Cooking - Hints
The following is based on a handy hint on the Pampas Pastry website which has some great recipes (Australian based) and good information.
If adding an uncooked moist filling to a pastry case, it is often necessary to blind bake the pastry first. This seals the pastry and allows it to remain crisp.
1. Line quiche/pie dish with pastry.
2. Prick it with a knife a few times.
3. Place grease-proof paper over pastry and weigh down with uncooked rice, beans or pasta. This will prevent the pastry bubbling.
4. Bake at 180° C (160° C fan forced) for approximately 10 minutes, remove paper and rice and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.
Allow to cool before filling.
"darken" the taste of a casserole, cautiously add a little instant coffee.
Eggs - Hard Boiled:
Leftover casserole can be used as a pie filling for a kind of Shepherd's Pie - with shortcrust pastry as the casing, and mashed potato on top.
If at room temperature, place into boiling salted water and gently boil (simmer) for 15-20 minutes.
If from the fridge, place into cold salted water, bring to boil and then gently boil (simmer) for 15-20 minutes.
When done, put straight into another dish of cold water (to bring the temperature right down).
The salted water helps to keep the egg together if there is a crack.
The cold water plunge bath afterwards helps to stop the yolk from getting a grey ring around it.
Easily available in the supermarket, it is actually the lacy covering that surrounds the seed of the nutmeg. Lighter and more delicate in taste, it can be used in place of nutmeg in desserts (or egg flips!). However, it can also be a special, pleasing and simple addition to meats - especially in a marinade.
Put simply - soaking. To be scientific, when used with meats it breaks down the cut at a cellular level which - in practice - makes the meat more tender. When this happens, the flavours that you have put into the "marinade" are able to permeate throughout the meat and give it a deeper flavour.
A simple marinade is:
- Red Wine (see the note on "Wine" below)
- Garlic (1x clove or 1x teaspoon crushed)
- Bay leaf
- 2x splashes of Worcestershire sauce (preferably "Lea and Perrins")
- 2x splashes of Soy Sauce (preferably the type called "Tamari")
Soak the meat in the marinade for at least 4 hours (in the 'fridge).
When ready to cook, drain off into a little jug and use later for a sauce/gravy.
If using parsley for garnish, chop it up and put it in a bowl of water, and then into the 'fridge. This helps keep its colour and freshness.
Use an oven bag - they are less messy, and keep the meat nice and moist. Remember to put flour in beforehand, and use oven gloves
when handling it when taking out of the bag (it is very, very hot and will burn your fingers!). Prick the bag and drain into
jug, then add some appropriate powdered gravy mix (Gravox, Greens or whatever) and you have a lovely sauce that compliments the
If you don't have Tomato paste use Tomato Sauce instead (but be careful of the higher sweetness of the added sugar)
To keep vegies fresh for a little longer, save your money by keeping them in the supermarket bags in the 'fridge. If they
are sad looking,
spill a little water into the plastic bag, give a shake, and pop them back into the 'fridge for about 15-20 minutes..
With common sense, use wine instead of water. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use a wine that you would drink.
"Cooking" wine (the cheap, horrible stuff that you wouldn't put in a glass) is only suitable for putting down ... the sink!
As a rule of thumb, when cooking use the old standard - "white for white meats, Red for red meats". This can be varied when
you get used to using it.