Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: Amara on April 28, 2013, 12:10:04 PM

Title: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Amara on April 28, 2013, 12:10:04 PM
The useful and interesting food processor thread has me thinking that there must be a lot of e-Hellions here who have things they do in the kitchen that are tricks or shortcuts or ways of doing something that would be wonderful to share with others. Tricks of the trade as it were but ones developed as individual ways of coping with some issue. I'd love to know what yours are--and in turn I will share my no-tears onions secret:

Swimming goggles. (You can now buy glasses that purport to do the same thing.) Start by running your tongue over the eye part both front and back--the saliva prevents them from fogging up--then rinse them well under running water. Dry and put on. You can chop onions for hours without any tears. That's it, I guarantee it.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Thipu1 on April 28, 2013, 02:00:43 PM
I'm sorry to derail the thread on the first reply.  This tip reminds me of something Mr. Thipu did in the early years of our marriage. 

The day was warm.  He'd had a good run but was going to make his signature chili for dinner.  At the time, he was also a diver and did not like to wear aprons in the kitchen. 

To chop an onion he was wearing stone crusher running shoes, a lab coat with a mask and snorkel.  He was wearing shorts under the coat but you couldn't see them.

I wish I had a photograph of that but I was laughing so hard I couldn't find the camera.

It's true, goggles help to prevent tearing when cutting onions.

 Cutting off the root end of the onion is c helpful. It's also useful to breathe through your mouth
when cutting an onion.  Holding a wooden matchstick between your teeth helps a lot.

At the very least you can say that you eyes are watering with joy over the wonderful meal you will soon enjoy. 

         
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Library Dragon on April 28, 2013, 02:32:29 PM
I chop a large number of onions at one time and divvy them up into small Ziploc bags, put them inside another freezer bag, and freeze.  When I need 1/2 an onion I pull out a bag and there you are.  One day of tears, a month of chopped onions for cooking. 

I know there are others, but they are so automatic I cannot think of them.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 28, 2013, 02:45:38 PM
^ That is a really good idea.

I get organic onions from my food share and I don't find that they make me cry.

I grow a lot of my own herbs.  I've started clipping them regularly and either drying or freezing what I can't use right away.  The plants grow better the more you snip them.  I also discovered that you can't use a dehydrator to dry the herbs.  The heat strips out all the flavour.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Amara on April 28, 2013, 02:50:44 PM
How do you dry herbs? Microwave? Dehydrator?

As for the diver's mask and snorkel, I wasn't going to tell this on myself but I did the same thing (no lab coat, though). I was a scuba diver at the time, and I had the equipment around. I must have been a sight for the neighbors at the kitchen window.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 28, 2013, 02:52:12 PM
No to both of those - the heat kills the flavour.  I just tie them up by their stems and hang them in an out of the way spot until they are dry.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: magician5 on April 28, 2013, 03:07:05 PM
I use professional cookware. It's heavyweight, so it distributes heat better and prevents burning, and it's almost indestructible ... and most items are cheaper than (what I call) "prettyware". Who needs Calphalon or Le Creuset? Your local suppliers may or may not welcome the public, because they ask for too much hand-holding, but it's worth a call.

If you don't have a good resto supply store in your area,

see http://www.usfoodsculinaryequipmentandsupplies.com/

or  http://www.usfoodsculinaryequipmentandsupplies.com/

or http://www.katom.com/

or http://www.centralrestaurant.com/
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Gumbysqueak on April 28, 2013, 03:22:46 PM
Advice that is incredibly cheesy and overdone. Clean as you cook. Plus if you have kids out in college/world, make triple batches and freeze them. Next time they stop by they have dinners to take home.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Dazi on April 28, 2013, 04:06:23 PM
I do the cut a bag of onions and freeze them bit as well.  I store them in the snack size bags and dump them into a freezer bag.  I also like to freeze slightly overripe fruit, like bananas, for smoothies.

Certain times of the year, it's just cheaper to buy the precut frozen stuff.  Bird's Eye has a onion and multi color bell pepper that I like to use when the price of peppers is high and I've used up my freezer stash.

I have a Vitamix and it's worth its weight in gold.

It's been awhile since I've grown my own herbs, but the quickest way to dry them was to hang them upside down by the stems and to point a small fan at them.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: MOM21SON on April 28, 2013, 04:17:12 PM
mashed potatoes.

My friend showed me this.  Instead of peeling the potatoes, just wash them and boil whole.  When cooked, rinse under cold running water and the skin just falls off very quickly.

Throw back in the pot and mash!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: SamiHami on April 28, 2013, 04:36:46 PM
I never have any issues with onions irritating my eyes. I just run them under cold water then cut them up. No need for goggles-just some cold water and a sharp knife is all it takes!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: MOM21SON on April 28, 2013, 06:34:07 PM
I put my onions in my 3 cup food processor.  No tears here.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on April 28, 2013, 06:38:54 PM
mashed potatoes.

My friend showed me this.  Instead of peeling the potatoes, just wash them and boil whole.  When cooked, rinse under cold running water and the skin just falls off very quickly.

Throw back in the pot and mash!

Better yet, instead of peeling potatoes, mash the skins too.  More flavorful.  :)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Julian on April 28, 2013, 06:52:34 PM
I keep my onions in the fridge, which cuts down the tears.

+1 on mashing potatoes with the skin on.  Yummy, and extra fibre too.

If you add too much liquid to mashed potatoes, add in a handful of grated cheese.  It thickens it up and is tasty too.  (I admit I sometimes deliberately 'oops' so I have an excuse to add the cheese...)

When making scones I melt the butter in the milk and pour in, rather than the traditional 'rub the butter into the flour'.  And I don't knead the mix.  The scones turn out light as a feather.

Keep a small pack of bacon and some Philly cream cheese in the freezer to add to dishes when needed.  It's possible to turn a 'meh, OK' dish to 'yummo!' with the addition of one or both.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: SheltieMom on April 28, 2013, 08:50:20 PM
If you put the onions in the freezer for 10 minutes or so, it really cuts the tears.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 28, 2013, 10:57:00 PM
I have onions in the freezer, too, but they were chopped by some lady in an onion factory somewhere, bagged up and sent to the grocery store for me to buy.   ;)

Speaking of onions, I had a salad yesterday with some onions  and boy do they hang around in your mouth...through toothpaste, through flossing, through mouthwash.  So I put a few fennel seeds in my mouth and chewed them up real good for a few minutes and then spit them out (excuse the image).  It worked like a charm.  Now I know how to get rid of onion mouth.  I read that you can do the same with anise seeds. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 28, 2013, 11:07:57 PM
As I mentioned in the other thread, I mix up eggs to be scrambled directly in the skillet...no bowl, whisk, blender or anything to wash. 
I also mix a serving of Second Nature egg substitute with a real egg to do a scramble. 

Tostadas:  Instead of serving the salad on a crispy tortilla, which always falls apart, I make a bowl of salad of shredded Iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro leaves, chopped onion, chopped olives and avocado and stir in some pre-shredded 2 percent sharp cheddar and Monterey jack.  Then I make a dressing of mayo, yogurt, pico pica hot sauce and lime juice and put that on the salad.  I cut some king size corn tortillas in wedges (8 per tortilla), fry them until crispy and serve along side the salad.  You could just use corn tortilla chips and heat them in the oven before serving.  If you like refried beans along side, you could have those, too.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 28, 2013, 11:11:09 PM
Caramelizing onions instead of just frying them until soft, really intensifies the flavor of whatever you are making.  I never just cook them until soft.  I add the garlic and let it get a little golden, too.

When using spices in a recipe, heat them in a little oil for a few seconds to really bring out the flavor.  If you are doing this with chilies, chili flakes or cayenne powder be careful not to do it too long or too high because the fumes can really choke you up and you'll be coughing like mad. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 28, 2013, 11:16:14 PM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 28, 2013, 11:22:01 PM
I keep thinking of things....
choosing lemons or limes:
Pick a small sized one that is heavy for it's size.  (I pick up a few, one by one, and 'weigh' them in the palm of my hand until I find one that is small and heavy.  I use that one for a comparison for all the other ones I am buying.   
Avocado:
I like the ones that when you barely press on the stem it gives a little.  And that are just barely getting past the firm side.  For some reason I think that the little depressed area just below the stem should not be soft.  If it gives too much I pass that one up.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: StarFaerie on April 29, 2013, 01:53:40 AM
When mashing potatoes use a handheld  mixer to do the mashing. Smoothest mash I've ever had.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Fliss on April 29, 2013, 03:56:36 AM

We grow about 15 different types of herbs, as well as garlic and chilli, and dry them using a 'Hotbox'. It's a large galvenised tool box, 1m long by 50cm tall by 60cm wide. We installed 2 L-shaped strips inside it at the top to hold 4 teflon trays, and use offcuts to do the same at the bottom of the box. The entire box is painted dark green, so it gets very hot.

The stuff to be dried is put in the trays, the box is closed, and the whole box is put out the backyard in the sun, sitting on top of two milk crates. The metal gains and holds heat, while still letting the moisture out. We've dried everything in it, without any problems. It takes about 3 days to do what would normally take a week in the electric dryer.

I'm going to try banana and apricots next summer and see if that works as well.

Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: o_gal on April 29, 2013, 09:23:08 AM
One of the best tips is one that I got from The Frugal Gourmet: Buy a 1 cup measure ladle.

Then, whenever you are making stock or soup or anything liquid, you will also be able to measure out exactly 1 cup. I just used it last week after making stock. I could easily ladle 2 cups into each ziplock freezer bag.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: emwithme on April 29, 2013, 09:24:25 AM
When your recipe says to fry onions and garlic together, put the onions in first and let them soften slightly before adding the garlic, otherwise they will "fight" in the pan and there'll be something *wrong* with the flavour (I'm synaesthetic so to me it tastes like angry and I can't put it into non-synasthetic words). 

When cooking minced/ground beef for eg a bolognese sauce or (my speciality) a cottage pie, add a splash of balsamic vinegar just as it finishes browning.  It will add a divine sweetness that is there, but not overtly. 

If your recipe calls for lemon/lime zest, but no juice (or the zest of three but the juice of one), chop the "naked" fruits into pieces and freeze - they are fabulous in gin&tonic (or similar drinks) - they cool the drink and add a zing of flavour, without watering the drink down like ice does.  [I have a friend who makes a lovely lemon drizzle cake and then gives me three naked lemons for my G&T].
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Thipu1 on April 29, 2013, 09:55:56 AM
Advice that is incredibly cheesy and overdone. Clean as you cook. Plus if you have kids out in college/world, make triple batches and freeze them. Next time they stop by they have dinners to take home.

Oh yes.  Clean as you cook is a given in our house.  Because we usually cook together, one does the 'Dop Mah' work (getting ingredients ready and cleaning the bowls after the ingredients are added) while the other does the actual cooking.  When you only have to face plates, a pan and flatware in the sink after dinner, clean-up is so much easier. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: amylouky on April 29, 2013, 10:02:34 AM
I cut EVERYTHING with a pizza cutter. Having small ones in the house that still need their food cut is so much easier that way. It goes right through almost anything, even soft bread which I hate trying to cut with a knife.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Coralreef on April 29, 2013, 01:31:41 PM
Cutting : I cut pizza, bread sticks, green onions, etc. with kitchen scissors.  Get high quality ones, they last for years.

Mushrooms : I cook them in a pan with butter to remove the excess water.  That way, the pizza does not get soggy during cooking.

With fresh herbs, I freeze them in a bit of water in an ice cube tray.  That gets transfered into a ziploc bag. 

Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Figgie on April 29, 2013, 01:36:05 PM
Stick flour, cornmeal, dried pasta and rice in the freezer for 2-3 days.  It kills off those horrid moths.  I generally store any flour that isn't in my canister in the freezer. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: AmethystAnne on April 29, 2013, 01:40:09 PM
I use a jelly roll pan instead of the countertop when rolling out the dough for yeast rolls or biscuits.

The flour gets all over the place when I use the countertop. It stays mostly confined to the pan.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Ms_Cellany on April 29, 2013, 01:42:43 PM
mashed potatoes.

My friend showed me this.  Instead of peeling the potatoes, just wash them and boil whole.  When cooked, rinse under cold running water and the skin just falls off very quickly.

Throw back in the pot and mash!

I cut them in quarters before boiling; they cook faster that way.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on April 29, 2013, 02:21:14 PM
mashed potatoes.

My friend showed me this.  Instead of peeling the potatoes, just wash them and boil whole.  When cooked, rinse under cold running water and the skin just falls off very quickly.

Throw back in the pot and mash!

I cut them in quarters before boiling; they cook faster that way.

I do the same thing!  They're going to wind up a paste anyway.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Thipu1 on April 29, 2013, 02:23:58 PM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

The only kind of noodles we add to a soup is the very fine noodles that go into my Grandma's red chicken soup.  The noodles are so fine that we don't need to cook them in advance.  We just decide how much soup we'll be having for a meal, take a handful of noodles and drop them into the soup.  In two or three minutes the meal is ready. 

There's nothing better than wearing a flannel nightgown and bathrobe on an evening of filthy weather and slurping down a big bowl of home-made red chicken soup with noodles. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Katana_Geldar on April 29, 2013, 05:05:21 PM
DH and I found what has to be the easiest pasta ever. It was late and I didn't want to go down the shops and we had some bacon.

http://www.taste.com.au/kitchen/recipes/bacon+tomato+and+pasta,18387
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Delia DeLyons on April 29, 2013, 05:51:22 PM
I always preheat my frying pan before adding butter or oil. 

Generally speaking, most breakfast items for me center around 1 minute increments.  1 minute to preheat pan, 1 minute to let the butter melt, 1 minute per side of pancake or egg.  Over Medium heat, this system has not failed me, really simplifying my breakfast.

Unlike another poster, I do always break my eggs into a small bowl, in case one's bad, or there's a bit of shell to fish out (not fun to do on a hot pan.) I also salt and pepper them in the bowl and the spice sinks into the whites becoming part of the egg (I love eggs).

Use a papertowel to apply veg oil to your hot pan for pancakes - you'll never over oil.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Julian on April 29, 2013, 06:06:40 PM
When sauteeing, use half butter and half olive oil - the oil prevents the butter from burning, and you still get that lovely buttery taste.

And as a PP said, I keep all my flour/corn flour/custard powder etc in the freezer.  No greeblies in the flour, even the stuff I rarely use.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Dindrane on April 29, 2013, 11:56:51 PM
We have a couple of silicone basting brushes that we use to spread small amounts of oil around in a pan. It's great when just need a little for non-stick purposes, but don't want to overdo it.

Another trick that I have is actually a tool that my parents had (and that I grew up using). They have a small, somewhat shallow wooden bowl and a mezzaluna knife that has the same curvature of the bowl. It's fantastic for chopping small quantities of herbs or nuts or even onion or garlic, and way less messy than trying to do it on a cutting board. My brother gave me a mezzaluna and chopping bowl of my own as a gift at one point, and we use them all the time.

Really good, really sharp knives make all the difference in the world. I have just three Wusthof knives that nearly take care of all of our kitchen needs: an 8" chef's knife, an 8" sandwich knife (or something like that--it's less wide than the chef's knife), and a boning knife. I'd like a shorter paring knife at some point (since it can be easier to use for cutting up fruit), and I definitely want a better bread knife (ours is only so-so), but I can totally life without those for now. I love that the Wusthof knives are heavy weight and hold their edge so well. They are so much easier to use than the cheapo knives we had before.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Library Dragon on April 30, 2013, 12:02:39 AM
Stick flour, cornmeal, dried pasta and rice in the freezer for 2-3 days.  It kills off those horrid moths.  I generally store any flour that isn't in my canister in the freezer.

Yes!  Open my freezer and you will find rice, lentils, flour, barley, etc. 

I like my mushrooms cooked, but firm.  I cook in the combo of olive oil and butter recommended up thread.  Before fully cooked I turn off the heat.  The mushrooms continue to cook, but have a nice bite.

I like to make a big batch of crepes and freeze them in packets of 6.  They keep for months and are great for quick meals or desserts.  My DS's new GF announces at the first dinner over that she's a vegetarian?  No problem.  Pull out a the crepes, defrost, and stuff with cheese and a spinach.  Ack! I forgot that I have to bring a dessert for a dinner, party, meeting, etc.  No problem.  Blend together cream cheese and jam or marmalade and spread on the crepes.  Roll and sprinkle with sugar or cocoa.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Calistoga on April 30, 2013, 01:43:47 PM
A small strainer over a large pot with a lid or tea towel makes a perfect steamer.
Over-the-door shoe organizers are perfect for packet items, like soup mix, yeast, etc.
The chicken flavoring packets from ramen noodles are excellent for seasoning fried chicken. Usually you don't even need to add salt for a small batch, just add the flavoring packet in with your flour.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 30, 2013, 01:55:35 PM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

The only kind of noodles we add to a soup is the very fine noodles that go into my Grandma's red chicken soup.  The noodles are so fine that we don't need to cook them in advance.  We just decide how much soup we'll be having for a meal, take a handful of noodles and drop them into the soup.  In two or three minutes the meal is ready. 

There's nothing better than wearing a flannel nightgown and bathrobe on an evening of filthy weather and slurping down a big bowl of home-made red chicken soup with noodles.

I want to know what Red Chicken Soup is. Sounds yummy.

Bijou, why do you not like cooking your noodles in with the soup? Do you feel it thickens it too much or do you not like the starch added? Or does it have something to do with the pasta texture?
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on April 30, 2013, 02:28:46 PM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

The only kind of noodles we add to a soup is the very fine noodles that go into my Grandma's red chicken soup.  The noodles are so fine that we don't need to cook them in advance.  We just decide how much soup we'll be having for a meal, take a handful of noodles and drop them into the soup.  In two or three minutes the meal is ready. 

There's nothing better than wearing a flannel nightgown and bathrobe on an evening of filthy weather and slurping down a big bowl of home-made red chicken soup with noodles.

I want to know what Red Chicken Soup is. Sounds yummy.

Bijou, why do you not like cooking your noodles in with the soup? Do you feel it thickens it too much or do you not like the starch added? Or does it have something to do with the pasta texture?

My guess is she likes the noodles somewhat firm, and cooking them that long leaves them floppy.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Calistoga on April 30, 2013, 02:36:21 PM
I've noticed that cooking them in the soup, especially if it has chunks of veggies, makes the noodles break up in to pieces. I like my noodles nice and whole.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: BeagleMommy on April 30, 2013, 02:52:42 PM
When beating egg whites use a glass bowl (some metal bowls give the egg whites a metallic taste), put the egg whites in the bowl and place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  Perfect peaks every time.

From DS:  when grilling any meat, put it on the grill and leave it the ehell alone.  Flipping it every minute or (gasp!) pressing down on it will cause the juices to escape and you'll end up with dry, tasteless meat.  Also, don't be afraid of salt.  Most people don't cook with nearly enough to flavor food properly.  If you add enough while cooking, you won't need to add it later.

Ah, the joys of living with a culinary student.  He refuses to let me buy seasoned bread crumbs any more.  ::)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: CakeBeret on April 30, 2013, 03:09:58 PM
Use fresh herbs whenever possible. The flavors of fresh vs dried don't even compare. I buy fresh garlic year-round and fresh herbs when available. I'm also trying to grow my own basil, cilantro, and rosemary this year.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on April 30, 2013, 03:18:46 PM
Use fresh herbs whenever possible. The flavors of fresh vs dried don't even compare. I buy fresh garlic year-round and fresh herbs when available. I'm also trying to grow my own basil, cilantro, and rosemary this year.

I wish I had the space to use fresh.  I also wish my kitchen had a door... Bottomless Stomach Cat is fond of jumping on surfaces (to eat whatever may be there) if I leave the room for ten seconds (literally... she did just that yesterday), so I know that she'd graze on anything I tried to grow indoors, and we have hard clay for a yard.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: EmmaJ. on April 30, 2013, 03:21:22 PM
With fresh herbs, I freeze them in a bit of water in an ice cube tray.  That gets transfered into a ziploc bag.

I put mine in a plastic baggie, then wrap in aluminum foil, then freeze.  Freezing in water is better? 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: norrina on April 30, 2013, 03:39:21 PM
Avocado:
I like the ones that when you barely press on the stem it gives a little.  And that are just barely getting past the firm side.  For some reason I think that the little depressed area just below the stem should not be soft.  If it gives too much I pass that one up.

Another avocado tip: Gently remove the stem and look at the color under the stem. If it's green, the avocado is good. If it's brown, the avocado is rotten.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Calistoga on April 30, 2013, 03:48:42 PM
For home made stock.

If you ever make a whole chicken, save the bones to boil for stock. Once you have a nice broth, pour it in to an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer. Once the broth is frozen, you can pop the cubes out and put them in a ziplock bag. Whenever you need stock, you've now got it in convienant little servings.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: lady_disdain on April 30, 2013, 03:50:45 PM
Unlike another poster, I do always break my eggs into a small bowl, in case one's bad, or there's a bit of shell to fish out (not fun to do on a hot pan.) I also salt and pepper them in the bowl and the spice sinks into the whites becoming part of the egg (I love eggs).


Yup. After cracking a rotten egg directly onto a hot pan, I will never do that again. Hot sulfur is not a pleasant smell and it took days to get the kitchen smelling fresh again.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: lady_disdain on April 30, 2013, 03:53:06 PM
For home made stock.

If you ever make a whole chicken, save the bones to boil for stock. Once you have a nice broth, pour it in to an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer. Once the broth is frozen, you can pop the cubes out and put them in a ziplock bag. Whenever you need stock, you've now got it in convienant little servings.

If you are going to freeze stock, reduce the stock before freezing. Each cube will have more "stock power" and they will take up less room in the fridge. When using, add extra water to bring it back up. If you are in a hurry, just pop the ice cubes in and your sauce or soup won't need to be reduced as much before it is ready (the flavours won't meld as well but, given enough hunger, that is not a problem).
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bijou on April 30, 2013, 04:33:42 PM
I always preheat my frying pan before adding butter or oil. 

Generally speaking, most breakfast items for me center around 1 minute increments.  1 minute to preheat pan, 1 minute to let the butter melt, 1 minute per side of pancake or egg.  Over Medium heat, this system has not failed me, really simplifying my breakfast.

Unlike another poster, I do always break my eggs into a small bowl, in case one's bad, or there's a bit of shell to fish out (not fun to do on a hot pan.) I also salt and pepper them in the bowl and the spice sinks into the whites becoming part of the egg (I love eggs).

Use a papertowel to apply veg oil to your hot pan for pancakes - you'll never over oil.
The bad egg problem is a good point, but I hate to do dishes with a passion, and have so far not come upon a bad egg.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: buvezdevin on April 30, 2013, 04:44:43 PM
With fresh herbs, I freeze them in a bit of water in an ice cube tray.  That gets transfered into a ziploc bag.

I put mine in a plastic baggie, then wrap in aluminum foil, then freeze.  Freezing in water is better?

I have not tried freezing herbs often, but read somewhere that freezing in olive oil works well, especially for tender herbs like basil.  Then again, I have not yet grown basil in sufficient amounts to have enough to freeze - until last year, and then I did not get to it timely.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on April 30, 2013, 06:12:27 PM
Yeast does not like metal... if you are waking up "yeasties" as my Foods teacher called them, use wooden or plastic utensils and a wooden or glass bowl for the best results from your yeast.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Firecat on April 30, 2013, 06:49:35 PM
If you've been chopping onions and need to get the smell off your fingers, simply rub your fingers over something made of steel, such as the kitchen faucet. There's a chemical reaction that will get rid of the smell very quickly.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 30, 2013, 07:21:46 PM
I always preheat my frying pan before adding butter or oil. 

Generally speaking, most breakfast items for me center around 1 minute increments.  1 minute to preheat pan, 1 minute to let the butter melt, 1 minute per side of pancake or egg.  Over Medium heat, this system has not failed me, really simplifying my breakfast.

Unlike another poster, I do always break my eggs into a small bowl, in case one's bad, or there's a bit of shell to fish out (not fun to do on a hot pan.) I also salt and pepper them in the bowl and the spice sinks into the whites becoming part of the egg (I love eggs).

Use a papertowel to apply veg oil to your hot pan for pancakes - you'll never over oil.
The bad egg problem is a good point, but I hate to do dishes with a passion, and have so far not come upon a bad egg.

Bijou, I grew up with a mom who had a master's in home ec. She never broke her eggs into a bowl to scramble, just directly into a pan and stirred them up with a spatula. There was never a rotten egg or a shell in her eggs. And I kind of liked having a few bits of cooked egg whites in my eggs. I didn't like restaurant scrambled eggs because they had a uniform color.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: KenveeB on April 30, 2013, 07:48:31 PM
I'm ashamed to say that I can't think of a good tip right now, but I want to post for updates anyway!  :-[
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Acadianna on April 30, 2013, 08:05:37 PM
Really good, really sharp knives make all the difference in the world. I have just three Wusthof knives that nearly take care of all of our kitchen needs: an 8" chef's knife, an 8" sandwich knife (or something like that--it's less wide than the chef's knife), and a boning knife. I'd like a shorter paring knife at some point (since it can be easier to use for cutting up fruit), and I definitely want a better bread knife (ours is only so-so), but I can totally life without those for now. I love that the Wusthof knives are heavy weight and hold their edge so well. They are so much easier to use than the cheapo knives we had before.

I also have Wusthof knives, and love them.  Wusthof makes a mezzaluna set, by the way.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Dindrane on April 30, 2013, 11:43:36 PM
Avocado:
I like the ones that when you barely press on the stem it gives a little.  And that are just barely getting past the firm side.  For some reason I think that the little depressed area just below the stem should not be soft.  If it gives too much I pass that one up.

Another avocado tip: Gently remove the stem and look at the color under the stem. If it's green, the avocado is good. If it's brown, the avocado is rotten.

I read that trick somewhere and have been doing that the past few times I bought avocados. It's helped me pick out decent ones.

I do still rely on the "squeeze gently to test ripeness" method, though. Partly it's because avocados I can buy are expensive and often mediocre in quality, so I want to be as sure as I can be that I'm getting a good one. It also helps me gauge how quickly I can/need to use the avocado before it's too ripe. Sometimes I'm looking for avocado that I want to use right away, and other times I'm looking for one that will last for a few days before I use it (which means I can give a not-quite-ripe one a few days to ripen).

I typically test both the top and bottom initially, and then check everywhere else for bruises. If there are no super soft spots, I'll flick the stem off to see what color is underneath.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: sparksals on May 01, 2013, 12:40:05 AM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

I learned the pasta tip the hard way when i was learning to cook.  Left it too long and the pasta absorbed all the broth.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Giggity on May 01, 2013, 05:21:11 AM
Chop up your fresh herbs, put 'em in an ice tray, pour olive oil over, freeze. May take awhile, but it's so good.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Calistoga on May 01, 2013, 09:29:34 AM
On the knife thing- TAKE CARE OF YOUR KNIVES!

If you're chopping and want to rake up your veggies/herbs in to a little pile, do it with the flat back of the knife, not the sharp blade. Scraping with the blade of your knife can dull it faster.

Please please please get some kind of storage block for your knives. I keep my good ones in a knife roll, but a block or magnetic strip is great too. Throwing a nice sharp knife in a drawer where it knocks against other knifes and stuff will dull it.

Quote
If you are going to freeze stock, reduce the stock before freezing. Each cube will have more "stock power" and they will take up less room in the fridge. When using, add extra water to bring it back up. If you are in a hurry, just pop the ice cubes in and your sauce or soup won't need to be reduced as much before it is ready (the flavours won't meld as well but, given enough hunger, that is not a problem).

This. Definitely.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Miss Tickle on May 01, 2013, 10:03:09 AM
The trick to getting eggshells out to use the eggshell. For whatever reason, the little shell bit doesn't slip away from the 'mother" eggshell. I hope that makes sense. I always check my eggs for freshness before cracking by placing in cold water.  If they lay flat they're good and fresh, if they stand up, not so fresh (and different freshness works for different recipes) and if they float throw them out.
 
Here's another:  You can absorb excess moisture in your crisper with crystal cat litter. (sodium silicate) It's the same stuff they put in pill bottles that say "DO NOT EAT" and if you put a little in a bag of some sort you can use over and over.  When the crystals lose their colour you just pop them in the oven on low for a while and they'll refresh. I usually use the toe off a pair of runny nylons. Yes, I still have to wear nylons to work.

What else…

Keep asparagus upright in a steep sided dish with a little water and it will last much longer. Same with herbs and celery. Plus it makes your fridge look like a garden centre.

Ice cube trays are also good for freezing pesto and wine for sauces and flat soda or juice for drinks.  In the summer I'll add a slice of lemon or lime and a berry or two for a nice twist. 

If you like ice water through the day but hate waiting until it melts, freeze your bottle half full, lying on it's side. Then you can fill the other half with water.

Cream of Tartar and vinegar will remove the black gunk that builds up on pots and pans. (It will also help remove mold and mildew for showers and bathtubs).

Fresh fish floats too (most of the time) but if your fish is iffy, thaw it in milk and usually that will eliminate most of the fishy smell.
 
Soaking game meat in cola overnight will help reduce the gamey flavour.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Thipu1 on May 01, 2013, 10:14:30 AM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

The only kind of noodles we add to a soup is the very fine noodles that go into my Grandma's red chicken soup.  The noodles are so fine that we don't need to cook them in advance.  We just decide how much soup we'll be having for a meal, take a handful of noodles and drop them into the soup. 
In two or three minutes the meal is ready. 

There's nothing better than wearing a flannel nightgown and bathrobe on an evening of filthy weather and slurping down a big bowl of home-made red chicken soup with noodles.

I want to know what Red Chicken Soup is. Sounds yummy.

Bijou, why do you not like cooking your noodles in with the soup? Do you feel it thickens it too much or do you not like the starch added? Or does it have something to do with the pasta texture?

I've never seen the recipe for red chicken soup.  It's one of those old-fashioned concoctions that call for a 'handful' of this, a 'pinch' of that a piece of butter 'the size of a nut'.  You know the sort of thing. 

You boil down a carcass for broth then add sautéed onions, chopped carrots, and chopped celery with
 herbs of your choice. If you handle the carcass right, bits of chicken meat will be included.

  The red comes from either fresh tomatoes or a small can of tomato sauce.  The preferred way to eat it was not as a soup but as a dish of tiny, silky noodles with the soup as a sauce. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Bexx27 on May 01, 2013, 10:18:00 AM
With fresh herbs, I freeze them in a bit of water in an ice cube tray.  That gets transfered into a ziploc bag.

I put mine in a plastic baggie, then wrap in aluminum foil, then freeze.  Freezing in water is better?

It depends on the type of herb. For "spriggy" herbs like rosemary and thyme, I freeze them whole in a plastic baggie and break off what I need. This doesn't work so well for leafy herbs like basil and parsley, which turn black. I chop and freeze those with water in an ice cube tray. Olive oil might be even better than water.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 01, 2013, 01:17:48 PM
If I am adding an kind of pasta to a soup, I never cook it in the soup.  I cook them separately and drain them well before adding. 
If I am using fresh mushrooms in a pasta sauce I don't add any water to the sauce because the mushrooms release so much.

The only kind of noodles we add to a soup is the very fine noodles that go into my Grandma's red chicken soup.  The noodles are so fine that we don't need to cook them in advance.  We just decide how much soup we'll be having for a meal, take a handful of noodles and drop them into the soup. 
In two or three minutes the meal is ready. 

There's nothing better than wearing a flannel nightgown and bathrobe on an evening of filthy weather and slurping down a big bowl of home-made red chicken soup with noodles.

I want to know what Red Chicken Soup is. Sounds yummy.

Bijou, why do you not like cooking your noodles in with the soup? Do you feel it thickens it too much or do you not like the starch added? Or does it have something to do with the pasta texture?

I've never seen the recipe for red chicken soup.  It's one of those old-fashioned concoctions that call for a 'handful' of this, a 'pinch' of that a piece of butter 'the size of a nut'.  You know the sort of thing. 

You boil down a carcass for broth then add sautéed onions, chopped carrots, and chopped celery with
 herbs of your choice. If you handle the carcass right, bits of chicken meat will be included.

  The red comes from either fresh tomatoes or a small can of tomato sauce.  The preferred way to eat it was not as a soup but as a dish of tiny, silky noodles with the soup as a sauce.
Thanks... I was first imagining something with a red curry sauce. But then I realized you were probably referring to a chicken soup with tomato sauce added versus chicken soup without tomatoes. But you inspired me to make up Really Red Chicken Soup... chicken soup with tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red lentils, and red beans :)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: SouthernBelle on May 01, 2013, 01:47:53 PM
Re:  Knife storage

If you are like me, counter space is at a premium.  I went to the big box hardware store and bought a magnetic strip made for heavier tools.  I attached it under my upper cabinets, at the corner for depth.  My knives are at hand, but out of site.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Kaypeep on May 01, 2013, 03:05:37 PM
My tips:
- Dampen a paper towel and lie it flat on the counter underneath your cutting board to keep the cutting board from sliding around on the counter.

- to save on washing dishes I will use aluminum foil to cover a pan and prevent splatters while cooking meat (instead of a pan lid) and then I'll flip the foil over and use it to wrap the meat and keep it in the fridge. (I do this when making chicken cutlets or even bacon, when I know I'll have leftovers that need to be wrapped up and stored for later.)

- When making breaded chicken cutlets, I do the breading (flour, then egg,then crumbs) and leave the cutlets to sit for a while.  The breading seems to stay on better this way than it does if I cook them right away.

- One tip I learned watching that old reality show about Rocco DiSpirito's restaurant was his mom made reknown meatballs, and she said the secret was to mix the meat and seasonings and let the mix sit overnight in the fridge, then make the meatballs with it the next day.  I started to do that it really made a difference. They tasted much better!

- Kosher Salt.  I don't use table salt for cooking (except baking) at all anymore.  Kosher salt just has a much better flavor and does so much more than common table salt.

Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: GreenHall on May 01, 2013, 03:17:28 PM
Not even sure why it crossed my mind the first time, but since I started adding Baking Soda in with my dishwasher detergent, it seems to be doing much better! (HARD water)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on May 01, 2013, 04:15:35 PM
Not even sure why it crossed my mind the first time, but since I started adding Baking Soda in with my dishwasher detergent, it seems to be doing much better! (HARD water)

Ooooooh....
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Maggie on May 01, 2013, 04:40:32 PM
For southerners they may already know this tip but I just discovered it, add about a 1/4 tsp of baking soda when you are steeping your tea and before you add sugar.  It makes the most amazing sweet tea!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on May 01, 2013, 05:15:11 PM
For southerners they may already know this tip but I just discovered it, add about a 1/4 tsp of baking soda when you are steeping your tea and before you add sugar.  It makes the most amazing sweet tea!

As in sweet iced tea?  Hmm... I'm due to make a batch soon...
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Maggie on May 01, 2013, 05:23:03 PM
I learned there are several things you can do to completely eliminate any bitter taste.  Pour boiling water over the tea bags and the baking soda.  Let that steep for 20-30 minutes and then pour over the sugar in the pitcher and let it dissolve.  Finally add enough water to make a gallon.  It will be the best iced tea you've ever had!  At least I think it is.  The recipe came from a restaurant in Texas. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Ms_Cellany on May 01, 2013, 05:31:39 PM
I learned there are several things you can do to completely eliminate any bitter taste.  Pour boiling water over the tea bags and the baking soda.  Let that steep for 20-30 minutes and then pour over the sugar in the pitcher and let it dissolve.  Finally add enough water to make a gallon.  It will be the best iced tea you've ever had!  At least I think it is.  The recipe came from a restaurant in Texas. 

How many tea bags and how much baking soda for a gallon?
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Maggie on May 01, 2013, 05:58:52 PM
I learned there are several things you can do to completely eliminate any bitter taste.  Pour boiling water over the tea bags and the baking soda.  Let that steep for 20-30 minutes and then pour over the sugar in the pitcher and let it dissolve.  Finally add enough water to make a gallon.  It will be the best iced tea you've ever had!  At least I think it is.  The recipe came from a restaurant in Texas. 


How many tea bags and how much baking soda for a gallon?

I use about 3 of the quart size bags and the recipe says a 1/4 tsp of baking soda but I use just a little less than that.  If you like stronger tea though you can use more.  My kids say my tea is colored sweet water but yet they still drink it by the gallon :)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 01, 2013, 06:13:48 PM
My tips:

- When making breaded chicken cutlets, I do the breading (flour, then egg,then crumbs) and leave the cutlets to sit for a while.  The breading seems to stay on better this way than it does if I cook them right away.


I wanted to mention that in some Cooks Illustrated article from a decade ago, they suggested doing this and putting them on a cooling rack. It does work wonders for crisping up the bread crumbs and improving adherance. I also find that I can use a lot less oil (I just spritz mine with grapeseed oil)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: dawnfire on May 01, 2013, 06:35:46 PM
On the knife thing- TAKE CARE OF YOUR KNIVES!

If you're chopping and want to rake up your veggies/herbs in to a little pile, do it with the flat back of the knife, not the sharp blade. Scraping with the blade of your knife can dull it faster.

Please please please get some kind of storage block for your knives. I keep my good ones in a knife roll, but a block or magnetic strip is great too. Throwing a nice sharp knife in a drawer where it knocks against other knifes and stuff will dull it.

Quote
If you are going to freeze stock, reduce the stock before freezing. Each cube will have more "stock power" and they will take up less room in the fridge. When using, add extra water to bring it back up. If you are in a hurry, just pop the ice cubes in and your sauce or soup won't need to be reduced as much before it is ready (the flavours won't meld as well but, given enough hunger, that is not a problem).

This. Definitely.

If you have a knife block store the knifes blade up as you can blunt the blade putting it blade down.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Luci on May 01, 2013, 09:41:45 PM
Lettuce for salad from a head of iceberg: I was always told it must be torn to keep it from wilting and getting icky.

I have just found that I can cut a slice off the head with a very, very sharp knife and it keeps just fine.

(Bamming the stem on the counter and pulling out the core is a given. Then I munch on the core for a bit.)

We also know that iceburg isn't all that healthful, but it is a good carrier for tomatoes, celery, carrots and all that other stuff.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: RebeccainGA on May 02, 2013, 07:28:23 AM
My trick, which I share widely, if if you like loin cuts of meat (beef or pork), such as center cut pork chops or filet mignon, buy the whole loin and disassemble it yourself. I get perfect, huge, wonderful pork chops (usually 16-18) and a large loin roast (the end of the loin, where the flesh texture changes and isn't ideal for chops) from a pork loin that costs me about $20. I'm not talking about the little shrink wrapped pre-marinated ones from the grocery store, I'm talking about the huge ones from Costco or Sams' club.

I put a jelly roll pan (a big ugly one that I use for a lot of these kinds of jobs, not for baking) on the counter, drop the loin onto it, slice it into chops about 3/4 inch thick (the pan catches any drips), and then freeze them. At my house, you can always find nice chops in the freezer.

The giant industrial jelly roll pan is also useful for lots of messy things in the kitchen. Mixing meatloaf? Use the pan (you can get a better folding action for incorporating starches, IMO, on a flat surface). Stuffing chicken breasts? Flatten on the pan, then stuff and roll. Making anything sticky? Spray the pan with canola oil and use it to mix things on - even in a bowl, putting the bowl on the pan. No more sticky stuff on the counter you have to scrub like mad - just throw the pan in the dishwasher. Love it!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: JenJay on May 02, 2013, 07:41:01 AM
My trick, which I share widely, if if you like loin cuts of meat (beef or pork), such as center cut pork chops or filet mignon, buy the whole loin and disassemble it yourself. I get perfect, huge, wonderful pork chops (usually 16-18) and a large loin roast (the end of the loin, where the flesh texture changes and isn't ideal for chops) from a pork loin that costs me about $20. I'm not talking about the little shrink wrapped pre-marinated ones from the grocery store, I'm talking about the huge ones from Costco or Sams' club.

I put a jelly roll pan (a big ugly one that I use for a lot of these kinds of jobs, not for baking) on the counter, drop the loin onto it, slice it into chops about 3/4 inch thick (the pan catches any drips), and then freeze them. At my house, you can always find nice chops in the freezer.

The giant industrial jelly roll pan is also useful for lots of messy things in the kitchen. Mixing meatloaf? Use the pan (you can get a better folding action for incorporating starches, IMO, on a flat surface). Stuffing chicken breasts? Flatten on the pan, then stuff and roll. Making anything sticky? Spray the pan with canola oil and use it to mix things on - even in a bowl, putting the bowl on the pan. No more sticky stuff on the counter you have to scrub like mad - just throw the pan in the dishwasher. Love it!

Thank you!! For some reason I have the absolute worst luck with pork chops - they are always dry and/or rubbery. I've tried every cooking style and recipe and they never turn out (except when DH grills them over the fire pit - then they're better than steak!). I seem to have good luck with those large loins, though, so I'm going to try this. Not to mention that it'll be cheaper than buying 6 thick chops at a time!  :D
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Moonie on May 02, 2013, 08:20:58 AM
When making deviled eggs, put the yolks in a ziplock or sandwich bag, add your mayo and whatever else you put in them. Mash everything together in the bag, then snip off a corner of the bag and use it to pipe the yolk into the whites. No mess at all!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Lexophile on May 02, 2013, 10:57:45 AM
To clean your sink disposal: Throw in some ice cubes and lemon halves. Switch it on, turn on the water, and let it run until it sounds like it's done.

When boiling eggs: Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water. The shells will slide right off when they are done cooking.

Leftover quinoa: Makes a star addition to a breakfast bowl.  It's a superfood, high-quality protein, and I don't know about you, but when I make it for dinner I end up with tons of it leftover. I pile it up on top of Greek yogurt with some blueberries, almonds, and ground flaxseed.

Salad bank: I have an enormous popcorn bowl with an airtight lid that I use for salad greens. Each week, I buy a large tub of prewashed greens and dump it into the bowl. If you keep the lid on it, the greens will keep for awhile and I can just reach in and grab a handful for a quick salad in a pinch.

Fruit/veggie wash: I fill half my kitchen sink with water and throw in a cup of plain white vinegar when I get home from grocery shopping. Then I dump all my produce in (sometimes in batches if I have a lot) and let it all float around for about 10 minutes before putting it away. All the gunk stays in the water and I can rinse it, dry it, and it's ready to eat. This helps them last longer in storage too and I peel off the little stickers as I put them in the sink so I don't have to worry about that later.

Caring for non-stick cookware: One of the sales staff at Williams Sonoma told us to never, ever use spray-on cooking oil in our non-stick cookware. It will damage the teflon and make it flake off into your food. She also told us to never heat non-stick beyond medium heat, as that will damage it as well. Wait until it cools before cleaning it.

Cooking crab legs: I pounce on crabs legs when they go on sale. To cook them, I wrap themin clean dishtowels that are damp, then seal them up in plastic wrap or a large plastic bag. I pop them in the microwave and cook on full power for two minutes. Perfect crab legs every time.

Microwave popcorn: Expensive and bad for you to boot. I buy bulk popcorn and pop it in a paper bag in my microwave. Just pour about 1/3 cup of popcorn into a plain paper bag, fold down the top a couple times, and pop it on full power for about 1.5 minutes. No nasty chemicals. You can add a little melted butter, salt, whatever you want.

I have more, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head.  :D
(Edited for typos)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Kariachi on May 02, 2013, 11:22:00 AM
I'm still learning my way around the kitchen, but here are a few things me/my family does that work for us.

1) For people who use House Autry breading: Don't use them for what they say to. Use chicken breading for pork, pork breading for beef and onions (butter, beef, onions, pork breading, thickened on the stove, over rice, trust me), and medium-hot for everything you can think of.

2) When making chocolate brownies from box, remove about a tablespoon of mix and replace with ground coffee. You can hardly taste it, but it makes the chocolate stand out so well.

3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

4) If you're making a boxed cake to take somewhere, or you think it'll have to sit, add a box of pudding mix. Not only does this make the cake amazingly moist, but it won't go stale. Ever.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: magicdomino on May 02, 2013, 11:29:26 AM
My trick, which I share widely, if if you like loin cuts of meat (beef or pork), such as center cut pork chops or filet mignon, buy the whole loin and disassemble it yourself. I get perfect, huge, wonderful pork chops (usually 16-18) and a large loin roast (the end of the loin, where the flesh texture changes and isn't ideal for chops) from a pork loin that costs me about $20. I'm not talking about the little shrink wrapped pre-marinated ones from the grocery store, I'm talking about the huge ones from Costco or Sams' club.


I also get the big whole pork loins and chop them up myself.  I like to cut up the less fatty end for stir-frying, freezing a recipe's worth in each quart freezer bag.  In fact, the stir-fy meat is getting used more often than the chops, so the next loin will be cut up accordingly.  I've also ground pork loin and a couple of shrimp with the KitchenAid grinder attachment, and made my own won-tons for the freezer. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: sparksals on May 02, 2013, 11:42:04 AM
My tips:
- Dampen a paper towel and lie it flat on the counter underneath your cutting board to keep the cutting board from sliding around on the counter.



I use the non-slip rubber stuff for under carpets/rugs.   It works great to put under cutting boards and is reusable and I throw it on the top rack of the dishwasher when it needs washing. [size=78%]I cut it to the size of my largest cutting board, then fold it in half if I am using my smaller board.[/size][size=78%]  [/size][size=78%]I know some other people line their cupboards with them as well.  [/size]




Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: sparksals on May 02, 2013, 11:42:50 AM
My trick, which I share widely, if if you like loin cuts of meat (beef or pork), such as center cut pork chops or filet mignon, buy the whole loin and disassemble it yourself. I get perfect, huge, wonderful pork chops (usually 16-18) and a large loin roast (the end of the loin, where the flesh texture changes and isn't ideal for chops) from a pork loin that costs me about $20. I'm not talking about the little shrink wrapped pre-marinated ones from the grocery store, I'm talking about the huge ones from Costco or Sams' club.

I put a jelly roll pan (a big ugly one that I use for a lot of these kinds of jobs, not for baking) on the counter, drop the loin onto it, slice it into chops about 3/4 inch thick (the pan catches any drips), and then freeze them. At my house, you can always find nice chops in the freezer.

The giant industrial jelly roll pan is also useful for lots of messy things in the kitchen. Mixing meatloaf? Use the pan (you can get a better folding action for incorporating starches, IMO, on a flat surface). Stuffing chicken breasts? Flatten on the pan, then stuff and roll. Making anything sticky? Spray the pan with canola oil and use it to mix things on - even in a bowl, putting the bowl on the pan. No more sticky stuff on the counter you have to scrub like mad - just throw the pan in the dishwasher. Love it!


What a great idea!!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on May 02, 2013, 12:14:39 PM
3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

Assuming we're talking American biscuits and British ones, here's something I discovered:  Use a bread pan, make a biscuit loaf.  Buttered slices of biscuit bread are SO GOOD.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Luci on May 02, 2013, 12:31:16 PM
3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

Assuming we're talking American biscuits and British ones, here's something I discovered:  Use a bread pan, make a biscuit loaf.  Buttered slices of biscuit bread are SO GOOD.

I use a pizza cutter for the bolded. When making fudge, I flip the cooled product onto a giant cutting board and cut it with the pizza cutter, to.

Diane AKA Traska - trying the biscuit loaf now! How long to bake at what temp?
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on May 02, 2013, 12:34:47 PM
3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

Assuming we're talking American biscuits and British ones, here's something I discovered:  Use a bread pan, make a biscuit loaf.  Buttered slices of biscuit bread are SO GOOD.

I use a pizza cutter for the bolded. When making fudge, I flip the cooled product onto a giant cutting board and cut it with the pizza cutter, to.

Diane AKA Traska - trying the biscuit loaf now! How long to bake at what temp?

Sadly, I no longer remember (it's been... oh deity, it's been THAT LONG... I need to make some soon).  I inherited my cooking traits from Mom, and sadly she was the kind of cook that never wrote anything down.  I'm better these days.  But I'd start with regular biscuit time and test for doneness, then best-guess it.  That's my plan for an upcoming weekend.  I'm not craving biscuit bread again.  Oooh... and I'm already planning on trying fried chicken soon.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: RebeccainGA on May 02, 2013, 01:17:41 PM
Forgot one that I picked up at a greasy spoon in Austin, TX - cracker meal on chicken. CRUD MONKEYS!. I take the tag ends of the cracker package (there is always that three or four no one wants to eat) and save them in the freezer in a big bag. I smash them with a rolling pin, and mix a handful into the flour for frying chicken. Add a lot of seasoning (we use 1 Tbsp. of granulated garlic, 1 Tbsp. of seasoned salt, and a couple dashes of cayenne to about four cups of flour and one cup cracker meal, and use as much as needed for the chicken we're making (reserving the rest in bags for another time, BEFORE you roll the chicken in it).

Shallow fried in cast iron, that's the best chicken I've ever eaten. May have to make some tonight, now.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: JenJay on May 02, 2013, 01:27:09 PM
Forgot one that I picked up at a greasy spoon in Austin, TX - cracker meal on chicken. CRUD MONKEYS!. I take the tag ends of the cracker package (there is always that three or four no one wants to eat) and save them in the freezer in a big bag. I smash them with a rolling pin, and mix a handful into the flour for frying chicken. Add a lot of seasoning (we use 1 Tbsp. of granulated garlic, 1 Tbsp. of seasoned salt, and a couple dashes of cayenne to about four cups of flour and one cup cracker meal, and use as much as needed for the chicken we're making (reserving the rest in bags for another time, BEFORE you roll the chicken in it).

Shallow fried in cast iron, that's the best chicken I've ever eaten. May have to make some tonight, now.

My former favorite chicken strip coating called for crushed saltines and instant potato flakes. That was really good! We try to avoid grains now so we use a combo of almond meal and grated parmesan cheese. It's so good that, even if I wasn't concerned with grains, I'd still do my chicken with it!

The saltines/flakes recipe, if anyone is interested - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-fried-chicken/detail.aspx
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 02, 2013, 01:34:34 PM
3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

Assuming we're talking American biscuits and British ones, here's something I discovered:  Use a bread pan, make a biscuit loaf.  Buttered slices of biscuit bread are SO GOOD.

I use a pizza cutter for the bolded. When making fudge, I flip the cooled product onto a giant cutting board and cut it with the pizza cutter, to.

Diane AKA Traska - trying the biscuit loaf now! How long to bake at what temp?

Sadly, I no longer remember (it's been... oh deity, it's been THAT LONG... I need to make some soon).  I inherited my cooking traits from Mom, and sadly she was the kind of cook that never wrote anything down.  I'm better these days.  But I'd start with regular biscuit time and test for doneness, then best-guess it.  That's my plan for an upcoming weekend.  I'm not craving biscuit bread again.  Oooh... and I'm already planning on trying fried chicken soon.

I started looking for a recipe as soon as I saw Diane's post.  This is what I'm using tonight.
http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/buttermilk-biscuit-bread/
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on May 02, 2013, 02:18:59 PM
Ohhhhh yeahhhh... that's the stuff...
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: TootsNYC on May 02, 2013, 02:23:33 PM
3) For making biscuits: If you don't care about having a round shape, or don't like rolling dough, just pat it out and cut it in rectangles/squares with a chef's knife. As long as you dust the knife with flour between cuts it won't stick, you don't have to worry about hunting and searching for your cutter, and if the dough isn't evenly thick then you can alter the size of the biscuits to promote even cooking. Also, you don't have to worry about scraps.

Assuming we're talking American biscuits and British ones, here's something I discovered:  Use a bread pan, make a biscuit loaf.  Buttered slices of biscuit bread are SO GOOD.

I use a pizza cutter for the bolded. When making fudge, I flip the cooled product onto a giant cutting board and cut it with the pizza cutter, to.


I was going to suggest the pizza cutter.

And my grandma had a sour-cream cookie recipe that you cut into rectangles, bcs the dough is too soft to do any handling.

But you could do the same "cut it into rectangles/triangles/diamonds" trick w/ regular sugar-cookie dough--a fast way to get them all baked.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: magicdomino on May 02, 2013, 03:12:03 PM
I started looking for a recipe as soon as I saw Diane's post.  This is what I'm using tonight.
http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/buttermilk-biscuit-bread/

Hm, I wonder how that would work for strawberry shortcake.  I love the biscuit kind, but my biscuits never quite work right.  Last year, I tried a sweetened cream biscuit, and they were blah lumps with a mealy texture. 
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: jpcher on May 02, 2013, 04:49:13 PM
When making deviled eggs, put the yolks in a ziplock or sandwich bag, add your mayo and whatever else you put in them. Mash everything together in the bag, then snip off a corner of the bag and use it to pipe the yolk into the whites. No mess at all!

AWESOME! ;D

(I'm passing this on to DD#2 -- she's the deviled egg maker in hour house.)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Luci on May 02, 2013, 05:09:23 PM
I started looking for a recipe as soon as I saw Diane's post.  This is what I'm using tonight.
http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/buttermilk-biscuit-bread/

Hm, I wonder how that would work for strawberry shortcake.  I love the biscuit kind, but my biscuits never quite work right.  Last year, I tried a sweetened cream biscuit, and they were blah lumps with a mealy texture.

Thanks, Hmmmmm!

magicdomino, I think it would work just fine. We use angelfood cake and pound cake with strawberries, so the bicuit bread would look the same, and tast oh so much better.

Great! Now Atkins is going to have to take a couple of days off, and I was doing so well, too.  :-[

Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Ms_Cellany on May 02, 2013, 05:17:52 PM
We love home-prepared Ranch dressing (the Penzey's Spices ranch mix is to die for).

I buy buttermilk by the quart, and freeze it in one-cup batches. We're never more than a half-hour away from fresh Ranch!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: lilfox on May 02, 2013, 06:46:14 PM
When making deviled eggs, put the yolks in a ziplock or sandwich bag, add your mayo and whatever else you put in them. Mash everything together in the bag, then snip off a corner of the bag and use it to pipe the yolk into the whites. No mess at all!

In that vein, if you make pumpkin (or other types) purée at home, put 1, 2, or 3 cups' worth in appropriately sized freezer ziplocs.  Then when you use for baking, thaw and snip one corner and you can squeeze into the mixing bowl very easily.  It took me a few times opening the bag via the zipper and causing a mess before I learned this trick.  I think I originally read it as an easy way to squeeze pancake mix into neat circles, though I use a pitcher-style mixing bowl for that.

If a recipe calls for an unusual ingredient, at least try it that way once before altering if you don't think it would suit your tastes.  I tried a recipe for bacon, mushroom, and onion pasta that listed fresh mint  ??? as an ingredient.  It's good without, but the mint, chopped and sprinkled on top, really adds something special.  Also the recipe calls for adding salt each time an ingredient is added to the skillet - seemed like a lot but it turns out this is also necessary, without it the dish comes out surprisingly bland.  (I do reserve the right to not follow this rule if the recipe calls for Parmesan, which I can't stand and never miss.)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Kariachi on May 03, 2013, 09:57:01 AM
One I forgot!

1) When making ginger krinkles (probably works for other cookies, but I only do it for ginger krinkles), make them larger than the recipe says. I try to have them somewhere around golfball-sized when I roll them. Yes, you get less cookies per batch (I generally get around 1.5 dozen), but they come out amazingly soft and delectable, still cooked through in the same amount of time. They do spread together, so you have to take your spatula and cut them apart some, but for people like me who don't like crunchy cookies, those edges are always just as chewy as the inner cookie. I baked some for my mom's work-buddies a few years back, now they ask about them every December.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: magicdomino on May 03, 2013, 10:02:50 AM
I've found that larger chocolate chip cookies are also chewier than small ones.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 23, 2013, 09:12:53 PM
I love to cook, and I am posting for updates!
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Firecat on May 23, 2013, 09:51:56 PM
I started looking for a recipe as soon as I saw Diane's post.  This is what I'm using tonight.
http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/buttermilk-biscuit-bread/

Hm, I wonder how that would work for strawberry shortcake.  I love the biscuit kind, but my biscuits never quite work right.  Last year, I tried a sweetened cream biscuit, and they were blah lumps with a mealy texture.

I use the recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook...it's basically just a baking powder biscuit with a bit of sugar added. The real secret is not to overmix. Just mix the dough enough to get everything combined, and don't handle the dough more than you have to. Then I split the biscuits when they're just barely cool enough to handle, and butter the halves, just a bit (real butter is a MUST, for me). Then add the strawberries over the bottom halves of the biscuits, put the top halves back on, and add whipped cream (real whipping cream with just a splash of vanilla extract). The first time I made it for him, my DH INHALED it.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: o_gal on May 24, 2013, 07:22:25 AM
We love home-prepared Ranch dressing (the Penzey's Spices ranch mix is to die for).

I buy buttermilk by the quart, and freeze it in one-cup batches. We're never more than a half-hour away from fresh Ranch!

You can also buy the buttermilk powder and make it up in the exact amount you need. You do have to keep the powder in the fridge, and it will go bad after some really long length of time. But if you only need a 1 or 2 cups at a time, and you don't have room in your freezer, the powder is very handy. I've also heard that the powdered version comes from traditional buttermilk rather than the cultured buttermilk that is sold in the US, but I haven't been able to verify that.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 24, 2013, 09:53:29 AM
Buttermilk powder is great! I only use it for baking though, as the reconstituted is a little strange.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Seraphia on May 24, 2013, 11:09:57 AM
Buttermilk powder is great! I only use it for baking though, as the reconstituted is a little strange.

Where in the store would you find buttermilk powder? I don't think I've ever seen it.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: Ms_Cellany on May 24, 2013, 11:17:41 AM
Buttermilk powder is great! I only use it for baking though, as the reconstituted is a little strange.

Where in the store would you find buttermilk powder? I don't think I've ever seen it.

Baking section. I bought this brand:

(http://i.walmartimages.com/i/p/00/04/17/56/04/0004175604012_300X300.jpg)
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: ladyknight1 on May 24, 2013, 11:31:38 AM
Wal-mart super center and neighborhood markets carry it, so does Publix.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: IslandMama on May 24, 2013, 07:05:25 PM
If I need buttermilk I put one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a cup measure and then fill it with milk and let it sit for five minutes... perfect substitute and easy to do.
Title: Re: Tricks of the (Kitchen) Trade
Post by: RebeccainGA on May 28, 2013, 01:38:43 PM
I discovered that all those 'make cupcakes in a mason jar' recipes weren't so nuts - made some to send to DD for her birthday while she's deployed, and she reported that they arrived intact and delicious.