Recipes by Di Swann
Open cans of Wattie’s asparagus spears at the bottom of the can and turn out into a sieve to drain. This way you won’t break the delicate tips.
If storing half an avocado, always replace the avocado stone in it, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to prevent browning. Store guacamole with the stone in it too.
To store bacon once the packaging is opened, remove from the packet, cover with paper towels and store in an airtight container. The bacon will keep until the use by date specified on the packaging.
When using bacon to wrap around the outside of a loaf or piece of meat stretch the rashers out using the back of a heavy knife. Streaky bacon will stretch quite significantly making it easier to handle and producing a better looking dish.
When Blind Baking, if you don’t have ‘baking beans’ try using uncooked rice or dried beans. Keep them in a separate sealed container for repeated use.
This is a great way to cook fish so that all the juices are retained inside the parcel. Use cooking or baking paper for this – not greaseproof!
This is a method used to ensure that pastry bases are cooked through properly. The pastry is lined with baking paper and then filled with either dried beans, rice or special metal ‘blind baking beans’. The blind bake material heats and helps the pastry cook through. Bake for 15 min at 200 C, then remove the beans and the paper. Return the base to the oven for a further two minutes. The beans can be cooled and stored for use again and again.
If you have left-over stale bread, crumb it up by rubbing it, or grating it and freeze it in bags.
To make a quick bread-crumb topping for casseroles, mornays or pies, rub 50g of butter into 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated cheese, sprinkle over and bake.
If you burn the bottom of a saucepan, pour in cold water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Leave to soak overnight. The pot will come clean easily with steel wool.
Use caster sugar for a finer texture – and particularly when baking meringues as it dissolves during beating, giving you a smooth, glossy meringue.Add a couple of vanilla pods to your jar of caster sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar.
When cooking with celery add the leaves just before serving so that they impart a fresh clean spring flavour to your dish. Add celery leaves to soup, toss with bacon through pasta, or add to a coleslaw or green salad.
Hard cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan have a high fat content and melt quickly when heated – making them ideal for adding to sauces. Semi-hard cheeses such as edam, gouda, colby or gruyere do not melt so readily and are best for toppings.
Grated cheese can be kept in the freezer and used in cooking without needing to be defrosted.
Always defrost chicken and turkey in the fridge – you must allow sufficient time for this. A chicken will take 1-2 days and a turkey, 3 days.
To cook couscous, place equal quantities of instant couscous and boiling water or stock in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes until the couscous has absorbed all the moisture. Fluff up with a fork and season with salt and pepper. You can also add a knob of butter or a dash of olive oil as well as spices, herbs, nuts and fruit.