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Food and Drink

On this page you can find hints and advice to make your kitchen experience more enjoyable - the food tastier and easier to prepare.

Wine, baking, coffee, vegetables, meat, avocados, onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs/spices, seafood, turkey, eggs, recipes, vegetarianism, pasta and more.

Poached Eggs Tip. For perfect poached eggs without the hassle of a poaching device, add ~5 shakes of malt vinegar into the boiling water. The egg whites will curl up on themselves due to the altered pH of the water! -- James Root. Scientist, Sandwich, Kent

Wine Bread and Cheese

Peeling Oranges. Briskly rolling an orange around on a flat surface will loosen the skin and make for easier peeling -- Adam Waldron Wapping London England

BBQ Fish - To barbecue a whole fish—prepare and slip into foil garlic-bread bag.

Fish will cook and skin stays in bag—especially salmon -- Neil McPherson

Tip to Bake a Cake. Hi! If you've run out of eggs when baking a cake, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar per egg as a substitute. Sounds crazy but it works!.-- Lee Magnusson

Slippy Wax Paper. If your greaseproof paper (Wax paper) paper slips when you are trying to work on it, add a few drops of water on the counter underneath and the paper will stay put. -- Carol

Asparagus Tips. The conventional way to do asparagus tips is to boil or steam them. My mother does them in butter and so do all the best restaurants. If you like a little garlic (I don't) you can add some and black pepper too. Hints and tips is one of my favourite websites, I just like to read at random I am fourteen and also have more serious interests. I find the site relaxing and it is funny sometimes. Thanks Hayley

Thanks for the comments -- Tips on 'tips' are always welcome! Most people think our comments and humor are corny, we take this as a compliment. Thanks again Hayley. -- Ed

Preparing Asparagus - It is nececessary to remove the tough part of the stalk. Hold tthe asparagus stalk by the tough end and press down on a flat surface and the bit you don't want will break away. - Remember to recycle or compost your waste vegetale matter - Davina

Walnut Stains.  Sorry no way of removing the dark staining, just remember to use rubber gloves.. Same with Pecans and Egg Plants (Aubergines) -- Essie, Milton Keynes

Aluminum Foil: To prevent the aluminium touching the fish I cook I first wrap it in greaseproof paper, I find that it cooks just as well and no worries about the loss of taste or health problems from the aluminum. -- Mary Gol-Shekan

Minimise Drink Spillage. Before pouring a carton of milk/orange juice, after you have made the initial cut to open the carton, in the opposite side at the top puncture a small-ish hole into the cardboard. this stops the drink from splashing and coming out in bursts. instead the drink flows smoothly because it is getting another air source... try it! -- "Ben Higham"

Easy ... Saving chicken broth without the grease: Pour all into container and place covered into the refrig. The oil will float to the top and "set". You can then just skim it off and have fat free broth! (Well, almost fat free?) -- "Betty Angel" 

Dressing too dry??? buy a few cans of yellow squash, you can not taste it and it keeps your dressing as moist as you want!! ~~ Dragonrider & Dragonlady

Batter: Substitute the water with beer to make a very nice batter. – Scott Edmunds.

Rice: Rinse uncooked several times to remove excess starch, as this causes the rice grains to stick together. Also try not to stir the rice as it cooks as this damages the grains and produces more starch in the water. A bit of oil or butter in the water also helps reduce sticking. – Essie Edmunds.

Butter: To prevent butter burning when frying with butter, add a little cooking oil to the melting butter. – Anon.

Saving chicken broth without the grease: Pour all into container and place covered into the refrig. The oil will float to the top and "set". You can then just skim it off and have fat free broth! (Well, almost fat free?) -- "Betty Angel"

Cream. If you don’t have single cream, a mixture of milk and melted butter is a useful substitute. To 4 units of milk, add one unit of melted butter. - Jonny Koh, Washington.

Preparing Pasta

Pasta , add a lapsang souchong tea bag to water when boiling pasta, gives it a really nice smokey taste.. "steve clarke"

Baking  

Flour: If you run out of self raising flour, the general rule is 2.5 teaspoons of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate - avoid baking powders they add a bitterness to the cake) to 250g (1 lb.) of plain flour -- Scott Edmunds.

No Bugs in Grain or Flour   Add one or two fresh bay leaves to each bag. No bugs and no flavor transfer. -- jeanna hawley

To keep Bugs out of Canisters. Put a bay leaf in your containers ... sugar, flour, meal ... it will keep bugs out. -- Rosemary Edmonds 

Cake Mixes: How to use cake mixes and add other ingredients to make it taste like homemade: '... Use a white cake mix. One can of Cherry pie filling or 2 depending on the quantity you are making. Spread the cake mix over the pie filling. Cut up one cube of marj. or butter and place though out the top of the cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. It's fabulous. "Dump Cake" Top with whipping cream. They will think you slaved and it was simple... -- Jan Tani

Tell when a cake is ready - A cocktail stick or toothpick can be used to test whether a cake is ready,  If it comes out clean then the cake is ready.  You can also tell from the elasticity of the crust -- Helen Budkiewicz Toronto Canada

Bread: it is so lovely to make your own bread, and I find that brushing the bread with salty water before baking gives it a lovely crunchy topping. -- Maggie Renton, Athens, Georgia, USA

Fruit Pies: I find that tossing the fruit in flour stops the pastry at the bottom of the pie from getting soggy. Also when making cakes with glace cherries toss the washed cherries in flour to stop them sinking. --Jannine Van Dyke, Seatle.

Store sugar with vanilla pods, lemon zest, rose petals, or lavender to give it a nice flavor. -- Axel Klystron.

Soften Brown Sugar by covering the container with a damp cloth. -- Axel Klystron.

When making crumble – add a little grated peel (orange) to add a tangy taste -- Ian Richards, UK,

 

Coffee

Keeping ground coffee in the fridge or freezer preserves the taste -- Wendel Quinn Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Coffee Filter Storage. For storing the "bowl" type coffee filters, cut the ends out of a 12 - 15 oz. coffee can. Divide filters and place them into the can in two  "layers". Replace the plastic cap on the top end of the coffee can. When  you need a filter simply open the plastic lid and push the bottom layer of  filters out of the bottom of the can by pressing down on the top layer,  once you've removed a filter from the bottom layer, insert that layer of  filters into the top of the coffee can so that they are now the top  layer. Replace the plastic lid and your filters will remain clean and organized until you need them again. -- J. Carrasco Judy

To prepare Italian Espresso coffee I saw this recipe in an English Newspaper.   Use 50 coffee beans per person,  this will produce 7 grammes each, Place the coffee in a filter and pour water at 88 degrees over it, the coffee should be served at 57 degrees in a small cup. I sometimes take it with a small amount of cream on top but it should be really be served in a small white undecorated cup A Scottish friend of mine pours it over his ice cream (Italian of Course) and I must confess that I have tried it and found it to be an unusual and excellent sweet to finish off a good meal. -- Germano, London  -- For an explanation of the coffees served up these days try www.thetipsbank.com/coffee.htm 

Tea

How to Decaffeinate Tea  - Although tea contains about one-third the caffeine there is in coffee, and some teas are already decaffeinated, you can remove most of the caffeine from any tea by steeping it for about a minute, discarding the liquid and adding water to steep it again. You won't notice a difference in the taste, but the caffeine will be mostly gone.  -- Sylvia PF

Fruit  

An interesting fact is that raw blackcurrants, and kiwi fruit contain more vitamin C than oranges. Green bananas go yellow quicker if there are ripe bananas with them -- Robin Gill   Heston  England

Dates: if you are dieting, natural dates contain only half of the sugar of the sun-dried variety you get in boxes. -- A Husaini, London W6

Lemons: when squeezing lemon, if you put them in the microwave for half a minute it makes them release more juice. -- Comi Edmunds

Wine

Sparkling wines: If your champagne or other sparkling wine froths when you open it, dip your finger down the neck of the bottle (clean, I hope! -- Ed) to make the bubbles subside. -- Rupert J Graves, Paris

Wine is best poured from a height as it airs the wine and adds aroma -- Scott Edmunds.

Open red wines an hour before drinking to allow them to breathe, serving at room temperature, chill white wines and Rosé, opening just before serving -- Scott Edmunds.

Vegetables

Vegetarian Holding Power. Having difficulty getting your textured vegetable protein to mold when making balls or patties? Eggs and bread crumbs won't help if you are strict Vegan. Try mashed potato flakes to hold your mold! Sprinkle just enough as is necessary. It is also a great thickener for vegetarian stews, sauces and soups, dips no drips! ~~Julie

Carrots are easier to peel if they are briefly blanched in boiling water. – Essy Edmunds.

A drop of lemon/lime juice will stop the browning (caused by oxidation) of vegetables or fruit -- Anon.

Lettuce should never be cut, but torn instead – Veronica Echols

Cook vegetables quickly and in a closed pot with only  5cm or so of water.  Taste and color are better this way -- Bruce Snyder Radlett England Dec 98

When using fresh broccoli, cut off stems, and slice into thin "rounds". Freeze slices and add to homemade vegetable soup.  -- walter & persis martin

Meat 

Tough meat can be tenderised by marinating with vinegar or pineapple juice for several hours. The marinade must be washed off to get the taste away though.  The other day I read in the paper that marinating meat prior to barbecuing it reduces the danger of cancer greatly -- Graham Peck  London England

Meat-filler. Save all the ends of beef, pork roasts and put into freezer until there is enough saved to make cooking it worthwhile. Put all the meats into a heavy duty pan, add water (enough to cover meats) and cook until it is all shredded. Keep adding water if necessary. (Can also put into a roaster and do in oven). Once the meat is shredding, add some catsup, and chopped green pepper and chopped onion and a few whisks of pepper (salting not necessary). When the green pepper and onion are well cooked in the meat mixture, put on buns. Makes a wonderful "barbecue" sandwich. -- walter & persis martin

Minced Beef. If you don’t have minced beef to hand, minced pork, lamb, or veal are useful substitutes. - Sarah Hughes, Kingston

Poultry: I found that my turkey or game casserole is even nicer when I add just a little bitter chocolate. I never tell the people eating it though. -- Anon.

Witholding your name means that they will never find out !! -- Ed

Cooked -Cooked? - To check to see if a chicken or similar bird is completely cooked try flexing the legs from side to  side.  If they "give" easily then it is ready -- Sally Edwards Toronto Canada

Turkey  

Timely Turkey Tip. I have a tip for a quick, easy, put it in the oven and forget about it turkey. Personally, I do not stuff turkeys, but you can if you want. After preparing, as it's ready to go in the oven, take a piece of cheesecloth and soak it with olive oil. Spread the cheesecloth over all exposed areas of the turkey, put it in the oven and check it in the time required. No need to baste, or cover, or uncover to brown. You will end up with the most juicy turkey with the most beautifully browned skin. Just pull the cheesecloth off the turkey when it comes out of the oven. Enjoy your day.  --  Valerie (Valerie Ensley)

Turkey Tips:   We all have trouble getting the stuffing of the turkey. Next time put a piece of cheesecloth inside the cavity, then put in the stuffing. Then all you have to do is pull the cheesecloth and the stuffing comes right out. -- Kris Anderson

Super Moist Turkey. Just wanted to share a great Holiday Turkey tip. Cook your turkey UPSIDE DOWN! Put it in the pan, butter turkey and add spices, your usual amount of water and cover with aluminum foil. Cook your turkey at 325 degrees for 6 to 8 hours. It will be the most AWESOME turkey you've ever had.

By cooking the bird UPSIDE DOWN, the juice that usually runs down into the pan, ends up in the turkey breast. Say goodbye to dry turkey...you're guests will love it!!!

Only drawback....Your turkey will FALL OFF THE BONE, so you will not be able to present and carve it...a small price to pay for a yummy bird. -- Shawn C

Avocados  

How to remove an Avocado Seed! Cut the alvacado long ways all the way around where you have two seperate sides. One side will have the seed in it. With your cutting knife, hit the seed in the center and twist the seed right or left. It will come out very easy. You will be a big hit at the next alvacado party! -- Digital Wireless Satellite,   

Unripe avocados ripen twice as fast as usual if stored in a brown paper bag and stored in a warm place. – Anthony Elliot.

Put lemon juice on your avocado after slicing to stop it browning - - Vanessa Echols.

When preparing guacamole, leave the avocado seed in the mix until it is ready to serve.  That way it will not go brown so quickly -- Wendy Quin Kuala Lumpur

Onions and Garlic

~ Tears from Onions, there are lots of ways of preventing the tears:- Forget about all the old wives tales or trying to peel them underwater, simply set up a small fan to waft away the fumes and your onion peeling experience will be completely tear free. - Davina Martin 18th April 2008

Peeling the skin of Tomato and Garlic ~ Drop it in the hot water for some time. It will be easy to peel. Saimun (Sumaia Farzana) 03 Jun 2007

~ Odour Free Garlic. Peel and freeze, they can be chopped just as easily, and without leaving stinky hands. Davina Martin 13 Aug 2008

Onions. IF cutting onions caused your eyes to watered, try using your hand to sprinkle some fresh water onto your toes (left hand sprinkled to right toes, or vice versa). strange ... but it works. I learnt from the older generation. Jaslyn .... Singapore Wah Fong & Jaslyn"

To avoid onions discoloring, use a very sharp knife – Vanessa Echols

Bread in the mouth helps stops tears when peeling/slicing onions –  Wendel Quin Kuala Lumpur

Small Onions: These are peeled much easier when you pour boiling water on them. -- J Breakspear.

Before you peel your onion heat it up in the microwave for one minute.  No tears, I guarantee -- Bruce Snyder Radlett England

Peel/slice onions underwater to stop eyes watering -- Anon

Onions. An easy way of preparing onions for cutting is to trim the ends off, but don’t peel them yet. Microwave the onion on high for one minute. It is then easy to peel off the skin, and also you won’t cry so much when you chop them up. - Alex Adams

When frying onions if the oil starts to dry up, add a drop of water instead of more oil. The same goes when stir-frying anything -- Comi Edmunds, UK. July 98.

To brown onions more quickly add a little sugar to caramelize them. --David Keller.

Tomatoes

To peel tomatoes blanch them in boiling water briefly and --  Voila! - the skin now comes off easily. – Comi Edmunds.

Unripe tomatoes can be made to ripen quicker by having a ripe tomato stored with them to activate the ripening process of the others. Store them at room temperature as well. – Janet Wyatt.

Slice tomatoes from end to end to stop the seeds falling out – Ian Richards

Herbs and Spices

An easy way to get the "paper" off of garlic without peeling is to smash the clove with the palm of your hand, the garlic will slide right of the "paper". So much easier than spending all that time peeling. -- "kelly"

Peeling Garlic - Make it easy by microwaving for 10 to 20 seconds -- "kelly"

 Keep fresh herbs, and fresh spices such a root ginger in the freezer to stop them going off. The ginger or garlic can be grated into the food while still frozen -- Axel Klystron

Chew some parsley after eating garlic to sweeten your breath– Wendy Quin

Chili Peppers: Wear gloves when chopping hot peppers, always wash your hands after touching them, and never rub your eyes or touch other parts of the body when handling them as they will burn and sting. -- Sara Sutherland age 10

If you’ve overdone the spices in a dish, a bit of sugar will balance it out. Lemon juice helps, as does putting in half a lemon, cooking for a few minutes then removing -- Rathna Ali London England.

Spices should be roasted and cooked for a few minutes before cooking the rest of the dish to get the most of the flavours, and remove the really choking burning sensation if they are hot. -- Rathna Ali England.

Dried Herbs. The general rule of thumb is one tablespoon of fresh herbs is equivalent to one teaspoon of dried ones. - Anthony Daniels, Los Angeles

Eggs

Eggs. When cracking an egg into a recipe, if you drop part of the shell in, the easiest way to get it out is with another part of the shell. It will keep slipping from your fingertips.  -- Jody

Eggs Boiled. -- Boiling water hardens the protein in egg whites. To avoid this, cover eggs with 3" of salted water, heat to boiling, turn off stove and let sit for 20 minutes in the hot water. Run under cold water for easier peeling. ~~ Bill Shockley San Francisco, CA.

Filling Devilled Eggs: After boiling your eggs, and cutting in half - scoop out the yolks and make your filling for the eggs. Put the mixture in a ziplock baggie. Then - making sure the bag is sealed - cut one corner of the bottom of the bag. Squeeze the filling into the halved egg whites - simple & easy -! When all egg halves are filled - simply throw the baggie away. No more trying to fit a spoon into those small holes of an egg! :) Martha

Boiling Eggs using boiling water: Soft boiling takes 6 minutes, hard boiled eggs take 10 minutes.-- Wendy Quinn

Egg Freshness. To test eggs for freshness put in cold salty water, and bad ones will float to the top. Wendy Quin Kuala Lumpur

Dropped Egg, If you accidentally break an egg onto the floor put some salt onto it, leave for 10 minutes, and then the egg is much easier to pick up as it had clotted. – Bonnie Pacifico

Egg Whites: To stiffen egg whites I find that adding a pinch of salt or cream of tartar does the trick. -- Michael Goldstock, USA

Egg Cracking: To discourage cracking It is best to perforate your eggs before boiling them.  Sausages too, like to be perforated.  -- Dave Richards   

Need Boiled Eggs for recipes. Whenever I need boiled eggs  for a recipe or a salad instead of the nuisance of boiling eggs and the frustration of peeling them, I use one of those poached egg cookers (found at any large discount store) and cook the eggs in the microwave. Within a minute or less, I have a perfectly cooked egg for chopping without the shell mess. Great for when you need only one or two boiled eggs. -- Nancy Collins,  

Seafood

Cooking fish: When shallow frying fish always coat in seasoned flour or egg as it holds the fish together and keeps it moist. -- Keith Chan.

Mussels: with live mussels clean first by scrubbing, remove the beards and barnacles with a knife, rinse several times in cold water and soak them a couple of hours so they clean themselves. Any mussels that float should be discarded along with any with cracked shells. Any mussels with open shells should be tapped, if they don’t close these should be discarded. Make sure they open when cooking, and keep stirring because they may have trouble opening if they are too packed together. To remove grit from the cooking liquor sieve through muslin or use a (clean) sock. - - Anon

Mussels - Do not wrap your live mussels, they could suffocate - never freeze and do observe the sell by date, discard mussels that do not close when given a sharp tap and discard the ones that do not fully open after cooking. -- Regards Dianne Dimke

Recipes.

Tartar Sauce A quick way of making a nice substitute sauce is by adding 7 tablespoons of mayonnaise to 2 tablespoons of chopped mixed pickles. - Shelia MacDonald

Healthy Chicken Gravy After oven baking, remove two cups of broth ( stock?) and place in a medium sized pan with one can of Light Cream of Chicken soup. Heat to boiling and use corn starch to thicken , if needed. Add Parsley and season to taste. -- Sue Stone  

Easy Shrimp Sauce Never run out of shrimp sauce again. Add one tablespoon of minced onions and one teaspoon of horseradish to one cup of ketchup. Voila enjoy! Chuck -- Charles Stone

Low Fat Pumpkin Pie. Recipe substitutions. This past Thanksgiving I was going to make a pumpkin pie. I realized that I didn't have any evaporated milk in the house. I did have powdered nonfat dry milk. You need to add 10 oz. of warm (not hot) water into 2/3 cup of the dry milk (or enough to make 12 oz. total) for each 12 oz. can required. Mix slowly (as to keep the bubbles down) with a teaspoon, to remove any large lumps. Add into the recipe as you should the canned milk. The pie came out perfect and I also saved 240 calories (per can of evaporated milk) by using the nonfat milk mixture. Joseph Fortunato

Recipe Forum Hi! What a great page! :) Thank you! I thought I'd let you know the doityourself.com  website now has a new but GREAT recipe forum! Some of those recipes are FABULOUS....thought you might want to add that for recipes. :) Thx!  "Anelle =^..^="

Misc.

  Many top chefs never wash their frying pans.  They scour them with salt and some-times salt and oil.  One chef I know used to "condition" his pan by raising to a high temperature with just salt and then, when it had cooled some, he got rid of the excess salt, and only then he added the oil -- Davie

Vegetarianism

Veggie wannabes Want to try being a vegetarian but miss meat a lot? Check out a dry soy product called textured vegetable protein, which can be made up quickly and inexpensively into entrees that taste like your favorite meat products. Health food stores, on-line soy companies, and some supermarkets carry this product, which takes only 15 minute of marinating in hot veggie juice, fruit juice, or bouillon to create the meaty-tasting component of your favorite flesh-based recipe. For a hundred such recipes--including calzones, shepherd's pies, creole sauce, stuffed cabbage rolls, fajitas, szechuan stew, etc.--check out the book Meatless Meat: A Book of Recipes for Meat Substitutes by Dorothy Jane Mills, from Xlibris, toll-free 1-888-795-4274, or from your favorite online or bricks-and-mortar bookstore --  Dorothy Mills

Barbecues

No more mixed-up cups at BBQ/parties. Sad to see so many wasted disposable cups, especially with kids' parties? Try this, use a marker to number all the disposable cups. Everyone will ask about them, and they'll remember their own number throughout the event. Works extremely well with kids - - Skyth Smith

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