Basic Recipes

These basic recipes are designed for the non-cook who would like to learn but feels a little overwhelmed by the usual cookbooks and food magazines.

They are not so much recipes as methods and they simply don’t go wrong, so if you learn them you have a very good basic grounding for branching out in the future. The other advantage is that they are infinitely adaptable, so even if you do come across a more complicated recipe in the future you don’t have to follow it. You can adapt one of the techniques you are already familiar with and achieve a similar result.

Of course you have to put them into practice. Simply reading them won’t achieve very much at all. But just trying them and finding they work will give you confidence to take another step, then another, and another, until before you know it you will be creating your own methods and techniques.

I have previously published all the recipes listed here on Qassia

  • Almond Cream
    Almond cream, poured into a store-bought pastry shell and baked until set gives you an almost instant dessert of infinite variety.
  • All Purpose Batter
    Batter, which is really a sort of very runny pastry, has many uses in the kitchen, from coating food in readiness for frying to making waffles for breakfast
  • Apple Filling
    This is a basic apple filling for all kinds of desserts, cakes and tarts. It can also be used as a base for those beautifully glazed apple flans so popular in France
  • Asian Style Sauce
    Restaurants will often theme a dish by calling it this, that or the other ‘style’. The difference is in the sauce used.
  • Baked Fish
    Only whole fish such as small salmon, trout and sea bass are suitable for baking. They need to be cleaned carefully.
  • Boiled Meat
    Boiling meat has largely gone out of fashion, mainly I think because a number of the cuts of meat associated with it are no longer all that popular either
  • Boiled Potatoes
    Most head chefs have a favorite way of testing the abilities of anyone applying for a job in their kitchens.
  • Boiled Poultry
    With the mass re-introduction of free-range and barn-reared chickens has come an increase in the availability of boiling fowl
  • Boiled Rice
    Boiling rice ought to be quick, simple and foolproof. Like cooking potatoes only much easier
  • Bouillon
    Bouillon is the basis for many fish dishes and stews – most notably bouillabaise, the classic fish soup of Marseilles
  • Braising Meat
    Braising as a method of cookery is similar to pot roasting, except that in this case the meat is fully covered with liquid during cooking.
  • Brandy Snap Paste
    You may never want to make brandy snaps, but you may want to impress your friends with some cunning little lattice-work baskets holding after dinner mints or chocs.
  • Butter Sauce
    If you are a fan of TV cooking programs, you have almost certainly seen butter sauce being made, without necessarily being aware that you were watching a basic recipe in action
  • Cake Mix
    I want to prove to you that baking a cake is simple. Just follow the recipe and you will have a perfect cake. After that you can experiment.
  • Chocolate Cake
    A lot of very easy desserts can be made, just by having a quick and easy chocolate cake mix to hand. This one behaves like a sponge and even the kids can make it.
  • Choux Pastry
    Choux pastry is used mainly for such things as profiteroles and chocolate eclairs. It’s pretty much in a class of its own, somewhere between conventional pastry and batter
  • Clafoutis
    Clafoutis is used for making desserts and falls somewhere between a confectioner’s custard and sweet batter
  • Damper
    Damper is a very basic bread that can be produced in a camp oven, on a barbecue or even in a frying pan
  • Deep Fried Fish
    Deep fried fish and chips (known as fush’n chups in New Zealand) used to be the mainstay of takeaway foods in Great Britain. It probably still is
  • Gonache
    Gonache is a very soft, very rich chocolate mix that can make your reputation in one serving – and it is just so simple
  • Gravadlax
    Gravadlax, sometimes called gravlax, is a way of both preparing and preserving fish. It is similar to smoked salmon in texture but cured differently
  • Finger Bowl
    It may come as something of a surprise to you that someone would have a recipe for finger bowl at all, but I do and there’s a reason for it.
  • Fruit Coulis
    A coulis is a (slightly) thickened sauce most often made with fruit juice that is used to decorated desserts and the plates they are served on
  • Hollandaise Sauce
    Hollandaise sauce is one of those classics that chefs have to master and it can be terrifying for the novice. I’m going to give you my simplified version
  • Lemon Sauce
    A basic lemon sauce has a variety of uses, including saucing chicken or fish, thickening soups or sweetening with sugar for use with desserts
  • Mayonnaise
    Very few people make their own mayonnaise, which is a pity.There is nothing like the real thing to lift a meal out of the ordinary
  • Meringue Mix
    Meringues are simplicity itself to make but they do require a little care and some patience
  • Omelets
    Omelet(te)s. They’re easy to cook, right? We’ll see. First make sure that you have the right size of frying pan, or skillet. This is more important than you may think
  • Pancakes
    Having a basic pancake recipe in your ‘batterie de cuisine’ is a bit like having an all-purpose, all-terrain vehicle parked in the shed. It’s a get-you-out-of-trouble device
  • Pan-fried Fish
    The main difference between shallow and deep frying fish, apart from the obvious depth of the fat, is that no batter is used when pan frying.
  • Pavlova Cake
    Why is pavlova a basic recipe? Because it’s an alternative to the Basic Recipes: Meringue Mix given in this series
  • Pizza Dough
    This basic recipe for pizza dough is a restaurant standard that we put together at the Pierre Victoire in the Eighties
  • Poached Egg
    Poaching eggs is a skill that is rapidly disappearing from the kitchens of the world, thanks to those awful patent cookers that produce something with the appearance, and consistency, of a plastic amoeba.
  • Poached Fish
    Fish is rarely poached these days, which is a great shame because it is one of the best ways of preserving nutrients and improving ‘digestibility’
  • Potato Bake
    I came across a recipe for potato gratin in a very old notebook the other day. I know it must be old because the dish given is a very basic one, with a cooking time of over 1.5 hours
  • Pot Roast
    Think of pot roast and the cheaper cuts of meat such as brisket and blade spring to mind, but it can also be used as a method of cooking top and silver-side joints of beef for a fantastic cold summer lunch
  • Quiche
    Quiche originates in the Lorraine district of France, from where my recipe comes, and has developed over the years into something resembling leftovers with custard
  • Red Cabbage
    Red cabbage is often overlooked as a vegetable, and not just in domestic kitchens. Restaurants rarely offer it either
  • Roasting Meat
    Roasting meat is just about the most expensive way you can think of to cook it, so it makes sense to do it properly and with care
  • Shortcrust Pastry
    The basic ingredients for shortcrust pastry are very simple; you need flour, fat and liquid. The proportions can vary
  • Smoked Fish
    The good news is you don’t have to rush out and buy a smoker. If you already have one, this article is probably not for you because you will simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Sorbet Syrup
    Sorbets have almost gone out of fashion outside the more traditional European restaurants, yet they are a great way to have a ‘rest’ between courses at a dinner party
  • Souffles
    A soufflé is a culinary masterpiece. Serve one at a dinner party and you will establish your reputation for all time.
  • Steamed Fish
    The really basic way to steam fish is to put it between two plates suspended over a pan of simmering water
  • Sweet Omelettes
    Sweet omelettes, a bit like soufflés, are the measure of a good cook. They never fail to demonstrate your expertise, or lack of it, in the kitchen
  • Sweet Pastry
    This is the basic pastry for desserts, little tartlets and some fruit pies, especially lemon merigue pie
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
    If your palate, like mine, is tired of those awful pineapple based sweet and sour sauces that even Chinese restaurants are turning to these days, read on
  • Thai Dipping Sauce
    The dipping sauce that comes with the starters in Asian restaurants is very easy to make. It also keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge
  • Tomato Sauce
    This is a sauce I first made when I had a glut of tomatoes in the garden. Two years after it was first bottled it still tasted beautifully rich and fresh
  • Vanilla Sauce
    You can overcook the fish, burn the roast, under-cook the potatoes, but serve this sauce with the dessert and all will be forgiven