When cooking and entertaining, I have come to the conclusion throughout the years there are shortcuts you can take to make your kitchen more user friendly.
Here are a few helpful dinner tips:
- When cooking with poultry, seafood, meat, and vegetables, I have made clean-up a little more simple by purchasing special cutting boards for each specific use only. They are thin and made out of a strong bendable plastic.
- When I’m done with each I just rinse them off and put them right in the dishwasher. This way you don’t have to wash the same cutting board everytime That way you can cut down on any salmonella that can occur in other dishes you are making.
- Making fresh pasta doesn’t have to be difficult, but can be time consuming depending on what you have got going on in your life. I still believe that anything cooked homemade is a good thing, even though people today seem to not have a lot of time on their hands. If you have the right equipment, you can accomplish anything.
- When cooking with wine, you always use a wine that you would drink. Not cooking wine.
- When cutting up chicken. I like to save the parts of the chicken (back neck etc.). After I have gathered enough parts, I like to make a chicken stock or broth out of it. Overall, you put everything in a
pot that you want in your stock (vegetables, carrots, celery, onion, herbs). The only thing you do after that point is turn the stove on and simmer the pot for about 4/hrs. Simple huh.
Remember, if you’re going to buy canned stock, the salt content can be high.
- When using herbs, using dried herbs is fine, but what if you can use fresh herbs to get a more robust flavor. All’s you need to do is buy packets of your favorite herbs and plant them in flowerpots in the house during winter months and outdoors during the growing season. This way you can get total flavor in your dishes.
- Spices are a great way to add wonderful flavor to dishes as well. Again, you can buy your spices at the market or you can grind your own spices. Coffee grinders are inexpensive, you can also use nutmeg graters and make great spice mills.
- When using oils, believe it or not oil does go bad. So if you don’t cook everyday, you may want to keep small quantities of oil at a time, this would pertain to the unstable nut oils, (olive oil, extra virgin, safflowers, oriental sesame, light vegetables, not pepper (chili, peanut, corn, walnut).
- Vinegar are different than oil. They will last much longer, but must be kept at a temperature below 65 degrees.
- Clean as you go when cooking main dinners. This will cut down on anything you have to do when all your guests have left for the evening. What I try to do is juggle back and forth.
- Some of the most basic tips for cooking dinner are the products of common sense. For instance if you want to fry four eggs at the same time, crack two each into two bowls, then add them at the same time to the hot pan.
- All the eggs will be done at once!
Cook’s Illustrated Magazine prints tips from readers each month, such as the above one, which shows the value of a great cooking dinner guide. You never know what new tips for cooking that you will discover!
- Need some quick cooking help? Here are a few more great ideas from Best Kitchen Quick Tips for easy dinner:
To test if your kitchen knife is sharp enough, try cutting through a piece of plain paper.
- If your knife can’t cut paper into ribbons, then it needs to be sharpened.
- To keep from making a big mess when using a hand mixer, poke the beaters through parchment paper before attaching them to the mixer. Put the paper down to the bowl and splatters won’t happen.
- Sometimes when cooking with strong-smelling ingredients, such as garlic, you can’t get the smell off. Try using mouthwash instead.
- Other than ordering takeout, there is no way to make cooking go fast as you might want it to, but there are quick cooking tips to get meals on the table when you are in a hurry.
- Most chefs recommend having basic items in the larder so you can throw together a meal even if you can’t make it to the grocery store. Rachael Ray, in her book Express Lane Meals, says she keeps pasta, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, canned beans, cheese and salami. Most people could manage to make something of those ingredients.
- For those in need of more cooking help, what you could do is boil the pasta, toss in the olive oil, chopped tomatoes and top with cheese. Dinner in a flash!
- Healthy cooking dinner tips include thinking of your entire week’s menu, not just one meal or one day. One day may be overly filled with proteins but the next day could balance it out with more vegetables or fruit. In addition, try substituting some of the fats that you ordinarily use with more healthy ones.
- For instance, using extra virgin olive oil in place of butter or lard would lower the fat content.
Tips, Hints and Terms for dinner
- Al Dente – Italian for food that is cooked firm to the bite, not overcooked.
- Antipasto – One or several foods served in small quantities as a first course.
- Arrowroot – A delicate thickening agent for soups, sauces, pie fillings etc. It gives a clear sparkling effect without the heaviness of other starches.
- Avocado – To ripen, keep at room temperature until soft to the touch. Very soft avocados are perfect for dips, soups and dressings. Always use stainless steel when cutting or mashing to avoid darkening and a metallic taste. After cutting brush with lemon juice to avoid discolouration. To heighten taste, refrigerate an hour or two before serving.
- Beef (minced) – when making dinner like: Cheeseburger Pizza With Ground Beef, burgers, balls or loaves of minced beef, use a light touch with fingers dipped in water to prevent sticking. For normal taste, 1kg of minced beef requires 1 teaspoon of salt. For juicier burgers add a grated potato and a little bread soaked in milk to the mixture. When frying burgers, sprinkle base of pan with a little salt. Meat will then fry in its own juices and form a crispy crust.
- Broccoli – For even cooking, cut into florets and make lengthways gashes up along the stalks. To preserve the green colour, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and cook without a lid on the pan.
- Cakes – measure and follow recipe direction carefully because:
|Too much Flour||Cake is dry and crumbly|
|Too much Fat||Cake is oily and may fall|
|Too much Sugar||Cake will be sticky or have a hard crust|
|Too much Liquid||Cake will fall easily|
|Too much Baking Powder||Cake will have a disagreeable taste|
|Too much Mixing||Prevents rising|
- Brussel Sprouts – For even cooking, cut a cross fairly deep across the stem.
Buffet – A meal where guests help themselves from a table on which the foods are placed in an attractive, decorative and appetising manner.
- Cauliflower – Select heads that are compact, white or creamy white with bright green leaves. Florets may be served raw in salads or as smaller portions as an accompaniment to dips.
- Brussel Sprouts – For even cooking, cut a cross fairly deep across the stem.
- Celery – Select crisp, firm stalks with fresh leaves that snap easily. Remove leaves and save for future use in Minestrone soup and salads – . To revive slightly wilted celery, place in a bowl of ice water for a short time. To make very crisp add one teaspoon of sugar to 1 litre of water and leave celery in it for 30 minutes.
- Cooking Garlic – When frying chopped garlic, start it off in cold cooking oil. This will avoid burning the garlic and will bring out the natural flavour.
Keeping Fresh Herbs:- These can be kept frozen. Snip fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, basil, etc. with a pair of scissors and drop into ice cube trays. Top up with water and freeze in usual way. These can be used individually when required in casseroles etc. Always keep a quantity of parsley/garlic in the freezer. Chop finely and mix together fresh parsley and cloves of garlic. Store in small plastic pots with lids, such as those used for coleslaw etc., and pop in your freezer (do not add water). Use small amounts as and when required.
More Great Tips
- Cream – A few drops of lemon juice added to whipping cream helps it to whip faster.
- Cooking odors – To rid your kitchen of unpleasant cooking smells, place a few herbs or spices, i.e. cinnamon, clove, rosemary or basil, into half a litre of hot water and place over a very low heat or in a warm oven.
- Peeling fruit for fruit salad – Pour boiling water over peaches, nectarines and grapes and leave for one minute. The skin should then just peel off. Pour boiling water over oranges and leave for five minutes. The white pith will then come off with the rind. Also, try this with grapefruits.
- To determine if an egg is fresh, carefully place it in a bowl of cool water. If it sinks, it is fresh; if it rises to the surface, air has entered through the shell over a period of time so it is stale and we would not recommend its use.
- How to peel very fresh hard boiled eggs- When you have finished hard boiling, pour off hot water and before removing from pan crack egg shells by shaking in pan, or tapping all over with a kitchen utensil, e.g. wooden spoon, mallet etc. Run eggs under a cold tap for a few minutes, and the shells should come off cleanly.
- Fresh eggs white will appear quite jelly-like and the yolk central is raised. An older egg white is more watery-like and the yolk has a flat top.
- For fluffier omelettes, add a pinch of cornflour before beating.
- To prevent meringues from collapsing or weeping, add a teaspoon of cornflour to each half kg of sugar before gradually adding to the beaten egg whites.
- Warm eggs slightly when whipping with sugar, for a fatless sponge, helps volume.
- A chilled egg white whips up more quickly.
- Ensure equipment is clean and fat/grease free. Traces of egg yolk contain fat and will inhibit whipping.
- Eggs which are ice cold separate much more easily than warm eggs.
- When separating eggs, the yolk is always located near the large end of the egg, so after cracking the shell against the bowl hold the large end to receive the yolk first, the white will slip out easily, and then slide the yolk into the small part of the shell to obtain the remaining white.
- If you have a recipe that calls for just the egg yolks, the whites can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
- If it’s yolks that need storing, again in airtight container, covered with boiled water that has been cooled, will keep for two to three days.
- How to Poach the Perfect Egg – Bring to the boil in a pan enough water to cover the egg. Place whole egg (still in shell) in water for 10 seconds. Lift out and return water to a rolling boil. Crack egg and drop into water – the white should then stay round the yolk rather than spreading. Return water to a gentle simmer, turn out the heat and leave for five minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon. The egg will be perfectly cooked.
Uses for egg yolks:
- Mix with milk for crumbling.
Drop into mashed potatoes.
Use with a little cream to thicken soups or sauces.
Carefully place into salted simmering water and poach for a few minutes. Remove and use as a filler or garnish in salads
Mix with a little milk to make egg wash.
- Always, when whisking egg whites, wait until the last moment before use. If left standing, some of the white will drain out and they will lose their fluffiness.
- When adding whisked egg whites to any mixture, use a gentle folding action. This will preserve the air trapped in the whites, giving a high and tender dish.
When boiling eggs, make sure that they are at room temperature when added to the barely simmering water. This helps to prevent the shell from cracking and the egg being tough.
Tips on Healthy Fat-Free Cooking
- A healthy diet is one that gives the body all of the nutrients and vitamins it needs to grow and repair itself.
- If we eat the right sort of foods in a balanced and proportioned way, we are likely to feel healthy, have more energy, and enjoy a better resistance to illness and diseases, gluten free recipes.
- Fat should not be cut out from our diet altogether. We need a small amount for general health and well-being. Fat is a valuable source of energy; it also helps to aid flavour and make foods more palatable and digestible. However, we should endeavour to reduce the amount of fat that we do eat, especially saturated fats. By doing so we will feel healthier, lose weight, and help to lower the risk of developing some diseases.
Ways of reducing fat in the diet
Eat Less: Butter, margarine and Animal Fats.
Instead: Have low fat spreads like polyunsaturated margarine and spread it very thinly.
Eat Less: Fatty meats and high fat products such as pates, pies and sausages.
Instead: only have lean meats such as chicken and turkey.
If meat contains visible fat, always cut it off before eating.
Always try to fry without fat (the oven is good for Healthy and Quick Dinner) or use olive, sunflower or corn oil for cooking.
Tips and hints- Cheese
Select cheese that looks moist, fresh and clean in appearance. Avoid cheese that looks dry and cracked or has shrunken away from its rind. Avoid any blue cheese that has any browning around the veins. Avoid cheeses in a broken packet or those in a wet, sticky wrapper.
How to Store Cheese
Hundreds of cheeses are readily available so storage should not be a problem. The rule should be once cut, tightly wrap in cling film. Should surface mould develop, cut off 1/2cm from each affected side and re- wrap. Cheese will freeze, but is best used in cooking when defrosted.
Cooking with Cheese
Always use a low heat as it becomes stringy and tough if over cooked. Grating promotes even melting.
Cut to size requirement while still cold from the fridge, but for best flavour serve at room temperature accompanied by biscuits, breads, grapes and celery.