Cooking Tips

Have listed few cooking tips that I have picked up. Please feel free to share your own tips by filling the ‘Contact Form’

Almond

  • To peel off the almonds’ skin easily, soak them in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.

Apples

  • If the apples are not being used immediately after cutting, soak them in water. This avoids them from turning brown. Alternatively, you may squeeze little lemon juice and toss.

Aubergine/Brinjal

  • When selecting an aubergine, make sure you choose one which is light. A heavier aubergine will have more seeds, which taste bitter when cooked.

Baking

  • For best results when you’re baking, leave butter and eggs at room temperature overnight.

Cake

  • Always serve cake at room temperature
  • Don’t pre-slice cake more than 20 minutes in advance. It dries out too quickly
  • Slicing cheesecake and other cold desserts is tricky. If you want to make clean slices soak your knife in warm water for a few minutes, then wipe it dry and use to make a clean slice.

Cauliflower

  • When cooking cauliflower, add a bit of milk to the water with salt to keep the cauliflower bright white.

Cheese

  • Before grating cheese, rub some oil onto the grater. This will ensure that the cheese doesn’t stick to the grate.

Clam

  • Buying a clam:
    • Inspect the clam. They should be closed. If any clam is open, tap on them; they should close. If they don’t close, then they are not alive
    • Check the clam shells. They should not be broken or cracked. If they are, then they are most probably dead or unhealthy
    • If you still see the tongue protruding out of the shell, then the clam is still alive and therefore, good to eat. The tongue is the siphon which is used to periodically filter water
    • They should be fairly clean without any excess soil
  • Cleaning clams:
    • In a pot/bowl, make the clams submerge in water for atleast 20 minutes (typically for 1 hour). Adding 2 tablespoons of cornmeal or black pepper helps to clean the clam’s stomach. As the clams are soaking they will naturally spit out any salt, sand and ocean particles they have absorbed, which will clean their insides. Remove the pot/bowl from the refrigerator and gently scoop the clams out – so that the grit remains at the bottom of the pot/bowl. You may repeat this process few times
    • With a brush, scrub off any barnacles or coral that are stuck to the outside of the shells.
  • Cooking clams:
    • Boil water. Add the clams to the boiling water, close the lid and let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Check each clam. Discard any clam that is not opened to avoid any health risks or bacterial infection
    • Always use clams immediately after cooking to avoid any potential health risks.

Corn

  • After cutting corn off the cob, use the back side of a knife (not the blade side) to scrape the cob again to extract the sweet milk left behind. This milk adds flavour and body to any corn dish.

Cooking a meal

  • If you’re cooking for someone important — whether it’s your boss or a date — never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time.

Crab

  • Killing a crab: The most humane way to kill a crab is to place it in a freezer/ice for half hour. Remove the crab and proceed for cleaning
  • Cleaning a crab:
    • Boil water. Place the crab in boiling water for 60 seconds and then remove and place in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking
    • Pry the shell off, pulling from the back of the crab first
    • Remove the gills and scoop out the guts inside the body of the crab. A good rule of thumb is to remove anything that’s not pure white (the white stuff is meat)
    • Rinse the crab under running water
    • Pry off the abdomen. Pry off the claws
    • Depending on the size of the crab, cut the crab into halves or quarters. You may decide if you want to leave the legs on.

Curries

  • While making Makhani gravy (for Butter Chicken), to give its well-known sweet taste; use honey or maple syrup
  • While adding curd to make curry; whisk it nicely till smooth, before adding. It will enhance the smoothness of the curry.

Frying

  • When making tempura, if tempura flour is not available, use refine flour: make a batter with the help of soda (aerated water), salt & pepper. For more crispiness, add little rice flour or corn flour.

Gold Spotted Anchovy (Mandeli)

  • Gently scrape away the scales on the fish with the help of a knife
  • Remove the head of the fish by cutting it in a slant. Cut the top fin of the fish
  • Remove the insides of the (at the silver belly) and wash under running water. Keep aside for use.

Garlic

  • After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odour.

Herbs & Greens

  • When cutting greens like mint, spinach and lettuce leaves into a chiffonade, it is recommended that you wash the greens, lay the leaves on top of each other, roll them tight and use a sharp knife to make fine strips
  • When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around.

Lemon

  • To optimise the juice you get from a lemon or lime, roll it hard under your palm for a minute before juicing. Or, microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds.

Lobster

  • Cleaning a lobster:
    • Remove the claws: Twist the claws off the lobster. Extract the meat from the claws with your fingers or break open the claws to pull the meat out
    • Remove the tail: Open the tail by flattening it out and then twist it off to remove it from the body of the lobster
      • Save or discard the tomalley. Tomalley is the lobster’s liver and will be noticeable once the tail has been removed. Tomalley can be identified easily after the lobster has been boiled because it turns green. Tomalley often is considered a delicacy, so you can save it if you plan on using it later
    • Pick off the lobster’s tail flippers: Located on the end of the lobster’s tail are 4 flippers. Remove them from the tail and remove the meat from inside
    • Push out the meat from the tail: Put a finger into the end of the lobster tail and push the meat out the other end
      • Discard the dark vein that comes out with the tail meat. This is the intestinal tract and should not be consumed
    • Crack the open body of the lobster:  This is where the most easily accessible meat is located
    • Twist off each lobster leg: Pull out this lobster meat with a lobster pick or place the leg in your mouth and suck the meat out.

Meats & Seafood

  • Always season meat and fish evenly; sprinkle salt and pepper as though it’s “snowing.” This will avoid clumping or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas and none in others
  • When you’re browning meat, you should blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn’t release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown crust.

Oil

  • If you find you need more oil in the pan when sautéing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated.

Onion

Food Website Photos

  • Anytime you are using raw onions in a salsa and you are not going to eat that salsa in the next 20 minutes or so, be sure to rinse the diced onions under cold running water first, then blot dry. This will rid them of sulphurous gas that can ruin fresh salsa
  • To avoid crying while cutting onions, after peeling cut them in half and soak in water for about 10 minutes before cutting. Alternatively, place the peeled onions in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cutting.

Pasta

  • Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce
  • Do not use oil in the water when boiling pasta: It will keep the sauce from sticking to the cooked pasta
  • Food Website Photos1Do not rinse the pasta with water after draining it. This washes off the starch which helps the sauce to stick onto it
  • After draining pasta, while it’s still hot, grate some fresh Parmesan on top before tossing it with the sauce. This way, the sauce has something to stick to
  • There are many types of pastas – shapes, sizes and nowadays, colours. Some of the popular pastas are Cannelloni (large stuffable cylindrical pasta tubes), Farfalle (bow tie or butterfly shaped), Fettuccine (ribbon of pasta approximately 6.5 millimeters wide), Fusilli (long, thick, corkscrew shaped pasta that may be solid or hollow), Lasagne (wide pasta sheets which are usually layered with sauce and vegetables/meat), Linguine (flattened spaghetti), Penne (medium length tubes with ridges, cut diagonally at both ends), Spaghetti (thin, long cylindrical pasta) and Tagliatelle (ribbon, narrower than fettuccine)
  • Sauce guidelines: pastas should be sauced immediately while it is still hot – be judicious. Usually, thin sauces with thin sauces and thick sauces with thick pastas:
    • Short, tubular pastas (penne macaroni)go well with sauces that are thick or chunky.  Keep the size of the ingredients in mind: tiny macaroni won’t hold a chickpea, while rigatoni may feel too large for a simple tomato sauce, where penne would work better. Ridged pastas provide even more texture for sauces to cling to
    • Shaped pastas (fusilli, farfalle)pair well with all kinds of sauces, but especially those with texture. Pieces of meat, vegetable, or bean are captured in the crevices of the pasta and nestle in the twists. The shapes also add some whimsy to the plate
    • Long, thin dried pasta (spaghetti, or linguine) marry best with olive-oil-based sauces. These long expanses of pasta need lots of lubrication. Oil coats the pasta completely without drowning it. Thicker strands, like fettuccine and tagliatelle, can stand up to cream sauces and ragùs. When cutting vegetables or herbs for long pasta, cut them string-like rather than in cubes to help them blend better.

Pooris

  • To make crispier pooris, add a little rava to the wheat flour while kneading.

Potatoes

  • Always boil new potatoes (baby potatoes) in boiling salted water to retain the nutrients
  • When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to dry out so they’ll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily
  • To give mashed potatoes a creamy consistency, stir in warm milk
  • Never store onions and potatoes in the same bag or container. Separate them to prevent the potatoes from rotting
  • When boiling potatoes add a pinch of salt to the water. This loosens the potato peal and makes peeling boiled potatoes a lot easier.

Rice

  • To prevent rice grains from sticking one has to remove starch. To do this wash the rice several times till water runs clear, then let it soak for 20 minutes in clean water.

Salad Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a sealed container/bottle and shake (it is better than whisking). Pour immediately over the salad.

Seasoning food

  • When seasoning food, always sprinkle the salt and pepper at a slight height from the dish, moving the hand in a circular motion. This helps the seasoning to spread more evenly than just plonking the seasoning in one place.

Spices

  • Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavour.

Squid

  • Cleaning a squid:
    • Grasp the squid’s head right behind the eyes where it joins the mantle. Gently pull the head from the mantle. The internal organs should slide out. The organs can usually be pulled out in one action, but check for any leftover tissue and remove or rinse it out, so the mantle is clean (the larger the squid, the more ink it will contain. The ink sac usually comes away intact with the other organs (see above). If it ruptures, just rinse the squid clean under cold, running water. Squid ink is harmless and edible. It is used by chefs as a gourmet ingredient in sauces, for its colouring and intense flavour)
    • Reach into the mantle, which now resembles an empty sack. Feel for a hard, fingernail like sheathing/quill-shaped cartilage; grab this and pull it out. Wash the insides of the mantle under flowing water
    • Gently scrape the outer surface of the mantle with a sharp knife. The speckles on the squid should peel off in a cellophane-like sheet, leaving behind slick white meat. The fins are shaped like small wings on the outside of the mantle and you can pull them off easily, by hand.. Fins can be set aside for cooking, but you will need to trim the thin strip of hard substance from their edges, which is not suitable to eat.
    • For using the head: cut the top of the head – separating the eyes and tentacles. Feel the area at the base of the tentacles, it should be soft. Sometimes, you may feel a small cartilage in the centre of the base (if it is not cut off already) – which has to be removed. Wash under running water

Stock

  • Add cheese rinds to vegetable or meat broths for another dimension of flavour.
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