Culinary tips that have changed your life

(128 Posts)
ParsingFancy Sun 18-Aug-13 12:51:51

Haven't had one of these threads for a while!


You can loosen the paper on garlic by twisting the clove. Better still, thwack clove with flat of knife to crush, pick paper off.

To chop herbs or anything small, hold the end of a curved chef's knife on the board with your spare hand, and just see-saw it up and down, back and forth.

To shred cabbage/lettuce/any leaves, roll leaves up like a cigar and slice.

To skin celeriac or swede, slice into discs, then place flat on board and cut down round the edges. Also works with pumpkin, though you don't actually need to peel butternut squash.

Anyone else?

Selks Sun 18-Aug-13 12:53:30

If making a bechamel or cheese sauce use a whisk rather than a wooden spoon - no lumps guaranteed.

mykingdomforasleep Sun 18-Aug-13 12:56:02

To cut food up for toddlers use scissors rather than a knife and fork. Works especially well for spaghetti!

Strain eggs through a seive before poaching - perfect eggs every time (thanks heston)

Roast your chicken breast down for half of the cooking time.

Add a pinch of salt when softening onions- it stops them burning (I think because the salt releases the moisture in the onions).

HerrenaHarridan Sun 18-Aug-13 13:00:52

You don't need to peel potatoes smile
Changed my life grin

Cheese sauce started with cream cheese instead of a rue

Meals that flow ie, spag Bol + mac cheese = free lasagne smile

Salad with every meal,
left over salad becomes pasta salad for lunch at home or out.

DameFanny Sun 18-Aug-13 13:11:39

Roast the veg for ratatouille in the oven first, then add it to a pan of passata and basil to simmer for 30 minutes. Bye bye watery ratatouille.

MrsFrederickWentworth Sun 18-Aug-13 13:18:05

Englishgirl, how do you sieve an egg? Doesn't the yolk break? What sort of sieve do you use?

Vatta Sun 18-Aug-13 13:21:47

Always add pasta into the sauce pan (off the heat), then serve. For some reason it's much nicer than adding the sauce onto the pasta.

The yolk stays whole but any watery part of the white drains away. I use a slotted spoon but I've seen it done with a fine mesh sieve. My poached eggs have been perfect since I started doing this smile

Oblomov Sun 18-Aug-13 13:23:35

Sieving eggs? Well I never.

ArtisanLentilWeaver Sun 18-Aug-13 13:25:10

Cut pizzas with scissors.

Freeze blackcurrants then roll them in the bag still frozen and the <technical term> foofy bit on the top falls off.

The 20 minute rice thing.

It's a life changer.

BoffinMum Sun 18-Aug-13 13:29:53

Season things at the beginning of the process, not the end.
Chop herbs etc with scissors.
Roast chicken upside down for moister meat.

Armadale Sun 18-Aug-13 13:30:13

Oh Madameastafiore, you tease,
What 20 minute rice thing

aturtlenamedmack Sun 18-Aug-13 13:34:40

To get perfectly dippy eggs put the egg into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as the water starts to boil time 3 mins and remove egg to cold water to stop it cooking further. Perfect every time.

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 18-Aug-13 13:38:54

Ready made pastry. Especially puff. Life's too short.

Do you mean strain the poached eggs after cooking? I can't see how you poach them beforehand.

ParsingFancy Sun 18-Aug-13 13:40:35

Freeze berries in a single layer in roasting tin, tip into bag, freeze next batch.

colditz Sun 18-Aug-13 13:45:05

Get some really strong, sharp scissors, and use them for everything. Chopping meat, cutting pizza, chopping spaghetti, derinding bacon, chopping herbs.... really much easier with scissors.

gaggiagirl Sun 18-Aug-13 13:46:19

To cut a sponge cake across perfectly evenly use a length of thread.
Wrap it around the cake check its right then pull the thread tight around the cake and lo it is cut.
Hope that makes sense.

Terrorvision Sun 18-Aug-13 13:49:06

I have read: crush garlic cloves using wide knife blade, chuck into jar, put lid on, shake - skin comes off.

If that salt thing works I am going to track you down FreeButtonBee and kiss you.. I always bloody burn onions and it gives me the rage (and that lingering stench, dead giveaway of the useless cook)

Wash rice
Put 2 x volume of water to rice in saucepan with rice.
Bring to boil.
Switch off heat and put lid on.
Leave for 20 minutes.

Perfect easy cooked rice.

gaggiagirl Sun 18-Aug-13 13:55:28

Roll citrus fruit on the counter top to get more juice out of them when squeezed, a few seconds in the microwave will do the same job.

I don't understand how the sieving an egg thing works.

PoppyAmex Sun 18-Aug-13 14:08:56

Madame is right; with the absorption method you get perfect fluffy rice every time. Just don't think of stirring, lifting the lid or messing with it before its time.

RobotHamster Sun 18-Aug-13 14:11:06

If you want to remove the seeds from chillies, roll between your thumb and finger to loosen the seeds, cut the top off and tip them all out. You might need to squeeze the last few out. Works best with older chillies.

ilovepicnmix Sun 18-Aug-13 14:13:03

What kind of rice for the 20 min method please?

RobotHamster Sun 18-Aug-13 14:14:39

Peeling hard boiled eggs is easier if you roll them under your hand like a rolling pin, crushing the shells. It should almost fall off.

RobotHamster Sun 18-Aug-13 14:15:42

Cut a pepper around the stalk, rather than slicing into it. If you just cut off the rounded bits that stick out, you are left with just the core and stalk

ParsingFancy Sun 18-Aug-13 15:04:25

Mumsnet microwave cheese sauce:

300ml milk
25g flour
25g butter
50g grated cheese

Use a Pyrex jug/bowl, ideally more than 0.5 litre because the sauce may rise as it boils towards the end.

Put milk, flour and butter in bowl. Whisk very briefly.

Microwave for 1 minute on high, whisk. Repeat till sauce has been microwaved for 4 minutes and has thickened.

Stir in grated cheese.

ParsingFancy Sun 18-Aug-13 15:08:31

White sauce also freezes. It can separate slightly, but whisking recombines it.

So freeze on its own and make up cauli cheese/whatever after defrosting.

SirChenjin Sun 18-Aug-13 15:12:47

How do you sieve an egg before poaching it? confused

mrspaddy Sun 18-Aug-13 15:15:35

Great thread.. never thought of the lettuce one and defo going to try rice that way.

Easy pancakes -
one cup plain flour
one cup milk
one egg

whisk - leave to set in fridge for little while.. perfect batter.

MooncupGoddess Sun 18-Aug-13 15:18:56

I think the point with the egg is that put it in the sieve to drain away the watery bits and then cook what remains. So it's not straining as such!

ParsingFancy Sun 18-Aug-13 15:27:35

Oh god yes, MrsSchadenfreude, ready made, ready rolled pastry. That's actually changed my diet.

That and learning posh tart (score 1 inch margin round edge of pastry; spread middle with choice of yummy stuff, eg bacon, leeks & cheese, or caramalised red onion & goats cheese; bake at 200° C for 15-20 mins).

Om nom nom...

SirChenjin Sun 18-Aug-13 17:14:49

But doesn't the egg white starting seeping through the sieve? <realise I may be overthinking this>

Oblomov Sun 18-Aug-13 17:18:59

I use scissors for everything. Assume everyone did.

Dancingqueen17 Sun 18-Aug-13 17:27:42

Silicon for flapjacks!
Toasted seeds on salads jazz them up nicely.

CarpeVinum Sun 18-Aug-13 17:34:45

If you scrumple baking parchment, then wet it, squeeze out most of the water (gentley) you can mould it easily around whatever shaped tin/container you are wanting to line.

My mate showed me. Must be an Italian trick. Works though. I'v got banana bread in a man cornered tin in the oven and the (wet) paper hasn't been the nightmare it usually is when dry.

snowlie Sun 18-Aug-13 19:01:06

Butterfly a chicken using sharp scissors - you will reduce cooking time and the breast meat will still be moist.
Invest in a good meat thermometer - I have a thermapen - no longer do I have to guess whether meat is done, cooking time has been reduced and the meat tastes so much better.

So many egg sieving questions! The egg stays together but the watery bits drain away so when you poached it you don't get any stringy white bits. Honestly it works. My poached eggs were rubbish until I started doing this. It only works with pretty fresh eggs though, you lose too much white with old ones.

Parsnipcake Sun 18-Aug-13 19:58:31

Put a piece of wet kitchen toll under your chopping board and it will stay in place while you chop/ carve etc.

We use basmati rice as lower GI apparently.

MaryIngalls Sun 18-Aug-13 21:08:30

sieving eggs...had to google it, I was so intrigued!

LowLevelWhinging Sun 18-Aug-13 21:31:09

the egg thing... is it because very fresh eggs are all firm and poach well, but older eggs get watery and so you get that wispy effect when they're poached?

so sieving fresh eggs wouldn't lose much, but sieving older eggs would get rid of what would become the wispy bits?

PicklePants Sun 18-Aug-13 21:46:41

Not exactly life-changing, but if you're making stock from a cube, just crumble the cube straight in, and add the right amount of water. Saves on the washing up!

CarpeVinum Sun 18-Aug-13 21:54:02

Oh I have another one. If you are prone to having to choose between a burned bottom or a slightly undercooked cake due to a cantakerus oven.... line the oven shelves with foil, shiney side down. Not just the one the food is on, but the one right at the bottom as well.

Not had a burned bottom since I started doing that.

I think the heat must slide up the unfoiled sides of the shelves and whirl around more uniformly. Or something highly technical along those lines.

lowlevel that's it exactly. No point doing it with eggs that are too old as you end up with all yolk. With fresh eggs you just end up with lovely firm whites. The link up there ^^ explains it better than me.

bugster Sun 18-Aug-13 21:59:05

Can't agree about the ready made pastry, schadenfreude, except for puff pastry. Home made buttery pastry is sooo muchnbetter than bought short crust, and makes a huge difference.

sassytheFIRST Sun 18-Aug-13 22:04:27

Run a damp cloth over your work top before rolling out cling film, then roll out the amount you need into the work top. Saves that sticking-to-you, to-itself, to-the-cat shenanigans you usually get.

Mumzy Sun 18-Aug-13 22:05:22

When. Making an egg custard or bread and butter pudding sieve the egg/ milk mixture before pouring into container and baking. Makes a much smoother silky custard.
Microwave pumpkins and squashes on high and scoop out flesh. No need to peel (stab first before microwaving)
When making cakes have all the ingredients at room temperature makes for a better rise.

ShatterResistant Sun 18-Aug-13 22:08:31

You can chop, then freeze, fresh herbs, and use just like fresh. Now I always have fresh parsley! (A friend freezes them in individual portions, but that may be going a bit far.)

UnicornsPooGlitter Sun 18-Aug-13 22:10:51

Shatter, you can buy herbs frozen like that from Waitrose <slattern>.

rootypig Sun 18-Aug-13 22:19:46

Cut the ends off green beans by shaking the packet so they're all lined up and thwacking them off with a knife (ie you cut the end of the pack off too). Shake and repeat or other end. Sooo satisfying.

Scissors for everything.

That is really helpful Carpe!

storynanny Sun 18-Aug-13 23:00:00

Roll pastry or biscuit dough in between sheets of cling film, no sticking to the work top or rolling pin.

CarpeVinum Mon 19-Aug-13 08:59:16

Scissors for everything

What should one look for in kitchen scissors ? Cos I am most taken with the idea of scissoring rather than wrestling with a knife in hand.

Can they go in the dishwasher generally ?

Is it worth having a set of different types or is just one pair good for most jobs ?

Drladybird Mon 19-Aug-13 09:35:38

A further rice cooking tip for a drier rice that is then perfect for frying or making into a pilaf:
Cook 1 cup of rice in 1 cup of water for around 8 minutes, with lid on. Turn off the eat and let it cook for further 6 minutes. The rice should then be cooked and the grains will be separate form each other.

Cooking big batches of dried pulses in a pressure cooker, freezing and then adding to meals as and when required.

PoppyAmex Mon 19-Aug-13 09:40:33

Carpe when buying kitchen scissors, I'd make absolutely sure they can be taken apart (two parts).

I use mine a lot for things like raw meat, so it's definitely important it gets dismantled and washed thoroughly in the dishwasher.

GertBySea Mon 19-Aug-13 10:59:30

To get the stone out of an avocado, cut in half lengthways. You'll be left with stone stuck on one side. Do a sort of Hi-ya into the stone with a carving knife to get a grip on it. Hold knife and outer edge of avo. Twist avo and the stone will come away stuck to the knife.

GertBySea Mon 19-Aug-13 11:01:39

Overripe bananas can be mushed up and frozen. Defrost slightly and give to DCs as ice cream. Don't need to add anything. Yum.

ParsingFancy Mon 19-Aug-13 11:31:13

To prepare a mango, slice down either side of the stone. Score flesh of cut-off slices into cubes - and press so slice pops inside out.

Cut or eat cubes off skin.

ParsingFancy Mon 19-Aug-13 11:32:39

Peel bananas at the wrong end! I've never done this, but MN sez.

Apparently you pinch the non-stalk end and it just bursts open.shock

Selks Mon 19-Aug-13 13:49:29

Gertbythesea, make sure you are not holding the avocado half when you Hi-yaa it.....

(Painful voice of experience...)

MrsMarigold Mon 19-Aug-13 14:12:17

Ok you kitchen goddesses, can you please help me I've burnt five saucepans recently! They were all very nice John Lewis ones that we got as wedding presents - the black burnt stuff just won't come off despite soaking in vinegar, scrubbing wildly etc. My MIL suggested steel wool but it doesn't seem to have made a huge difference.

My top tips are frozen prawns, a lot cheaper than fresh and if defrosted overnight in the fridge they stay succulent,

Slice lemon for G&Ts and put in the freezer and use as necessary.

ParsingFancy Mon 19-Aug-13 14:29:35

I feel your pan pain, MrsM.

Soak in bio washing powder? In warm but not hot water, as the enzymes stop working above a certain temp (um, maybe 50°C?).

rootypig Mon 19-Aug-13 14:48:06

Yes try bio washing powder MrsM, enzymes stop or king above 37deg if biology A level in the dark ages serves.

Carpe nothing special! Other than fairly large. I would just buy kitchen scissors from John Lewis --my answer to everything

rootypig Mon 19-Aug-13 14:48:26

*working, sigh

monstergoose Mon 19-Aug-13 19:42:36

Short crust pastry in the food processor, quick, really tasty and short and no more hand ache from the rubbing in! P

Dice onions: slice off the bottom, not the top first. Peel the onion. Then cut down toward the top in narrow slices. Then same again at right angles toward the top. Now turn on side, holding the bulb and slice again. Voila, quick diced onion!

Use a hand blender to whizz up tinned tomatoes before adding to bolagnese. Much nicer than having chunks of tinned tomatoes.

Get some miso soup paste - use this instead of stock to make an amazing asian chicken noodle soup - use chillies, garlic and lemon grass to jazz it up. Very healthy and delicious.

Oblomov Tue 20-Aug-13 08:23:48

I too use scissors for most things.

McPrice Tue 20-Aug-13 10:29:12

* bash out a chicken breast to make it seem bigger and go further also reduces the cooking time
* i have swapped smokey bacon in my spag bol for polish kobanos u can use less and its cheaper gives a wonderful smokey flavour.
* add the rind of parmasan to soups or stews to add depth of flavour.
* frozen micro rice is a godsend since having a baby
* make quick carbonarra with a tub of creme fresh to avoid splitting warm in a bowl over simmering water (like chocolate) to thicken with cheese
* my mum makes white sauce in microwave with cornflour and milk.

MrsFrederickWentworth Tue 20-Aug-13 23:32:10

Or for grim burnt pans, non bio washing powder, boiled up for several minutes (don't let them boil dry....).

If the substance had grease, boiling with vinegar or rhubarb works.

My ma used to leave them outside for two days, saying that the change or temperature and dew worked..

LittleBearPad Tue 20-Aug-13 23:49:10

Peel ginger with a teaspoon. It reduces the amount you waste compared to a knife. Just sort of scrape the skin off.

If making guacamole ahead of when you need it put the avocado stone in with the guac. It will stop it going brown.

snice Tue 20-Aug-13 23:49:52

Treat broccoli as a flower-cut end off stalk and put upright into mug of water in fridge. Stays crisp for a week rather than going flabby/brown

DameFanny Wed 21-Aug-13 09:35:47

I would never have thought of that with broccoli!

RIZZ0 Wed 21-Aug-13 10:15:43

Soften onions a while before adding garlic, otherwise garlic gets burnt

Peel boiled eggs with a teaspoon

After chopping garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them to remove the smell

Add a couple of handfuls of red lentils to the kids bolognese and some extra liquid, they pretty much disappear and they don't notice, and I've never had a problem with any visiting children eating it either. Helps to up the protein while making the meat go further. I freeze it in to portions.

Also find for fussy and younger eaters, that hand blending half of it, then adding back to the still coarse bolognese thickens the sauce and hides some ingredients enough to get it down them, and avoids too much pointing at veg / mushrooms / whatever I've put in it this time and asking "urgh what's that?!"

My friend has jars of porridge for the week ahead ready for a quick heat up. I've googled it and this is similar to what she does:

RIZZ0 Wed 21-Aug-13 10:16:16

Bad link! Not sure how to do it on mumsnet app.

Cut and paste

TheKnackeredChef Wed 21-Aug-13 10:27:20

Frozen potato waffles can be cooked in the toaster. Once to defrost, another to crisp them up.

This is why I am the size of a bus.

mrsshackleton Wed 21-Aug-13 10:49:21

Mrsmarigold - soak pans with a dishwasher tablet overnight. Never fails.

MinimalistMommi Thu 22-Aug-13 08:26:25

"Great thread.. never thought of the lettuce one and defo going to try rice that way.

Easy pancakes -
one cup plain flour
one cup milk
one egg

whisk - leave to set in fridge for little while.. perfect batter."

Is this an American cup measure?

MinimalistMommi Thu 22-Aug-13 08:30:17

Also does the rice trick work with brown rice?

DameFanny Thu 22-Aug-13 08:57:26

For brown rice, 1.5 times boiling water, lid on, when up to boil simmer as low as possible for 30 minutes.

MinimalistMommi Thu 22-Aug-13 09:23:34

Thank you Dame thanks

dreamingofsun Thu 22-Aug-13 10:34:34

yes to ready made puff pastry, and also slow cookers

GertBySea Thu 22-Aug-13 21:49:05

Oh yes. Plant spring onions in some soil in the garden when you get them home from the shops. Stops them going all slimy in the fridge.

MrsFrederickWentworth Thu 22-Aug-13 23:42:48

Keep some quorn mince in the freezer. Bolognese, chili, lasagne all work well, can feed vegetarians, but carnivorous DH doesn't notice. And doesn't go off as frozen meat does.

snowlie Fri 23-Aug-13 08:33:50

I struggle with slow cookers - the meat is lovely and tender but the flavour is often dull and it makes everything taste the same. Do you add the flavour components at the end?

aftereight Fri 23-Aug-13 08:53:24

I no longer peel or crish garlic for meals, I use garlic oil when frying off meat/onions etc.
Peel 3 pr 4 cloves of garlic and place in a small jar. Top up jar with oil. Leave for a week to let the flavour infuse.
Use as needed for cooking, a little gives a really good hit of garlic.

dreamingofsun Fri 23-Aug-13 09:43:55

snowlie - normally at the start, but then i'll add things at the end if it tastes dull. mustard, garlic, chilli or if all else fails i'd make it into curry by adding curry paste. you can add a bit of mustard to a lot of things and not actually know its there, to give it a bit of oomph

YoniAsOldAsYoFeel Fri 23-Aug-13 09:51:13

Add a teaspoon of bicarb to the water when hard boiling eggs - then shell will come off easily and won't get lumps of egg stuck to it.

snowlie Fri 23-Aug-13 10:27:53

Dreaming I do start adding things at the end but it still tastes like stew. Even when I made Bolognaise it tasted old and stew like. Chicken was moist but everyone complained about the lack of colour and flavour.

dreamingofsun Fri 23-Aug-13 12:48:53

bolognese - i'd add more tom puree and/or garlic. it does taste very slightly different to the one from the pan, but if i use it for lasagne no-one seems to notice in our house

CollieEye Fri 23-Aug-13 15:41:59

You don't need to peel garlic if you grate it. The skin gets left on the grater.

A wooden spoon laid across a boiling pan of water means it will never boil over. I don't know why, but it works!

ParsingFancy Fri 23-Aug-13 15:51:02

Ditto grating tomatoes.

ParsingFancy Fri 23-Aug-13 15:51:44

shock at planting spring onions. Well I never...

Laquila Fri 23-Aug-13 16:06:42

Don't bother buying buttermilk, if a recipe requires it - use a combination of natural yoghurt, milk and lemon juice/vinegar.

Flash-freezing cookie dough balls - this was a bit of a revelation to me! Then just freeze them in bags as normal.

Knorr chicken stock and beef stock concentrate - I bloody love these.

PoppyAmex Fri 23-Aug-13 17:05:13

This is my current favourite, frozen yogurt balls. Super easy and really rewarding.

I also make huge batches of Nigella's Crumble (just the topping) and freeze it - when the mood strikes us, we just put frozen berries or whatever fruit we fancy on a ramekin, top it with the crumble from the freezer, quick oven and we have super comforting pudding.

This is the crumble topping recipe I use, I think the almond meal makes it a bit nicer.

ParsingFancy Fri 23-Aug-13 17:25:40

Yoghurt "mayonnaise".

Whip 1 tbsp olive oil into 100g natural yoghurt plus lemon juice and whatever seasoning you fancy. You get a dressing the consistency of mayo but sans egg.

(Useful in this house as we never finish jars of mayo, but always have multi-purpose yoghurt on the go. About half the price, too.)

CarpeVinum Sat 24-Aug-13 13:39:57

Don't bother buying buttermilk, if a recipe requires it - use a combination of natural yoghurt, milk and lemon juice/vinegar

What sort of proportions ? Is it half milk/yog and a splash of acid ?

I love you forever for this one. Buttermilk is unfindable where I live. Have to go all the way to the one shop I found it in Milan.

I've just come home with sheeps yogurt, so I'll have a go at the mayo idea with that one. And I'll make the dots for me and hide them.

Wonder if you can make choccie flavour yogurt drops rather than fruity ones. Becuase that philidelfia chocolate spread suonds all wrong, but is heaven on the end of a table tea spoon.

And yogurt is like philly.

Sort of.

Laquila Sat 24-Aug-13 19:51:00

Carpe I'd say I use approx 70% natural yog and approx 28% milk, with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to make it up (I'm not usually so precise in my calculations!...)

Let it stand for 5 mins before using. Whilst we're on the subject of buttermilk, my fave recipes using it (or fake buttermilk...;) are this one for scones and a mash-up of this Lorraine Pascal soda bread and this Nigel Slater one. Mmmmmmmmmmmm soda bread smile

CarpeVinum Sun 25-Aug-13 10:46:01

Thanks Laquila

I have a stash of buttermilk dependant recipies I've not been able to try that can now get an airing.

MeanAndMeaslyMiddleAges Sun 25-Aug-13 21:10:22

Yy to using scissors to cut meat - it's a game changer!

Hopefully these tips aren't too off-topic but I find extremely useful:

Always make sure you have your staple ingredients in stock, particularly when you like to cook the same types of meals. I cook a lot of stir frys so I always have in soy sauce (light/dark/low sodium), Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, honey, ginger, garlic, brown sugar etc. it's very freeing.

If you use Pinterest to get recipes, always remember to look at the 'other people who pinned this also pinned' section. Not only will you likely find inspiration for new dishes similar to those you like, you're also likely to find variations of the original recipe, which can be helpful if you're missing a certain ingredient.

Also, and this is very important - ginger improves almost everything, and cinnamon goes great with beef - particularly steak or bolognese sauce.

Iheartcrunchiebars Sun 25-Aug-13 21:13:53

When making individual tarts and baking blind use cake cases and fill with baking beans rather than cutting p bits of bake well.

Brices Sun 25-Aug-13 21:35:21

MrsMarigold Fairy Power spray is all you need to know

Will never peel garlic again thank you for grating advice

multitaskmama Wed 04-Sep-13 15:05:48

My life saving tips.

1) I make a lot of curries so blitz three tins of plum tomatoes and place in a jug in the fridge

2) I buy ready made garlic and ginger paste (fresh used when time permits)

3) A few large onions chopped and frozen in small freezer bags, ready to use when making a curry

4) Keep naan in freezer and use as a base for last minute pizza. Works well with pitta bread

5) Keep a stock of boiled chickpeas, kidney beans etc as store cupboard ingredients

6) When making pilau rice, and you don't have all the whole spices to hand, just drop a masala teabag to get the same flavour. You'll be surprised you don't get the tea flavour as there is so much water you can't taste the tea

7) If you don't have breadcrumbs, just bash some cornflakes in a bag to use for home made fish fingers or chicken

8) Pop a fresh lemon in microwave for 15 seconds to get most juice

9) Corn on the cob can be made in 4 minutes in microwave rather than boiling.

10) Try to bake food so you can go off and do chores. I brush samosas with oil and pop them in oven. Saves time otherwise spent standing over the stove.

LimburgseVlaai Thu 05-Sep-13 12:21:20

I no longer bother rinsing rice (let alone 'until the water runs clear' - you'll be there for months). Just tip it into a sieve when it's cooked and give it a very quick rinse, then sit the sieve on top of the saucepan for a couple of minutes. Stir with a fork to separate the grains.

FlyMetotheMoon0 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:27:47

A pinch of sugar in tomato based dishes (bolegnase) or dishes with tomatoes in them (such as certain curries) takes a bit of the tang away

FlyMetotheMoon0 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:32:11

Frozen veg such as sweetcorn, green beans etc are handy to have on the freezer incase you haven't had time to go shopping, I've read that they are better than eating veg that's about to spoil as freezing retains more nutrients
Iceland do bags of veg at a £1 per bag and they taste as good as more expensive brands

FlyMetotheMoon0 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:35:03

For perfect jacket potatoes put them wrapped foil in the oven for about 20mins then finish off in the microwave for 5-10 mins
The skin comes out perfect every time

crazy8 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:14:02

On the subject of buttermilk I just use runny yoghurt without adding milk and lemon juice. It works perfectly well. I've used it in cakes and muffins. It's amazing how moist the cakes are when you use yoghurt.

crazy8 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:14:41

Frozen chopped onions are a godsend.

crazy8 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:16:37

Freeze slices of lemon and water in a muffin/cake tin for extra large ice cubes for pimms etc

crazy8 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:18:16

Also freeze a quarter filled bottle of water overnight and then just add some water to the bottle in the morning for ice cold water without waiting for the bottle to thaw.

CheerfulYank Sat 07-Sep-13 04:53:00

Marking my place, these are awesome. smile

Romann Sat 07-Sep-13 21:03:31

The 20 minute rice thing.

For poached eggs: put the whole egg in the boiling water for 10 seconds first, then fish out and poach as normal. For some reason it doesn't fall apart when you do this.

Give children couscous. Absurdly easy.

Use scissors for cutting up pizza.

Slice chicken to make nuggets when it's still a bit frozen.

Squash mince really flat before you freeze it and it defrosts really quickly.

Make roast chicken in the slow cooker (4 hours on high).

You can revive sad-looking salad leaves by soaking in iced water for a bit.

And thank you aturtle I can never get the egg thing right. Is that OK with an egg cold from the fridge or room temp?

chicaguapa Sat 07-Sep-13 21:47:44

Frozen meat placed directly on a baking tray will defrost more quickly than at room temperature.

1ml of milk/water weighs 1g, so you can weigh them to get the desired volume.

HorseyGirl1 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:15:15

Love cinnamon so will def try that.
Few country ideas here but they do work - if you have a garage and spare sand. Cover your carrots / parsnips. Keeps them fresh much longer. I haven't tried it with turnip yet but think that would work just as well.
Also lady mentioned putting spring onions in soil to keep them fresh longer - this works with leeks also.
Also if you want to peel potatoes / apples in advance - cover in water and add a squeeze of lemon juice - stops them turning brown

DoJo Thu 19-Sep-13 22:15:21

Freeze fresh chillies then use a fine grater instead of chopping them - easy, quick and you don't run the risk of ending up with a surprising chunk of chilli in your food when you least expect it.

Crikeyblimey Thu 19-Sep-13 22:41:56

For boiled eggs, always make sure the eggs are a few days (or more) old. They will peel so much easier. The air pocket in the egg gets bigger over time so the shell comes off better.

For poached eggs, use as fresh as possible. The whites hold together better. Oh, and the whole egg in the water for 10 seconds before cracking works a treat.

sashh Fri 20-Sep-13 06:41:04


Boil a brillo pad in them for an hour - this is what my mum used to do, I don't know if it works because I cannot stand the smell.

You can freeze fresh coriander. Roll it in newspaper and stick in the freezer, when you want to add it to curry just crumble straight from the fridge (tip given by elderly market stall holder who speaks very little English and was selling 3 bunches of coriander for £1.

LeGavrOrf Fri 20-Sep-13 07:10:31

The bags of chopped frozen garlic from Waitrose for £1.50. If you have tried frozen garlic before (the ones in the ice cube like trays) and thought it was shit (because it is) I really recommend you try the waitrose ones. You use it straight from frozen, it is all in little bits so you can use as little or as much as you like and in more stinky fingers from garlic chopping.

How to make perfect pancake or Yorkshire pudding batter is not to weigh anything but to go by volume. So you measure your eggs in a cup first, however many you want to use, and then measure the flour and milk to the same volume as the eggs were (iyswim). Perfect batter every time.

Go to Asian grocers for the freshest garlic, ginger, onions and herbs which cost tuppence. I don't know where they get their veg from but it s far fresher than any supermarkets.

LeGavrOrf Fri 20-Sep-13 07:13:47

That is a great idea about grating chillies, I am going to try that.

TheDietStartsTomorrow Fri 20-Sep-13 10:30:37

I make burgers with 1 part veggies to 3 part mince. Use whatever hard veg you can find but I find carrots, , cabbage, celery, onions, swede work best. Chop them up in the food processor until they are the consistency of mince meat and then add to the mince . Children can't tell the difference and its makes the burgers more succulent and juicy IMO.

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Fri 20-Sep-13 18:24:39

<peers into fridge for egg, just to see what happens when you sieve it>

Toddlers like peas.

Great thread!

I freeze leftover mash/ homemade soup in a 12 hole muffin/fairy cake tray wrapped in cling film. Once frozen, leave out for 5 mins then scoop them all out with a knife and put in a freezer bag and back in the freezer. Individual portions and saves space.

annekeberdina Sat 19-Oct-13 17:37:20

I came to England many, many years ago and au paired for a concert pianist on a very tight budget. I was suddenly responsible for cooking and feeding 3 people, never having done this before. Thankfully I remembered mama's stockpot! One huge pot, a marrow bone and lots of fresh vegetables. It was my lifesaver! Why buy expensive ready meals with all those additives? If you are on a really tight budget try it. There are a thousand variations, all delicious and wholesome!

mrspremise Sun 20-Oct-13 09:47:39

Keep the clingfilm in the freezer. Sounds bonkers, but it works, stops it sticking to every bastard other thing in sight rather than what you are trying to cover

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