If you’re a regular cook, you’ll know the “eureka” feeling when you discover a way to cut an everyday kitchen task in half. As our cookery team has spent so many hours writing and triple-testing recipes, they’ve picked up a fair few tricks and tips along the way, so we asked them to impart their wisdom…
Scenario #1: My boiled eggs are difficult to peel
Solution: add vinegar
Scenario #2: I need to cut dough into specific shapes
Solution: use a pizza cutter
A pizza blade can be wheeled through a sheet of pastry or bread dough with ease, saving you the expense of buying shaped cutters, or having to fiddle around, twizzling the point of a knife into strange angles.
Test this tip out with one of our biscuit recipes.
Scenario #3: My herbs are about to go off
Solution: freeze them
Scenario #4: My sugar has clumped in the packet
Solution: undo the damage with a slice of bread
If your brown sugar has clumped into pieces, place a piece of soft white bread in the packet and the sugar will break back down into sandy granules in a few hours. To stop it happening again, make sure the storage space is nice and dry.
Scenario #5: My lemons aren’t yielding enough juice
Solution: microwave them
Scenario #6: I’ve run out of bread
Solution: make instant flatbread
If you have plain flour in the cupboard, you always have bread on hand. Just take one mug of plain flour combined with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil per person, then slowly add cold water until it’s a soft, smooth dough which leaves the bowl clean. Divide the dough into balls, roll out to a 2mm thickness then dry fry in a non-stick pan. They’ll only take a few moments and are ready when both sides have golden brown patches all over.
Make this Indian flatbread recipe.
Scenario #7: I have a rind of Parmesan I don’t want to waste
Solution: use it as seasoning
Scenario #8: I’m finding it hard to peel shallots
Solution: boil the kettle
Dinky shallots can be a pain to peel, but cover them in boiling water and the skin loosens, making the process far quicker.
Make this shallot Tartin recipe for a stunning vegetarian main.
Scenario #9: I need breadcrumbs but don’t have a food processor
Solution: get the grater out
Scenario #10: I need a marinade for meat with only half-an-hour to cook
Solution: reach for the wine
If you need your meat injected with a short, sharp burst of flavour, choose marinade ingredients wisely. Red wine quickly penetrates meat, giving it a deep colour, while citrus zest and juice tenderises it rapidly.
Try our red wine marinade.
Scenario #11: I’m having a party and don’t have fridge space for drinks
Scenario #12: I want to liven up supermarket pastry
Solution: customise with storecupboard ingredients
Spruce up a shop-bought block of shortcrust by popping it into a food processor with a flavouring like herbs, vanilla, cheese, cocoa powder, honey or spice. All great additons to give your pastry an edge.
Read this guide for five ways with chocolate pastry.
Scenario #13: I need to line a springform cake tin with no fuss
Solution: clamp it
Scenario #14: I want to make an easy rainbow cake
Solution: ditch the liquid food colouring
We love a stripy rainbow cake, but it’s perhaps one for an experienced baker to take on. If you want your sponge to sing with Technicolor joy but need an easier route to success, pick up a tub of multi-coloured hundreds and thousands. Mix some through your sponge batter (not too many) and when you cut a slice of your finished cake, you’ll have beautiful polka dots.
Try our rainbow-speckled funfetti cake.
Scenario #15: I can’t peel a kiwi properly
Solution: scoop out the flesh
To peel a kiwi, just chop off the top and bottom, then push a dessertspoon in between the fruit and the skin. Turn the kiwi until all the skin falls off the back of the spoon.
Watch our video on how to peel a kiwi:
Scenario #16: I don’t want my avocado to go brown
Solution: twist it
When you cut the avocado in half, twist into two pieces, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh from the side without the stone for immediate use. Return the empty skin to the other half, which still contains the stone, using the skin to cover it over. Keeping the stone in and covering with the skin helps retain colour and freshness until the following day.
Check out these avocado recipes.
Scenario #17: I want perfect fried eggs
Solution: steam them
Scenario #18: I can’t keep my pot of herbs alive
Solution: get snipping
As soon as you buy herb plants from the supermarket or greengrocer, remove the plastic wrapping and trim the top leaves quickly to use in your cooking. By trimming off the top leaves first you’ll help the plant shoot out from lower down the stem making it stronger. Water every other day or according to the instructions on the pack.
Scenario #19: I need brown rice to cook quickly
Solution: soak it
Scenario #20: I need a quick white sauce
Solution: cream cheese
Making a roux from flour and butter isn’t too difficult a process, but if time is of the essence, it might be easier to reach into the fridge. A tub of cream cheese watered down until the same consistency as béchamel makes a super simple alternative. If you want to boost the flavour, add a grating of nutmeg. Alternatively, use crème fraîche and grated cheese.
Scenario #21: Garlic cloves are tricky to peel
Solution: don’t bother
Scenario #22: I need to ramp up the flavour of my dish
Solution: branch out beyond salt and pepper
Don’t just stick with salt and pepper, experiment with other storecupboard seasonings. Try sprinkling a crushed chicken stock cube over a whole chicken before roasting, or add a splash of soy sauce or wine to boost the flavour of your gravy.
Enrich gravy with Madeira wine for a flavour boost.
Scenario #23: My bag of salad leaves is about to go out of date
Solution: cook them
Scenario #24: I’m entertaining and need a quick starter
Solution: spice up shop-bought dips
Stir a few extra ingredients through your favourite shop-bought hummus and everyone will think you’ve made it yourself. Add a dash of lemon juice, chopped fresh coriander, some ground cumin, smoked paprika or a smidge of harissa paste to give it a kick. Alternatively add a few whole chickpeas and a drizzle of olive oil to make it look homemade.
Try our cheat’s lemony spiced hummus.
Scenario #25: I only need a tiny squeeze of citrus, not the whole fruit
Solution: spike it
Don’t cut a whole orange, lime or lemon and risk the rest going to waste for the sake of one small squeeze of juice. Use a skewer to pierce it to release a few drops without having to break the fruit open.
Have a cheat we’ve not covered? We’d love to hear your hints and tips…