Tips for Easy Cooking
March 26, 2014 | Cooking
• Always cook with a sink of hot soapy water at the ready. It makes for easier cleanup.
• Write the date and your opinion along with any adjustments on your recipes. I also make a note in the index i.e. VG (very good), etc. for future reference.
• Don’t flour roasts before you brown them. All you’re browning is the flour and the meat is not sealed to hold in its juices.
• Always allow roasts, steaks, etc. to sit on a cutting board for 10 minutes, with a foil tent over, before you carve it. This allows the juices to sink back into the meat.
• To unpeel bananas the easiest way, start from the bottom.
• Place unripe tomatoes in a brown paper bag. Store in a cool dark spot. This is also great for all the green tomatoes you rescue from your garden at the end of summer.
• Don’t store tomatoes in the refrigerator. They lose their flavor.
• Steam vegetables to retain bright color and crispness. Place a metal steamer in your saucepan. Add chicken stock, white wine, and water to below the bottom holes. The stock and wine add a little extra flavor and the alcohol cooks away.
Dried and Canned Beans
• When cooking beans for soup, stews, and the like, add a teaspoon or so of baking soda to the mixture. This cuts the negative intestinal reactions to beans and does not affect the flavor or cooking.
Fresh Green Beans
• Add a paper towel to the plastic bag when you store green beans in the refrigerator. It absorbs the excess moisture so the beans stay fresh for a longer period of time.
• What to do with those extra stalks that you don’t need, but don’t want to throw out at today’s prices? Chop and sauté in a mix of olive oil and butter. Store in small containers, and freeze until needed.
• Use a garlic press instead of chopping. The press brings out more flavor and you’ll use less garlic.
• All types need moisture to stay fresh. When buying head lettuce, look for the longest stem. Scratch the nub with your nail and place a damp paper towel over the end. Store in the fridge, preferably the crisper drawer.
• Leaf lettuces should be rinsed in cool water, wrapped in a dish towel or other cloth, and store in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
• Remoisten the lettuce after each use to retain freshness.
• Clean mushrooms just before using. Wipe with a dry paper towel to remove the growing soil.
• Loose mushrooms keep reasonably well in a paper bag and stored in the refrigerator.
• Cut the root end off onions first. This allows the crying gas to escape.
• When cleaning green onions use a piece of paper towel to pull off the slippery end and not have your fingers smell.
• When the recipe calls for a small amount go ahead and sauté the entire chopped onion. Divide out what you need at that time. Freeze the remainder in small containers until needed.
• Make your salad early in the day and never worry about it turning brown or mushy. Use a good size plastic bag to toss your salad without the dressing. Gently shake the bag until well mixed. Store the bagged salad upside in the serving bowl. Pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Pull the bag from the bowl, add dressing, and you’re good to go.
• Add your salad ingredients to a large bowl. Gently toss until well mixed. Cover with a damp paper towel and store in fridge until you’re ready to add dressing and serve.
• Spray your cheese grater with a little Pam. The cheese won’t stick and cleanup is a breeze.
• Grate your own Parmesan, Asiago, Swiss, etc. fresh when you need it. The blocks will keep in your fridge for months if you cover tightly with cling wrap or aluminum foil, then store in a plastic bag.
• Peeling hard boiled eggs is easy. Crack the shells gently against your sink, then place them back in the cooking pot filled with cold water for a few minutes, then peel.
• Store peeled hard boiled eggs for up to five days in a glass container. Be sure to cover the eggs with water. Change the water every few days.
• Children of any age should not drink expired milk, but adults can without a problem.
• Don’t store bread in the refrigerator. This dries out the bread.
• Bread freezes well for up to one month.
• When light or dark brown sugar hardens place it into a plastic bag. Add a slice of white bread and seal. Within hours the sugar is back to a usable state.
• Test if the oil for deep frying is hot enough by adding a small piece of white bread to the heated pan. When the bread quickly toasts golden the oil is ready.
• Chop fresh herb leaves easily. Place the whole leaves into a cup and snip with scissors.
• Don’t add oil or salt to the cooking water. Those additions make it difficult for the sauce to cling to the pasta.
I’ll be back Monday with Vonnie Hughes. Until then…