100 tips and tricks gathered from around the web

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I see myself as a food advice blogger because I can give you tips about how to improve your cooking rather than give you another recipe. And the best part of my job is the appreciation I get from people who have finally been able to find the answer to a cooking problem that has been bothering them for ages. They love it when they find out there is a simple fix to whatever the issue is, and I love being able to help them out. So in the interests of helping out all of you, my lovely readers, this week I’ve gathered together 100 tips to help you and because its a big post I’ve forgone the smaller posts this week so you can have the time to read this one fully.

Hopefully the answer to a cooking problem you’ve been having is here within these 100 tips. But if you feel like you have a burning question and just really need to know that answer, reach out to me on Twitter @SpicedAnecdotes or email me at spiced.anecdotes@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer this problem for you.

But for now, get out the notepad as you just might want to jot down a tip or two to try later. Alternatively, share this post around with everyone you think could benefit from these tips too – just use the buttons at the bottom of this post. Thanks for sharing it around.

100 Cooking Tips

Baking tips

  1. Keep an iced cake covered by a dome or upturned bowl that doesn’t touch the icing.
  2. An iced cake should be kept in a cool dry place rather than in the fridge. The condensation in the fridge will make the icing sticky rather than set.
  3. Ripen bananas in an hour (for use in baking only) by cooking them in an oven at 300F/150C for 1hr. Cool and use in banana bread or muffins.
  4. Don’t rush the baking by trying to up the oven temperature. It doesn’t create the cake you’re trying to make because it can be burnt or dry.
  5. Use the toothpick test to work out if a cake is done (insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean it’s done), but also make sure that the cake is golden on top as well.
  6. Too much baking powder can dry out a cake/muffin.
  7. Getting the temperature of the butter correct for the recipe is essential; so if its chilled, room temperature or melted, do as the recipe says.
  8. Room temperature eggs and dairy emulsify better (mix through) and create a better, smoother texture for your cake/muffin.
  9. Most ovens will have a hot spot (where foods cook or burns faster) so you’ll have to rotate the tin or tray halfway through for even cooking.
  10. It’s better to butter and flour a pan or use baking paper rather than use non stick bakeware. The coating on the non stick bakeware will come off over time and leave bits in your food that you don’t want to ingest.
  11. Yeast and baking powder/soda can expire if left for too long in the back of the cupboard. It won’t look bad but the reaction won’t work to make the cake rise, so make sure you check the dates before you use it.
  12. Don’t cut corners when you bake: you have to follow the recipe as intended and measure all the ingredients. If you want to be a bit more relaxed then cook a meal rather than bake (it doesn’t matter if you throw extra herbs on the chicken or add an extra tablespoon of soy to your sauce).
  13. No two bags of flour will ever be the same – which means sometimes you might need a little bit extra water to get the same consistency as you got last time, or that’s stated in the recipe.
  14. Use unsalted butter in baking.
  15. The results of baking could differ depending on the temperature of the room. So cooking in a hotter room will have different results to a colder room.
  16. When mixing, especially if you’re using an electric mixer, always scrape down the sides of the bowl and remix so you get an even consistency.
  17. If you use a pan that’s bigger than the size recommended in the recipe the cooking time will be longer. Conversely if the pan is smaller it’ll be faster to cook too.
  18. Cookies and biscuits will be soft when you take them out of the oven so you need to let them cool to firm up. Cool them on the baking tray for at least 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack.
  19. Over mixing a batter or over kneading dough can cause the cake or bread to be tough. Gently mix for a better consistency and fluffier cake/dough.
  20. Baking is worked out on scientific reactions so you need to make sure the right reactions occur at the right time. The best way to do this is to have all the ingredients out and prepared before you begin the recipe so you can add each ingredient as listed at the right times.

Fruit and Vegetable tips

  1. Ripen bananas overnight in a paper bag with an apple, avocado or pear.
  2. Roll lemons and limes, or other citrus fruits, under your palm back and forth across a table for a couple of minutes before you cut it. The rolling helps the fruit become juicier, so it’s great to do this when you need a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  3. Pre chop vegetables and store them in containers in the fridge. You can use them all week by making salads, adding them to other dishes or just snacking on them. You’re more likely to reach for them as healthy snacks when they’re already chopped.
  4. To prepare artichokes cut off their hard outer leaves, chop off the top quarter or half and scoop out the choke in the middle. Also cut off the hard stems and either grill for 8 minutes, microwave for 8 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of water, or steam for 15 minutes.
  5. Fennel can be used in 3 ways: grilled in a pan on the stove, roasted in the oven or steamed. Cut the green stalk off the fennel, remove the outer layer and slice the fennel when using these cooking methods (but make the fennel slices thicker if you’re steaming them).
  6. Leeks always need to be washed, and not just on the outside. Cut off the thick green leaves and leave the pale green and white portions. Cut off the root and then slice the leek in half lengthwise. Fan out the layers as you wash them, always with the dirty end down, and wash out any sand and dirt.
  7. Get more fruit into your day by adding fresh, dried or tinned fruit to your breakfast. Try fruit smoothies, add fruit on top of porridge, pancakes or yoghurt or have a fruit salad for breakfast.
  8. You can also get more vegetables by adding them to your breakfast. Think omelettes with capsicum, tomato, spinach or mushrooms or do a veggie big breakfast with mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, potatoes, baked beans and eggs.
  9. Also boost your veggie intake by doubling the amount of vegetables listed in your recipes. This is particularly easy to do in salads, soups and casseroles.
  10. Expose yourself to new foods, flavours and meals by cooking one new vegetable a week (but try to pick a vegetable that is in season).
  11. Wash your fruit and veg just before you eat it. If you wash it then store it in the fridge you’re exposing the item to more bacteria and it’ll go bad faster.
  12. Don’t cut fruit and veg on the same board as you did raw meat. It’s especially bad if the fruit and veg aren’t going to be further cooked because you’re exposing yourself to salmonella and e.coli.
  13. Peeling nuts like almonds and hazelnuts can be done at home. Either toast the nuts in the oven before throwing them into a clean tea towel and rubbing vigorously, or boil them in hot water for a few minutes before dunking into cold water. Evidently it’s works even better if you add baking soda to the hot water.
  14. Chop an avocado by cutting the avocado in half then gently run a spoon around between the skin and the flesh. You should be able to lift the flesh out of the skin and be able to chop it into perfect slices or diced pieces by chopping it on a board with the cut side down.
  15. You can buy a corer to core apples and pears or use a melon baller. Alternatively just cut the fruit into quarters and cut out the seeds by chopping a thin slice down the fruit where the seeds are.
  16. Did you know you can peel a piece of fresh ginger with a spoon? Just scrape the eating part of the spoon over the ginger until it comes off.
  17. Make packets of veggies ready ahead and then microwave or steam the vegetables each night. Add sauces, spices or herbs to the cooked veg to give them extra flavour.
  18. Fruit kebabs are a great treat in summer, a cute way to get kids to eat fruit or a funky dessert idea.
  19. Cut your vegetables into even size pieces so they can cook at the same rate.
  20. Use cookie cutters to cut fun shapes out of fruit and vegetables. It’ll make the kids love their veggies (and it’ll probably be a fun idea for the adults too, depending on what you’re doing with the veg after you cut it).

Meat tips

  1. To stuff a chicken breast make a small cut horizontally along the thickest part. Once stuff curl the thinnest part over the thickest to stop the pocket opening as it cooks. Secure with a toothpick to be sure.
  2. Rest your meat because the fibres of the meat need to relax to keep the food moist after cooking.
  3. Cut with the grain of the meat as it makes it nicer to eat the meat that way. 
  4. Brown meat before it goes into a casserole or at the beginning of cooking.
  5. Add oil to the meat rather than to the pan as the oil will just smoke as you brown the meat.
  6. Always cook meat in batches so the heat of the pan stays an even temperature.
  7. Lower heats will help preserve moisture in the meat.
  8. Use a sharp knife (a smooth knife) to cut meat but don’t make it a serrated knife (the one with teeth).
  9. Marinate meats to give them more flavour. The natural oils in the meats will draw in the flavour of the herbs and spices when they sit for a while.
  10. Marinate small cuts of meat for 2-3 hours but large cuts and roasts can be marinated for up to 24hrs. Always leave to marinate in the fridge.
  11. Marinades that contain raw meat juices cannot and should not be poured over cooked meat because of bacteria. If you want to use the marinade it needs to be boiled to kill of any possible bacteria before it is served over the meat.
  12. Deglazing is using cool liquid on a hot pan to remove the stuck on bits of flavour. This liquid can then be made into a sauce to go over your meat (like a jus or gravy).
  13. Deglazing a pan can be done using water, stock, wine, beer or juice.
  14. If you cook sausages on a BBQ or pan on the stove use a moderate heat and don’t prick their skins (it lets the moisture out). A moderate heat will mean the sausages won’t burst.
  15. Sausages can also be cooked in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes. Make sure you turn them occasionally for even cooking.
  16. Never serve a sausage that hasn’t been cooked through fully to the centre.
  17. Always use separate chopping boards, preparation plates or utensils for raw and cooked meats. Never put cooked meat into a plate/board that has had the raw meat on it.
  18. To remove the chill of the fridge from meat you can safely leave it on the bench for 10 minutes, however be mindful if you live in a very hot climate and reduce the time depending on how hot it is on the day you’re taking your meat out.
  19. When BBQing make sure the different types of meats have their own section of the BBQ, and don’t cross contaminate by moving it around to other areas. To help prevent this issue cook on the BBQ using foul trays so that each meat type has its own area to cook in (it also makes for a much easier clean up at the end!).
  20. If you want to keep leftover meat make sure it hasn’t been sitting out for more than 2hrs and refrigerate it straight away. Meat that’s been out for 2-4hrs should be eaten straight away and anything left out more than 4hrs should be thrown away.

Preparation tips

  1. Chop, slice or noddlize your veggies ahead of time and keep them in containers in the fridge.
  2. Roast veggies together that use the same amount of time to cook so you save yourself time.
  3. Chop your chicken ahead for the week and marinate it in different flavours so your taste buds don’t get bored. You can even marinate it in the same fish using foil ‘walls’ to separate out the flavours.
  4. Make mini frittatas ahead of time by using muffin tins. Once cooked freeze or store the frittatas in the fridge and reheat each morning for a tasty and gourmet breakfast. Or put them between slices of bread or on a roll for an egg muffin.
  5. Make salads ahead in jars so you can take them for work lunches during the week. The trick is to put the dressing on the bottom and the leafy ingredients (lettuce and spinach) on the top. Everything stays fresher this way.
  6. When preparing food ahead for the week start off by preparing one or two items and build up to preparing more. Don’t overwhelm yourself if you’re new to this.
  7. You don’t have to cook all the food you prep. Just chopping something ahead can save time do you only have to cook it on the night.
  8. Work out which meal stressed you out the most and try preparing some of or all of that meal. It’ll make a huge difference in the end and give you more time to do the things you really want to do.
  9. There’s no right or wrong way to prepare food, it’s just up to what you need done for your meals.
  10. Use the right utensils for the right job. Don’t use a small knife when you need a big one, or use a blunt knife (you’ll hurt yourself), or a small saucepan when you needed a large one.
  11. When preparing ingredients at the beginning of the meal you can put them into small bowls ready on your counter too. Alternatively, if you don’t have enough bowls, or want to save on washing up, use a muffin tray.
  12. Cook double batches of recipes and freeze them to eat on other nights or to take as work lunches.
  13. If you want to make small batches of cookies, make a double batch and freeze the dough in a log wrapped in baking paper. When you want to cook a small batch just chop off the amount you need and bake. Alternatively, make cookie shapes on a baking tray and freeze them. Once they’re frozen swap to zip lock bags and leave in the freezer until you want to bake a couple.
  14. If a recipe calls for half an onion, chop the whole thing and store the rest for another night. You can do this with most ingredients.
  15. At the beginning of a cooking session (e.g. dinner) fill a sink or icky with warm soapy water. As you use plates and utensils rinse them in the sink/bucket before placing in the dishwasher or stacking for later hand washing. Empty the bucket when you’re done.
  16. Always preheat your pan by letting it warm up for a few minutes before you add any oil. A hot pan will cook food faster.
  17. Preparation works best when you have grocery staples in your cupboard. Make sure you routinely by three staples you’re going to use each week so they ready when you need to prepare them.
  18. Buy containers that fit into your fridge, freezer and cupboards. If you buy containers you like you are more likely to use them too.
  19. You don’t have to prepare full meals ahead. Just chop some of the ingredients and have them ready for when you need them during the week such as chop onions and carrots or making dressings and sauces.
  20. Prepare meals that can be made into others. For instance, spaghetti sauce can be reused for other meals like Mexican chilli or become the basis of a soup. You will know best what you like so think about the meals you could repurpose.

Cooking and kitchen tips

  1. To make your sauce stick to your pasta keep some of the cooking liquid and stir it into the sauce and pasta by tablespoons until you get the preferred mix. The starch in the water will help the sauce stick.
  2. Never make a brand new recipe when you’re trying to impress someone. Instead cook the recipes you know work and have been made many times over otherwise you’ll end up with a meal that just wasn’t what you wanted it to be.
  3. Wash your hands before, during and after cooking to make sure you don’t spread germs around the kitchen or across food types.
  4. Dried herbs have a stronger taste than fresh herbs. Substitute one for the other using the general rule that 1 teaspoon of dried equals 4 teaspoons of fresh.
  5. Scoop up broken egg shells that have fallen into your mix with a piece of eggshell. Basically when you crack an egg small pieces of eggshell can fall into the bowl with the egg. Use one of the large pieces of egg to scoop it out.
  6. Freeze leftover tomato paste in ice cube trays so you can pop them out one at a time when you need them.
  7. To peel fresh garlic cloves smash them under a bowl or plate then transfer to a container with a lid. Put the lid on and shake the container for a few minutes. When you take the lid off the garlic cloves will be separated from their skins.
  8. Keep a chopping board from moving under you as you chop by placing a damp tear peel under it.
  9. Microwave your leftovers by spreading them on the outside of the plate. You get better reheating when there’s no food in the middle of the plate.
  10. Pit a cherry by placing it on top of a small necked glass bottle. Stab a wooden skewer through the centre of the cherry which will cause the pit to drop into the glass. Genius!
  11. Don’t throw away the last bit of jam in a jar. Make it into a fruity dressing instead by adding some vinegar or oil to jar and shaking it up so the mix combines well and you can then pour it over a salad.
  12. You don’t have to cook from scratch for every part of every meal. Make one part, for instance, if you bought the filled pasta you can make the sauce yourself.
  13. If you’ve got a rind of cheese left, don’t throw it into the bin. Instead throw it into a pot of soup to help add flavour while it cooks. Throw the rind away right before you serve the soup though.
  14. The worst thing you can do is to have a blunt knife. Get a knife sharpener and use it often. If you’re not sure the knife is blunt try to cut a tomato; if the knife slides or bounces off the skin then it’s blunt.
  15. Make your soup a day early and leave it in the fridge overnight to build flavour. Trust me, I’ve done this and it works very well.
  16. If you’re following an online recipe be sure to check out the readers’ comments at the bottom of the recipe. It will give you ideas for additions or variations to the recipe and will let you know of any traps you might fall into if you make it yourself (such as too much of an ingredient or too little).
  17. Keep a track of recipes you use, and make notes about them. If the recipe needed more of an ingredient or longer/shorter cooking times then make a note it so that next time you use the recipe you’ll know what to tweak for a better result. Check out my post on Internet Recipe inspiration for great tips on how to collect and store all the recipes you find.
  18. Replace your spices regularly to give yourself the best flavour meals. This doesn’t mean always throwing them away, it means using them regularly and when you haven’t used them in quite a few months sniff them. If they don’t smell like anything they won’t taste like much either.
  19. Double the amount of rice or grains you cook for dinner one night and use the rest as a salad the next day for lunch.
  20. When cooking you need a well lit kitchen. If the lights of your room aren’t bright enough then use the light over the stove (on the rangehood). If that’s not bright enough then get an extra light you can position where you need it.

 

And if 100 tips aren’t enough, you can always check out some of my other posts: 25 tips for using vegetables, 25 reasons why I love to cook and 25 blogs, websites and tips to inspire you. That’s 175 tips all for free! What a deal!

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Resources

I found these tips on various sites including:

 

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