Posted by: edibleplanet | June 29, 2010

Tips for everyday cooking

Sometimes with all the cooking shows and beautiful cooking books it can seem too hard to bother trying a dish, or to cook one only for a special occasion. Some of the chefs recipes can be difficult to recreate, probably because they do some steps instinctively.
After watching a lot of cooking shows and reading cookery books and books about food you do start to notice the same tips coming up, that you can then apply to other recipes to make them work.
These are some of the tips we have found make all difference in our day to day cooking:

  • Lasagne has become a bit of staple now we use decent pasta, it gives a much nicer taste to the dish. We also grease the dish. We never used to do this but it so worth the minute or so to do it, then the lasagne slices come out looking as they should. Also when making the white sauce, putting a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns into the milk and heating it a little – either in the microwave or on the stove – before adding it to the butter and flour, gives a depth of flavour to the sauce. It doesn’t take a minute to do but makes all the difference to the sauce.
  • At the end of cooking a casserole, stew or tagine as well as checking the taste for adding salt, we now also add a splash of vinegar like cider vinegar. It just really adds to the flavour and again takes no time at all.
  • If we’re having plain rice as an accompaniment and we want to add some flavour, we add a couple of bay leaves while we are cooking it and it infuses a nice flavour into the rice. Again it doesn’t take any time, the bay leaves do the work.
  • We have also found parboiling potatoes and then coating in a little coarse semolina before putting in the oven makes for super crunchy roast potatoes!
  • When we’re running late but want potatoes to go with the evening meal we peel (if we have time) and slice thinly and cut up into chip size but quite thin. (One dimensional chips if you will.) Then we throw them in a roasting pan just one layer deep with some oil and a sprig or two of rosemary at 180C on fan bake. They are so thin they are easily cooked by the time the rest of the meal is done, it works for kumara too.
  • When we’re boiling rice we always put a splash of oil in the pan and give the rice a stir with the oil (dry) over the heat. This neutralises the starch and means that when we add the water and boil as usual the rice is less likely to clump together and become ‘gluggy’
  • Rose flower water and orange blossom water can make many things taste a little exotic. Anything creamy and sweet can benefit from a careful splash of rose water. Orange blossom water works best with sweet and fruity flavours. We use small amounts of rose water in whipped cream to give a hard-to-place exotic note. Fruit salads benefit from a gentle splash of orange blossom water. We have used orange blossom water to great effect in homemade apricot jam too.
  • TV Chefs always bang on about ‘don’t waste the flavours’ when you are browning meat and such. They’re right, you know! If you take the extra 2 minutes to pour some water/stock/wine into the dish you used to brown the meat and then add that to your stew it does make a real difference.

What is your tip to make every day cooking just that little bit tastier with little effort?



  1. Don’t rush the second rise. We bake all our own bread around our flat and I used to try and shorten the second rise when I didn’t have time. The second rise is especially important when making wheat bread.

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