Four simple tips every cook should know
The great thing about cooking is there is always something new to learn. Even if you consider yourself a whizz in the kitchen, there will always be a new recipe to teach yourself, a new technique to try or a better way of doing things you hadn’t considered before.

Here are a few classic kitchen tips that you might not have heard before. You’ll find most of them extremely straight forward and easy to try. Some might even seem like plain common sense. But at the very least you’ll find this is a reminder that you should always be open to try new things, instead of continuing the same bad habits because that’s what you’ve always done.

So it might be time to think carefully about:
How you slice onions
This is one of the simplest and most straight forward tasks you can do in the kitchen, and yet there are still ways to improve at it. Firstly, there’s the age old debate over what works to stop the tears. Everything has been recommended from having a fan by your cutting area, to holding a wooden spoon in your mouth, to cutting the onion underwater. The truth is the first two don’t work and the last one will make it easier for you to slip and cut yourself. Sadly, there just isn’t a guaranteed way to stopping the tears.

The main thing you need to decide when cutting onions is which way you’re going to cut them. If you cut them lengthwise you’re going to cutting with the grain This means that slices will maintain their shape a whole lot better during cooking. This is great for stews or soups, where having fragments of onion bobbing to surface looks really tasty.

The alternative is cutting crosswise, across the grain of the onion. This will cause your onion slices to break down rapidly as they’re cooked. It’s perfect if you want that real melted, caramelised onion texture that works well in chutneys or as a hot sandwich topping.
Storing fresh herbs
Nothing makes you feel like a proper chef then throwing some fresh herbs into the mix, but they aren’t famous for keeping long and it’s a pain having to go out and buy some every time you need them for a recipe.

Fortunately there’s a simple trick that will allow you to have fresh herbs to hand virtually indefinitely. Simply chop your herbs finely and divide into portions each able to fit into a compartment of an ice cube tray. Divide the herbs into an ice cube tray, fill with water and freeze. As and when you need them for cooking, simply throw the cubes into the mix. The ice will quickly evaporate away.
How to soften butter
The key to good cooking is planning ahead, but sometimes even the best of us can slip up in that department. A common slip-up is getting to the point in the recipe where you need softened butter, and realising you haven’t even got your butter out of the fridge yet.

Heating it won’t work here, you’re more likely to end up with a yellow puddle than correctly softened butter, but there is a simple trick that can save you here. Run a hot tap and use it to full a glass, then leave it for a few seconds until the glass is warmed.

Slice off the amount of butter you need from the block, then empty the glass and place it upside down over the butter that needs softening. In under a minute your butter will be ready to use without having melted.
The correct way to deal with garlic
Garlic is used in so many different dishes, so it’s about time we started preparing it properly. It’s time we just admitted it- garlic presses are useless. They’re a pain to use, and an even bigger pain to wash up afterwards.

If you’re recipe calls for crushed garlic, put it on a cutting board and press down on it with the flat side of a knife. Don’t bother peeling it before hand – after you’ve squashed it with the knife the skin will come straight off. From there it’s a ten second job to mince it.

When you’re pressing or cutting garlic or onions remember to use a separate chopping board, ideally one you keep exclusively for garlic and onions. Anything else you use on that chopping board, no matter many times you wash it, is going to end up tasting like garlic and onions.


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Four simple tips every cook should know