Sunday, January 08, 2006


I've found these tips in various searches through magazines and such. I thought they'd be valuable to keep on hand!

Pat strawberries dry with paper towels right after rinsing or they'll absorb water and lose flavor.

Milder Onions
To reduce the strong flavor of onion in salsas and other uncooked foods, chop the onion and rinse it in cold water three times. Let sit in final rinse water for 30 minutes, then drain and dry. This retains crispness but eliminates the burn.

Leftover Whipped Cream
When you have leftover whipped cream, place it in pastry bag fitted with star tip, pipe onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze. Or just drop dollops from a spoon and freeze. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. They are great on top of hot chocolate or coffee.

Perfect Cuts
Use an electric knife to slice through cinnamon roll dough rather than serrated knife or dental floss. The knife doesn't smash or tear the dough like other methods

Hollowing cherry tomatoes
To hollow out cherry tomatoes, use a small (1/4 tsp) metal measuring spoon.

Instant soft butter
If you've forgotten to soften the butter for your baking, unwrap the stick and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to beat and flatten the butter.

Apples for pie
The best apple pies use a combination of varieties to get a good balance of flavor and texture. Mix tart, flavorful apples with ones that will hold their shape while baking. Granny Smith, Ida Red and Jonagold are flavorful, and would combine well with Empire, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn or Golden Delicious.

Mexican or Mediterranean oregano?
"common" oregano is Mediterranean. it's what's found at the grocery store labeled "oregano". it's a sweet, strong herb used in Italian and Greek cooking. Mexican is more pungent and not sweet. It's best suited to spicy, hot South American or Mexican dishes. Don't substitute one for the other.

Freezing and reheating French Toast or pancakes
Layer parchment paper between cooked french toast slices or pancakes, wrap portions in plastic wrap and then in foil, and store in the freezer. To reheat, unwrap and heat the french toast or pancakes 10-12 minutes on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven or toaster and serve.

Roasted Garlic Paste
If you don't have time to roast the entire head of garlic, try dry toasting individual cloves on the stove top. Then pass through a garlic press, which creates a smooth paste and the peel is removed.

Edible Spoon Rest
Instead of the ceramic or metal spoon rest, use a slice of bread. The bread soaks up any juices, in the process becoming a treat for the cook...or the dog.

Dotting with butter
keep a stick of butter in its wrapper in the freezer. When a recipe calls for dotting with a certain amount of butter, peel back the wrapper and mark the proper amount with a paring knife. Using the large holes of a flat grater, grate the butter directly over the dish, distributing evenly.

Don't have a V-rack for roasting chicken or turkey?
Wrap two light-gauge stove top grates with foil and poke holes in the foil for juices to drip through. Place the grates in the roasting pan, resting them against the sides of the pan so that the bottoms of the grates meet to create a v-shape. Roast chicken or turkey as directed in recipe.

Clarifying Butter
Slowly melt butter over low heat. You'll eventually see three layers. The top layer is foamy-skim it off and discard. The deep yellow middle layer is the butter fat-pour this off into a container. This is the clarified butter you want to use for sauteing. What's left in the bottom are the milk solids-pitch them.

Making creme fraiche
Mix 1 C heavy cream, 1/4 C buttermilk, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Cover and let sit at room temperature 6-8 hours, then refrigerate.

Filling Hard Taco Shells
Turn a 12-cup muffin tin upside down and place the shells in the grooves. Allows you to fill multiple tacos at once.

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