Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

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  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Miso with avocado makes for a great fish taco dressing.

    That really does qualify as 'miso with everything'.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    Attachment

    Hot pizza stone + potatoes (Agria- cut chunky and lightly oiled) =

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I've been considering self-caramelising Creme Brulee.

    What this would involve is mixing an oxidant, such as saltpetre, with the sugar. It would then deflagrate when ignited and turn the topping into caramel in a more spectacular way than the normal use of a kitchen blowlamp.

    I'm just a bit concerned about the toxicity of the NaNO3 and the reaction products.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    This column is worth it, if just for the phrase " toss them in a bit of Raymond's rub and whack it all in the oven"

    Ooh er missus.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In that case, Gregor Ronald's tried & true lifehack for cooking a Sunday Roast dinner: prep veges for roasting & toss in oil in a plastic bag (separate veges according to roasting times), then twist top of bag & place in roasting tray on the bench. Place meat in its roasting tray, cover with foil & leave on bench.

    Write down cooking schedule on kitchen notepad, leave for wife & daughter to follow when they come back from Sunday arvo swim. Go to pub.

    Return home at 6:30pm, steam a green vege in the microwave, make gravy, carve meat & serve dinner.

    Note that writing down the cooking schedule is important, because said wife and daughter will have a couple of wines during this process & likely forget where they're up to, so they need instructions.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Venison is always right: seared ribbons with slow cooked onion wedges then tosed at the last minute in a little spicy plum sauce. Chuck it in your favourite good bread with any juices adhering.

    General tip: As a long-term feeders of boys, I have found they eat most anything when put in bread/buns or spread on a pizza.

    Great idea for a thread Russell,; just right for a day like today with storms to come. I'll try not to over-share.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Gareth,

    I'm working my way through the two Ottolenghi books - Plenty and Jerusalem.

    Thanks for reminding me about Ottolenghi, I haven't got to him yet. He's on my list. Another on the list is an old friend who cooks in London these days, Margot Henderson, who has written a book called "You're All Invited". It will be bloody brilliant, and she's so little known here back home. A link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/aug/19/margot-henderson-rochelle-canteen-interview

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Mahal,

    My housemate avoids gluten where feasible, which meant I needed a substitute for flour when thickening up sauces in a hurry. In most applications, I find dried potato flakes - cheaply obtainable in enormous packets from my local Asian shop of all places - absolutely brilliant. As a bonus, dried potato doesn't do the clumpy-mess trick that flour occasionally pulls.

    Unrelated: when I have odds and sods of leftover fresh herbs, I squash them into an ice cube tray, cover with water, then freeze. The taste is almostfresh, and perfectly acceptable for e.g. pasta sauce, chucking into a frypan with potatoes/bacon/capsicum/sausage for brunch... Sage in particular keeps well this way, and I am a BIG fan of sage-fried potatoes with eggs for a lazy weekend breakfast.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    Whoops, how could I forget miso in the oil and vinegar dressing for the red cabbage, fine grated raw beetroot and grated carrot Slaw?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Roger Lacey,

    For those with young kids, who don't have the patience for baking, the 5 minute "Happy Cake" as it has been christened in our house is a winner.
    Mix together in a small microwave-proof bowl or pyrex jug:
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons of oil
    3 tablespoons milk
    A few drops of vanilla essence
    Put to one side
    Sift onto some baking paper
    1/4 cup self raising flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
    1/4 tsp salt.
    Pick up the baking paper and tip into the egg, milk oil mixture. Mix until smooth with plenty of tasting on the way.
    Cover with the folded baking paper and bung in the microwave for around two minutes. (About 100 seconds in our oven).
    Rest for a minute then tip onto a plate and decorate with icing sugar, hundreds and thousands and a candle (optional).
    Serve on its own or with icecream.

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman,

    Wheat berries. Boil 1/2 cup in lots of water for about an hour, then add to your favourite bread recipe.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    My next hack will be to literally hack my breadmaker (if I'm honest: Stephen's breadmaker) and teach it to make panettone. If I can swing it, I think it could make me rich.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Hmmm, wouldn't some sort of rubbing alcohol mixed with icing sugar achieve a similar outcome? Unless the bang is part of the appeal.

    PS don't search online for "cooking with explosives" you'll end up with sites telling you how to manufacture homemade C4 and a flag on your file with the NSA.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • JessicaRose, in reply to Gareth,

    Plenty is my bible atm. I second the recommendation to anyone interested. I very rarely follow a recipe (I use them as a suggestion), however in this instance I urge following the recipes to the letter. The butternut with lime and cardamom... oh-em-gee!

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Against all intuitive expectations, the chips cook perfectly and don't soak up much oil.

    No! You're messing with my entire life of cooked chips now. What does cause chips to soak up oil then?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Searancke,

    I nicked this from a Laneway vendor a couple of years ago - crumbed gurnard (I use panco, or if I'm really feeling DIY, home made crumbs. Cut the fish fillets in half lengthways and then across ways for the long side, flour, then egg, then crumbs, fry in shallow oil till crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, serve with warm flat breads, red cabbage slaw (add whatever you like here), aioli or whatever sauces take your fancy. Everyone can fill and wrap their own. Works across all ages (kids love it). Not really a hack, but you can make a lot of it ahead of time and plonking it all rustically on the table is nice.

    For the bread crumbs, I save the ends of good loaves of bread, whack them in a zip lock bag in the freezer, then thaw them in a warm oven (helps them to dry), then zap them in the food processor for excellent crumbs.

    Hungry now, need lunch...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Rosalie,

    To turn left over roasted meats into a thing of beauty.

    Caramelised onions and black olives are the essential components here. For two people cook two sliced onions gently in 2 tab butter or olive oil with salt for about half an hour or until golden brown. Meanwhile cut up about 400g of roasted lamb, mutton, pork, chicken or duck (beef doesn't work as well as other meats here). Add about 15 black olives to the onions and cook 5 minutes. Add meat and cook 10 minutes until completely hot and starting to brown slightly.

    Optional extras: parsley, pine nuts, almonds, currants, dried figs, dried apricots, whatever spices fit with the way in which the original meat was cooked. If there is sauce left over from the original meat add that too. Serve with lemon wedges and a salad.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Searancke,

    Oops, corrective bracket now... ) .... for after 'homemade crumbs'. Hate that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • JessicaRose,

    Ice trays for freezing everything!

    Not just limited to freezing water, you can freeze (when in season) fresh herbs in olive oil in perfectly measured amounts suitable for popping into cooking - also lemon and lime juices and tomato paste are suitable for this size and quantity freezing method.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth, in reply to JessicaRose,

    Also very good for freezing (for a month or two) the truffle butter you've made with leftover truffle pieces... ;-)

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to JessicaRose,

    Ice trays for freezing everything!

    Not just limited to freezing water, you can freeze (when in season) fresh herbs in olive oil in perfectly measured amounts suitable for popping into cooking – also lemon and lime juices and tomato paste are suitable for this size and quantity freezing method.

    Ooh. That fresh herbs in olive oil idea is interesting. A friend of mine is not a red wine drinker, but sometimes uses it in cooking. She freezes the leftover wine in trays, and swears by it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • JessicaRose,

    My favourite magic food trick - put an egg on it, you can make anything into a frittata, left overs, first overs, meat, vegetables, one ingredient, several ingredients, just put them all in a pan and stir in eggs, then you have a whole new meal. Add lime, chilli and coriander and you have a gourmet meal (as we know that combo also works with pretty much any other meal too - so it's kinda two tips).

    Also in line with freezing the things (I just noticed that someone else suggested the ice trays on an earlier post) freeze grapes and use to chill wine without watering it down. This will go nicely with your frittata.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • kiwicmc,

    To continue the potato theme - Dutch Cream potatoes and a Potato Ricer for the best mash ever. Personally I think heated cream instead of milk is a bit over the top...

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hebe,

    General tip: As a long-term feeders of boys, I have found they eat most anything when put in bread/buns or spread on a pizza.

    Leftover potatoes – boiled, roast, baked, whatever. Slice up the next day and throw them on a pizza with whatever cured meat is lurking in the fridge. Mebbe brush with a little olive oil, mebbe not. Wilt some fresh rocket on the hot pizza as soon as it comes out.

    Great idea for a thread Russell,; just right for a day like today with storms to come. I’ll try not to over-share.

    I know! It’s better than a recipe book. I’ve had had the idea for a while, but today just seemed right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to JessicaRose,

    Also in line with freezing the things (I just noticed that someone else suggested the ice trays on an earlier post) freeze grapes and use to chill wine without watering it down.

    You're awesome. I'mma do this on a warmer day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

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