Ever wondered what we mean when we say a “drizzle of oil”, or what size pans to use when cooking? We’ve compiled our guide to the common cooking questions we receive and techniques mentioned in Dinnerly recipes, to help take all the guesswork out of cooking. Got a question on a cooking term that’s not covered below? Shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add it to the list!
Starting with a cold pan will allow the fat to slowly melt out of the bacon (this is called ‘rendering’), which will help it to crisp up.
Dinnerly recipes often call for a baking tray or a large baking tray. You can use whatever you have to hand, but our regular baking tray measures 24cm x 34cm, and our large tray is 32cm x 45cm.
We use a fairly large pan for stir-frying beef strips in the Dinnerly test kitchen – if the pan is overcrowded the beef can stew (release water) and become tough. If you’re using a smallish pan, cook the beef in batches over high heat to ensure it browns quickly and evenly.
Bringing to the boil
In our Dinnerly recipes, when we ask you to bring something to the boil, you’ll need to turn the heat up high until the liquid or mixture is bubbling. We’ll then let you know if you need to reduce the heat for a gentle simmer.
When cooking with a capsicum, not all of it is usable. To prep, simply stand the capsicum upright on a chopping board, stalk-side up. With a sharp knife, cut straight down through the edge of the capsicum so you avoid the core. Turn once, then slice again. Repeat until all the sides are removed. What you should have left is the core with the seeds in tact.
We figure everyone knows how to prep chicken thighs, so we don’t include it in our method. Before slicing the chicken, trim the thighs of any excess fat, if any – but make sure not to cut off the delicious meat!
Dollop and Drizzle
Not all cooking is prescriptive and cooking measures don’t always have to be precise, especially for our 20-minute or Super-fast recipes. Sometimes a drizzle of oil or a dollop of mayonnaise does the trick. When you see it in our recipes, we use 1 tbs for a dollop and 2 tbs for a generous dollop. A drizzle of oil is 2 tsp of oil, while a generous drizzle of oil is about 1 tbs.
Frying pan size
In the Dinnerly test kitchen, we use a small frypan that measures 24cm, our medium pan is 28cm and our large pan is about 32cm. We’ve nominated the best frypan for the job, but if you don’t have the exact size, simply adjust the cook time or cook in batches.
Our recipes usually ask you to crush or finely chop the garlic. To crush garlic, use a garlic crusher or use the flat side of the knife to mash the garlic to a rough paste (this is sometimes called minced garlic). Adding a little salt on the chopping board helps. For finely chopped garlic, trim the tips of the clove, then crush the unpeeled clove with the side of your knife and remove the skin. Cut into thin slices, then chop repeatedly over the garlic until it reaches the desired size. If the garlic is being used raw in the recipe, we’ll usually ask you to crush it – there’s nothing worse than eating a lump of raw garlic!
Gnocchi needs room and lots of water to cook, so it doesn’t clump and become gluggy. Use your large saucepan and make sure you fill it with plenty of water. Add some salt to the water, then remember to bring to the boil before adding the gnocchi. Give them a stir to separate, then cook as instructed in the recipe.
Do you own a julienne peeler? We love using them in our recipes, as they make short work of veggie prep. They look similar to a veggie peeler but have serrated teeth. To use, simply drag the peeler along the vegetable – and voila! – you have a pretty pile of professional-looking julienne strips.
A mandoline is a kitchen utensil with very sharp, adjustable blades that’s used to thinly and evenly slice vegetables. It can also be called a vegetable slicer. It’s particularly useful when slicing cabbage for dishes such as coleslaw (and makes it extra fast too!). Always remember to use the guard and be careful of the sharp blades. We always make it optional, so you can use a sharp knife instead.
Raw onion can have a strong taste if chunky, so very thinly slice with a sharp knife or use a mandoline if you have one. If you like, you can give the sliced onion a soak in salted cold water for 5 minutes to take out the bite a bit more.
Onion, slicing –
When we say to slice or chop an onion, here’s the pro way to do it! For thinly sliced onion, trim the ends of the onion and cut in half. Put the onion halves flat-side down on a chopping board, then thinly slice each half from the top of the onion downwards. This will create thin, moon-shaped slices. For chopped onion, trim the ends of the onion and cut in half. Put the onion halves flat-side down on a chopping board, then slice 5-6 times lengthwise, ensuring you don’t cut all the way to the end. Holding the end that hasn’t been cut, carefully cut across the slices to create small cubes of onion.
Oven, swapping trays
We sometimes ask you to swap your baking trays halfway through cooking. This means moving the top tray to the bottom shelf and vice versa. While you’re swapping the trays, rotate the trays from front to back. Most ovens are generally hotter on the top than the bottom, and many have ‘hot spots’, so this will ensure more even cooking – and a better result overall.
At Dinnerly, we test and cook all our recipes using a fan-forced oven. If you are using a conventional setting (or do not have a fan-forced oven), increase the temperature by 20°C to achieve the equivalent fan-forced temperature.
Pasta, using the reserved cooking water
There’s nothing better than deliciously saucy pasta. Did you know that adding a little of the starchy pasta cooking water to the sauce helps to thicken it so that it binds and coats the pasta? Delish!
Why do we add potatoes to a pan of cold water? Adding them to boiling water will cook them too quickly on the outside. By the time they are cooked right through, the outside will be mushy and overcooked. So start them in a pan of cold water for perfectly cooked spuds!
We use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning our dishes.
Spread and Smear
If we say to spread, smear or dollop with mayonnaise, this is about 1 tablespoon (1 tbs). If we say to generously spread, smear or dollop with mayonnaise, this is about 2 tablespoons (2 tbs). We use these terms when we want to make the cooking experience a bit easier and faster – and when there’s no need to carefully measure out these amounts!
Toasting nuts and seeds
Starting with a cold pan ensures even toasting and prevents burning.
Did you know?
- We use a 5ml teaspoon and a 20ml tablespoon measure for our all of our recipes – US/UK tablespoon measures are 15ml, so keep an eye out when using these.
- Have you ever seen an asterisk * next to some of the ingredients in the recipe and wondered what it meant? Sometimes you don’t need to use all of the ingredient – a packet of herbs, an onion or a spicy sauce, so we add an asterisk. This means you will have some of that ingredient leftover.