Kitchen Shortcuts

10 Dec

Eating and cooking are an inescapable part of life.

So if there are little hints and tricks out there for making the job of preparing a meal simpler, we’d be mad not to take notice, right?

I’ve compiled a list of little treasures that I hope can help you. They are little hints given to me by family and friends and also little handy tips I’ve picked up along the way on the world wide web. Feel free to send in your own little gem to share.

  • Cheat’s Roast Veg

Peel and cut your root vegetables into 4cm pieces, steam for 2 minutes until tender.

Set aside to cool, then toss with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. You can store in the fridge, in a zip lock bag until required.

When you need the veg, reheat oven to 220°C.

Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning the vegetables over occasionally until golden.

  • Make Your Own Herb and Spice Oils

If you have some leftover garlic cloves or herbs, instead of throwing them out, why not put them into a screw-top jar with some olive oil and let it sit so the delicious flavour infuses the oil. You can use whole garlic cloves, lemon peel, sliced chilli or chilli flakes, ginger, rosemary sprigs, sprigs of thyme, dried herbs like basil and oregano, minced herbs (like the ones you buy in the squeeze tubes). Make sure that the ingredients you are adding to flavour your oil do not contain any moisture from water as this can cause bacteria, so just ensure your ingredients are thoroughly dry.

You can keep in the fridge and use within two weeks- perfect over pastas, as part of salad dressings, drizzled over pizzas or on roasted vegies.

  • Use Interesting Bowls

There’s nothing more interesting than creative ways to serve up a meal, especially if you have kids. Use remnants of the ingredients you have to serve up your dishes to add a little pizazz. For example, if serving fruit salad, consider presenting the beautiful fresh fruit in half a coconut shell or a hollowed out melon half.

  • Infuse Flavour To Steamed Food

Next time you’re gonna to put the steamer on, stop and have a think about what kind of meal you’re preparing. Adding aromatics, herbs and spices to the water when steaming can really add that extra something special to your dish. For example if you’re making an Thai-inspired chicken dish, you could add shredded kaffir lime leaves, sliced lime and lemongrass. For steamed fish, you can’t go wrong with adding some lemon peel and zest along with some dill. If you’re after more traditional flavours, go for rosemary and slices of garlic gloves. You’d be amazed what this little trick can do for really bringing out some gorgeous flavours in your food.

  • Get More Juice For Your Buck

Before juicing citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and limes, run the fruits under the tap in hot water for a few minutes or soak in a bowl of hot water to get more juice. (Image Source)

  • If Sticky Rice Isn’t Doing It For You

If you want to avoid sticky rice, make sure you rinse your grains in a colander under running cold water until the water runs clear- this ensures that you are removing much of the starch and that you won’t end up with a gluggy mess.

  • Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar Were Meant To Be Together

The next time you are preparing a strawberry dessert, pour a dash of balsamic vinegar in with the strawberries- balsamic vinegar is known to bring out the beautiful flavour of strawberries. If you don’t believe me, try it out! (Image, left, courtesy of True Focus Photography)

  • Freeze Leftover Stuff In Ice-Cube Trays

Let me ask you this. How many times have you thrown out a half used bottle of tomato paste because you only really needed two tablespoons for your recipes and now the rest has grown white furry stuff on it in the fridge for the last month? Stop wasting your ingredients and learn to freeze what you can in ice-cube trays. That way when you need some tomato paste for your next recipe, all you have to do is pop out a few cubes and there is minimal waste. It’s genius. This works for almost everything- fruit juices (great to drop into summer drinks), fruit puree, tomato paste, chopped herbs, etc. The possibilities are endless. So the next time you’re about to throw something out, ask yourself if you can freeze it in an ice-cube tray.

  • Peeling The Skin Off Almonds, The Quick & Easy Way

Soak in hot water for 15 minutes and the skins will peel off easily!

  • Leave The Oven Door Closed

If you’re like me (an impatient pain the ass), you’re one of those people that constantly open the oven door to check on the cooking. Did you know that everytime you open the oven door, the temperature drops by 25 degrees? So keep it closed to conserve energy and get that delish dinner cooked more quickly and evenly.

  • Onions On Demand

When you think about it, a large majority of savoury meals begin with chopped onion. And yet, this is sometimes the most boring, time consuming, annoying part of preparing a meal. So here’s an idea, next time you buy a bag of onions, put your swimming goggles on, some latex gloves and get ready to slice, dice and chop a whole lotttta onions. Freeze them in zip lock bags according to how they are cut and keep them on hand in the freezer for when you need them next. Great idea for busy, working people and mothers! You can also do this with a combination of carrot, onion and celery which is a common base for a lot of stews, casseroles and soups.

  • If It Floats, Throw It Out

The best way to tell if an egg is still fresh is to drop into some cold water. If it sinks, it’s fresh but if you’ve got a floater on your hands, it’s time to say buh-bye.

  • Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is the reason I get out of bed in the morning. It is wonderful. Especially around Christmas time. To make your own vanilla sugar, split a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and then immerse the split vanilla bean into your sugar. You can use regular sugar or  caster sugar.

Ensure that the container of sugar is covered tightly and store in a cool dry place. In about a week, the beautiful flavour and aroma of the vanilla bean will have perfumed your sugar and you can enjoy it in all kinds of cookie and cake recipes, in coffee or hot chocolate or use it to dust your delicious dessert creation. (Image source)

  • How To Make Honey Glide Off The Spoon

If you need to add a teaspoon of honey to a recipe you’ll know that it can end up quite messy. To ensure that your honey glides right off the spoon, give your spoon a quick spray with oil or rub a bit of oil on the spoon and it really just slides right off.

  • Your Ice-Cream Scoop Isn’t Just For Ice-Cream

The trusty ice-cream scoop isn’t just for scooping ice-cream. It is easily one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen. You can use it to scoop out dough or muffin mixture, for evenly sized muffins, cupcakes, waffles or pancakes. It also makes pretty scoops of mashed potatoes or salads and can be used for pie fillings if you’re making individual pies.

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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Inspiration


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