catch-up session and organise a kitchen date. Times are tough but nothing can stop us from breaking bread together. Now, get cooking!


The Vine is your one-stop source for the most pressing Southeast Asian news updates, delivered minus the fluff and straight to your inbox.

To keep up with the latest happenings around the ASEAN region, subscribe to our newsletter now:

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

In the time of quarantine, home cooking is on the rise. Embrace your inner Julia Child with these beginner-friendly tips! By Jeremiah Capacillo Beginners better start with an easier feat: Scrambled eggs In pre-Covid-19 times, cooking at home wasn’t exactly considered to be hip and happening. Jam-packed schedules made it hard to find time for the kitchen. Takeout and delivery were pre-pandemic norms, and dining out at your city’s trendiest restaurants was a weekend treat. Of course, quarantine disrupted all that. Restaurants around the world shut down and locked-in folks found themselves reckoning with their once-neglected kitchens. Now, the home...

In the time of quarantine, home cooking is on the rise. Embrace your inner Julia Child with these beginner-friendly tips!

By Jeremiah Capacillo

Beginners better start with an easier feat: Scrambled eggs

In pre-Covid-19 times, cooking at home wasn’t exactly considered to be hip and happening. Jam-packed schedules made it hard to find time for the kitchen. Takeout and delivery were pre-pandemic norms, and dining out at your city’s trendiest restaurants was a weekend treat.

Of course, quarantine disrupted all that. Restaurants around the world shut down and locked-in folks found themselves reckoning with their once-neglected kitchens.

Now, the home chef trend is currently on the rise. More people are discovering the joys of cooking and food-centric publications like Bon Appetit are gaining subscribers by the thousands. Recipes from chef influencers like Alison Roman are even going viral (you may know her from trendy kitchen hits like #TheStew, #ThePasta, or #TheCookie).

Today, our social media feeds are filled with photos of freshly baked pastries and mouth-watering pastas. Are you a cooking newbie and want in on the action? Here are some pro tips and tricks!

Start easy. Let’s be realistic – as a kitchen newbie, it may not be the wisest decision to attempt a flashy foie gras flambé right out of the gate. Avoid overly-ambitious recipes and focus on simple ones that allow you to hone basic culinary skills. How about scrambled eggs? Behold:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix two eggs, salt, pepper and Japanese mayo. Beat thoroughly until well mixed.
  2. In a small non-stick pan, melt a half-tablespoon of butter. Once the foam subsides, add in your egg mixture.
  3. Cook over low heat for around two minutes, stirring constantly until small curds begin to form.
  4. Once the eggs appear fluffy yet are still runny on top, turn off the heat and transfer to your plate. Garnish with salt and pepper, to taste.

Prep your essentials. Despite what anyone may tell you, you don’t need a whole roster of fancy kitchen equipment. Before you fill your online cart with an avalanche of pricey cookware, remember to stick to these ten basics:

  • Non-stick skillet
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • An eight-quart large pot
  • Large cooking spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Baking sheet pan
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Mesh strainer

Simplify the process. Some recipes may ask you to make your own pizza crust or chocolate ganache from scratch. Complicated! Look, purchasing ready-to-prepare options online is perfectly acceptable for newbies. As Ina Garten says, “store bought is fine” – and if it’s good enough for celebrity chef Ina, then it’s good enough for you.

Chicken teriyaki: An easier classic for home chefs

Plan ahead. In the kitchen, getting the flavour and texture just right is half of the battle. The real challenge lies in scheduling all the things you need to do to make your recipes come to life. Think about your schedule and try to forecast what dishes you’ll make for the week, what ingredients you’ll need, and when you’ll go to the grocery.

Get inspired. The internet is Neverland when it comes to finding great recipes. Bon Appetit’s treasure trove of pro-chef-tested recipes include buttermilk pancakes, which kitchen novices can easily prepare using flour, buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, sugar, butter and salt. Buzzfeed’s Tasty has several dishes that range from the easy (three-ingredient chicken teriyaki!) to the outlandish (meatball-stuffed garlic bread, anyone?).

Spice it up.  Spices are like Instagram filters for your food – they kick the flavor up a notch. Salt and pepper are essential starting points, but feel free to experiment with other, less familiar spices. Ground basil adds an earthy herbal warmth, lemon zest gives a clean citrus bite and cayenne pepper adds a dash of heat tinged with sweetness. Round up your spice rack with eight beginner spices that’ll bring exciting new sensations to your everyday meals.

Stay sharp. There are few things more excruciating than preparing a meal and chopping vegetables with a dull kitchen knife. A sleek chef’s knife is a game changer for food prep; if you were to spend extra for one kitchen tool, this is it. Sharpen it a few times a year (you can do it with a mug!), and always remember to chop safely with the tips of your fingers tucked inwards. Pro tip: for better control, choke the handle with your thumb and index finger and press forcefully just right above the handle.

For the advanced kitchen warriors: Cheesy meatball-stuffed garlic bread

Use your hands. Your hands are the best kitchen tools. Kneading dough, moulding cookies, tearing salad greens? Use your hands! Also as you continue to cook, try to develop your sense of touch when it comes to telling how “done” certain food items are. And ripeness of fruit can all be determined via touch. Just like with any skill, it comes through practice.

Practice food safety. More than ever, now is the time to be extra thorough in observing food safety measures. The Center for Disease Control gives four steps: clean hands and surfaces, separate raw ingredients, cook at the right temperature and chill promptly. Likewise, and this should go without saying, but always remember to wash your hands before and after cooking!

Now that you’re starting to cook more, you can begin thinking of ways to brighten other people’s lives with your food. Maybe send fresh pastries to friends and family members? Or put a spin on your usual Zoom catch-up session and organise a kitchen date. Times are tough but nothing can stop us from breaking bread together. Now, get cooking!


The Vine is your one-stop source for the most pressing Southeast Asian news updates, delivered minus the fluff and straight to your inbox.

To keep up with the latest happenings around the ASEAN region, subscribe to our newsletter now:

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

NO COMMENTS

Leave a Reply