Celebrity chef Ed Halmagyi (pictured) has offered his ultimate guide to cooking
Celebrity chef Ed Halmagyi has offered his ultimate guide to cooking, including his favourite shortcuts, go-to flavour boosting ingredients and budget winter meals.
The Better Homes and Gardens star said it’s important set up an orderly kitchen, with everything in its place to make prepping and cooking flow smoothly.
‘In commercial kitchens, chefs talk about crafting their “mis en place”. They mean prep, but it actually translates as “everything in its place”, which is precisely how kitchens – commercial or domestic – should be,’ Ed told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Be realistic about how you actually cook. Too many people set up their kitchen based on a fictional idea of the look they would like, keeping truffle oil, quinoa and caviar in easy reach, when pasta, tinned tuna and muesli are the real go-to’s.
‘Being honest helps you lay out your space in a way that will really work for you.’
The Better Homes and Gardens star said it’s important set up an orderly kitchen, with everything in its place to make prepping and cooking flow
Ed’s top cooking shortcuts
Need to brown mince for a bolognese or stew? Mix a little bicarbonate of soda into the meat before you cook it. It browns in a quarter of the time, and loses none of its juiciness
Halve cherry tomatoes by the punnet: Put a punnet of cherry tomatoes on your cutting board, then place a flat plate or cake board on top. Pressing down gently to hold them in place, slide you knife through underneath. Presto! Your tomatoes are halved for salad instantly
Peel a garlic bulb in 20 seconds: Place a head of garlic between two metal bowls and shake vigorously. It’s horribly noisy, but the garlic peels in 20 seconds flat
Ripen avocados quickly: If you have a rock-hard avocado and want it for guacamole tomorrow, put it in a plastic bag with a ripe banana overnight. It’s like magic. Your avocado will be tender and soft, ready to eat.
When it comes to cooking shortcuts, the Mitsubishi Electric Australia ambassador revealed some of his favourite tricks.
‘Being slightly lazy by nature, I love a good shortcut,’ Ed said.
‘Need to brown mince for a bolognese or stew? Mix a little bicarbonate of soda into the meat before you cook it. It browns in a quarter of the time, and loses none of its juiciness.
‘Put a punnet of cherry tomatoes on your cutting board, then place a flat plate or cake board on top. Pressing down gently to hold them in place, slide you knife through underneath. Presto! Your tomatoes are halved for salad instantly.’
To peel a whole bulb of garlic in just seconds, Ed suggested placing a head between two metal bowls and shaking ‘vigorously’.
If you have a rock-hard avocado and want it for guacamole the next day, he said you just simply put it in a plastic bag with a ripe banana overnight.
‘It’s like magic. Your avocado will be tender and soft, ready to eat,’ Ed said.
To take dishes to the next level, he said his go-to flavour-boosting ingredients include Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese and miso.
‘Worcestershire sauce adds a knockout blow to meat. It’s made with tamarind and fermented fish, both of which are rich in naturally occurring umami,’ Ed explained.
‘Like Worcestershire sauce, parmesan is umami-rich. Actually, all cheeses are, but the harder the cheese the richer it will be. Don’t just save it for Italian cooking, small amounts can transform almost any food.
‘While miso fermented soybean paste is used for a simple and elegant soup in Japanese cooking, but teaspoons can add depth to steam, braises and even gravy.’
To take dishes to the next level, he said his go-to flavour-boosting ingredients include Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese and miso
Revealed: The common mistakes home cooks make
Most people, OK everyone, wants dinner to turn out perfectly. But in spite of that too often mistakes are made.
Don’t overcook your vegetables: Not only do vegetables retain much more nutrition if just slightly undercooked, but they have better flavour too. This includes soups. A 24 pumpkin soup is not a triumph, it’s an abomination.
Oil and season the meat, not the pan: This not only helps you better control the flavour of what you’re cooking, but it also reduces the oil in your dinner for a healthier result.
Honey-soy chicken: Damn, this kills me. It burns every single time. You know it’s true. If you absolutely must use that favour combination, don’t marinate, use it as a baste at the last minute.
For easy and budget-friendly meals, Ed said there are simple things you can do to make a hearty dish for those cold nights without compromising on taste.
‘There’s an old saying in the building game: “Fast, good, cheap – choose two”. Not only is it amusing, but it’s also kinda true about most things in life. But not everything, certainly not dinner if you’re prepared to get a little creative,’ he said.
‘I love a beef stew, it’t just about my favourite meal. And given that it uses inexpensive cuts and can be freshened up with beans it remains one of my all time top choices.
‘Cost can be relative. There are, after all, no cheap cuts of lamb anymore, so if you have to choose, choose shoulder. What you can do next is pair that with something really cheap like pearl barley, and hey presto, problem solved.’
If you’re looking at meal prepping over winter, Ed said you need to keep in mind that ‘not everything freezes’ well.
‘It will actually get cold and solid, the problem come when you go to defrost it. Even if you have some of the world’s most cutting edge feeder technology, like you’ll find in Mitsubishi Electric’ range of fridge, some ingredients are not freeze-thaw stable.
‘They break down, dry out or become rubbery – sometimes all three. The worst offenders are starches. Rice, pasta and potatoes don’t take kindly to being frozen.
‘So, if you want to meal prep a stew with rice, or a Bolognese with pasta, you’ll have to bite the bullet. Freeze the meaty part, and make fresh rice. Really, it only takes 15 minutes. Sadly, this kind of applies to refrigerating too, even if not quite so bad.’
Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with barley and olive cassoulet
1 lamb shoulder, approx. 1.6kg
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds, cracked
1 tsp fennel seeds, cracked
sea salt flakes and freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp mustard seed oil
8 sticks celery
2 leeks, finely diced
½ head fennel finely diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp capers, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp seeded mustard
1 cup mixed olives, diced
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 bunch parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Rub the shoulder with spices and season generously with salt and pepper. Rub with mustard seed oil. Arrange the celery sticks in the bottom of a roasting pan, place the lamb on top, then bake for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups water, cover with foil, reduce heat to 150°C, then cook for a further 3 hours, until tender.
2. Sauté the leeks, fennel, garlic, capers and rosemary in ghee in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, then add the barley, stock, mustard and olives and simmer fro 30 minutes, until the barley is tender. Fold in the spinach and parsley, then serve with the lamb.
Credit: Fast Ed
The ambassador of Mitsubishi Electric Australia said he always follows the 75% rule when storing things in his fridge. ‘If you cast your eye over any shelf and it’s more than 75 per cent full, you need to reorganise or maybe use up a few things before you shop again,’ he said
Ed said you need to ensure the containers are 80 per cent full when you freeze them.
‘This gives the food room to expand when it chills without bursting over,’ he said.
When storing food in the fridge, Ed said there’s a simple method to follow to ensure your ingredients can last longer.
‘You need to be always aware of how your fridge, any fridge works best. The cold is distributed by moving air, and if that air can’t move, then nothing stays at the right temperature,’ he explained.
‘This results in food not lasting as long as it should, or things at the back starting to get icy. I generally look at a 75 per cent rule as a good starting point.
‘If you cast your eye over any shelf and it’s more than 75 per cent full, you need to reorganise or maybe use up a few things before you shop again. Not only will you end up eating better food, but you’ll save a serious amount of money along the way.’
Beef and barley stew with fennel and soy beans
800g chuck beef, diced
sea salt flakes and freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp plain flour
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heads fennel
1 brown onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
12 cloves garlic, sliced
½ bunch thyme leaves
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry sherry
1½L beef stock
½ cup pearl barley
2 cups mixed baby tomatoes, halved
1½ cups shelled soy beans
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 3½ hours
1. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, then toss in flour and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat and fry the beef in batches until well-browned. Set aside.
2. Chop one head of fennel and add to the saucepan with the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, cook briefly, the add the sherry and stock.
3. Return the beef, turn the heat to low and cook gently for 1½ hours. Mix in the barley and cook for a further 1½ hours. Mix in the tomatoes and soy beans and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, then serve.