Okay so to kick off my blog, I’m gonna give y’all some easy advice. Now some of you may already know these, so please don’t roll your eyes.
If there’s something you didn’t know then hurrah! I’ve learnt these over the last few years dealing with food. They aren’t exotic methods, and they certainly aren’t expensive, but they could certainly save you some money (and your tastebuds along the way!)
Say hello to six hints and tips that will turn you from a newbie foodie into a cosmic cook. Okay maybe not quite that extreme but it will most definitely improve your kitchen cuisine and make you a better foodie from the get-go. You will definitely be the better housemate!
1. The Perfect Poached Egg.
Want a perfect poached egg for your toast in the morning? Add a couple of table spoons of white wine vinegar to the poaching water just before you drop the egg. It keeps the white together and stops it going stringy. If you use medium eggs from room temperature, for a perfectly oozy yolk, take them out after exactly 3 minutes with a slotted spoon and put on a paper towel or clean j-cloth to dry. Perfect on toast, perfect on top of fishcakes, and even more perfect as a healthy and easier alternative to your fried egg and gammon. (keep the pineapple though, those things are beast)
2. Cherish your Chopping Board
Sick of your wooden chopping boards splitting and warping? Rub olive or walnut oil into it once a week with a kitchen towel. Keep feeding it with oil and rubbing in a circular motion until the oil stops being absorbed. It will stop the board from splitting, whilst adding a protective layer and reducing the appearance of knife marks. I recommend you spend a fair bit of money on a chopping board and it will last you a lifetime. You can get a very good one for around £30 ($38). Oak is the best wood to buy. Get a heavy one, at least ¾ inch thick. The bigger it is, the more chopping real estate you will have. Try to avoid plastic or marble chopping boards, they can harbour bacteria and blunt your knives in lightning speed.
3. Non-Sticky Pasta
Not a fan of sticky clumpy pasta and rice? Whilst you are bringing your pan to the boil, put the dry pasta in a bowl of cold water. Stir or run your hand through it a few times. Drain and repeat. Keep doing this until the water is clear. This process is ridding the pasta and rice of starch. When mixed with hot water, starch turns into a sort of glue. It’s that sticky stuff left at the bottom of a pan of boiled potatoes. Nasty. If you put a tablespoon of cooking oil into the boiling water just before you drop the pasta, this makes it glossy after you drain it, and aids the non-stickiness, not to mention it adds to the overall taste.
4. Stop Crying when you Chop Onions
Are those pesky onions making you cry again? There is an old wives take that by keeping the onions in the fridge, or putting them in the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing them means that they won’t give off any of their crazy onion pheromones. I’m not sure if this is true, I’ve tried it and get mixed results. However, don’t fret. There are many different ways to reduce the amount of tears. Use a sharp knife. Not only is it safer, it does less damage to the onion cells, which means less eye irritation. Don’t ever cut through the root at an angle. Cut the onion in half perfectly straight, and then never cut the root again. Finally, try to use fresh onions if possible, the newer the onion, the better. These techniques also work with shallots. I can’t promise it will work every time, but only about 1 in 10 onions make me cry these days… the one’s my partner chops when she helps out!
5. No More Dry Chicken
Want super juice restaurant quality chicken? A simple, inexpensive tool to invest in would be a probe, or thermometer. Not only does this make cooking chicken safer, it dramatically improves the texture and juiciness. The centre of the thickest part of the chicken should reach a minimum temperature of 78 degrees centigrade (that’s 173 degrees Fahrenheit). If cooking the chicken whole, test the temperature in the thickest part of the breast, and the thickest part of the leg, too. You can never be too safe. Also, make sure you remove the chicken from the heat source when checking the temperature as it won’t be accurate otherwise.
6. Bring Canned Tomatoes Alive
Don’t like the taste of canned tomatoes? Neither do I when I leave them in their watery, bland, sloppy state. Just before you add your chopped tomatoes to anything, whether that be pasta, casseroles, curries, add one level teaspoon of golden caster sugar to the pan (per half tin) and stir. If you don’t have golden caster sugar, white caster or granulated sugar works just as well. After spending most of its miserable life stewing in the darkness of its own juices, it’s understandable that canned tomatoes will start to taste bland. Sugar brings their flavour a new life, and really makes them stand out in the dish. If you can incorporate even just one of these techniques into your kitchen, it will make your food taste better in some way. Keep cooking, and keep learning. If there’s one thing I learned at university, it’s that students love food. Who can blame them? All that studying must make them hungry.