Saturday, February 1st, 2014
Here are two of my favorite kitchen tips. The first one is better explained with a picture:
Put wine corks under the handles of your pot lids and you will never need a potholder again when lifting the lid off. I have them on all of mine, and I have for years. The other day a friend of mine said, “You should post that tip on your blog. It’s so good.” I happen to agree. Plus, it’s a testament to how much I enjoy wine.
Here’s my other tip: when you finish chopping raw garlic or onion, it can be tough to get the smell off your hands. Simply rub your hands on anything that has stainless steel–a spatula, the sides of your sink, even the pot lid as long as it’s not hot. Stainless steel somehow neutralizes the odors.
That’s my domestic side coming out as you all start cooking for Super Bowl. Or not.
Feel free to share your favorite tips.
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
I wanted to redeem myself after my Birthday Cake Disaster. And this is it. I figured out the best way to chop onions. This is something that has bothered me for decades. Maybe I have sensitive eyes or something. They just burn and burn and burn.
I have heard that you can cut them while sticking your tongue out, so the vapors hit your tongue first. But have you ever tried it? You look ridiculous (even more so than I do with my brilliant discovery below), plus, I’m not kidding: Your tongue gets tired. I’ve heard you can freeze them first. But that would require planning ahead. When it comes to cooking, I’m not good at that.
So the other night I was determined not to have my eyes burn. I saw Fia’s swim goggles on the counter and boom! Lightbulb. It obviously works or else I wouldn’t be putting such an absurd picture of myself up here.
While I’m at it, my other favorite kitchen tip is how to get rid of the fresh garlic smell on your hands after chopping. You simply rub your hands on anything that is stainless steel. Whether it’s the inside of your sink, a steel spatula…hell, I even do it with my butcher knife. Though I wouldn’t recommend that to most people. Somehow the stainless steel neutralizes the odors. It’s like magic.
I got a few other tips emailed to me the other day.
–The inside of a banana peel will whiten your teeth. Just rub it on. (I’m so trying that.)
–A Tulsi leaf everyday keeps cancer away. (But I need to figure out what a Tulsi leaf is and where I can find one.)
–Chop up fresh mint leaves and apply under eyes for 20 minutes to get rid of bags/dark circles.
–Dates basically cure anything. A hangover, abdominal cancer, you name it.
I haven’t verified any of these, but once I try them, I will let you know what I think. Any good tips you care to share?
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Monday, September 19th, 2011
Last week I was doing an event in Central Park that was all about tips for Italian cooking. The Barilla Pasta Company sponsored it. I learned some really simple, but key things I didn’t know about cooking pasta, sautéing garlic and using olive oil. Wanted to share them with you guys.
The Pasta Experts
Always boil enough water for your pasta: one gallon of water to one pound of pasta.
Don’t add oil to your water. It does nothing. If you don’t want it to stick, the key is to add enough water and to occasionally stir it.
Add enough salt so that your water tastes like broth. For those who add a pinch of salt (like I always have)—try a few tablespoons instead. Unless you have dietary restrictions, your water should taste like a broth/saltwater. The salt will stick to the pasta and help give it flavor. I kid you not; this made a HUGE difference in the way the dishes tasted.
Don’t EVER rinse your pasta (something I always did until now). You want the starch on it to bind to your sauce.
Don’t overcook your pasta. How do you know? Follow the directions on the box. Every pasta shape is different, so you must read the directions. If it says boil for 9 minutes, test it at 8. The chefs would often drain it a minute early and add it to the sauce they were making. That way it would finish cooking in the saucepan. If you overcook pasta, you lose the essence of it. Plus, it is harder to digest. You definitely want al dente, which is usually what the directions specify on the box.
GARLIC AND OLIVE OIL:
Use a good olive oil. Look for bottles/brands that have a “best if used by” date on them. Olive Oil is best used 18 months-2 years from the time the olives were harvested. So if you’ve had a bottle sitting on your counter for a decade, toss it.
Buy olive oil that is in a tinted bottle. It shouldn’t be exposed to light. Or heat. Keep in cool, dry place, but not in the refrigerator.
They all used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Seemed to be the general consensus.
When using olive oil to sauté garlic, heat the oil at medium (in other words, be patient. Don’t just put it on high to get it hot faster). Then add your garlic.
There is really no need to have a garlic press or to finely chop it. If you just put a clove in (without the skin, obviously), or cut a clove in half, that is enough to infuse the flavor into the olive oil. In fact, these guys, who were from Italy, often let the garlic infuse, then they would take the clove out and throw it away or use it for bread.
Don’t burn your garlic. Apparently we Americans are notorious for overcooking both our pasta and our garlic. The garlic should just be turning color when you either remove the cloves or add the rest of your ingredients. By adding other items, the cooking process naturally slows down and your garlic won’t burn. You can also add some water from your pasta pot (remember: properly salted) to slow down the garlic from burning. Also by adding water that the pasta is boiling in, you can make your sauce creamier, as it has some starch in it from cooking the noodles.
For as many years as I’ve stood with chefs in kitchens from my Food Network job, The Best Of I was surprised that I didn’t know some of these very basics.
One more personal tip I did bring to the table: to get the garlic smell off your hands, rub your fingers on stainless steel. I often use the sides of my kitchen sink. It neutralizes the odor.
Any other tips you have to share? Or questions? I feel like an expert now!
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