The internet is filled to the brim with useful cooking tips and hacks. A quick google search will return page after page of tips ranging from common to uncommon, simple to complex. Some tips are useful for home cooking while others are suited for outdoors cooking still some are beneficial for both. Following are 10 common sense cooking tips that are easy to remember and to implement. You will soon wonder why you never thought of these before. Read on.
1) Do you get lumps in your white sauce? When making white sauce (béchamel) or any sauce that requires slow cooking to thicken use an egg whisk and you can increase the temperature (not too much though) to speed the process up and you won’t get any lumps in it.
2) Turn your open barbeque into a gourmet oven. Want to try a new barbeque recipe that requires a hood on the barbeque which you may not have. Try using a wok lid or any domed lid. This works very well indeed. Great for roasted meats when camping out.
3) Never buy frozen pastry again. Do you hate making short pastry. Use a stand mixer instead of the usual hand method. Use slightly less liquid than may be asked for in the recipe. Just run the mixer until all the pastry forms into a ball. If it wont form into a ball you may need just a touch more liquid. The liquid depends on what recipe you use for your pastry.
Do your scones look more like rock cakes than the soft pillowy buttery creations they are supposed to be? Many people just can’t make scones no matter what. Usually the problem is too much handling. Try to make your scones as though people or the family are sitting at the table waiting. In other words the less time you take means less handling. The mixture should be quite moist not dry after you add the milk.
Turn onto a well floured board and top a few times with the tips of your fingers to draw the extra flour in. This should only take you a few seconds; about 5-8 seconds in fact. Gently pat into shape and cut into whatever shaped scones you want – round , square or triangle -whichever shape your prefer.
4) Speaking of scones, they seem to come out best when cooked in what is variously described as a rising oven. In other words turn your oven on not too long before you start to mix your scones and when they are put in the oven it still has not quite reached the required temperature.
I learnt this way of making scones when I was used to crew on a yacht when I was younger and the guys would want morning tea and see if they could cajole me into making some. Hence my reference to having a waiting audience. The oven was only a small benchtop gas oven and I would turn it on to its maximum temperature and then throw the flour butter and milk together. They were most impressed and I was most surprised at the result.
5) Meat casseroles are done when the fat rises to the top. Do you have trouble working out if a casserole or curry is cooked. When the oil (fat) rises the dish is cooked. All meat dish casseroles have some fat content and when this is released the meat is cooked.
6) A little bit of sugar is the secret ingredient to BIG flavor. Are you missing the magic ingredient? Have you ever cooked a casserole and the flavor just needs a little “something something” but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what is needed? Maybe it seems as though the flavors don’t quite go together. It is a small intangible ingredient that is lacking. Try a very small amount of sugar and you will be surprised how it seems to blend and mellow the flavors into a more harmonious combination. The flavors will cease to fight against each other.
7) Have you ever gotten too happy with the saltshaker when cooking? Have you ever added just a touch too much salt to a recipe? A squeeze of lemon juice should correct the issue.
8) Do you like to have roasted potatoes occasionally but hate washing up the pan afterwards? Here is a simple easy method and it uses less fat. Cut each potato with the skin on, in half so that you have the largest cut area. Add a little margarine and spread it on the cut side of the potato. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper if you want.
Place the buttered potatoes buttered side down on a sheet of aluminum foil wrap. Fold the foil and seal. Add to a preheated hot 392 degrees Fahrenheit oven and cook for approximately half an hour. When done unwrap and gently peel the foil off the potatoes and serve. Throw the foil in the garbage and voila – beautifully crisp roasted potatoes and no mess.