Author Topic: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook  (Read 3586 times)

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Offline Holden

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Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« on: February 08, 2021, 01:02:16 AM »
How long do I cook a steak for and when do I know that it's done the way I want? How do I make perfect mashed potatoes every time? How do I make home made hamburger patties that are moist, tasty and won't crumble when you cook them?

I'd like to make a thread where we discuss our cooking hacks. For example, I believe that I can teach you to make perfect roast pork crackling every time without playing around with temperature settings? (if you want to know then ask me)

So what cooking hack can you provide but more importantly, what doesn't work well for you? Can a GMG member give you the solution?

To start things off, why, when I roast a cut of beef, does it come out dry and tasteless? What should I do?

I believe that we have enough culinary aficionados on the forum to make this work.
Cheers

Holden

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2021, 06:25:56 AM »
Hmmm, I will give it some thought and try to contribute some of my "tricks" that may be a help to others (hopefully), and also learn some new cooking techniques and tips as well!  :)

Offline DavidW

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2021, 06:33:56 AM »
I think I would need some examples to know esoteric we are talking.  I know some good tips that are not super widely known but are not coveted secrets either.  More like the kind of things not in a book but on any vid the chef will say this is really what you should do...

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2021, 10:03:06 AM »


To start things off, why, when I roast a cut of beef, does it come out dry and tasteless? What should I do?


Sous vide and then finish off with a blow torch.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Brewski

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2021, 10:45:57 AM »
Interesting thread, which I'll certainly be checking in on, now and then.

As an aside, here's Cookwise, the great book by Shirley Corriher, who (if I recall) was the chef that Julia Child consulted when she had cooking questions. The book goes deep into the chemistry of cooking, and why certain ingredients react in the way they do. 



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Offline Benji

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2021, 10:46:31 AM »
Sous vide and then finish off with a blow torch.

+1 for sous vide! If you cook a lot of meat an immersion cooker is a great investment.

It makes it way easier to get steak or roast correctly done as becomes science where you just plug in 1) doneness preference and 2) weight of meat. Then a simple calculation will tell you the temp to use and exact duration required.

Once it's done you simply have to brown the outside to your liking, either torch it like Mandryka says or, like me, use a insanely hot cast iron skillet (and ladle with butter to be 'extra').

Unfortunately, for me, arguably not for the cows, I'm doing the veggie thing these days. But carrots done sous vide with butter are delightful and you can do very easy ramen style eggs. 👍

Offline Brewski

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2021, 10:53:28 AM »
Here's a recipe I discovered over the weekend, from Lidia Bastianich: Oregano and Eggs. It's incredibly easy, not to mention, delicious.

What struck me was the very first instruction: "Set a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over a burner that is still off." The idea is to cook the eggs slowly, at a very low heat. It definitely improves the texture.

https://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/oregano-and-eggs/

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Offline Benji

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2021, 11:07:04 AM »
Here are three 'hacks' that have improved my cooking / kitchen game in recent years.

1) Get yourself a bench scraper aka bakers tool - if you're struggling with the back of a knife or trying to cup ingredients from your chopping board into your hands then struggle no more. Such a cheap item but it has way more to offer than dividing dough etc.

2) Season as you go, rather than all at the end. Build layers of flavour - add salt / pepper every time you add anything new to a pan. I know this seems simple but it massively improves the final result - maybe a lot of people already do this but it wasn't obvious to me until I saw someone discussing it on YouTube. And I've been cooking for 20+ years! 😖

3) Check our Jim Lahey's no knead bread technique. I am forever in that man's debt - as are so many. You can have artisan quality bread with no fuss and literally no kneading, it's insanely easy and adaptable - you just need a baking vessel with a lid (casserole / cast iron), flour, yeast, salt and water. First time I made a loaf his way, 2012, I cried a little, I'm not ashamed to admit, and I've been making bread that way since 😎 (well actually over lockdown I found a way to adapt the recipe for a sourdough starter rather than packet yeast so that's an improvement but still no kneading).

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2021, 11:27:55 AM »
What's the best way to peel and seed a Butternut Squash please? I need the answer fast.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 11:30:01 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2021, 11:29:33 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie</a>

For those who don't know it this is the way to dice onions.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2021, 11:31:17 AM »
A question for the spaniards.

How do you make tortilla? I mean this

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2021, 11:31:33 AM »

2) Season as you go, rather than all at the end. Build layers of flavour - add salt / pepper every time you add anything new to a pan. I know this seems simple but it massively improves the final result - maybe a lot of people already do this but it wasn't obvious to me until I saw someone discussing it on YouTube. And I've been cooking for 20+ years! 😖


Yes indeed! A fundamental step that seems to be avoided at times, in many recipes.

Offline Holden

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2021, 01:52:03 PM »
OK, perfect pork crackling every time.

1. Wash and score the pork joint anything up to 24 hours before cooking time
2.Boil the kettle and pour the boiling water over the pork skin until the scored parts open up exposing the pork fat.
3. Dry off with a paper towel and sprinkle liberal amounts of salt onto the skin
4. Place uncovered in your refrigerator until it's ready to cook
5. Remove from the fridge and brush off all the excess salt making sure you get it out of the scored parts.
6 Place into a preheated oven (or BBQ) set somewhere between 180C and 200C and cook for the normal time
7 Take out of the oven and voila! Perfect pork crackling.

The science behind this is simple. To get good crackling you need the skin to be as dry as possible. The salt and the almost zero humidity in the fridge helps to dry out the skin. You also need something to crackle up the skin. When you cook the pork the fat comes out of the opened up score marks to cover the skin. This is virtually 'self basting'.

One caveat - do not pour oil on the skin before cooking. Doing this reverses the drying out process. I've seen some  celebrity chef's recommend this and I know from experience it doesn't work anywhere near as well as the method I've described above. Where did I get this method? Thanks Mum.
Cheers

Holden

Offline DavidW

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2021, 01:58:22 PM »
Many people know this but the best way to peel an avocado is not to peel it.  Slice it in half, and then work the knife around and then it will come right out.

If you're dealing with something very soft like dough or sausage, stick it in the fridge or freezer for a bit to firm it up and then cut.  It is much easier that way.

Plain greek yogurt and flour makes for a very good, quick pizza dough.

If you don't have a bbq searing a steak on the skillet and then finishing it in the broiler can lead to a pretty good medium rare steak.

This is just something I like to do when cooking a burger-- I season it and then fold it up so that seasoning is all throughout the meat and not just on the surface.

Chickpeas are very versatile and they can go into almost anything, always worth having some at hand.

I prefer the flavor of hand-crushed tomatoes over using a can of tomato sauce.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2021, 02:22:18 PM »

If you're dealing with something very soft like dough or sausage, stick it in the fridge or freezer for a bit to firm it up and then cut.  It is much easier that way.


David, you beat me to this one. I always freeze my Italian sausage, even when I buy it fresh. Once I am ready to use it, I take it out of the freezer and thaw it in warm water for about 5 to 10 minutes. I only want it partially thawed, as it is much easier to slit the sausage to peel off the skin and also much easier to slice into even slices or chunks when still partially frozen.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2021, 02:24:19 PM »
I've tried this with varying success.

To reduce or eliminate tears when slicing and chopping onions, hold a slice of bread in your mouth while while slicing and dicing your onions.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2021, 02:29:48 PM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie</a>

For those who don't know it this is the way to dice onions.

Nice tip there!  :)

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2021, 02:42:27 PM »
Nice tip there!  :)

It will feel strange at first, but now I do it really naturally and easily - like a pro! There’s a pleasure in using the geometry of the onion to make the task manageable.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline DavidW

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2021, 04:27:48 PM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Nmr1l5IV9Os&amp;ab_channel=HelenRennie</a>

For those who don't know it this is the way to dice onions.

Avoiding the root is also the easiest top way to avoid the tears.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Cooking Hacks For Those That Love To Cook
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2021, 08:43:27 AM »
What's the best way to peel and seed a Butternut Squash please? I need the answer fast.


Apologies for the delay in replying to you; trust that things still came out o.k.?

For me, I like to cut off the top and the bottom of the squash.  I then cut off the round bottom.  You can then either stand the bottom on end (since you now have a flat base) and then cut it in half lengthwise.  I then use a sturdy soup spoon to scoop/scrape the seeds and the stringy stuff out (i normally toss it but you could also, if you're patient, clean off and roast the seeds).  I then cut the narrow half down the middle and chunk it up---it depends what all I'm using it for.
Many people know this but the best way to peel an avocado is not to peel it.  Slice it in half, and then work the knife around and then it will come right out.

If you're dealing with something very soft like dough or sausage, stick it in the fridge or freezer for a bit to firm it up and then cut.  It is much easier that way.

Plain greek yogurt and flour makes for a very good, quick pizza dough.

If you don't have a bbq searing a steak on the skillet and then finishing it in the broiler can lead to a pretty good medium rare steak.

This is just something I like to do when cooking a burger-- I season it and then fold it up so that seasoning is all throughout the meat and not just on the surface.

Chickpeas are very versatile and they can go into almost anything, always worth having some at hand.

I prefer the flavor of hand-crushed tomatoes over using a can of tomato sauce.
The freezing trick for a few minutes works for a number of things:  making a carpaccio, grating soft cheeses, etc.

Tip:  When wanting to cook almost any protein, make sure first that it's at or close to room temperature--avoids having a burnt exterior and a raw interior!

And please, oh please, do NOT wash your chicken, beef, etc. before cooking it.  It's not necessary and only spreads bacteria all around your sink and possibly your countertops.  Just pat it dry with paper towels.

PD