Tips on How to Perfect Cooking While at Home

Paul Henderson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Michelin-star chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton is here to help with the tips, techniques and solutions to all your home-cooking dilemmas

Jason Atherton is a British chef, restaurateur, TV presenter and best-selling author. He is also a husband and father to two daughters, and with the government lockdown in full effect, he has been focusing his culinary energy on feeding his small family rather than the thousands of diners who are currently unable to visit his restaurants all over the world. However, in order to keep in touch with them, Atherton has been filming his daily cooking routine on Instagram, guiding fans through his techniques for producing hearty and delicious food at this difficult time. Great idea, we thought… so we asked him to give our GQ readers a few tips to help even the most novice of cooks through the next few weeks. From what kitchen kit you need to classic recipes, the Social Company king is here to help.

What are the kitchen essentials I need when cooking from home?

Keep it very simple. You don’t need loads of knives, countless pots and pans and pointless gadgets. Get yourself the following basic items and you will be able to prepare and cook almost all the recipes you could want.

  1. One good quality knife. An eight-inch cooks knife is perfect. If you want to go high-end, choose a Florentine. For a more affordable mid-priced blade, I would recommend Kasumi or Wusthof. And for a cheaper option you could opt for Victorinox. (They don’t just do Swiss army knives!).
  2. A chopping board.
  3. Three pans (small, medium and large).
  4. For the oven, get a roasting tray, a non-stick pan and a baking tray.
  5. You will also need a mixing bowl, a hand whisk and some wooden spoons.

The list I have given you above should be enough to get you started. You will probably have a few of them at home already. If you are going to treat yourself, a KitchenAid stand mixer is brilliant and you can accessorise it with a pasta maker, a spiralizer and a meat grinder. It’s definitely not a necessity, but they are fantastic bits of kit.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a home cook?

There are two, really: keep it simple and do not throw things away. Firstly, with your recipes, don’t try to be over-ambitious if you aren’t sure what you are doing. Chances are you will end up either making something people don’t like, making a mess of the cooking or waste food by not using it efficiently. Secondly, do not throw anything out. Everything can be used somewhere, so instead of putting things in the bin… keep it. That includes the stalks of herbs, vegetable trimmings, the fat from meat. Honestly, trust me on this. You will definitely thank me later.

Every time you make a dish, keep a container to the side and put all your trimmings in that. When the dish is done, challenge yourself to do something with the leftovers. We do this at Pollen Street Social every day. All my chefs in the section are told to keep the trimmings from their food prep, from first thing in the morning. After lunch service has finished, we lay them all out on the pass and we plan a three-course meal for us to eat with what we would otherwise have thrown away. It’s quite rewarding and it is challenging, but the results are often delicious.

What are the basic store-cupboard ingredients you have at home?

I’m going to give you a list… it’s not definitive, but here are a few you will definitely find in my kitchen at home:

  • Pasta (but not too much… it’s just an easy way out)
  • Haricot beans
  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Hot sauce (it always saves a sad dish)
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock cubes
  • Dry noodles
  • Dried herbs (whatever you like)

How do you decide what to cook?

Trying to decide what to cook can be difficult, but my fall-back is larder and fridge management. It sounds a bit boring, but it is a crucial way to save money. Every day I do a current list of what I have in the fridge, freezer and larder and then I use that as a base to meal-plan for three to four days. That way, I use up what I have and it also means I don’t have to keep going out or ordering groceries to be delivered. We all need to stay at home as much as possible and we have to consider other people (such as supermarket workers and delivery drivers). If we make the most out of what we have and rely less on other people, we will all be better off – physically and financially.

Source: GQ magazine

Dukkah Chicken Skewers with Grilled Zucchini Ribbons


2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp liquid honey
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp pepper
450 g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup Dukkah Spice Blend
1 small zucchini, cut in long thin ribbons
1 small red onion, cut in 1-inch pieces

Dukkah Spice Blend

1 cup skinned toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
6 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
4 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp salt


  1. In food processes, pulse together dukkah spice blend ingredients until finely chopped. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, tahini, lemon juice, salt (if using) and pepper. Add chicken, turning to coat.
  3. Place dukkah in shallow dish. Spoon 1 tbsp into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Discard marinade. Dredge chicken in dukkah, pressing to adhere. Alternately thread chicken, zucchini and red onion onto 6 metal or soaked wooden skewers.
  5. Place skewers on greased grill over medium heat. Close lid and grill, turning once, until chicken is browned and no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle reserved dukkah over top before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mediterranean Flavours

How Passover Brisket Became Texas Barbecue

Max Bonem wrote . . . . . . . . .

For the first 21 years of my life, brisket only existed in my world as one thing, the main course at Passover.

While red meat was served rarely in my house growing up, our annual Seder always included a hulking mass of beef chest, cooked simply with onions and carrots and slathered in ketchup and Coca-Cola. Not one to be fussy in the kitchen, my dad would just toss the brisket into the oven and leave it to braise for hours, until it was super-tender all the way through. It was simple and delicious and there were always tons of leftovers, which I think was intentional (my dad always cooked a brisket large enough to feed twice as many people as we ever had over). That, or brisket always happened to be on sale when he purchased it.

During the summer between my junior and senior years of college, though, I took an internship in San Antonio, where my uncle introduced me to the manna-from-heaven that is smoked brisket, my first taste coming at Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, TX, the tiny town that is recognized as the barbecue capital of the known universe.

I remember walking into the shop and being encapsulated in smoke as the pit master opened the top of the smoker to flip the briskets and ribs. Whatever color the halls had once been painted was long gone as smoke and soot covered the walls like salt and pepper on the brisket’s crust. After sitting down, my uncle brought over a smorgasbord of meats to try, including ribs, smoked turkey, and sausage. However, it was the brisket, the glorious black pepper encrusted, smoke ring adorned brisket that blew my mind wide open.

A few years later, I ended up moving to Austin and living, conveniently, between two of the city’s most prized barbecue outlets, Franklin Barbecue and Micklethwait Craft Meats. One day, as I enjoyed some brisket with far too many pickles and ample hot sauce at my disposal, I remember thinking, “How did brisket get here? How did it go from being a slow-roasted staple of Eastern Europe to the prize of Texas barbecue?” These are important questions that need answering.

People eat brisket all around the world, from Korea to Vietnam to Pakistan to Italy. It’s cooked differently everywhere, but in the United States, brisket gained fame as the largest jewel in the crown of Texas barbecue, while continuing on as the staple for many Jewish families’ yearly Seders. Why does this cut’s popularity endure in these two contexts? The simple answer is it used to be the cheapest option.

Ashkenazi jews have eaten brisket during Passover for a very long time and for pretty sensible reasons. Per Jewish custom, the hindquarters of the beef are not kosher, meaning that Jews have always had fewer cuts to choose from. In addition, brisket has historically been one of the more affordable cuts since it comes from a heavily worked muscle that requires a lot of time to cook. As a result, many Central and Eastern European jews ate brisket as far back as the 1700s, especially during food-centric gatherings like Passover that require a lot of food.

During the mid to late 1800s, waves of Germans and Czechs, including many jews, emigrated to the United States, many of whom made their way to the new state of Texas. According to Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue editor at Texas Monthly and self-described barbecue obsessive, immigrants and local ranchers started exchanging ideas during the late 1800s and early 1900s for how to smoke brisket. Since brisket was still one of the cheapest beef cuts available in Texas at the time, the largest beef-producing state in the country, there was a lot of brisket available. Long story short, Texas had the space for the cattle. From the cattle came a ton of beef and from that huge amount of beef came brisket’s popularity, since ranchers and immigrants often couldn’t afford the pricier other cuts.

That’s how how brisket became commonplace in Texas, but it doesn’t explain how its cooking methods changed. Traditional Passover brisket is cooked low and slow with a mix of root vegetables and some kind of assertive sauce (ketchup or soy sauce, usually). If you’re careful and lucky, the brisket comes out moist and fork tender. If you’re not, it comes out dry and overcooked.

The Texas smoked method helps alleviate this issue. As Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin explains, by smoking the brisket with indirect heat at a very low temperature for a very long time, the fat has more time to render and the meat more time to cook at a much slower rate. This method most likely came from native tribes in Texas and Northern Mexico, which had been smoking meat directly in the earth for a very long while by the time white settlers arrived. This all resulted in a much more delicious brisket, which required less additional seasoning, hence the simple salt and pepper rub used prominently across the state.

By the early 1900s, smoked brisket appeared on Jewish deli menus from Greenville to El Paso and then in the late 1950s, Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart became the first to offer brisket exclusively on its barbecue menu. After Black’s came Smitty’s and then Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, and the rest is delicious history.

I haven’t gone home for a Seder in years and my parents no longer host one at their house anyway. However, a few years ago, my dad visited me in Austin and we spent one very rainy morning waiting in line at the now defunct John Muller Meat Co. We drank Lonestars before noon, breathed in the enticing meat smoke and discussed in-depth what we would order once we made it to the front of the line. Really though, we both just wanted the brisket.

I’ll never forget watching my dad take that first bite of fatty beef. His eyes and smile both going wide simultaneously. I knew that feeling, that bite that shows you there’s something better out there than you’ve ever tasted before. After this brisket meal, there were no leftovers.

Source: Food and Wine

Clinical Trial to Investigate Nitric Oxide Treatment of COVID-19

Doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are enrolling patients in an international clinical trial to find out if inhaled nitric oxide benefits those with COVID-19 who have severely damaged lungs.

Right now, there are no approved treatments for the illness caused by the new coronavirus. A severe form of lung failure called acute respiratory distress syndrome is the leading cause of death in COVID-19.

When lungs are failing, air is received by some parts of them but not others. Nitric oxide is a gas that improves blood flow in areas of the lungs that are getting air, increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood stream.

Nitric oxide also reduces the workload of the right side of the heart, which is under extreme stress during lung failure.

Along with being used to treat failing lungs, nitric oxide has been found to have antiviral properties against coronaviruses. That was shown during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which was caused by a coronavirus similar to the one that causes COVID-19.

Any COVID-19 patient in UAB’s intensive care unit who is using a ventilator to breathe may qualify for the study.

“This trial will allow the sickest COVID-19 patients at UAB access to a rescue therapy that may have antiviral benefits in addition to improving the status of lungs,” Dr. Vibhu Parcha said in a university news release. He’s a research fellow in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease.

“In humans, nitric oxide is generated within the blood vessels and regulates blood pressure, and prevents the formation of clots and also destroys potential toxins,” said Dr. Pankaj Arora, an assistant professor of cardiovascular disease. His team plans to study the cardiovascular effects of high-dose inhaled nitric oxide as part of the primary clinical trial.

Source: HealthDay

Clogged Arteries are Not the Only Sign of Cardiovascular Disease

Doctors rely on a variety of risk assessments to evaluate how likely a person is to develop heart disease. While the scores provide an invaluable tool for health care professionals and the general public alike, they are not infallible.

For example, they sometimes fail to accurately predict risk in a condition where there’s a lack of blood flow to tissues but no obstruction in the heart arteries. It’s estimated about 3 to 4 million U.S. adults have the disorder called INOCA, which stands for Ischemia but No Obstructive Coronary Artery disease and is more common in women.

The question is: If the main coronary arteries aren’t blocked, what’s restricting blood flow to the heart?

Problems in the lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium, can prevent the vessels from functioning properly. Spasms and dysfunction in the tiny vessels that branch off the larger coronary arteries – the microvascular blood vessels – are the most common cause of INOCA. High blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, heart valve disease, and inflammatory disorders such as lupus may prevent blood vessels from working properly. Many people with INOCA have more than one of those conditions.

Research published Thursday in the Journal of the American Heart Association sheds new light on the topic.

“They have a functional problem, not an anatomical problem,” said study author, Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, who heads up the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation, or WISE. “The arteries fail to dilate when they should and then they may also over-constrict when they need to do so mildly or to not constrict at all.”

The new study included 433 women with INOCA, and researchers looked at their available risk data from common risk scores over a 10-year period. About half of the women had high blood pressure and nearly 16% were prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins.

Bairey Merz and her colleagues found that over the decade, there were 24 cardiovascular deaths, nine heart attacks, 20 cases of heart failure, 17 strokes and 89 hospitalizations for angina. In addition, 19 women had a non-surgical procedure to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries, and five had coronary artery bypass surgery.

Their incidence of cardiovascular problems was greater than the most commonly used risk scores forecasted. For example, the Framingham Risk Score predicted an event rate of 6.87%, nearly four times less than the actual event rate of 28.87%.

Five of the six risk scores used in the study indicated the majority of patients had a low risk of cardiovascular disease events.

“There remains a myth in the cardiology community that if your arteries are open, there’s nothing wrong with you and no treatment needs to be rendered,” said Bairey Merz, who also is the director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai’s Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles. “That’s not necessarily true.”

Bairey Merz said most INOCA patients have symptoms, and the condition can be diagnosed in several ways.

“Now that we have advanced imaging and functional coronary testing, we are recognizing more,” she said. “It’s always been there, but now we can test for it, so we’re more aware.”

Indeed, the incidence of INOCA may be on the rise. Bairey Merz attributed this to the dramatic reduction in cigarette smoking over the past 25 years as well as the increasing number of people who are using medications to treat high cholesterol and hypertension.

“We believe these are changing the nature of the fatty plaque buildup and converting it more to this microvascular pattern,” she said.

According to Dr. Puja K. Mehta, associate professor at the Emory Women’s Heart Center in Atlanta, risk scores should incorporate additional information that may help to identify INOCA patients who are at risk.

For example, Mehta, who was not involved in the new study, said current risk scores don’t consider conditions associated with unique heart disease risk in women, such as history of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labor or psychological factors such as depression, loneliness and anxiety.

People with autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis tend to have an increased risk of heart problems later in life, Mehta said. “But that’s not being captured in any of these risk scores.”

“Instead of saying, ‘Well, you only have a 40% blockage, so we won’t treat it,’ you treat the risk factors such as hypertension and give them preventive medications such as the statin,” she said. “Hopefully you change their trajectory so that they don’t develop heart failure and you protect them from future heart attack or stroke.”

Bairey Merz is involved in a large randomized clinical trial testing a treatment strategy in women with INOCA. Results are expected in 2022.

While INOCA is more common in women, Bairey Merz said diagnoses are increasing in men. “This is turning out to be about half of all ischemic heart disease in woman and up to a third in men.”

She hopes identifying and treating INOCA patients will curb the number of cardiac-related deaths and reduce the impact on the health care system.

“We have over 800,000 deaths annually due to cardiovascular disease and many millions of heart attacks,” she said. “When we don’t have guidelines about how to treat INOCA patients, they are most often not treated, and an untreated heart patient is one who will come back.”

Source: American Heart Association

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