Honestly, sometimes the thought of a new kitchen challenge can be overwhelming. A new recipe or ingredient along with new techniques can put your head in a tailspin. No need to worry your pretty little head. There is always a way!
I have included some of my favourite kitchen tricks that will help make your culinary adventures sail a little smoother.
Use Fresh. Then Freeze It
Recipes that call for fresh ginger or garlic that is minced is a win win! I hate wasting and love having supplies on hand. Peel the ginger and garlic. Use what you need & pop the remainder in the freezer. No need to thaw before use. Skip the mincing by using the small side of a grater or zester. There you are done!
I also freeze a supply of jalapeno peppers to add some much needed spice to dishes. Grating them frozen means no need to remove the seeds manually, as they do not make it past the holes in the grater.
*Disclaimer – Cook the other larger ingredients first and then add the grated ginger, garlic or jalapeno to avoid burning as they are smaller in size.
Crack It Like Julia Child
Shell in the Mix! We all come across this once in a while (even those seasoned one-handed egg crackers). True you could spend your time aggressively trying to dig it out with your delicate fingers and fight through the gooey egg whites, but honestly who wants to do that? Use the bigger portion of the shell as a scoop to cut through the egg whites and retrieve the dismal shell remains from your otherwise stellar creation.
Flavoured Oils for Free and Zero Effort
How can this be possible you may ask? Well it is. A variety of gourmet goods that are now readily available to the masses come back in oil. Items such as olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and roasted peppers all come packed in oil that is often discarded. It is already flavoured with the original contents and make a great addition to salad dressing, used as a bread dipper with vinegar or an addition to other culinary dishes. Just keep refrigerated and it has a brand new use without the price tag.
When You Know You Have a Winner – Double Down
A lot of recipes can be made in double batches that do not alter the end results. By doubling it is a super time saver as you have all the ingredients out already and you don’t need to dirty additional dishes. If you are like me, you don’t have a personal dishwasher waiting by the sink to wash your bowls as you cook. One could dream – I don’t need a sous chef, just someone to wash the dishes that are not dishwasher friendly.
Anyways, back to doubling up! Spice combinations that you frequently use can be made in bigger batches and stored in airtight containers. Fall season screams for pumpkin spice, so having it already made for cookies, cakes or that latte you are craving is ideal! Same goes for taco seasonings, East Indian dishes, Chinese dishes or Italian spice mix for example.
Not limited to just spices – pizza dough can be made doubled up. Cook the portion you want and then pop the remaining dough portions in the freezer. When you need to use the freezer dough for a quick meal, just remove it in the morning and let it thaw for use at dinner time. Done & done!
Cake loaves, cookies and other bars can be easily frozen and brought out for those lazy Sundays when no one wants to cook or when the unexpected relatives just happen to be in the neighbourhood.
Many soups can be doubled up and portions frozen for future emergency dinners or weekend lunches. Save the day and your hungry family without a lot of additional effort!
Peeling Garlic Like a Pro
I don’t know anyone who loves peeling garlic with it’s tedious paper thin skin. Not to mention the aroma that is perfect for cooking, but not so lovely left on your hands. There must be a better way! Oh yes. It seems that there is. Just shake, shake, shake. No only is your garlic peeled but as a bonus your arms get a bit of an aerobic workout too. Simply loosen the outer garlic skin with your fingers. Place the bulbs in a plastic or glass container with a lid and shake it! The garlic toes are separated and for the most part the skin is easily removed. Buying in bulk can save you some money, plus you can pop the toes in the freezer for future use.
Castor Sugar? What?
I was a little perplexed when recently exploring some UK based recipes lately calling for castor sugar. Where could I find it? What exactly is it? Castor sugar, berry sugar or also called superfine sugar is smaller partials than granulated or white sugar but not as broken down as icing, powdered or also called confectioner’s sugar. (names change depending on regions and possibly to protect the innocent.)
If you are able to locate this castor sugar is can be pricier than regular sugar and generally comes in a smaller quantity bag. Recipes call for it as a finishing sugar or to incorporate quicker with other ingredients because of it’s refinement.
You can make your own version for a fraction of the cost. Put granulated white sugar in a blender, food processor or clean grinder and whiz. Keep processing until it becomes a delicate more refined sugar and the granules are broken down.
*Disclaimer – do not use a plastic vessel or it may become scratched from the high speed sugar granules.
Hope these kitchen tips make your day a little easier and save you a some frustration. More tips to come in the future. Please feel free to share any of your best practices! Happy cooking.