A couple of months ago I shared 10 tips for a Simple Life in the Kitchen... and I thought maybe it was time for a few more!
Our 'Simple Life' isn't just about saving time and money, as it might have seemed in our last post, but also about making the whole process of cooking a little simpler and hopefully more enjoyable! In the run up to Christmas I know it can get a little bit stressful in the kitchen if you're catering for a crowd; so here are a few of my favourite ideas for making certain steps of food prep a whole lot easier!
2) When you're browning meat, blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn't release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown flavour round the edge.
3) Disassemble a pomegranate in a bowl of water- seeds sink, pulp floats! So much less mess (but perhaps a little less fun!) than smacking it with a wooden spoon.
4) If you crack an egg on a sharp edge you don't only break the shell but also the thin membrane on the inside that prevents the shell from getting into the whites. Instead, tap the egg on a flat surface (the counter will do) which will create an indent and one crack line, but will leave the membrane intact. Use your thumbs on the indent to pull the egg apart at the crack- the membrane will hold all the shell and stop any accidental crunch being added to your recipe!
5) Anytime you are using raw onions in a recipe and you are not going to eat the dish straight away, make sure to rinse the onion with cold water first, then blot it dry- this will rid them of the vapours they omit that can ruin other fresh ingredients.
6) When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around.
7) Where possible, always make enough for a least two days worth of meals. This does save you money, but better than that it saves you on days when you just haven't the time or energy to cook! There's nothing nicer on days like those than knowing that you have a nice home cooked meal waiting in your freezer.
8) The freezer is your friend! Especially for big meals like Christmas dinner, remember that some dishes taste just as good after they've been frozen as they would if you just made them; so there's really no reason not to make them way ahead of time. Most of your sauces and veggies could be done in advance, and simply reheated on the day; but my main dish for doing this with would be roast potatoes- I even think they taste a bit better this way (twice baked and all that)!
9) Keep dental floss in the kitchen. I'm actually not kidding! It's so handy and much better than a knife for delicate cutting tasks such as cakes, cookies, soft cheese, dough and cheesecake.
10) When baking cookies, be sure your dough is thoroughly chilled when it goes on your baking pan. This will allow the leavening ingredients to work before the butter flattens out and your cookies lose their textural distinctions.