Cooking Tips

Use these tips in a pinch when you're cooking.
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PRODUCE

Cooking Tip

  • Microwave citrus for a few seconds before juicing -- you'll get more out of it.
  • When you're done juicing lemons, use them to wipe down your cutting boards.
  • Pat strawberries dry with paper towels right after rinsing or they'll absorb water and lose flavor.
  • Crush raspberries and blackberries with sugar for an instant berry sauce.
  • To know if a pear is ripe, just take a whiff -- it should smell slightly sweet.
  • Ripen tomatoes by storing them in a paper bag on the counter for a couple of days.
  • To draw out an eggplant's bitter juices, salt slices generously and let rest for 30 minutes. Then rinse, pat dry and cook.
  • Bundle your green beans and remove the ends with one quick slice.
  • Placed halved avocados cut side down on a plate to keep fresh -- no wrapping necessary.
  • Whack the bottom of a boston, bibb or iceberg lettuce against your kitchen counter to de-stem it.
  • Spin a paper towel with your salad greens to soak up even more moisture.
  • Put the snap back into limp celery sticks by soaking them in ice-cold water.
  • Soak sliced red onions in ice water for 15 minutes to take away the bite.
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel just before using them.
  • No need to peel carrots -- just give them a quick scrub.
  • Pull a fork down the skin of a cucumber to make decorative ridges.
  • For a lighter, no-cook pasta substitute, use a peeler to make cucumber "noodles."
  • No need to prick potatoes before microwaving -- just let them steam inside their skin.
  • Microwave garlic cloves for 10 seconds -- the skin will slip right off.
  • Rub off corn silks with a paper towel -- cleanup is a snap.
  • Season and toast winter squash seeds and sprinkle them onto soups and salads.
  • Give leftover pumpkin seeds a sweet twist by tossing them with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar before roasting.

MEAT

  • When you make burgers, indent the center with your thumb -- the patty will stay flat as it cooks.
  • Freeze raw meat just until firm for easy slicing.
  • Drag a few ice cubes across a roasting pan to skim the fat off pan juices.
  • Use a bottle of your favorite salad dressing as an instant marinade.

 

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Toast ground spices in a dry pan just before using to make them fragrant.
  • Mix your favorite spices and dried herbs for a signature seasoning blend.
  • Use kitchen scissors to snip delicate herbs like chives and tarragon.
  • Use cilantro, parsley and dill stems -- they're just as flavorful as the leaves.
  • Use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off fresh ginger.
  • Snip the corner of an envelope to make a funnel for spices.

FROZEN ASSETS

  • Stock up on fresh seasonal berries and freeze them for later.
  • Store freshly grated parmesan in the freezer -- no need to defrost it before using.
  • Freeze butter to keep it fresh, then grate over toast, popcorn or baked potatoes.
  • Freeze leftover chopped fresh herbs and water in an ice cube tray and use them later in soups and sauces.
  • Freeze leftover lemon slices -- when you pull them out, they're good as new.
  • Freeze leftover parmesan rinds, then toss into soups and stews for extra flavor.
  • Don't let fresh ingredients go to waste. Double a soup recipe and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
  • Don't toss overripe bananas. Peel and freeze them for smoothies.
  • Fold strips of uncooked bacon in layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze for later use.

BAKING

  • Stop second-guessing the size of your baking pans. Mark the bottoms with permanent ink.
  • Spritz your rubber spatula with cooking spray so batter won't stick.
  • If dough sticks to your rolling pin, rub the gummy bits with flour to remove them.
  • Use a large piece of eggshell to fish out any shell bits that fall into the mixing bowl.
  • Score a few extra teaspoons of cream: Set the emptied container down to let the last drops settle, then pour.
  • Chill your bowl and beaters before whipping heavy cream.
  • Use raw sugar in place of sprinkles on festive cookies and desserts.
  • Give your guests a surprise! Line your pie shell with toasted nuts or chocolate chips before filling.
  • Grind leftover walnuts and coat a cake pan with them instead of flour.
  • Next time you make waffles, warm up your maple syrup -- just heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • For fluffier pancakes, make the batter with club soda instead of milk.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Make bread crumbs in a blender -- the bread will grind evenly and won't stick to the blades.
  • To toast 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, microwave them on high for 3 minutes.
  • Use crushed tortilla chips as a substitute for bread crumbs.
  • Bring day-old rice back to life by reheating it with a little water or broth.
  • Refresh a stale baguette by sprinkling it with water, then warming it in a 300 oven for 5 minutes.
  • Cut back on sodium by blending two parts soy sauce with one part water.
  • Dip a silver spoon into a pot that's boiling over -- the liquid will instantly simmer down.
  • Refrigerate an open cottage cheese container upside down to create an airtight seal -- the cheese will stay fresh longer.
  • Stop wrestling with that jar! Just place a thick rubber band around the lid to get a surefire grip.

EASY CLEAN UP

  • Clean your cast-iron skillet with a paste of coarse salt and pepper.
  • Give your emptied-out food processor one last whirl to rid the blade of clingy food.
  • Deodorize food containers with newspaper (then wash before using).
  • Place a plastic bag over your hand to easily grease a pan without the mess.
  • Clean your sponges in the dishwasher. Just place them in the silverware bin.
  • Cover a fine grater with wax paper before grating for quick cleanup.
  • Keep a coaster under your drippy honey jar so it won't stick to the table.

 

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