Here’s how I got from half-baked idea to actual cookbook - Kitchen Confidence is all about inspiring newcomers or rusty cooks to get in the kitchen and learn to love being there. I realised from my Kitchen Confidence cookery classes that there are lots of people who would appreciate a straightforward, clear cookbook with a selection of tasty an easily adaptable recipes to get their confidence up.

Kitchen Confidence

Kitchen Confidence

Be inspired It all started when my daughter asked me to write up some recipes for her to take to university. I originally joked that I could just give her a leaflet on how to rustle up a bowl of pasta and pesto, her meal of choice at the time. Hilariously, the photo she sent me of the first “proper” meal she cooked at uni was, indeed, pasta and pesto. But she persisted and her friends liked the idea too, as did my cookery school students. Her gentle reminders kept me going and so, with impeccable timing, the boxes of books landed on the doorstep the day before I took her off to university. I’ve always needed a deadline…

Be patient I knew it would take time, but I underestimated quite how much. There were times when I thought I’d never get it finished. I felt disheartened on occasion - why did an oft-used recipe randomly go wrong? Why did I cook a meal and totally forget to take a picture? My family had to be patient too, waiting for their meals to cool down enough for me to photograph everything.

Get help I knew I wouldn’t have the skills to organise an appealing layout, so I asked a brilliant friend to help. I knew he had a great eye for design and he really did me proud. I also got some advice on taking good photos of my food - I wanted the dishes to look home cooked, rather than overly-styled. I had help with proof-reading and recipe testing too - it was so helpful having a couple of teenagers try out some recipes and asking me sensible beginners’ questions. And another friend drew some awesome drawings to illustrate the book. And the people at Matador were brilliant helping me end up with a really lovely, excellent quality book I can feel proud of.

Cook, cook and cook again This is no chore for me - I’ve always loved cooking and no excuse is too trivial to invite some people over for brunch, lunch or dinner. When I’m not at home, I teach at London’s Bread Ahead Bakery School, so cooking really is my thing. It was really important to trial lots of recipes to see which ones should make it into the book and which might be too daunting to someone venturing into the kitchen for the first time.

Check, check and check again I have cook books on my shelf with mistakes in them. It’s really annoying. What am I meant to do with that stray lemon in the ingredient list that is nowhere to be seen in the method? How much sugar?? What is a “dash” of Tabasco? What on earth does simmer till cooked mean? I am an experienced cook, happy to improvise, but for a beginner, this could really put a person off bothering to come back into the kitchen other than to get a plate for the takeaway. I am not so foolhardy as to suggest that there is not a single error in my book, but I tested the recipes, asked others to test them, read and re-read to make sure the instructions made sense.

Tell everyone It’s one thing writing the book, but you also need to sell it. I’m not one for bigging myself up, but I’m having to get used to talking about myself and what I’ve done, otherwise I’ll be living with a big pile of boxes of books in my hallway for ever more. The book is not going to sell itself, so I’m having to get used to telling anyone who stands still in my vicinity for more than about 10 seconds. I’m getting better at it and I’ve already sold copies to some entirely unexpected people.

Throw a launch party Because why not? Then your guests can sample some goodies from the book.

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