Top Tips

Egg-based sauces/dips
Pour the curdled mixture into a jug.  Place an egg in the machine or a yolk if using a bowl.  Add the curdled mixture slowly to the egg, whisking all the time.  Voila!  I hope.

Garlic
I am a garlic fiend.  However, I learned from Anna that in order to remove the strength of garlic so that it is more subtle, which suits certain sauces such as the sage or gnocchi, remove the centre part.  See the pic below.

Using a garlic press gives the garlic a different taste.  Finely chopping it and using the flat of the knife to mash it is a preferable option.

KitchenAid Mixer
KitchenAids are brilliant if you are time short, or would just like to bake on a regular basis and would prefer not to build those arm muscles! It kneads my bread for me, whips and whisks to light fluffiness, and allows me to get on with other tasks while it works its magic.

If budget is an issue and you do intend to bake your own bread regularly, think of this – a standard kitchenaid mixer (which I have) is about £300.  A high quality loaf of bread is about £3 at least.  To make your own will cost not much more than 50p – £1 in ingredients.  And to make your own biscuits will cost no more than £2 for about 16 which will taste a zillion times better than a shop bought processed packet and cost less than buying homemade biscuits.  Once you have had a year of doing it yourself, you will soon have come close to paying off your Kitchenaid mixer by not buying what you are making!

Pastry
Roll pastry between two large sheets of clingfilm and mould the cases before chilling in the fridge.  It is just one less step…

Pies/Pithivier
A way to help avoid finding serving the baked result difficult, is to lay baking paper on the baking tray before you place the pastry on it.  Not only will you not have so much washing up to do, you will be able to slide the pie from the tray and hopefully onto the serving plate.  Alternatively, you may have a large spatula.  Even if you have to end up cutting around the pie and leaving baking paper on the bottom once you have slid the paper from the tray and onto the serving plate,  that is better than serving it on a baking tray.

Meat Stock
I admit I am less passionate about red meat so I more naturally speak of chicken and fish stock.  You can follow the same instructions as chicken, for any meat stock.

I made some glace, from 7 chicken carcasses I had collected in the freezer. I buy happy chicken, dissect them, freeze the wings for crispy chicken wings on another day, saving the chicken livers for chicken liver pate, and using the carcass for stocks.  It is one of the most satifying and, dare I say, comforting things a chicken can bring.  You really are using everything.

Take your chicken carcass(es) and put it in a casserole.  Cover it with water and add some peppercorns (about 6), a bay leaf, sprig of parsley, thyme, whatever you have.  You roast the carcasses first for a richer stock and add roasted carrot, onion, leek fennel, whatever you want, in order to add to the flavour of the finished stock.

Let it simmer for about 4 hours, adding cold water every so often and skimming off the skum that rises to the surface.
or
If you have an aga or equivalent, put the stock mixture the bottom right of a 2 door and top left of a 4 door overnight.  Strain the stock in the morning, and put the liquid in the fridge.  The fat will cool on the surface and be easily removed, easier than skimming.  For a rich glace which will last for a month in the fridge, reduce the liquid until it is about a 10th of the quantity in liquid that you started off with.
If you are in a rush, then let the strained uncooled stock boil and reduce and the skum will gather for you to remove.

Fish Stock
Ask a fishmonger to give you some bones and heads of fish.  Follow the instructions above.  Instead of roasting the bones for a richer stock, fry them in olive oil or plain oil, along with the veg and herbs, before adding the water.  Simmer for half an hour, removing the skum which rises to the surface.  Strain and cool.  Again, you can reduce this for a richer glace.

As of now (3) people have had something to say...

  • Emma Smith - Reply

    November 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I know raw bones make the best stock but the left over carcass from a roast or poached chicken makes one 100 times better than a stock cube, a slow cook pot is wonderful for this. Emma

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    • Victoria Straker - Reply

      August 3, 2014 at 7:29 am

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