, of course, but it is also an impressive collection of small gestures, ways of doing things, knowing what to do and what not to do.
All these little tips and tricks can be very important: they can affect the way a recipe turns out, simply because you did just the right thing at the right time.
I’m starting here with a series of 5 very effective tips. I hope they will help make life – and cooking – easier for you…
1) When melting butter, cut it into small pieces first
When you put butter to melt in a hot pan, it is easy just to put in the required weight as a whole lump, without thinking.
This is not the way to do it, as a large lump of butter will start to melt around the outside. It will then start to burn before the middle has even melted.
It is better to cut the butter into small pieces before putting it in the pan. Then it will melt more evenly without burning.
2) Don’t try to pick out a bit of eggshell with your fingers
When breaking eggs for an omelette, sometimes a bit of eggshell falls into the bowl.
It is no use trying to catch it with your fingers – the viscosity of the egg white makes this almost impossible.
Take a broken half shell and use this like a spoon to pick out the small piece of eggshell – you’ll find it works very well.
3) Pastry in a flat cake, rather than a ball
When cooled, it becomes brittle in a ball and tends to crack.
Gather the pastry into a large flattish cake. This will be much easier to roll out after it has been refrigerated.
4) Grill your bacon
When cooking bacon, avoid frying the rashers in a pan as they will shrink and become tough.
Cook them under the grill on a wire grid to allow the excess fat to drain off.
5) Squeeze a lemon over your hand
When adding lemon juice to a recipe, it is easiest just to squeeze half a lemon over the pan or bowl.
But this is how we end up with pips in the recipe, which is not what we want.
Squeeze the lemon with one hand, holding the other hand underneath to strain out any pips that fall. Hold your fingers just far enough apart to let the juice flow through, but not the pips.