Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

334 Responses

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  • Ben McNicoll, in reply to Alice Ronald,

    Device: a JarKey.

    Or if you don't feel like spending $ on a device, pop on your (dry) rubber dish-washing gloves. Easy-peasy.

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Too low an oil temperature, and/or not draining them, usually.

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to kiwicmc,

    Dutch Cream potatoes and a Potato Ricer for the best mash ever

    Easy mash with an oversized wooden pestle (came with alioli mortar and)

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    When making gravy for a roast, remove most of the fat from the pan and heat whats left to a reasonably high heat on an element. Pour in a glass of wine or stock and reduce it down deglazing as you go. When the pan is crackling ie just about back to the left over fat, proceed to make gravy as you normally do. This greatly improves the flavour.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    When baking bread measure the main ingrediants by weight and use a 5 parts flour to 3 parts water ratio. ie 500gms flour to 300gms water. Add salt, oil, and yeast (between 1 & 3 teaspoons). More salt and oil retard the rise. A longer rise gives a better flavour – try rising overnight in the fridge.

    Substitute 150gms fine semolina and increase the water slightly for a more elastic and airy dough. Use lots of semolina when forming the loaves/buns. It stops things sticking to everything and gives a good outside texture when baked.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    Pizza hack: put a scattering of polenta under the dough before applying toppings. Makes it easy to slide off into oven/onto stone etc.

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

  • Thrash Cardiom, in reply to Gareth,

    I use fine semolina for the same effect.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    Crème brûlée is much more fun at the end of a dinner party if you let everyone use the blowtorch themselves.

    Wine + fire = fun, but burn things responsibly, obv. You might also like to crush up a Lindor chocolate and put it in the bottom of the ramekin as a surprise.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Oh! Pies. Particularly with lamb etc which can be fatty. Put a sprinkling of dry breadcrumbs between the pastry bottom and the filling. Stops the pastry going soggy, and the breadcrumbs basically dissolve in the fat so you can't tell they're there.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    Get a few big mushrooms, 7 - 10cm across. Remove the stalk remainder and spread about a tablespoon of finely chopped garlic and italian parsley over the gills. Drizzle a little quality olive oil over the garlic/parsley. Season and then grill low under a slow grill. The bowl of the mushroom will fill with mushroom juice forming a dark lake when they are ready to eat.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

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

    I think oil is absorbed as it replaces lost moisture in the potato. When cooked from cold, less moisture is lost because the potato doesn't reach a high enough temperature for the moisture to evaporate rapidly.

    In contrast, I suspect less oil is soaked up at very high temperature compared to merely high temperature because the potato cooks much faster, giving the moisture less time to evaporate.

    The moisture that is retained in the potato also poaches the interior, making it nice and fluffy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Like the thought of American styled BBQ pulled beef/pork but can't be arsed sitting by a fire powered BBQ for 12+hours

    Put the meat, covered in your preferred rub , in a slow cooker and apply liquid smoke half way through the process
    This will give you results that are as good as the real thing

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Ben McNicoll,

    Or there's the duct tape trick - wrap the circumference of a jar lid with tape (don't get tape on the jar itself) and leave about 6 inches free on the end, in the direction of the thread. Pull on the free end to open the jar. Works for both plastic & metal lids.

    I tend to buy JarKeys as "just in case" gifts - forgotten birthdays, random thank-yous, secret santa.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Architect's Fish & Chips:

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

  • Samuel Scott,

    I don't know if this has been mentioned yet but the Pizza Hack that has changed my life is this;

    MAKE YOUR DOUGH IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR! It is quick, tidy and it turns out better than hand kneading. The recipe can be found in Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything which has replaced the Edmonds in our house as the ultimate basic cooking reference.

    Nuke a couple of agrias, slice onto your easy-as dough, splosh some olive oil, scatter some rosemary... thats some tasty arse, fancy looking, to fookin easy dinner right there.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    and it turns out better than hand kneading

    Me and your food processor need to have a knead-off. And I don't like your food processor's chances.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Gareth,

    Pizza hack 2: brush the risen pizza base with a smite of olive oil to help stop glugginess.

    Garlic must: Always wash hands with cool or cold water and a little soap after handling garlic. Using hot or warm water opens the pores and skin retains the pong.

    Parmesan: use a potato peeler: produces wide thin shavings that seem to keep the taste better than fine shreds.

    Graters: never buy a conical grater. I did a few weeks ago and everyone in the house has now hideously grated their fingers. It's going.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Me and your food processor need to have a knead-off. And I don’t like your food processor’s chances.

    Turns out better than kneading my hand*

    *unless hand kneading is performed by a human Italian person.

    ...seriously though, it works crazy good. Best pizza dough I have ever made. Also I have done it with Italian 00 flour and NZ brad flour... best is cheap standard flour in this context.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    Ommmm

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    AND I sometimes heat up my cast iron in the over and then cook my pizzas in the preheated iron pans. They turn out a little bit TOO crispy perhaps, like Pizza hut, but it is kinda delicious.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    Nuke a couple of agrias, slice onto your easy-as dough, splosh some olive oil, scatter some rosemary… thats some tasty arse, fancy looking, to fookin easy dinner right there.

    get a thin layer of taleggio down before the potatoes and you'll be ratcheting up your tastebuds too...

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to Hebe,

    Pizza hack 3: cut down on the yeast and leave to rise overnight.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    best is cheap standard flour in this context.

    Yes, I agree. For pizza in Italy we use the 0 kind rather than the 00 for that very reason - although some insist that the finer kind is better. Not for my taste.

    Whilst we're on the subject of cheap is better, valumetric mozzarella 500g (averaging $6 per bag at Pak 'n Save, worth buying whenever on special as it keeps) is by far the best kind of topping cheese, not just in relation to the price but in general. All the other brands I've tried are far too fatty.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Pizza hack 3: cut down on the yeast and leave to rise overnight.

    Or: buy a kilogram of baker's yeast at Moore Wilson's for $4.5.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • 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.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

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