Cooking hints and tips

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Cooking tips

Here you will find all the cooking and baking tips that we have shared with you in our weekly newsletters so far. Some are tried and true favourites, like the buttermilk substitute, and others are new to us, like the roast spuds with bacon in the middle – yum!

If you have any tips or hints you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you. we love the idea of making life just that little bit easier for everyone. Email you tips to us here.

Cooking tips:

  • For a tasty twist to roast spuds, remove the centre of the potatoes with an apple corer, push a small piece of rolled bacon into each hole, and roast as normal.
  • Does tonight’s dinner call for the soaking of dried beans overnight? If you’re in a hurry, quick-soak them instead. Place the beans in a saucepan and cover with 2.5 times their volume in water. Slowly bring to the boil, boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the saucepan stand for 1 hour, at which time the beans are ready to cook.
  • Use a homemade antioxidant herb sprinkle in place of salt and pepper. Combine equal portions of seaweed flakes, dried rosemary leaves, dried parsley leaves, dried thyme leaves and toasted sesame seeds. Or adjust the portions to best suit your taste.
  • Use a meat baster to squeeze pancake batter into a hot pan for perfectly uniform pancakes.
  • Want a change from fried tomatoes with your breakfast fry-up? Fry sliced apples with bacon instead.
  • If your kids refuse to eat their crusts, don’t throw them away. Turn them into breadcrumbs. Crumble the crusts in a food processor, add dried herbs and grated cheese, then freeze them. Use the mix on meals that require a breadcrumb topping.
  • Ketjap manis is a sweet Indonesian soy sauce. If you don’t have it in your pantry, use normal soy sauce and a teaspoon of brown sugar or a dash of honey.
  • To peel ginger easily, use a teaspoon instead of a peeling knife. Truly! The skin comes of nice and thin so you don’t waste any of your precious ginger. Simply scrape the spoon gently over the skin from top to bottom. Once the skin is removed you can mince the ginger and use in a variety of ways.
  • Food in round dishes cooks more evenly in microwaves than food in square or rectangular dishes. Square and rectangular dishes cook food on the sides first, which is then prone to overcooking. Avoid containers with sloping sides. A straight-sided container keeps the depth of food uniform. Containers with sloping sides have shallow depth areas which also have a tendency to overcook.

Baking tips

  • Making a cake and run out of eggs? Use ½ ripe banana, ¼ cup apple butter or ½ teaspoon guar gum instead to act as a binder.
  • Want to try a cake icing with a difference? When your cake is just baked, cover the top with cream chocolates and return to the oven for a minute or so for the chocolates to melt, then spread evenly with a knife.
  • Cake decorating. Keep fresh flowers on cakes at their optimum with stem holders made from drinking straws. Cut a length of drinking straw 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) long. Bend the end of the straw upward and tape it against the tube of the straw. Add water to the tube, filling it about three-quarters of the way. Insert the flower stem into the straw tube, and insert the tube into the cake at the location where you want the flower to be.
  • To test whether your baking powder is still effective, place 1 teaspoon of powder in 1/3 cup of hot water. If it bubbles away, it’s fine.
  • To prevent the pastry of fruit pies becoming soggy, sprinkle breadcrumbs or biscuit crumbs on the base of the uncooked pastry before adding the fruit.
  • No whipped cream? Try this delicious alternative instead. Beat together 1 egg white and 1 sliced banana until stiff.
  • To keep egg yolks fresh in the fridge, cover them in water.
  • Add a few mint leaves to caster sugar to make your very own mint sugar. Put caster sugar and mint leaves into a tightly sealed jar and store for three weeks in a cool, dark place to allow the essential oils to be absorbed into the sugar. Use the minty sugar for decorating cakes, desserts or to sweeten drinks in summer.
  • Need buttermilk but have run out? Use this easy substitute. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and mix into a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then it’s ready to use.

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