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Cook like a pro: Caramelising

Chantelle Nicholson reveals her best cookery tips and techniques

Caramelisation can refer to a number of different techniques in cookery. It always involves sugar, whether this be a form of actual sugar or the sugar inherent in other ingredients. In this particular instance, I am referring to the browning of ingredients or produce. This is achieved via direct heat, so baking or roasting, grilling or barbecuing, pan frying or sautéing.

As a chef, flavour and texture are incredibly important to me. Caramelisation of fruit and vegetables is a technique that can completely transform both flavour and texture, creating a markedly different, and more delicious, end result. Whilst the process can create an extra element of sweetness, it can also enhance the umami characteristics of the dish. For example, cauliflower florets that are steamed have a very different texture, taste and overall richness compared to roasted or pan fried cauliflower florets. Yes, they have the additions of fat to aid in the process but there is something so delicious about nutty, roasted cauliflower. And a beautifully caramelised onion is hard to beat.

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About PlantBased

As we sat down this month to decide on our main theme for the June issue, we came to a quick decision that the arrival of summer must mean that it was time for a salads feature — something of an easy decision. Nonetheless, the debate that then ensued on what actually constitutes a salad left PBHQ far more divided. Should we still call a dish with grains and pulses and tofu and fruit and other obscure ingredients a salad, or should the name salad simply be reserved for the more traditional lettuce-tomato-dressing set up? Is it okay to get experimental when tackling a salad dish, rather than limiting yourself to the restricted old school definition of a salad? Facetious questions, yes. But if you’re anything like us, you may be feeling just as ardent in your views. Wherever you sit in the great salad debate, we should have something for you, head straight to for more. Let’s talk summer holidays! We’ve been compiling some amazing retreats that offer a relaxing atmosphere, serve dishes that are healthy and will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life has to throw at you. Take a read and let your imagination run wild. And finally, if you’re keen to find new ways to not only get your children thinking about food and nutrition, but also get them involved with cooking in the kitchen, see how our talented young chefs Ruby and Faith got on in the PlantBased Kitchen recently. Plus, don’t miss our selection of child-friendly recipes, geared up to impress the whole family.