cooking tips

on perfect hard-boiled eggs
gently place cold eggs into a medium-sized saucepan. fill with water to cover eggs. bring to a boil over high heat. turn heat off. cover pot with a lid and set timer for 10 minutes. when time is up, rinse eggs in a strainer under cold water.

on mixing with your hands
one of the quirkier things i swear by in my kitchen are powder-free latex gloves. you might think this is a little bizarre or that i might be o.c.d. about cleanliness, but neither is (necessarily) correct. it is so much easier in my opinion to hand mix things like burgers, streusel, or the mixture for granola bars, instead of using a spoon or even my beloved spatula. and i don’t have to spend 20 minutes afterward digging the leftovers out from under my fingernails.

on seeding tomatoes
best tool: a grapefruit spoon. after you have cut your tomato in half, scoop out all of the insides with the jagged-edged spoon.

on buttermilk
if your recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, here is a good substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk: whisk together 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt and 1/4 cup low-fat milk.
*a second option:
in a 1-cup measure, place:
1 tsp cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar OR
1 tsp lemon juice OR
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
and then fill to the top with a low-fat milk and stir a bit with a knife. let the mixture stand for a few minutes at room temperature to curdle & thicken before using.
(*my preferred method)

on sweeteners
all natural is the way to go if you ask me. i like to make a batch of simple syrup to keep on hand for us when we want to sweeten hot or iced tea, coffee, or for using in cocktails.
how to make it: whisk together in a small saucepan 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. bring to a boil and cook about 2-3 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved. remove from heat and let cool completely. store in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month. (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

on vanilla beans
if you are unable to find vanilla beans at your local store or simply don’t have any and you’re needing cookies or a cake LIKE NOW –  you can substitute 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla extract per 1 vanilla bean.

on saving dough and batter
when you are trying to save batter (like pancake batter, for example) for a few days in the refrigerator, first cover the top of the batter with plastic wrap, lightly pressing down on it, so it sits right on top of the batter. this will create a seal and it won’t dry out. then cover the bowl with foil.

whip it real good. (on whipped butter)
if you are wanting your butter to go farther for your dinner party, or just want to be able to spread it easier on those soft, hot-from-the-oven biscuits, turn your butter into whipped butter – it’s easy! just take 2 sticks softened butter and 1/8 cup milk and beat with an electric mixer until light & fluffy.

on baking with parchment paper
yes, you can reuse parchment sheets. just stop using a sheet when it turns dark and gets brittle, but normally i am able to use a sheet for about 3-4 rounds of cookies.

on room temperature butter
if you forgot to put out your butter to soften and are DESPERATE to make baked goods but only have cold hard butter, here are a few ways to get your butter to warm up quicker:
1. cut into small squares, spread out on a plate and set somewhere warm (like close to an oven that is preheating)
2. using a stand grater, grate the entire stick of butter onto a plate or cutting board. let rest for a few minutes before using.
3. in a real emergency, yes it is ok to put the butter in the microwave. chop the stick up into smaller cubes, set microwave to around 10 seconds but watch it closely, and don’t let it melt on the bottoms.

more tips always a comin’…

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