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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kitchen Tips, Tricks and more ( I )

If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato-it absorbs the excess salt for an instant "fix me up." 

If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

If it is a meringue pie you are making…add four or five marshmallows cut into pieces or 1/2 cup miniature ones, to meringue just before spreading. These marshmallows give both flavor and body to the meringue. The latter is important if pie is to stand for sometime before serving.

Instead of using a pastry cutter when a recipe asks for chilled and cut butter, I freeze the butter sticks and my cheese grater and grate the frozen butter into the flour. It’s not only much easier, but gives a more uniform consistency.

Ice cubes will eliminate the fat from soup and stew. Just drop a few into the pot and stir; the fat will cling to the cubes; discard the cubes before they melt. Or, wrap ice cubes in paper towel or cheesecloth and skim over the top.

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.

If guests are coming and you're behind making dinner, throw some onions on to sauté and your kitchen will smell wonderful and homey.

If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may not be suitable for salads, but it is for sautéing. Sauteed salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual but tasty side dish. Sauté 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.

If you have a problem opening jars ... Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a on-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

If you need extra counter space for cooling cookies on racks or baking sheets, set up the ironing board and let them rest on it (cover the board to prevent stains).

If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.

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.

Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, sauté the garlic first for a milder flavor.

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.

Instead of using a pastry blender, mix flour with butter by grating cold butter into it.

It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork (pardon the expression), 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.

If you're unsure of an egg's freshness, see how it behaves in a cup of water: Fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.

If you need only a few drops of lemon juice, avoid cutting the lemon in half--it will dry out quickly that way. Instead, puncture the fruit with a metal skewer and squeeze out exactly what you require.

In a pinch, yogurt can be substituted for cream in recipes that don't require cooking. But yogurt can curdle when cooked - in which case it's best to stick with whole milk or half and half.

If you burn milk while heating it on the stove, add a pinch of salt to temper the scorched smell and taste.

If you burn gravy and don't have enough time or pan drippings, to start from scratch, stir a teaspoon of smooth peanut butter for each cup of gravy. This should eliminate any burned taste.

If you've cooked more rice than you can eat, make rice pudding by adding butter, cinnamon, sugar and milk or create fried rice by saute'ing with a beaten egg, soy sauce and sliced green onions, or toss rice with slivered almonds and raisins for a Middle Eastern inspired pilaf.

If your glass coffee pot gets cloudy, make tea in it. Tea’s tannic content will remove the film. 

If two glasses are stuck together, fill the top glass with cold water and set the bottom glass in hot water. Try to carefully twist the two glasses apart after a minute

Iced tea requires only one-half as much sugar if sweetened when hot than when cold. After tea is strained and ready to serve, freeze a portion of it in the electric refrigerator and add this to glasses for cooling instead of plain ice.

If a vase won’t hold water, melt paraffin and pour into the bottom. Often this will seal a crack and prevent future seepage of water.

If you are in a hurry and you find that you are out of silver polish, dip a piece of raw potato in baking soda and rub the potato on the silver. 

It’s easy to keep your dresser from becoming stained and spotted from perfume and toilet water bottles. Place a piece of wax paper under your dresser scarfs for sure protection.

If you need a wide piece of wax paper, seal two strips together with a hot iron; it cools quickly.

If you have a brass or metal door knocker, wax it immediately after polishing. This practice will keep it bright.

Insects in earth can be killed with a spoonful of mustard in gallon of water. This is effective with potted plants.

Instead of whittling a candle at the base to make it fit in the candle holder, I hold the end in a cup of very hot water for a few minutes to soften the wax then gently and firmly press it into the holder.

If your candle holder is too large wrap a bit of plastic wrap around the base of the candle and wedge into your holder.

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