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Instead of struggling to spread mashed potato over a shepherds pie, spread the potato onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and then carefully tip the it over the pie. Then simply roughen the potato to get those favourite crispy edges, or sprinkle cheese over!
To help eliminate the strong smell of cauliflower when it is cooking, pop a piece of bread in the saucepan.
Ann from Ayr
For those who like Italian cooking. Make sure you use olive oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for dressings only; using extra virgin in cooking is a waste of your hard earned money!
To prevent discolouration soak a banana in its skin in a bowls of cold tap water (not iced) for about 30/45 minutes - peel and use as normal.
This was contributed by Michael Tubby who assured me it works everytime, unfortunately this has not been my experience, but well worth a try at least.
An easy way to separate egg yolks from whites is to break into your hand and let the white slip through slightly parted fingers. You may find it easier to break into a cup first.
Josie Farrant sent us this one - I have always used the method of breaking the shell into two halves then gently transfer the yolk from one half to the other whilst allowing the white to slip into the relevant container.
To separate an egg without getting your hands mucky. Break egg into a saucer, invert an egg cup over the yolk and pour off the white. You then do not get pieces of egg shell, or the yolk if making meringues, etc.
If you are cracking eggs or separating them and a piece of shell falls in, the best way to get it out is to use the egg shell itself as a scoop to retrieve the piece.
To see whether an egg is boiled or not just twist the egg on a table, if it twists fast it is boiled if not it is raw.
To crumble Oxo cube and the like without getting messy, unwrap the envelope but not the outside wrapper, squeeze the cube (still in it's wrapper), then remove the wrapper.
Thanks to Tony for this contribution.
When eating hot soup and bread, for a change, try seasoning the bread instead of the soup.
Contributed by Lucy Spence
Excess grease/fat can be removed from casseroles/stews etc., but dropping in an ice cube - the fat will stick to the cube and can be removed. Alternatively, a slice of fresh white bread placed carefully on the surface will absorb most of the unwanted grease.
To stop the jam bubbling out of jam tarts before the pastry is cooked, simply keep the jam in the fridge before use - simple but effective.
Janet Lavender sent us this one.
To enable the reuse of cooking oil with the risk of cross contamination of flavours, cut a 1/4 sized piece of ginger and fry in the oil/grease and it removes any lingering odours/flavours. Use more ginger for larger quantities of oil.
We have Florence Vasques to thank for this one.
To add flavour to baked beans, chop some onion and place on plate and cook in a microwave on high for a few seconds, mix into beans with some brown sauce, heat as normal.
Melvyn Hull made this contribution.
Worcestershire sauce added to baked beans also makes a nice change especially when barbecuing.
To prevent gelatine or aspic sticking to the pan or mould, first spray with PAM then pour the mixture in as usual, then place in the fridge. Once set let is sit at room temperature, turn over and it will slide out.
Yolanda Hay sent us this tip. I must be honest I don't know what PAM is - presumably a non-stick spray.
Judging how much rice or pasta to cook can be difficult as it expands during cooking. Place dry rice (or pasta) on a side plate i.e. a smaller plate than usually used for your meal, until the quantity looks right. Then boil as usual. The cooked rice will fill the larger dinner plate to the same extent. Just do this for each portion required, works whether cooking for one or twenty-one.
Our thanks to Anthony Swain for this one.
My granny always taught me the best way to measure rice portions is to fill half a mug with uncooked rice, this will be enough for one person, fill the whole mug for two people etc... its absolutely fool proof!
Naomi (& Granny)
If you have a glut of tomatoes, freeze them whole, then when you need for cooking run them under the tap for a few seconds and slide off the skin. They can be sliced while frozen and are also quick and easy to deseed when half thawed. Once frozen tomatoes can only be used for cooking purposes, they are not suitable for salads.
Contributed by Carole Manuel.
Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays then when recipes call for tablespoon of lemon juice just toss in a cube. Works for all citrus fruits.
Another gem from Carole Manuel - thank you.
If you don't put the lid on when boiling green vegetables they stay greener.
Years ago they used to put bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the water when cooking green vegetables, this retained the colour but it has since been decided that it also reduced the vitamins.
When cooking brassicas (cabbage etc.) add a bayleaf this will reduce the smell during cooking and also give a subtle flavour.
Thanks to Chris Anthony for this tip.
Use the vegetable water from boiled vegetables for gravy, this way you get more flavour and don't waste the goodness that has come out into the water.
Another gem from Lydia Dawson,
When making a rich fruit cake keep some of the unfruited mixture aside. After putting the fruited mixture into the cake tin spread the unfruited mixture over the top. This avoid those horrible burnt bits of fruit and also makes icing easier.
Contributed by Marilyn Kenna.
If you need to keep peeled potatoes put them in water then place a slice of bread on top, this stops them going brown.
A gem from Teresa Walters.
If you ever decide to cook mince but it's frozen solid and you don't have time to defrost it naturally, just place the pack of mince into the microwave, and set to 30-40 seconds on HIGH**** After the time is up open pack and scrape off the softened mince from the outside of the block. Then repeat process over and over, each time removing the softened meat, until it's all ready to cook! (You will need to cut down on the length of time on the microwave as the frozen remainder gets smaller!)
Elaine du Plessis
I do have cautionary notes on the above;
Detailed information on the safe way to defrost meat in the microwave.
More kitchen gems.
Kitchen and hints.
How to rescue those kitchen disasters.
How to cook eggs to perfection.
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