Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cooking Tips

Here are a few noteworthy tips I have picked up through my years of cooking.

- When measuring corn syrup or honey, spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before hand. 
- Beware of using foil to store anything with tomato sauce (or other highly acidic foods).  It creates a chemical reaction, causing aluminum salt to form, and sometimes it will leave pin-sized holes in the foil.
- When boiling pasta, to prevent boiling over, add a tsp or two of oil to the water.
- Peel your ginger then freeze it.  It will last a LOT longer than if you refrigerate it.
- Cottage cheese will remain fresher longer if you store it upside down in the refrigerator. This slows the effects of oxidation.
- Place a piece of bread in the container with your brown sugar if it hardens.  This will pull the moisture from the bread and add it to your brown sugar.  (But don't leave the bread in there for long!)
- To fix lumpy gravy, simply pour your gravy through a sieve or small strainer. 
- A little corn starch and water go a long way to instantly thicken a sauce. Just add 1 tbsp of corn starch to 2 tbsp of water and mix well. Stir it into simmering sauces for an instant thickener. Be careful to use just enough, and add the mixture SLOWLY while stirring constantly to prevent lumps!
- When baking pies, use a pie shield.  This will prevent the crust of the pie from browning too much.  You can also use aluminum foil around the edge. 

- Brush some beaten egg white over your pie crust or pastry before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.
- Leftover pie dough? Roll it out and spread it with butter, then cinnamon sugar.  Cut into bite size pieces and bake for 2-4 minutes.  Delicious pie crust cookies.
- When a chocolate recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of cocoa instead of flour so there is no white "mess" on the outside of your cake or bread.
- Be sure there are no drafts where dough is rising. Drafts cause the dough to rise slowly and unevenly.
- Is your baking powder fresh? Put one tsp in 1/3 cup of water. If it does not fizz toss the baking powder-it's too old.
- When boiling corn on the cob, add a tablespoon of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.
- Vegetables and chicken absorb marinades more quickly than pork or red meat.  3-4 hours is generally sufficient for chicken or vegetables, while pork or red meat need 6 or more hours - overnight is best.

Emergency Substitutions


  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch - 2 Tbsp. flour OR 1 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

  • 1 c. cake flour - 1 c. less 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

  • 1 c. all purpose flour - 1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. cake flour

  • 1 square baking chocolate - 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 1 Tbsp. shortening or butter

  • 1 c. melted shortening - 1 c. oil (not for solid shortening)

  • 1 c. milk - ½ c. evaporated milk and ½ c. water

  • 1 c. sour milk or buttermilk - 1 Tbsp. vinegar and enough milk to measure 1 c.

  • 1 c. heavy cream - 2/3 c. milk and 1/3 c. butter

  • 1 c. heavy cream, whipped - 2/3 c. well chilled evaporated milk, whipped

  • 1 tsp. baking powder - ¼ tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. cream of tartar OR ¼ tsp. baking soda and ½ c. sour milk, buttermilk, or molasses; reduce other liquid to ½ c.

  • 1 c. sugar - 1 c. honey; reduce other liquid ¼ c.; reduce baking temperature 25 degrees

  • 1 c. miniature marshmallows - 10 large marshmallows, cut up

  • 1 medium onion -  2 Tbsp. dried minced onion OR 1 tsp. onion powder OR 2 tsp. onion salt; reduce salt 1 tsp.

  • 1 garlic clove - 1/8 tsp. garlic powder OR ¼ tsp. garlic salt reduce salt 1/8 tsp. OR ½ tsp. minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh herbs - 1 tsp. dried herbs OR ¼ tsp. powdered herbs OR ½ tsp. herb salt; reduce salt ¼ tsp.

  • 1 c. corn syrup - 1 c. sugar and ¼ c. water (or other liquid used in recipe)

  • 1 c. honey - 1 ¼ c sugar and ¼ c. water (or other liquid used in recipe)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla - 1 tsp. grated lemon peel or orange rind (will have a different flavor)
Use these tips and tricks at your own risk!  There may be more in the future, so stay tuned.

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