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30 Day Challenge: Adults

The Great British Chefs 30 Day Challenge

by Great British Chefs 24 March 2020

Getting a bit bored whilst self-isolating? Take on our thirty-day cooking challenge! You'll end up with some great new kitchen skills and a few tasty treats along the way.

With many of us taking ourselves into self-isolation over the course of this Coronavirus pandemic, suddenly we're faced with the prospect of having to keep ourselves occupied at home. Instead of binging series after series on Netflix, why not do something productive? This is the perfect chance to busy yourself in the kitchen and brush up on some of your skills, as well as learning a few new tricks.

We've devised a little thirty-day challenge to get you excited about cooking whilst you're at home. It includes a range of activities, from learning to cook new cuisines to making your own ferments and pickles. Give it a go, let us know how you get on and hopefully, we'll all come out on the other side as better cooks!

Day 1: Make kimchi or sauerkraut

Whichever you choose to make, the idea behind kimchi and sauerkraut is much the same – by mixing the cabbage with salt (and in the case of kimchi, other spices) you preserve it for a long period of time. The flavour changes drastically too – over time, the good bacteria that form in the sauerkraut turn natural sugars in the cabbage into amino acids, which have a strong umami flavour.

Day 2: Brush up on your knife skills

Knife skills are vital for a chef, and if you're going to take on this thirty-day challenge, you'd better make sure you're using a knife safely. That includes giving your knives a good sharpen – the most dangerous knife is a blunt knife, after all.

Day 3: Learn how to make a soufflé

Soufflé has undone many a Masterchef competitor over the years. Though they are notoriously temperamental, they aren't actually that difficult to make – just stick to the steps and yours will come out tall and proud.

Day 4: Make fresh pasta

Making your own pasta is an essential skill that unlocks a whole new world of recipes. It's also not especially difficult – though it takes a bit of practice to get right. Don't stress about pasta flour – you can make pasta with regular flour and it'll turn out just fine.

Day 5: Go foraging for something edible

On the assumption that you can still go outside, foraging is a nice way to get a bit of fresh air and bag a bit of free food into the bargain. Wild garlic is sprouting all over wooded areas at the moment, and other treats like hop shoots, wood sorrel and woodruff will soon be appearing too. You might have to skip this step if you're not advised to go outside!

Day 6: Make a sourdough starter

After years of enjoying sourdough and toying with the idea of making your own starter, now you have all the time in the world to nurture your first sourdough into the world. Check out this sourdough starter recipe to get you started.

Day 7: Learn how to temper chocolate

Tempering is essential if you want your chocolate to look smooth and glossy when you work with it. Find out more about the two main methods and make this key skill part of your arsenal.

Day 8: Make gnocchi

The principles of making gnocchi are straight-forward, but great gnocchi takes practice. If you don't dry out your cooked potato, your dough will be too wet. Overwork it and your gnocchi will be chewy. Underwork and they'll fall apart in the boiling water! All these tips and more in our handy gnocchi guide.

Day 9: Bake a loaf of bread

Time to put that sourdough starter you made earlier to the test! Or you can just make a regular loaf. Bread is one of the most rewarding things you can make as a cook – it's a product of simple ingredients, but there are so many little details that go into a great loaf of bread. We have plenty of recipes and guides for you to get stuck into.

Day 10: Learn how to make hot cross buns for Easter

If you started this on time, you should be arriving at Easter right about now. Time to get those hot cross buns in the oven!

Day 11: Ferment something

If you've already got a jar of sauerkraut or kimchi on the go from day one, you'll be familiar with the basics of fermentation. You can apply those principles to all sorts of other things – if you have any other vegetables going off you can preserve them in salt. Check out our fermentation recipe collection for more ideas.

Day 12: Learn how to cook a new cuisine

We've been very fortunate to host a wide variety of wonderful chefs and food bloggers from all over the world. Day twelve is for learning a new cuisine, whether that's from Myanmar, Bangladesh, or somewhere else in the world!

Day 13: Make pizza dough

Pizza is a delicious way to use up all the tinned tomatoes and flour you've got in your cupboards. Teach yourself the intricacies of great pizza dough, then make the kitchen into a Napolitan pizza parlour.

Day 14: Go vegan for a day

More and more of us are giving vegan and flexitarian diets a try. If you haven't yet been persuaded, perhaps now is the time! There's something for everyone in our enormous vegan recipe collection.

Day 15: Pickle something

Pickling, like fermenting, is a simple way to preserve your food, but instead of preserving in salt, you're preserving in acid. Check out our pickling primer and get stuck in.

Day 16: Host a virtual dinner party

If solo dining is getting a bit lonely, see if you can round up a few friends for a virtual dinner party! Organise a time, pick a few flowers, prop your phone up and enjoy your quality time with your mates over a lasagna.

Day 17: Learn how to make your own miso

Miso takes some time to ferment, but the sooner you get started, the sooner you can eat delicious miso soup. You'll need soybeans to make normal miso, but you can make miso from lots of different grains and seeds. You'll need some koji – try and order some online if you can – but everything else you need should be within reach!

Day 18: Make a macaron

Like soufflés, macarons have a reputation for being temperamental and difficult to make. In fact, they just require you to stick rigidly to the quantities and instructions – if you guestimate the amounts of flour, almonds, sugar and egg, you stand a good chance of ending up with flat macarons. Follow our guide and you'll be a master pâtissière in no time.

Whether you've managed to get your hands on a chicken or you just have some spare vegetables knocking about – don't throw anything away! Those chicken bones are a free ticket to a beautiful chicken stock that will transform another couple of dishes, and any spare vegetables and herbs can be made into stock in just an hour or two.

Day 22: Have a spring clean of your larder

By this point your larder is probably in need of a good clean – time to drag everything out and give it a good deep clean. Clean out the fridge whilst you're at it. If you've already been cleaning your fridge, larder and cupboards, bonus points for you.

Day 23: Make a bottle of shrub

A shrub is a fruit-based syrup, usually mixed with vinegar, to create a delicious, tangy flavouring for drinks. It's simple to make and once you understand the basic method, you can get creative with your own flavour combinations! Find out more in our handy guide.

Day 24: Do a cook-a-long with friends

Time to round up those virtual friends again! This time we're doing a cook-a-long – organise a time to get everyone on a video call, then teach them one of the skills you've learnt over the last few weeks.

Day 25: Learn how to make orecchiette

If you've already taught yourself to make fresh egg pasta, this should be easy! The dough for handmade fresh pasta is a simple combination of flour and water – once you've made that, it's just a case of shaping your orecchiette and figuring out a sauce to eat them with!

Day 26: Make your own dumplings

Chinese dumplings are very versatile and they can be a really elegant way of combining a few different flavours in a small package. Our guide goes over how to make and shape a simple dumpling using wonton wrappers, and the recipe collection has loads more ideas to give you some inspiration.

Day 27: Deep clean your oven

It's the day you've all been dreading – time to clean the oven! It's had plenty of use thus far and you'll never get a better chance to give it a good deep clean.

Day 28: Make a risotto

Risotto is a wonderful thing – versatile, delicious, a fantastic vehicle for flavours. Take a look at our guide for some very useful tips and tricks to nailing perfect risotto, then dive into the extensive recipe collection alongside.

Day 29: Make arancini

A bit of leftover risotto is the perfect excuse to make arancini the next day – all you need is some breadcrumbs, egg, flour and oil!

Day 30: Pretend to be a mixologist

If you've made it to day thirty, you deserve a drink! Have a look in the dark depths of your drinks cupboards and see if you can't fix yourself a tasty cocktail to celebrate your achievements. Cheers!

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