Thursday, 17 March 2011

What are your kitchen secrets?

We all have out own little ways in the kitchen, don't we? Our own time-saving, economising, gastro-producing tricks. They're things we picked up from all the cook books we've read over time, or things passed down from our mums. Some are simply our own, and we're all quite proud of those, aren't we?

Wouldn't it be great if we could share them all? Just think how fab we would be in the kitchen with all that knowledge! So.... I'm looking to you guys for your input here.
  • I'll start with one kitchen secret. 
  • As soon as anyone comments with another kitchen secret, I'll post another one.
  • So the more kitchen secrets posted in the comments by you guys, the more I will post.
By the end of it we should have quite an array of kitchen secrets!

Using Parmesan? Keep the rind. Bag it up and stick it in the freezer. Then next time you're cooking a soup, casserole or stew that would benefit from the rich salty flavour of Parmesan, stick the rind in. Just remember to dig it out before serving! I'd recommend you try this mainly with tomato based dishes such as a pasta sauce or my sausage stew, but also with soups such as leek and potato.

So, come on then, what's your kitchen secret?


  1. lorna@heavenlies17 March 2011 at 21:28

    A 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg and 1 tbsp of creme fraiche stirred into your soups or stews at the end of cooking will add the most delicious extra flavour

  2. Nice one Lorna!

    Ok... next one. To store fresh herbs, wash, dry then spread out on a long strip kitchen roll and gently roll up. The herbs will stay fresher for longer - they won't dry out and will take an age to mould.

  3. Mine's not very exciting I am afraid Clare, and if I do it, I am pretty darn sure you know all about it. Buuut, to get rid of fat from soups, stews, or sauces I drop a few ice cubes into the cooking pot then stir for about 30 seconds. It collects alot of the fat, and then I throw away the cubes before they melt...simples!

  4. Ah - did not know that one anonymous and it sounds like a plan. I always spend ages trying to skim off fat as it cooks - ice cubes sound like the way forward - cheers!

    Right my turn.... For the perfect mash, bake your potatoes first until the skins are cripsy. Leave them to cool, cut in half then sccop all the potato out into a bowl and mix (it will be so soft you won't need to mash) with butter, salt and pepper. Makes delicious mash, tastes of potato rather than water(!) and you can just reheat before serving. If the potatoes had been washed before cooking then you can drizzle the skins with olive oil and salt and pepper for a nice snack.

  5. From @Mookii on Twitter

    fresh leftover herbs put into ice cube trays with a bit of water to use when needed, just pop in whatever you're cooking

    My next tip.... when you've finished that jar of sun-dried tomatoes, don't throw the oil away. Leave it sitting in the fridge and use it instead of olive oil when cooking anything tomato based or use it to marinate meat (especially lamb) before char-grilling. That way you get some 'free' oil and get to use all the delicious flavours of the tomatoes.

  6. Great to see all these tips!
    I do a similar oil trick Clare - When I'm buying deli olives from supermarket I put loads of the oil in aswell for dressings and whatever else takes my fancy.

    Microwaves are useful for peeling extra fiddly garlic, zap em for a few seconds and the skins come off easily! Also good for getting more juice out of lemons or oranges

  7. Good garlic tip Komal. I HATE peeling garlic so will have to use that one.

    Ok - next one. Invest in a packet of dried chilli flakes. They're pretty cheap - especially if you get them from one of the Indian or Chinese supermarkets, last forever and can replace fresh chillis easily. I use them a lot in cous cous. Prior to pouring in the boiling water, I always add some dried chilli flakes and dried herbs.

  8. Hiya - another way to keep fresh herbs for later use. Wash and pat dry the herbs, then lay them out on baking paper and put somewhere dry, the top of the fridge works for me. Lay paper towels over the top to stop them getting dusty and check daily. When they are completely dried out put in an airtight container and use at your convenience.

  9. Hi Echo - thanks for another herb saving tip! We do like to look after the herbs!

    If you forgot to take the meat out to defrost last night, stick it in a sink full of cold water for a couple of hours. This will really speed the process up. Make sure the meat is well sealed in a plastic bag to make sure the water doesn't touch the meat itself and of course, you still need to make sure it's fully defrosted before cooking.

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  11. Freeze the stalks that you usually discard from cauliflower, broccoli etc and making an almost free soup, adding cheese rind works well with this too.

  12. That's a fantastic tip Sarah, and one that I think I will be putting into practice shortly! It leads on nicely to my next tip too... If you buy big bunches of parsley and find that some of the stems are a bit too thick for serving, slice them all off whilst the herb is still in a bunch, wash, and then blitz in a mini food processor with garlic, chilli, oil, salt and whatever seeds or nuts you have around (I used pumpkin seeds last time) for an incredibly cheap and easy pesto.

  13. I was taught this by an expert ... and there are loads of great money saving tips on her site :)