Cooktop Cove: 9+ cooking kitchen secrets that we're spilling
Cooking really can seem like a chore sometimes, even for those who love to do it. Sometimes it can seem that no matter what you do, your dishes never turn out as good as they should. Maybe you've already tried a few gadgets or tricks to make kitchen tasks easier,but they just end up adding a lot of time and work.
Whatever your kitchen problem may be, they may soon be over. From using only the freshest ingredients to getting those ingredients perfect, these kitchen tips are secrets that every cook should know.
1. Make sure eggs are fresh
Eggs can have a pretty long expiration date – up to three or four weeks on some cartons. But just because that date shows when the eggs will expire, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're completely fresh before that date, either. If you don't use fresh eggs, you can really spoil some dishes, particularly if that dish depends on eggs, such as omelets.
As eggs age, they lose their density and start to become airier inside their shell. Using this science, you can easily check how fresh your eggs are before using them. Fill a glass with lukewarm water, leaving a couple of inches at the top. Gently drop an egg into it and wait to see what happens.
If the egg drops to the bottom of the glass and lays on its side, you'll know it's super fresh. Air hasn't yet had time to get inside the shell, which is why it sinks. If the egg drops to the bottom but sits on one end with the other pointing toward the top of the glass, it's still pretty fresh but the aging process has definitely begun. If the egg floats to the top of the water, there's a lot of air inside and you may want to toss it and pick up some fresh eggs.
2. Separate egg yolks and whites properly
Simply crack open the shell and gently pour the egg out into your palm with your fingers closed. Slightly open your fingers, which will allow the whites to fall through and leave the perfectly unbroken yolk in your hand. Then you can just place it into a bowl. If it's the whites you're trying to get, just do this trick over a bowl to catch the whites as they fall.
3. Don't open the oven door while baking
There's a reason most ovens have a light that can be turned on from the outside – because you shouldn't be opening the door while you're trying to cook something inside. Opening it can cause heat to escape, not to mention being too harsh a movement for delicate baked goods such as souffles. This can cause baked goods, even muffins, to collapse and fall, ruining any presentation you were hoping to have. Instead, keep the door closed, turn the light on and bend down to peek inside. The baked goods will thank you.
4. Use acid before adding more salt
Salt is essential to just about anything that's made in the kitchen, even sweets like cakes and pies. But adding more salt isn't always the way to go if you've just tasted the food and it doesn't have as much flavor as you'd like. In fact, if you add more salt your food could end up tasting, well, too salty. Instead, try adding a touch of acid first such as balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and then taste. If your dish still needs help, go ahead and add a pinch of salt, but there's a good chance that it won't.
5. Use different cutting boards for different things
Sure, you could spend a little time and elbow grease dousing a cutting board with salt and lemon juice after you've used it to cut raw meat. Or you could just have one cutting board dedicated to cutting raw meat and give it a quick wash when you're done.
The problem with cutting raw meat on a cutting board, made out of any material other than glass, is that the bacteria from the meat can soak into that cutting board, especially if it's made of wood. And even if it's made of plastic, that bacteria will still get into the small cuts that have been made by your knife in the past. The simplest – and most effective – solution is to use cutting boards for specific things and stick to those uses.
But won't this still leave bacteria on that cutting board? Maybe in trace amounts. But when you cut the next piece of raw meat on that same cutting board, the bacteria will cook away when you cook the meat. On the other hand, if you chop veggies that will be served raw on that same cutting board, those trace amounts of bacteria can get onto the veggies and won't have a chance to cook away.
Affordable cutting boards can be found at discount stores or dollar stores. To make it easier to know which cutting board is used for what at just a glance, buy them in different colors.
6. Make omelettes in a bag
Omelettes may be one of the hardest things to master in the kitchen. It all seems to be going fine but once you try to flip it, it quickly becomes an egg scrambled mess that is still tasty but doesn't look anything like an omelette. Here's a quick fix.
Assemble the ingredients just as you would if making a traditional omelette. Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl with just a bit of water added, brown any meats you'll be adding, and give a quick sauté to vegetables such as mushrooms, onions or bell peppers. Add the other ingredients to the beaten eggs and place it all in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze the air out of it and roll it up so there's no room for the egg to spread out in the bag.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and drop in the bag in. This works perfectly, cooking the egg without doing any damage to the bag itself. It's also an efficient way to have an omelette bar when entertaining over brunch. Put out all the ingredients, let people make their own omelette by placing those ingredients into a bowl or bag and hand them over. In the three minutes it takes to boil their omelette, you'll be able to feed a crowd!
7. Create a whirlpool when making poached eggs
Have you ever noticed that when you order poached eggs from a restaurant that they always come formed into a nice little package? And that when you try it at home, you end up with a bit of white covering the yolk while the rest is clinging to the sides of the pan? There's a simple solution.
The first is to add a teaspoon of vinegar into a pan of barely simmering water (poached eggs should never be cooked in boiling water). Then, using a wooden spoon, swirl the water vigorously in one direction so it resembles a whirlpool. Then, and only then, gently drop in your egg. The vinegar will help keep the white from running all over the pan, and the whirlpool will force it to stay together.
8. Get measurements more exact
There are those who like to be creative in the kitchen, flying by the seat of their pants and dropping and eyeballing ingredients into their dishes. And then there are those who like to follow recipes exactly and measure things out very carefully. Neither are wrong, but if you're in the class that likes to take careful measurements, you may want to be more careful.
This is because sticky ingredients (think honey, molasses, and maple syrup) cling to the inside of measuring cups. You can use a rubber spatula to get it all off the sides, in which case you'll still lose some, or you can use this simple trick. Oil the inside of the measuring cup before using it to measure, either with nonstick cooking spray or just by applying a bit of oil with a paper towel. Then use it to measure your ingredients and add it to any pot or bowl. You'll be amazed at how easily those ingredients slide right out.
9. Use chopsticks to measure dough
Ever notice how every single dough recipe calls for it to be rolled to a certain thickness? It makes sense. After all, who wants to eat a pie that has a super thick crust on one side and super thin crust on the other? And although you can just eyeball it to see if the dough is rolled to an even thinness, like most things in the kitchen, there's an easier way.
Place a chopstick along either side of the dough. Does one side come up higher than the other? If so, you'll need to roll it out a bit more on that side. Once you do, perform the chopstick test again. Few recipes will call for dough to be higher than the height of chopsticks placed on the counter, and this is a fool-proof way to ensure you get perfectly even dough every time.
10. A wooden spoon prevents a pot from boiling over
This is one of the most hotly debated topics on the Internet, but it works if you know how to do it. A wooden spoon will prevent a pot of boiling water from boiling over, which can possibly cause a fire and definitely make a mess of the stovetop. There are a couple of reasons why this works.
The first is that, even placed directly above the water, the spoon will be cooler than the boiling water below. When the water touches that colder temperature, it will bring the temperature of that water down too, and stop the pot from boiling over. Secondly, as the bubbles touch the wooden spoon, they'll break and further prevent the pot from boiling over.
The trick is to turn the heat down to medium-high as soon as it starts to boil. Violently boiling water will boil over no matter what you do, and the water will still boil even if you turn it down a few notches. Then, place the wooden spoon across the top of the pot and continue boiling. It will be done whenever you say it is, and the stovetop will be no worse for the wear.
Copyright 2016 Cooktop Cove