Peel Ginger with a Spoon
Essential Cooking Tips,Ginger can be tricky to peel with all its bumps and irregularities. Rather than using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, reach for the spoon. Scrape it against the skin and it’ll come right off, following every contour and minimizing waste.
Get an Immersion Blender
I use my immersion blender more than any other electric tool in the kitchen by a long shot. Whether it’s puréeing soups directly in the pot, getting rid of ugly lumps in my cheese sauce, or making mayonnaise or hollandaise in under two minutes, the immersion blender is the tool for the job.
Keep a Small Strainer for Citrus
I keep a small handled-strainer in my tool crock next to the stove so that I can quickly cut a lemon or lime in half and squeeze it directly through the strainer into the pot. Much easier than picking out seeds afterwards! Oh, and you do keep a crock full of common tools by the stovetop, don’t you?
Use Small Strainer for Eggs
That same strainer can be used to make perfectly shaped poached eggs. How? Crack the eggs into the strainer over the sink and swirl them around gently to remove the excess watery white. What’s left will be a tight, egg-shaped egg that poaches up clean. You can use the same trick to make picture-perfect, billboard glamour-shot-ready fried eggs. Check out the video above for more details.
Use a Garbage Bowl and a Bench Scraper
New York Site Editor Max recommends always having a garbage bowl near your work station. I wholeheartedly agree, and I’d add that a bench scraper is an essential piece kit as well. Not having to walk back and forth to the garbage every few minutes can take a lot of drudgery our of your prep, and nothing’s better than a bench scraper for moving large quantities of fiddly ingredients or scraps from point A to point B.
Freeze as Flat as Possible
Essential Cooking Tips,One more freezer trick: freeze things flat and stack them. Whether it’s soups, stews, or ground meat, the flatter and wider you can get them, the faster they’ll freeze and defrost, which not only makes you more efficient, it also improves the quality of the food (the longer something takes to freeze, the more cellular damage it will suffer).
When freezing vegetables, cut them into pieces 1-inch or less and blanch any green vegetables. Place them on a large plate or sheet tray spaced apart from each other and freeze them solid before transferring to a plastic freezer bag and storing flat.
Defrost Meat on Aluminum Trays
The fastest way to defrost meat is under a cold running tap. But if you want to save water and speed things up a bit, place your meat on an aluminum sheet tray or skillet. Aluminum is a great conductor of heat and will draw energy from the surrounding environment into your frozen meat much faster than a wooden cutting board or wood or stone countertop. You can cut defrosting times down by about 30 percent this way. It also works on soups, stews, and anything frozen flat.
Slice Avocados in their Skins
To slice avocados for salads or guacamole, split them in half, remove the pit by whacking it with the heel of your knife and twisting it out, then slice it directly in the skin using the tip of a paring knife or chef’s knife. When you then scoop it out with a spoon, you’ll have slices ready to go, with less mess than trying to fiddle with slippery peeled avocado a cutting board.
Buy Pre-Peeled Garlic
Essential Cooking Tips,I might get a lot of hate for this one, but truth be told, I use pre-peeled garlic almost exclusively. I find peeling garlic form a whole head to be a bit of a pain in the butt and usually can’t be bothered. The pre-peeled stuff, so long as you buy it fresh, will last for weeks in the refrigerator and despite what some snooty chefs may tell you, it tastes just fine. In fact, I challenge anyone to taste identical dishes made in a triangle test with pre-peeled and whole head garlic and identify the odd one out. Seriously.
Read the Recipe First
You wouldn’t believe the number of folks who would start cooking before reading through every step only to find that they were missing a tool they needed at a time sensitive juncture, or that they hadn’t divided ingredients properly.
Use a Scale for Baking
Using volumetric cup measures is extremely inaccurate for compressible foods like flour. Depending on your scooping or sifting method, a cup of flour can weight anywhere between four and six ounces. That’s a difference of 50 percent! With a scale, on the other hand, you know that your cup of flour is exactly the same time after time, giving you better, more consistent results. On Serious Eats, our standard cup conversion is five ounces of all-purpose flour per cup.
The Microplane is Your Friend
Microplane graters are great for taking zest off of citrus fruit. They’re also great for grating ginger. They’re great for grating garlic (I haven’t owned a garlic press in years). They’re great for creating a blanket of grated cheese over your pasta or pizza. They’re great for grating whole nutmeg. They’re just great. You can be great too, but you’ll need a microplane to get there.
Make Your Vinaigrettes in Squeeze Bottles
How do I ensure that I get enough salads in my diet? By always having some great dressing on hand in a ready-to-dress squeeze bottle in the fridge door. The easiest way to do this is to write the recipe directly on the side of a squeeze bottle, drawing lines for each ingredients. Whenever I run out, I don’t even have to pull out my measuring spoons or cups.
Partially Freeze Meat Before Cutting
Slicing meat to grind or cook in a stir-fry can be tricky even with a sharp knife. To make it easier, place the meat in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to stiffen it up.
Keep Your Knives Sharp
Essential Cooking Tips,Serious Eats Sweets Site Editor Carrie Mullins says that sharp knives are her jam. Having sharp knives is not only safer (your knife is less likely to slip off a vegetable and into your finger), but it just makes cooking so much more pleasurable when you can fly through your slicing, dicing, and chopping tasks.
For most home cooks, sharpening should be done once or twice a year. If you’re up for the task, you can get yourself some stones and do it yourself, though most folks will opt to take their knives to a professional. Whatever you do, don’t use those awful electric grinding machines which will strip off far more metal than is necessary, wearing your knife down and shortening its useful lifespan.