7 Awesome Kitchen Hacks
1. Made-ahead dish shorthand
Streamline dinner and minimize last-minute work on food from the freezer by leaving a note to yourself. Next time you freeze a make-ahead dish, wrap it up and then place a sticky-note on top of the wrapped food that lists the finishing instructions. Wrap the whole thing in an extra layer of plastic wrap. Now in the rush before dinner you’ll have all the information you need to finish the dish without having to dig up the recipe again.
2. Boiling water on the double
Boiling four or five quarts of water for pasta can be slow and frustrating, especially if you’re running out of time before dinner. Speed up the process by boiling the water in two pots. When both pots are boiling, carefully pour the water from the second pot into the stockpot, and you’re ready to go.
3. Infused oil fast
Oils infused with garlic, herbs, or other flavors can make the perfect final touch for a pasta recipe, salad, or side dish. However, large bottles of flavored oil don’t always keep well and they may not have the strong, fresh taste that you’re looking for. If you don’t like keeping these expensive products around or you find that you’ve run out in the middle of cooking, try this solution for a lighting-fast, convenient way to make small amounts of fresh infused oil for a particular dish: put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a microwave-safe bowl with chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, or herbs, and microwave for about a minute (until the oil is warm but not hot). The oil will be infused with whatever flavor you want in no time at all.
4. Quick chill for the whipped cream bowl
It’s always a good idea to chill the bowl and beaters or whisk you plan to use when whipping cream, but full refrigerators and freezers may not accommodate bulky bowls. If you find yourself in this situation, try the following method: fill a zipper-lock bag with ice cubes and place it in the bowl. A bag filled with 20 ice cubes will chill a 12-inch stainless-steel bowl in about 5 minutes. Another way to chill a stainless-steel bowl is to toss in a couple of frozen freezer packs. They will turn the bowl icy cold in about 10 minutes.
5. Pancake syrup backup plan
Homemade pancakes and waffles just aren’t the same without syrup. If you run out of pancake syrup with breakfast already on the table, you can make a super quick and delicious substitute from a basic pantry staple: just melt brown sugar by microwaving it. Add water to get a consistency that you like. You can also add butter or mix in flavoring from ingredients such as almond or vanilla extracts, depending on your taste.
6. Rescuing a broken sauce
Sometimes a finicky sauce, such as beurre blanc, can separate and break if it gets too hot. But all is not lost. Simply remove the pan from the heat and whisk an ice cube into the sauce until it comes back together.
7. Saving a fallen soufflé
Myth: you can’t make a fallen soufflé rise again. Reality: yes, your soufflé will fall after it’s been out of the oven for about 5 minutes. But returning it to a 350-degree oven will convert the water back into steam and reinflate it (although it will lose about ½ inch of height).