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  • FIRST POST
    nabowla
    Cooking Tips Thread
    • #1
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:06 PM
    Cooking Tips Thread 31st Jul 05 at 7:06 PM
    OS cooking is really about going back to basics, cooking from scratch. The end result is meals that are far, far tastier than microwave dinners, healthier and much cheaper to boot. However, it can be a bit scary for those of us that haven't cooked much up until now. Basic cooking skills aren't taught at school and a lot of people won't have seen their parents preparing home-cooked meals.

    It was only when I read a post on here the other day that I twigged that heating the oil at full heat and then turning down when adding onions works far better than adding the onions to semi-cold oil or cremating the onion by cooking at full heat. This discovery inspired the Cooking Tips thread. The plan is for it to be a place where we can swap 'how to' tips, whether it's how to skin tomatoes (dunk in boiling water for a minute or two before skinning) or how to cook pasta without it sticking to the saucepan (any ideas?). Hopefully we'll all gain sufficient skills to become Masterchefs!

    To kick things off, can anyone tell me how to dry lettuce properly? I've got one of those salad whirry things which I used to wash my farmer's lettuce this morning. The stuff seemed completely dry when I took it out of the washing thing and put it into a bowl in the fridge. However, I took it out this evening and the bottom of the bowl was full of water that must have dripped off the lettuce. What am I doing wrong?
Page 1
    • elona
    • By elona 31st Jul 05, 7:20 PM
    • 11,150 Posts
    • 63,458 Thanks
    elona
    • #2
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:20 PM
    • #2
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:20 PM
    Try putting lettuce in a clean tea towel and folding it inside securely - then shake it gently.
    "This site is addictive!"
    Wooligan 2 squares for smoky - 3 squares for HTA
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    • elona
    • By elona 31st Jul 05, 7:21 PM
    • 11,150 Posts
    • 63,458 Thanks
    elona
    • #3
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:21 PM
    • #3
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:21 PM
    When cooking pasta - add it to already fast boiling water - then add a little oil while it is cooking - this stops it sticking together.
    "This site is addictive!"
    Wooligan 2 squares for smoky - 3 squares for HTA
    Preemie hats - 2.
    • Bogof_Babe
    • By Bogof_Babe 31st Jul 05, 7:29 PM
    • 10,241 Posts
    • 16,860 Thanks
    Bogof_Babe
    • #4
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:29 PM
    • #4
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:29 PM
    Re. damp lettuce... Try spinning once in your salad spinner, then shuffling the leaves around a bit and doing it again. Little pockets of water can get trapped in the leaves, but rearranging them and re-spinning generally sorts it out.
    I haven't bogged off yet, and I ain't no babe


    • cozzie
    • By cozzie 31st Jul 05, 7:41 PM
    • 505 Posts
    • 222 Thanks
    cozzie
    • #5
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:41 PM
    • #5
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:41 PM
    Great thread idea.

    I am 25, and have to say that I'm a pretty hopeless cook, (not pretty and hopeless alas). Being from a family of 4 children I can understand why my parents didn't have to time to teach us to cook anything except spag bol from a jar, but, I refuse to take the opinion of my 16stone sister "It hasn't done me any harm" and only cook something if it comes from a box. (Explains the 16stones??)

    Since finding this site and especially the OS, I have decided to try and improve on my basic self taught cookery skills and have taken well to the baking, (weight has gone up 7lbs in 2 months, oopsies). Hopefully, I shall soon be moving onto slightly more complex and less 'belly-expanding' recipes soon.
    "And crawling on the planet's face,
    Some insects called the human race,
    Lost in time, and lost in space,
    And meaning"
    • cozzie
    • By cozzie 31st Jul 05, 7:43 PM
    • 505 Posts
    • 222 Thanks
    cozzie
    • #6
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:43 PM
    • #6
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:43 PM
    My tip = When making gravy with granules, use the water from the vegetables and any juice from the meats to add flavour.
    "And crawling on the planet's face,
    Some insects called the human race,
    Lost in time, and lost in space,
    And meaning"
    • squeaky
    • By squeaky 31st Jul 05, 7:51 PM
    • 13,808 Posts
    • 15,843 Thanks
    squeaky
    • #7
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:51 PM
    • #7
    • 31st Jul 05, 7:51 PM
    It's well worth browsing the various recipe threads because they often contain hints mixed in with the recipe instructions. There is, for example, an entire thread on how to cook rice in the Cooking Section of the MEGA Index...
    Hi, I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style and the Consumer Rights boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and can move and merge posts there. Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts. Any views are mine and are not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.

    Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
    DTFAC: Y.T.D = 5.20 Apr 0.50
  • competitionscafe
    • #8
    • 31st Jul 05, 11:13 PM
    • #8
    • 31st Jul 05, 11:13 PM
    swap 'how to' tips
    by nabowla
    Sounds like a good idea.

    Tip for meat. (Although a lot of people probably know this already) but if you do a roast (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc) let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes after cooking before you carve it. If you rest it, the meat will be more tender, and will retain its juices better when you slice it. Same thing with a steak - but because it's smaller you only need a few minutes. Rest meat in a warm place and cover it with foil and it won't go cold.

    Also a tip that was mentioned in another thread - add a bit of english mustard to a cheese sauce - gives a nice flavour but doesn't taste 'mustardy'. A bit of worcestershire sauce added to the meat for a cottage pie is good too.

    Oh yeah and a good one for roast potatoes which I got from Nigel Slaters book - parboil your spuds for 10 minutes (cut in half), then drain them well, put them back in the empty pan and bash them around by shaking the pan - just enough to crush the edges and make them 'fluffy'. Then add them to your roasting pan in the oven and roast for about an hour - will give you roast potatoes with nice crispy outside and soft insides/ yum!

    P.S. I don't have an Aga, but a page on their site has some good cooking tips: http://www.agalinks.com/Aga_recipes_83.htm
    -
    "The happiest of people don't necessarily have the
    best of everything; they just make the best
    of everything that comes along their way."
    -- Author Unknown --
    • thecornflake
    • By thecornflake 27th Oct 06, 10:25 PM
    • 301 Posts
    • 272 Thanks
    thecornflake
    • #9
    • 27th Oct 06, 10:25 PM
    • #9
    • 27th Oct 06, 10:25 PM
    Just found this thread so I'll add a couple of my own -

    Add an Oxo italian cube to the water when cooking spaghetti for spag bol.

    If you add oil when boiling pasta it will stop it sticking but it will also mean the food will slide off the pasta quite a bit when you serve it so don't add too much if this bothers you.

    Roast potatoes - my wife crumbles an oxo cube over them before cooking. I drizzle some olive oil (by the way I use frozen ones - I know, probably more expensive) and then sprinkle over some parsley, also some thyme if to go with chicken.

    When making tomato sauce for pizzas lightly fry a thinly sliced garlic clove in some oil in the bottom of the pan first until it goes golden. It adds a really nice flavour, completely different to just adding chopped/powder garlic.

    Roast a chicken on a stovie - grated mix of potato and sweet potato in the bottom of the roasting tin and lightly pushed down. Amount depends on size of tin but about 2/3 cm depth seems to work nicely. It's a nice change or addition to roast potatoes.
    • Mics_chick
    • By Mics_chick 27th Oct 06, 10:33 PM
    • 11,689 Posts
    • 11,569 Thanks
    Mics_chick
    I am hopeless at cooking but thank goodness my OH is a good cook.

    He's from Yorkshire so is excellent at Yorkshire puds - he always uses lard not oil in the pans and them puts them in the oven until they are smoking. This is the time you put in the pudding mixture and put back in oven for about 20-30mins.
  • purpleimp
    when roasting a chicken, cook it upside down, all the juice then stops the breast from being dry, flip it over at the last minute to crisp the skin on top.

    ( I due this mostly to get the skin all over it crispy, it's a major weakness for me, DH doesn't eat skin so I end up eating the skin from the whole bird before it gets carved, god help my arteried!!!)

    When peeling spuds, keep the skins, pop in a bag in the freezer, then when a savoury craving kicks in, pop them in the fryer, dust with salt, a wee drop of salad cream or whatever takes your fancy and they're fab, crispy, chippy type salty goodness.

    After emptying your slow cooker of whatever food may be contained therein, don't put the lid back on ( mine is like a cauldron and doesn't have a glass see through lid) I find that if I put the lid back on I forget about it having been in use and twice I have gone to use it only to discover it had an eco system all of it's own!

    when poaching eggs only use white vinegar, the brown stuff doesn't work and it disolved the whites, it looks like a snow globe with just the yplk shining through like a big old sun!

    dont put pyrex directly on a hot ring, it's heat proof but if you do that it explodes.

    when making fish cakes, corn beef hash cakes any kind of potato based fried thing, use cold mash, if you use it hot it dissintigrates.

    don't was a bowl of batter or anything floury with hot water, it cooks it the flour and it fuses on to the surface, always use cold water.

    when cracking eggs do them into a bowl or cup first to check they've not gone off to save them contaminating what you're cooking.

    a knob of butter into hot rice loosens it up if it's gone or going claggy.

    when cooking meat, if it has skin on, or a layer of fat on the top of a roast etc salt it, if not dont, the salt draws the moisture out and makes it tough, only salt once cooked.

    when boiling green veg, add a dash of lemon juice to stop the colour from being bleached from it.

    when mopping floors use boiling (not just hot) water, it evaporates quicker so you have a dry floor much faster.

    when making yorkshire puts put a good shake of powder white pepper into the smoking tins, it seems to activate the oil better.

    when cooking muscles, when raw, give them a tap if they don't close chuck them, they're bad, check them again once cooked and if they haven't opened then chuck those too.

    when cooking skate, boil it very briefly first, it makes the skin come off much easier, then bake or fry accordingly.

    iff you make something with too much chille in it, a good squirt of lemon neutralises the heat.

    If you are a black unsweetened coffee drinker and your coffee is too strong and you could tar a road with it, add a few grains of salt, it takes the edge off ( dont do this with milky or sweetened coffee)

    put oil on your fingers before chopping chillies, it puts a protective film on them and it washes off easier, prevents any nasty surprises later on in the day.

    when frying with butter always add some oil to stop the butter from burning.

    If you have an uncut crusty loaf that's gone hard, give it a good sprinkle of water and pop in the oven it will refresh and be as good as new in no time ( I still cut off the end not so nicely crispy slice though)

    I'm sure I've got dozens more of these but I think that's enough to be going on with for now, hope its of some use to somebody.xxx
    Last edited by purpleimp; 28-10-2006 at 11:35 AM.
  • dorsetmiss
    My fave cooking tip ever and I still smile every time I do it, (think someone on here posted about it originally!) I've always hated crumbling stock cubes...yuk..all that gunk left on your usually damp fingers
    However, if you open the foil 'wings' then place the heel of your hand on top of the cube and lean on it then the cube breaks into granules and you can just tear the foil open and pour out the contents....and no messy fingers
    Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly!
  • kethry
    something i learned fairly recently but didn't know for a long time: if cooking anything with both onion and tomato in it, make sure your onion is completely cooked before adding the tomato. Apparently the tomato contains something which stops the onion cooking any further once its added.

    i'd also say: boullion, marigold's boullion is wonderful, i add a sprinkling of it to just about any casserole/stew going, it just adds so much in the way of flavour. I use the basic one, and hardly ever add salt.

    worcestershire sauce has been mentioned but mushroom ketchup is another good one to add to just about any dark meat based casserole dish (like beef, lamb etc.) but i've also used it in the sausage casserole packet dish from Colemans.

    if doing a minced beef/lamb dish (chilli, spag bol, shep pie) try using half your beef and bulking out the rest with green lentils. boil 4 oz for 10 mins before using, and then you can just stir into the beef mix once the beef is brown. It'll pick up the flavour of the beef, and because its green, its not as obvious as the red ones. I even got this past my dad, who is notorious for not wanting his food "messed around with", with any "new fangled ideas" and HATES garlic. He even asked for the recipe (it was a spag bol dish)... i hated to point out that there were three cloves of garlic in it.. !!!

    will add more when/if i think of em..

    keth
    xx
  • competitionscafe
    if doing a minced beef/lamb dish (chilli, spag bol, shep pie) try using half your beef and bulking out the rest with green lentils. boil 4 oz for 10 mins before using, and then you can just stir into the beef mix once the beef is brown. It'll pick up the flavour of the beef, and because its green, its not as obvious as the red ones.
    by kethry
    Good idea - I guess you could try puy lentils (the brown ones from France) too as they are the right colour, tasty and healthy too + go particularly well with lamb.
    "The happiest of people don't necessarily have the
    best of everything; they just make the best
    of everything that comes along their way."
    -- Author Unknown --
  • mikeywills
    Boiling Pasta as OP first question, I always make sure the water is rapidly boiling first before adding the pasta. When the pasta goes in I stir for the first minute or two while the heat gets back to boiling, this stops the pasta sticking together and to the bottom of the pan.

    I have heard about the oil before, but you should put the oil in before you add the pasta and stir the water so it gathers the oil to the centre then add the pasta into the centre through the oil.

    This stirring water techniques works with fresh eggs when making poached eggs too, but not to hot if they are slightly older, as the white tends to be looser and less prone to staying together with the yolk.
    I had a plan..........its here somewhere.
  • competitionscafe
    Can recommend an excellent book which is full of cooking tips, advice and know-how - got it last year for Christmas and use it all the time. It's called 'Don't Sweat the Aubergine: What works in the kitchen and why' by Nicholas Clee and I think it recently came out in paperback too. Highly recommended - put it on your Christmas wishlist.

    Hardback (for reviews/info):
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Sweat-Aubergine-works-kitchen/dp/1904977278

    Paperback (cheaper):
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Sweat-Aubergine-Works-Kitchen/dp/1904977782/
    "The happiest of people don't necessarily have the
    best of everything; they just make the best
    of everything that comes along their way."
    -- Author Unknown --
  • kethry
    Good idea - I guess you could try puy lentils (the brown ones from France) too as they are the right colour, tasty and healthy too + go particularly well with lamb.
    by competitionscafe
    aye, you could, but i've found that green lentils are cheaper than puy lentils, maybe because of the snob factor? anyway, for me, the factor is prime - i simply don't have a lot of spare cash, so i have to make do with green

    keth
    xx
  • pickle
    If you want to thicken a dish eg. stew then stir a teaspoon of cornflour with a little water in a cup to make a paste and then add to the pot and stir in. It will thicken in a minute or two.
  • Peem
    C'Don't Sweat the Aubergine: What works in the kitchen and why' by Nicholas Clee
    by competitionscafe
    Aww Man! that's yet another cook book I want to buy - my list is faaaar too long.
    "You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." - C.S. Lewis
    • junior_j
    • By junior_j 12th Aug 08, 10:14 PM
    • 4,170 Posts
    • 19,448 Thanks
    junior_j
    Some cooking things i do..
    If you are cooking a onion and only need half , but the half with the root in the fridge , its lasts a lot longer then the end without roots.

    I made banana cake today

    we always have bananas in the house so that cost me nothing but for 2 pounds i made two batches with sultanas , this will be a cheap and nice snack for the family and goes well with after dinner and luch things to..

    Add onion tomatoes and veg to any meals used with mince.

    Turn the oven (if fan/eletric oven) of for the last 5-15 mins as it takes AGES to cool down
    When boiling veg for the last 5 mins turn the hob off put the lid on the veg and it will finish cooking with the oven off.

    Erm think thats all my recent little tips

    Jess x
    NanMias - cyber granddaughter!
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