One Day Children you might thank me!!
I quite often do things in the kitchen without thought, because it was part of my training, so am often surprised when someone watching comments, ‘that’s a good idea’ or asks ‘why do you do that?’ I thought I might jot these things down, bring them home and leave them here. You never know, one day children you might need to know how to julienne a mango or make a choux pastry swan. These impromptu tips will appear as I fill a page in my notebook.
Do not wash button mushrooms, wipe them with a damp kitchen towel. Once washed you can never really get them dry and you will never be able to get them crispy when you saute them. Even worse, if you wash them and stick them in a sealed plastic container, you are basically hitting the decomposing button. Store in a breathable paper bag, Groan, if you must wash them, throw them in a bowl of cold water, aggravate quickly and stain them onto a clean cotton cloth and pat dry with kitchen towel. Remember, rinse not soak.
If you want to serve soft, flavoured cheese on a board, a simple and clean way to do it is to pop it on it’s own edible plate.
Do keep your knives sharp, they are dangerous when blunt. Seriously, most good knives come with a specialised sharpener, so use that. If you want to use a steel this is the best way, not the waving in the air way seen in the movies.
How to use a Knife Sharpening Steel
If you intend to make a pasta dish with sauce, do not put oil in your pasta when cooking. The sauce will not stick. While I am with pasta, put a wooden spoon across the top of the pot and the water will not boil over.
Poached salmon is always popular. Cheat, buy prepared fillets, poach, chill and arrange on a platter long side by side. There will naturally be different sizes, smoosh them in close like a fish jigsaw and cover the joins with thin slices of cucumber. Done. No hours of pulling out bones, reassembling and you do not need a large fish kettle.
If you know someone who cannot tolerate onions, soak them in cold water before cooking for about 10 mins. Pat them dry. Added bonus they will be crisper. It draws out the sulfates, keeping all the flavour none of the irritation,
Pop citrus fruit in the microwave for about 30 seconds to increase the amount of juice when needed. I would never admit to doing this though!!
Bling up your bread.Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons of cucumber. Lay them across the finished sandwich, about an hour before you want to use them
Trim off crusts and cut into equal triangles. I do this with radishes too, the mix of spots and stripes adds bling to the bread.
Make stock. It is usually the thing that people can not be bothered with but its what gives a dish its depth. When someone complains that they made the same dish as me and it was not quite the same, usually the answer is in the stock. Make and use stock. Use that store-bought roast chicken carcass, throw it in a pot, cover with water about 2.5cm over, throw in an onion, carrot, bay leaf if you have one, peppercorns, garlic cloves, parsley, thyme, whatever you have, (just the chicken and onion will work )put in a low oven and cook for 3 to 12 hours while you are watching T.V Strain. I use stock in everything. Look up some stock recipes. Make time for and use stock.
For a different and fun finish, use store-bought filo to make hairy pastry. Cut the top of the packaging pull back a little at a time and cut thin ribbons from the open end. Tease these pieces open to create your kataifi style pastry and use this for finishing a filo topped pie or use instead of breadcrumbs.
Here I have used it to enclose mushroom canapes which I deep fried, and ate many of.
When making scrambled eggs, take the pot off the heat when they are creamy but runnier than you would like. Continue the stir until they are just as you like them. To finish add a dollop of cream cheese and mix for that simple pleasure of the perfect scrambled eggs.
Wash your hands then run over stainless steel, taps, sink, bench anything stainless after working with onions or garlic, to remove that strong smell. While I think of it, peel beetroot under running water and your hands will not be stained red. Your welcome.