Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 13:26 UK

Recipes by heart: Your comments

Roast turkey
Half of people surveyed were able to prepare a traditional roast dinner.

The average Briton can make 10 meals from scratch without having to look at a recipe, a survey commissioned by the UKTV Food channel suggests.

Spaghetti bolognese is the most popular dish, with 65% of people saying they know the recipe by heart.

The traditional roast dinner comes in second place with 54% of people able to prepare it unaided.

BBC News website readers have been sending their comments to these results. Some of them even sent some quick recipes.


So basically so long as there is minced beef in the recipe Britons know what to do with it?
Paul, Leeds

There are some great English dishes, including those mentioned, but also things like Beef Wellington, Lancashire hotpot, etc. The issue these days is that they do tend to take longer, and require more preparation than a simple spagbol. It is definitely worth it if people have the time though.
Greg Heywood, Wellingborough

I'd be willing to bet that the results of a good chunk of those who say they can prepare classic Italian dishes would make the average Italian either laugh or cry!
Sarah, Grimsby

Favorites = "Cornershop Curry", a recipe direct from the couple who run the local cornershop (most defiantly deserves to be in a recipe book), lasagne, egg and oven chips, Shepard's pie, roast meat and vegetables. And anything with olives. As long as it runs from nicely edible to sublime, its origins don't matter. You could call it cooking in the round: English, Italian, French, Indian, and to a lesser extent, Middle Eastern foods. Our ingredient choices comes from hunting for bargains (limiting factor = money), so a good range of cooking styles helps make the 'catch of the day' into a good meal. Make stuff up a lot - using ingredient combinations from recipes I know, and going from there.
Vincent, Preston, Lancashire

"Those surveyed admitted they made an average of just four home-cooked meals per week." Just?! Er, people have lives. We don't all have the time to cook from scratch every night of the week.
Lauren, Surrey

Spaghetti? What's wrong with good old traditional mince and tatties? I put a bay leaf in my mince for extra flavour and aroma, and try some finely chopped mushrooms (added late on) for texture.
Allan, Edinburgh

Following an accident I can no longer cook unaided. I miss it terribly. And I am shocked at the results of this survey. There doesn't seem to be hint of people experimenting with food - seeing what happens if you combine a few ingredients. I wouldn't use a recipe for any of those recipes, and they would be different every time because I would add stuff I had in the fridge. Plus I can't help wondering if some of the people in the survey use ready prepared sauces for their curry, etc. Proper cookery from ingredients not jars needs to go right back on the school curriculum!
Liz, Stockport

Spaghetti bolognese and mince and tatties are all I can make without it being a disaster!
Gary W, Edinburgh

Depends what you'd define as "from scratch". For instance, for toad-in-the-hole, I could tell you how to make the batter mix from flour, milk, water and eggs, but I wouldn't know where to start turning a pig into sausages. Is using ready-made sausages "convenience food" or an acceptable scratch ingredient? I use ready-made pasta for my spag bol, too...
Mary, Warwickshire

Where's the full English breakfast? I'd have thought that was the meal in its varied styles and combinations that most Brits, male and female, were able to cook. I wonder how many of the survey respondents used jars and packets of ready-made sauces to "cook" their bologneses, chillis and curries. I own 50+ cookery books, but I'm finding the internet a fascinating resource because there is often feedback from other cooks about success, pitfalls and variations of a recipe.
Bar958, Northants

I think everyone would know how to make an English breakfast if they put their mind to it!
Catherine, Leicester

Moussaka, greek pork, spinach rice, dhansak, tikka, paella, rogan josh, jalfrezi, chana dishes, ragu, risotto, jumbalaya, chicken chaat, Irish stew, beef in beer, Thai mussels, where do I stop. All from memory and I'm a bloke! I do continental and my wife does the British classics.
Andy W, Sheffield

I bought a cookbook called The Joy of Cooking when I left home aged 17. I learned to cook using that and now hardly ever use recipes for anything. When I come home from abroad I can usually replicate things I have enjoyed eating, using ingredients I have available. I cook from scratch, by instinct and for the pleasure of it.
SD, Suffolk

I love making risotto - it's so versatile! It can be "poshed up" for a nice meal or just chucked in a bowl for comfort food. It can have anything added to the basic recipe, it's brilliant and I'm surprised it didn't make it onto the list.
Emma-Louise Brown, Bristol

They forgot the allotment holders favourite, scrambled Chucky Egg on Toast.
Mrs Hen, Barnsley

I cook every day, but rarely a "British staple" as they are bland and vegetarians unfriendly! Most of my friends cook, and like me, it seems that foreign recipes are almost always better (they go for French or Italian - I go for Malaysian or African). We are probably typical 30-somethings and we have outgrown our 'own' cuisine.
Katharine, Nottingham

Having been a chef for over 25 years I feel that the art of 'good home cooking' is on the decline due mainly to the fast life styles we lead, it is easier to pick up a take away on the way home, and the fact that old traditional British recipes are being lost because no one is passing them down to the next generation so we are becoming a nation of cant cook or wont cook.
William Towers, West Sussex

My favourite dish I make is fish pie, and everyone I have made it for has always asked for the recipe. It's a classic!
Sadie Norman, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Does this survey say that off the top of their heads means using packet or jar sauces? Otherwise this claim is very hard to believe! On a personal note, my favourite is chilli made with lean lamb mince.
Anil, Harpenden

Observant cooks and non-cooks amongst us will note that if one can cook Spaghetti bolognese, then chilli con carne, lasagne and cottage pie are all very close cousins. Likewise if you can cook toad in the hole, then you can make pancakes too!
Simon, Yeovil

Having left home wholly unable to cook anything, struggling to cook "proper" food in my 20's, turning 30 and having children finally motivated me to nearly always cook meals from fresh. My favourite one to eat (though not necessarily prepare!) is Kedgeree! (Arborio rice, smoked haddock, egg, etc.) I can cook most of these top ten dishes though I don't tackle curries. Tuna and pasta bake, homemade pizzas, fresh sauces for pasta and fish pies are others I can do easily. Simple skills I wish I'd mastered earlier are things like breading fresh fish, grilling poultry and fish well, as they are key to simple, healthy dinners for the family, just add veg!
Jane Matthews, Surrey

Good ol' British Army Corned Beef Hash... Taking a couple tins of corned beef, a tin of tomatoes, beans, tinned new potatoes and some onions, put the corned beef in a biggish pan on a low heat and cook for a few minutes without burning using a wooden spoon to break the meat down, add the drained potatoes and onions and continue to cook for a few more minutes and then add the whole tin of tomatoes, then the beans and continue to cook turning the heat down to simmer a bit. My kids loved it and the above would feed us two adults and three hungry kids.
Ian, Dorset

Does cheese on toast count?
Mike Jarrey, Putney

British beef and ale pie, in season vegetables and boiled spuds and gravy left over from the pie. Made with my own homebrew specifically developed for the purpose.
Tom Potts, Holsworthy, Devon

This seems rather misleading; I don't cook "recipes" as such, but, rather, food! I steam or poach fish, or put meat into a casserole dish with some vegetables, but these meals, from fresh ingredients don't have "chef-y" names. There is no definitive way of cooking them.
Joan, Bedford

"Those surveyed admitted they made an average of just four home-cooked meals per week." Is that so bad? Cook Monday to Thursday, Take-away Friday, meal out Saturday, visit the parents on Sunday.
Paul Dobson, Swindon

I like traditional European food, whether it be British, Spanish, German etc. I am a vegetarian which means I have to look further then Britain for recipe ideas. My favourite meals would use salad, olives, watercress, cheese and lots of garlic as ingredients. I have about 400 cookery books, but rarely stick to any specific recipes. I always adapt them to suit my personal tastes
Rosemary Potter, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Jambalaya, dead easy to cook, kids love it. Do the whole lot in one pot in 30 minutes.
Bill, Cheshire

Gosh, some of the results are rather shocking. I prefer to cook British classics, such as toad in the hole, meat with tons of veg you can never go wrong. I will admit I only own one recipe book, and that's only because it's my Great Grandfathers from before the war. It's now easier to look online if I do need some assistance, or, I try and 'wing it'.
Mae, Ipswich Suffolk


I could cook all of these meals without referring to a recipe, except the chili con carne. Six years of boarding school put me off "British classics". A quick fix sweet and sour sauce that can convert any stir fry is 1/2 cup soya sauce, a good squidge of ketchup, splash of wine vinegar, splash of sweet sherry and a large spoon of cornflour.
NvW, Athens, Greece

The top four meals are routinely massacred in the UK. Perhaps Brits should use recipes instead of thinking they know it by heart. No Italian would accept a "spaghetti bolognese" that looked like your photo, by the way. Did it perhaps come from a tin? Looks like we're still in the 1950s.
Brian, Berlin, Germany

A lot of people I meet in Italy think that shepard's pie is the staple diet of the British, I shall happily correct them with the fact that more Brits know how to cook spag bol and lasagne than shepard's Pie.
Matthew Newman, Rome, Italy

My favourite is spaghetti bolognese with extra cheese, followed by chicken Devon. I tend to favour foreign recipes over British classics, but the Britons, from my experience, have the best breakfast by far. By the way, depending on how you define "recipe", it could be very likely that most people know much more than 10 recipes by heart. I know, for instance, how to prepare a bagel with cream cheese without a "recipe". I know how to prepare myself a glass of water without a "recipe".
Pooch, New York, USA

I am British and live in the USA. I regularly cook eight out of the ten recipes listed above for my family so I am proud I am maintaining my heritage! I also follow the tradition of fish and chips on a Friday ! Salmon for myself and the Cod or Haddock for the family. I buy fresh fish from the local supermarket though sometimes cheat and buy fresh fried from a local seafood store run by... two British women !
Katharine McNealey, Connecticut, USA

I was shocked not to see bangers and mash on the list.
Ellis Seawell, Martinez, California, USA

I'm shocked. We cook at least 12-13 meals a week including packed lunches because no-one eats sandwiches - and we hardly ever cook the same thing twice. Current favourites are lamb and apricot tagine, ham and goats' cheese pancakes, red lentil and carrot soup, and baked custard with red fruits. We devised all the recipes ourselves. Ooops, we must be foodies.
Sam, France

Here is an easy dish: 200g prawns, 300g mussels, 5 baby octopus (simmer for 40 minutes, remember to slice the occy), 6 fish balls sliced. Sauce: Thick cream cheese, cup of sweet chilli sauce (I would add half cup hot chilli, optional), egg fettuccine (cook till tender). Method: Cook all seafood. Use high-sided saucepan, melt down cheese and chilli sauce to a nice medium thick sauce, throw in seafood. Hopefully you have now cooked the pasta. Add this to the mix, coat everything and simmer for couple of minutes. That's the seafood dish - make a fresh side salad, I can't tell you, it is as you want!! Brits have a go! And let me know.
Spenser Dike, Perth, Australia

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