Cooking Tips

Five handy chefs' tricks every home cook should know

11 January 2020 - 00:00 By Sanet Oberholzer
Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to lamb dishes helps to tenderise the meat, says executive chef Amina Lebelo.
Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to lamb dishes helps to tenderise the meat, says executive chef Amina Lebelo.
Image: 123RF/Dmytro Zinkevych

Ever wonder how professional chefs get their mash so creamy, or how they peel vegetables so quickly? We asked a couple of them to share their top cooking hacks so you can too.

1. NUKE YOUR VEG BEFORE PEELING THEM

To peel fresh garlic very quickly, put the whole head of garlic (or the number of cloves you require) in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, says Yoshan Naidu, executive chef of InterContinental Johannesburg, the hotel at OR Tambo airport. “Once you remove them, the cloves will pop out of the skin if you squeeze them slightly.”

A similar trick works for tomatoes, he adds. “Score the top of the tomato and microwave it for 30 seconds. When you take it out, you'll be able to peel it easily, but be careful: it'll be hot.” 

2. ADD COFFEE CREAMER TO YOUR MASH

Adding some Cremora to your mash will make it creamier and tastier, says executive chef Amina Lebelo of the Riverside Sun hotel.

3. FROTH MILK IN THE MICROWAVE

Want to make foam for a cappuccino but don’t have a frother? No problem, says Naidu. “Place cold milk in a small glass bottle with a plastic lid; shake it for 20 seconds and put it in the microwave for 40 seconds.” Voila!

4. SCORE YOUR MUFFIN TOPS

“Dip a palette knife in hot oil and make a cross pattern in your muffin batter before baking. You will get perfect muffin tops,” says Kirsten Howell, executive sous chef at Punchinello's Restaurant at Southern Sun Montecasino.

5. ADD LEMON JUICE TO LAMB DISHES

Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to any lamb dish will enhance the flavour and make the meat tender, says Lebelo.