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Reproduced with the kind permission of Robert's Recipes . Please visit his site for excellent British recipes.

  1. A collection of tips to help you with your baking and cooking. More tips will be added on a regular basis - please contact me if you have any tips you wish to share!
  2. To keep celery fresh and crisp, place it in a large vase or jug with enough water to just cover the base. Keep it on the kitchen countertop. The celery will continue to grow and often sprouts new leaves that are great as a garnish or flavouring. Change the water daily.
  3. To make your own self-raising flour (as called for in most British recipes), add 1½ tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to each cup of cake and pastry flour that you need for the recipe. Sifttogether and then mix using a wire whisk.
  4. When measuring out flour in a measuring cup, always scoop the flour straight from the bag or jar using the cup to get an accurate measurement and use a flat knife to skim the surface level. If you pour the flour into the cup you will get far less flour than the recipe calls for.
  5. Most blenders will accept a standard Mason jar instead of the glass blender jug: this makes it easy to blend small quantities and use the jar for storage.
  6. To make your own cake and pastry flour, sift together 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch for every cup of flour you require.
  7. When using aluminum foil for covering food during cooking (i.e. baking potatoes in foil), use a layer of parchment paper between the food and the foil. This prevents any undesirable chemical reaction between the foil and the food.
  8. To prevent hard water from leaving a scale on your saucepan when boiling eggs, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water. To prevent the eggs from cracking, always start cooking in enough cold water to cover the eggs and bring them gently to a boil. Some cooks believe that adding a little salt to the water will prevent cracking, too.
  9. Microwave ovens tend to thaw meats out unevenly, and often start cooking the meat in places. A better method is to place the meat, sealed in plastic, in the sink in enough cold water to cover. Change the water after half an hour if necessary. Most meats will thaw within an hour.
  10. When cooking chopped onions in oil, add a little salt while cooking to prevent them from browning and caramelizing.
  11. Parchment paper or silicon baking mats (Sil-Pats) are indispensible when baking bread rolls, 
  12. Parchment paper or silicon baking mats (Sil-Pats) are indispensible when baking bread rolls, cookies, and so on. Much better than greasing the baking tray, and the added thickness of a silicon mat helps prevent cookies from being overcooked on the bottom.
  13. When making pastry you will get far better results if the butter or shortening and the water are cold. Avoid over-kneading and refrigerate, covered for about 30 minutes before using.
  14. When baking cakes you will get far better results if the eggs and butter are at room temperature.
  15. If a recipe only calls for half an onion, use the top half. Store the bottom half in a plastic bag in the fridge - it will keep better because of the root structure.
  16. Always allow any type of roasted meat to rest for at least 15 - 20 minutes before cutting up and serving. This allows the meat to relax and absorb liquid into any muscle cells, making the meat more tender. The additional time allows the temperature of the meat to even out throughout the roast - the temperature at the centre will actually rise by as much as ten degrees while resting.
  17. A coffee grinder is excellent for grinding whole spices. Be sure to keep it only for this purpose.
  18. To store fresh herbs: trim the base of the stems and stand in a little cold water. If you are keeping them in the fridge, cover loosely with a light plastic bag. Basil should never be stored in the fridge as it is too sensitive to the cold.
  19. Don't throw away left-over wine! Freeze it in sandwich bags for use in cooking at a later date.
  20. When making a fruit cake with dried raisins or sultanas, dust the dried fruit with a little flour before adding to the cake batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking. The same can be done with nuts, but heat them for about 12 minutes in a moderate oven before flouring so that the released natural oils make the flour adhere to the nuts.
  21. When peeling and cutting up apples, toss them with a mixture of 1/4 cup cold water and a teaspoon of lemon juice - this will prevent them from going brown. This also works with peeled potatoes if you are not going to cook them right away.
  22. Never substitute 'light' or 'diet' margarine for butter or margarine in any baking recipe. Its composition of up to 50% water plus emulsifiers and thickeners will lead to disastrous results. Its only culinary use is in frosting recipes to make a lower cal cake icing.
  23. To grease and flour a baking pan when making chocolate cake, use cocoa powder or a 50-50 blend of cocoa and flour to dust the pan. This will prevent the finished cake from having a white dusty look.
  24. When making hard-boiled eggs, plunge them into very cold water immediately after cooking to prevent the edges of the yolk from discolouring.