Cooking Tips

After 30 years of cooking, I’ve picked up a few cooking tips so thought I’d pass them along. The more tips and techniques that you master the better your cooking experiences will be.

1. To brighten beets and red cabbage, add 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice to the cooking water and if you would like to learn more things to do with vinegar, just go to 1001 tips for using vinegar.

2. Scalding milk. If you have to scald milk and are afraid of scorching it, heat it in a very heavy saucepan or top of a double boiler over just boiling water until tiny bubbles appear at the edges of milk. Take off heat immediately.

3. If you don’t know how to convert Fahrenheit to Celcius your problem has been solved. The formula is: Subtract 32 from Fahrenheit reading, and divide by 1.8. Example: Fahrenheit reading is 100 degrees F., subtract 32 from 100 equals 68, divided by 1.8 equals 37.8 Celsius. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Or, you could check the conversion tables below.

Boiling Point-F
Of Water
212 degrees F
Boiling Point-C
Of Water
100 degrees C

NOTE: To convert ANY Celcius to Fahrenheit number, CLICK HERE!

4. When you come home from the grocery store, get rid of market bags and cartons as soon as they’re emptied. Never save, never store in cupboards. They’re an open invitation to roaches, weevils, silverfish, and ants. But most of all to roaches. These pests are fond of the glue used in manufacturing bags and cartons and females seek out the snug dark folds and crevices in which to lay their eggs.  A market bag or carton seemingly free of roaches, may in fact harbor hundreds of soon-to-hatch eggs.

5. How to Cook a Hard Cooked Egg: Start with cold water in a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add eggs, water should cover eggs by at least 1-inch. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat, let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer eggs to an ice bath to stop the cooking.

6. How To Reconstitute Dried Mushrooms. To reconstitute dried mushrooms soak them in warm water, wine or stock for about 20 minutes then filter the liquid. Use either a coffee filter or paper towels. Quickly wash the mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms or leave them as they are. They can then be used in your favorite recipe just like fresh ones.

7. How to make food not stick in the pan: Remember the rule: Hot pan, cold oil, foods won’t stick. That means that you never put the oil in the pan and then heat the pan. You heat the pan first; add the oil and then, immediately, the food. You will have much less sticking that way. (Note: The one exception is butter…See #21 below)

8. Heat Settings: If a high heat setting is used to begin a cooking operation or to bring water to a boil, always reduce to a lower setting once cooking begins or water comes to a boil. Food does not cook faster at a higher heat setting than that which maintains a gentle boil. Water boils at the same temperature whether boiling vigorously or gently.

9. How to peel pearl onions: Fresh pearl onions are the devil to peel unless you know a little trick. Blanch them in boiling water first, and they practically peel themselves. Here’s how: Trim the root ends of the onions. Blanch the onions in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Using your fingers, just squeeze the onion and the skin should come right off.

10. What to do with left-over cream. So you bought a pint of heavy whipping cream for a recipe and have some left over…. what to do? Make butter! Pour the remaining cream into a food processor and pulse it until it’s firm and holds its shape. Then, stir in salt, fresh herbs, citrus zest or any other of your favorite herbs to use on grilled meats or baked potatoes. Once combined, form the seasoned butter into a log on top of plastic wrap, wrap tightly and chill or freeze.

11. Like to make guacamole? When making guacamole, use a pastry cutter to chop up the avocado. It’s much easier than using a fork. You can also use this gimmick for boiled eggs for egg salad.

12. Soaking skewers before grilling.  Pre-soak  a bunch of skewers, then place them in a resealable plastic bag to freeze. When you’re ready to grill, the skewers can be removed from the bag and used, no thawing necessary. To prevent larger items from ‘spinning’ on the skewer, use two for each kebab, spacing them about 1-inch apart, and slide the food onto both.

13. Why Should I Sift Flour For A Recipe. Sifting (or just whisking) breaks up clumps that form when flour sits for a while. It also adds air and volume, so a cup of sifted flour and a cup of unsifted flour are two different quantities. Read recipe instructions carefully to determine whether sifting is needed: For “a cup of sifted flour”, sift first, then measure; for a “cup of flour, sifted,” measure first, then sift. The exception: cake flour, which should always be sifted.

14. How To Peel and Seed a Tomato. First, slice an “x” across the blossom end of the tomatoes; this will help the skin to peel off in a regular fashion. Next, plunge the tomatoes into barely boiling water, stem-side down, for 30 seconds. Using tongs, move the tomatoes to a bowl of ice-water to stop the cooking; the tomatoes will be very hot to the touch, but the interior flesh will not be cooked. When the tomatoes have cooled — after 3 to 5 minutes — remove them from the ice bath, pat them dry with a paper towel and gently peel the cooked skin off along the “x” where the skin has naturally split. Next, with sharp knife, cut the tomato into quarters and remove the seeds, being sure to cut away the core on the stem end. Once the seeds and skin have been removed, you’re left with tomato flesh petals that can be used to hold dollops of tuna or vegetable salad, or diced and added to soups, salads and sauces.

15. How to Measure Flour. Measure flour by spooning (not scooping) it into a dry-measuring cup and leveling off with a knife without tapping or shaking cup.

16. How to Measure Liquids. Measure liquids in glass or clear plastic liquid-measuring cups (usually made of metal or plastic).

17. Grating Hard Cheeses. To finely grate hard cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano and similar) use the small (1/8-in.) teardrop-shaped holes not the ragged-edged holes of a box or similar handheld grater. Other shaped holes, a Microplane rasp and pre-grated cheese yield different volumes.

18. Do You Know Your Peppercorns? Ground and whole peppercorns come in various colors and all but the pink type are from the same perennial plant, Piper nigrum.
Green peppercorns are the unripe berries, which are sold pickled or freeze-dried but rarely fresh.
Black peppercorns are the dried form of the green, unripe berries.
White peppercorns are made by soaking ripened, red peppercorns until the skin peels off.
Pink peppercorns are the dried and only slightly spicy berries of the Schinus Molle plant.

19.Baking Tips When adding liquid to flour mixture, stir only until dry ingredients are moistened.

20. Baking Tips If you do not have sufficient batter to fill every muffin cup, fill empty cups halfway with water so pan doesn’t warp.

To test freshness of baking powder, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water; if mixture does not foam, the powder is stale and should not be used.

21.  Cooking with butter.  Don’t add butter to a hot pan or the butter will immediately burn.  Instead, put the butter in a cold pan and heat the pan.  Let the condition of the butter guide you as to the temperature of the pan. (Note:  It’s different when using oil.  When using oil, you never put the oil in the pan and then heat the pan. You heat the pan first; add the oil and then, immediately, the food. You will have much less sticking that way.)

22.  The trick to making freshly whipped cream.  The trick is to ditch the whisk and bowl and get a clean, quart Mason jar.  Add one cup of whipping cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, screw the lid on and freeze it for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, take out of freezer and shake the jar vigorously, like a cocktail shaker, until semi-soft peaks form, 3-4 minutes.  Makes 2 cups!