'How to cook...': all your cooking questions answered

We’ve been keeping on top of all the cooking questions you’ve been asking the last couple of weeks and we really want to help you with them. From the basics of baking to veg cooking tips, guidance on storecupboard staples and classic recipes, we are answering all your cooking questions in one place. We’re going to keep checking your questions and adding more each day, so bookmark the page and come back for more. Read on to become more confident in the kitchen and find the answers to the cooking queries on your mind.

  1. How to make bread

    The first time you bake your own loaf, it can seem daunting, but we've got all the recipes you need to learn to make homemade bread – from a step-by-step basic white loaf recipe or a batch of homemade bread rolls, to experimenting with a plaited wholemeal spelt loaf. If you don’t have any yeast, try making soda bread or these 3-ingredient spiced flatbreads, perfect for dunking in dips, tagines or curries. If you've only got a small amount of flour, try making cornbread using polenta or fluffy cloud breads with no flour at all.

    How to make bread
  2. How to make scones

    If you are getting into baking, scones are a brilliant starting point. A basic scone recipe requires just butter, flour, sugar and milk for a simple dough – follow our perfect scone recipe, then top generously with cream and jam (you choose which goes first!). Once you’ve mastered the classic, try adding different flavours, from Marmite and bacon for savoury twist to sweet blueberries.

    How to make scones
  3. How to make gnocchi

    Run out of pasta and searching for an alternative? Making homemade gnocchi is simpler than you think and a perfect kitchen project for a quiet weekend. Follow our step-by-step gnocchi recipe for all the top tips on making this classic Italian dish. The gnocchi itself needs just four ingredients, then add your favourite pasta sauce.

    How to make gnocchi
  4. How to cook a cake in a mug

    Need a sweet treat for one? Make the most of your microwave and whip up a quick cake in a mug – perfect for when you’re running low on baking ingredients or need something sweet fast. Take your pick from a molten chocolate cake, blueberry cobbler or jam doughnut cake – all made in a mug and ready in under 10 mins.

    How to cook a cake in a mug
  5. How to cook dried chickpeas

    If you’ve run out of tinned chickpeas, you can use dried – these are particularly good for making a super creamy houmous. There are two methods for soaking dried chickpeas, depending how much time you have. To long-soak, tip into a bowl and cover with plenty of water, then leave overnight to absorb the water, swell and soften. If you’re short on time, tip into a saucepan, bring to a boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Adding bicarbonate of soda to the water (1 tbsp per 500g chickpeas) helps soften the skins. Once soaked, use as you would use tinned.

    How to cook dried chickpeas
  6. How to make a white sauce

    A classic white sauce is the start to lots of family favourite recipes, from macaroni cheese to a hearty lasagne. For a basic white sauce, allow 40g each of butter and plain flour per 500ml milk. Melt the butter, then add the flour and stir for 1 min. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring well between each addition for a smooth sauce. Season and simmer for 5 mins, stirring constantly, until thickened.

    How to make a white sauce
  7. How to cook bulgur wheat

    Lots of people are trying out new grains right now as hearty, easy ways to feed the family and keep in the cupboard. Bulgur wheat can be used in salads just like couscous – simply boil for 10-15 mins until tender (or cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 mins for a more hands-off method). Then you can add your flavours, salad dressing and extra ingredients that you have on hand, and the bulgur wheat acts as a neutral, nutty base to absorb all the flavours. Serve plain alongside tagines or swap the water for stock and pack with flavour in this lamb and bulgur wheat pilaf.

    How to cook bulgur wheat
  8. How to cook risotto

    Risotto might seem intimidating, but all it requires is a bit of patience and a lot of stirring. A basic risotto begins with a softened onion and risotto rice to which stock is added, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring until the stock is fully absorbed between each addition and keep adding stock until the rice is cooked through. Adding the stock slowly and stirring constantly helps the rice cook slowly and release the starch for a creamy final dish. Follow our step-by-step recipe for a spring veg risotto, add meatballs, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes or experiment with any of your favourite veg.

    How to cook risotto
  9. How to cook jacket potatoes

    Learn to cook a jacket potato and you’ll always have an easy dinner. A quick 10-12 minutes in the microwave will cook a potato through if you are in a rush. If you’ve got longer, start the potato in the microwave for 5-10 minutes, then place in the oven at 200°C for 30-35 minutes for the skin to crisp up. Top with tuna, beans or your filling of choice!

    How to cook jacket potatoes
  10. How to cook bubble and squeak

    Bubble and squeak is a British classic, and a great way to prevent leftovers going to waste. Traditionally made from mashed potato and cabbage, any leftover cooked veg (especially from a Sunday roast) can be mixed into leftover mash, shaped into potato cakes and fried until crispy on the outside. Top with a poached egg for breakfast or serve with sausages at dinner.

    How to cook bubble and squeak
  11. How to make crumble

    Memorise the ratio for how to make a crumble and you’ll always be able to make a pudding for the whole family. Follow the basic ratio of 3:2:1 of flour, butter and sugar and rub together until it forms large breadcrumbs. Using brown sugar will add a rich caramel flavour, demerara will add extra crunch, or stir extra flavours into your crumble topping such as oats, chopped nuts, crushed amaretti or gingernut biscuits. Then just scatter over your chosen fruit – apple, rhubarb or plums are all great depending on what’s in season. We’ve collected our 10 best crumble recipes to get you started.

    How to make crumble
  12. How to make pancakes

    Make pancakes easily by using this easy 3:2:1: ratio – simply whisk together 300ml milk, 2 eggs and 100g plain flour for a smooth pancake batter (will make about 8 thin pancakes). Pour a thin layer into a frying pan and fry for about 1 minute until beginning to turn golden around the edges, then flip and cook until golden. Time to add toppings – will you go sweet or savoury?

    How to make pancakes
  13. How to make an omelette

    You can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs! Whether for a weekend breakfast or quick lunch, an omelette is a great way to use up odds and ends from the fridge. Whisk together 2 eggs per person with a touch of seasoning – you could also add chopped herbs or a touch of spice for extra flavour. Melt butter in a pan and tip in the eggs, leave to cook for 1-2 minutes until starting to set. Add any fillings (e.g. grated cheese or ham), flip and cook for 30 seconds until fully set. For dinner, try this veg-filled ratatouille omelette or make this fluffy berry omelette for a brunch treat.

    How to make an omelette
  14. How to make cookies

    Spend an afternoon baking a batch of cookies. Not sure where to start? These egg-free cookies with banana and oats require just 3 ingredients. Basic cookie recipes start by creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs, then stirring in flour to form a dough. Then it’s time to get creative with flavours! Try chocolate cookies, oat and raisin or recreate biscuit tin favourites from custard creams to jammy dodgers with our top biscuit recipes.

    How to make cookies
  15. How to cook pearl barley

    Pearl barley is a grain with a neutral, nutty taste and a distinctive chewy texture. It is most commonly added to soups and stews, where it adds texture and absorbs all the flavours from the liquid. It can also be used as an alternative to risotto rice. Rinse the grains before cooking, then add straight to liquid – a broth, stew, or just plain water if using for a salad – and simmer for about 30 minutes until tender. Take your pick of our best pearl barley recipes, from hearty tagines to colourful salads.

    How to cook pearl barley
  16. How to cook pak choi

    If you’re wanting to mix up your veg rotation, pick up a packet of pak choi. Pak choi is part of the cabbage family with crisp leaves and a crunchy stem, and is commonly found in Chinese cooking. It does not take long to cook pak choi – slice and add it to stir-fries, steam for 5 mins until softened or simmer for 2-3 mins. Serve alongside noodles, add to grain bowls or char on the barbecue – we’ve got all the pak choi recipes you need to make the most of this versatile veg.

    How to cook pak choi
  17. How to confit

    Confit is a French method of slowly cooking food in fat, oil (or even a sugar syrup) at a very low temperature. Most commonly done with meat (especially duck), this is a way of keeping food incredibly tender and infusing any flavours from the cooking liquid. Try this common restaurant technique at home with these rich confit chicken legs.

    How to confit
  18. How to make self-raising flour

    If you only have plain flour and can't find any self-raising, you can make homemade self-raising flour by adding 2 tsp baking powder for every 150g plain flour. Recipes with smaller quantities of flour are best for this to avoid building up a strong baking powder taste. Try it out in muffins, cakes or cupcakes.

    How to make self-raising flour
  19. How long to cook Camembert

    Need some comfort food right now? Cook a Camembert whole for a melting, gooey cheese treat – perfect for dunking toast, crudité or boiled potatoes. For an easy Camembert fondue, stud a Camembert with herbs, drizzle with oil and bake for 15-20 mins until fully melted. For even more indulgence, bake a Camembert pie or hollow out a loaf for a Camembert-filled sourdough that cooks in 25 mins.

    How long to cook Camembert
  20. How to cook a poached egg

    Want to learn to cook a brunch classic at home? Here’s 5 top tips for making the perfect poached egg.

    1. Make sure your eggs are fresh, as this will help them hold their shape as they cook (egg white gets thinner as the egg gets older).

    2. If you’re a novice, crack your egg into a small bowl or mug first to make it easy to quickly tip into the water.

    3. Add a touch of vinegar to the pan – this helps the egg white firm faster, giving you the perfect golden runny yolk.

    4. Stir the water to create a whirlpool before adding the egg – this will help the white wrap more neatly around the yolk.

    5. Keep the water at a gentle simmer – if it is a strong rolling boil, the egg will get knocked around too much,

    Once you’ve got the perfect egg, use to top toast, waffles or even add to a bowl of soup.

    How to cook a poached egg
  21. How to make pizza

    Make pizzas at home with the kids for a fun weekend activity that is far cheaper than going out for a meal would be. For the pizza dough, mix 500g strong bread flour with 7g fast action yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Pour in 325ml warm water, mix to form a dough, knead for 10 mins, then leave covered in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size. Knock out the air, divide into 4 and roll out, then add your favourite toppings and bake for 10 mins at gas 7, 220°C, 200°C (preheat a baking tray for a super crispy base) until the crust is golden. No flour? Make a cauliflower pizza base instead – a great way to pack in extra veg!

    How to make pizza
  22. How to make frittata

    Cook a frittata to use up spare eggs and make the most of odds and ends of veg you might have in the fridge. Frittatas can be made with however many eggs you have left – just whisk together well, add a splash of milk to loosen, then stir through your chosen flavours. Try chopped ham, leftover cooked veg or any of these simple frittata recipes. A spoonful of pesto or chopped herbs is a quick way to flavour the eggs. Bake until just set and golden round the edges, then enjoy warm for dinner or cold in lunches the next day.

    How to make frittata
  23. How to make cake

    If you’ve never made a cake before, start with a classic Victoria sponge recipe. The secret ratio for making a Victoria sponge is to use the same weight of eggs, flour, sugar and butter. Weigh your eggs, then match the remaining ingredients to this. Mastered this? Try baking a rich chocolate cake, classic lemon drizzle or retro upside-down cake.

    How to make cake
  24. How to cook swede

    Swede is an underrated root veg that can be used in exactly the same way as turnips, potatoes or parsnips. To cook swede, you can cut into chunks and roast it for 40 mins until tender, mash it, add it to curries or traybakes – you can even use it in brownies!

    How to cook swede
  25. How to cook chicory

    Chicory does not need cooking – the crisp leaves are great for simple salads or shredding and using in coleslaw. The firm leaves are also good for filling and making simple chicory cup snacks or canapés. If you want to cook chicory, try this caramelised chicory with orange and thyme to soften the bitter flavours of the leaves.

    How to cook chicory
  26. How to cook chicken drumsticks

    If they aren’t the usual cut you’d buy, we’ve got plenty of chicken drumstick recipes to keep you inspired. Chicken drumsticks are a wallet-friendly, versatile cut of chicken to try – use in place of chicken thighs in traybakes, coat in a sticky barbecue marinade or even make homemade fried chicken.

    How to cook chicken drumsticks
  27. How to make banana bread

    Got too many rapidly ripening bananas? Banana bread is a hugely popular bake right now so get baking with your your stash of fruit – we’ve got all the banana cake recipes you’ll need. Try a vegan banana bread without eggs or butter, experiment by making mini banana cakes or adding avocado, or bake a gluten-free banana bread if you have special dietary requirements.

    How to make banana bread
  28. How to make fudge

    A sweet treat that doesn’t need flour or eggs? Make fudge at home with our step-by-step fudge recipe that uses just four ingredients. A square of this rich, crumbly classic is the perfect TV snack. Mastered the classic? Make salted caramel fudge, shape it into bars or try our chocolatey vegan fudge recipe.

    How to make fudge
  29. How to make cauliflower cheese

    Make cauliflower cheese with your next Sunday roast for an extra comforting side. Follow our step-by-step classic cauliflower cheese recipe simply uses briefly boiled cauliflower florets, tossed in a rich cheese sauce made from butter, flour, milk and cheese then baked until golden and bubbling. Go even more indulgent by adding truffle oil or add extra veg with this kale-cauliflower cheese.

    How to make cauliflower cheese
  30. How to make roast potatoes

    Learn how to cook roast potatoes and your Sunday roasts will be instantly improved. Here’s our top tips for perfect roasties every time:

    • Choose Maris Piper potatoes if you can – they’re floury enough to give a fluffy middle, but still crisp up nicely.
    • Parboil until just cooked, then shake well in the colander once drained. This fluffs up the outsides for perfect crispy edges.
    • Add a few tablespoons of flour to the potatoes after draining – this will help absorb any extra moisture for extra crunch once roasted.
    • Spread the potatoes on evenly on a tray so they are not touching – this will ensure the potatoes go fully golden and crunchy all the way round rather than steam whilst cooking.

    How to make roast potatoes
  31. How to make burgers

    Craving your favourite fast food? Make burgers at home, where you can add as many extra toppings as you like! Divide a pack of 500g beef mince into 4 and shape into patties for a classic thick burger, or into 6 for thinner patties that you can stack. Mix in dried herbs, garlic or grated onion for an extra boost of flavour before frying and don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. We’ve gathered our favourite burger recipes here for inspiration, or try veggie burgers instead if you’ve got tins of beans to use.

    How to make burgers
  32. How to cook couscous

    If you are searching how to cook couscous, we've got all the recipes you need. Couscous just needs a quick soak until it becomes tender, ready for salads or as a simple side to tagines. To cook couscous, place it in a small heatproof bowl and just cover with boiling water. At this stage you can also add extra flavours such as vegetable stock powder, lemon zest, seasoning and olive oil. Cover and leave to absorb for 5-10 minutes until the couscous has absorbed the liquid, fluffed up and is tender. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous and add remaining flavours – check our top couscous recipes for inspiration.

    How to cook couscous
  33. How to make homemade chips

    If you’re missing the chips from the fish and chip shop or fast food favourite, try making them at home. Homemade chips are easy with this perfect chips recipe, use sweet potatoes for homemade sweet potato wedges or skinny fries. Don’t have any potatoes? Use veg for parsnip shoestring fries or baked aubergine chips, or make cheesy melting halloumi fries.

    How to make homemade chips
  34. How to cook dried lentils

    Tinned lentils are an easy shortcut, but don’t be put off if you have only got a packet of dried lentils. Soaking dried lentils in cold water for a few hours or overnight will reduce their cooking time, but if your recipe has a long cooking time you can skip this step and cook dried lentils directly in the dish. Brown lentils and green lentils keep their shape once cooked (good for stews and casseroles) whilst red lentils cook down into a rich purée, good for soups. Try adding green lentils to a Bolognese to bulk out the meat or cook red lentils in a spiced dhal.

    How to cook dried lentils
  35. How to make shortbread

    Looking for a quick and easy 3-ingredient bake? Shortbread is the answer. A basic shortbread recipe needs just butter, flour and sugar – try this one with added orange zest, or swap in your favourite flavours. Once you’ve got the basics, take it up a notch – add icing, make it millionaire’s shortbread or go savoury with crumbly Manchego shortbread.

    How to make shortbread
  36. How to cook salmon fillets

    Searching for salmon inspiration? There are plenty of ways to cook salmon fillets. This versatile, delicate can be quickly pan-fried for 5-8 minutes until just cooked through (start skin-side down, then turn halfway through cooking), poached in water, stock or creamy sauce for 10 mins or roasted in the oven for 20 mins until caramelised. Take your pick from our top 10 easy salmon recipes. Made too much? Check out our leftover salmon recipes.

    How to cook salmon fillets
  37. How to cook rice

    Have perfectly fluffy (not soggy) basmati rice every time with the simple absorption method for how to cook rice. Measure your rice then add double the volume of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat for 10 mins until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender. Serve with curries or make the star of the show in these varied rice recipes. Leftover rice doesn’t need to be wasted – make homemade fried rice by reheating until crispy and piping hot and adding your favourite veg or top with an egg.

    How to cook rice
  38. How long does spaghetti take to cook

    Dried spaghetti cooks in 8-10 mins to be al dente – always check your pack instructions as brands can vary. Fresh spaghetti will cook much faster – test a strand after 2 mins. Season the water generously with salt and use a large saucepan with plenty of water, kept at a rolling boil, to keep the pasta moving and help it stop sticking. Not sure what to do with spaghetti? Make a veggie pesto, add some veg, or recreate Italian classics with homemade carbonara or pasta puttanesca.

    How long does spaghetti take to cook
  39. How to cook sweet potatoes

    Cook sweet potatoes just like you would white potatoes – mash them, roast them, layer them into a dauphinoise or load them up as jacket potatoes. With a sweet, nutty flavour, sweet potatoes count as one of your 5-a-day and make a good change from standard Maris Pipers. From a delicate tart to crunchy fritters or a hearty curry, we’ve got all the sweet potato recipes you need.

    How to cook sweet potatoes
  40. How to cook leeks

    Searching what to do with leeks? Use them instead of white or spring onions in the base of soups and risottos – they are all part of the allium (onion) family and will soften, caramelise and add flavour to the beginning of your dinner. Alternatively, make them the star of the show with this collection of leek recipes, from simple pastas and pies to crispy fritters or whole grilled leeks.

    How to cook leeks