If you’re reading this at the time of publication, chances are good that you’re spending a lot more time at home. That probably means more time spent cooking too, and if you’re anything like me, well… it’s certainly far from my favorite activity.
But people don’t last long without eating, so it’s wise to make the best of the situation and hone our culinary skills. That’s why I’ve put out a call for the best kitchen and cooking related tips and tricks to make your time in the kitchen a little more enjoyable.
What’s Your #1 Kitchen Hack?
Thomas Bradbury, Technical Director at GetSongkey:
There’s actually a lot of “tricks” or “hacks” that make working in the kitchen easier and much more convenient.. With every person, it really differs – it depends on how you like to cook, what type of food you enjoy preparing, and what appliances you have.
For me, the positioning of everything is really important. Many people try to space things out in the kitchen – but this makes things harder.
My one tip – install a tap close to the stove and oven. Sure, it may seem weird at first – but I find that I work with water more than I could ever imagine. When I make soup or another dish that uses a large pot, carrying it from the sink to the stovetop every time is really inconvenient. Since adding an extra tap – things have become much more convenient and I even enjoy cooking food more.
Bottom Line: If you work with water a lot close to the stove, consider adding an extra tap.
Aleka, Bite Sized Kitchen:
Growing up with both parents in the kitchen, I always loved the idea behind cooking. There are many tips and tricks that one naturally picks up along the way but I would say the most useful tip I discovered, later in life, was learned from watching way too many food network shows. It is something so obvious yet many people don’t think about. And that is…reserving pasta water!
Pasta is something most of us love to cook at home. It is hard to mess up, quick to boil and so versatile! However, one thing that can ruin a nice pasta dish is DRY pasta. Pasta absorbs liquids easily and as it cools, water naturally evaporates. So within an hour or so, your smooth, creamy sauce, is most likely dry and sticky. To revive your pasta when it’s been sitting for too long, add some reserved pasta water to your post and mix it together over low heat. Your pasta will return to it’s saucy state quickly!
Pasta water is the water you used to boil your pasta in. As the pasta cooks, it released starches making the water cloudy but nice and ‘starchy’ which is what you want. When reserving water, you have two options. Carefully submerge a measuring cup or large mug in the water right before you drain your pasta and set it aside. Another option is to drain the pasta over a large pot. This way you can reserve all the water without burning yourself.
This water should be salted, as any pasta water should be. This way, when you add the water back to your pasta, it doesn’t dilute your sauce! You can even store your pasta water in the fridge overnight and use when reheating it in the microwave the next day!
John Bedford, Viva Flavor:
My biggest tip is to make your microwave work harder for you. It’s the greatest source of kitchen shortcuts you’re probably not using yet.
I do a lot of Italian cooking, for example, which means I peel a lot of tomatoes. The usual advice is to soak them in warm water before peeling them with a knife, but they can be very slippery. Instead, I put them in the microwave on a medium heat for 30 seconds, and the skin falls right off afterwards.
Freshly picked and cleaned herbs also last a lot longer in the refrigerator if you treat them in the microwave first. Wrap them up in a paper towel, then give them 30 seconds before putting them into storage.
If you forget to soak dried pulses like lentils and chickpeas overnight, you can catch up by adding them to a microwaveable bowl – with water – and heating them for around 10 minutes.
You can also save a little money by zapping fruits you need to juice in the microwave – again on a medium setting – for around 20 seconds. You’ll get more juice from each piece this way, which means you’ll need to buy less of them in the first place.
Finally, while we’re all busier at home these days, you may find yourself needing to clean the microwave more often. It’ll be a lot easier if you add two halves of a lemon to a bowl of water and run the microwave on a medium setting for five minutes. The sides will be much easier to wipe clean after doing so.
Michael Lowe, Carpassionate:
One of the most useful tricks I’ve learned in the kitchen is a pretty simple one. There have been times where using a chopping board was a struggle as it kept moving up and down the kitchen top when chopping veg. I found that placing a kitchen towel underneath the board helped it to stay in place, however the problem then becomes if you need to use the kitchen towel and only have one. Another way of creating that stability is through rubber bands, just place them on either side of the chopping board and it will stay in place! I now keep the bands on the chopping board at all times, even when cleaning up, it’s a great way of making sure you’re efficient in the kitchen.
My second and probably most useful trick is to create a hanging bin when using the kitchen top, whether that’s for peeling, chopping or just cleaning the counter. You can use cardboard, aluminium foil or anything that will create a sturdy box, place it underneath the counter, and either jam a piece of cardboard between a cupboard and the countertop for it hang underneath it and easily collect any scraps you might have lying around from your meal prep. It’s easily detachable and can be reused over and over, again making your time efficient when cooking and especially when cleaning up after, with very little or even any pieces landing on the floor during.
Blake Dan, GrillSimply:
When dealing with meat you can get fancy with cooking techniques, but it’s much more important to master the essentials. When cooking with meats that have a good fat content, such as when grilling steaks, an important step that doesn’t often get the attention it needs is rendering the fat properly.
Most steaks have a good amount of fat within them, known as marbling, but also often have thicker fat layers too. Fat melts when it’s heated. When the fat melts, the moisture and flavor are absorbed in the meat, making it both more rich and savory, but also more succulent and delectable.
Whether you grill once side each or use reverse searing techniques, a great, easy way to ensure that fat is rendered down adequately is to finish off the cook by holding the steak against the heat fat-side down. Tongs work perfectly here. Usually, it doesn’t need more than about 30-45 seconds extra at the end of cooking for maximum rendering.
Tip: If you’re cooking the steak in a pan, make sure to make the most of the sides. Have the fat of the steak resting on the curve of the inside of the pan to help it render.
Depending on the size and cut of the steak, the amount and distribution of fat may vary. If you’re grilling up a flank or fillet mignon, because of the very little fat content there is no need to try to render it down, the little fat within the meat will melt during the cooking process. However, if you’re about to grill up a new york strip, or top sirloin, for example, you really want to make the most of that fat strip of fat. Remember, fat means flavor.
Next time you’re cooking a steak, whether it’s in a pan or on the grill, try using tongs to hold the fat against the heat for the last 30 seconds and test the results yourself!
Don Baiocchi, Paleo Gluten Free Guy:
Buy a thermometer. To be specific, buy one instant read thermometer and one probe thermometer. The accuracy they provide when cooking cannot be overestimated.
Sure, many chefs will tell you tricks like “touch the meat and then touch the pad of your thumb and it should feel like this” or whatever. That’s all fine and well but it still feels like guessing or estimating. With thermometers you know exactly what’s going on.
Instant read thermometers are great for anything on the stove. A quick stab, wait a few seconds and boom – you know what you need to know. Probe thermometers are perfect for anything in the oven. No more constantly opening the oven door to check on things, which lets heat escape, leading to inconsistent cooking times. Just insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, close the door and walk away. You’re alerted when the meat is exactly the temperature you need.
No more dry chicken. No more overcooked pork tenderloin. No more dangerously-raw-on-the-inside fish. It’s like having an assistant in the kitchen taking care of things for you and who doesn’t want their own personal assistant?
Gert Mikkal, Founder of DadProgress:
I run a parenting blog for new dads, and my parents taught me to prepare food from a very early age. If I’d have to choose one trick or tip, then I’d recommend people to learn the basics of kitchen knives.
When cooking at home, it’s essential to know your tools. You don’t see master craftsmen working with anything they can get their hands on. No, they have spent years trying to find the most suitable tools for their needs. You don’t have to learn all the intricacies of kitchenware, but it’s a good idea to at least master the basics of kitchen knives. And try to get your hands on a couple of them. Having high-quality tools and knowing when to use which one will make a huge difference. And you can impress your friends with all the esoteric (for most men) knowledge.
I do my cooking mostly by using only three different knives. I’m a home cook, after all, so you don’t see an array of blades around my house.
One of my favorite discoveries is a Japanese vegetable knife (usuba-bocho). It looks like a small cleaver, but it’s lighter and very versatile. I can now mince and chop vegetables double fast. And doing all this with a quality knife makes cooking a lot of fun.
Kitchen cleaver is a popular, versatile tool that probably doesn’t need any more comments. I’ve worked with these for years, but I now own two high-quality examples instead of the cheap versions I could afford in college..
My third favorite is a European fillet knife because I love to eat fish, and I need it for filleting. That said, my brother has introduced me to a Japanese sashimi slicer (sashimi-bocho). I find it to be even better, so it will probably be my next purchase.
Aleksandar Hrubenja, co-founder of ModernGentlemen:
- Meat tastes better when it’s room temperature
If you take the chicken straight out of the fridge and place it in a hot pan, you’ll end up with a rubber piece on your plate. Or, you’ll have to simmer the chicken for much longer to allow the juice to soften it a bit.
- Always salt the water you use to boil food
I wasted way much time salting my dishes at the end – resulting in mediocre taste. The water you use to boil the vegetables should already be salted before putting the veggies in. Also, please don’t throw away the water, it can be a perfect base for a soup.
- Steam your vegetables
My new favorite way of preparing veggies is with the steamer basket. Even frozen broccoli or cauliflower will taste perfect, and you can steam them just enough not to be completely raw.
- Use left-overs for another dish
My favorite skill in home-cooking is using left-overs or half-rotten vegetables to start another dish. For example, you can use limp carrots or parsnip as a basis for a soup.
- Use lemon zest
Lemon zest is a perfect fragrance for so many vegetable dishes. You can also use it for pasta or rice dishes – it will bring freshness and fantastic taste to just about any dish you make at home.
- Onions and garlic make everything better
The best way to start a soup is to cut an onion in halves, dip the wet sides into a plate with sugar, and caramelize the sugar in the pot (without any oil added). As soon as the sugar turns brown and you smell the onion smell, poor water in it. Add whatever you have – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken breast, or beef bones and meat, and you’ll make a perfect broth that you can eat right away, or freeze for later. The boiled vegetables or meat is best eaten straight away. Onions do great with pork, garlic with chicken. Any vegetable salad will taste better with a little bit of garlic cooked in olive oil, with a few chilly flakes!
Nancy Baker, Managing Editor of ChildMode:
I’m a stay at home wife so I do a lot of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my kids. I’m not a master chef but I’ve learned some kitchen tricks that I’ve picked up as a housewife.
Use a rolling pin to open garlic
Garlic is one of the most used and essential ingredients in cooking. But I hate peeling and opening them because it takes a lot of time and effort. And they also leave a lasting smell on your hands which is a big no-no for me.
Thankfully I’ve found out that you can crush garlic cloves to make it easier to peel them. A lot of people use spoons for this but I find that using rolling pins is much easier and more effective. I simply press the rolling pin down the garlic cloves, and voila! We get an almost instantly peeled garlic clove.
Make your meat easier to cut
Cutting meat is a serious chore, especially if you plan to cut it into smaller strips. I’ve researched multiple methods on how to tenderize them or make them easier and I’ve found the best solution.
My methods are to tenderize the meat first using a rolling pin, hammer, or other things you can whack the meat. After tenderizing, I leave the meat inside the freezer for 10-20 minutes. This will slightly harden the meat which will make them easier to cut. And since the meat is tenderized your knife will go through it like butter.
I’m not sure if other people do this but I am an efficiency-oriented person. I want to get things down using minimal effort and in the shortest time possible. I apply this mindset during cooking so what I usually do is arrange and prepare everything I need to do in the kitchen and work on them like a production line.
An example of this would be taking out all the ingredients you need, then heating the pan, and set the kitchen timer within 30 seconds or less. I then start cutting the vegetables, meat, and preparing the ingredients that I’ll be cooking. I start putting the ingredients in the pan systematically and I clean the area while I wait for the food to cook. Doing it this way is simply faster and more efficient.
Alyssa Gagarin, Founder of Meal Prep Chef:
The most useful thing you do to help yourself in the kitchen is get a proper, good quality, 8-inch chef’s knife and take care of it. Meaning, keep it sharp. Many home cooks are used to cheap, dull knives which makes the entire cooking process tedious and quite frankly, dangerous. For smooth, easy, safe cooking, invest in a good knife and you’ll agree it is well worth it! A proper knife is built to last a lifetime, so it is something you can use forever.
Plus, you’d be shocked at how a better knife and learning basic knife skills actually improves your final dish! The ability to have excellent precision and even cuts while preparing your ingredients results in more accurate and even cook times and satisfying texture. So the best home cooking trick coming from a squad of professional private chefs? A good knife and basic knife skills. They are irreplaceable!
Matthew Brenner, Founder of High 5 Fitness & Nutrition:
One of the best tips I can share, especially during these times of limiting public exposure, is to keep frozen fruits and veggies heavily stocked in your fridge. Not only will this help you limit the trips to the supermarket, but you won’t have to worry about things going bad! We’ve all been there, we just bought blueberries like 2 days ago and there’s already white fuzz peeking out of the plastic container. It’s so frustrating. Frozen fruits and veggies never go bad, and some health experts argue that they are even healthier for you than fresh options from a supermarket because frozen produce is flash frozen when picked, as opposed to fresh produce which needs to keep a long shelf life, therefore is often sprayed with more chemicals to stay fresh.
Josh Fraser, Editor, BeverageClass.com:
Amp up the acid! For years, I struggled to achieve depth of flavor in my cooking, never knowing how restaurants managed, even when I loaded up recipes with extra fat. Now I know how important it is to use acid. A splash of apple cider vinegar in soup, in sauces, to deglaze a pan and get all the delicious bits off the bottom, it’s amazing. Stir frying onions? Add a bit of apple cider vinegar, you’ll never go back to plain butter and onions! I like to use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar, for variety.
Lynell Ross, Founder of Zivadream:
Let your meat rest after taking it off the grill
My husband and I used to be the worst at grilling meat on the barbeque. Everything we grilled came out tough, flavorless and dry until a friend showed us how to let meat rest after grilling. The trick is to undercook your meat just slightly as it will keep cooking after you take it off the grill. Then lightly wrap with foil or plastic wrap.
When you give the meat a chance to rest, the meat will be much juicier, more tender and have more flavor because the moisture inside needs time to redistribute back through the meat. If you cut into it to test it while on the barbeque or as soon as you take it off, the liquid will run out and your steak or roast will be very dry. When you let it rest, the juices get reabsorbed, making your meat tender and juicy.
You cover it to keep warm, and because it continues to cook while resting, that’s why you undercook, just slightly. Just make sure the meat is cooked to the internal temperature required for safety by using a meat thermometer. Time to rest varies depending on the size of your meat, a roast may rest for 10 to 20 minutes, while steak or chops may take only 5 minutes.
Ever since we started following the practice of letting the meats rest, we have become master grillers, serving up delicious, tender and flavorful tri-tip roasts, steaks and pork chops.
Lisa Torelli-Sauer, Editor at Sensible Digs:
Here is the most useful cooking trick I know:
Always add a pinch of salt to sweet recipes, and a pinch of sugar to savory recipes.
It all started when I tried baking a German black forest cake for my husband. He’s German, and I wanted to surprise him with a recipe from back home. After looking up an authentic recipe, something struck me: it didn’t include any salt. I’ve been baking American cakes, cupcakes, and sweet bread for years. Every recipe included at least a pinch of salt. I shrugged and decided to follow the no-salt recipe regardless. The cake turned out… OK. But something was missing. At the next opportunity, I tried baking the cake again, this time with a quarter teaspoon of salt. It made all the difference in the world! I was amazed that such a tiny amount of any ingredient could make such an impact on taste. Now, I always add a pinch of salt to my own sweet recipes, whether it’s cake, pancakes, or oatmeal.
But wait—that was just the first part of the equation.
I learned the second half of this trick after a frustrating attempt to make homemade salad dressing. I thought I had everything I needed for the perfect Italian dressing: oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, garlic powder, and salt. But something still wasn’t right. After a few failed attempts at balancing out the flavor, I tried something different: a pinch of sugar. And, voila! That was the missing ingredient. Since then, I’ve added a pinch of sugar to all my savory recipes, from soups and stir-fries to burgers and roasted potatoes.
I’ve been using this sugar-in-savory and salt-in-sweet trick for years, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Some say that sweet-salty combinations can make our tastebuds even more sensitive to flavor. Whatever the reason, I’m convinced that this trick adds depth and balance to everything I cook.
Jessica Randhawa, Owner & Head Chef of The Forked Spoon:
The biggest time-saving cooking tip I can give has to do with the planning process. It is easy to think that the cooking experience starts when you bring out a knife or turn on an oven, but cooking really starts with gathering the ingredients which requires making a list, driving to the store, walking up and down isles, checking out, and driving the groceries back home. What is considered a 10-minute dish could potentially need an hour or much more to get gathered and prepared for. For almost a year now, The Forked Spoon has been only using Whole Foods delivery to get all of our grocery shopping accomplished. Instead of managing a grocery list, I can simply add items to my digital cart when planning a recipe, or simply add items to my cart if I am about to run out of an ingredient. This saves me hours every week and can be easily copied at home by anyone who is in range of grocery delivery services.
In addition, keeping a well-stocked pantry with a good variety of essentials is key to cooking success, especially during these uncertain times. Staple grains like rice have a very long shelf life. Dry beans and legumes were the first things to run out at grocery stores for a good reason – they last a long time and are full of good nutrition! Having a variety of the basics such as canned tomato products, peeled, diced, salad ready, and paste is key, as tomatoes are a key ingredient of many dishes from all over the world. Tomatoes are also canned at the peak of their freshness, so you don’t have to worry about the cold supply chain getting fresh tomatoes. The Forked Spoon has a full post with tips and tricks on how to cook lentils in three different ways.
Sean Potter, My Money Wizard:
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of responses from avid cooks and home chefs, but I thought you’d also be interested in hearing from someone who recently learned to cook.
The best cooking trick I’ve learned is to not be afraid to experiment. Specifically, it’s okay to intentionally go overboard on ingredients and techniques.
Here was my situation. As somebody who recently learned to cook, I’d read recipe after recipe, but I was still confused about the proper amount of seasoning and ingredients. Sure, I could follow a recipe exactly and come out with a decent dish, but if I ever needed to make a substitution, I was at a total loss. Honestly, I felt helpless. I knew how to follow a recipe, but I didn’t understand how to cook.
Then, one day, I intentionally over salted a dish. Just to see what would happen. It was a total lightbulb moment. Immediately, I understood what too much salt tasted like, which meant I suddenly realized what the right amount of salt was, too.
Since then, I’ve repeated this exercise with all sorts of different spices, herbs, and even cooking techniques. Every time, I experienced a similar epiphany. It wasn’t until I cooked something too long on the grill that I realized when the proper stopping point was. It wasn’t until I added too many jalapenos that I realized the proper amount for that perfect spicy kick, without going overboard. And it wasn’t until I added too much lemon juice that I realized the moment that ingredient goes from a nice flavor enhancer to a mouth puckering sour overload!
As guys, we tend to want to make everything perfectly. But just like you don’t truly understand how an engine works until you tear one apart, you can’t really understand how to be a great cook until you mess some things up. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Anna Gibson, AKG Design Studio:
Here are a few of my tips
- If you think that your cooking will create smoke and heavy oders, start the vent hood as much as 30 min before the cooking, it will help star circulating the air before. Starting it midway or after is too late.
- Clean your dishwasher strainer. Yes! Most people don’t know but there is a little filter on the bottom of your dishwasher that needs to be cleaned on a weekly/ monthly basis – depends on the use. It will help with odor and the big difference between sparkling clean dishes and those that come out still dirty.
Alex Azoury, Founder & CEO of Home Grounds:
I love messing about in the kitchen.Mainly because that’s where my coffee machine lives.
I enjoy experimenting with all styles of food, but I’m a big fan of simple, healthy Asian meals.Keeping things simple is important to me so here are several hacks that make my life easier in the kitchen.
1. Get a carbon-steel wok
Seriously, a good wok is one of the most useful tools to have in your kitchen.. A carbon steel wok with a flat bottom works on a gas (best) or electric stove-top. They’re easy to clean and almost indestructible. This is a bonus if you’re clumsy.”Yes,” I stir fry in my wok, but they’re much more versatile than that.
I use my wok to:
- steam vegetables
- make soup
- scramble eggs
- toss salads
- mix batters
- poach fish
- make popcorn
- roast nuts
- deep fry tempura shrimp
I’ll probably discover more ways to use my wok over time, but I wouldn’t be without it.And, if I have lingering food smells in my kitchen, I pour water into the wok along with some citrus, cinnamon sticks or cloves and let itsit on a low heat.Voila! Instant air freshener.
2. Buy an ice cream scoop
I don’t eat much ice cream, but I make a lot of meatballs.
I discovered that I could make perfectly regular meatballs using an ice cream scoop.Now, I don’t need to grab a chunk of mix and hope it’s the right size.The scoop saves a heap of time and the meatball is almost the right shape prior to rolling it into a ball.
3. Keep a nail brush by the sink
I keep two nail brushes by the sink.One is for its intended purpose. It’s great for removing all that meatball mix from under my nails.
The other is for scrubbing potatoes. I used to buy fancy potato brushes but they don’t last as long as a sturdy-bristle nail brush.Plus, nail brushes are cheaper and you can repurpose them for use in the garage or outside when they’ve done their kitchen duty.
4. Dental Floss
You read that right:)If you’re a fan of soft cheeses, you know that they tend to end up a clumpy mess when you use a knife to slice them.I grab a length of dental floss and slice through the cheese effortlessly.It looks a lot better on the plate.
That’s it. Just a few of my kitchen tricks to add to your arsenal and make life easier in the kitchen.
Samantha Moss, Editor & Content Ambassador at Romantific:
Almost everyone loves cooking, imagining to be a chef from time to time. Growing up, I often hang around our kitchen and watch my mom cook. She taught me most of what I know when it comes to cooking, not just about her secret recipes but also all the handy tips and tricks in the kitchen. The most useful kitchen hack that I’ve learned over the years is to wrap your unripe fruits in newspaper.
This is one of the simplest and most effective ways of hastening a fruit to ripen. The close environment allows the ethylene which the fruit releases to be trapped inside allowing a more uniform ripening process. You can also use paper bags but make sure to individually wrapped your fruits.
Kalev Rudolph, USInsuranceAgents.com:
Perfect Chicken: Every Time
There is no single cooking trick more useful than learning how to make the perfect piece of chicken. Chicken is so versatile, saves incredibly well, and is one of the cheapest proteins available that can still taste top-of-the-line.
But, it’s also a notoriously difficult protein to get right.. Who hasn’t encountered dry, flavorless chicken? So, here’s how to get it right:
First, it’s time to embrace the bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh. This is one of the most flavorful cuts of the chicken, both the skin and bone provide moisture and flavor throughout the cooking process when done right. To cook the chicken, you’ll only need salt and pepper, a high smoke point oil (peanut, canola, or coconut all work great), a cast-iron skillet and an oven.
Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Then take out your chicken thighs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Once dry, liberally cover both sides in salt and pepper and allow to sit, covered, for 15-30 minutes while the oven heats. Next, you’ll want to heat your cast-iron skillet over high heat.
It’s critical to get your pan very hot for proper cooking; you’ll know that it’s ready when you flick water droplets onto the skillet, and they immediately evaporate. Be careful, though, as getting the pan too hot can lead to smoking and, in the worst cases, grease fires. It’s critical to ensure you always have a fire extinguisher available in your kitchen to avoid any cooking related house fires.
Once the pan is hot, add two tablespoons of oil and allow to heat until it shimmers. Then add your chicken skin side down and allow to sear for 2-5 minutes or until the skin is crisp and fat is rendered. Flip the chicken over and allow to sear for exactly 2 minutes, and then place the skillet and chicken into the oven for fifteen minutes.
Finally, after the fifteen minutes, allow your chicken thighs to rest for 10 minutes before cutting or serving to ensure all the moisture and flavor gets locked in.
Bee, food blogger at https://bitesnpieces.co:
My most useful kitchen trick is probably not even a trick, but rather, a state of mind. I have found that so many people are incredibly nervous in the kitchen, and insist on following a recipe to the T. My words of advice (for what they are worth) are: calm down! Relax, and have fun in the kitchen. Most recipes are flexible, and have room for experimentation or personalization.
Even in baking, which officially is a “science” and not an “art,” I’ve had a lot of success just playing around. No butter? Let’s use oil! Not enough baking powder? Use what you have, and maybe add a dash of baking soda, as well! No brown sugar? Here comes the white sugar, or maybe some honey, or both! There aren’t really any hard and fast “rules” when it comes to the kitchen. (Well, aside from basic food sanitation and hygiene, which I should hope is obvious.) I’ve discovered so many of my favorite, go-to recipes, by playing around in the kitchen.
And if you do try to experiment, and your recipe flops? Oh well. Laugh it off, and start again! It’s all a learning experience, and will help to make you a better cook. Learn from your mistakes and try again. (Although I don’t recommend experimenting too much when you are expecting company. In case of flops, you don’t need the added stress of “what will I feed my guests now??”)
Play in the kitchen! Trust me, in the long run, you’ll be a much calmer, and better, cook for it.
Camille Chulick, Co-Founder of Averr Aglow:
I love using fresh herbs when I cook because it makes me feel grown-up and adds some drama to whatever I’m cooking, which usually isn’t very fancy at all.
However, I’m also really good at forgetting the fresh herbs in the fridge and letting them go bad. Then I feel guilty and wasteful. I learned this lifechanging tip when I was searching for a way to make herbs last longer..
My favorite cooking tip is to add salt to herbs when you chop.
If you throw some salt on the cutting board before you chop up your herbs, you will have fewer herbs flying all over the counter. You can also save some of the salt with the leftover herbs and the herbs will last much longer. Bonus! You now have some herby salt to easily use in your next recipe.
Don’t use cheap salt.
Definitely use a high-quality, under-processed salt. I like to use chunky Himalayan salt. You can keep the salt and herb mixture in a small container to rub on steaks, sprinkle on chicken, etc. You can also add a little bit of oil to the herbs and salt for more of a spread.
I especially love making herb salts with cilantro, basil, and fresh garlic. I’ve also used things like rosemary and salt to throw into soups and stews.
Use a food processor for big batches.
Of course, if you have a bunch of fresh herbs and don’t want to chop, but like the idea of the herb salt, you can throw a bigger amount into a food processor. Basil, oil, and salt are perfect this way!
Nancy Dalton, Baywolf Dalton, Inc:
I’ve been cooking my whole life as a hobby with interests in French, Italian and Mexican foods. I also own a design build firm for the last 30 years specializing in kitchen remodeling, so I’m involved in all aspects of cooking, design and appliances.
Everyone needs chicken stock and to be honest I stopped making my own a number of years ago. I do however love to roast a chicken. I start with a good quality bird, free range if possible. Salt, pepper the cavity and ad ½ a lemon. Coat the chicken lightly with some olive oil and I sprinkle it with Herb de Provence (a blend of spices), you could also use rosemary or really anything you like and salt.
This is my hack to fresh really good chicken stock. We eat the chicken and I place the carcass on a plate or casserole until the next day. Discard the lemon, save any gelatinous broth. Put the chicken carcass in a tall stock pot and fill with cold water to about 2” above the bird, add the gelatinous broth in from the plate too. Heat on medium until you have some foam to skim off at the top. Skim, lower the temperature to the point the liquid is just simmering, too much bubbling will cause a cloudy stock. Cook like this until the liquid has reduced to an inch below the carcass. Taste and decide if you need to reduce the stock any further.
You can add an onion cut in half if you wish at the beginning if you wish when you add the water. Cool in the pot and skim any fat at the top; you can also refrigerate and break up and remove the solid fat the next day.
This is actually very easy and most of the time you are just ignoring the simmering pot. The way I was taught was to always start with an uncooked chicken and I just never had the flavor in the end and I’d have this boiled chicken. This method uses a seasoned and roasted carcass for so much more flavor.
During this time at home and while trying to keep my grocery shopping to a minimum I decided to try this actually thinking there may not be much flavor; best chicken stock I’ve ever made.
Anna Rider, Food Writer and Recipe Developer at GarlicDelight.com:
Learn what ingredients are rich in umami and learn to deploy them in your cooking.
For example, soy sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ripe tomatoes, and shiitake mushrooms are high in glutamates, which deliver the desirable savory mouthfeel, that makes your food taste like a “flavor bomb”. Keep these umami-rich ingredients stocked in your pantry and begin to notice opportunities of when you can add them when cooking.
- You can add a splash of soy sauce to your meat marinades and gravies
- You can add grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to pasta dishes and less obvious dishes like soups and stews
- Ripe vegetables have more free glutamates and they don’t always have to be fresh so keep in mind that canned tomatoes picked at their peak ripeness will deliver more umami than raw tomatoes sold off-season in the produce section.