The autumn season brings fantastic inspiration for using up all those yummy seasonal ingredients with some delectable recipes. There’s no better way to welcome in the shorter nights than to start whipping up lovely warming meals which may have been neglected during the surprisingly sunny summer.
We sat down with our lovely prep kitchen manager (who is also a wonderful cook), Jo-Anne, to steal her top tips for getting the best results from your cooking endeavours. Let’s face it, we’ve all got room to improve in the kitchen!
Jo’s hints and tips:
- Roll a lemon (or any citrus fruit) on the table with your hand before cutting for squeezing or juicing to get the maximum amount of juice from each fruit, this is especially useful when using lemons and limes
- When piping meringue or choux pastry, dot a small amount of mixture in the corners of the baking tray before laying grease proof paper down, this will stop the paper from moving as you try to move on to pipe the next in line
- Wipe the cut end of half a lemon on the wires of the whisk before using it to whisk egg whites, this will remove any grease or fat that is unseen on the whisk and help make for a better meringue or pavlova
- When working with sticky pastry or dough, dip the cutter or knife in the same type of flour that you have been using to stop the pastry from sticking to the cutter or knife
- To adapt a basic Victoria sponge mix with different flavours, the following should be adhered to: if adding a dry flavouring such as cocoa, add a dash of milk to the mix so the cake doesn’t end up being dry. If adding a liquid flavouring such as coffee or lemon juice, try to make the liquid as concentrated as possible as too much liquid will change the consistency of the cake mix too much and it could result in a soggy cake
(No-one likes a soggy bottom, as our baking hero Mary Berry says!)
- When cutting a cake or dessert, run the knife under the hot tap for a few seconds and wipe with a dry cloth each time you make a cut. This gives you a nice clean slice that looks like a professional has done it
- Allow your cake to cool slightly in the pan it was cooked in, this will allow your cake to hold its shape and also release from the pan easier. But don’t leave it for too long, as this will make your cake to become soggy on the outside as the condensation from the cooling cake is taken into the cake – a soggy cake becomes a sticky cake and is harder to get out of a tin
- When cooking anything in a frying pan, always use a hot pan. If using oil, a hot pan will prevent the food soaking up to much oil and becoming greasy. If you’re not using oil, perhaps in a non-stick pan, a hot pan will help the non-stick to work and prevent the food from sticking
- Always be more careful with the heel of a knife (the rear part of the edge), even for the most proficient knife users, the heel is the sharpest point as it very rarely gets used and so even if it is the oldest knife you own, it could very well be just as sharp as any of the new knives that you have.
- Always read the whole recipe before you start cooking
- If the recipes calls for you to weigh the ingredient, weigh it! Don’t just guess
Comment below with your top tips from the kitchen, we’d love to read them! Take a look at the full Cook’s Essentials range now to find all of the equipment you’ll need to whip up those culinary creations.
Take a look at our seasonal recipes page to find some delicious dishes to try out with your new set.