Whether you are new to the kitchen or an experienced cook, everyone can benefit from learning a new kitchen skill or two. Some skills are essential for good cooking, and some are just really handy to know. From how to perfectly slice brownies to an easy way to peel garlic…today we’re sharing 15 kitchen-tested tips, shortcuts, and ingenious solutions that will help you make better food in less time!
Cutting round vegetables safely
The easiest way to handle chopping any cylinder-shaped vegetable without it rolling away is to first cut a flat surface into it (usually by slicing it lengthwise first). Then flip it so the cut side meets the cutting board, and chop as desired.
Cutting thin slices of meat
Slicing meat to grind or cook in a stir-fry can be tricky even with a sharp knife. To make it easier, place the meat in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to stiffen it up.
To achieve that perfect crust on a piece of meat, bring your meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking, to allow it to come to room temperature. Place your pan on the stove and wait for it to get hot (a drop of water should sizzle on the surface.)
Once the pan is ready, add a bit of oil and place the meat in the pan. Cook until the meat releases from the pan. If you feel any resistance while pulling the meat up, allow it to cook for another minute or so, then check again.
Perfect hard-boiled eggs
A lot of people are intimidated by the process of making hard-boiled eggs, but it couldn’t be easier!
Place your eggs into a pot and cover with water to about 2” above the top of the eggs. Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and set a timer for 12 minutes (for standard large eggs.) Once the timer is up, place the eggs into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Peel as soon as the eggs are cool enough to handle.
Pitting & cutting an avocado
Start by slicing into the top of the avocado down the center until you reach the pit. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, cutting the avocado in half around the pit, and separate the two halves. Carefully “whack” your blade into the pit, then twist your knife, and the pit should come free. Then slice or cube the avocado while it is still in the skin, then use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out. Ta-da!
Storing greens and herbs
Extend the life of washed herbs and greens by several days by rolling them up in damp paper towels and placing them in plastic resealable bags with the seals left slightly open. At the first hint of decay, you’ll see darker spots of liquid forming on the paper towels. This is a good sign that you should use up your herbs and greens within a day or two.
Refreshing wilted produce
If your fresh produce starts to wilt, here’s how you can revive it! Fill a bowl with ice and cold water, and let your produce soak in the bowl for 15-20 minutes. When you take it out it will be crisp and fresh again!
Perfectly sliced dessert bars
My kids have a tendency to destroy pans of brownies and dessert bars when I let them serve themselves, so I’m a big fan of this method!
While preparing your mix, grease your baking pan as usual, then line it with parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches of overhang on each side. Bake your dessert as usual, and allow to cool completely. Once cool, grab the edges of the paper and pull the dessert out whole, and place on a cutting board. MUCH easier to slice! :-)
There are 3 basic kinds of citrus zest: peels, julienned strips, and fine zest. Peels are great for using in braises or drinks, and can be made with a standard vegetable peeler. Julienned strips are good in sauces or as a garnish, and you can make them by thinly slicing a large piece of peel, or by using a zester tool. And lastly, fine zest is perfect in dressings and desserts, and can be easily made by using a microplane or other fine grater.
Slicing leafy herbs
Quickly slice a handful of leafy herbs like mint or basil by making a stack of several leaves, rolling them into a tube, then thinly slicing the rolled herbs. Technical term: chiffonade (pronounced “shif-oh-NOD”.)
One safe and easy way to peel fresh or frozen ginger is by using a spoon! And rather than mincing ginger for a recipe, make the process even quicker by using a microplane to grate it.
Easiest way to peel garlic
Peeling garlic can become time-consuming if you’re using a lot of it! Peel a whole head of garlic in a fraction of the time by giving it a shake!
Place the separated cloves into a container with a lid, then shake the container vigorously for a minute or so. Remove the cloves and give them a quick rinse, and the remaining skins should slide right off!
Removing stray egg shells
If you crack an egg in to a mix and a piece of shell drops in, take one of the half shells and scoop it out! The empty half of an egg shell is the best tool to extract stubborn bits of cracked shells that have ended up in the bowl. They’re like magnets!
Quicker cooking cleanup
Always have a garbage bowl and a bench scraper (also known as a bench cutter or pastry scraper) near your work station. Not having to walk back and forth to the garbage every few minutes can take a lot of drudgery our of your prep work, and nothing’s better than a scraper for moving large quantities of ingredients or scraps from point A to point B.
Make less mess to begin with
After any great home-cooked meal, there is usually a mess to be cleaned up. Make clean up easier by utilizing tin foil anywhere you can – on your baking sheets, roasting pans, etc.
What are your favorite tips for making cooking easier?