01 October 2012

Cookery Course Competition

Breadmaking course at Jojo's Danish Bakery in Edinburgh.
I like to hold a giveaway each month as a reward to my loyal readers. It is just a bit of fun really.

This month I have a particularly good competition that is open to my readers in the UK, or anyone who has a visit to the UK planned in the coming months. 

The prize is a cookery course/class worth up to £100.

You don't need to worry about the location, because we won't book the course for the winner until we find out a bit more about their interests and location.

I learned to cook when I left home and went to art college and it seems that a lot of other people also learned to cook once they went to College or University.  In fact Endsleigh recently did a study that shows that almost two thirds of students learn to cook at university with 61% cooking their very first meal at University. 


The first recipe I mastered as a student was macaroni cheese, but not from a packet, oh no, the old fashioned way with a roux. 

My mother taught me how to make a cheese sauce from a roux before I left home and it served me well. In fact my student friends were quite impressed. Little did they know that it was all I had in my repertoire and the rest of my meals consisted of toast, salads and baked potatoes. 


Meals out tended to be a visit to our local pizza restaurant, Pizzaland. I don't know if you remember Pizzaland, they did the most amazing garlic bread, which was a sort of small pizza dough baguette that was filled with garlic butter. When you torn into it, the garlicky butter oozed out. It was so good! I still think of it from time to time. They also did a student special, which involved a very small pizza and a baked potato filled with grated mozzarella. Very cheap, but tasty.

Here are a few photos from my students days for you to laugh at:

In my studio, you can see how stylish I was.
My husband aged 18.
Matric card. Look at those curls!
Henna red hair & stripes.
Sunglasses may have helped here!
Photo booth hell!


To enter this competition, I would like you to tell me about the first dish you mastered. If there is a story alongside it, then please do tell it. Did you astonish yourself with your skills as a chef or did it all go disastrously wrong? I really look forward to reading your stories.


This competition will run until 8am on Wednesday 31st of October 2012. I will be using a random number generator to choose my winner and will announce the winner alongside the winner of this month's No Croutons Required


There are no extra entries this month. I just want to hear your stories.




Disclosure: This is a sponsored competition, the prize is provided by Endsleigh. 

76 comments:

  1. The first thing i learned to make was spaghetti bolognaise - learned it in home economics at school!

    @ashlallan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh now I didn't include cookery at school. I remember cottage pie, apple tart, puff pastry. Nope, can't remember any more.

      Delete
    2. I did quite a bit of cooking at school too but we were never allowed to take the recipes home :( I remeber making an awesome herb bread and an amazing korma but I have NO idea what the recipes are now! Such a shame!

      Delete
    3. I remember that our cookery teacher was a battleaxe and on the day we made apple pie, she shouted at someone who was taking their apple pie out of the oven and they dropped it all over her shoes.

      Delete
  2. Before I was a veggie, my first meal I made was chilli con carne. I was 22 and had just moved out (I stayed at home during uni!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good Chilli is good to have in your skill set. Even better if it is veggie, hehe :)

      Delete
  3. A sort of rock bun/muffin hybrid that my mum made. Whenever we wanted home made cakes they were the only thing (other than bread pudding) she made - and I loved them. Still do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my goodness, that made me laugh. Great photos and I like the photobooth one best. I started early making jammy buns for my Dad when I was about 13. I do remember making mince (as in, mince and tatties) I was probably about 14 by that time, so by the time I got to university I had quite a repertoire, however it didn't stop me eating a lot of Findus Crisy pancakes. I know, disgusting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You did start early and I too remember Findus Crispy Pancakes. It was the cheese ones I ate. I shudder to think actually!

      Delete
  5. The first thing I remember cooking completely from scratch was a cheese and onion pie. I was about 14 - my parents had gone out and I thought I'd surprise them by cooking a dinner. To give myself credit where it's due, I made the pastry myself and everything, but the bit that flummoxed me was when the recipe said to 'boil an onion'. I had no idea what this meant, so I figured just plonking the onion into a jug of boiling water for 5 minutes would do the trick.!

    Needless to say, we end up with quite crunchy semi-raw onion in the pie - but the pastry was thankfully great and went some way to making it edible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmmmmmm cheese and onion pie!!!! I need a recipe for this :) perhaps minus the boiled onion though :P

      Delete
  6. The first thing I learnt was actually a curry. My Dad often worked late so normally it was Mum who would cook the evening meals. She cannot cook to save her life bless her, and after enduring 12 years of burnt fishfingers and luke warm baked beans I decided that on the odd day that my dad was home in time to cook dinner I would stick to him like glue and learn his amazing curry made up of leftover meat from a Sunday Roast.

    He did all of the spices himself, including fresh root ginger and we soon worked out our "family" spice mix. Before I went off to uni I actually saved up spice jars and ready-mixed the spice blend so that I could always have my leftover curry!!!

    This curry really has stood me in good stead and it is still one of the dishes I cook the most! In fact...we are having it tonight.

    Thanks for running yet another brilliant competition Jac. I know my skills are all a little rusty, learnt here and there from TV, books and family who are all self-taught so it would be wonderful to get a bit more of a professional touch.

    Also LOVED seeing the photos of a younger you :P I wonder what I will think about myself when I look back in years to come!

    Good luck everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have just made me feel incredibly old Emmy, LOL! Great story.

      Delete
    2. Hahahaha sorry :P definitely not my intention :) I used to be a "goth" so to be honest, looking back just 5 years for me is quite hilarious!!!

      Delete
  7. Gosh, I would have to admit that I feel I still haven't mastered cooking :( I make my gran's macaroni cheese, with the addition of minced meat to give my girls a little more protein, but that's about it. Here's hoping I win the competition, I could do with the help ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, at least you are a whizz at cakes Becca :)

      Delete
  8. The first thing I learned to make was roast chicken. A friend at uni showed me how and, in fact, if I remember correctly he also showed me how to make macaroni cheese (properly) the same night. Proper comfort food and my two main go-to meals still, hundreds of years later!
    Would be nice to learn something new!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, another who learned at uni. Good luck Zoe :)

      Delete
  9. We helped mum cook when we were little, though we didn't make those dishes on our own. We'd help remove leaves and stems from strawberries destined for jam, stir pots of curry or other such feasts...

    But the first thing I remember learning to make on my own, and by myself, was bread, from an M&S St Michael's cookery book. It featured rolls, plaits, and various recipes and I worked my way through several of them. Most satisfying!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you Kavey, that was very brave. I am impressed!

      Delete
  10. The first thing I made was a shepherd's pie for my cookery badge at guides. I was so proud of that dish, even though today my shepherd's pie is strictly veggie! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must have done a cookery badge for brownies or guides, as I did so many, but I can't remember at all/

      Delete
  11. Wow, you had amazing hair!!!!!
    LOve the photos.

    I think the first dish I "mastered" was chicken and black bean stir fry with noodles. I used to get one evening to make the meal when we were on family holiday and I seem to remember that one cropping up a bit.

    I was already quite a foodie when I went to uni. I had all the traditional basics to see me through - lentil soup, spaghetti Bol, chilli, etc.. And then I tried out lots of celeb chef recipes from the TV or magazines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha thanks, I liked to think of it as curly with no style whatsoever.

      You started your journey as a foodies early Louise. Wish I had been interested earlier.

      Delete
  12. The first thing I learnt to cook was called 'a little supper'. I think I was about 8 years old. It was in a cookery class at school and I seem to remember it involved buttering bread, then layering with fresh tomatoes and cheddar cheese before putting the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Once I'd learnt how to cook it, I made it for my parents every weekend for a few months. I know now that it sometimes used to be discretely binned and replaced with something else...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, that is funny. It was good you didn't know that at the time. I could see how it could get monotonous quite quickly :)

      Delete
  13. My mum taught me how to make cakes from quite a young age but the first dish I remember learning how to cook was a simple potato bake, with sliced potato, onion and a creamy sauce. It was 15 years ago, I was an au pair in Germany and didn't know a wooden spoon from a vacuum cleaner, but a wonderful woman named Gila nonetheless decided to hire me to look after her children and teach them English, and in turn she taught me how to cook - and much more besides. Sadly, I found out two days ago that she passed away last week, and I've been thinking about everything she taught me and what an amazing person she was. So it's quite fitting that I just stumbled across this question about the first meals we cooked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwwww that is sad, but what a legacy she left you. Such a lovely story Caroline :)

      Delete
  14. My first culinary success was Jam Puffs, relly I guess we would call them Jam Turnovers now. A huge dollop of jam encased in a triangular piece of Puff Pastry, all made from scratch I hasten to add, lots of dotting butter and rolling and rolling out of pastry.

    They tasted divine, and here, I'll let you into a little secret, we made them in the cookery lesson on a Thursday morning and usually 'forgot' to return to school after the lunch break, it was always good to have a picnic in the park when you were playing truant!!

    Shhhhh don't tell!!

    Sue xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mums the word Sue, I won't tell a soul :)

      Delete
  15. The first thing I learned to cook was scones and the smell of hot scones is something I cannot resist!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fresh scones are very hard to resist Kate, I agree, especially with cream and jam.

      Delete
  16. You!!! So adorable. I'm sure G. is ever so pleased with you sharing his rock-star looking self with the world in this way. ☺☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did actually ask him before I hit publish, but he didn't mind :)

      Delete
  17. You all must must MUST come visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be lovely David, but not going to happen with Christmas coming up.

      Delete
  18. Gorgeous photos of you Jac, had no idea you were an art student.

    I remember making bread at school when we were ten, I felt so proud but it was also rather magical. AND the bread tasted really good - at least that's how I remember it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did an honours degree in Printed Textiles Choclette.

      Lovely memories :)

      Delete
  19. Wow, I really can't remember. I think cheese sauce was the first thing I properly learned how to do with my mum. They key ingredient being a little colemans mustard. It was the gateway to mum's go-to no-time recipe of pasta with brocolli and sweetcorn and cheese sauce. I still love it now and my uni friends all though it was weird. I particularly enjoy the little bright green flecks of brocolli against the yellow sauce.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too love broccoli and sweetcorn in with pasta and cheese sauce. MMmmmmmmm!

      Delete
  20. Your curls are amazing, I am very jealous!!

    The first thing I can remember making is a victoria sponge - I was always more interested in baking than actual meals! I remember making one with my elderly neighbour and being very concerned that she wasn't beating the butter and sugar for long enough as it didn't look light and fluffy - I don't think she was too impressed at being told that by a 6 year old!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, good for you. Wonder if there were any more baking lessons after that :)

      Delete
  21. The first thing I tried to cook I think was my Nan's recipe Sausages and 'Getti. Bit of a misnomer, as it had macaroni in it but there's my Nan for you (or rather my Dad who may or may not have interpreted the recipe to fit his tastes). It is made of only three ingredients: Sausages (cooked and chopped), macaroni and Heinz tomato soup. Cook the sausages first, then add them to the soup with the uncooked pasta- then everything cooks together slowly. The easiest dish in the world. Pretty tasty though. I attempted lasagna with a homemade roux after this and it went really quite badly (tasted of flour) so for a while when I was 15 if it was my turn to cook, this was my only dish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhhh well at least you had mastered a dish at 15 :)

      Delete
  22. I first started cooking when I was about 11. My mum was and remains to this day a terrible cook, obsessed with her weight we were always on a very strict diet but my dad and I took it in turn to cook when she was too busy or couldn't be bothered to control our portions. First dish he asked me to do was a veal Marengo had no idea where to start so went to the library, there has been no stopping me from then, I became a librarian and quite a good cook, never done Veal Marengo again though

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a great prize. And I especially loved the wee sneak peek of your photo's. I reckon the first dish I really mastered on my own was making pikelet's. This sounds simple but when your Mum and Granny both hold the black belt in pikelet making it was a little daunting to have a bash yourself. I hate to say it, even after all these years, Mum and Granny still make the best ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think pikelets are like Scotch Pancakes, aren't they? I am sure yours are just as good Chele :)

      Delete
  24. Being from Liverpool the first dish I mastered was scouse! no surprise there. The first time I cooked it though I put far too much water in and everyone pretended it was good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I am going to have to google this one Chris :)

      Delete
  25. The first think I ever baked was rock buns, I learnt with my grandma and she was the one who really got me interested in cooking. My grandad was the willing victim, he loved desserts we used to call him old sweet gums.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww poor grandad, I hope he didn't mind :)

      Delete
  26. I remember my Mum teaching me how to make spag bol so that's always been a good one - with slight variations along the way - I would always make sausage chilli & pasta at Uni as it was cheap!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I remember making shepherds pie in school :D I must have been 11 or so

    I would love to go on a cake making course if i was so lucky to win

    ReplyDelete
  28. I had a go at banoffee pie which has always been a particular favourite pud.

    I got my Dad to send me the recipe he always uses at home. It all started so well with all the ingredients and utensils set out in front of me. Then it went downhill. I’d made the biscuit base, had it in the tin and left it to set in the fridge. Only as I started making the caramel did I realise that I sued all the butter I’d need for the caramel in the biscuit base. It had occurred to me that the base seemed a bit runny. I quickly “strained” the base to rescue some of the butter but there clearly wasn’t enough. I managed to cobble together an assortment of fats as replacement.

    I think it turned out OK in the end: it was edible. Well, it was bananas, caramel and biscuit. What’s not to like?

    ReplyDelete
  29. First thing I made, totally alone, no help, no anything was a lasagna.

    I made the bolognese and it was perfect, really amazing! If only I had stopped there.
    I decided not to cook the pasta sheets first, the ones in the middle were fine but the ones on top were raw and awful! I also decided to make my own cheese sauce, disaster. It was a lumpy, gooey mess.

    We ended up scraping the useable bolognese out, and having it with toast! haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgot email, sandsferguson@hotmail.co.uk

      Delete
  30. My first dish was Spaghetti bolognaise I made it for my husband on one of our first dates. I so over coked the spaghetti but bless him he still married me regardless of my lack of cooking skills.

    ReplyDelete
  31. One of my few memories of the time I was in hospital with meningitis was a trip to the schoolroom, to make jam tarts, where I was praised for my pastry skills - I knew freezing cold hands were good for something! I passed them out around the children & parents on the ward, as I really wasn't up to eating myself. I'd've been 12 at the time, so that's my first real dish.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I remember making a lovely pie with garlic sausage in it. It was filling, cheap, easy to make, very happy with it. Then after eating it once I was horribly ill with a stomach bug. The garlic sausage was not good coming back the other way. Never made it again.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The first meal I remember making was scrambled eggs on toast! I mastered it enough to make it for the Guide leader to get my cooking badge. She was impressed by my added ingredient of a little grated cheese! I think I must have been about 10 at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The first things I cooked were in school in a Welsh primary - Welsh Cakes and then a honeycomb crisp sweet using soda bicarb which used to make my parents wince because I never stirred the soda bicarb in properly! Mum taught me to make a Victoria sandwich but that's as advanced as it got. Really wish I had learned more as I now have a little girl of 4 and a little boy of 3 and it's a daily slog to come up with something healthy that they'll actually eat! Plus hubby thinks my cooking is hilarious (he being a natural cook) much to my chagrin!

    ReplyDelete
  35. A good victoria sandwich. It continues to me my piece de resistence, and a favourite for cooking with my little girl.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wonderful prize, I'd love to win! (and I'd need a cooking class rather urgently, believe you me!) Pasta with tomato sauce I think was the first dish that I could actually serve to people.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Now you are asking me to really trawl my memory - I am so old I'm not sure if I can recall exactly my first dish I mastered. At a stab I would say something old school like veal piccata. I would have made that for my Father. My mother went away to another state to study for the priesthood (!), and when I had finished uni I stayed with Dad. Instead of paying rent I cooked for him. He was either very brave or very hungry because I didn't really learn to cook from my mother as she never let us kids have much of a look in (I think we were just too messy). He loved veal piccata - which the thought of now (and to you I would think!) gives me the chills. But it was very tasty, with lots of lemon, butter and flour. A far cry from what I do now!

    ReplyDelete
  38. The first dish I mastered was a lasagne. I was in my early 20's in my first house with my then boyfriend and I was wanting to impress him. Have improved since then and love to experiment with adding this & that.

    ReplyDelete
  39. The first thing I learned to cook was from a recipe inachildren's Christmasannual - it was called Potato and Sausage Hubble Bubble and was a mixture of potatoes, sausages, bacon and onions baked in aa sort of savoury custard. That was almost 50 years ago and I've been tweaking and refining the recipe ever since - it's still a family favourite, albeit much changed from the original version.

    ReplyDelete
  40. When I was 18 my new boyfriend asked me to cook him Cumberland sausages with onion gravy. It was his favourite meal but I'd never done much cooking. I had no-one to ask as my parents were away on holiday and I hadn't met his mother yet, so I had to guess. Anyway, it turned out all right. So much so that he proposed, said he'd wanted to find out of I could cook BEFORE he asked me as he didn't fancy being stuck with someone who couldn't cook! 34 years later we're still married and he's JUST started learning to cook.
    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  41. The first dish I ever "mastered" was (and let me preface this by saying I lived on my own and I was 17 and poor) was cooked pasta with sauce from a poured over with grated cheese stirred in and baked in the oven. When I was lucky enough to get a roommate, I upgraded my skills to master lasagna with ricotta cheese, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, we used it to impress boys when we had them over :-)

    x Steph

    ReplyDelete
  42. I didn't learn to cook until second year of university because we had food in hall and no self-catering kitchens. That's awful isn't it - 19 before I could cook.
    I got Hugh F-W's seasonal cookbook and made mushroom risotto and berry french toast. It was awful. I've cooked both since and it was me, rather than the recipes!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Vegetarian spaghetti bolognese - taught by my mum when she started nights evenings and I took over making the evening meal. I still make it the same way for my kids!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I started cooking during first year in Uni. Ever tried egg in instant noodle? That's the very fist dish I learnt to cook. It is not as easy as it sounds like because it took me a while to time it right to break the eggs in so that it is neither hard boiled nor disappeared into the soup! I then learnt to add in some meat balls seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper to make it more interesting.

    I would love to go on a cookery course as I have never been to one and always wanted to. Fingers cross xx

    ReplyDelete
  45. The first dish I really mastered was a cherry clafoutis. I did a French themed meal and the cherry clafoutis turned out really well and it is something a lot of people have never really tried.
    My favourite standard meal that I cook so often I could do it with my eyes shut is a feta, pea and mint pasta; it has zingy lemon and chopped olives in it and it is mine and my husband's favourite pasta dish.

    ReplyDelete

I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x