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Food Preparation & Cooking

Course CodeBRE212
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn how to prepare and cook food.

Understand the principles for selecting, cleaning, cutting, preserving, flavouring, mixing, cooking... and everything else involved in preparing food for consumption.

Become a better cook at home, socially, or for work.

This course complements studies in Food and Beverage Management, Event Management and Self Sufficiency -it all depends upon why you need to learn food preparation. Some may wish to become more self sufficient, others may wish to work in a restaurant, catering services, culinary supplies (eg. a kitchen shop) or hospitality services.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • History of cooking/ Trends
    • Principles of Cooking
    • Nutrition
    • Scope of the Catering industry
    • Weights and measures
    • Basic cooking techniques
    • Terms
  2. Fruit and vegetables
    • Why eat Fruit & Vegetables How much a person should eat; How poor preparation can damage nutritional value
    • How to choose fruit and vegetables when shopping
    • Basics of preparation- peeling slicing etc
    • Cooking techniques
    • Nutritional information relating to food group
  3. Cereals & Starches; Bread, cereals and potatoes
    • Preparation- including how to make fresh pasta
    • Why eat cereals & starch; How much a person should eat; How poor preparation can damage nutritional value
    • How to prepare potatoes- different types of potato dishes- mashed, boiled, dauphinoise etc
    • Cooking pasta- different recipes
    • Cooking Rice, cous cous etc.
    • Nutritional information relating to food group
  4. Meat Fish and Alternatives
    • How much a person should eat
    • How poor preparation can damage nutritional value
    • Selecting the perfect cut of meat/ basic butchery, fish mongery
    • How to prepare and cook it, which sauces compliment it.
    • Eggs- cooking different types
    • Cooking with pulses
    • Nutritional information relating to food group
  5. Milk and dairy
    • How much a person should eat
    • How poor preparation can damage nutritional value
    • Cheese making basics
    • Cheese types and recipes
    • Basic recipes e.g. Macaroni cheese
    • Dairy free cooking
    • Yoghurt
    • How to make it, use in sauces
    • Dairy free cooking
    • Nutritional information relating to food group
  6. Fats and Sugars
    • How much a person should eat
    • How poor preparation can damage nutritional value
    • How to make perfect puddings
    • Types of fat
    • How to adapt recipes to reduce sugar and fat- catering for low fat and low sugar dietary requirements
    • Nutritional information relating to food group
  7. Flavouring Food
    • More on complimenting foods- sauces- cream, wine, butter, vinaigrette etc
    • Stocks
    • Use of herbs/ seasoning
  8. Menu planning on a Small Scale
    • Designing menus- complimenting foods
    • Recipes simple to advanced- Seasonal foods
    • Planning a dinner party- case study
  9. Menu Planning on a Large Scale
    • Planning Meals/Catering for parties and events; outdoor, indoor etc
    • Restaurant Menus/Catering

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Food Preparation - The Basics

 
With this course we will help you develop a love of cooking and at this stage you are probably eager to get started on learning some recipes and cooking techniques.
 
Whether you are cooking at home for friends and family or are intending to use your newly acquired skills in the catering industry, it is important to appreciate the steps involved in basic food preparation as ignoring these can be costly later. In fact to fully appreciate this you could spend some time watching a professional chef, the best chefs will ensure that all essential ingredients are sourced and prepared well in advance allowing all meals to be cooked quickly to order.  
 
Here are some basic steps to consider- additional tips for different types of food will be given throughout the course.
 
Step one - Source your ingredient in advance
Whether you intend following a recipe or are preparing a dish you know off by heart, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have all the necessary ingredients. There's no point starting to cook and then finding out that a vital ingredient is missing. To avoid this happening take all the ingredients out of the cupboard and line them up on your work surface (i.e. all ingredients that do not need to stay in the refrigerator until cooking).
 
Step 2 - Wash your hands
Your hands can easily spread bacteria around the kitchen and onto food. This is why it's important to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap both before cooking and after handling raw ingredients such as meat and poultry.
 
Step 3 - Keep your worktops and cooking materials clean
Before you start preparing food, it’s important to make sure that your worktops, kitchen utensils and chopping boards are clean. Also don't forget to change dish cloths and tea towels regularly as these can also harbour bacteria.
 
Step 4 - Separate raw meat/fish from dry/ ready prepared ingredients
More details on food safety and raw meats / poultry are given in lesson 3 but at this point remember that it is especially important to keep raw meat and fish away from foods ready for consumption such as salad, fruit and bread. These foods won't be cooked before you eat them any bacteria that come into contact them will not be killed in the cooking process.
 
Step 5 - Where relevant wash, peel, chop and grate ingredients before you start cooking.
 
Step 6 - Clean up/ clear up as you go along so that you keep work surfaces clean and manageable

Cooking Terminology

As you start following recipes you are likely to discover some cookery terms that are unfamiliar. A few basic food preparation and cooking terms are shown below and others will be provided in different lessons of the course. Try to ensure you are familiar with each of the preparation/ cooking techniques used in a recipe before you start out.
 
Preparation terms:
 
Cutting
Cutting refers to breaking foods up into smaller pieces which are usually in a uniform shape. There are different cutting techniques which are considered in other lessons e.g. slicing, dicing and shredding. In contrast chopping is a term used to refer to cutting foods into pieces such as cubes when chopping foods we generally make a larger cut and the chopped food does not have to be uniform.
 
Whisking
Whisking refers to the process of beating an ingredient repeatedly and vigorously to allow air to be incorporated so that the food becomes frothy. Common foods that are whisks include eggs and cream.
 
Kneading
Is a term used in bread and cake making. Kneading involves mixing stiff dough by repeatedly compressing it and folding it in or over. Kneading allows the development of sheets of gluten in the mixture and to incorporate air.
 
Cooking methods
Today we use a vast array of different cooking techniques including baking, roasting, stewing, frying, grilling, smoking, boiling and steaming. Many of these techniques can be traced back thousands of years to more recent methods such as micro-waving. We shall examine some of these methods in this lesson. Throughout the course you will also have opportunities to try out different cooking techniques and will see that the chosen method of cooking greatly affects the end result with some foods being more appropriate to some cooking methods than others. 
 
Roasting
Roasting is defined to cook food in an uncovered pan. This is a cooking method that utilises dry heat which can be from an open flame, oven, or other heat source. In the roasting process food may be placed on a rack, in a roasting pan or rotated e.g. on a rotisserie. As foods are roasted they are exposed to high heat which produces a well-browned surface and seals in the juices. Roasting is a good cooking method for large, tender cuts of meat and can also be used to cook poultry and fish. Additionally, you can roast vegetables and this works particularly well if you are roasting alongside especially if you roast them alongside meat. You can also roast firm fruits, like apples, pears and tomatoes. This is usually referred to as baking instead of roasting but essentially there is no difference in the process involved. 
 
Frying
Frying involves cooking food in fat over a heat source. It is believed that this method of cooking has originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. There are different methods of frying deep frying food e.g. in deep frying food is submerged in hot, liquid fat, while in frying (also called pan frying ) or sautéing food , food is cooked in less fat which des not completely cover the food. You can fry a wide variety of foods including vegetables, eggs (e.g. in the form of a fried egg, omelette or pancake), fish, meat and poultry.
Equipment required: heat source, fat or oil and a suitable pan e.g. a Shallow Frying Pan - for eggs, fish, meat etc, a Sauté Pan or deep pan with a lid for frying chicken etc.
 
Grilling
Grilling involves the application of heat to the surface of food, commonly from above or below the food source.
Grilled foods can be cooked in a number of different ways including over a heat source e.g. on a barbeque or gas/ electric grill, under a heat source e.g. under a gas or electric grill or between heat e.g. between electrically heated grill bars. You can grill a wide variety of foods including Fish, meat and vegetables, e.g. mushrooms and tomatoes.
There are several advantages to grilling foods e.g. food can be cooked quickly, foods are given a distinctive appearance and flavour,  grilling meats is also far healthier than other methods which are used to cook meats as this method allows some visible fats to drain from the meat. As a disadvantage, grilling can dry out foods and is not suitable for older tougher cuts of meat.
Equipment required: A grill and tongs/ spatulas, are necessary for getting foods on and off the hot grill rack and for turning over foods.
 
Steaming
Involves cooking in the steam resulting from boiling water. The water itself never comes into contact with the food. Steaming can be done by pouring a small amount of water in a saucepan and keeping it on the boil so that the resulting steam can cook the food or alternatively it is possible to purchase a specifically designed steamer both techniques require you to ensure that the cooking water does not run dry. Steaming is a healthy method of cooking as it requires no fat to be added and also helps to preserve the vitamins and minerals in food against boiling where these nutrients can be leached out of the food and lost into the boiling water. 
Equipment required: Heat source, large cooking pot, water and a steaming rack, colander, or steamer
 
Boiling
Boiling is defined as cooking in a liquid that has reached its highest possible temperature of 212°F (100oC). Most foods can be boiled including pasta, potatoes, rice, vegetables and seafood. Boiling food has a number of advantages e.g. it is an easy method of cooking which lends itself to large scale cookery. It is also an effective method of cooking older, tougher cuts of meat and poultry making them more digestible. Despite these advantages, there are also some disadvantages. One main disadvantage is that water soluble vitamins are lost into the cooking water. This is a particular problem if vegetables are cooked in too much water and for too long. Some boiled foods can look unattractive e.g. some meats and boiling can also be a slow method of cooking food. 
 
Equipment required:
  • A suitable pan e.g. saucepans/ stock pot
  • Heat source
  • Cooking liquid e.g. water, stock, milk, cream
 
Measuring quantities
 
Today most recipes expect you to measure out distinct quantities of solids or liquids using specific measuring utensils (scales or graduated jugs), however, when recipes were first developed required quantities were expressed in terms of what would be to hand, like 'teaspoons' 'tablespoons' and 'cups'. 
 
The ‘cup’ is now little used in British recipes but continues to be used as a measure in American cook books.
Further confusion also results from the fact that a cup has a different volume in Britain than in America. It’s important to be aware of this where you are using an older British recipe where cups are used.  In both countries a cup is equivalent to half a pint, however, there are 16 fluid ounces to a pint in the US and 20 in the UK.
 
For most recipes access to a measuring jug/ food scales in an essential part of the cooking process, although there continues to be differences in the way foods are measured. In the United States, for example, both dry and liquid ingredients are measured the same way using the same measuring device and the same units are used to measure volume. In the US other units of measure are used as well such as teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, pints, and quarts. British (Imperial) units of measure are referred to in the same terms as in the U.S. system, such ounces and pounds. In the rest of the world the metric system is used where measurements are made in terms of litres (l) millilitres (ml), grams (g), kilograms (kg) and temperature is measured in degrees Celsius (oC).
 
In addition, some more everyday measures have also been redefined in terms of metric units e.g.
1 teaspoon (denoted as t. or tsp.) = 5 millilitres 
1 dessertspoon = 2 teaspoons = 10 millilitres 
1 tablespoon (tbsp.) = 3 teaspoons = 15 millilitres 
In contrast to this, Australian recipes use a 15ml dessert spoon and a 20ml tablespoon. 
 
Just to note that although the Metric system has been taught in UK schools since the 1970s and is now mandatory for the sale of food, a very large part of the population continues to use Imperial measures. To make it easier most modern cookery books give ingredients in both imperial and metric units.
 


Meet some of our academics

Dr Karen CrippsPhD, MSc, BA Hons A highly respected expert on sustainability, former university lecturer, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in tourism and business.
Jade SciasciaBiologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.
Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Karen LeeNutritional Scientist, Dietician, Teacher and Author. BSc. Hons. (Biological Sciences), Postgraduate Diploma Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered dietitian in the UK, with over 15 years working in the NHS. Karen has undertaken a number of research projects and has lectured to undergraduate university students. Has co authored two books on nutrition and several other books in health sciences.


Check out our eBooks

Food PreservingIdeal for students of nutrition, self sufficiency or horticulture, the food preservation ebook is a great introduction to preserving food.
Working With PeopleA job and careers guide for people who like working with people -covering everything from counselling and personnel management to marketing, health and education
Event ManagementThe Event Management ebook is a complementary text for event management students or professionals working in the field. The ebook goes through the considerations and elements of an event and what needs to be organised when an event is in the planning stage.
Human NutritionBoth a text for students, or an informative read for anyone who wants to eat better. While covering the basics, the book approaches nutrition a little differently here to some other books, with sections covering ”Modifying diet according to Genetic Disposition or Lifestyle”, “How to find Reliable Information on Nutrition” and “Understanding how Diet relates to Different Parts of the Body” (including Urinary, Digestive, Respiratory and Circulatory System, the Brain, etc). This ebook was written to complement the ACS Nutrition I course, and provides a solid foundation for anyone wanting to grasp a fundamental understanding of Human Nutrition. 41 pages