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Incredible cooking hacks

Zubin Dsouza

Most of the folks that I come across happen to think of me as an incredibly boorish and obnoxious person whom they would rather avoid.

I have that effect on people.

Somewhere, somehow, I have always justified my behaviour by comparing it to those of other chefs who are incredibly boorish and obnoxious themselves. I think that deep inside me, I began to think of this as a requirement to continue in the chef trade.

Almost always in the process of telling me off or trying to deflate the big ego that I carry, they end up telling me that my cooking isn’t good.

Now that is something that I am not going to dispute.

I may not be known for my incredible culinary prowess but for sure I am known for the amazing kitchen hacks that I employ that makes life so much simpler.

My first hacks normally start at breakfast where I am forced to chip out pieces from butter that some overzealous family member kept in the fridge overnight. Heat a glass of water in the microwave and discard the water. Cover the butter with a glass for a couple of minutes and watch it turn deliciously soft without melting all over the place.

I usually opt to have breakfast with those huge farmer’s loaves and really hate when the grains and wonderful bits fall off when I try to slice through. Fortunately enough, turning the bread upside down gives great slices without the messy side-effects.

If you are making a grilled cheese sandwich, slapping mayonnaise on the outside of your bread slices makes your sandwich extra crispy; adding butter may get you a soggier version.

Freezing cheese slices before you use them in a grilled sandwich also gets you the perfect melt.

If you decide to eat porridge for breakfast then adding in a dash of salt brings out the flavour.

Cooking with tomatoes needs a pinch of sugar to balance the acidic taste.

If you are making scrambled eggs, then adding a dash of corn flour will make your scrambled eggs wonderfully creamy.

Boiled eggs can be notoriously hard to peel but throwing in a slice of lemon during the boiling process ensures that the whole drama is simplified.

And speaking about peeling, the two other ingredients that chefs hate to encounter a peeling experience with are onions and garlic. This too is easily remedied. Onions if thrown in a freezer for fifteen minutes before peeling and cutting ensures that your experience does not leave you teary eyed.

Garlic on the other hand needs a bit of heat treatment and fifteen seconds for a bulb in the microwave is enough to make your process super easy.

Ginger which generally tends to be a pain to clean is more easily peeled with a spoon as compared to a knife or a peeler.

Vegetables and fruit tend to spoil faster if not showered with a bit of tender loving care. Keeping an apple in your basket of potatoes will prevent them from sprouting.

Washing fresh strawberries with one part vinegar that has been diluted with three parts of water will help them last longer.

Okra tends to get slimy and sticky when wet. If you wash and dry them before cutting, you avoid the entire mess.

Another culinary pain is trying to measure out sticky ingredients. Spraying the insides of a measuring jar with a bit of oil before pouring in your honey or maple syrup will make the cleaning up after process a whole lot easier.

Sauces can be frozen into little cubes in your ice cube tray and then can be packed into boxes for use whenever. The same method can be used to preserve fresh herbs in olive oil that form an amazing salad dressing. All it needs is a squeeze of lime!

Ice creams are notoriously tough to scoop out when they are straight out of the freezer. What you need to do is to slide the carton in a Ziploc bag before throwing it in the freezer. The ice cream is perfectly scoopable everytime!

My last and favourite hack involves cutting layered cream cake. I love cake but hate the mess. I use dental floss to help me make really neat cuts in the cake. Stretched out across the cake, a little bit of pressure and you have cake sliced the way they show it in the ads!

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