Tips with everything: Chefs reveal their craftiest kitchen tricks
Grating tomatoes? Peeling with a teaspoon? Cooking stock in the oven?
Friday 13 April 2012
Has recently released a new cookbook, The Little Paris Kitchen to accompany her BBC2 show of the same name.
For a buttery, flaky shortcrust, roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper.
This is great because you avoid using flour. Any additional flour will make your pastry taste less buttery, and most importantly there's no need to clean up any floury mess afterwards.
Also, if you happen to be making pastry on a hot day and it's becoming too soft to roll out, you can simply slide the pastry into the fridge for 10 minutes to rest instead of having to scrape the soft pastry off the work surface.
The golden rule when making pastry is to handle it as little as possible, otherwise it goes rubbery and tough. Using the baking-paper tip will certainly help achieve the perfect pastry.
Chef patron for Murano and the York & Albany pub in London.
I always add a pinch of sugar when using tinned tomatoes as it takes away the acidic taste but be careful not to make them too sweet. Sugar also works in vinaigrettes, although again be careful to add just a pinch, it's like salt in some respects, so can be treated as a seasoning.
Award-winning cookery writer and chef proprietor of Le Café Anglais.
The biggest difference between professional and amateur cooking is the seasoning.
I think a lot of cooks just add salt as an afterthought, whereas professionals use more salt, but they use it earlier as well.
It's very important to bring out the flavours with salt at the beginning, for example, when you're making risotto.
The other thing is that I'm never without a lemon.
There's hardly anything I cook which I wouldn't add a squeeze of lemon, to heighten the seasoning and bring out the flavour.
Chef patron of Bocca di Lupo in Soho.
To live a long life, use less salt. To live a happy one, use more. Salt is the West's MSG – it gives food more flavour, and is the main reason restaurant food often tastes better. "Correct" seasoning, to a chef, is as much salt as you can possibly get into the dish without it tasting too salty.
If you happen to over-season, you can try to bulk the dish out by adding something (barley to a soup, perhaps), or to balance the salt with acid (a squeeze of lemon or dash of vinegar), or to kill it with fat (fat mutes flavours – add butter or oil). I use flaky, large crystal salt to finish dishes (where I like the crunch) and cheap fine or coarse sea salt in things such as boiling pots of water.
To cook expertly seasoned dishes (with the exception of stocks destined for reduction), keep them perfectly seasoned from the very start of cooking – this has the dual advantage that you adjust the seasoning often and incrementally.
Founder of the Ottolenghi chain of restaurants.
This is something that I've been doing quite a lot recently for finishing dishes. You can use it over roast vegetables, or if you want over fish, meat, or even soups.
I take some olive oil and fry some dry chilli in it, just before the dish is about to be served. I heat a little bit of oil or butter and just put the chilli in for maybe 30 seconds or a minute.
It starts to cook and it spreads its flavour in the oil, but they also give it a slightly red colour, so it looks pretty good to finish a dish and also improves the flavour as it gives it a bit of a kick, as well as a very slight smoky aroma.
It all depends on the chilli that you use – you need to choose a chilli that fits your palate.
Chef and founder of Trishna restaurant.
I love kachri powder, which is available at all good Indian supermarkets. It's great for tenderising meat, so I like to add it in small quantities to marinades. Kachri is a wild variety of cucumber that grows in desert areas such as Rajasthan. However, you should use sparingly, as it can leave a slight tangy taste if used excessively.
Chef and member of The Young Turks collective.
I always warm oranges and lemons before juicing to get more juice out of them.
Bring them out the fridge and put them in the sun for half an hour, or give them five seconds in the microwave.
It's best to always try to eat fruit warm – just about room temperature – rather than straight out the fridge.
Chef and founder of Pitt Cue Co.
I call this the lazy stock. Our restaurant kitchen is mini, and having only two induction hobs means that having a massive stock pot ticking over all day is an impossible dream.
But since we use lots of trotter and smoked ham stocks in the sauces we had to find a way. We now cook out all our stocks overnight in the oven. You get a perfectly clear stock – all the impurities that you would usually remove through skimming stick to the bottom and sides of the pot. Take lots of kitchen vegetable trim (celery, fennel tops, onion, garlic) and place in a pot with all your bones (we use smoked hocks, trotters and rib trim). Cover with water, then cling film and foil it. Cook overnight at 140c.
Runs the Angela Malik cooking school.
With my students the No 1 tip is peeling ginger with a teaspoon. You can use any common tea spoon and use the edge of it like a knife to scrape the skin off the ginger. You can take off a very thin layer and you can go around the knobbly bits as well without wasting any. With a knife you end up taking off all the knobbly bits and waste too much. But a teaspoon is a fantastic, quick way to peel ginger.
An acclaimed cookery writer whose latest book, The Food of Spain, is out now.
In Catalonia, if people want peeled and finely chopped tomatoes for a sauce, they grate them. They cut the tomatoes in half and grate the flesh through the large holes of a vegetable grater until they get to the skin, holding on to the skin to keep it intact before discarding it. This way the tomatoes are already very finely chopped. I find this technique very useful and use it with large beef tomatoes.
Chef and founder of the Dock Kitchen restaurant in west London.
There are some important things to remember when using spices. It's really important that you should always grind them with a pestle and mortar, always buy them whole, and always use a lot.
The volume you use is crucial. Buying them whole instead of ground keeps them for more than a year, you get much more vibrancy in the flavour, and you're just crushing what you need. You can add a ground spice at the end of cooking, and that gives it a little lift, or you can add them in whole at the beginning.
This is important with lots of spices, even black pepper – grind it with a pestle and mortar instead of buying it ready ground or using a stale old pepper mill.
Chef at Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond.
If baba ghanoush – the eggplant dip – is made properly, people often think it's burnt, but its not. It's smoky because you literally put the eggplant on the flame. Then you cook it until it looks quite awful, until it doesn't look very attractive, then it's peeled chopped and mixed with a little bit of tahini, lemon, garlic. Finally you finish it with yogurt that you whip through it. And lots of olive oil.
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