7 Cooking Hacks & Simple Tricks
Cooking hacks and simple solutions are amazing because they make our lives easier, save time, and minimize effort. Regardless of skill level—whether you’re a novice, naturally gifted in the kitchen, or simply blessed with many years of experience—these quick and clever kitchen hacks are sure to change how you cook for the better. I hope, these simple ideas and tips will make your time in the kitchen a little bit more pleasant!
Tip1. Standing (up) rib roasts
Some standing rib roasts aren’t so great at the “standing” part, especially smaller roasts, which have a tendency to tip over during cooking. Avoid this problem by turning a skewer into a support bar.
1. Run a skewer through the roast. (if using a wooden skewer, first soak it for about 20 minutes.)
2. Rest the ends of the skewer on the sides of the roasting pan and cook the roast. When ready to carve, simply remove the skewer.
Tip 2. Taking the plunge with dried mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are so light that they often bob to the surface of the water being used to hydrate them. This can cause the pieces to soften unevenly. To keep the pieces evenly submerged, try one of these tips. (these can also be used with dried tomatoes.)
A. Anchor the ingredients by nesting a 1-cup liquid measuring cup inside a 2-cup vessel. The 2-cup measure holds the liquid and mushrooms, while the 1-cup measure (a small bowl would work, too) ensures that the mushrooms stay below the surface while they soak.
B. Use a pot with its own steamer insert. Place the liquid and the ingredients to be hydrated in the pot and then position the steamer insert over them to keep the mushrooms submerged in the liquid. Make sure the water level rises above the holes in the bottom of the steamer insert.
C. Use a French press coffee maker. Place the mushrooms in the clean carafe and fill with water. Use the press to submerge the ingredients.
Tip 3. Cleaning and drying mushrooms
Some batches of fresh mushrooms are so dirty that a cloth won’t adequately clean them. Washing the mushrooms is a must, as is drying them. Pull out your salad spinner to perform both tasks.
1. Place the mushrooms in a salad spinner basket and spray with water until the dirt is removed.
2. Quickly fit the basket into the salad spinner and spin the mushrooms dry.
Tip 4. Less-mess nut chopping
Chopping nuts on a cutting board can send projectiles flying across the kitchen. Solve this problem with one of these tricks.
A. Swap out your chef’s knife for a serrated bread knife instead. Its scalloped edge grabs and keeps the nuts in place better than a straight edge does. (note: a bread knife doesn’t rock like a chef’s blade, but it’s still faster to use one than to chase nuts around the cutting board.)
B. If you’re still using a chef’s knife to chop, keep nuts corralled on the cutting board with a towel. Wet a dish towel, grasp both ends, and twist them in opposite directions to form a tight rope. Place the rope on the cutting board in a ring around the nuts. Leave enough room in the center of the ring to fit the knife, and chop away.
C. For a neater alternative to a knife, try an apple cutter: pressing the tool straight down chops the nuts into pieces while keeping them in place.
D. Try using a sharp-edged pastry blender to chop soft nuts like walnuts or pecans in a mixing bowl.
Tip 5. Not full of hot air
Here’s a reason to dust off that old hot-air popcorn popper: to toast nuts. Place ¼ cup of nuts in the popper and turn on the contraption for about 1 minute, until the nuts turn golden brown.
Tip 6. Microwave-toasted nuts and seeds
When you need to toast nuts or seeds and your stovetop and oven are unavailable, try the microwave.
1. For fragrant, browned results, place ½ cup of seeds or nuts in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at full power for about 2 minutes, checking and stirring every 30 seconds, until the seeds or nuts are golden brown.
2. Spread the seeds or nuts on paper towels to cool and absorb oils. This technique works best for cashews, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and sesame seeds.
Tip 7. De-salting nuts
Here’s a way to make salted nuts usable in recipes that call for the unsalted variety.
1. Rinse the nuts in a strainer under cool water.
2. Spread the nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for about 6 minutes, or until the nuts are dry and slightly toasted.