Shortcuts for Easy Cooking

January 18, 2012

  • When making burgers place your block of mince meat on a sheet of cling film and roll up into a sausage shape, twists the ends and put in the fridge to set. To get the burger patties simply slice through the sausage and clingfilm. These can either be frozen for use later (once the mince wasn’t frozen to begin with) or cooked straight away. Remember to remove the clingfilm wrapping before cooking. (Heston Blumenthall)
  • Cut 20 cherry tomatoes in seconds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbUF-VlOySg
  • Soaking your popcorn kernels in water for a few minutes will help the corn pop quicker and result in few unpopped kernels.
  • If you need softened butter for baking but forgot to take it out of the fridge grate it instead. (Martha Stewart)
  • Oil a grater to prevent cheese sticking to it.
  • Pinch the bottom of bananas to peel them the easy way.
  • Freezing mozzerrella makes it easier to grate. (Martha Stewart)
  • Keep ginger in your freezer and then grate into dishes as require.
  • When preparing tacos, line your taco shell with a large lettuce leaf. If the shell breaks (like most of them do) the lettuce leaf will hold the rest of the contents together.
  • Freeze fresh herbs and crumble into dishes are required.
  • Avoid watery sauces / salads by removing the seeds from tomatoes. A melon baller is useful for this. (Martha Stewart)
  • Place a marshmallow in the bottom of your cone before filling it with ice cream. This will stop any ice cream from dripping out the bottom of the cone and minimize messes.
  • If you accidentally burn your gravy just transfer it to another pan and continue cooking it. Slowly add sugar (tasting as you go to avoid adding too much). The sugar will cancel out any of the burnt taste.
  • To avoid a black ring around your boiled eggs cook it off the heat. Bring your egg to the boil in cold water, then remove from the heat and leave in the warm water for 3-6 mins. (Heston Blumenthall)
  • Put a tray of water into the oven with your bread to get a nice crust. (Lorraine Pascall)
  • Use an egg slicer to cut fruit (Martha Stewart)
  • Use a cheese slicer to get thin slices of real butter.
  • To intensify the tomatoiness of a sauce add a section of tomato vine. (Heston Blumenthall)
  • To boost the flavour or a soup or sauce put the heel of parmesan into it when simmering. Fish out before serving.
  • Give your kids the spoons you get with ground coffee when baking. It makes the job of spooning ingredients much easier for them.
  • Steep your vegetables in salted water to get them really crisp. Just pat them dry and fry as normal. (Mickael Viljanen)
  • When roasting or frying veg, oil the veg not the pan. It uses less oil and gets a nice even coating.
  • Star anise in beef stews and cassoroles intensifies the flavour of the meat. (Heston Blumentall)
  • Brown sugar adds a lovely caramel flavour to cakes. (Lorraine Pascall)
  • Always turn veg onto the flatest side when chopping to avoid accidents
  • Add garlic towards the end of frying to avoid it burning. It goes bitter when burnt.
  • Place a tea towel under a bowl / chopping board to keep it from moving on the counter (Jamie Oliver)
  • To cut up florettes of broccoli cut into the base of the florette’s stem and then tear the florette apart. It divides much more cleanly.
  • Add salt to chocolate to improve it’s flavour.
  • Adding breadcrumbs soaked in milk to meatballs gives them a lovely soft texture (Catherine Fulvio)
  • When baking potatoes push a metal skewer though the middle. This will halve the cooking time.
  • Make dressings in old jars. They keep better that way.
  • Cover used pesto in olive oil to prevent it spoiling.
  • I use dry vermouth instead of white wine in cooking. It saves me opening a bottle everytime i cook and it keeps for ages once open. I use port instead of red wine.
  • When cutting steak thinly, do so at an angle. It helps the meat keep it’s shape (Gok Wan)
  • Partially freeze meat before cooking for easy slicing.
  • To avoid stringy celery in cooking use a vegetable peeler to take off the outside layer.
  • Peel fresh ginger with a spoon. The fresher the ginger the easier it is.
  • To thaw out meat quickly. Heat some water in a pan until it reaches 140* then turn your burner off. Place your meat inside a food storage bag and place into the hot water. Chicken will take about 10 minutes to thaw and other cuts will take around 12 minutes. This method will not cook the meat and most importantly, bacteria will not develop. Alternatively you can defrost food is to run it under a running tap but his wastes water so instead defrost food on aluminium trays. The metal will absorb heat in the environment and conduct it towards the frozen food.
  • To tell if an avocado is ripe or not just pop off the stem. If the skin under the stem is dark the fruit is too ripe. If the skin under the stem is light in color then it is just right.
  • Cut avocado in their skins. It’s less messy.
  • Use the liquid from mozzarella or feta as a base for pasta sauces..
  • Use half of an egg shell to remove egg shell.
  • Wrap the stalks on bananas to prevent them browning too quickly.

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