| Cooking Tips & Tricks | Our favourite cooking tips, tricks, and hacks
Our favourite cooking tips, tricks, and hacks
There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to enjoy a beautiful meal you’ve prepared at home. But for many of us, the cooking part can be time-consuming especially when you’re juggling your kids, the pets and everything else going on in your life.
So, we’ve put together some of our favourite cooking tips, tricks and hacks to make your lives just that little bit easier.
- Thinly sliced meat – before cooking, place your meat in the freezer for 30 mins so it is semi-frozen. This will make it easier to slice the meat thinly providing the perfect addition to that stir fry you can’t stop thinking about.
- Freeze an onion before you slice – there will be no need to wipe away those onion tears if you freeze the onion.
- Keep your chopping board clean – a chopping board is an essential bit of kit in the kitchen, but flavours, oils and other matter can cling to the board and taint your next meal. A great tip is to take a lemon and cut it in half. Run salt over the chopping board using the lemon with the juicy side down. Let the salt and lemon solution sit for approximately five minutes. Finally, clean off the board with a sponge, rinse, and dry.
- Making stock while you sleep – rather than chucking away that bone from the roast you had at the weekend, place it in a slow cooker along with some fresh veges, turn the slow cooker on to low and leave overnight. The next morning, skim and drain the liquid, let it cool to room temperature and then freeze the stock for a future meal. Also, if you have some leftover gravy, freeze that in an ice cube tray and use to add flavour to future meals.
- Potato peel chips – in New Zealand we throw away 13,658 tonnes of vegetable peelings every year. That a lot of edible food that is going to waste. Instead, use this great Crispy Potato Skin recipe from our friends at Love Food, Hate Waste. Perfect to munch down as a snack or pile them atop anything you like to add a bit of salt and crisp to a dish.
- Peeling your garlic – place the clove of garlic on your chopping board and crush with the flat side of your knife. You will find the skin comes off the garlic easy peasy.
- Zest up your mince – add lemon zest into your mince dishes to make them even tastier.
- Sweet tomatoes – if you’re using a tin of tomatoes, add a pinch of sugar to bring out the natural flavour of the tomatoes.
- Stop the pot boiling over – if you’re forever getting up to stop a pot from boiling over, place a dry wooden spoon horizontally across the top of the pot. This deflects the heat away and prevents the water from boiling over.
- Don’t crowd the meat – when you’re searing meat (to add that delicious flavour) don’t put too much in the pan. Sear it in batches that way you avoid the juices poaching the meat, so you get that beautiful caramelised flavour.
- Scrape with the blunt side – when you’re chopping veges for the pot, scrape them off the chopping board with the blunt edge of the knife, that way you stop the sharp edge going blunt.
- Soften your butter – place some boiling water into a jar, allow the jar to warm up and then pour out the water. Simply place the butter into the jar, with the lid on and leave to soften. Another option is grate hard butter which will make it a lot easier to spread.
- Spruce up your broccoli - ever had a broccoli that’s gone a bit yellow, soft and generally unappetising? All you need to do is cut the bottom of the stalk off and place in some water for an hour or so (just like you do with a bunch of flowers) and, voila, your broccoli will be refreshed.
- Herby butter – if you have some fresh herbs that are looking a little past their best, chop them up, mix with softened butter and then freeze. You’ll then have a ready-made taste sensation for your next steak dinner.
- Use by vs Best before dates – it’s important to know the difference between these on-pack dates. A ‘use by date’ is usually applied to foods like meat, seafood and chilled meals and it is not advisable to eat the food after this date. However, a ‘best before’ date gives you an indication of when the food might be past it’s best but it’s always worth checking before you throw away. Smell it, look at it and even taste and if they are all good, you’re ok to eat it.
- For leftovers, apply the 2-2-2 rule – this handy tip also comes from our friends at Love Food, Hate Waste. If you have leftovers you have; 2 hours to get them into the fridge, 2 days to eat them and they will last 2 months in the freezer. In other words, 2 hours – 2 days – 2 months or the 2-2-2 rule
- Perfect pizza – talking of leftovers, eating pizza the next day is one of life’s great pleasures. Try putting in a mug of water in the microwave when you re-heat the pizza. As the water evaporates, it fills us the microwave with moisture, rehydrating the crust and leaving you with slice of pure cheesy goodness.
- Massage the kale – yes, we know this sounds odd, but add a glug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt and massage the leaves until they start to wilt. This will tenderise the otherwise tough kale leaves.
- Juicier lemons – microwave your lemons on high for 20 seconds. This warms them up making them easier to squeeze and get all the juice.
- Meatballs Made Easy – if you’re making meatballs, wet your hands under the tap before your form them in your hands. This will prevent the meat from sticking to you. Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop for that mess-free, perfectly formed meat ball.
- Filthy food container – if your favourite food container has become stained and hot soapy water isn’t working, make a baking soda paste with water and wipe the inside of the container. Let it sit for a few hours, clean and you should have your favourite old friend looking as good as new.
- Burger bulge – ever had your burger patty bulge when cooking? Press your thumb into the middle of the patty which will prevent it from bulging and will ensure your burger is cooked through to perfection.
Posted by Shawn Moodie