Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooking Shortcut Tips

In my previous post, I mentioned a cooking class I went to last week with High Hopes in High Heels. The cooking instructor was wonderful. She provided some great tips for us on products to use and cooking methods that would make cooking easier and faster.

1. Garlic paste. It comes in a tube and can be found in the produce section. This is much easier than peeling and mincing garlic, but tastes much better than the pre-chopped garlic that is jarred in olive oil. And on this note, why not try out those herb blends found in a tube. No worries about fresh herbs going bad or not using the whole bunch.

2. Dry vermouth instead of white wine. Often recipes call for dry white wine. Our instructor recommended buying a bottle of dry vermouth as it can be stored at room temperature and has a much longer shelf life once the bottle is opened.

3. Better than Bouillon. Instead of buying boxes and cans of broth that also don't last long once opened, our instructor suggested this Better than Bouillon product, which is a concentrated base that is more flavorful than broth.

4. Tubed tomato paste. This one I had already discovered, but look for tube of tomato paste, usually found in the spaghetti sauce, canned tomato aisle. It looks like a tube of toothpaste and will last forever in your fridge. No more opened cans of unused tomato paste in your fridge again.

5. Cooking rice. For a small number of guests (4-6) treat rice like pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 1 to 1 and half cups rice. Cook 10-12 minutes, until tender, then drain in a colander or fine mesh strainer. For large groups, try the method of taking equal amounts of rice and water. For 10 people, use 3 cups of Uncle Ben's Original Converted Rice - NOT INSTANT! and 6 cups of water. Combine in a baking pan. Cover tightly with double layer of aluminum foil. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes. Check to make sure all water is absorbed. Rice will be tender, fluffy, and separate.

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