O level Notes : Food Technology Design - Preparation, Cooking And Presentation Of Different Food And Beverages - Skills in meal and beverage preparation

A good cook should be able to show mastery of skill in meal and beverage preparation through good choice of skilful dishes when planning meals for the family.

Preservation of nutrients and observation of food safety practices in handling food and equipment should be expressed. In this section we shall discuss in greater detail the skills in meal and beverage preparation.

Skilful dishes

A skilful dish is the one that enables the cook to display more than one skill during the preparation and cooking of the dish. The following choices or combinations show how one can come up with skilful dishes.

  • Selecting meat dishes such as stews and casseroles where colour, seasoning, thickening and appearance are so important.
  • Serving fried or roast meat with all its suitable accompaniments.
  • Baked goods such as pastries, cakes, yeast doughs, or biscuits are quite skilful.
  • Choosing batter dishes such as sweet and savoury pan cakes, fritters will form a skilful selection.
  • Flans and cakes with glazed fruit.
  • Glace and butter icing on a decorated cake.
  • Using different methods of cooking to prepare a meal not only does it bring variety in a meal but also empower the cook to showcase his ability to use different methods of cooking effectively.

Food safety and manipulative skills in handling food and equipment

Kitchens are the busiest rooms of the house therefore it is imperative to maintain good kitchen hygiene. Washing hand sanitizing kitchen surfaces and knowing how to handle fresh produce and raw meats are essential practices of kitchen hygiene. Ensuring proper hygiene when cleaning, preparing, cooking and storing of food is critical in order to prevent food borne illnesses including diarrhoea, E coli, hepatitis A, and salmonella poisoning. Safety must be observed when handling food mixtures and equipment in order to prevent accidents. The following guidelines must be observed by the food handler to ensure a safe and clean food preparation environment, and serving of food that is safe to eat during preparation of food for the family and during examination sessions.

a) Kitchen hygiene and safety rules

  • Sanitize sponges, swabs and dishtowels periodically. Dirty sponges, swabs and dishtowels are perfect host for rapidly growing bacteria. Soak dishtowels, swabs and sponges in a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach and 1 litre of warm water to clean and disinfect them. Change dishtowels and sponges every  few months.
  • Thoroughly clean kitchen  counters,  disinfecting  them  regularly.  Wipe  spills immediately using a clean swab.
  • Clean cutting boards after each use in warm soapy water, rinse well and dry.

Sanitize once a week. It is recommended to use separate cutting boards for bread and fresh produce and another for seafood, raw meat and poultry to avoid cross contamination.

  • Keep the refrigerator clean by wiping off spills inside the fridge immediately and wash it once a week using warm water and baking soda solution. Clear any spoilt veggies or debris from food and produce.
  • Do not leave dirty dishes to pile up in the sinks. Wash as you go. Wash using clean warm soapy water. Follow the proper cleaning procedure.
  • Keep the working area clean and tidy by organising equipment efficiently and arranging it conveniently.
  • Dispose waste in a lined bin and keep it covered. Do not dispose any liquids in the bin. Empty the bin after each cooking session.
  • Keep the floor clean by wiping any splashes and sweeping any broken items immediately.
  • Always use clean water for cleaning and cooking purposes.
  • Dispose waste in a lined bin and keep in covered. Do not dispose any liquids in the bin. Empty the bin after each cooking session. Take note of the following points to consider when disposing waste in order to keep the environment clean and safe.

-             Recycle reusable containers such as food packaging material.

-             Compost all biodegradable food waste.

-              Make use of leftover food to prepare other meals in order to reduce food waste.


b) Food hygiene and safety rules

  • Handle raw meat with caution. Always separate raw meat such as beef, seafood, poultry from other food stuffs. Put meat to be frozen in separate freezer bags, seal and freeze.
  • Thaw frozen meat thoroughly before cooking using any of the following safe ways.

- Thaw in the fridge overnight.

- Place the meat in leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge it in cold tap water and change water every 30 minutes.

- Thaw using the microwave.

- Never at room temperature on kitchen counter o in the sink.

  • Cook meat, seafood and poultry to right internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. It is recommended to use a thermometer. The following are handy guides for internal cooking temperature

- Poultry 165 C.

- Egg dishes 160 C.

- Meat 160 C.

- Lamb, veal, beef 145 C.

  • Cool left  over  foods  rapidly  and  refrigerate  within  two  hours  after  cooking.
  • Clean fruits and vegetables that have thick skins using a brush to scrub away harmful microbes. Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower should be soaked in water for about 1 minute before cleaning under clean running water. Soak leafy vegetables in a bowl of cool clean water or a solution of salt / vinegar for about five minutes, rinse and drain with a colander.
  • Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
  • Do not taste food with any utensil used either to mix or to stir food. Never use fingers to sample food, use a clean spoon.
  • Always keep food covered.
  • Avoid unhygienic handling of food such as using hands to toss a salad instead use appropriate tool.Always remember that our hands are never clean.
  • Do not touch ready to eat food with bare hands, use tongs or gloves.


c) Personal hygiene rules

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap under clean running warm water and dry with a single use towel. Never wipe hands on your clothing as this can easily transfer microbes and bacteria. Wash hands in a sink designated for washing hands and never in one used for washing food.
  • Wash hands before:

- starting to cook,

- working with ready to eat food and after handling raw food.

  • Wash hands after:

- Using the toilet.

- Coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief tissue, eating or drinking.

- Touching your hair, mouth, face, skin, nose face or scratching.

- Handling refuse or waste material.

  • Stop hair, jewellery, cloths or phone touching food or surfaces by:

- Tying hair back and wearing a hat or hairnet.

- Remove loose jewellery.

  • Cover open  sores  completely  with  brightly  coloured  wound  strip  and  wear disposable gloves. Both gloves and disposable gloves must be changed regularly.
  • Wear clean clothing and apron.
  • Do not eat, spit, sneeze, blow nose or cough over food or surfaces that touch food.
  • Keep finger nails short and clean without nail polish as it can peel off and contaminate food.
  • Avoid using strong perfumes or after shaves.
  • Food handlers should be free from any illnesses.
  • Do not eat or chew gum in food handling areas.


d) Manipulation, hygiene and safety skills when using equipment

  • When using knives:

- cut away from yourself or downwards on a chopping board to avoid cutting yourself.

- cut on a stable surface.

- keep knives clean and grease free for a form grip.

- use the correct knife for the task and for the food being cut.

- keep knives sharp.

- carry knives with the blade pointing downwards.

  • When using a knife do not:

- Leave knives loose in a drawer.

- Put knives in the sink.

- Use a knife as a tin opener.

- Run your finger down the sharp edge to test the sharpness.

- Put in the dishwasher.

  • Do not use damp towels when lifting hot food items or equipment such as removing cake tin from the oven.
  • Use oven gloves or pot holders to remove food from the oven and handling hot saucepan handles and lids respectively.
  • Stove or cooker management.

- Switch off after use.

- Clean splatter and grease spills from the hob immediately before they dry out.

- Turn saucepan handles and kettle spouts away from the pathway.

- control of heat on top of the stove.

- correct oven temperatures and positioning of dishes in the oven.

- Preheat the oven before use.

- Boil certain foods such as starch with lids off to avoid over boiling.

  • Safely grate foods such as cheese.
  • Use the correct spoon for the task, avoid stirring in a saucepan with a metal spoon instead use a wooden spoon, fry onion with a metal spoon since a wooden spoon will absorb onion the flavour.
  • Use labour saving devices to show skill in handling such equipment and using the equipment safely.


e) Manipulation skills in handling food mixtures


  • Making sauces following the correct procedure and producing the right consistency.
  • Prepare vegetables correctly for example mashing potatoes smoothly, scrapping carrot clean removing stalk from cabbage and shredding finely.
  • Weigh or measure ingredients for a dish accurately. Use the correct cooking temperature for different dishes for example stews are simmered not boiled, food is fried in hot fat not warm fat.
  • Cook for the correct cooking time, for instance simmer stews for a long time, vegetables are cooked for a short time.
  • Do not overcook or undercook food.
  • Handling flour mixtures correctly and getting the consistency right.
  • Correctly shaping dough and foods such as scones, bread rolls, burgers, fish cakes and making flans that have an even amount of pastry.
  • Avoid wasting food e.g. scrapping carrot instead of peeling, peeling vegetables thinly, not throwing food in the bin but cooking just enough food for the number being catered for


The food handlers general approach

  • Should display business-like approach and be confident.
  • Should show in working that she or he has knowledge and clear understanding of recipes and methods being used.
  • Sense of timing. Must work fast.
  • Be organised.
  • Tidy and methodical working throughout.
  • Be economical on food and fuel. 

Evaluation of cooked dishes

Ability to evaluate any prepared dish or beverage helps ensure success of all cookery efforts.  When we evaluate dishes we will be judging several factors such as Appearance and colour, size and shape, taste and flavour, freshness, texture and consistency , Smell or odour.

Words used to describe results of any food are called sensory descriptors. Below are examples of such words.

  • Appearance and  colour:  bright,  dull,  golden,  orange,  browned, creamy, attractive, greasy, healthy.
  • Taste and flavour: tangy, salty, spicy, sharp, fruity, bitter, sweet, sour.
  • Mouth-feel or texture: hard, soft, tough, rubbery, crispy dry, lumpy, soggy
  • Consistency: lumpy, smooth, thin, pouring, coating.
  • Smell and odour: burnt, fishy, herby.