By Award winning chef Susy Massetti
The Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur said: ‘By being a professional chef while being a mother and a wife, I have learnt a lot of tricks and tips that saves me a ton of time, make great meals with little effort and helps me utilise all that I buy without wasting anything’.
‘Clever home cooking helps you use up every bit of food you buy. Knowing how to do this and be efficient in a delicious way is very important’.
Here, Mrs Massetti shares her favourite tricks of the trade that will transform the simplest of ingredients into delicious meals.
- Make ravioli in a jiff
‘Who has the time required to handcraft beautiful stuffed pasta, yet you can still impress with this quick trick! At home I always use store bought wonton wrappers available from many supermarkets.
Super thin and light they exist in the egg pasta version as well as the eggless, perfect for vegans! They are very easy to use and all you have to do to prepare your favourite filling, scoop a teaspoon in the centre and wet the edges lightly, fold and voila’ ravioli, capellini or agnolotti, ready in minutes’.
‘One of my favorites easy-peasy fillings is simply drain ricotta, grated parmigiano with a bit of truffle shavings or paste for an inexpensive fancy twist. The sauce is just brown butter, sage and black pepper, add a bit of pasta water to emulsify while tossing the ravioli, and remember they cook in less than 3 minutes!’
- Keep your fresh herbs forever
‘Not quite “forever” but definitely for a long time with this simple hack. We always end up throwing away fresh herbs or drying them with a great loss of fragrance!
Instead do this: Bring a small pot of water to boil then add a spoonful of salt. Place the herbs in a strainer and dip them in the boiling water for no more than 5 seconds. Take out and shake the excess water and immediately place them in a jar full of your favourite cooking oil, such as, olive oil of any variety. When needed you can pick out the herbs and use them as if they were freshly harvested or use the flavoured oil when a lighter touch is needed’.
- Transform a less pricey cut into a delicious piece of meat!
‘For a juicier, tasty chicken or most succulent roast, you simply need to brine your meats! Brining is a simple procedure in that by soaking the ingredient in a water-salt-sugar-spiced solution will transform any meat into a tastier and more yummy dish. This process can also remove the gamy flavours of certain type of meats such as venison and pheasant while making them tender in the process. The correct proportion is ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of salt for 4 litres of water. A maximum of 3 to 4 hours is sufficient for cuts below 1kg while 8 hours or more (up to 24 hours) are best for 1kg and above’.
A good tip you can do is to add your favourite dry spices to your brine if you like’.
- Make use of your sad and wilted veggies lying in the bottom of your fridge
‘What do you do with your sad looking and wilted vegetables that you forgot at the bottom of your fridge? Do not throw them away! They can make a super-fast base for any soup, pasta or why not even toss them with garlic and fresh herbs for a quick side dish or vegetarian meal!’ Rinse them and do a rough chop of all (none excluded). Measure them into cups, if you have let’s say 4 cups of veggies use 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a roaring boil, add your veggies (adding them to boiling water will retain more of their vitamins and minerals – a very important fact you should remember!). Cook for a few minutes just until they are tender, no more than 6 to 8 minutes maximum. Let the veggies cool to room temperature then divide into small bags or containers and freeze. Will be there ready whenever you need it!’
- Hassle-free amazing potatoes
‘Everyone loves potatoes that are fluffy inside and crispy outside! For quick and tasty roasted potatoes, this is my favourite hack and a sure success at any dinner table! I collect and keep all drippings, from bacon to beef or chicken rendered fat and I keep it all together in the fridge in a glass container.
‘Once I want to cook potatoes, I melt the fat over low heat in a tall saucepan and make sure the potatoes are cut in chunks and are submerged by the fat. Let them cook on a very low heat for approximately 15 to 20 min (depending on the size or until your tender through your fork). I season the fat only with a little bit of salt at this point. Once the potatoes are ready, I drain them and place directly it in a shallow frying pan, I add herbs, salt, pepper and or spices and increase the heat slightly and leave them there to form a crisp crust. A guaranteed success each time!’