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Vegan + Budget Egg wash substitutes
When a recipe calls for egg wash to finish off the bake, we often do not need the whole portion of the egg wash, ended up we would throw the rest away. It is definitely an unnecessary waste and here is a great alternative for your next bake that calls for egg wash: 1 teaspoon maple syrup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (Thanks to the natural high protein content of soy milk and sugar content of maple syrup.)

Lactose free baking
I have been using full fat cow’s milk, full fat soy milk and lactose free milk in my Hokkaido Milk Bread baking in the last years, recently I have had experience that my dough that was mixed with lactose free milk (3%) that did not rise, I made this with the same recipe, ingredients and methods, all 3 times failed. It could be because it was -20C outside (but indoor temperature was over 20C). I was then doing some research about potential reasons for a yeast dough not rising, and found out that using lactose free milk could be the reason that it did not rise as it is temperature sensitivity. So next time, if I would bake any lactose free goods, I will definitely go for soy milk.

Reduce bitterness of brussels sprouts

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Throw in halved and stems trimmed brussels sprouts, boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

How to fry a perfect sunny-side-up egg

Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan on medium high heat. Crack an egg into the pan carefully without breaking the yolk. Cover the pan with lid and let it cook for 90 seconds. Turn heat off and remove from heat for another 1 min. Season with salt and pepper.

Use up your discoloured and wilted herbs

Don’t throw them away! They might not look perfect to be decorated as garnish but as long as they aren’t rotten or totally blackened, you can whip them up in a food processor together with other simple ingredients to make a great salad dressing or pasta sauce. Try this recipe for a simple tomato and cucumber salad dressing or use this to toss your freshly cooked pasta next time.

– 2 handfuls of whatever soft herbs you have in the fridge that need to be used up: parsley, coriander, basil, tarragon, dill or mint
– 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
– 1/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
– 1 tsp dried chili flakes or half a fresh red chili
– 2-3 tbsp Good quality extra virgin olive oil
– Equal amount of either freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice, red/white wine vinegar as oil
– Salt and pepper to taste

Whip them up in a food processor until you form a smooth green sauce and toss it in your salad or pasta.

Cleaning a floured work surface without mess

Flour and water are good friends, which means if you are trying to clean a floured work surface with wet sponge or wet cloth, you are likely making more mess than before.

Try to scrape off excess flour or sticky leftover dough from the surface with a dry, flat plastic scraper first, then clean with a damp sponge/cloth before cleaning with wet cloth.

Prepare onion without goggles

Unless you are wearing a pair of goggles or like me, having contact lenses on, onion releases these mild acidic gas that irritates our eyes. Here are some tips for you to try next time when you need to chop some onions:

#1 Quick freeze whole onion for 15 min before preparation which slows the gas release from onions
#2 Minimize exposure of these gas by cutting onion with the opened side facing the chopping board (or flat side facing down)

How to prepare chili

#1 Use disposable gloves
#2 Use scissors instead of knife
#3 The more seeds, the more heat the chilis are. I.e. remove seeds = remove heat
#4 Add chili at the end of cooking to reduce heat in the dish

How can I sauté mushrooms so that they are perfectly browned?

Mushrooms are about 90% water, which means you need patience and time to sauté them properly.

#1 Make sure that you use a big enough frying pan. For example, if you want to cook 250 g of sliced button mushrooms, you will need a pan that’s a minimum 28 cm wide. Make sure you have enough room to avoid crowding the food, which will cause them to get steamed instead of sautéed. 

#2 Use a fine brush to clean your mushrooms. NEVER wash them.

#3 Make sure your pan is hot.

#4 Make sure to use good quality butter, and lots of it. Don’t worry about calories. 

How can I keep my wooden chopsticks in shape?
#1, Never put them in the dishwasher.

#2, After washing your chopsticks, don’t stand them up in the dish rack. Instead, lie them flat on a drying mat. This way, your chopsticks will never get bent. 

Perfectly roasted chicken
#1 Butterfly the chicken so that the skin doesn’t get pressed down during roasting. If you prefer a whole chicken, roast it on a rack, keeping a baking tray under it to collect the drippings.

#2 Seasoning the chicken ahead of time makes a HUGE difference in taste, even just salt and pepper.

#3 Make sure to oil/butter the skin thoroughly before roasting, and don’t forget to baste.

#4 Poke a whole lemon all around with a fork and stuff it inside the cavity before roasting. This will keep the chicken moist and juicy.

Baking tips
Have you ever been halfway through the baking process and noticed that your dish is browning faster than you expected?
Instead of reducing the temperature (which could change your results), put a baking tray on the rack above to block out the direct heat from the top of the oven.

Removing fibre from celery

Instead of trying to pull off the old fibre part of a celery stalk from their ends, break the middle part of the celery and remove the old fibre parts from that. check out my vlog to see how to remove fibrous threads on celery

Egg fried rice 101
#1 Make sure you use cold rice.
Day-old, cooked rice is perfect and ensures that you don’t get lumps during cooking.

#2 Use silky scrambled eggs.
Beat the egg until the white is blended with the yolk. Turn off the heat before you pour the whisked egg into the rice and stir with chopsticks to break up the scrambled egg evenly.

#3 Use scallions 
Don’t forget to add finely chopped scallions and few drops of sesame oil before serving!

Here’s a quick way to skim the excess fat from stews and soups:

Let it rest at room temperature undisturbed, until it cools completely. A layer of white fat will float to the top, and you can use a spoon to gently skim it off.