Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

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  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    When cooking a beef casserole I like to roast or sear a beef bone and include it in the pot for extra flavour.

    Plan! Cuts with bones in improve curries too....

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    Attachment

    Here's one I prepared (several months) earlier...

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

  • Paul Campbell,

    Our pizza hack is very simple - use pita bread for the bases - do individual sized portions and put the ingredients out so the kids can build their own pizzas

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    ...put the ingredients out so the kids can build their own pizzas

    Very nice.

    At my son's last birthday party, he and his friends all made their own pizzas. We even had them roll out their own bases.

    Then they built their own sundaes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    At my son's last birthday party, he and his friends all made their own pizzas. We even had them roll out their own bases.

    That's what we do whenever we fire up the oven and have a pizza day. I do the dough (pizza bible), guests get to choose their toppings. Pineapple banned.

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

  • Joanna,

    Make your own limoncello! Peel about a dozen lemons, scrape the pith off (and then juice them and freeze the juice for another time. Pour over a bottle of cheap vodka, let sit for two weeks. Boil around four cups of water and three cups sugar until the sugar dissolves, then add it to the mix. Strain out the rinds and freeze them - they are AMAZING in baking or pasta. Now you have about 1.6 litres of deliciousness you can put in smaller bottles and give away. People will love you. And oh how good those rinds are.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Oh, and my other hack is to turn broccoli into pesto, by blanching it, then blending it with lemon rinds and almonds and olive oil. I find it much more palatable in really small pieces and will eat a lot of it this way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Red cabbage is magic. It's a perfect food to add when you want to add substance to a dish but don't want to overpower other flavours. It's cheap as too.

    My current go-to for a quick, light meal is chopped red cabbage, grated carrot, toasted sunflower seeds and fried haloumi with a bit of balsamic vinegar and a light oil (I use rice bran.) Takes about ten minutes, including time to fry the haloumi.

    Another use is in "burritos" a la Alessi. Chop up the red cabbage, lay it out in a line on a pair of tortillas, spoon over some chilli beans (canned stuff works fine, especially the Delmaine black beans in chilli, but you can also fry/refry the beans from scratch) , throw on some grated cheese, roll the tortilla up like a kebab (tucking closed one end) and grill for about fifteen minutes at 180 degrees. Throw on some guacamole and salsa or chipotle, and you're good.

    You can also replace the cabbage with scrambled eggs in the burritos if you prefer a breakfast-y treat.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Gareth,

    Pineapple banned.

    OOh nooo. I make ham cheese and pineapple pizzas especially for one friend while the rest of us are going for smelly cheeses and wotnot. Even the smirkers look longingly at the HCPP...

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Make your own limoncello

    I need a thing to use my excess lemons for. I will do this!

    (ps oh my lord, I love my lemon tree so much)

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    My favourite kitchen hack is to use our open fire as a winter barbecue. Let the coals burn down and then you have a great source of heat for grilling. And there are no lingering odours because they simply go up the chimney.

    I often a cook butterflied leg of lamb with Moroccan-style rub to perfection, and find that I bbq over coals more in winter than I do in summer.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth, in reply to Nora Leggs,

    The neighbour's kids sneak the dread fruit in, and make a great play of hiding it from me - until it goes into the oven. At which point much shock horror and giggles.

    Dessert is often baked fruit ( got to use up all that heat), and pineapple just beginning to char is delicious.

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

  • Will de Cleene,

    Iceberg Lettuce Hack. Not exactly seasonal, but it has impressed a few people.
    An easy way to deconstruct an iceberg lettuce is to knock the base stem on a hard surface, then twist the stem out. You're left with nothing but lettuce leaves.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Master kitchen hack: teach your children to cook. In time it'll halve their student loan.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    1. This one is primarily for Emma, who has lemons which are inconveniently located. If you just need lemon juice (for vinaigrettes etc) may I recommend juicing a huge number of lemons, and freezing the juice in icecube trays. Wonderful hack. Also works for egg yolks/egg whites, if you're a baker.
    2. I also crumb bread ahead of time, and freeze in plastic bags. I'm a great lover of stuffing me.
    3. Scrambled eggs. Never use milk. Never whisk. Just turn as you cook, plenty of butter, plenty of black pepper.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman,

    Fresh pineapple chunks with grated chocolate

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Master kitchen hack: teach your children to cook. In time it'll halve their student loan

    Snap. My angel [preen and fluffing of mother hen feathers] is a champion cheesecake-maker. His brother -- who has requested good blue cheese from Canterbury Cheesemongers (go there; they really need customers since the earthquakes) for Christmas since he was knee-high -- does beautiful bread.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Justine Sanderson,

    Fave kitchen hack: how to easily make your own yoghurt.

    Buy your favorite, most expensive plain yoghurt (you might as well splurge: it's the last time you're going to have to pay for it). Eat all but the last 3 tablespoons. Keep in container, or - as I do - transfer to old-school tall Agee jar with fitting lid. Fill container with UHT milk (this is the key hack - saves the hassle of heating and cooling fresh milk to the right temperatures). Put container in chilly bin. Pour jug-full of boiling water into chilly bin. Leave overnight (no need to worry about keeping at even temperature). Voila. Eat yoghurt of the same taste and consistency as the one you originally bought. Rinse & repeat (If yoghurt is a bit too runny, try leaving in chilly bin a bit longer or adding 2 tablespoons of powdered milk when adding the UHT milk).

    This hack is an endless source of joy and wonderment for me: it's like having a bottom-less cup of coffee….

    Manly • Since Jun 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    6 minute Steam Pudding:

    100gms Butter
    1/2 Cup Sugar
    2 Eggs
    1/2 Cup flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 Tablespoons milk

    Cream eggs and sugar.
    Add eggs one at a time.
    Add flour bp and lastly milk.

    Put some raisins (or peaches or apricots) in a glass casserole dish, pour maple syrup or golden syrup in the bottom. Pour the mix on top.
    Cook on high for 6 minutes. If you have a 1200watter then it might be 5min.

    Stolen from Microwave Magic, No 12, 1984

    Fast and has always been a family favourite!!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    My favourite kitchen hack is to use our open fire as a winter barbecue.

    YES! The woodburner for roasting potatoes!. Herbs and a bit of butter on the spud, wrapped in foil and put on a thin layer of embers as the woodstove is slowing down. 15 to 20 minutes. That lovely fractionally "carboned" smell and taste.

    Of course, can't waste those embers....finish with roasted marshmellows!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Woodburner cuisine: I have only cooked on top of the burner so this is an interesting advance.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Leftover potatoes – boiled, roast, baked, whatever

    I rarely leave leftover spuds in the frdge else my beloved commits vile acts passed down from his Scots grandmother: split scones and potatoes fried in butter for breakfast with any under-employed bacon he can find. Gross; I have never been tempted to try it.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong,

    I couldn't forgive myself if I let this opportunity go past.

    The world should know about Peanut Slop.

    It started life as the ultimate vegetarian bachelor meal twenty-two years ago but has since attained legendary status among friends and selected family. It's basically a hybrid chili/satay thing, and, as the name suggests its strength is not its appearance. However, it is 10-minute easy, everyone has the ingredients, and it is really very nice. Indeed, my wife, who is a foodie, can tolerate it approximately monthly.There are two versions:

    The Original

    Saute half a chopped onion, two or three cloves of chopped garlic and as much chopped fresh chilli as you like (2 whole chillis is about right for most people). When the onion is soft, squeeze in the juice of one lemon and a little slosh of soy sauce. Then the fun bit. Empty in a tin of baked beans and mash them. Follow this with a tin of chopped tomatoes, stir, and then add a dollop of peanut butter. When this has melted through, you're done. Serve on rice with a spoon of sour cream. In 1991, this recipe would provide enough slop to allow me to eat myself to sleep, but in mature adulthood it serves two and a bit comfortably.

    The Gourmet.

    As above, except include two finely-sliced kaffir lime leaves at the saute stage. If you really want to impress that special someone, you can use chili beans instead of baked beans, but you run the risk of being seen as someone prone to affectation.

    (Also, like Emma's frozen ginger, I freeze our home-grown chilis and grate them frozen too. Means you can use a half without wasting the rest, and also allows you to really release the demon from the seeds. Honestly, why would anyone throw out the best bit?)

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    MAKE YOUR DOUGH IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR!

    I thought hacks were supposed to save dishes?

    My counter-pizza hack: prepare a normal pizza-dough or bread recipe (in a bowl, Samuel, in a bowl), but don't worry about letting it rise fully. Twenty minutes or so is enough to give your base the body it needs. Pizza is supposed to be flat, isn't it?

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to John Armstrong,

    Pizza is supposed to be flat, isn't it?

    Thin, yes, but still nicely leavened. That's the only way it's going to cook properly.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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