A Collection of Some Great General Cooking Tips:
- Prepare what you need before you start. It’s how the pros do it and it simplifies the process when you are scrambling to put it all together.
- When using a broiler to cook steaks, pre-heat oven until it’s really hot. This will sear the outside of the meat and keep the juices in. And don’t use a fork to turn the steaks, use thongs or a spatula to prevent juices from leaking out.
- Buy yourself a potato ricer for mashed potatoes. It a great gadget to have in your kitchen, it looks like a giant garlic press, costs about six bucks, but there’s nothing better for smooth airy mashed potatoes.
- A folding steamer platform that sits in almost any pot works great for your steamed veggies. Important, be careful not to overcook the broccoli, you want it to be crisp but tender.
- Invest in a salad spinner. They’re inexpensive and work great. There’s nothing more unappealing than soggy lettuce. And speaking of lettuce, you may have grown up on iceberg, but try some red or green leaf lettuce for a little diversity.
- Never cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink! You can substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves with 1 teaspoon. of dried, but fresh is better. Try using a spray olive oil to coat your roasting pan.
- Any brine-cured black olives can be substituted for Kalmata and remember to tell your guests there are pits so they don’t break a tooth.
- To roast garlic, sprinkle the bulb with a little olive oil and white wine, salt and pepper, wrap it in tin foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately one hour.
- Try using a hand blender to puree the soup….it’s easier than transferring to food processor.
- Mushrooms should be wiped off with a damp cloth and not washed under the faucet since they are like sponges and will absorb the water.
- Make sure your roasting pan is the correct size and is placed on the middle rack.
- When roasting, save the pan juices for your gravy.
- Leeks are full of hard to get at sand and dirt, chop them first, then give them a bath in cold water and drain in a colander.
- Try using carrots instead of sugar to sweeten your sauces.
- Cracked pepper corns: I opt for putting the peppercorns in a zip lock bag and cracking them on my cutting board with a hammer. Noisy, but it worked. Otherwise, set your pepper mill to course grain instead.
- When buying cabbage, look for heads that appear heavier than their size with crisp leaves.
- Be sure your grill is hot enough before starting.
- Grill meat and veggies about 4 inches from heat source and chicken about 6-8 inches away.
- To add more flavor, try adding pre soaked chunks of natural hardwoods like hickory.
- Make sure grill is clean before cooking.
- To prevent sticking, brush or spray a light coating of oil on grid.
- If your grill has a top, close it to allow smoke to add it’s flavor.
- To keep poultry from drying out, grill with bone in and baste continuously.
- Poultry dark meat takes longer than white meat so start it sooner.
- Sear chicken on the skin side first.
Check out my grilling techniques page
- Use a potato with a high starch content …it makes for a puffier baked potato. Good starchy potatoes are: russet and Idaho.
- Look for potatoes that have a smooth skin and no sprouts. Stay away from those with wrinkly skin or soft spots.
- Store your potatoes in a cool dark spot away from your onions.
- And don’t store them for months on end. A couple of weeks is what you should plan for.
Be sure to read my Two Points of View on Baking Potatoes