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Tips to make cooking easier

Here are some of the tips that you will learn at a

Sarah Whitaker cookery demonstration

1 Freezing

Assemble a cottage pie or lasagne the pie in a dish lined with cling film.  Cover the top and freeze.  When frozen, tip out of the dish, wrap, label and freeze.  When ready to eat the pie, take from the freezer, unwrap and put into the dish, which it fits perfectly!  Defrost and bake

2 Freezing

Make a lot of pastry - 1lb/450g plain flour and a packet of butter makes 4 normal sized pastry cases.  Line dishes with the pastry, wrap and freeze, so that it is ready to take out of the freezer, fill and bake straight away

3 Freezing

Unroll ready-rolled pastry and line a dish with it.  Freeze, then when you need pastry, it is ready to bake straight from the freezer - if you leave it in the roll, it will take at least 45 minutes to defrost enough to unroll and put into a dish

4 Oven use

Bake all rice dishes - from risotto to paella.  Measure the rice, measure the liquid, bring to the boil, cover and put into a low oven, saving the energy the hotplates would use

5 Oven use

Steam vegetables in the oven - bring to the boil, boil hard for a minute or two, then drain off all the water, cover and put into a low oven to steam and cook - especially if the oven is already on for a casserole or stew

6 Oven use

Put squeezed orange and lemon rinds into a low oven to dry out, then use for scented kindling

7 Freezing

Make a big casserole or stew.  Divide into portions for your household.  Put a portion into a plastic bag and then into the pan in which you are going to reheat and serve it.  Freeze until solid, then remove the pan.  When you need to reheat the casserole, it fits the pan perfectly to defrost and warm up

8 No effort Christmas

Roast a couple of extra potatoes every Sunday lunch from the start of September and put them into the freezer.  By Christmas, you will have a bag full of roasties to tip into a tin and heat through on Christmas day!

9 Vegetables

To get ahead for a big meal, cook all the green vegetables in advance, drain off the boiling water and plunge into iced water.  Drain off and plunge into more iced water.  This chills the vegetables instantly and sets the bright green colour.  Chill until needed.  To reheat, plunge the vegetables into a pan of boiling water for a minute or two, drain and serve

10 Freezing

Chop excess fresh herbs and put into a pot.  Freeze.  Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the lumps of herbs

11 No effort Christmas

Roast a chicken ahead of Christmas.  Make some gravy, thicker than usual and season generously.  Freeze.  For your Christmas turkey gravy, stir the defrosted, thick, well-seasoned chicken gravy into the turkey juices - it gives the perfect consistency and seasoning to boil and serve.

12 Freezing

Chop excess garlic and ginger and put into a pot.  Freeze.  Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the bits

13 Freezing

Grate fresh Parmesan or any cheese and put into a pot.  Freeze.  Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the bits

14 Eggs

If you have unused egg yolks, put them into a bowl of water and refrigerate.  This stops the yolks from drying out, so you can use them up to 2 days later.  Can also freeze them in an ice tray, with water to cover!

15 Eggs

Freeze unused egg whites in an ice tray, one at a time for portion control when using them later - a bowl of 6 egg whites needs more forethought than individual ones to whisk up and add to a sauce

16 Freezing

Freeze stock in small portions - 1/2 pint, 3/4 pint, pint, for portion control when using later in soups, gravies and risottos

17 Cake sizes

The recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm round cake will fill a 7"/18cm square tin.

18 Cake sizes

Double the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm cake will fill a 10"/26cm tin

19 Cake sizes

Four times the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm tin will fill a 12"/30cm tin

20 Cake sizes

Half the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm tin will fill a 6"/15cm tin

21 Freezing

A pint /550ml whipped cream mixed with a tin of condensed milk makes an instant no churn ice cream - you can then add chunks of chocolate, Maltesers, Smarties etc. or a jar of jam or mincemeat to jazz it up

22 Sauces

Take a pan of white sauce, custard or porridge off the heat and wait for it to stop bubbling before pouring it out, so that the sauce won't stick to the very hot base of the pan as it pours

23 Sauces

Use a whole egg for mayonnaise, it is far less likely to curdle

24 Eggs

Crack an egg against a flat work surface rather then the edge of a bowl, to reduce the risk of shards of eggshell in the cooking

25 Eggs

When breaking or separating eggs, use the empty half shell to scoop out any shards of shell in the cooking

26 Keeping warm

Add a few spoons of milk on top of mashed potatoes before keeping them warm, then stir this in just before serving for a fluffy, just mashed effect.

27 Crisp pastry

Take a flan or quiche out of its tin and onto a cooling rack as soon as possible after it comes out of the oven, to stop the pastry steaming and going soft

28 Rice

Allow 2oz /50g of rice per person.  A coffee mug of rice, 1/2 pint/300ml gives just the right amount of rice for 4 adults.  A beer mug, 1 pint,/600ml, is enough for 8-9 adults. A ramekin, 1/4 pint/150ml, is enough for 2

29 Cake sizes

If you haven't got the right size cake tin, you have probably got the right size saucepan to use instead

30 Freezing

Slice home made bread and freeze, so you can take it out one slice at a time and it has no chance to go stale

31 Baking

Put a used vanilla pod into a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar for instant flavour in cakes.  Try also lavender flowers and split cardamom pods

32 Baking

Steam a pudding in a low oven rather than on the hob - no need to top it up with boiling water!

33 Herbs

Put herbs into a glass of water, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge for several days

34 Why not!

Stand a sachet of coconut cream in a mug of boiling water to melt it and it will pour out of the packing easliy

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