It’s been almost a year since the UK first went into lockdown and it’s safe to say we’re all feeling the strain.
Mind’s recent survey actually found that more than half of adults said their mental health has got worse during lockdown. So, while we’re all trying to stay sane, connecting with friends is key. That’s where a Zoom cookalong comes in. You can virtually gather your friends, fire up the stove and spend a few blissful hours cooking, eating, and talking. The perfect plan for forgetting the pandemic for a hot second. How To Set Up A Zoom Cookalong Organise a time and date with your friends. Choose a day with no competing time pressures so no one will be pulled away mid cookalong. Choose a recipe and make sure everyone’s bought the right ingredients for the meal ahead of time. Set up a Zoom meeting beforehand and share the link with your gang. Log on, start cooking, and enjoy.
Top tip: the key to a successful cookalong is choosing a recipe that suits the whole group — make sure you gauge skill levels and dietary requirements ahead of time to keep everyone happy.
Below I've offered eight options to get you started plus all the info you'll need in terms of difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and diets.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t like Pad Thai? Neither, so make this
Jamie Oliver version on Zoom with your friends and get ready to feel really smug (turns out Pad Thai isn’t that complicated). Do all your preparation while you’re chatting and make sure to start the cooking process at the same time — it’s really quick once you get going. Skill level: Medium Fish Finger Tacos
Crunchy fish fingers. Soft tortillas. Spikey slaw. These
Waitrose fish finger tacos couldn’t be easier or tastier if they tried, which makes them perfect for a Friday night cookalong. The key to really crunchy tacos is to cook the fish fingers for longer than the packet suggests — you want to make sure they’re crisp and golden before you whip them out. Ice cold margaritas aren’t essential, but they’re encouraged. Skill level: Easy Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate fondant is the ultimate show stopper (there’s a reason they’re always making them on Masterchef). You can eat them straight out of the oven, so they’re perfect for virtual cooking.
Gordon Ramsay’s recipe in Red magazine is properly sumptuous and a good challenge to sink your teeth into. This recipe makes four, so scale down if you’re so inclined. Or eat all four, no one’s judging. Skill level: Hard Suitable for vegetarians Risotto
Good risotto requires constant stirring, which effectively chains you to the hob. That makes it ideal for a long, relaxed cookalong with your friends on Zoom. Choose a basic risotto recipe (I trust
Jamie Oliver’s) and customise it to your tastes. You could try adding mushrooms and truffle oil for a rich, warming version, or peas and pancetta for something more spritely. Whatever you choose, settle in for a languid cooking session and make sure you’ve got some good conversation going. Skill level: Easy Can be suitable for vegetarians and vegans Sweetcorn Fritters
If you’re missing mimosa-soaked brunches as much as we are then it’s time to gather up your gang and get them on a brunch cookalong.
Sweetcorn fritters with avocado salsa is the perfect dish — easy to prepare, quick to cook, and seriously tasty. And because you’re in the comfort of your own kitchen, you won’t even have to stumble home from the restaurant at 3 p.m. on a Saturday. Skill level: Easy Suitable for vegetarians Best Ever Brownies These rich, gooey brownies are actually the Best Ever, as their name suggests. Three types of chocolate baked together to create rib-sticking sumptuous brownies that are perfect for a Zoom cookalong. Yes, they should technically be left to cool for half an hour before you cut into them, but this is your kitchen, your rules, and who’s going to stop you from eating a hot, melty brownie straight out of the oven? Skill level: Medium Suitable for vegetarians Summer Rolls
Remember summer? Neither. Get those holiday vibes into your kitchen and get excited for warmer, restriction-free days with your friends with summer rolls. They require some specialist ingredients like rice paper and vermicelli noodles, but they’re worth the extra effort.
This recipe from BBC Good Food suggests filling these paper-thin rolls with prawns, herbs and lettuce, but it’s so adaptable that vegans, vegetarians can choose a combination to suit them. Skill level: Medium Can be suitable for vegetarians and vegan Crab Mac 'N'Cheese
Queen Nigella Lawson knows a thing or two about luxury, and
this mac'n'cheese is luxury in a bowl. This recipe has enough of a process to feel like you and your friends have truly cooked together and is exciting enough to make the eating really special. Yes, it’s a bit extra. But lockdowns are hard and you deserve to treat yourself. Skill level: Medium
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