With The Full Range being in its 10th year, we turned to our Brand Ambassador, Andrew Bennett, to find out what his top 10 tips and kitchen hacks are, whether you are a professional chef or simply cooking at home for yourself.
With a wealth of experience working in kitchens and having spent the last 22 years as Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director of the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, Andrew understands the importance of preparation and knows what can be done to make your life easier at the stove.
In fact, the current Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs had so much to say on the matter that he struggled to narrow this down to just 10 pieces of advice. Here's Andrew's top 10 tips for the kitchen, with an additional 7 thrown in for good measure!
Andrew's Top Tips for the Kitchen
Knives for a Pro
One of the most important tips for any household is like any craft or trade, and that is to have the correct tools for the job and maintaining those tools. There is nothing worse than working with blunt knives.
The Microwave can be your Friend
One of the key factors when entertaining is being able to spend time with your guests. This requires planning and preparation. Most of what you can do is pre-prepare/part cook items which makes life so much easier. Combine this with using the equipment around you, like the demon microwave - a fantastic tool when entertaining. For example, you can pre-cook most vegetables and have them seasoned in readiness in the dish, and to re-heat in a microwave removes a lot of the pain and more importantly much less washing up on the night!
If time is an issue as is the case with many families, you can have a production day, whereby you prepare fresh foods that can be eaten during the week and microwaved. This removes a lot of stress during a very busy week.
Taste, Taste, Taste
Constantly taste your foods when preparing and even ask friends and family for their opinions prior to the food being served. Many dishes like casseroles and curries will be much tastier when prepared 24 hours earlier as the flavours develop overnight.
Hygiene is paramount
It is very important to ensure there is no cross-contamination when working on a chopping board, especially when working with raw meat. Always disinfect between tasks.
Get the most out of your Citrus Fruit
Always buy large lemons and limes with thinner skins as they tend to be sweeter and allow you to obtain more juice. You can also place oranges in a microwave for 30 seconds on a high heat then let them stand for a couple of minutes before cutting and squeezing. This helps release more juice.
Oversalted? Don't Panic
The remedy for a salty over-seasoned stew or curry is to add a potato and cook gently until soft. This will absorb the additional salt.
Throw Away That Garlic Crusher
To peel a clove of garlic easily, place your flat knife on the garlic clove and whack down the knife with your hand. The covering will burst open and the garlic is easily removed. If you wish to chop the garlic use a small amount of sea salt and chop finely, and then use the flat part of the knife to crush the garlic which extracts more flavour.
How to nail the best part of any Sunday Roast
When making Yorkshire puddings, allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes which then allows the gluten to expand and will give you a lighter batter.
Is there anything better than crackling?
For greater tasting crackling, dry the skin with kitchen paper and then rub with white wine vinegar. Season well with sea salt and when cooking is complete, it will create a fabulous crust which can be brushed off.
Forgot to take meat out the freezer? No problem
For speedier defrosting of meat from the freezer, pour over some vinegar which allows the freezing temperature of the water in the meat to defrost quicker and helps tenderise at the same time.
How to Master the Brunch Game #1
Add a little vinegar to the seasoned water when poaching eggs as this helps to set the protein and in turn creates a better overall shape.
How to Master the Brunch Game #2
To prevent egg shells cracking whilst boiling add a pinch of salt to the water.
How to Master the Brunch Game #3
To ripen an avocado, place in a brown bag along with a ripe banana.
How to Master the Brunch Game #4
When making an omelette add a tablespoon of water to achieve a lighter texture.
Green is Good
When making soups that involves green vegetables like spinach or watercress, add the main ingredient at the very last moment then remove from the heat and place on ice to reduce the temperature and retain the vibrant colours.
Keep Them Tatties Fresh
If preparing potatoes ahead of time place in water with a crust of bread which helps prevent the spuds from going black.