Some of these may be very familiar but some of them may be new to you and a good tip is worth its weight in gold in the kitchen.
*Pan release isn't just for cake pans. Spray it on your roasting racks to make clean up much, much easier.
*Speaking of clean up, don't run water into greasy pans. put soap on your sponge and coat the pan with it before adding water. Dish washing liquid is designed to cut through grease and it works better when applied directly to the problem area.
*Cheesy pans benefit from cold water. It solidifies the melted cheese and then you can easily scrape it off the surface.
*Old school custard baking has you line the pan with a towel before adding hot water, a silicone sheet (Silpat) works even better, forming a nice even heat layer underneath your ramekins to facilitate even cooking in the water bath.
*Cook sugar gently over lower heat. This allows for more even cooking and less crystallization, especially when dealing with dry caramels.
*As long as your heat soucre is slow and steady, probe thermometers are great for candymaking. Set it for a temperature a few degrees below what your aiming for and you'll be there in plenty of time to take care of any additions and/or pull it off the heat.
*Calibrate your thermometers. Even the digital ones need some love on a regular basis.
*Check your oven temperatures too. Appliances, like people, change with age. Just because it was perfectly accurate six months ago doesn't mean it still is today.
*Bitters are your friend. Those bottle tucked away in your liquor cabinet can do great things in the kitchen. Try a few dashes in soups, sauces, marinades, brines, vinagrettes, doughs and cake batters. They add a small background note that amplifies your overall flavor profile. The new fangled, artisan ones are especially potent. We're big fans of Bokers Bitters, Aphrodite Bitters, and many of the fruit flavors by the Fee Brothers, notably the rhubarb bitters.
Just a few words to the wise from our recent forays in the kitchen. Feel free to share your best tips in the comments below. We're all looking to improve our time in the kitchen.
March 11, 2006