Try this crackerjack method to shell stubborn, barely open pistachios. Holding the nut in one hand, insert the tip of another pistachio shell half into the opening. Twist the shell half 90 degrees in either direction, or until the closed nut pops open. If that doesn’t work, try using a garlic press: 1. Put a single unopened pistachio in the chamber of the garlic press. Apply gentle pressure until the shell of the nut cracks open. 2. Remove the pistachio and discard the broken shell.
Naked hazelnuts in no time
For a trick to peel toasted hazelnuts without the mess of rubbing them in a dish towel, try a mesh strainer. Dump the freshly toasted nuts into it and, once they’ve cooled slightly, rub them back and forth against the rough mesh. Most of the skins sift through the strainer, and it’s easy to extract the skinned nuts from the remaining loose skins. Alternatively, try using a wire cooling rack: place the nuts on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, then lightly toast them in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the hazelnuts are cool enough to touch, rub them against the rack, letting the skins fall onto the pan below.
Blanch your own almonds
If you’re making a recipe that calls for blanched (skinned) almonds but you can only find whole, skin-on almonds at your supermarket, try this simple technique to remove the skins. 1. Place 1 cup of almonds in a medium heatproof bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let the almonds stand for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse them under cold running water. 2. Press each almond between your thumb and index finger to slip off the skin. 3. To dry and lightly toast the skinned nuts, place them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes.
Preventing oil spills
Pouring olive oil often results not in a drizzle but a deluge. You can remedy this situation by transferring the oil to a maple syrup dispenser. Its quick-closing spout gives complete control over the pour. (since the container is clear, be sure to store it in a dark cabinet to keep the oil from going rancid.)
Just a splash of oil
Pour spouts are a great way to mete out just the right amount of oil for a sauté or a salad, but what do you do if you don’t have enough spouts, or if you don’t have cupboards tall enough to fit both the bottles and the spouts? Here are a few ways to get just a splash of oil from the bottle without a spout. A. Build a solution into the bottle 1. Remove the cap from a newly purchased bottle of oil and poke a small hole through the safety seal with a paring knife. Replace the cap and store as usual. 2. When you need a little oil, just remove the cap, invert the bottle, and give it a squeeze or a shake. B. Squeeze out a solution Try this one-handed plan: pour the oil into an old ketchup bottle. Now whenever you need a splash of oil, just flip the top and squirt it into the pan.
A drizzle of highly flavored oil like truffle oil or toasted sesame oil can add character and complexity to a dish, but if too much accidentally gushes from the bottle, it can also ruin it. To prevent this, hold a chopstick across the bottle opening with its tip pointed toward the food as you pour—the oil travels along the length of the chopstick in a thin stream, making it easier to control the flow.
When you’re at the stove, instead of digging around for a tablespoon, you can measure cooking oil with the lid of the bottle. The lids on most bottled oil hold about that amount, and cleanup is as easy as wiping the cap.