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Aug 30, 2010 08:18 AM

Neat tricks and shortcuts

Yesterday I made a salad with baked goat cheese and recalled that I'd read a tip somewhere (on this Board?) to use dental floss to cut the goat cheese log into medallions. Worked perfectly and much better than with a knife, which was how I used to cut goat cheese.

So, what tricks and tips have you used?

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  1. when making shortbreads or a butter short crust for lemon bars or the like, I freeze the sticks of butter then grate and toss with the flour mixture for a nice, flaky texture in the finished product.

    1. I find that grating root ginger into ice cube trays and freezing them is SO handy for making all sorts of things. I cube= about a tbsp and you can put them straight into the frying pan/casserole from the freezer. It lessens the waste from when you buy a big piece and it goes wrinkly in the fridge!

      1. A nice light brown roux takes about 10 minutes of constant attention to make. I make rous with a pound of butter and 2 cups of flour at a time then store it in the fridge. When I need gravy, I just melt some of the roux into a pan and add milk.

        Keep a small jar of butter and flour balls (equal amounts). When you need to thicken something just toss a couple into the sauce.

        Freeze 1 cup and 2 cup portions of stock so you can get to it quickly. no waste.

        Freeze your over ripe bananas in the peel. When you have 4 accumulated, make banana bread.

        Clean as you go and use mise en place (all ingredients pre-measured and ready to use).

        Buy the $40 pepper mill and replace the $8 one.

        Use "Better than Bouillon" chicken and beef bases to replace bouillon and enhance broths for soups and sauces.

        Keep evaporated milk in the pantry for when you find out during meal preparation that you are out of milk for sauces and gravies.

        Taste your pasta water while adding salt. It should be like adding salt to a soup.

        Always brine chicken, turkey and pork.

        Save your kitchen walls. Get a splatter guard for your skillet and saute pan.

        Keep a bag of frozen peas in the freezer. Lots of dishes can be helped with a handful of peas at the end.

        Save your potato peels, celery scraps and bones in the freezer. When you have enough, throw them in the slow ccoker with some water and make a stock and or soup.

        Use a digital temperature probe.

        Use a non stick pan, a silicone spatula and medium to medium low heat to cook eggs.

        Don't sear or saute with a non stick pan.

        Use a vegetable oil that is 100% soy bean oil for your primary cooking oil. It has a higher smoke point than canola oil.

        Get the flexible cutting boards. They are lots more convenient and can be used to funnel stuff into pans. I seldom use my wood cutting board now.

        Use "Bar Keeper's Friend" on your stainless steel and copper pans.

        Use your plastic grocery bags (can use 1 or 2 bags) to put stinky kitchen garbage in. Seal it up and toss it into garbage. It won't stink up the kitchen.

        Use an aerogarden to grow herbs in the winter.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Quine

            Thanks, they have all been mentioned before. I guess I just needed the typing exercise. :)

        1. My grandmother taught me this one- if you take out a large/heavy appliance, use it for as many things as possible before putting it away.

          I'll take out my food processor to make hummus, but start by making breadcrumbs, grinding graham crackers, shredding carrots or beets, and maybe making pesto.

          It's so much easier for me to rinse out the bowl a few times rather than taking out the whole machine over the course of a few days.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cheesecake17

            Not to mention that grinding up a hard bit of bread is a quick way to get that gooey stuff out of those difficult spots. A quick grind, toss and ALOT easier to clean.

            1. re: Quine

              Similar with a blender- add in a cup or so of water and zip it around a minute to get all the gunk out of the blades.