KITCHEN TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
Here's a collection of kitchen tips and techniques that will make your life a little easier. This page includes many of my own tips, hints, and ideas that I've used over many years of cooking. However, you can also submit your own.
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Your Cooking Tips and Techniques
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MY COOKING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
TIPS FOR BEATING EGG WHITES
When beating egg whites for meringues or angle food cakes, for a better result, follow these tips:
- There should be NO egg yolk, or other fats mixed in. Therefore, make sure the bowl is spotlessly clean before putting the whites in the bowl.
- Separating the yolks completely is important. Cold eggs separate better. However, the whites whip better at room temperature. Therefore, separate the cold eggs and let the whites sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour before whipping.
- Do not use plastic mixing bowls because left over fats tend to cling to the bowl, even after washing.
OLD FASHIONED OATS VS. QUICK COOKING OATS
Here are the differences between the 2 types of oats. Old Fashioned Oats are whole oats that have been rolled and flattened. Quick Cooking Oats have been processed more, chopped and refined which makes them smaller. Because of this, they cook faster.
However, given the choice, my preference is the whole Old Fashioned Oats for a number of reasons:
- Better health benefits - whole grain versus refined.
- Texture - Quick Cooking oats have a pasty texture of mush.
- Better for baking - Cookies using Quick Cooking oats may come out runny and thin. Old Fashioned oats will give you a better cookie.
The only benefit to using Quick Cooking Oats is their faster cooking time. Barring this, I would use the Old Fashioned Oats 100% of the time.
COOKING WITH GARLIC
When cooking garlic in a saucepan along with other ingredients, be sure to add it at the right time. Adding it too soon will cause it to burn. Too soon and the flavors won't have time to be released. The smaller the cut, the faster it cooks. Minced garlic should only take 1-2 minutes, larger chunks a minute or 2 more. As you cook, you'll get better at judging how long it takes.
COOKING HAMBURGERS INDOORS
When the weather's not cooperating for your grilling plans, instead of frying your burgers, broil them. Just place under the broiler for several minutes per side. Be sure to keep a close watch. Once they start to cook, they'll cook fast and will burn if not watched closely. Also make sure you put them on a broiler pan to catch the drippings.
THICKENING SAUCES AND GRAVY
Use a mixture of cornstarch and water. Just mix the 2 ingredients to form a thick liquid, usually equal parts of each,or 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts water. Add to rapidly boiling liquid to thicken. You can make any gravy by taking juices from the meat, thickening as mentioned, and adding seasonings if necessary.
MAKING A WHITE SAUCE FROM SCRATCH
An easy way to make a versatile white sauce is to melt 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine in a saucepan, add 2 Tbsp. of flour and whisk together over medium heat until paste forms. Add 1 1/2 - 2 cups of milk, stirring constantly until thickened. This is the basic sauce. From here, you can add salt and pepper and other seasonings such as sausage for sausage gravy, cheese for a cheese sauce, or other ingredients to make any number of white sauces.
EASY POT ROASTS
To make a simple yet satisfying meal, start with a beef or pork roast. Season the outside with salt, pepper, or other seasonings, then brown in oil on the stove. Place in a slow cooker with other vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc). Add a small amount of beef broth, then cook on low for 6-8 hours. Thicken sauce using the method above.
BUYING CHICKEN BREASTS
I never buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts at full price. They usually go on sale every 1-3 weeks. In my area, I can get them for $1.99/lb. or $1.49/lb. I buy several, then freeze them in serving sized portions in plastic freezer bags. This way, when I'm ready to cook a dish that uses boneless chicken breasts, I get what I need out of the freezer and thaw. It's a great way to save money and always have some chicken on hand.
To toast nuts, you can use either of 2 methods. First, spread nuts in single layer on cookie sheet. Place in a 350° oven forabout 15 minutes or until lightly toasted. A second method is to melt butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add nuts and cookover medium heat for about 5 minutes. For a great taste, add spices such as brown sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, or others.
RE-HEATING LEFTOVER PIZZA
Everyone that's re-heated leftover pizza has used the microwave at some point. However, this makes the crust soft and limp. If you want to keep the crust crisp, heat a frying pan on the stove to medium-low to medium. Place pizza in pan and cover with a lid. Heat for 5-10 minutes. The pan will crisp the crust and the heat will make the slice moist. Keep in mind, the thicker the crust, the lower the heat and the more time it will take. Heating on a temperature that's too high will burn the crust before the rest of the slice is heated through. Experiment with this technique.
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