25 kitchen secrets to success

Time-saving tips, handy hints and quick fixes

ONE

For a nicely seasoned pasta dish, remember to salt the water you use to cook the pasta.

TWO

The most efficient (and least wasteful) way to peel ginger is with a teaspoon.

THREE

Overwhipped your cream? Add a splash more cream (or milk) and you’ll have perfect peaks again in no time.

FOUR

A microplane is the cook’s best tool for finely mincing garlic and ginger.

FIVE

To get the maximum amount of juice from citrus fruit, roll back and forth on a firm surface before slicing.

SIX

For the ultimate Instagram-worthy poached eggs, add a dash of vinegar to the pan of water.

SEVEN

Portion soups, stews and chillies in freezer bags; they’ll lie flat in the freezer, saving you space, and defrost much faster, saving you time.

EIGHT

Salt brings out the flavour of ingredients – season as you cook, not just at the end. And always, always taste before serving.

NINE

Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness, cook quickly and leave to rest for five minutes before slicing – you will taste the difference.

TEN

A good squeeze of lemon juice does wonders lifting a dish that tastes somewhat lacklustre.

ELEVEN

Feel free to improvise with ingredients and measurements when cooking. But if you’re baking, stick to the instructions.

TWELVE

If a recipe calls for you to sift dry ingredients, whisking will aerate them just as well.

THIRTEEN

Use tongs (or a slotted spoon) to drain pasta directly into the sauce: not only does this mean less washing up, but the starch that has leached from the pasta into the water will help thicken the sauce.

FOURTEEN

It might sound nonsensical, but the sharpest knife in your kitchen is usually the safest. More often than not it’s the blunt ones that cause injuries.

FIFTEEN

Don’t throw away used vanilla pods. Keep them in the sugar pot for vanilla-infused sugar.

SIXTEEN

Everyone should have a basic vinaigrette in their locker. Our favourite: one part white grape vinegar; one part Djion mustard; three parts extra virgin olive oil. Season and shake well.

SEVENTEEN

Adding a spoonful of flour with each addition of beaten egg will prevent your cake mix from curdling.

EIGHTEEN

Learn how to make a versatile béchamel sauce and your culinary repertoire will instantly expand.

NINETEEN

The key to a great stir-fry lies in speed and heat. Chop all the ingredients before you start cooking and make sure your wok or pan is scorching hot.

TWENTY

Tomato, basil and garlic. Soy, garlic and ginger. Lemon, honey and mustard. Ginger, cumin and coriander. Some flavour combinations are classics for a reason – so use them.

TWENTY ONE

Following a recipe that asks for softened butter but forgotten to take it out the fridge? Grating it will solve the problem.

TWENTY TWO

Don’t overcrowd the pan. Whether you’re trying to get the perfect sear on a steak or master crunchy, golden roast potatoes, it’s not going to happen if the ingredients are touching.

TWENTY THREE

The fluctuation in temperature caused by opening the oven door while your cake is baking will prevent it from rising to its full potential.

TWENTY FOUR

When making meatballs, koftas, stuffing and burgers, fry a little piece of raw mixture then taste so you can perfect the seasoning of the mixture.

TWENTY FIVE

Save your bottle of good-quality extra virgin olive oil for dressings and drizzling over finished dishes; neutral sunflower oil, vegetable oil or light olive oil is your best bet when frying and roasting at a high heat.


Illustrations by Emma Dibben