8 Simple Common Sense Cooking Tips

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Do you get lumps in your white sauce? When making white sauce (béchamel) or any sauce that requires slow cooking to thicken use an egg whisk, you can increase the temperature (not too much though) to speed the process up, and you won’t get any limps in it.


Turn your open barbeque into a gourmet oven. Want to try a new recipe that requires a hood on the barbeque which you may not have. Try using a wok lid or any domed lid. This works very well indeed. Great for roasted meats when camping out.


Never buy frozen pastry again. Use a food processor instead of the usual hand method. Use slightly less liquid than may be asked for in the recipe. Just run the processor until all the pastry forms into a ball. If it won’t form into a ball you may need just a touch more liquid. The liquid depends on what recipe you use for your pastry.

Scones, cooking tips

Do your scones look more like rock cakes? Make your scones in a food processor. Many people just can’t make scones no matter what. Usually the problem is too much handling. Using the processor eliminates this problem. Also try and make your scones as though people or the family are sitting at the table waiting. In other words, the less time you take means less handling. The mixture should be quite moist not dry after you add the milk.

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Turn onto a well-floured board and top a few times with the tips of your fingers to draw the extra four in. This should only take you about 5-8 seconds. Gently pat into shape and cut into whatever shaped scones you want – round or square -whatever.

Rising Oven

Scones seem to come out best when cooked in what is variously described as a rising oven. Simply, turn your oven on just before you start to mix your scones. When they are put in the oven it still has not quite reached the required temperature. I learned this way of making scones when I was used to crew on a yacht when I was younger and the guys would want morning tea and see if they could cajole me into making some. Hence my reference to having a waiting audience. The oven was only a small benchtop gas oven and I would turn it on to its maximum temperature and then throw the flour butter and milk together. They were most impressed and I was most surprised at the result.

I was not at all sure of my expertise in scone making as my mother could never make scones. Hers were the ones that came out like bullets. I did later convert my mother into making scones in the food processor when she was around 65 and she was amazed that she finally learned to make a scone that was edible. (I might add that scones became a regular morning tea item!).

Magic Ingredient

Are you missing the magic ingredient? Have you ever cooked a curry or casserole and the flavor just needs a little something and you can’t quite work out exactly what is needed. Maybe it seems as though the flavors don’t quite go together. It is a small intangible ingredient that is lacking. Try a very small amount of sugar and you will be surprised how it seems to blend and mellow the flavors into a more harmonious combination. The flavors will cease to fight against each other.

Too much salt

Whoops! Have you ever slipped in too much salt when cooking? Have you ever added just a touch too much salt to a recipe. Try a squeeze of lemon juice.

No Mess

I hate washing roasting pans. Do you like to have roasted potatoes occasionally but hate washing up the pan afterwards? Here is a simple easy method and it uses less fat. Cut each potato with the skin on, in half so that you have the largest cut area. Add a little margarine and spread it on the cut side of the potato. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper if you want. Place the buttered potatoes buttered side down on a sheet of aluminum foil wrap. Fold the foil and seal. Add to a preheated hot oven 200 degrees centigrade and cook for approximately half an hour. When cooked unwrap and gently peel the foil off the potatoes and serve. Throw the foil in the garbage and voila – lovely crisp roasted potatoes and no mess.