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The best tips from the kitchen

These are the tips that every cook should know… very easy and so handy!

    Perfect poached eggs...
Never mastered it? It might not be your technique (check… water simmering, added vinegar, swirled the water). Only the freshest eggs are good poachers.
    Best herby combos
  • With beef, use strong aromatic herbs like bay, oregano and rosemary.
  • For lamb, use fresh, zingy mint to give a lift, or oregano and parsley.
  • Pork loves Asian flavours like coriander.
  • For chicken, try more delicate herbs like lemon thyme and parsley. Use rosemary in moderation.
For fool proof crispy-skinned roast chicken…
Drizzle your chicken with olive oil, squeeze over the juice of one lemon and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 200°C for about 1 hr 15 mins – and hey presto! Just throw in a glass of wine while it’s cooking to get delicious gravy.
    Make chocolate curls…
Smear a layer of melted chocolate onto the back of a baking tray. Chill, then slowly drag a Y-shaped potato peeler across – brilliant!
    Calming down curry…
Just add cream, yoghurt or coconut milk to make curry less hot without sacrificing the flavour.

Hosting a dinner party
Some people make entertaining look so easy. Ever wondered how? In-control hostesses make food ahead and whip out perfect meals with no stress. Try these low-maintenance menus.

  • Go retro… Make prawn cocktails ahead in glass tumblers. Follow up with a creamy chicken bake with breadcrumb top, then fill a tart case with chocolate mousse mix and chill for dessert
  • Classic… Make onion and goat’s cheese tarts in advance. A classic coq au vin with mash goes down a treat for main course, then finish with mini meringues filled with cream and fruit.
  • Exotic… Serve spicy carrot soup made with coconut milk, chilli and coriander. Tagine or curry benefit from reheating and make an ideal main course. Then serve up mango sorbet in brandy baskets with slices of fresh mango, topped with stem ginger syrup. Delish!
  Best meringues…
Old eggs are the best for making meringues, so freeze any leftover whites for when you’re ready for that Pavlova moment.

Got a chocolate mess?
Don’t panic if your melted chocolate has ‘seized’ (turned hard and grainy). It doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch – just adding a little warm milk to the mix will bring back its lovely glossy texture.
    Make crunchy French fries…
Parboil potatoes for five mins and slice into thin chips. Dip in beaten egg white and spritz with oil before baking in a hot oven until crisp and golden.

No more smelly hands…
Ever wondered how chefs cope with all the garlic and chilli they prepare in a day? A lot of professionals wear disposable gloves to stop their hands being tainted. It also works for preparing meat and fish hygienically as well as for preparing vegetables that stain like beetroot.

The perfect mash…
We love a gadget and swear by a potato ricer ( for lump-free mash. If you don’t have one, just make sure the potato is as dry as possible before mashing

The healthiest mash…
If you’d like a lighter mash, fat-free milk with parsnips, celeriac or sweet potato.

Cleaning a griddle pan…
Don’t wash with liquid and hot water – just wipe it clean with  a paper towel while it’s still warm.