20 handy hints for the kitchen

1. Spray plastic containers lightly with oil to avoid staining from tomato products and curries.

2. Always clean the bowl, beaters and spatula with white vinegar before making a meringue to remove any fat residue.

3. Remove scalded milk from the bottom of a pan by filling the pan ⅓ full with water and add ¼ cup baking soda. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Used the lemon juice but don’t have a use for the zest? Freeze it until you need it for your baking, stir-fries, sauces, casseroles and oven bakes.

5. Clumpy salt? Put some rice grains in with your salt to absorb the moisture.

6. Keep your tomatoes out of the fridge for big tomatoey taste. The fridge eliminates all the fantastic flavour.

7. Remove the skins from tomatoes easily by cutting a small ‘v’ or ‘x’ in the bottom and covering with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes and the peel should come away easily.

8. Don’t throw away stale bread – it’s fantastic for breadcrumbs, croutons or crostini. For breadcrumbs just process and put in an airtight container. For croutons, cut into cubes, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pop in a moderate oven for 10-15 mins until crispy. Crostini, same as croutons but bread is sliced instead of cubed.

9. Make sure your meat cooks evenly every time by allowing it to come to room temperature. Remove it from the fridge 20-30 minutes before cooking (or a little longer if it’s a large piece of meat like a roast).

10. Many fresh ingredients freeze well, so freeze when they’re in season for that out-of-season yearning – lime/lemon zest and juice, pomegranate seeds, kaffir lime leaves.

11. Speed up your morning smoothie by freezing your ingredients together in small bags – bananas, yoghurt, berries….

12. Not sure when to eat mussels? When raw, throw away any opened ones. When cooked, throw away the closed ones.

13. When making a stir-fry, soup, casserole or roast ensure even cooking of your vegetables by cutting them all the same size.

14. Soak bamboo skewers for 10-15 minutes in cold water before threading meat or vegetables to avoid the skewers burning.

15. To keep colour and crunch to veges, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds-1 minute and then plunge into cold icy water to stop the cooking process. Drain and dry and use in salads or stir-fries.

16. Try to brown meat/chicken before you casserole or stew as it releases all the flavours for a really delicious dish.

17. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a small saucepan of water. Remember to make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of your saucepan as it makes the chocolate split and goes grainy. If this happens, remove it from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little before whisking in a bit of cold milk or water.

18. Toasting nuts and seeds brings out their flavour.  To toast nuts or seeds, place in a in a non-stick pan over a low-medium heat. Move nuts and or seeds around occasionally until they become golden brown. Keep an eye on them as they burn easily.

19. Roasted garlic adds a lovely smooth texture to any dish and you don’t get the really garlicky flavour that you expect from garlic. To roast garlic, cut the top off a bulb to just nip the tops off the cloves. Encase in some foil and roast in a 180°c oven for 30 minutes or so until soft and tender. Pop in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for salad dressings, sauces, topping for a little bread or smear onto a steak…..

20. Don’t waste fresh herbs that are looking a little wilted, dry them and store in an air tight container as the flavour is still gorgeous. Heat the oven to around 150c, cut the stems off the herbs and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until they are completely dry. Cool completely before placing in an airtight container.