Perfect your pastry
Unless you have been ignoring social media, you will have seen a deluge of chocolate-chip cookie images lately. Cue Ravneet Gill, who has a pop-up bakery, Puff, in London, and is the founder of Countertalk, a platform that connects chefs and advocates healthy work environments in the industry. She kicked off her two-day cook-along with this crowdpleasing recipe from her first book, The Pastry Chef’s Guide. Entertaining and full of tips, such as how to get that all-important cookie rise, she plans to log-on for one class per week and there are rumours of a frangipane tart … Mary J Blige’s backing vocals are an added bonus.
No takeaways? Bring Honey & Co home
The founders of the Middle Eastern restaurant empire Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich started their #honeyandcoathome series from their south London home (cue kitchen tile envy) with a freezer-friendly gnocchi and tomato, basil and anchovy sauce. Gnocchi often do a disappearing act in the pan – a character in a Pellegrino Artusi story goes as far as saying a sprite stole them – so to give yours the best chance, you need to use waxy potatoes, plus parmesan, flour, salt and nutmeg. The ingredients are posted to their Instagram feed beforehand, and Packer and Srulovich are on-hand to answer any gnocchi SOS calls. Plus, there’s dancing. Stay tuned for more.
Improve your baking skills
Eggs and flour are now a hot commodity, and Bread Ahead will show you how best to use them. If you want to eat hot cross buns, ciabatta, scones or croissants, the bakery is running live tutorials every day at 2pm on Instagram until the end of April. Famed for their soft, pillowy doughnuts (they will show how to make those, too), founder baker Matthew Jones will also answer your questions. Find the full list of tutorials and the ingredients you will need at breadahead.com – and you might emerge from the coronavirus madness a self-sufficient baker.
Carb up with pasta
If that panic-purchased packet of penne is no match for the posh pici cacio e pepe you are used to, it’s time to turn your hand to making pasta. Tim Siadatan, chef and co-owner of Padella and purveyor of pici, is planning to take to Instagram Live – keep an eye on @padella_pasta. Otherwise, join a fresh pasta and sauce Instagram masterclass with the east London restaurant and pasta workshop Officina 00. The ingredients for two servings are posted the day before the class, which starts at 5.30pm, which may become the new work-from-home dinner time. Think cavatelli with tomato, caper and olive sauce… And it would be remiss not to mention the Italian nonnas who pass on their kitchen secrets via the Pasta Grannies YouTube channel: you will find a how-to video for every pasta shape and sauce imaginable.
Need more drama? A helping of the pleasantly bonkers Big Mamma Group, whose London restaurants include Gloria and Circolo Popolare, would go down well: velvet-bedecked rooms, floral explosions, mushroom magnets, carbonara excavated from a hollowed-out grand padano wheel, a crown of torched meringue atop a lemon tart. Head chef Filippo La Gattuta will take over the group’s Instagram stories this week with a first weekly cook-along. Expect regular how-tos for Big Mamma’s OTT classics.
Add some Michelin magic
Massimo Bottura, the Italian multiple Michelin-starred chef who may just have started the Instagram cook-along craze, is live streaming his family dinner prep from his kitchen every night at 7pm. The whole family gets involved with #KitchenQuarantine, which keeps things lively, and meals to date have included Thai vegetable curry and artichoke and pasta fagioli. Plus, the world-famous chef behind Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, is also doing live Q&A sessions to answer any recipe-related questions that crop up along the way, in Italian and English.
Make a sourdough starter
There’s no better time to cultivate a sourdough starter from scratch – and keep it alive. Follow Edd Kimber’s step-by-step, seven-day guide to creating “Quaran-Tina, otherwise known as Tina”. You will need bread flour (Kimber uses a 50:50 mix of white and wholemeal), water, a jar, scales and a spatula. And you might like to choose a name for your new household member. Once the starter is active, turn to the Guardian’s Tom Hunt’s Instagram videos for the next steps – from fermenting, stretching and shaping to baking – plus, how to use excess starter to make pancakes. East London sourdough guru Martha de Lacey has taken her classes online with a subscription channel, the Muff Kitchen, for all things to do with fermenting. There is a one-off fee of £60, plus a small monthly subscription, and for every 10 people who sign up, De Lacey will donate a subscription to an NHS worker.
Learn to temper chocolate
Marmite, coffee and croissants, and English breakfast and Assam tea… Paul A Young is known for his innovative chocolate flavours. This month, the chocolatier will be running a four-week online course, The Art of Chocolate Making, via Learning with Experts. The course costs £29, and covers tempering, cream and water ganaches, moulding, rolling and decorating (among other techniques). You will also learn the recipe for Young’s award-winning sea-salted caramel truffles. It’s a proper course, with homework and assessments but, well, you will probably need the distraction.
Sweet treats to make on repeat
In times of crisis, you need the warm embrace of a freshly baked cookie. Christina Tosi, pastry chef and founder of the US bakery chain Milk Bar – loved by fans of her cereal milk ice-cream, compost cookies and cake truffles – has a daily Baking Club via Instagram Live every day at 6pm, complete with Elvis soundtrack. She uses ingredients that probably lurk in most people’s dwindling store cupboards. Learn how to make oat cookie bars, which require no flour, cereal meringues, four-ingredient cookies and pantry-friendly “give a dog bone” biscuits, to keep your four-legged friend entertained. This is the home economics teacher you wish you’d had.
Be more creative with vegetables
David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, the husband-and-wife team behind Green Kitchen Stories, a blog filled with vibrant vegetarian, family-friendly recipes and beautiful photography, have started their cook-along careers from their Scandi-cool home with cauliflower “fish” and chips – caper tartare sauce optional, glass of wine mandatory. The ingredients list is posted the day before and the recipes are great for children to enjoy with you.
Borough Market, the London food market, has taken Green Kitchen Stories’ demos for its programme of live online cook-alongs, for which there is a line-up of guest chefs over coming weeks. Previous classes included Emma Hatcher’s classic rhubarb crumble and a hot veg salad to make lunch just that bit more interesting, and Edd Kimber’s wild garlic scones. Still to come is Romy Gill’s vegan masterclass.
Make friends with your larder
Jack Monroe, otherwise known as @BootstrapCook, is the master of the lockdown larder on Twitter, helping vast numbers of people to use random ingredients they have to hand – just submit your question by 5pm. On Instagram, the natural fast-food chain Leon, which has transformed its restaurants into mini supermarkets during the coronavirus outbreak, is broadcasting live cook-alongs to inspire week-night meals. It is using recipes from its cookbooks, including black bean tacos. There are ideas for ingredient substitutes and serving suggestions – frozen margaritas is a favourite. Another store cupboard essentials expert is Chetna Makan, 2014 Great British Bake Off semi-finalist, whose ideas include chickpea and potato shakshuka, and red lentils with tamarind and roast butternut squash.