Sometimes, the thought of preparing a wholesome, homemade meal is exhausting. Regardless, you’re at the chopping board clutching the chopping knife. The herbs are misbehaving and flying all over the place but you continuously rein them in and persevere. Then you discover that a key spice ingredient has lost its flavour while languishing on your spice rack above your stove. Your fingernails reek of garlic and probably will do for hours if not the whole of the following day. On top of all of this you don’t have anything in the pan yet and dinnertime was 15 minutes ago.
Still, meal preparation needn’t be something you dread. You don’t need to be a chef or a foodie wizard to save some time in the kitchen and put a delicious meal on the table. You also don’t need cutting edge gadgets or assassin knife skills to shorten prep time. Our chefs give us some tips and tricks for creating restaurant-quality dishes in your own home:
When chopping your herbs, sprinkle a little salt onto your chopping board to keep them from flying about.
Place your garlic cloves inside a resealable plastic bag and crush them with the back of a knife. Crushing garlic this way will prevent your hands, chopping board and knife from reeking.
To keep your spices fresh for as long as possible store them in a cool, dark space such as a pantry, cupboard, or drawer. Never store them above your stove. Light, heat and humidity will cause them to lose their flavour as will moisture.
Make your pasta dishes even more flavourful. Boil your pasta until it’s almost cooked. Remove it from the pot and add it to your pasta sauce to finish cooking.
Seasoning meat and poultry
Chefs disagree about many things but seldom on basic food preparation techniques. However, when it comes to seasoning there is an ongoing debate about whether to season ahead of time or just before you cook. Whichever option you choose be sure to season your meat or poultry evenly so that every bite is equally delicious.
Juicing lemons and limes
Soften your lemons or limes by rolling them under your palm for a minute or so on a hard surface. Juicing will be quicker, easier and you’ll get more liquid from them.
Storing citrus zest
Store the zest of lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges in the freezer in plastic bags. Whatever your zesting method preference be sure to remove the thin coloured skin only. The white pith just underneath the skin has an unpleasant, bitter taste.
Testing oil heat for frying
If you want to find out if your oil is hot enough for frying hold a wooden spoon upright in the oil. If bubbles form around the wood your oil is ready.