I’ve got a bit of a cheek ticking the box to put this blog into the “Cookery” section, as it’s hardly haute cuisine that I’m talking about.
But I’m fascinated with the little tips that can turn otherwise pretty everyday food into something a little more spectacular – or make cooking a bit easier. I think those little touches have had more impact on my cooking than any one cookbook – apart from Delia Smith’s “Complete Cookery Course”, of course, which genuinely changed my life.
By way of example, that classic tip for when you drain your parboiled potatoes and shake them up in the pan to get a fluffy edge for better roast pots. It’s a simple technique we’ve probably all heard by now, but it’s amazing what a difference it makes.
The Magic Of Mayo
One of my other favourites involves the humble toasted cheese sandwich. Always better with white bread, in my humble opinion, I’ve recently discovered that Camembert or Brie work particularly well in them. I’ve never tried bacon, brie and pear – like the pic above – but imagine that’s pretty special.
One thing I did notice when we visited a local toastie seller, was that they didn’t use butter or marg on the outside of the bread to brown it off, they used mayonnaise. It has to be done with moderation, otherwise the tang gets overwhelming, but a mid-level spreading of mayo really sets off the richness of the cheese nicely.
Mayo’s also the perfect companion to poultry in sandwiches. Coming from a family who used marg and only marg to make sarnies, my first turkey/ chicken sandwich with mayo on one side of the bread and marg on the other was a revelation.
Mint sauce and peas are a winning combination, too. 1 tsp for a 2 person portion of peas – suddenly they are upgraded from humble side to something a bit special.
And the ingenuity applies to tools, too. As a regular ice-cream eater, I loved finding out that running the scoop under hot water for ten seconds or so before digging in makes it a lot easier to get it out. In fact, if you put ice-cream in the fridge in a zip-lock plastic bag, it stays perfectly soft all the time! Genius.
When you’re measuring out golden syrup or honey for something, the lightest coating of cooking oil or spray on the spoon will make all the difference. It allows the whole measure of syrup to slide off, rather than leaving a quarter of it stuck in the bottom to never come out, no matter how long you hold it up, slowly dribbling a fine endless thread into the mixing bowl.
Do you have any tips worth sharing? Pop them into the comments section below!