Prep – the new cookery concept

Prep is a cookery concept aimed at every person who wants to eat a nutritional and delicious meal at the end of the day, wants to cook the meals themselves and needs a little assistance and motivation from a professional.

Cookery books are great but all they offer is a recipe and a list of ingredients. You still have to find the motivation to cook the meal.

Prep is about getting ahead; having a vast proportion of your weekly meals prepared in advance so that when it comes to dinner time, you can construct a meal in a matter of minutes.

Prep will show you, step by step how to prepare all your meals in advance so that eating an evening meal no longer causes a whole load of stress.

The problem with convenience today

There are plenty of convenience options out there from fully prepared meals you simply put in the oven or microwave to ordering in your own boxed ingredients with recipe cards.

These are all great options in theory but in reality they don’t tick the boxes.

microwave mealConvenience foods from the supermarket

However enticing they look, supermarket convenience foods have been through a process. They will probably contain high levels of salt, sugar, emulsifiers and additives.  Even the very healthy prepared meals have been through a process in a factory miles away from where it ends up on your plate; most significantly the readymade meals available in supermarkets usually taste as though they were made in a factory miles away: they are bland and lack everything that home cooked meals bring to the table. More often than not, the ingredients that are used in the meals which are factory prepared have been brought in from a factory even further away. Double processed.

Fully prepared meals and ingredients boxes on mail order boxed veg

I have perused many a site of mail order food companies and as a chef I know that everything they deliver can be done by a keen cook in the comfort of their own home for a fraction of the price. If you pay for the convenience of a mail order that has been completely prepared prior to arriving you will save time but pay the cost. If you simply order in the ingredients with recipe cards and instructions you are still paying the cost and then having to prepare and cook the meal yourself.

Prep will show you how to get organised in your kitchen without the cost of delivery. So for 5 days out of 7, (the 5  most important days where you are the busiest at work and with your family), you will be able to relax at the end of the day with your cooked meal for yourself and your partner or your entire family. Prep illiminates the the stress of writing shopping lists, buying the ingredients and preparing the food during the week.

take away.jpgTake outs

Everyone enjoys a cheeky take out from time to time but your favourite Chinese take away or curry house should not be appearing as a suggested contact on your smart phone.

Did you know up to 90% of a meal can be prepared in advance?

How do you think those takeaways arrive at your door within 30 minutes? In the professional kitchen we refer to the prep station as mise en place. Mise en place is a French term which means ‘everything in its place’ and in kitchen terms it means getting all the meat and vegetables prepped and ready so that when service begins, they can be assembled into the dish easily.

It is possible for home cooks to adopt this method so that meal times don’t become a chore and the whole family can be fed nutritious and tasty meals for a good part of the week.

Preperation is keyprepared in advance.jpg

That term preparation is key gets bandied about in most industries but in the catering industry it is imperative to the business succeeding.  In order to have a stress free week from Monday to Friday it is essential you remove one of the biggest stresses most people face at 5pm on a weekday. The evening meal.

Preparation for the evening meal can be done serval days in advance and sometime weeks in advance if you utilise your freezer for your own made convenience food and ingredients rather than fish fingers and ice pops.

Prep will give you many chefs’ tricks and tips straight from the professionals and show you how to get prepped and become a home cook to pro cook in just 6 weeks.

pro cook.jpgHome cook to pro cook

Practice makes perfect and once you have spent a few weeks in the frame of mind of a professional cook you will constantly have an array of prepped ingredients to create a meal with any day of the week.

Prep will show you how to make everything from your own pesto and flavoured butters, prepped vegetables and sauces in advance and have them to hand in the fridge or freezer.

With 6 weeks of 5 recipes,  that’s a handsome handful of 30 recipes to get you through a month.

The prep philosophyfamily eating together.jpg

By following the recipes in prep you will be getting prepared in advance. There is some work involved, but it’s not anything near like what you would imagine it to be.  I will show you the best kitchen cheats and show you how to utilise your time and ingredients to get ahead.

Prep begins at the end of the weekend. For those who work Monday to Friday, prep should be done on the Sunday evening. You could do it on the Saturday if you wanted to use some of your weekend.

Prep will take approximately 1 hour of preperation and cooking time and a little extra for clearing up, boxing and bagging ingredients to put in the fridge or freezer. In the grand scheme of things it’s nothing really and you will be grateful come midweek when you would normally be scouring the freezer for something to feed your hungry brood with.

Once you have done this preparation section you are set for the week. You simply come home from work Monday to Friday and take the day’s prepped ingredients and follow the assembly instructions. There may be some heating or final cooking stages but this will not need your full attention, ie; it can simmer on the stove or sit in the oven or will literally take one or two minutes on a hob.

I will soon be posting an example of a week’s menu – with ingredients and schedule so you can get a feel for how the concept will work.

So until then I will be busy pulling out all my professional hints and cheats from my mental attic as well as liaising with my professional collegues to bring you the ultimate cookery repetoire to turn you from home cook to pro cook!

Nina x



Juanitas slow cooked lamb with lemon oregano and potatoes

“I do enjoy a Sunday roast; it brings back memories of my childhood and waiting patiently in the kitchen while my mum lovingly prepared the food. To this day I will prepare a roast every Sunday, a nod to my childhood. However I like to vary my preparation method depending on time of year and what is in season. This is a summery take on a lamb roast with flavours of garlic, oregano and lemon. It requires a long slow cook so patience is definitely required but the results are worth it. Any leftover lamb can be used for shepherds pie, salads or my lamb scrumpets. Check out more of my recipes at: “



  • 8kg boneless lamb leg
  • 800g charlotte potatoes
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 40g butter
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 125 ml water
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • Oregano and yoghurt sauce
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • sea salt
  • Generous bunch of watercress



  • Set the oven to 210°C (fan).
  • Next prepare the lamb. Place the lamb in a roasting tray that is large enough to hold the meat and potatoes. The lamb should open up if it’s been deboned, so make sure you unroll it and lay it out flat. If it hasn’t been butterflied do not worry, you can also cook it as a whole joint.
  • Rub the lamb all over with 1 tbsp of the olive oil.
  • Squeeze one of the lemons over the meat and sprinkle with half the salt and 2 tbsp of the dried oregano. Make sure the meat is well coated and then pop in the oven on the top shelf.
  • Cook for 15 mins on one side before turning over and cooking for another 15 mins. The meat should be beautifully brown after this time.
  • Remove the lamb from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°C (fan).
  • Set the lamb aside on a plate and then pour away the fat from the roasting pan.
  • Next chop your potatoes. If you’re using charlotte potatoes you will not need to peel them; the reason why I’ve chosen a waxy potato over a more floury one such as a king edward, is because they stand up to the long slow cook. Cut into rough 1cm dices, but you don’t need to be too precious about this.
  • Tumble the potatoes in to the roasting tin and add the remaining olive oil, salt and dried oregano. Next break up a bulb of garlic and scatter the cloves over the potatoes. With a wooden spoon mix everything together so that it is well coated.
  • Take the butter and chop into small chunks; dot around the potatoes and garlic.
  • You can now get the lamb and sit it on top of everything in the tray, make sure to pour any of the juices that have collected on the plate on top of the meat.
  • Finally pour the wine and water around the lamb and over the potatoes and garlic.
  • Cover the roasting tin with tin foil and place back in the oven for 4 – 4.5hrs. The house will fill with delicious aromas!
  • You will know when the meat is ready as it will flake apart easily with two forks and the potatoes will be soft and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to stand while you prepare the sauce.
  • For the oregano & yoghurt sauce
  • Strip the leaves from the oregano sprigs and add to a blender with the garlic and a generous pinch of salt (if you can’t find any fresh oregano this would also work with fresh rosemary, just reduce the amount to 3). Blitz until finely chopped.
  • Next add the olive oil and whizz again until you have a loose paste.
  • Spoon the yoghurt in to a small bowl and then add the oregano paste. Mix well and set aside until ready to serve.
  • To serve
  • I like to serve everything on a large serving platter which I place in the centre of the table; that way everyone can dive in and help themselves. Shred the lamb with two forks and pile on to the platter with the potatoes and a large bunch of watercress. Serve the oregano and yogurt on the side. Any left over lamb you can keep in the fridge for the lamb scrumpets recipe!

The Great American Barbecue

BASIC BBQ RUB IMAGEWe give the Americans a hard time about many things: over sized cars, beauty pageants for 7 year olds and replacing S’s with a Z, but one thing they seemed to have top trumped us on a mammoth scale is Barbecues.

Sadly for us Brits, we come in fairly low down on the scale of “countries that barbecue brilliantly”. We’re outdone done by the Aussies on a regular basis and of course Brazil and Jamaica often give us a run for our money.

The barbecue tradition is a long standing one and began when the American explorers brought back pigs from their travels from areas such as Spain. In America, the two different techniques used to cook the meat are smoking and barbequing. Usually the meats are first marinated and smoked using either the hot smoking or the smoked method. Both smoking methods cook the meat for long periods of time to ensure a soft texture. Hot smoking uses indirect heat at temperatures of 49-82 degrees C, whilst the smoked method uses higher temperatures.

The cold smoking process is a completely different process and takes exposure to the meat for several days.

BARBECUED RIBS AND SAUCE IMAGEBecause the barbecue tradition is such a huge part of American culture, many of the Southern states of America have adopted their own specific methods. Each southern state has their own specific meat that they are renowned for serving and whether they consider sauce a priority is also something that is very specific to that particular area as well.

If you ever find yourself in any of the following states, then you can expect to see a particular style of meat cooked and served in a very specific way.

Below is a rough guide to the barbecue methods meats of the southern states.


The main meat in central Texas is Beef brisket. They smoke this and then divide the fatty and lean beef; a whole brisket includes layer of fat between the two layers of meat

The process of smoking the beef is very labour intensive, the process is low and slow and the fire wood needs to be constantly checked.

Sauce is not important in central Texas, in fact it’s deemed unnecessary and unbecoming of a real central Texas barbeque.

East Texas

Serve a different meat, they use ribs and pork which is derived from Southern African/American Soul-food traditions.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago are renowned for the style of Smoker they use. They are known as aquarium smokers, as they are glass containers with a compartment underneath where the smoking wood goes.

The aquariums are filled with meat and the meat drips its juices and flavours onto the wood

The main dish served is Rib tips. Sauce is king and considered important and the ribs are covered with it. French fries are served as part of the dish and the dish is assembled so the ribs are laid ontop of the fries. This is a classic Illinois Barbeque dish.

Other Illinois alternatives to the ribs are called Hot links. This is beef and pork sausage, sometimes served with with sage, it’s not hot and spicy. This is a dish associated with Chicago Illinois and you would be hard pushed to find this anywhere else on the planet.

Kansas City, Missouri

The traditional dish of Kansas City, is a combo of meat and sauces.

Essentially, Kansas is a melting pot of different BBQ’s, lamb, pork, beef, chicken, turkey the sauce is a thick tomato sauce sweetened with molasses, a classic sauce we are all familiar with and probably have in our cupboards at home.

This sweet red sauce is important in Missouri but mainly they are renowned for how many different things they cook.

A side dish with beans is a classic Missouri dish and is served with the barbeque meats – baked beans or black eyes peas are put in the smoker underneath the meats so that bits of meat juices drop into the beans and given them a delicious meaty smoky flavour. These beefy smoky beans are part of a traditional Kansas city Barbeque.

Memphis, Tennessee

The Main method in Memphis is to dry rub a herb and spice mix onto the rib on the bone. Generally sauce is not the main part of the barbequing, but some people believe sauce is important and this is the argument in Tennessee.

The rub is usually a sweetness such as brown sugar mixed with salt and some sort of colouring such as cumin or cayenne.

North Carolina

North Carolina Barbequing is characterised by pork shoulder. It is slow cooked in a rub marinade and then cooked for 8-12 hours to create a delicious moist pulled pork which is served in a bap with sauce.

South Carolina

Characterised by a whole hog barbeque with a mustard based sauce, the entire pig is used including the dark meat and white meat

One hog weighs approximately 200lbs and everything is used from the ham to the loins

A hog is smoked for approximately 20 hours

The finished product is a meat that has been 50% smoked and 50% BBQ

Sauce in South Carolina is very important


The dish of Kentucky is Mutton of lamb that is more than a year old

The Kentucky combination is lamb served with burgoo; a spicy stew made with a combo of lima beans, corn, okra. Potatoes are served with it.

Have a go yourself

AMERICAN BBQ IMAGEIf you fancy trying your hand a bit of American style barbequing then use these two recipes.

If you have a smoker and you know how to use it then after you have marinated the meat you can smoke your meat for several hours. Alternatively, a nice long slow cook in the oven or slow cooker will suffice; although you won’t get that smoked taste that the American barbeques are renowned for, but you will have a lovely piece of meat that is soft and tender, ready to be barbequed and slathered in sauce