HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What is one tip that you learned about cooking that was simple but made a huge difference? [old]

I read many years ago to mash your potatoes with nothing in them first (that way you can see how 'wet' they are), then add the butter, then add WARM milk. Probably many already knew this but this tip read probably over 10 years ago has made my mashed potatoes always fantastic!! Prior to this I would put in the butter, slosh in some cold milk and mash away-I wondered why they were always gluey and either runny or stiff.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Kosher salt, in a dish, by the stove. TASTE and season as you go.

    My cooking has never been the same since... in a good way, of course. :)

    83 Replies
    1. re: LauraGrace

      I learned this one the hard way. Sounds intuitive, but I didn't know about it until I ruined a pork roast in the brining.

      Salt equivalent ratios:

      Table Salt 1 TBSP
      Morton Kosher Salt 1-1/2 TBSP
      Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 2 TBSP

      I cribbed this from http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/sal....

      1. re: southernexpat

        Thank you for this. I have been looking for a definitive breakdown for a while and couldn't find one.

      2. re: LauraGrace

        I totally agree with you LauraGrace about the Kosher salt! I can hardly bring myself to use regular salt when we're out. We use only Kosher salt at home to cook with and to season our food when eating. It makes such a difference! The saltiness tastes "clean" as opposed to "chemical".

        1. re: schmoopy

          I switched to sea salt a few months ago and literally can't stand regular salt anymore.

          1. re: MandalayVA

            I like sea salt too , I have several different ones .

            1. re: LadyCook61

              another vote for sea salt.. I keep mine in a grinder and grind what I need.

              1. re: grnidkjun

                I agree about sea salt. I have several including truffled salt which is heaven as a finishing salt. I also use Kosher salt when I want that crustiness. But why has no one mentioned Maldon flaked sea salt? The large thin flakes give great texture without over salting.

                1. re: Quill

                  I love Maldon as a finishing salt. The crystals are beautiful, thin, and add wonderful texture...very addictive.

                2. re: grnidkjun

                  I have mine in a grinder, too. I used kosher for salting water, but use sea salt to season dishes.

              2. re: MandalayVA

                Absolutely. After changing to sea salt, the very idea of using regular table salt is distasteful to me. All those flowing agents, desiccants, etc. impart an unpleasant chemical taste that I was only too happy to bid farewell upon switching.

                1. re: MandalayVA

                  I keep a porcelain coated 'tin' next to the stove filled with sea salt. I only use 'regular' salt to soak/rinse brassica's I harvest from the garden......and sometimes scrub pots with it.

                2. re: schmoopy

                  U know it is interesting.

                  America's test kitchen tested all kinds of salt and found that except for finishing salt on steaks and such at the table, they couldn't taste any difference in kosher or sea salt or table salt or even leslies iodized salt in cooking.

                  Their own chefs were surprised. Most of them were swearing that a blind taste test would reveal that kosher or sea salt would be far superior.

                  1. re: tonka11_99

                    Hi Tonka! Just saw your post. That IS interesting. You said that "except for finishing salt on steaks and such at the table, they couldn't taste any difference..." If I understand you correctly, you're saying that the tasters couldn't taste any difference in the salts when they're used in cooking, rather than as a finishing, right? Well, I do agree with that. I don't notice a difference when I'm cooking or baking something. But I do notice a difference when it's sprinkled on top of something that's already cooked and/or I'm just seasoning to taste at the time of eating (like freshly sliced homegrown tomatoes or a soft-boiled egg). At least, I think I do... :o)

                    1. re: tonka11_99

                      THAT I find hard to believe. I doubt I could taste the difference between kosher and sea salt, but table salt with all the additives that it has? Certainly I could tell the difference. Upon realizing how much better sea salt is and having switched over, I've since found table salt with its flowing agents and what not to be a bit repulsive in flavour.

                      1. re: vorpal

                        what are "**all** the additives" of table salt? an anticaking agent and --- sometimes -- iodine?

                      2. re: tonka11_99

                        hmmm... America's Test Kitchen cooks couldn't taste the difference? Did they all have head colds that day? One of the things I do with every new housekeeper who may cook something once in a while is give her a lesson in salt. First tasting: Sea salt. Mild. Second tasting: Kosher salt. A bit stronger but still mellow. Final tasting: table salt. Without fail, it ALWAYS brings a grimace and a sense of revulsion. So much for America's Test Kitchen. Don't do tastings when you have a cold! '-)

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          The test of salt was in cooked food and baked goods, not tasting salt on its own.
                          They're basic point was you can use regular kosher salt to add to a kettle of pasta water and save the Fleur De Sel for sprinkling on top of finished food.

                          edit: I saw one of your other recent posts on another thread. I too welcome you back to the boards.

                    2. re: LauraGrace

                      I don't get the salt-in-a-dish, salt-in-a-box on the stove thing-- seems my hand/hands are invariably either wet or have food on them when I'm cooking. I don't want to put that into a dry dish of salt and contaminate the whole dish. It's much easier to clean a shaker than throw out salt that's been moistened. Also, a shaker gives more control. It looks cool when a chef reaches over and takes an expert 5 finger pinch of salt, but I know it's then sprinkled all over the stove too, not just on the food. Am I approaching this all wrong?

                      1. re: blue room

                        I pour a little salt from the stove-side container into my hand and then "pinch" to my heart's content. And I guess I have better control than those chefs - my stay inside the dish :)

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Actually, there's a reason why professional chefs end up with salt all over their stove. They salt from "up high". If you've ever watch iron chef or any other show with 3-star chefs cooking, you'll notice the height at with they are salting. It's not "showboating" like the waiters who try and pour your water from above your head at TJI Chilibees...

                          When you salt from up high, the salt disperses more when it hits whatever you are salting than if you were to salt down low. Therefore you can salt once and have salted the whole dish as opposed to salting lower and sprinkling it all around the skillet.

                          Try it out sometime. Take a pinch of salt and salt the countertop the way you would normally. Then take the same amount of salt and salt the tabletop from a height a little above your head. The salt will bounce everywhere...which is gonna be annoying for the clean-up but should demonstrate my point. It's actually kinda fun.

                          That's what happens in your skillet when salting in this manner, a more even dispersing of salt. Less stirring...that sort of thing. Hopefully that makes sense and sheds some light as to why chefs have such salty stoves. :-)

                          1. re: YourBestFriend

                            I take the salt between my fingers and kinda rub them together and get a complete distribution. Don't do it "up high." Whatever works for you.

                            1. re: YourBestFriend

                              Up high thing ... good to know.... I always do it from up high but it's just so I can see how many crystals are coming out.... either from the shaker or my pinching. I love to do the pinching thing with coarse salt, beit kosher or sea, because I feel so "food network." I really can't taste the difference. And btw... I like cracked black, but I usually put both ground and cracked in a recipe. Ground flavors the dish, cracked gives you that little something extra when you thought you'd already swallowed everything :D

                          2. re: blue room

                            You miss the pan when you pinch salt? Wow. Unless you're "showboating" like Rocco, there's no mess.
                            I really differ with your opinion that a shaker gives more control.
                            Do you use kosher salt?

                            1. re: monavano

                              I feel that I have more control when I pinch kosher or sea salt instead of using a shaker or the box the salt came in from the store. With the shaker, it takes too long and with the box, sometimes a little comes out and sometimes a lot. I don't have near the issues of under or over seasoning using the pinches and I don't have problems of strewing it all over from dish to pot either.

                              1. re: alliedawn_98

                                I was given this awesome salt cellar for Christmas this past year. Yeah, it sounds like a pretty underwhelming gift, but it is so handy, and it looks cute! I can just reach in, grab a pinch of my kosher salt, and season away :)

                                1. re: kubasd

                                  That's a Le creuset salt cellar, isn't it? Always wanted one.

                              2. re: monavano

                                If I have a bunch of salt held between 2, 3, 4, or all 5 fingers it's gonna lose a few grains between saltbox and pan. If my hand is wet or oily or bloody or juicy or sticky, the salt now has stuff or moisture in it. If the salt (any kind/size, grains or flakes) is in a shaker it's clean, dry and secure. I do agree the shaker holes must be the right size. Of course this is no big deal, I just tried it (cute new salt box) and abandoned it almost immediately and thought "Huh?"

                                1. re: blue room

                                  Unless you're shaking the salt into a pot of boiling water and the steam clogs the holes.

                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                    I have a *salt pig* that came with a small, porcelain spoon. No need to stick wet fingers into the holder. I use a small ramekin for coarse-ground black pepper, and in it I use a small sterling spoon I purchased long ago at an antiques shop. They were used for salt dip bowls placed at individual place settings at the dinner table around the turn of the century. I keep these, and other salts and peppers, on the countertop near my range top. Works well for me.

                                    1. re: pilotgirl210

                                      Your little silver spoon was for what called a 'salt cellar' which is used at the table. A salt pig is more commonly used by the cook. I found a pair of crystal salt cellars with silver spoons and gave them to my mother. She really liked stuff like that.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        When I was a kid (during the 60s) dinners in our household were late and quite formal- everyone dressed for dinner, jackets & ties for the men, dresses for the ladies. At 7:45 there was the ceremonial lighting of the candles, carving began at the sideboard, wine which had been breathing was first tasted, then poured, and dinner was on the table at eight sharp. Everything in the dining room was old (except the gigantic sailfish on one wall)- tapestries, curtains, 18th century chairs. The massive main table was 400 years old and battle-scarred. Not metaphorically, literally.

                                        Anyway, my folks had some beautiful antique Austrian pewter, candelabras, platters, water pitchers, and my favorite, a set of 3-inch salt cellars in the form of Viking longships, which seemed to be sailing silently across the table, bound for distant adventures. Will never forget those.

                                        1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                          Holy smokes, did you grow up with old money in Europe or New England or somewhere similar? I grew up in a ranch house in a snall farming community in rural Minnesota.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            You read my mind John. Our diners were always informal. Only requirement was hands and face must be washed and clean clothes. Christmas was a little more formal with table linen etc. I don' think I ever remember my father wearing a suit to the dinner table unless he was not eating because my parents were going out to a dinner dance/banquet etc. We always ate as a family and had to be asked to be excused. I have to admit unless someone had to be somewhere (work, soccer practice etc.) we still ate together. We still eat as a family, wait until everyone is finished and the kids always ask to be excused. Something that seems to have been lost over time which is shame because dinner time is when you really find out what is going on with your kids. No distractions except for the food!

                                            1. re: 02putt

                                              It appears we grew up in separate families together.

                                          2. re: eclecticsynergy

                                            Wow- I thought that only happened in movies. You've painted quite a picture.

                                            1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                              Wonderfull! Now I want those Viking salt cellars too!

                                  2. re: blue room

                                    i think a shaker gives far less control

                                    1. re: thew

                                      I guess I'm pretty used to my shakers, can use them deftly, but I know what you mean. And for bigger amounts, like the initial salting in a recipe, of course I use measuring spoons.

                                    2. re: blue room

                                      I agree. I even bought a cute little bamboo salt box, and you know what? My manicure is not conducive to this. My hands are always wet, and under my nails remains wet even after drying my hands. I ended up wasting quite a bit of French gray sea salt during one meal, and found myself worrying about adding moisture to the saltbox. Nope, I use the pour spout right on the box of sea salt into the palm of my hand to eyeball it.

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        My sea salt is in a grinder - very easy to use even with wet hands.

                                        1. re: small h

                                          This is what I do, too. But it annoys me when steam clogs up the grinder.

                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                            Grind the salt into your palm, away from the pot, then throw it in.

                                            1. re: small h

                                              Unless you've got a one-handed grinder, or a third arm, this is going
                                              to be hard to accomplish.

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  I cup my left palm under the bottom of the grinder, and grip the stem my fingers. Then I twist the top with my right hand. It is not a difficult process (if it were, I probably couldn't do it).

                                                  1. re: small h

                                                    You are correct. Sorry for being a wise@$$! It's just as easy as you say. Who knew? :)

                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                      Awesome! So the score is now...

                                                      useful cooking tips small h has learned on Chowhound: 437 (estimated)
                                                      useful cooking tips small h has provided on Chowhound: 1 (exact)

                                                      Equilibrium approaches.

                                                      1. re: small h

                                                        I keep a shot glass of Kosher salt near the stove top and use a tiny spoon (~1/3 tsp.) to transfer it into my palm before pinching and sprinkling. No messy fingers in the salt box and better control than a shaker.

                                                        1. re: Chadsharply

                                                          Why wouldn't you just grab it straight out of the shot glass?

                                                          1. re: Chadsharply

                                                            That sounds like a good method for someone less clumsy than me. I would knock over the shot glass at least once a day.

                                                            1. re: Chadsharply

                                                              I use a kinda of squat (cause I made it myself) egg cup. Similar to using a shot glass.

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                Totally agree blue room! I never could understand contaminating a whole dish of salt either. Old fashioned me just uses a shaker.

                                                1. re: riversuzyq

                                                  You and Blue Room have both mentioned contaminating a dish of salt. BR also mentioned it's easier to clean a shaker than to throw out contaminated salt. I think both of you may have overlooked that it is easier to wipe your hands than to either clean a shaker or throw out contaminated salt. After all, our hands are not messy during the entire cooking process are they? I look at it as the need to season food while cooking is a good excuse to clean some cooking utensils and my hands too and to then season the food.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Not only that, but salt is an incredible "antiseptic" and your chance of "contaminating" a pig of salt by reaching in and grabbing a pinch or two is practiaclly non-existant! Which is not to say you can't stain the salt if your hands are dripping in tomato paste or whatever. As you say, John, wipe your hands! Salt is also a dessicant and a preservative, so give up hope of "contaminating" it.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      Thanks for that info - I have been throwing away what's left of the salt in my pinch bowl after cooking...

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        When I am going to season a big roast, chicken, turkey, anything big I take a small bowl (actually one of those small ss condiment cups) and mix the salt and pepper, sometimes including garlic granules, and use that to season the meat. That way I don't worry about cross contamination or getting meat-juicy hands on my pepper mill or the garlic powder jar. Next to our stove we have one of those salt cellars with lid that Alton Brown always used on his show.

                                              2. re: LauraGrace

                                                Tasting as you go is the #1 thing for me too, and I realize that most home cooks don't do it. So simple, but so important.

                                                1. re: BigE

                                                  Strangely I've heard marcella hazan say she doesn't taste so much as she cooks - she smells!

                                                  1. re: djdownie

                                                    I wonder how she can smell if her food is salted enough;-)

                                                    1. re: steamer

                                                      She says the food smells different to her after the salt is added (that she told her husband that and he scoffed at her but found out she was right). Try it, you really can. As to whether salted enough, I imagine she relies on the oldfashioned way.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        i'm going to see if i can smell the salt.

                                                        (didn't i hear that hazan and her husband had a mildly svengali (?) kind of relationship -- or something that was a little odd or controlling?).

                                                        anyhow, this was interesting: """She was educated as a biochemist and spent her early career in dental research.""" http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/refe...

                                                        and it is odd to learn that she smokes, and follows her teaching dinners with jack daniels! http://www.people.com/people/archive/...

                                                        ah, here's some idea:
                                                        >>>"""""You thought literature was all that mattered," teases Hazan, who likes to spar verbally with her husband. The son of a Jewish father who left Italy before World War II to come to New York City to start a furrier business, Victor met Hazan after returning to Italy, his birthplace, in 1952. Introduced by his cousin, Victor and Hazan fell for each other immediately. "Marcella was very beautiful, very dynamic," he says. "She was very sweet," he adds, smiling, "unlike now!""""<<<

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          While I cannot really 'smell' salt for practical purposes in my own cooking, I agree that it is possible to smell salt. There was one time I was going down for breakfast at my Aunt's house and could distinctly smell that the eggs being fried had a lot of salt in them. I mentioned this to my friend who was going down with me and she agreed: the eggs were too salty. My cousin who was in the kitchen at the time asked me how I knew. She couldn't smell anything.

                                                          1. re: marimorimo

                                                            well, i can smell salt air at the ocean, but not on salty eggs. do you find yourself "super-smelling" other things, too?

                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                          I agree, I can smell salt in some dishes that are cooking, as well. Smell, after all, is a very important component in our ability to taste.

                                                  2. re: LauraGrace

                                                    What do Americans mean by Kosher salt? Do you mean sea salt crystals? How can salt be kosher?

                                                    1. re: cathodetube

                                                      it's a larger crystaled salt. it's coarse texture makes it stick to meat well, so it is ideal for drawing the blood out of meat, ie for koshering. it isn;t really kosher salt , it is koshering salt

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        Diamond Brand kosher salt. It is the salt used in most good kitchens. The texture is unique to that brand, you cannot substitute equal volumes of any other type of salt. Give it a try!

                                                        1. re: jeffdchef

                                                          is diamond brand appreciably better than morton's kosher salt?

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Chefs do ask for it by name. Never tested side by side myself.

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              what matters is consistency - and they both have different weight to volume ratios - both are about th same quality, but one would want to use the same brand consistently so as to maintain the same flavor

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                From what I understand, Diamond Crystal doesn't have any anti-caking agents in it, and Morton's does.

                                                          2. re: thew

                                                            Well, actually, it is a kosher product as well as being used to Kasher something else too - meat. But to be "kosher salt" it has to be just salt produced in accordance with kashrut laws which, most salt already is. I've seen kosher salt with both fine and coarse crystals. Kosher salt, coars or fine will not have any addatives. iodine, and is typcially plain salt without any clumping agents, much like pickling salt but with a different grind. Pickling salt is ground extremely fine so it dissolves well in liquids of any temp. You can use either if you are making up a batch of true saline solution for medical wash purposes. Additives are painful in a saline solution.

                                                            I can't find Diamond Brand so I just use Morton's Kosher for stoveside seasoning and pure clean salt flavor, regular old table for baking, and fancy sea salts for the table or when plating a specific dish with a specific salt, I don't get too crazy about the salt varietals, the finer details are usually lost on me.

                                                            1. re: aggiecat

                                                              so you're saying (in part) that morton's kosher does *not* have anti-caking agent (which is typically sodium aluminosilicate)?

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                Michael Ruhlman (an Expert in Residence on Chow a few months ago) is a pretty knowledgeable guy. He buys Morton's, which has additives, because that's what's available in his local store, but would buy Diamond Crystal if it were conveniently available since it has no additives. Seems like a practical approach.

                                                                Diamond Crystal is readily available near me, so that's what I get.


                                                                1. re: bear

                                                                  morton's anti-caking agent is yellow prussiate of soda. i just looked at the box in my cabinet.

                                                                  1. re: bear

                                                                    Yes, Diamond Crystal is salt and only salt and it indeed does cake after awhile, but caking is not a big issue.

                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                    I believe Diamond Crystal is also formed in a crystal shape, like a snow flake so it melts more readily than Morton's which is more of a cube type shape. Although all I've ever used is Morton's as thats what's available to me.

                                                              2. re: cathodetube

                                                                You might find this thread informative:


                                                                Kosher salt does not have iodine added to, unlike our "regular" table salt.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  You can get table salt with or without iodine, for about the same price. I get it with, because I'm not too keen on getting goitre. (Though I probably eat enough dairy and seafood not to have to worry about that.)

                                                                2. re: cathodetube

                                                                  It's big hollow crystals . . . doesn't stick to the fingers as much as other salts do, Cathodetube. If your recipe calls for kosher salt remember to add less of regular grained sea salt. But you probably knew that.

                                                                  I still love my various sea salts but sometimes I just need the kosher, so mine is always at the fingertips too.

                                                                3. re: LauraGrace

                                                                  Yes, I learned to use kosher salt working in a restaurant and haven't looked back.

                                                                4. Never use a dull knife.
                                                                  Always preheat an oven.
                                                                  Al dente pasta is the only way to go.
                                                                  Use room temp eggs.
                                                                  A separate freezer is a home cooks best friend.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Regarding the use of room temp eggs: because they separate more easily when cold, if they need to be separated I do that right out of the fridge, cover them, and then let them come to room temp. They also come to room temp more quickly that way.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      Good tip, JoanN. This time of year in NJ I can keep fresh eggs the desired temp but placing them in a basket in the porch just off the kitchen. I'm going to try the towel method.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                      I don't get the al dente pasta thing.... who wants hard "raw" pasta sticking in their teeth? About as appetizing as under cooked rice. Or am I missing something?

                                                                      1. re: honey2emmylace

                                                                        Well, if the pasta is hard & raw, it's not al dente. Al dente means that it's still got a little bit of bite to it, and is not cooked to a slippery mush. If it tastes raw or hard, it's not done.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                          honey2emmylace: Maybe the problem is that you are using cheap supermarket brands of pasta. In my experience, those go from "hard" and "raw" to flaccid in a millisecond. De Cecco (and Barilla to a slightly lesser extent) costs more, but you can get it to a perfect al dente condition.

                                                                          1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                            I would also suggest that another reason for al dente is that most pasta is then finished in a sauce and most likely in a pan and will cook to hopeful perfection. Perhaps most suggested recipes figure that "saucing" will happen......what do I know, I just like to eat. :)

                                                                    3. Grilling steaks

                                                                      The thiner the steak the hotter the fire not the other way...


                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: don515

                                                                        Put a thin (3/8” to 1/2") steak in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before cooking will allow you to get a nice sear on the outside without overcooking the middle.

                                                                          1. re: TomDel

                                                                            Now that's a clever idea! Supermarket meat is cut stupidly thin here in Australia, but that might just be a way of making it edible.

                                                                        1. Slow roast at a low temperature for beef, pork and turkey whenever possible.

                                                                          1. The longer the rise for bread, the better.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              Really? I used to assume that, but recently I've read that over-proofing can adversely affect the texture.

                                                                              1. re: sonia darrow

                                                                                The poster may mean "the slower the rise," although with cold proofing, it does take "longer."

                                                                                1. re: sonia darrow

                                                                                  Chowser doesn't mean over-proofing, Sonia. He means letting it take longer to rise the volume it's supposed to. Usually by putting it somewhere cool as Bushwickgirl alludes to. I would add to that that multiple rises make for better bread too.

                                                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                    Ditto. A slower, longer rise results in a better tasting bread.

                                                                              2. Don't undersalt.
                                                                                It's better with butter.

                                                                                1. I would agree with xcptnl about adding hot or warmed up milk AND butter to hot cooked potatoes before mashing...big difference!!!
                                                                                  Allowing a roast (beef, turkey, whatever) to REST 20 mins. or so before carving
                                                                                  And, always use fresh lemon juice vs. bottled.

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Val

                                                                                    I let a chicken rest for an hour once, per Cook's Illustrated, and Wow! Of course, in the same cooking, I rotated every 10-15 min, for the first time.

                                                                                    1. re: afn33282

                                                                                      Do you wrap it in foil? How do you keep it hot if it rests for one hour? I too have let my meat rest covered with foil but find by the time you carve it and get it to the table it isn't hot anymore. I can't stand lukewarm food.

                                                                                      1. re: 02putt

                                                                                        rest roast chicken for an hour? i've never heard of that.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          On Ramsay's Christmas show he said poultry should be rested for as long as it cooks. ???

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            I always let it rest for at least a half hour; never tried an hour though. You should always let beef rest as well.

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                              hmm, i guess that i could try it...but it seems like the chick would be barely warm. which maybe isn't bad? but i love me some crispy chicken skin hot and glimmering with fat (!) out of the oven.

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                You could add some hot gravy to warm up the chicken.

                                                                                                After visiting Greece many times, I noticed that they never serve their food piping hot except maybe french fries.

                                                                                                I really do prefer to eat the chicken after a meal is over by pulling bits of it off the carcass and find that it really does taste better. So there must be something in the over an hour rest time.

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                  I do let my meat rest covered tightly in foil but I think an hour is a bit long. I usually leave my mine 10-15 minutes. Will try though, no harm no foul. lol

                                                                                                  1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                    the fowl might have a different opinion

                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    I rest all meats (often in the microwave since Somebody I know mentioned it, I think you know who, alkapal) - I like it not piping hot but you're right, the skin does suffer.

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      Did you try it yet? I also love mine piping hot.

                                                                                                      1. re: DishDelish

                                                                                                        dish delish, no…. i'm craving fried chicken these days. ;-). i'll eat chcken at any temp, but i do like it hot.

                                                                                                2. re: 02putt

                                                                                                  Hi all,

                                                                                                  I don't leave chicken for an hour, maybe 15 minutes, tented with foil. A couple or three thick potholders on top will help it stay warm.


                                                                                              1. re: BastedEggs

                                                                                                This is a good one. And I'm still learning it (especially wrt to eating fresh-out-of-the-oven bread).

                                                                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                  Agreed, patience is one of the most important things, and I too am still learning it. Mainly in regards to giving pans time to get to the correct heat for proper searing.

                                                                                                  A few more are to taste /everything/, and that your final dish is only as good as the quality of ingredients that goes into it.

                                                                                              2. Don't crowd food in a pan when browning, or else it will tend to steam itself, not brown.
                                                                                                Meat will release from the pan on its own when searing/browning. It knows when it's ready. No need to rip it off.
                                                                                                Finishing a sauce with butter is really nice.
                                                                                                Parchment paper works better than foil when lining roasting pans for easier cleanup. it doesn't tear, doesn't stick.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: pcdarnell

                                                                                                  those first two are the ones that helped me out about 2 years ago. I wasn't patient enough to stop moving the food around, and it would never sear properly.

                                                                                                  1. re: luciaannek

                                                                                                    Ditto. I have always been an impatient cook.

                                                                                                2. trying to think of something not already posted.

                                                                                                  throwing a clove or two of garlic into the boiling pasta water

                                                                                                  using both olive oil and butter in combination to saute

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                                    I haven't tried garlic in the pasta water , good idea. I have put 2 cloves in water with potatoes..

                                                                                                    1. re: LadyCook61

                                                                                                      I also do this- and I put in two rough chopped cloves into the water under my steamer basket for snow peas and green beans

                                                                                                    2. re: laliz

                                                                                                      I love this new idea ... we eat pasta all the time so I will be trying this soon. Thanks!

                                                                                                    3. a few of mine have already been mentioned, so i won't repeat.

                                                                                                      a couple more of my favorites:
                                                                                                      - make the most of the typically unappreciated parts of produce...fennel fronds, celery leaves, broccoli stems...
                                                                                                      - you often get even better flavor from citrus *zest* than you do from the juice or pulp of the fruit

                                                                                                      36 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                          True that anything with fresh lemon juice is almost always a bit better with the fresh zest as well, good point!

                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                            Love celery leaves! We actually grew a celery "herb" this season... I'm not sure exactly what it was, whether it was Chinese celery or something new, but it was the leaves grown more like parsley, without large stalks.

                                                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                Yep. "Celery" seed is often actually lovage seed.

                                                                                                                1. re: carswell

                                                                                                                  Lovage - yes. When we moved into our latest house years ago I discovered the previous owner planted so many perennial herbs - lovage is one of them. What a wonderful discovery - and I use it in my cooking.

                                                                                                                  They left us with chives, lovage, several varieties of mint, thyme (which has naturlized in our lawn, no less) oregano, sage, and rhubarb - not technically an herb, I think.

                                                                                                                  I've had a great time cooking with all of them!

                                                                                                                  1. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                    I sincerely hope that you are not cooking with rhubarb leaves. They are toxic.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                      No worries - I'm also a gardener, so I knew about the rhubarb leaves.

                                                                                                                      (I wish I knew what I could do with comfrey - we have mounds of it. Not edible, unfortunately.)

                                                                                                                      1. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                        Pull out the comfrey! We had it and it will take over your garden. It took us several years to rid our garden of it, I hope.
                                                                                                                        Comfrey is used as a medicinal tea.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                          Comfrey is great in the bathtub. Very soothing.

                                                                                                                    2. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                      I've grown lovage in the midwest & it got about 10 feet tall. Here in the mountains of southern Colorado there is a wild variety, much smaller, the root of which is prized by the locals for medicinal uses. It is often sold at farmers markets under its spanish name which I don't recall.

                                                                                                                      1. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                        Hi Breadchick this is a personal message because I don't know how else to contact you through this website. I am interested in starting a herb garden in my apartment any easy books or websites that would give affordable plans? much appreciated l

                                                                                                                        1. re: lovelovelies

                                                                                                                          Welcome to Chowhound, lovelovelies! There is a Gardening Board and if you post a question there I bet you'll get lots of good advice.


                                                                                                                          1. re: lovelovelies

                                                                                                                            Fresh Food From Small Spaces is a great book.

                                                                                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                    Just bought a Microplane zester and used for the first time, life will never be the same again.

                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                      They really are wonderful, aren't they!

                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                        I still have the first rasp-type Microplane I bought but the newer more culinary ones simply DON'T stay sharp. For me, they've become a great disappointment.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                          Good to know, as I was thinking about getting some of the other varieties.
                                                                                                                          The only one I have now is the fine rasp which is very sharp.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                            They always start out really sharp!

                                                                                                                            They started out selling wood rasps for culinary use. Back then I think they used sturdier materials. Now that they've adapted them to specialized grates with broader surfaces. I wonder if they're using a finer gauge of steel that either dulls more quickly OR the profile of the flat portion is more easily pushed by the pressure of the food to flatten the space between the blades and the surface the food slides on.

                                                                                                                            Anyway, they don't hold up like the old rasp configuration does.

                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                              Are you talking about the Microplane types that are shorter than the rasps and have different sized holes, medium, fine, ribbon etc.? I was thinking of getting a couple, rather than dragging out my box grater everytime. Maybe I'll just stick with the box grater.

                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                Yes. Plus that adorable little one that's combined with a tiny box for storing and grating nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. I've been through 2 of them.

                                                                                                                              2. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                Do you think buying a wood rasp vs food rasp would be a better investment? I just seem to get very little return on citrus investment from my box grater or kitchen rasp.

                                                                                                                                1. re: just_M

                                                                                                                                  Home Depot is our friend! Wood rasps are tons more sturdy and there are a lot of different types to choose from . Cutsey kitchen gadgets are great for some, give me a workhorse.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: southern_expat

                                                                                                                                    <<Home Depot is our friend!>>

                                                                                                                                    Too true! I do have needle nose pliers and a blow torch for the kitchen from the hardware store and I use to use a paintbrush with a sponge end to glaze things it cleaned up a treat but finally broke. I wonder what other hardware to kitchen items there are? I think that would be a good tip.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: just_M

                                                                                                                                      I use a fairly stiff, wide paintbrush to clean off my pizza stone. Since most of the gunk on it has carbonized by the time the oven cools down, a the brush does a surprisingly effective job. And I have another thinner paintbrush that I use to clean my coffee grinder. Used to use paintbrushes as a basting brush and for glazing pastry, but now use silicone brushes.

                                                                                                                                      Not from the hardware store but from surgical supply (actually, I "borrowed" these from physicians in the family), I use a hemostat to pluck extraneous chicken feathers (since I buy mostly kosher chickens) and surgical scissors work better than most poultry shears I've owned for cutting up that chicken. Great for cutting lobster shells, too.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        What kind of surgical scissors do you have?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                                                                          The ones I use most often are bandage scissors, but I also have what I believe to be a veterinary scissor that makes speedy work of cutting the backbone out of a chicken when I want to spatchcock it.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                          Those sound great. Wonder where you can get them without a medical connection. I can see me now; nurse walks in on me searching the drawers at my next Dr. visit ;-}

                                                                                                                                          1. re: just_M

                                                                                                                                            Bandage scissors are available online. Even through Amazon. Just Google bandage scissors. Veterinary scissors, better at cutting through bone, although the bandage scissors do as well, you may need to buy from a surgical supply house. Lots of them online, too. We had a dentist, a surgeon, and a veterinarian in my family so we were all used to repurposing all kinds of medical equipment and supplies.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                              We have a vet friend so I'll ask her to order for me. We have poultry shears (or whatever they're called) that belonged to my husband's late aunt. They're worthless.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                            Hemostats are also useful for removing bones in salmon and other fish. Also slicing mushrooms using one's egg slicer is the easiest!

                                                                                                                                          3. re: just_M

                                                                                                                                            I use needle nose pliars to remove the pinbones from salmon filets but how do you remove the grease globules that the needlenose pliars deposit on the salmon? I used the same pliars i worked on the car with..... :-D

                                                                                                                                          4. re: southern_expat

                                                                                                                                            I use a small chain saw when I dress out a deer; I put olive oil in the oiler and it cuts right through the ribs, back bone and legs, quicker than quick. Not for the screamish, though.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                              I pass this on to the Mr. so far I can't even dress one of our chickens but I'm hoping with exposure the squeamishness will someday subside. I *really* don't want to be a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                Quick, yes, but what do you do about the mess of fine bone chips that gets into everything? Even a hacksaw leaves unacceptable bonemeal/fine chips behind. Much better to get patience and a sharp knife and bone it out. It takes a little practice but the finished product is much better.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: southern_expat

                                                                                                                                                Home Depot is definitely my friend. I buy rubber mallets there - perfect for pounding boneless chicken breasts, or anything else that needs a little flattening.

                                                                                                                                2. For fluffy pancakes add some butter to the mix. It's missing from the receipe on the box and on a hot grill the pancakes puff right up.

                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                                                                                                                    I add seltzer water to the pancake mix for fluffiness. Also don't over mix the batter.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                        Yes, I was amazed at the difference from the little bit of seltzer water you put in the pancakes you made me recently.... thanks!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                                                                          I like to sprinkle a little yeast and a little sugar, let batter rest for a bit,

                                                                                                                                      2. re: LadyCook61

                                                                                                                                        How much seltzer? Do you substitute seltzer for most of the liquid (milk), for some liquid, or in addition to the regular amount?

                                                                                                                                      3. re: 2455Bklyn

                                                                                                                                        Separate the eggs and beat the whites; then gently fold them into the pancake batter. Heaven!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                                                                                                                          Let your pancake batter rest for five minutes before cooking. And don't flip the pancakes until bubbles in the middle of the pancake pop.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: tumuppet

                                                                                                                                            On the subject of pancakes, my dad told me that his grandfather taught him that when you flick water at the oiled griddle and it dances, it's the right temperature. If it just sits there, it's too cold. If it hisses and spits, it's too hot.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                              I learned that in seventh grade home ec!

                                                                                                                                        2. Cook onions and garlic and celery in a fat or oil before adding them to soups and stews, because the flavor esthers are fat soluble, not water soluble.

                                                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                              I've always done this but never knew why. Thanks, FK.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                It's called "sweating" in culinary terms. The objective in sweating vegetables is to soften them and release the moisture in them, not to brown them. Sweating assists in releasing esters and marrying the various flavors in your mirepoix (aromatic vegetables.)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                  Some flavors are water-soluble, some are fat-soluble, and some (I truly suspect) are alcohol-soluble. This is why cuisines that cook w. alcohol, IMHO, taste so different than ones that don't.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: afn33282

                                                                                                                                                    You are correct about alcohol-soluble flavors.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                      Alcohol-soluble flavor components exist, but here's a link that disputes the alcohol-soluble theory when cooking with alcohol:

                                                                                                                                                      More to the point is why it's important to use a good tasting wine when cooking, that is what adds the good flavor to the dish.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                        Well, they can dispute it all they want, but I've tasted it ... vodka doesn't have a lot of taste on its own, but leaves a lot of unique flavor in its wake when you cook with it. I believe there's a whole section on this in Cookwise, with a vodka recipe ...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                          I think the last paragraph of that article nicely sums up my thoughts on the idea of alcohol soluble flavor compounds:

                                                                                                                                                          "Now that I think of it, why must we extract flavor compounds from our food, anyway? If they're in there, they're in there, and we'll taste them when we chew, whether they inhabit the solids or the sauces."

                                                                                                                                                          Unless you're extracting from something you don't want to eat, like a vanilla pod, you're just moving the flavor around, not "releasing" it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                                                            If you're making a sauce that will be strained, you won't get to the solids' flavors if they haven't been extracted into the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Striver

                                                                                                                                                              Absolutely. That's the same principle as the vanilla pod. But if you're leaving the solids in, there's no logic to the claim that the alcohol is "releasing" flavor. It's either there or it isn't. Solubility is not a factor since things don't need to be dissolved in order for you to taste them. You don't need to make a broth to be able to taste the flavors in beef. The alcohol certainly alters the flavor profile, both in an additive fashion and by rearranging things, but it isn't unlocking anything.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                                                                yes you do - you make that broth by chewing. beef flavors are water soluble....

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                  Okay, but how is water solubility a factor? I'm not challenging the fact that it is, but no one here and none of the references to how alcohol "releases" flavors have provided even a cursory explanation of what water solubility has to do with sense of taste.
                                                                                                                                                                  I've not been able to find any literature, on the internet or in an academic database, making even brief mention of this idea. It is also quite counterintuitive, considering that not only do I know I can taste some things that are not water soluble, but nueroscientists have identified some as categories of taste reception.
                                                                                                                                                                  Pure copper and iron are not water soluble, yet each has a very distinct taste. The same is true of long chain fatty acids, and, arguably, a whole range of pure lipids.
                                                                                                                                                                  Also, if solubility is the cornerstone of taste, how does the fact that saliva is a more effective solvent than water factor in? And shouldn't that mean if my mouth is dry I can't taste anything? If that's the case, then what are all those cottonmouthed stoners doing eating bags of Cheetos?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                                                                      djd, this should get you started on your research: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/sen...


                                                                                                                                                                      compare: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...
                                                                                                                                                                      (i disagree with his bixin experiment's methodology of color as a proxy for flavor). his statements on the creation of esters is useful.

                                                                                                                                                                      not on point but interesting, nonetheless, on flavor trinities and combos: http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/a...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm a little late in the game here, but, it's more than solubility. It has to be. If I eat raw onions, I stink. There's a rancid meat smell stuck to me for hours and hours. I can accurately tell whether someone else has eaten raw onions much earlier in the day, after brushing his teeth. None of this happens with well sauteed onions, even with a large quantity. I think it's a full on chemical reaction between hot oil and onion/garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                                                                  >>>>Unless you're extracting from something you don't want to eat, like a vanilla pod, you're just moving the flavor around, not "releasing" it.<<

                                                                                                                                                                  the "extraction" makes normally insoluble flavor compounds into soluble compounds, making them available to blend more with other soluble compounds and to get to all those cute, tiny little taste buds.

                                                                                                                                                                  it is not merely "moving flavors around."

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                    Right Alkapal and the alcohol doesn't just make those flavors soluable, it also makes them volatile and better accessible to the olfactory system, since most of taste is really about SMELL! Think inhaling as you sip wine and moving it to the back of the palate. Those alcohol soluable components are getting to make more connections with the smell receptors. That complex layer of smell will be missing if you opt to go with a non-alcohol route. Basic tastes will be there but complexisty and layers will be missing because the smell will be missing for parts. We typcially taste with both nose and mouth simultaneously so the experience really feels blended until you have a bad head cold and nothing tastes good. Those folks who permanently lose the abillity to smell often have severe weight loss problems because nothing tastes very good or interesting. Bleach, what a horribly afliction to suffer.

                                                                                                                                                                    So that's my contribution, smell matters, a lot! If you want folks to enjoy your melas, turn of whatever air freshener you think you need during the duration of a meal.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                      hi aggiecat, thanks for the further explanation.

                                                                                                                                                                      the "tasting" is "(part) smeling" fact is why aromatic floral arrangements for the table are frowned upon for dinner parties.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                            I have always done this but now I know why. Thank you so much for the information.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Don't drain fried foods on paper towels: unless you are going to serve it in seconds, the steam trapped between the food and the paper will make it soggy. Instead, drain fried foods in a single layer on a rack *over* a paper towel, so there's no steam build-up. You can keep fried foods on a rack on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet in a warm oven long enough to fry a second batch without getting soggy.

                                                                                                                                                            Let meat rest. It really does make a difference.

                                                                                                                                                            Salt your pasta water, and more than just a sprinkle (I usually use about a tsp per quart of water, and it could probably be more)

                                                                                                                                                            24 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                              Lots of interesting things I didn't know, especially about not draining fried things on a paper towel - does the oil really drain off on a rack? I thought the paper towel sucked the surface oil off the fried things.

                                                                                                                                                              My cooking tip, related to patience, is WAIT till the pan and the oil get hot. Then start to cook.
                                                                                                                                                              Never start with a coolish pan and/or oil, and hope that the heat will compensate later ....

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                You can blot with a paper towel if you want, but really, if you fried it properly it shouldn't have gobs of oil on it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                  I've noticed Marcella Hazan often starts with a cold pan, cold oil, and the onion or garlic or whatnot (or even the meat) sitting in with it heating with the oil. I heard in one interview she shrugged and said, "Eventually it all gets hot".

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                  Hear hear to those three things. But sometimes you have to be in the closet with the first fry tip depending on who's around (groan). My pasta became immensely better when I started salting the water properly back in the 90s. Have never looked back regarding salt with anything, for example:

                                                                                                                                                                  Always put salt in baked goods regardless of what the recipe says. Beware of recipes calling for unsalted butter where salt isn't included as a separate ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                  I would add: take the time to really brown meat before proceeding to the next step. Brown it until it's seconds away from being burnt and your stews, braises, soups, etc. will have a flavourful base.

                                                                                                                                                                  Capture all the bits of flavour: deglaze that pan (even if it's just the onion pan), pour the juice from the rested (well-browned), meat into the sauce, scrape the bowl, use all the bits that often get thrown out.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                    Judicious use of salt is very important to get that "restaurant" flavor -- that indescribable combination of flavor, salt and umami. I've had cooking at the homes of friends that's just as good as mine but the difference is they were afraid to salt their food.

                                                                                                                                                                    What really rang with me, cinnamon girl, is that my cooking got infinitely better when I wrapped my head around the technique of caramelization, browning and the like in cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                                      You are right wrt caramelization. Once I learned that, I realized what was missing from my food. I give Mario Batali the credit for stressing this cooking technique.
                                                                                                                                                                      Once I started caramelizing, my confidence grew as did the good taste of my food.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                                        Browning to the point of caramelization is something I'm still working on. I'm always so worried about burning things that I tend to take them off the fire much too soon. Thanks to pcdarnell for the tip about food releasing from the pan when it's ready to turn. That helps a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mandycat

                                                                                                                                                                          mandycat, it's certainly not just you. Finding that temperature on your stove that's hot enough to caramelize but not too hot to burn is really difficult. I'm still working on it with my new range.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                                          Hallelujah on the carmelization! I made chicken adobo for the first time awhile ago and decided to carmelize the chicken legs before simmering in the sauce and everyone raved about it. It was my first time, and I'm not familiar with Filipino food at all, I think the browning made all the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                          Yuppers to the FRONs. Always get the bits. If you are not using for the sauce (think whats left in the pan you did the bacon in), then deglaze with a small bit of liquid and store in freezer. The bacon juice is a great addition to bean or lentil soups...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                            Browning (the Maillard reaction) is so very important and underappreciated. That's my food resolution for the year: to find out more about the science of food.
                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks to alkapal for his interesting links above.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: stegosauri

                                                                                                                                                                              *her :) I actually was talking about the Maillard reaction the other day, while watching someone take a raw pork loin and just throw it in the over.... they wondered why it didn't taste quite as good as the one I'd made for them, haha

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stegosauri

                                                                                                                                                                                stegosauri -- hey, nice to know! thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                              I drain fried foods on paper groceries bags. My mother did and I do and it seems to work. Probably less porous than a paper towel?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver


                                                                                                                                                                                Same here.....especially for cutlets and french fries.....the paper doesn't break down and stick to food. I even stick the paper in the oven when I am keeping the cutlets warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                The next time you reheat those NYC Bagels in California, run your hand under the faucet to get your hand wet, palm over your bagel(or sprinkle), place the bagels in a bag and reheat in your oven.....after you defrost or bring close to room temperature of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                This is also how I reheat Italian Breads ....traditional loaves and any meat/cheese varieties.

                                                                                                                                                                                Take them out of the bag to finish if you want a little chewier or crusty outside.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                  Be careful, fire retardant has been added to help control fires at supermarkets. Paper bags may be toxic.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                    supermarkets have paper bags?....
                                                                                                                                                                                    : )

                                                                                                                                                                                    The bags I use are from bakeries or for small packages which I rip open... but your information is duly noted and appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                      I never heard this but will no longer use supermarket paper bags to degrease.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                      I definitely put it in a warming oven. It's especially helpful when you have to cook in batches or if I'm doing fish and chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I like my bagels toasted but I really like your idea as a first step. Sometimes the texture leaves a bit to be desired and I think your techniques could address that. Thanks, f. (almost wrote "fu" but resisted!)

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                      I use brown paper bags because I learned that when hot oil or grease comes in contact with white (bleached) paper products (paper towels, or plates) the paper releases dioxins. I don't want that on my food or in the nearby air.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                        On an Alton Brown tip, lately i have been draining fried food on a cookie cooling tray screen thing (words escape me at the moment) with paper towels underneath. It seems to work a lot better keeping the grease off food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                          I use brown paper to put my cookies on when they come out of the oven as my mother did.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a tip I've put to use lately. It works nicely, especially with fried chicken and retaining that "crunch". No soggy undersides anymore! I made some really good chicken strips last week, and I've figured out why I didn't care for them before. These were moist and perfectly crunchy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. I am replying to my own post. Fresh herbs. As a novice cook I rarely used fresh herbs but once I figured that out -what difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: xcptnl

                                                                                                                                                                                            ...and add those fresh herbs closer to the *end* of the cooking process.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                              Which leads me to one of my important-but-simple tip: In a great number of dishes, add the GARLIC near the end of cooking as well, especially in dishes that you want to have that bright, clear, pungent garlic kick.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I love garlicky tomato sauce, and never understood why mine didn't sing like my favorite restaurants', especially in quick-cook recipes. Now I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What do you mean by "sautee tomato paste?" How do you do that? What is the benefit?



                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rhee

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You saute it in some oil at the beginning of cooking, as you would with other aromatics. It darkens a bit, caramelizes a bit, and has a deeper flavor than if you simply add it with the liquids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Very true. It works even better if you push your aromatics to the side of the pan and give the tomato paste it's own space. Let it sit a bit before stirring, and then stir it in it's own space for a bit. When it starts to turn an orange-y color, then you're ready to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And if you saute garlic, add it well after the onions and other things so it doesn't burn.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: xcptnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed! Adding fresh herbs to dishes makes a big difference. Fresh cilantro in a simple homemade salsa really wakes it up, rosemary roasted along with pork loin is just terrific, or even just putting chopped fresh basil leaves on a pizza once it comes out of the oven brings it up a notch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: xcptnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used to hate to cook. Then because of the Foodnetwork, I tried some fresh thyme on
                                                                                                                                                                                                  pan seared tuna steak. It was so delicious. Now I have discovered many fresh herbs that
                                                                                                                                                                                                  make cooking a delight. Sure beats the Lawry's Seasoned salt and Gordon's Frozen Fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sticks I grew up on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 1 - When making a sauce add cold liquid to hot ingridients for the sauce to be lump free and smooth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 - Pull your pasta when it's pre-al dente and finish cooking your pasta in the sauce it's to be dressed in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 - When making chicken liver pate don't overcooked the livers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Sorry, couldn't limit myself to just one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Trust yourself
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Think
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Ignore the "& black pepper" half of the ubiquitous "salt & black pepper to taste"---black pepper does not belong in everything you cook
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Lard
                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. Buttermilk
                                                                                                                                                                                                    6. Browning meat and poultry will let you know when it's ready to turn
                                                                                                                                                                                                    7. Scrambled eggs go super slow
                                                                                                                                                                                                    8. Grow your own herbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                    9. Peel celery
                                                                                                                                                                                                    10. Keep a ham hock in the icebox
                                                                                                                                                                                                    11. 90% of the time, simple fish is the best fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                    12. Bacon belongs in a 350-degree oven for 28-30 minutes (your stove-top, walls, and microwave interior will thank you)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    13. Keep homemade curry paste in the fridge
                                                                                                                                                                                                    14. Only use sharp cookie cutters for biscuits
                                                                                                                                                                                                    15. It is nearly impossible to over-season a roast

                                                                                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Baking bacon is one of the best tips I've learned too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Auriana

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree. I first came across this method in a restaurant I worked at - they had crispy bacon which melted in your mouth. I've cooked it this way ever since!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Auriana

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I started baking bacon years ago out of shear laziness, I hated the stove top mess.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I now bakie it in on the gas grill outside. I have a specail baking sheet just for the bbq, and use it with foil. Oh and another thing, don't forget to heavily season the bacon with large cracked black pepper and let it sit on the bacon for about 30 mins before cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brilliant! I never thought of peppering the bacon. So you're sort of marinating it then? Like a dry rub marinade? You don't brush it off I take it? Hmmm you could mix the pepper with a favourite spice then, ya?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sprinkle brown sugar and black pepper on the bacon before baking. Tasty adult "bacon candy."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Could you give specific details on cooking bacon in the oven. Sounds great. I never heard of that. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: basildip

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Easy, preheat oven to 400*. Lay out bacon on foil lined sheet pan or on rack over sheet pan (I don't bother with the rack.) Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is a crispy as you like. The bacon will not curl as does fried bacon. Keep an eye on it, as it can go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is an old restaurant trick that seems to have become popular with home cooks. Bacon for food service is packed "lay-out sliced" on parchment and the bacon is transferred to a sheet pan via the paper. I don't think I ever fried bacon while I worked professionally, although I did cook it on a flat griddle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is an awesome trick -I like to paint my bacon with just a little bit of maple syrup before baking- mmmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely, and sprinkle with a bit of cayenne or black pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting. I am going to try this soon. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MissusLisa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you are feeling really fancy, you can skewer the strips in ripples on bamboo skewers before you put them on the rack and they will hold the shape when you pull out the skewer! It takes forever but its really pretty!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lucky number 7--yes! And don't forget the cheddar cheese, please. And Penzey's Sunny Paris is a very nice addition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              While we're baking bacon (another great tip I picked up on this site), don't forget the candied version: dredge with brown sugar and follow bushwickgirl's instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tip: DO NOT transfer candied bacon to a paper towel when it comes out of the oven (it sticks!!!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having real knives in the kitchen makes all the difference in prepwork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reading CH regularly ups your game in the kitchen--and I thank you all for the education!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOVE Sunny Paris or Fox Point (Sunny Paris + salt)! I use them for a little more flavor in everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lightly coating bacon with maple syrup is also worth trying when baking....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pfps823

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    lightly coating bacon w/ red chile powder is also worth trying when baking....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking of, have you ever tried jalapeno bacon? They serve it at our (yours and mine and everyone else's) favorite diner. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Whenever I have a large group over for breakfast, they think I am so strange to bake bacon but it gets extra crispy and it one less thing that I have to worry about when cooking a large breakfast. Although you do have to keep an eye on it. I do a higher temperature but for a shorter time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even without company I bake the whole pan of bacon in a big bun pan---until it is almost done but not quite. Then mop off as much fat as you can. Refrigerate in plastic bag. When you want some, microwave it for 30 seconds wrapped in a paper towel. It keeps fine for a week or ten days. Is the paper towel toxic? No, don't tell me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Chicken soup tips:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Leaving the brown skin on the onion makes chicken soup golden yellow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cooking a whole garlic clove in the chicken soup makes it taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So does a whole clove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Put the dill sprigs fresh in the soup bowl and then add the hot soup. Both the color and the flavor will be better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To take it a bit further any celery, carrot, onion or any peelings from veggies and skins of onions I put in a large zip lock and freeze. Then when I want to make broth I use the bag. Taken from a chef I cannot recall at the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I used to do this; called it 'garbage soup'. It made a great broth/stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I learned it from my mother, child of the Depression.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. It's better to fry a sunny-side up egg on med/med-low than on high. The edges don't get as crispy, but the whites get more evenly-cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soypower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A tip I picked up from watching a Jacques Pépin show for doing sunny side up eggs is to add a teaspoon or two of water to the pan after the egg starts to cook and then put a lid on the pan. The steam from the water cooks the top of the egg without overcooking the bottom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TomDel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a wonderful tip TomDel! I always get my eggs over easy because I don't like the sliminess that I find on eggs at restaurants. Over easying eggs is problematic because of how quickly they overcook. Thanks Tom and Jacques!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TomDel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i just throw an ice cube in and then put the cover on, which steams it well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TomDel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My grandmother always cooked eggs that way, so I have, too. It was something I thought everyone did, till some years ago when I heard people raving about this new egg cooking technique from Jacques. It really is a great way to cook sunny side up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: decolady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                dl, i'm surprised that you don't use the bacon fat hot from the skillet to baste the top of the egg to perfection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, I have been known to do that, too, but we prefer how the eggs turn out with the other method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Chocolate needs salt. Always! And not that crappy iodized salt, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't slack off on taking ingredients out of the fridge early. It does matter. Let that meat/butter/egg warm up. It's worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Vetter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or put your cold eggs in a bowl of very warm tap water for a minute or two-- a good shortcut for those of us who always forget this step!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or walking around with it in your pocket for a little bit... read that one on here and have used it several times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Read the recipe the whole way through and make sure you have everything on hand and ready to go before you start cooking. (And yes, I've learned that lesson the hard way. More than once.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: weem

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh yeah. How many times have I juiced that lemon and then realized I needed zest also. MUCH harder then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. I make lemon squares for a monthly potluck, and it's much easier to zest the lemons before juicing them. But the juice comes before the zest in the ingredients list. You'd think I'd learn after the first time, but no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other day I was mixing together some batter for gingerbread and realized I didn't have any ginger!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: weem

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do any of you freeze lemon juice? I haven't but I always find myself with an abundance of citrus fruit or nada - which is frustrating when I just want a bit. It seems like a regular ice cube would be too much. To partially fill them would just give room for more ice crystals to form. If they still made those little ice cube trays . . . would you even be able to get the juice out of them properly? I'd welcome any suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I freeze lemon and lime juice whenever I have an overabundance of either fruit and I'm afraid it may go bad before I get a chance to use it. Citrus can be horrendously expensive here in the northeast and I hate to see it go to waste. Although I do have those trays that make small, square ice cubes, I usually just put the juice in a regular ice cube tray. I only leave them in the tray long enough to harden before putting them in a zipper bag or, preferably, sealing them in an air-tight bag. Ice crystals haven't been all that much of a problem. The citrus juice doesn't get as hard as water, so sometimes when I remove the cubes from the tray there's a bit left in each compartment. But all in all, it's better than wasting that expensive juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you Joan and Coll . . . I'll get to work on freezing my current bumper crop tomorrow. It's good to know it doesn't freeze as hard as water. You can probably just hack a piece off a larger cube then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Peppers definitely don't freeze as hard as water, I freeze bell peppers when I get them on sale and then break off frozen hunks and chop when I want to add to a dish. The only reason I freeze the really hot peppers in the little ice cube trays is so I don't use too much at a time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I cut green peppers in half, clean out seeds and freeze. Then when I want to make stuffed peppers, I prepare the stuffing, take any number of half peppers out of the freezer, fill the peppers and bake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have those tiny ice cube trays, got them at a dollar store. Probably 2 or 3 for a dollar. Too small for ice really, but I freeze scotch bonnets, herbs and that type of thing in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I bought mine someplace similar. I bought them specifically to make ice cubes for my cocktail shaker. I don't have an Ice crusher (or even a decent blender, for that matter) and find the tiny cubes a pretty adequate substitute for crushed ice when making cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When you say you freeze scotch bonnets or herbs in them, do you pulverize them first? Do you add water? I usually just freeze herbs and chiles whole, then use them without thawing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The hot peppers I like to roast a little first, then they sort of fall apart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually when I said herbs, I meant pesto type concoctions: regular herbs I either dry if they're from my garden at the end of the season, or if leftover from the grocery store, I freeze the whole leaves in ziploc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I freeze whole lemons and limes...and just defrost and squeeze when I need juice. The skin can't be used for peel, but I think it's easier than squeezing first then freezing...if you have the room in your freezer. The left over pulp can be used for lemon tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Use good, fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. To get a nice crust, dry meats well before grilling or pan-frying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also let them come to room temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. One more I remembered from Graham Kerr. "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: southernexpat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was going to write in the same one, but I heard it years ago from The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith, RIP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I want to know this too. What about heating the oil until it shimmers/gives a slight wift of smoke?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Steal the secrets of the grandmothers of all nations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FullPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd like to hang that one framed in my kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Might have to be GREAT-grandmothers these days--lots of today's grandmothers are of the canned/packaged generation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ETA: like my mom, who is a grandmother (though via a child other than me)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. How to cut a fresh peach. Cut around the perimeter than twist in separate directions. Voila!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shaebones

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'm sure you know this already, but just in case you didn't...use the same method for other stone fruits (e.g. apricots, plums, nectarines, avocado).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Easier and less wasteful than a slicer:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Place it on the cutting board with the fatter of the two long pointed edges down. In other words, it should be in the position it won't sit at naturally, with the seed's tapered edges vertical.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Slice down slightly to the side of the seed on one half all the way through. Repeat on the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Score through the flesh in whatever size cubes you like in your two almost-halves. Turn the peel inside out and scoop them off with a knife or even a spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You'll then have a thin band of skin and flesh still attached. I usually peel the skin off then just eat the extra fruit off the stone as the cook's reward. It gets stuck in your teeth, but is totally worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry, dmd, but I have to disagree. The OXO mango splitter is a God-send. Mangoes are now my friends. The tool is very efficient with little waste... but I do take a couple swipes at the pit with my knife to recover what might otherwise be lost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It beats, by far, the fustration and risk of injury (plus waste) of trying to render a mango with just a knife. The things are so darn slippery, there is always a risk of a slip and possible injury. The Mango Splitter virtually eliminates the risk and the headache.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even though it is a "uni-tasker" (nod to AB), it has justified its place in my kitchen. Guy Fieri's Mango Chipotle chicken is a regular request from my daughter... and I have also used the same recipe to make some awesome grilled wings. I wouldn't deal with the mangoes nearly as often without my trusty splitter!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DigitalVelvet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I returned the OXO mango slicer after three attempts to use it. The blade was not sharp enough to slice the mango properly but sharp enough to hurt my hand. I returned it for a refund and learned the proper way to slice a mango with a small knife. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6dPnL...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with DigitalVelvet -- I *love* my oxo mango slicer. It's less wasteful (not to mention less dangerous) than my own attempts w/a knife ... and since it peforms the exact same strategy as described by dmd only in one motion, it's much quicker and easier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: herring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So interesting, I found the OXO exactly the opposite. My biggest complaint was that mangoes are not a one size fits all fruit and the stone is not in the same spot all the time. The OXO seems to assume the stone is in a fixed spot. So, to each their own, I found it an awful and unnecessary gadget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with you, I had to return one, too. I just use a little serrated knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              walker, good point about a serrated knife, it cuts the fiberous skin much easier than a straight edge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am so happy that I learned to deal with mangoes a few years ago by using the method set out by dmd kc. It's so easy to slice off those scored pieces so that the mango squares drop into a bowl. You can also eat them easily when they're scored that way...just push on the middle and all the pieces separate and offer themselves up for chomping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep, that's how I do it now - but I always tell myself, "...there has to be a better way!" Maybe there's not, at least I am not alone :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I used to do it this way...Then I tried slicing the bottom off to give it some stability while I peeled it with a potato peeler. Works for me. YMMV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I may know why there is a gap between those who love the OXO Mango Splitter (like me) and those who don't. I'm a 6'3" guy... 230ish lbs. After cutting a stable base on the "fat end" of the mango, I jam the splitter down on it in "one fell swoop." There is nothing gentle or delicate about it... kind of like splitting wood. One move, and put your weight into it if you have to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The two blades part to allow the pit to pass (hugging the pit to minimize waste), and adapt to any strange pit size, shape or angle. You can't "ease" the splitter down the pit... it will offer too much resistance. The convenient handles on the side of the splitter will help keep fingers and other body parts out of the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just stick a really sharp serving fork in the mango. This holds it in place with one hand while I use a sharp knife to slice off the skin, and then the fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always wonder why no one mentions the technique I always use (maybe I thought it up and don't remember?).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, it's a quick and easy way to de-flesh mangos, and I do it with kiwis too (as well as avocados, of course).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I cut the cheeks off in the traditional way (but bow my knife a little around the pit), but THEN I scoop out the flesh from each half with a soup spoon (the elongated-bowl one, not "round"). The flesh hunk comes out in one large piece with almost no flesh remaining on the skin, and is then simple to chop up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do try to use the "thinnest" soup spoon I have in the drawer since the edges of it will be thinner and "cut" easier though.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just press side of spoon near its top between the skin and flesh of the mango, then push it down a bit and scoop all the way around the edge, moving the mango when necessary to reach all sides. There's usually a small amt of flesh clinging to the very bottom of the hunk, but one good swipe deeper and that breaks off too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (I hold the cheek in my left hand face up, and usually start my cut at about 1 or 2 o'clock on the cheek as I remember, but that's prob. not important.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't like the "cube" right in the skin version because the cubes still have to be cut from the flesh which is an extra step and i's a bit fiddly to get all the cubes completely, and it's also a little fiddly to cut exactly down to the skin for each of the grid cuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The only time I might not use this mango-cutting technique is if the mango is not very ripe and still a bit hard because then the spoon might slip since it wouldn't be cutting through easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (just signed up... am enjoying this thread!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Diane B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I learned mango technique from the cook at a hotel where we stayed in Haiti. Wash mango. With sharp knife, cut lengthwise around the entire fruit, against the seed (she used a machete but I use a serrated paring knife). Hold over the sink. Twist the two halves to separate them. Loosen seed with point of knife. Serve fruit on the half-shell (like an avocado) with a serrated grapefruit spoon. Minimizes the mango mess but for gnawing on the seed it's best to get naked first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ha Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always say the only way to eat a burrito is naked in the bathtub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just peel it with a good vegetable peeler, then slice all the flesh off. Use a good knife. And be careful it it's a really juicy mango because it can get pretty slippery without the skin on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. One tip learned?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That Mum's way was not best way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Mise en place, in order of use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, Gio - that's mine too. It eliminates the frantic scramble for ingredients (which you might not have on hand!). I make mole with 20+ ingredients and setting everything out in an orderly manner makes it such a relaxing, meditative pleasure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Especially "in order of use." That makes me less crazy. I don't have a huge amount of counter space by the stove so lining up everything is a little tranquilizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Something recipes never tell you, the difference different levels of caremlization have on the finished product. I have found the slightest variation in onion, garlic or other vegetable browning really changes the end dish and different dishes require different levels. Related to this is the timing of when to add salt so as to release vegetable juices and halt the browning process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I agree -- It's amazing how a little (ok, sometimes a lot) kosher salt can make all the difference between a mediocre dish and a fantastic one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Le Creuset makes everything taste better
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The best scrambled eggs are made with bacon grease and a VERY hot pan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Comfort food never goes out of style
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Animal fat is healthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The best scrambled eggs are made.......a VERY hot pan"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think I've ever seen that before. Conventional wisdom always says low heat and cook long and slow. I have been known to cook them in a bain marie but it does take a comparitively long time, which I don't usually have if they're for breakfast. But you do get incredibly soft creamy eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When my pan isn't hot enough my scrambled eggs steam and separate into unattractive bits. When I let it heat up properly they come out fluffy and ethereal. Almost like omelets but I chop chop with my wooden spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A matter of taste, I guess! I used to like my eggs fluffy like that, but now I prefer creamy and unctuous! So it's low heat for me from now on, even though it takes MUCH longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry to point this out, but there is a significant different between scrambled eggs and chopped eggs... it is a texture thing. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DigitalVelvet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Valid point.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I still think if I were to be on top of it and fold the whispy egg pieces down and in from the sides they'd be more scrambled than chopped -- and far superior in my hot pan vs and lukewarm one. That said, I'm generally not on top of my eggs because I'm trying to corral my kids to the table and/or sizzle up some breakfast meat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I should also add that I go against tradition and prefer my eggs slightly on the well done side as opposed to merely warmed through when scrambled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DigitalVelvet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I learned "low and slow" on scrambled eggs from CH a year or more ago. Also only gently stirred not beaten hard prior to cooking. It's made a HUGE difference in scrambled eggs vs. a "broken omelette" as someone (Karl S?) described.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You are correcto, and one does not need cream or milk or water. My dh always says the same thing when I make scrambled eggs for the family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "do you add milk to your eggs when you make them?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "uh. uh."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I start with a pat of butter in the pan first, and let the fat bind to the protein molecules. That helps get that smooth creamy scrambled egg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes - and you shouldn't beat the heck out of them or add dairy to the omelettes either. The milk or cream can separate and make them exude that nasty watery stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have jacked it up to medium heat tho', in recent years with good results. It still requires constant stirring to get a soft creamy curd and a splash of cream and chives AT THE END to keep them cooking too much longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Overcooking causes the water to separate from the eggs as the proteins contract. If they're fully cooked in the pan they'll be overdone by the time they get to the table. Overdone scrambled eggs are easily recognized by the pool of water they're sitting in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I actually move the pan off the heat right at the end so I have more control.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do that, too - off heat at the end, before they're fully done, but keep stirring so they finish cooking from the residual heat in the pan but don't overcook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That explains it - I used to try cooking omelets on a high heat. Never scrambled eggs tho. I tend to put the pot off and on the flame when scrambling to keep it getting too hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I learned to use the broiler to finish omelets so they would come out fluffy (like I like them).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I start on the stovetop as usual. I pour the whipped egg in the heated pan, add the ingredients, and let the egg set up just a bit. Then, I lift the edge of the cooked egg layer slightly with a spatula, pick up the pan, and rock it down gently toward the lifted edge so the remaining egg mixture runs toward it. Next--still holding the egg layer up--I rock it back so the egg mixture runs underneath it. I do this once or twice more, lifting at different spots, resulting in very little "runny" egg left on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last, I put the pan under the hot broiler for a few minutes. (This step also melts the cheese nicely.) When it comes out, it's fluffy, and I fold it over and serve. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: petit oiseau

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of my favorites already mentioned (especially meat resting, paitence and small dish of salt). All make huge differences :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did not have time to read through all the posts (I will come back to it after work when I can take the time) so I apologise if this was already mentioned:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Never salt your mushrooms while they are beginning to saute- Wait until they get cripsy and then add salt- They are so much better that way!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Keep a small bowl for garbage/scraps on the counter while you cook- saves lots of time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gastronomy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Related to this, put mushrooms in a hot pan with little or no oil. Stir and let them release their water BEFORE adding butter, oil, or salt. That way they get nice and brown, and you don't use cups of fat cooking them. Raw mushrooms are like oil sponges! (I wonder if this works for eggplant, another notorious oil hog?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i never thought of this - what a great idea! i always add oil to the pan first and tho i do achieve the nice browning and crispness, i always end up adding and re-adding oil/butter to my shrooms because they've sucked it all up. thanks for this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I learned that this year too! I add my mushrooms to a dry pan and let them cook for a while before adding anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have given up trying to satisfy eggplants thirst for oil. Now I just cut them up, don't bother with the whole salt-and-let-stand thing, dry-fry the slices or chunks in a non-stick pan, and they are done when brown. Saves a lot on calories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Joebob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tip: start your eggplant pieces sauteeing in a bit of oil; once the oil has been sucked up, add a bit of water (and then a bit more) you get sauteed eggplant in a bit using a lot less oil!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joebob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's why many recipes tell you to salt it first. Has nothing to do with bitterness, which salt doesn't even help with. You salt, let sit, then wipe the salt off, and the result is that the outer cell walls burst, and are no longer able to absorb oil -- or so I've read.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The process of salting an eggplant before cooking is called "degorging" or "purging;" the salt removes some moisture but more importantly it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant's spongy flesh, preventing the absorption of oil while frying. The bitterness has to do with the type (Globe as opposed to Asian types) and age of the eggplant, and bitterness is more pronounced around the seeds of an older eggplant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pre-salting makes a hell of a lot of difference for oil absorption when frying. It's really worth taking that extra step.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't even rinse off the purging salt anymore, I find it ultimately seasons the eggplant nicely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good info, bwg. I don't rinse but I do blot the moisture that the salt draws out with a paper towel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you! I don't find eggplant as bitter as it was years ago, so I sometimes skip that step. I didn't realize the benefit regarding oil absorption. I often brown my eggplant in the oven to reduce the absorption - depending on what the end result is going to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks BG. That's good to know. I find that there isn't a lot of bitterness anymore, as most varieties have had it bred out of them. Hence, my salting is hit or miss. No, I never rinse when I salt either; just wipe off and adjust the salt accordingly in the rest of the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Joebob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      or roast them with a light covering of oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting. Does it need to be nonstick?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I put mushrooms in a bowl with plastic wrap on top and microwave them on high for 4-5 minutes. Most of the water will be in the bottom of the bowl and it will take less sauteing time to cook them. Learned this from cook's Illustrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: petit oiseau


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      what temp do you cook the eggs on when they are on top of the stove? Once you put them in the broiler, that doesn't cause them to brown at the bottom? I am horrible w/ egg cookery and need to get better! My eggs always have that brown gross film at the bottom :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PrimadonnaEatz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lower the flame, eggs are delicate and should be cooked (fried) at no more than med low.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Except for omelets or scrambled, which I cook very quickly at fairly high heat. Putting the omelet under the broiler "finishes" the omelet, melts the cheese or heats up the fillings. The heat of the broiler causes the eggs to rise, fluffing up the eggs like a souffle. You do it quickly, you don't want to brown the top. You can actually see the eggs rising.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yep, that's right on, bushwickgirl. I cook the omelet on top of stove at fairly high heat, and then after lifting the edges and letting the runny egg roll under, I put it in the broiler. Also, a tip that helps me is to turn on the broiler about 10 min. before I start making the omelet, so that the broiler cavity reaches its optimal temp. A few times I turned on the broiler too late, and my omelet cooked in there but didn't fluff up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: petit oiseau

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That was the secret trick of a place here that was famed for its omelets. Not in business anymore, but the omelets were incredible. And they were fluffy and light. They didn't put them under the broiler but did put in a small cast iron gratin pan and then into a very hot oven for a few minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Almost any veggie can benefit from being roasted. Most veggies that are in season at the same time complement each other, and can be roasted together in a little olive oil and tossed with pasta for a quick, easy meal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Pasta into the sauce not sauce on to the pasta

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gastronomy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            adding a little butter to red sauce (e.g., marinara) makes it delectable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            don't toss pasta with oil or butter before adding the sauce; the sauce will have trouble coating the strands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And that's why the pasta water shouldn't have oil in it also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also a dash of vodka towards the end really improves your sauce for some scientific reason. You don't taste it, but it makes the tomatoes taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's because some flavors are only alcohol-soluble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. After marinating meat, dry it before placing on the hot grill. It will brown/char/sear much more effectively. I always thought the excess marinade clinging to the meat would dry and make a nice crust, but it just prevents proper grilling char.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DigitalVelvet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This reminds me:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Always pad the meat very dry before browning, to get the, well, nice brown.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - When cooking fish with skin, at the end poor hot oil on skin; makes it crispy out and soft in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - For a second, layer a paper towel on top of chick broth, to remove the top layer of fat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - (A French dame du monde taught me this:) The most important thing about food is not food but the company. All the dishes and wines are not an end to itself but should go into making the soirée a great one. Therefore light your scented candle, smooth and arrange your curtains and cushions, check your table setting. They all count. And the comfort of your guests is more important than any etiquette blabla.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <- For a second, layer a paper towel on top of chick broth, to remove the top layer of fat.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Brilliant! I've never thought of that, although if I have cheese cloth I'll probably use that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <Therefore light your scented candle,>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here I disagree, at least anywhere near the dining area. It seems to me the scents of the candles throw off the palate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I always skim off the fat and freeze it- great for sauteeing if you run out of EVOO

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Cooked for forty years, but never got this tip until this year.....make the mashed potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  first thing then keep warm is the buttered insert of your slow cooker...might also add that I didn't have a slow cooker until this year! One poster's tip to keep a small bowl on the counter for scraps/garbage is right on...THEN...add those vegetable scraps to your compost pile or feed them to the hungry deer outhside my fence! Great topic, xcptnl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Wash the dishes and clean up as you go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always try to have the kitchen as clean at the end of preparing a meal as when I started. Makesw fro a much more pleasant meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mmck

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I subscribe to this practice. It lends a certain order and dignity to the whole process. bushwickgirl is spot on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Taste it before serving is about as important as it gets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1, you'd be amazed at how often this part is overlooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lol, also taste it before salting. i'm a notorious offender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Speaking of salt, how was your soup?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even some of the most experienced chefs I worked with had a tendency to not taste before seasoning or serving, relying rather on a falsly perceived ability to eyeball a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I get someone else to taste before serving as I'm one of those who gets overwhelmed by the scent. It's been positive as the dish turns out better and the Mr. and kids are learning to think about and articulate taste and texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have fun in the kitchen. Be fearless. Share your cooking with others. Try new dishes when you do. Most will compliment your cooking no matter how it turns out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Think about pretty colors, textures and presentation when you cook. Leave yourself some time to make your food look appealing. Consider plating meals in the kitchen instead of serving family style. Enjoy some drama in plating food and setting the table. I serve sauces, etc. in egg cups, votive holders and other devices to add some elevation to the plate. I bring leaves, branches, berries from outside to use as decorations. When you are in a restaurant, wedding, etc. notice what they do to make food look special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would rather serve food hot and fresh than wash dishes and clean the kitchen while the food cools and gets soggy and guests wait around. Dishes are later when I'm relaxed and guests are gone and I'm no longer hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rhee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I clean as I cook, as things are sauteing, I'm washing and wiping up. I keep moving. I prefer to work in an organized kitchen, it's a integral part of mis-en-place, IMO. So when the dinner is ready, I have space and a clean enviornment from which to plate and serve. No one waits for dinner, when it's ready so am I, and no terrifically large mess for after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree. I have to clean as I go, otherwise, I stress myself out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although I will add that often I no sooner clean the entire kitchen than decide I want to start a new cooking project. In that case, it probably would have made more sense to wait on scrubbing the stove and counters. Ugh.