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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Miscellaneous Tips:

 * To slice meat into thin strips, as for Chinese dishes - 
    partially freeze and it will slice easily.
 * A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast -
    the bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast quicker.
 * For a juicer hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling
    (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).
 * To keep cauliflower white while cooking -
    add a little milk to the water.
 * Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour
    before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.
 * Buy mushrooms before they "open." When stems and caps are attached
    snugly, mushrooms are truly fresh.
 * Lettuce keeps better if you store in refrigerator without washing
    first so that the leaves are dry. Wash the day you are going to use.
 * Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads.
    Use wooden, glass or china. 
 * A Perfect Pastry Crust?  In your favorite recipe, substitute a
      4:1 ratio of lard:butter.
 * To make your own corn meal mix: combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup
      all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking
      powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for
      up to 6 months.
 * It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry --
      sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to
      retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon,
      much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.
 * Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get
      before squeezing.
 * Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds and the skins slip
      right off. 
 * When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before
   cutting. If that doesn't do the trick, try applying a bit of
   cooking spray to the edge.
 * Rescue stale or soggy chips and crackers: Preheat the oven to
   300F. Spread the chips or crackers in a single layer on a
   baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool,
   then seal in a plastic bag or container.
 * The best way to store fresh celery is to wrap it in aluminum
   foil and put it in the refrigerator--it will keep for weeks.
 * Store freshly cut basil on your kitchen counter in a glass
   with the water level covering only the stems. Change the
   water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way,
   even develop roots! Basil hates to be cold, so NEVER put
   it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages
   new growth and healthier plants. 
 * A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of
   corn will remove every strand of corn silk. 
 * Fresh eggs' shells are rough and chalky; old eggs are smooth and
 * No "curly" bacon for breakfast when you dip it into cold water
   before frying. 
 * When working with dough, don't flour your hands; coat them with
   olive oil to prevent sticking.
 * Use a gentle touch when shaping ground beef patties. Overhandling
   will result in a firm, compact texture after cooking. Don't press
   or flatten with spatula during cooking.
 * Never heat pesto sauce - the basil will turn black and taste bitter.
 * Butter pie pastry scraps: sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and
   bake like cookies.
 * A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler
   will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before
   the pan scorches or burns. 
 * When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won't
   stick to your knife or cutting board. 
 * If your cake recipe calls for nuts, heat them first in the oven,
   then dust with flour before adding to the batter to keep them from
   settling to the bottom of the pan. 
 * Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won't boil over if you rub
   the inside of the pot with vegetable oil. 
 * Brown gravy in a hurry with a bit of instant coffee straight from
   the jar... no bitter taste, either. 
 * To hasten the cooking of foods in a double boiler, add salt to the
   water in the outer boiler. 
 * Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to
   prevent ice cream drips.
 * To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the
 * Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your
   forehead. The throbbing will go away.
 * Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for
   future use in casseroles and sauces.
 * If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing
   gloves. They give a on-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
 * Add a little lemon and lime to tuna to add zest and flavor to tuna
   sandwiches. Use cucumbers soaked in vinegar and pepper in sandwich
   instead of tomatoes. Use mustard instead of mayo to cut the fat
   and add a tang.
 * Instead of the water your recipe calls for, try juices, bouillon,
   or water you've cooked vegetables in. Instead of milk, try
   buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. It can add a whole new flavor
   and improve nutrition. 
 * Steak Sauce With A Kick: Deglaze your frying pan (after searing your
   New York steaks) with brandy. Add two tablespoons of butter, a little
   white wine and a splash of Grand Marnier. Serve over steaks -
   you'll never use steak sauce again.
 * When browning ground meat, brown several pounds and drain. Divide
   evenly in freezer containers and freeze. Unthaw in microwave for
   quick fixing next time.
 * Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so!
   Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle
   in partnership with a friend and split the contents.
   You'll each benefit from fresh spices.
 * Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Store tomatoes with stems
   pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.
 * Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow
   air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits
   produce during ripening.
 * Marshmallows won't dry out when frozen.
 * Poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them.
   The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.
 * For fluffier, whiter rice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of
   water. To add extra flavor and nutrition to rice, cook it in liquid
   reserved from cooking vegetables.
 * Cheese won't harden if you butter the exposed edges before storing. 
 * Sausage patties rolled in flour before frying won't crack open
   during cooking.
 * Two drops of yellow food coloring added to boiling noodles will
   make them look homemade.
 * When separating eggs, break them into a funnel. The whites will
   go through leaving the yolk intact in the funnel.
 * Fresh fish freeze well in a milk carton filled with water.
 * Make your own celery flakes. Just cut and wash the leaves from the
   celery stalks; place them in the oven on low heat or in the hot sun
   until thoroughly dry. Crumble and store in an air-tight container. 
 * When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness.
   Check to see that the fruit is heavy in weight and that the
   spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.
 * When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the
   vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture
   sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette down
   the side of the bowl, not directly on the greens, for a more
   evenly dressed salad.
 * For the perfect boiled egg, cover eggs with cold water and
   a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Remove the
   pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 8-9 minutes.
   Drain the water and place the eggs in ice water to cool to
   stop the cooking process.
 * When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long
   time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.
 * When cooking any kind of strawberry dessert, add a splash of
   aged Balsamic vinegar to the recipe to enhance the flavor
   of the strawberries.
 * For fresh flavor in orange juice add the juice of one lemon.
 * Tenderize pot roast or stewing meat by using two cups of
   hot tea as a cooking liquid. 
 * When making roux for a recipe, make extra and keep in
   the refrigerator for future use. 
 * Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help
   even the meat so it cooks evenly. 
 * To remove egg shells from a batter, use the remaining shell
   to attract the piece.
 * If a recipe calls for 1 cup sour cream, you may substitute
   1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth with 1 tablespoon
   lemon juice and 1/3 cup buttermilk.
 * When using fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, etc.,
   hold them together in small bunches and snip with kitchen
   scissors. It is a lot faster this way, and you'll find the
   herbs will be light and fluffy, not bruised and wet as they
   often get when chopped. 
 * When going on a picnic, keep sandwiches from becoming soggy
   by packing lettuce and condiments in separate containers.
   Add them to sandwiches just before serving. 
 * Maple-flavored syrup, commonly found on the shelves in the
   store and in restaurants, is actually corn syrup flavored
   with a bit of pure maple syrup to keep the cost down. 
 * Thaw fish in milk for fresher flavor
 * Put meat used for stir frying in freezer for 45 min. to 1 hr. to make
   slicing easier. 
 * You can correct greasy gravy by adding a little baking soda to it. 
 * If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer. 
 * Keep popcorn fresh and encourage more kernels to pop by storing in
   the freezer.
 * Lemons stored in a sealed jar of water will produce twice the juice.
 * Use paper bags rather than plastic to store lettuce and celery in the
   crisper. They will stay fresh longer. 
 * Bread will stay fresh longer if a celery rib is stored with it in the
 * Save butter wrappers in the freezer to use for greasing pans when baking. 
 * To keep salt from clogging in the shaker, add 1/2 teaspoon of uncooked rice.
 * If guests are coming and you're behind making dinner, throw some onions on
   to saute and your kitchen will smell wonderful and homey. 
 * Egg whites should always be at room temperature before whipping.
   Be certain there is no yolk in the whites and that the bowl and
   beaters are perfectly clean. Cream, on the other hand, should be
   well-chilled. For the largest volume, chill the bowl and beaters
   before whipping. 
 * When using spaghetti, keep in mind that 8 ounces of uncooked
   pasta makes 4 cups cooked.
 * When using all-purpose flour, keep in mind that one pound flour
   is the equivalent to 4 cups.
 * When using dried beans and peas, keep in mind that 1 cup dry beans
   or peas makes 2 1/2 cups cooked.
 * When using rice, keep in mind that 1 cup of uncooked long-grain
   white rice makes 3 cups cooked.
 * When using granulated sugar, keep in mind that one pound sugar
   is the equivalent to 2 cups. 
 * Ultimate Disposable Pastry Bag:
   Take a heavy-duty zipper-seal plastic bag and snip off
   one corner, making a slightly curved cut. Using a standard
   two-piece plastic coupler (available wherever cake decorating
   supplies are sold), insert the larger piece into the hole.
   Choose a tip and secure it with the coupler's ring. Fill the
   bag and zip the top closed. Decorate away, then remove the
   coupler/tip assembly and toss the bag. No messy cleanup! 
 * One way to preserve the flavor of fresh herbs is to make herb butter.
   Let the butter soften, then add finely chopped herbs in any
   combination, abbout 2 to 4 tablespoons per stick of butter. The
   butter freezes well, and you can serve it spread on French bread
   or with seafood or chicken.
 * Pancakes are lighter and fluffier when you substitute club soda
   for milk in the batter.
 * Before opening a package of bacon, roll it. This helps separate
   the slices for easy removal of individual slices.
 * Drain deep fried foods on brown paper grocery bags as opposed to
   paper towels to retain crispness.
 * Whenever possible, warm your dinner plates slightly in the oven
   before serving so the meal stays a little bit hotter.
 * To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two
   of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.
 * Cookies will spread if your dough is too pliable by allowing butter
   to get too soft. If your cookies are spreading too much, try
   refrigerating the dough for a couple of hours before baking.
 * Cookie dough can be frozen up to three months in an airtight
   container or refrigerated three to four days.
 * Check cookies at minimum baking time.
 * Let cookies cool completely before storing. Store different types
   of cookies in separate containers so they'll keep their original
   flavor and texture.
 * Marinate red meats in wine to tenderize.
 * Marinate chicken in buttermilk to tenderize.
 * Use margarine instead of butter to panfry or saute.
   Butter burns quickly.
 * Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, saute the garlic
   first for a milder flavor.
 * Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on
   the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.
 * Add a small amount of lemon juice to the artichoke cooking
   water to retain the color of the artichoke.
 * A low-calorie solution for high-fat frying of corn tortillas is
   to place them in the oven, directly on the rack. Bake at 350 F,
   to desired crispness. The tortillas will automatically fold over
   into taco shell form with just a little postioning help.
 * A simple way to sharpen kitchen shears: cut a piece of steel wool.
 * Don't just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some
   in the kitchen. It's a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is
   often better than a& knife to cleanly cut all kinds of soft foods,
   soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake and cheesecake.
 * If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may
   not be suitable for salads, but it is for sauteing. Sauteed
   salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual
   but tasty side dish. Saute lettuces just as you would spinach.
   Cook them quickly in a little olive oil, minced garlic, and salt.
   They taste great, and you cant tell that the greens were once
   a little brown. 

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