A tasty (and shared) dinner with what’s in the cupboard

“I am extroverted by nature and I really don’t do anything alone, apart from cooking,” explains via Skype from her London home Laura Jackson, one of the top presenters of the made in UK TV that recently conceived the series Hoste, a virtual journey between food and culture. Like many of us, in the last few days Jackson has found herself relying on the therapeutic power of cooking, with simple and practical rituals that, in addition to giving us a sense of peace, put us in contact with our inner resources and our spirit of initiative. “It may sound very sad, but I like to peel potatoes or brown vegetables in a pan while listening to true crime podcasts,” he laughs when the connection falters and the screen flickers. “If things get tough to deal with, being in the kitchen helps.”

In these times, however, cooking has become an essential part of how Jackson, and many like her, relate to the outside world, exchanging ingenious recipes or maybe sharing “virtually”, ça va sans dire, the preparation of dinner. that the kitchen (however small) is often the heart of the social activity of our home. “I always try to leave enough space to sit friends and chat with them while I’m cooking. My kitchen will be empty in this period, but any virtual solution that encourages people to stay at home and at the same time allows all of us to be with friends is a great idea. “

Let’s start by downloading Houseparty, or participating in a Hangout or scheduling a video chat in four on Skype. Whatever the technical solution you have chosen, Laura Jackson offers eight suggestions for being virtually in company through the love of food.

1. Only make responsible purchases

It is really important to discourage people from buying a lot of stuff they don’t need, from making senseless supplies. Panic buying is not the solution. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have a sideboard with everything you need or we can’t recover all the necessary ingredients. A dinner in the time of Covid 19 should consist of getting by with what you have at home or in your neighborhood. We should all consume what we have until we finish it.

2. Be creative with dry ingredients

The last few days have made me think more about how to be creative and more adventurous with what I have in the fridge. The first challenge is to plan an expense for the next two weeks. But I have advice for all of you. Enhanced are dried foods, such as pasta, dried beans, legumes, lentils and cereals: they are excellent bases for an interesting dinner. Just vary on the sauces or accompany them with different vegetables.

3. Don’t be afraid to make replacements

From using potatoes instead of ricotta to making creamy sauces with canned coconut milk, now is the time to use your imagination. For my online dinner tonight I’m going to make a rhubarb pie and I don’t have any eggs. If I can’t find them today, I will opt for a vegan version, replacing the butter that I would normally use to make pasta with coconut oil. If I don’t find the right flour, I will try with the oats powder.

4. There are some ingredients that make the difference

Red chilli, for example, can liven up even the simplest of dishes (including cheese on toasted bread): an excellent solution is to put the chillies in the freezer and grate some when you need them. The same goes for ginger. On salmon and meat it is excellent for example. Have you ever tried frozen fruit? It is fantastic, it is usually put in the freezer on the day it is picked and it is very good. Nothing prevents you from thinking about a virtual brunch with friends instead of a dinner.

5. The atmosphere is still important

Now comes the part of sharing with friends: as for a normal dinner, also think about lighting and the table. If you want to make a supper club via Skype, you will need a lot more light so that people can see you well. Create the atmosphere you like best and best suits you. If you are in a quiet and peaceful place, take advantage of it.

6. Watch out for the shot

My advice on where to put the laptop? While cooking, put it on the table in front of you, but a little high, for example on top of an inverted bowl (two chips while cooking will make everything more cheerful).

© Photography Jena Ardell / Getty Images

7. Inspire others

Sharing your creative approach to cooking in 2020 does not mean ensuring that the dish looks perfect for an Instagram post. It means making an effort to try something new, thus hoping to inspire others to do the same.

8. Above all, have fun

When you make a dinner, preparation is the part that friends usually don’t see, but if the dinner is virtual, this is the most important thing – errors and clutter included. Involve friends in the preparation, they could follow your recipe step by step. And have fun with you.

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