Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tips and Shortcuts in the Kitchen

Tips and Shortcuts in the Kitchen

To keep potatoes from budding, if you place an apple in the bag with the potatoes they won't!

By cleaning your cheese grater after shredding cheese can be made easy by grating a raw potato after the cheese.
The potato clears the gummy cheese out of the holes!

Cabbage Tip: If you like stuffed cabbage rolls, try this: take a head of cabbage, freeze it, take out of freezer put in bowl of warm water, leaves wilt off, rolling is so easy.

Picking and Washing Fresh Italian Basil Leaves Water the plant a few hours before picking, this will perk up the leaves. Important, use only fresh basil from a plant that has not yet gone to seed. The leaves are at their sweetest before flowering. Pick just before preparation, bath in cold water, dry by putting between layers of paper towel.....

Tomato Techniques To peel: Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover tomatoes; bring to a boil, have a bowl of ice ready to put tomatoes in . Add one tomato at a time for 30 seconds, immediately put in ice . Remove , cool.. take off stem and ends and slip off skins.

Garlic Tip: To peel garlic cloves quicker, microwave them first for 10 seconds. They pop out of their skin instantly.

Cookie Tip: When you over bake cookies and they come out too hard, simply put the cookies in a bag with a piece of bread overnight . The cookies will absorb the moisture out of the bread and will be soft in the morning....

Avoid eggplant from turning black by putting the cut pieces in a bowl of water mixed with a spoon of milk.

To remove the coffee stain in the cup, fill it with any kind of soda for 3 hours.

To keep lemon fresh put them in water and store in refrigerator.

Before beating eggs, rinse the container with water.
The mixture will not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Never keep greens in plastics, it will rot quickly.

Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.

To keep cauliflower white while cooking -add a little milk to the water.

Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface.

If you over add salt, add a few potatoes to the pot to absorb the salt.

When the cake breaks when you remove it from the pan or cookies are crumbling, turn your disaster into a trifle or parfait.

Just layer the pieces with sweetened whipped cream and some fresh fruit in a glass bowl or individual glasses and chill until serving time.

How to melt chocolate:Please note that melting chocolate is not the same as tempering chocolate. Tempered chocolate has been subject to certain temperatures and techniques that alter its chemistry. Tempering produces the texture and sheen we expect from fine chocolate candies. To temper chocolate, consult a candy cookbook.The enemy of melted chocolate is water. Even a hot and humid day can ruin your efforts. Be absolutely sure that hands, utensils, bowls, surfaces - everything that comes in contact with the warm liquid chocolate - are bone dry.

One drop of water in warm melted chocolate will cause it to seize (bind, clump and turn grayish in color).The second enemy of chocolate is too high heat. It's so easy to scorch! No matter what method you choose to melt chocolate, use patience. Do not take shortcuts.

Microwave Method: Place chocolate (and shortening if you're making candy coating) in a small, deep microwavable bowl. Use a 50% power setting. Micro in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval. The chocolate will keep its shape even when melted, so stirring is important. Reduce nuke time to 10 seconds if you suspect chocolate is close to being melted. Alternatively, just let it sit for a minute or two to complete the melting process.

Foolproof Double Boiler Stovetop Method: This method takes more time, but there is actually less for you do than if using the microwave method. And it sure beats the more common stovetop method which calls for simmering the water and invites water droplets to settle in your chocolate! Fill a saucepan with water up to the point that the double boiler bowl would rest its bottom in the water when put in place. Put the lid on the pan and bring the water to a full boil. Remove the lid and don't even think of using it again. Turn off the heat. Place the double boiler bowl filled with chocolate (and grease if you're making chocolate candy coating) on top of the boiled water and set the timer for 25 minutes. Carefully stir the chocolate. If it still has a way to go, turn the burner on warm or low to help it along. When the chocolate has melted, carefully remove the bowl of chocolate .

To create a chocolate coating of manageable consistency for candies and other treats, add shortening, peanut or vegetable oil in a ratio of 1 tablespoon grease to 6 - 8 ounces of solid chocolate and melt them together (see tips on melting chocolate above).

Food grade canning wax may also be .The wax method creates the best consistency for dipping and makes the candy look professional and shines, and yes the wax is edible. Special candy coating chocolate is available commercially. While the chocolate available in the supermarket is both economical and easy to find, I use "professional grade" chocolate.Do not use butter or margarine in your coating mixture. Butter, it contains water. All margarine is not the same so, don't trust it. Melted chocolate may also be brushed on a candy center with a pastry brush.

Think chocolate paint! Two or three coats may be needed.Candy dipping forks have thin tines, you do not have to get them. You will need to have have a long-handled, two pronged meat fork . Or a set of fondue forks .. a meat fork worked great also. Do Not use a table fork . You are not using the fork to poke at the candy center but to cradle it. The chocolate needs to drip through the cradle of the tines back into the bowl.Once your candy is coated and resting on the fork, tap the fork on the side of the bowl to shake off extra chocolate. I also have wax paper to catch any stray drippings.

Tips on storing nuts "Nuts can turn rancid rather quickly--walnuts and pecans more so than almonds. Always store all nuts airtight in the freezer or refrigerator. In the refrigerator nuts last well for nine months; in the freezer at zero degrees they will last for two years. Bring them to room temperature before using, smell and taste them before using (and, if possible, when you buy them)--you will know quickly if they are rancid. If you even suspect that they might be, do not use them. They would ruin a recipe. Always store nuts in the freezer or refrigerator."

Grilling Tips:
The upcoming summer weekends mean BBQ food and fun under the sun. But don't forget to take time for food safety.Bacteria that cause foodborn illness thrive in warm weather, so proper handling is especially important. When you pack food for the weekend picnic, make sure hot foods are kept above 140F and that cold foods stay below 40F. Protein foods - meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods - are prime growing areas, so pack them carefully. If you're planning a BBQ, keep foods cold until the BBQ is really hot. Put grilled foods on a clean plate and serve immediately. When the meal is finished, pack leftovers in containers that are air-tight and keep the proper temperature. Remember to take the time to pack things up because the longer they sit out the more bacteria can grow. With the heat of summer, the time is an hour or less.

Zucchini Tips:
Grated: If you would like to have grated zucchini ready to go for your favorite recipes in your freezer this is a method to use.Grate the required amount for a specific recipe then steam it by placing it in a sieve or colander 1 inch deep. Steam it over water for 5 minutes. Steam the zucchini 3 inches above the boiling water and have a lid on the pot. Cool the zucchini before putting it in a container for freezing. Label the package with the amount you started with.

Slices: To freeze wash and cut zucchini in 1/2 inch slices. Place in boiling water for 3 minutes. Start timing immediately, do not wait for the boil to return. Cool in cold water. Drain and freeze. If you wish to fry it in slices, freeze on cookie sheet and then package frozen. Dip slices in mixture and crumbs or flour before it thaws. For casseroles, freeze cubes or small slices of zucchini.

Healthy Cooking Tips:

Grill, bake, poach, steam, boil, microwave for rather than frying or adding oil• use fats and oils which are high in monounsaturates olive oil, canola oil• replace full fat dairy products with reduced, skim or non fat options• They also replace full cream evaporated milk with low-fat evaporated milk (1.6% fat)• Substitute low fat yoghurt for sour cream• Replace coconut cream with light coconut milk or low fat evaporated milk plus coconut extract• use mono/polyunsaturated oils or spread instead of butter• Select tuna or salmon in brine or spring water (not oil) • For meats remove skin, choose the lean options (breast, lean mince), trim all visible fat and remove the skin for chicken recipes • Replace puff & regular pastry with phyllo pastry sprayed with oil • For with reduced salt, flavor food with lemon juice, herbs and spices instead of salt• Select low or reduced salt varieties wherever possible in sauces • Reduce quantity of sugar in baking – most recipes will still work but keeping time will be reduced• Try a smaller amount of honey or add fruit juice instead of sugar• Use fresh or dried fruit instead of sugar• Use a liquid or powdered equivalent sugar substitute • Select whole grain options – wholemeal bread, wholemeal flour, brown rice, wholemeal pasta• Don’t peel vegetables and fruit – scrub well before eating • use peas, beans or lentils to replace some of the meat in traditional recipes
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