In this space I thought it would be useful if I rounded up tips and techniques which should help you to follow my recipes more accurately. Some tips and techniques may seem rather basic but please do keep in mind that it is not my intention to come across as patronising.
To help you locate your desired tip or technique, this list will be ordered alphabetically. Alternatively, if using a windows computer you can search using Control + F.
1 Boil water using a kettle to speed up the process or boil in a pan.
2 Add vegetables into a pan of boiling water for the required time (check below).
3 Plunge into an ice bath (bowl of cold water with ice cubes)
|Asparagus||2-3 minutes depending on size|
|Spinach and other greens||1-2 minutes|
|Green beans||3 minutes|
|Carrots||Cut: 3 minutes; whole: 5 minutes|
How to break down a whole chicken
Click here for a detailed step by step guide
Chascar is a traditional Spanish technique whereby a potato is cut in a way that helps it to release its starch during the cooking process. To chascar you need to hold the whole potato in your hand and start to cut a chunk but stop a little bit before you get to the end. At this point you can use the knife as a lever to rip off the potato chunk towards you. This means that the potato will have an uneven surface, which apparently aids the potato to release more starch during the cooking process and by consequence will thicken the stew.
Freezing fruits & vegetables:
The best way to freeze fruit and vegetables is to use the Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) Method.
1 If needed cut the fruit or vegetables into the size you prefer and layer them in a single layer on a baking tray or other flat surface.
2 Freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and put the individual frozen pieces into a freezer bag.
This method makes sure that you can then use how ever much of the fruit or vegetable as this method prevents the items from forming into one large frozen mass instead of individual pieces.
NB Fruits can be frozen as is but with vegetables such as green beans and asparagus it is vital to blanch them beforehand.
Storing fresh herbs:
I once did a test run of different ways to store fresh herbs and the one that lasted the longest and freshest was the following:
1) Wash herbs and dry off.
2) Line a tupperware with kitchen paper, place the fresh herbs on top and cover with another piece of kitchen paper. Close and store in the refrigerator.
Alternatively you can dry them by placing them in a paper bag with holes cut into it and leave for a few weeks. Make sure the herbs are not wet otherwise they may become mouldy instead of dried.
Julienne vegetables using a julienne peeler:
Click here for a detailed post about this technique
Apart from the obvious, I also use the microwave as an unconventional way to cook pasta, rice and potatoes. It is easy, effective and requires little washing up.
For pasta and rice all you need to do is fill an microwavable dish with your desired pasta or rice and cover with cold water. Make sure to put plenty of water in the dish, completely covering the food. Depending on your microwave you may need to play around with the times but as a general rule, microwave for 8 minutes, check and microwave in 2 minute intervals until ready. I normally need no longer than 10 minutes in total.
Apart from jacket potatoes you can also slice potatoes and place on a plate, sprinkle with some water, salt and pepper and microwave for 10 minutes. This is one of my favourite ways to cook potatoes and they couldn’t be easier or healthy.
Paella Pan Cleaning and Maintenance
Click here for a detailed step by step guide
Using a stacked steamer:
1 Fill the bottom part of the steamer with cold water up to the halfway point. To speed up this process, you can fill with water boiled in a kettle.
2 Close the lid until the water reaches a rolling boil.
3 When the water is ready, place the steamer basket or baskets over the water and cover with the lid. The conical shape lid prevents water from dripping onto the food.
⇒ Food can be either placed directly in the steamer basked, on a plate placed in the basket or on top of lettuce or parchment paper.
⇒ You can use two baskets at the same time but take into account that the food closer to the heat source may be cooked before the second basket. You can also cook two different food items which need different cooking times, e.g. meat or fish at the bottom and then a second basket with vegetables.