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Tips and tricks - main meals
Sat 26-Sep-09
9:38 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Do you have simple methods that you found work well for you? Any tips for roasting, braising stewing etc. – relating to cooking dinner or supper.

I will kick off with two of mine. They are not original but I use them all the time.

Make a foil nest in your roasting tin for your joints when roasting

This keeps the juices concentrated around the base of the joint and helps to prevent them from burning off like they could do if you simply plonk your joint in a roasting tin. It means you have more juices for making a gravy or sauce.

For roast beef, pork and lamb I use on open nest, with the sides tucked in fairly snugly to the meat. For roast chicken I close the nest completely. It does not have to be a tight seal, just covered over. After an hour I open the nest, slit open the thigh joints, and roast for a further 30 mins or so with an open nest. Timings depend on the size of the chicken and temperature of oven.

We always have two sizes of foil: standard and turkey size. The bigger one is perfect for my chicken method. I often line the base of the foil nest with another layer because sometimes a hole can appear in the base and the juices escape into the roasting tin. Maddening. Yell

Use carrot water in your gravy

Luckily I love vegetables and we almost always have carrots with a roast, as well as another veg. I make the gravy after cooking the veg and add half a mug of the water that the carrots were cooked in to the meat juices in a saucepan. Very often I do not have to add flour, just a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and let it reduce for 15 minutes or so at a high boil.

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 26-Sep-09
8:19 pm
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SOL
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Change your foil and roasting tin to a self basting enamel pan.  Saves money and the planet.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Falcon-Large-Roasting-Roas.....grid_i_1_1

I bought it in TK maxx, it cost me about £7.  I also have a little round one for smaller joints. ~ that came from the betterware catalogue stuffed through our door

for a chicken to always keep it moist, I chop a carrot and lay the chicken on top of the carrots.  then I add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pan.  I use this for the gravy.  Or if having chicken salad I freeze it to use in soup.  You can also throw in sage leave to the water.  it makes it delicious.  My mum says a (Ashkenazi Jewish) Ukranian lady showed my Gran this years ago just after ww2 and that is how we all cook it in my family now.

This doesnt work so well when stuffing a chicken,but we like stuffing crunchy in this house.

Another cheat here, is if we havent any meat in the house but fancy a roast dinner, make up a packet of stuffing.  You wont miss the meat.

Sun 27-Sep-09
11:25 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I try not to use foil as well as I understand that might contribute to Alzheimers. I use a glass bowl to roast my food if I want to retain juices and I always use the veg juice for gravy too, wouldn't want to throw away all those vitamins now would you?

Sun 27-Sep-09
5:27 pm
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David B

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JoannaS said:I try not to use foil as well as I understand that might contribute to Alzheimers. I use a glass bowl to roast my food if I want to retain juices and I always use the veg juice for gravy too, wouldn't want to throw away all those vitamins now would you?


I use veg water in gravy, too, with a couple of exceptions, based on something I've read somewhere, though I don't know quite how seriously to take it.

I've gathered that spinach, and plants like sea beet and sorrel, are high in oxalic acid, and the water those are cooked in is better poured away, because too much oxalic acid is not good for you, particularly if you are prone to getting kidney stones.

It doesn't stop me eating sea beet, which I prefer to spinach, of from browsing the leaves of wood sorrel when walking, though I don't eat a lot of it.

As I say, I don't really know how seriously to take this, and I'd welcome advice from someone really well informed.

David

Sun 27-Sep-09
7:14 pm
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Jet_fusion
Suffolk

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Tue 22-Sep-09
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We went to the Aldeburgh Food and Drink fest today and saw Thomasina Miers doing a cooking demonstration. She had a great tip for getting all the tomato pulp for sauces etc with no skin:

Slice your tomato in half and grate it on the coarse side of a grater. The pulp gets 'sorted' through while the skin stays in your hand! We saw it in action and it works a treat!

Sun 27-Sep-09
7:57 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Just been reading around the oxalic acid and spinach and although it is high compared to other foods you would have to eat about 10 lbs of it to kill you. I guess if you are prone to kidney stones or it is prevalent in your family (hereditary disease) then avoid it as the oxalic acid combines with calcium to form the stone crystals but usually the body deals with the oxalic acid without problems.

I don't tend to use the water from the dark leaved vegetables because a) I usually steam them and b) they do tend to taste rather cabbagey which doesn't always make a nice gravy.

It wouldn't stop me eating the green leafy stuff either, and come early winter and early spring time that maybe all that is in my garden.

Sun 27-Sep-09
8:50 pm
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SOL
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"I've gathered that spinach, and plants like sea beet and sorrel, are high in oxalic acid, and the water those are cooked in is better poured away, because too much oxalic acid is not good for you, particularly if you are prone to getting kidney stones."

Thanks for this tip David, I have to be vey careful with my diet as I have had kidney stone 3 years ago.  Painful, I cant describe it.  Oral morphine was my friend for about 4 months. 

Wed 30-Sep-09
7:30 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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This is "cheat" that I use quite a lot, thanks to the vast store of information available on the Internet.

Mix and match from other peoples' recipes

Sometime I pick up a bargain discounted item of food after 6 pm in the supermarkets. When thinking about how to cook it, I search for recipes and pick some elements from them.

For example:

 - what seasonal ingredients work with it, and which of those match what is available in the garden or larder

- what other ingredients are mentioned, that we have in stock

- timings: am I constrained by requiring a quick meal or do I have time for a gorgeous slow-bake method?

Last night it was a pair of "organic free-range" chicken breasts for a song. The result was superb. Maybe I got lucky, but I will ask Fiona to let me post it on her blog: it was that good.

Never knowingly underfed

Thu 1-Oct-09
11:10 am
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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Danny said:

Last night it was a pair of "organic free-range" chicken breasts for a song. The result was superb. Maybe I got lucky, but I will ask Fiona to let me post it on her blog: it was that good.


Looking forward to reading about that!

I'll try that again!

Sun 18-Oct-09
8:11 pm
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Michelle from Oregon
Oregon, USA

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Tue 22-Sep-09
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Hi Everyone,

I wasn't sure which part of the forum to put this on, and this thread looked like the closest so here we go....

Anchovie Essence

Many of Fionia's recipes call for it and I can't find any, so I popped online and found this recipe-

http://www.recipehound.com/Recipes/Recipes2/6462.html

Since I have never tasted anchovie essence, I have no frame of reference if this recipe is even close. If someone would be so kind to look at it and let me know their opinion I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks! 

If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!

Fri 23-Oct-09
6:34 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Just remembered one incredibly easy dish which everyone I have ever given it to have loved and that is leeks in cream cheese sauce.

Steam leeks lightly
Add tub of cream cheese (can be the lighter variety and flavoured if you want)

Done!

Sat 24-Oct-09
7:21 pm
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fn
Newmarket
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Hi Everyone,

I wasn't sure which part of the forum to put this on, and this thread looked like the closest so here we go….

Anchovie Essence

Many of Fionia's recipes call for it and I can't find any, so I popped online and found this recipe-

http://www.recipehound.com/Recipes/Recipes2/6462.html

Since I have never tasted anchovie essence, I have no frame of reference if this recipe is even close. If someone would be so kind to look at it and let me know their opinion I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks! 

Hi Michelle
I feel such a twit when I found the bottle to look at the ingredients I realised that iot's called anchovy sauce Embarassed
Have to change all the entries in the blog - arrrrgh!
There's an old Mrs Beeton's recipe here which is more the thing. You can also buy it - wherever you are in the world - from these guys.
It's amazing and can pull round virtually every meal - I use at least a bottle a month!
Tue 27-Oct-09
3:07 am
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Michelle from Oregon
Oregon, USA

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Thanks for the clarification Fiona!

So, if i'm placing a order from these fine folks, what else do you recomend?

I can't go overboard, but as along as i'm placing an order.......?

If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!

Sun 1-Nov-09
9:14 am
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fn
Newmarket
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Hi Michelle

Sorry to take so long in getting back to you but I waited until I had enough time to comb the entire site. Also I don't know what is available in America so apologies if I'm suggesting things already for sale over there.

Tip top list that I use all the time:

Mushroom ketchup (a tablespoon in a stew or casserole gives deep notes)

Anchovy sauce - get at least 2 bottles (A little of this can transform a dish)

Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce (you use just a few drops of this so a bottle lasts for ages)

Marmite (for Anna's onion gravy)

Marigold - Swiss vegetable bouillon (this makes a good warming drink too)

Scwartz garlic granules (get the catering size) - I use this a lot for dishes that taste a bit flat

Maldon salt crystals (lovely soft tasting salt)

These teas are good too:

Twinnings Pure Assam tea (I live on this)

Twinnings Earl Grey (English afternoon tea for ladies - often served with a slice of lemon rather than milk)

Sat 9-Jan-10
2:53 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Basic stock

Tamar has posted a great article on her blog Starving Off The Land about her habit of keeping bones in the fridge until she has enough to make a simple stock.

"Stock-making isn’t so much a chore as a habit. The chicken bones go in the freezer in the same way the apple cores go in the compost; it becomes automatic. Boil ‘em up when you have enough. Making stock isn’t any harder than making compost, and there’s no heavy lifting."

Well worth a read, and she is such an amusing writer as well Star

Never knowingly underfed

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