How is a recipe like a little black dress? Diana Horsford, the owner and head chef of the Avenue Cookery School in Wandsworth, London, shares her kitchen secrets with us.
First food memory?
In South America eating beef made into wienerschnitzel using leftlovers from a joint of beef. Food waste is on the up and it’s partly because supermarkets offer tempting three-for-two deals. If people spent more time planning their weekly or daily shop and came to The Avenue to learn how to create amazing dishes using up leftovers and how to organise their shopping necessities then less food would be wasted!
First cookery skills?
Making salted bread sticks for a fire in the woods as a small kiddy wink.
Delectable, flavoursome chorizo which can add life to salads, pasta and any dish you can think of. Citrus juice, yuzu, lemon, lime – whatever, they all just add that zing! And Belazu vinegar to dip my homemade bread into.
Recipes or improvise?
I always teach our students that, like a little black dress, all recipes can be improvised on endlessly to create different results. My favourite are salads – people seem to think of them as lettuce based but I use anything in my salads – nuts, pulses, beans, any kind of veg, meat – anything!
Most underrated dish?
The old fashioned roast chicken, buttery mash, petit pois with lots of gravy. It’s delicious and doesn’t have to look like a slop on the plate – presentation is key.
Indispensable kitchen gadget or utensil?
Spatula so you don’t waste anything in the bowl.
Tell us a top cookery tip?
Groping a stainless steel tap will remove smells from your hands! Or on the cooking – crush your garlic under the blade of your knife before peeling and the skin will come right off. Oh, and ginger, always peel it with a teaspoon.
Eat at home or eat out?
Eating at home, of course. You can totally relax in the comfort of your own home with those you love around you, good low lighting with candles is kind to wrinkles, and you know the food is going to be seriously good. What more could you want.
What’s Britain’s best kept food secret?
That London is one of the top cities in the world for fusion food and variety. We have a reputation in England of poor food but over the years London has hit the culinary world by storm. Parts of England may have some catching up to do though.
What are the key ingredients for a successful cookery class?
Laughter, fun and getting your hands dirty!
What do students enjoy most about learning to cook?
Cooking is great fun. They like to discover that it’s not difficult to produce delicious dishes, nor a chore and a yummy (nutritional) dish can be knocked up even if time is not on your side.
Click on the link for more information on The Avenue Cookery School