Ever feel clueless in the kitchen? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Over the past few months, I’ve been keeping track of every blunder I’ve made in the kitchen so I can refer back to it when the egg whites don’t come together or when the leftovers taste like chalk. At first I hadn’t planned on publishing my ever-growing list of know-how. Then one morning, Hubby went to edit my next post and read this one by mistake.
“That one is not for publishing” I told him, “that’s just for my sake.”
“It’s a fun post to read, you should publish it.”, Hubby replied enthusiastically.
And so I did. It’s an on-going list of things I learn which I can publish every now and again as the notes pile up.
So here now are a few of the things I’ve learned over the past few months from baking cakes, trying to cook in big batches with way too many leftovers and putting leftover egg yolks and egg whites to good use.
1. You can freeze leftover Italian Buttercream for future use.
Store the buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. When ready to use, allow it to soften back to room temperature and re-beat it before use.
2. Letting things brown is actually good.
If you let foods brown and develop a crust, it actually helps develop more flavor. Onions, cakes, vegetables, almost everything benefits from developing a flavor-packed crust.
3. Freezing Indian leftovers does not seem to be a good thing.
When I used to cook in bulk, cooking enough on Sundays to last through Wednesday and then again to last through Saturday, I was always trying to find ways to improve the flavor on the second or third day. Many friends told me they cook in bulk, separate serving sizes into airtight containers and store it in the freezer. I tried this a few times and while some dishes defrosted better than others, all of them seemed to develop an “off” flavor that was only masked by a fresh addition of tadka. In the end, I found it better to keep the food in the refrigerator and add some flavorful tadka just before serving.
4. Use your fingernails to peel potatoes
Save yourself some time and cleaning by peeling boiled potatoes with your fingernails rather than having to clean out a peeler.
5. When whipping egg whites, makes sure they don’t have a speck of fat or they will deflate.
I was whipping egg whites for my triple chocolate mousse cake and had beautiful soft peaks. I wiped down the bowl with the same spatula I had just used to stir my melted chocolate, not thinking I needed to clean it first. The egg whites immediately deflated and I had to start all over again. Make sure everything’s clean, clean, clean when whipping up your egg whites!
6. You can freeze extra egg whites and egg yolks.
Many baking recipes call for only egg yolks or only egg whites, leaving you with an abundance of yolks or whites without a purpose. You can store them in an air tight food container in the freezer until needed. Yolks need to be stored with a teaspoon of sugar per yolk as they will come out of the freezer too thick. Whites will be a little harder to whip than usual but are still usable.
7. When chopping, use your knuckles as a guide
This is probably the most useful trick I have learned so far. When chopping you always curl your fingers under into a claw so they are out o the way of the knife. What I didn’t know is that you can keep the knuckle of your middle finger slightly ahead of your other knuckles and then place the side of the blade up against the middle knuckle as you chop. Your knuckle will act as a guide for the knife (the finger tips are tucked way under, the knuckle is out ahead). It gives you a GREAT amount of control when chopping and dicing.
What are some of your own quick tips? Let us know in the comments below.