Common Cooking Tips

Cooking tips

1.  Ever been frustrated that your potato pancakes or crab cakes fall apart?  Mix your bread crumbs or oatmeal or whatever dry mixture you’re using in with the eggs and let it sit for five minutes to absorb the egg before you mix them into the rest of  your ingredients.

2.  Been frustrated by a recipe that calls for buttermilk when you never have buttermilk in the house?  Add one teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of whatever milk you use and let is sit for five minutes.  Then just add it to your recipe.  Alternatively, invest in SACO powdered buttermilk which can sit in your pantry or fridge for months without going bad.  You just add water when you need to use it.

3.  Ever wonder why your hamburgers puff up on the grill?  It’s because heat is affecting the cooking of the burger from all directions, making the center of the burger puff.  If you simply put a dimple in the center of your burgers, the burgers will cook more evenly and not be puffed up.

4.  Been trying to figure out how to make your thawed frozen fish taste like fresh? The key to good frozen fish is to thaw it completely, rinse it, and pat it dry with a paper towel before you cook it.  Too often folks just thaw and cook which leaves too much of the watery residue which greatly affects the cooking, the taste and the texture.

5.  Don’t want your pasta to be too soft after the sauce is added?  Cook your pasta one to two minutes less than the package directions, drain, and then add it to your hot sauce so the pasta will finish cooking with the heat of the sauce.   If you are cooking your pasta ahead of time, rinse it in cool water, drain, and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil.  The pasta will keep until you need it later for dinner.

6.  Never been able to roll out that pie crust without problems?  Put the pie dough in between two pieces of wax paper and then roll out with the rolling pin.  You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to roll that pie crust now.

7.  Been trying to figure out how to actually get all of your honey, molasses or otherwise sticky substance out of the measuring cup and into your recipe?  Lightly grease the inside of your measuring cup or line it with plastic wrap.  The sticky liquid will just slide out.

8.  Want to cut your small fruit into equal sizes?  Use your egg slicer.  It works wonders.

9.  Want boiled eggs that aren’t green on the inside or over or undercooked?Cook’s Illustrated has the best method I’ve ever tried:  Put your eggs into cold water, completely covering them up to an inch over with water.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the eggs sit in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the eggs to ice water for five minutes, and then peel.

10.  Tired of your freshly baked quick breads sticking to your loaf pans?  Line your loaf pans with parchment paper so that “ears” are sticking up from the pan, so that you can simply lift the breads out of the pans when they’re done.

11.  Want homemade pizza crusts to be as crispy as the pizza from a brick oven? Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with your pizza stone or pan in the oven.  Put your pizza crust directly onto the hot pizza pan and cook for five minutes before you add your tomato sauce, toppings, and cheese.  Return the pizza to the oven for another five minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned and crisp.

12.  Been sad that your mashed potatoes which were perfect when you made them are too thick when you serve them?  Potatoes will continue to absorb the milk over time, so after you initially make your potatoes, let them sit for a few minutes before adding more warmed milk to the potatoes.

13.  Ever had difficulty making those pudding recipes because they gum up when you add the cornstarch?  No matter what your recipe tells you, if you simply whisk the cornstarch in from the beginning into your liquid and slowly warm the liquid up over low heat, stirring constantly, your pudding will thicken properly without gumming up.

14.  Wonder how to keep your cheesecake from cracking?  Wrap the outside of your cheesecake pan with aluminum foil and your cheesecake pan into a larger pan which you can add hot water to up to the center of the cheesecake pan.  Bake the cheesecake as instructed.  The moisture from the water will keep your cheesecake from cracking.  Just be careful when you’re removing the pan from the hot water after it’s done!

15.  Tired of trying to cut your cake layers to make enough layers for the cake recipe?  Simply bake thinner cake layers.  For example, I bake a multiple layer cake by putting about a cup of cake batter into a parchment lined 9 in pan and baking two pans at a time for about ten minutes.  Then I have four, six, or eight nicely sized thinner layers without the effort of trying to “cut” the larger cakes into smaller layers.

16.  Want to make great pasta salad?  After you cook your pasta and drain it, transfer the pasta immediately to a large cookie tray so it can cool quickly and evenly.  This will improve the texture of your pasta for your pasta salad and help your pasta marinade to “stick” to the pasta better.

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