food

JUSTINE SCHOFIELD: 'The 10 best cooking tips I learnt from my mum.'

I have fond memories of watching my grandmother and mother navigating the kitchen so seamlessly. 

Having that French heritage, food is life, and it was ingrained in me as a young child that eating well is one life’s great pleasures. 

It also keeps my grandmother's memory alive as I continue to cook her dishes.

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Here are 10 cooking tips I’ve learnt from mum. 

1. Always have cheese, butter and cream in the fridge. 

In French cooking these are used frequently.

2. Never be afraid to mess up a recipe.

It’s part of the process - and practice makes perfect.

3. Invest in good quality pots and pans.

This will save you money in the long run. 

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4. You don’t need hundreds of knives.

A cook’s knife, serrated knife and a paring knife are the main go-to knives. 

Keep them sharp by sharpening regularly, and never put them in the dishwasher as that will make them blunt.

5. Salad is on the table every day in the French diet.

In fact, we usually have a green salad not with the main meal but after the main dish. The reason for this is to cleanse the palate before the cheese course is served. 

So, investing in a salad spinner is a must. Nothing worse than lettuce that hasn’t been washed, and the pre-washed lettuce in plastic is tasteless! 

6. Mustard is always in the fridge because it’s so versatile. 

Whether it’s served with a simple grilled steak or used as the base of a dressing or sauce, it is reached for regularly.

7. Fresh bread is a must. And it's never cut.

Just like rice is a staple in Asia and pasta in Italian culture, bread is a must on the table with every meal, particularly baguette, which is bought fresh every day at the bakery.

This is also never cut with a knife or put on a side plate with butter. It’s torn, and rests on the table next to your plate so you can reach for it repeatedly.

Side note: Listen to Mamamia's food podcast hosted by Silvia Colloca, What I Eat When. Post continues below.


8. Cook what's in season.

This is the most important thing I’ve learnt from mum. For example, in winter, asparagus and stone fruit are imported, so they’re not eaten or cooked with until spring and summer. 

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Alternatively, in winter citrus, root vegetables, fennel and rhubarb are embraced in the kitchen. 

9. Don't toss your wine away.

Never throw away champagne, white wine or red wine that has not been drunk at the bottom of the bottle and has oxidised a little. Place in a container and freeze.

It’s always handy when you need just a splash to make a sauce or to add to a lovely French stew.

10. There's a cheese for every day of the year.

Just like bread, cheese is fundamental in the French diet. 

The cheeseboard is brought to the table at the end of a meal, but before dessert, if you're having it.

Whenever mum brings the cheese to the table, she always quotes this proverb: “un fromage par jour de l’année”- there’s a different cheese for each day of the year. 

I think she’s right! My favourite cheese is Fromager d’Affinois; it’s so creamy and delicious that it steals the show on any cheeseboard – I also have my mum to thank for introducing me to it! 

Justine Schofield is one of Australia's most prevalent cooking personalities. As well as a best-selling cookbook author, she is the host of the hugely popular cooking show Everyday Gourmet and was a fan favourite in the first series of MasterChef and MasterChef All Stars. 

Feature Image: Supplied.