Tips to make cooking easier
Here are some of the tips that you will learn at a
Sarah Whitaker cookery demonstration
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
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
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
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
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
Put squeezed orange and lemon rinds into a low oven to dry out, then use for scented kindling
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
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!
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
Chop excess fresh herbs and put into a pot. Freeze. Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the lumps of herbs
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.
Chop excess garlic and ginger and put into a pot. Freeze. Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the bits
Grate fresh Parmesan or any cheese and put into a pot. Freeze. Use straight from frozen, but shake the pot to separate the bits
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!
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
Freeze stock in small portions - 1/2 pint, 3/4 pint, pint, for portion control when using later in soups, gravies and risottos
The recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm round cake will fill a 7"/18cm square tin.
Double the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm cake will fill a 10"/26cm tin
Four times the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm tin will fill a 12"/30cm tin
Half the recipe quantity for an 8"/20cm tin will fill a 6"/15cm tin
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
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
Use a whole egg for mayonnaise, it is far less likely to curdle
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
When breaking or separating eggs, use the empty half shell to scoop out any shards of shell in the cooking
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.
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
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
If you haven't got the right size cake tin, you have probably got the right size saucepan to use instead
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
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
Steam a pudding in a low oven rather than on the hob - no need to top it up with boiling water!
Put herbs into a glass of water, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge for several days
Stand a sachet of coconut cream in a mug of boiling water to melt it and it will pour out of the packing easliy