Useful Bits and Bobs

Useful Bits and Bobs


This page has lots of cooking related info on it. You may only dip into this page now and again, but hopefully it will give the answers you are looking for. If there are other pieces of info you think should be included, just leave me a message in the box at the bottom of the page.

 

Whole Spices to Ground Spices

How many times have you come across a recipe that asks for a whole spice such as cumin seeds, and all you have in your cupboard is the ground version.
How much do you need? The general rule of thumb is use half the amount of ground spice to whole spice. So 2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds becomes 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Do be aware though that whole spices which have been crushed, can colour a dish differently to pre ground ones. Just go canny when you are adding them. You can always add more, but taking some out is not as easy.
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Fan/No Fan Oven Temperatures

Even though most ovens these days are fan assisted, some are not.Recipes can vary as to whether or not they give both fan assist and no fan temperatures. Invariably the one you want is not listed. There is a really easy way to work out what temperature you need. If the recipe asks for 180’C fan assisted oven, if you do not have a fan assist oven just increase the temperature by 20’C to 200’C. Conversely reduce the temperature by 20’C if the recipe states for a non fan assist oven.

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Cooked Chicken to Raw Weight

Making Chicken Stock

If you have roasted a whole chicken, you can very easily make chicken stock from the skin and bones. Strip the meat away from the bones. They only way to do this effectively is with your hands. Put the meat into one dish, and the skin, bones and cartilage into a large pan. Boli the kettle and put about a pint of water into the pan. Bring the pan to the boil and using a large spoon push the bones and skin down in the pan. Add another pint of water, bring to the boil then simmer for 2 hours. Check the water level fromt time to time, add more if required.

Oncce the simmering time is up sit a collander or sieve onto a large bowl and pour in the contents of the pan. The bones and skin can now be thrown out. Allow the liquid to become cold. When it is cold you will see a layer of fat that is now sitting on top of the stock. Scoop this off with a spoon and discard. You are now left with the stock.

If you want to add more flavour to the stock, add a carrot, halved onion, a stick of celery and 5 or 6 whole black peppercorns to the pan.          Back to Top

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is freely available in cans, but there is an alternative way to buy coconut milk. This is in the shape of creamed coconut. It comes in a 200g pack of solid creamed coconut. I buy KTC Pure Creamed Coconut costing 80p. There are instructions on the packet telling you how much of the creamed coconut you need so get your required amount of coconut milk in ml. All you need to do is weigh out the amount of creamed coconut you need, add hot water and stir until dissolved. If you were to use the whole packet, you add 600ml of hot water. You then have 600ml coconut milk for 80p. A 400ml can of coconut milk costs from £1-£1.60. If your recipe requires 200ml of coconut milk, you just work out how much water you need. In this case it would be 200g divided by 3, about 67g. On Amazon you can bulk buy to save even more, KTC Creamed Coconut.

There is however a catch. Inside the box, the creamed coconut comes in a vacuum packed bag. Trying to get into the bag is a challenge. It is so tightly wrapped around the coconut it is very difficult to find somewhere for your scissors to cut the plastic. Once you have battled your way in, the contents do not disappoint!
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Sausages

Try to but the best quality sausages you can. Packets tell you the percentage of meat in the sausages, the higher the better. Don’t be fooled by packaging saying “Butcher’s Style Sausages’. I have just done a quick online check and found that Sainsbury’s ‘Butcher’s Choice Sausages’ to have 72% pork compared to their ‘Ultimate Pork Sausages’ which have 97% pork. The price difference is marked. The Butcher’s Choice are £1.50 for 454g apposed to £2.50 for 400g of the Ultimate range sausages, so it is easy to see why people opt for the cheaper range. If you need two packets, but are not able to buy two packets of the higher % ones, think about buying one of each and mixing the sausages together.
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How Much Juice in a Lemon?

How to Get More Juice from a Lemon

There is a really simple way to get more juice from your lemon. Before I found this trick I could not imagine how to get more juice, but it works! Before you cut your lemon put it on your counter surface, then place the palm of your hand on the lemon and roll it back and forwards. Use a fair bit of pressure, don’t be shy. After you have rolled it back and forth a few times, cut your lemon and enjoy the extra juice.

 

How to Thicken a Sauce

If you find your sauce too thin there is an easy way to thicken it. All you need is some cornflour (also known as sauce flour) and water. Combine about a heaped teaspoon of cornflour and mix it with enough water to make a thinish paste. Add a couple of tablespoons of your hot sauce and mix. Now pour it all back into your sauce mix well. If you find it still not thick enough just mix a little more cornflour. Conversly, if it is too thick you can add a little water.