My 5 techniques that every home cook needs to learn which will help you improve and enjoy your cooking
- Almost any good chef will tell you that a good quality knife is the single most important tool in the kitchen. There’s no reason to buy a lot of knives just be sure to stock up on 3 top quality ones. A chef’s knife for chopping, slicing and dicing. A paring knife for peeling garlic, shallots and trimming French beans etc. A flexible filleting knife for filleting fish, carving meat, slicing avocados or tomatoes etc.
Wash knives in hot soapy water but never in the dishwasher which could ruin the blade and the handle, especially if the handle is wooden.
- Searing or browning the meat to give foods a well- browned colour and rich flavour. Pat the meat dry with paper kitchen towels before searing. Also avoid overcrowding the pan, which reduces the temperature of the pan and creates steam both of which will prevent the meat from colouring properly.
- Folding is used in soufflés, cake batters or any recipe that calls for combining two ingredients of different densities. Usually whipped egg whites or whipped cream is incorporated into heavier batter or mousse to lighten the batter or mousse. In the case of egg whites the air that has been incorporated into the whipped whites acts as levering to help cakes or soufflés rise.
- Making a sauce. One of my all- time favourite techniques in making a sauce in a pan will take just a few minutes. This method utilizes the brown bits on the bottom of the pan that appear after you’ve used the searing or browning technique with anything from meat to fish.
Start by sautéing some diced shallots and a clove of garlic or other aromatics for added flavour in the juices left over from browning then add liquid to the hot pan and bring to a simmer, you can use wine, stock or good quality wine vinegar. Pass through a sieve and set aside until ready to use. To finish the sauce you can always whisk in cold butter, cream or passata (tomato juice sieved) season with salt and pepper.
- To make a roux. Begin by heating the fat in a heavy saucepan. Butter is used most often but roux can also be made with vegetable oil, lard or duck fat. Once the fat has melted add an equal amount of flour and stir until smooth, cook the roux over a medium – low heat stirring constantly until it has slightly changed colour. Then add either milk or stock, slightly warmed, this will help to prevent lumps forming. A roux can be used for many dishes eg cheese sauce, Cajun gumbo, it can enrich cream based soups and sauces.
I hope these tips and techniques will help you in the kitchen