Recipe Hut Tips For The Everyday Cook
Tips from Chef’s and Cooks.

Take your shoes off, turn some music on, a cup of coffee within reach, enjoy your time in the kitchen.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of horseradish to mashed potatoes before mashing. It will give the mashed potato a pleasant flavor but not enough is added for anyone to identify a horseradish taste. 

Always preheat your oven before placing food into it and give your stove top pans a little time to heat up before adding any food to them (beware of splashing and spattering if you heat them too much.)

Never fuss with the food cooking by moving it and flipping it. Control this impulse.

Always taste the food as it cooks and make any ingredients adjustment.

Always use a thermometer to check meat for doneness then remove meat from heat immediately.

When cooking an omelet: Use a heavyweight nonstick pan, and make sure it is spotlessly clean. Heat the pan hot! When you pour in the egg, it should sizzle and bubble. The pan should be hot enough to cook in just moments, without browning.

French Toast: When you melt the butter, add a pinch of brown sugar, a pinch of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the pan at the same time. When the butter begins to foam, put the bread in the pan, but do not move it around until it’s time to flip!

Pancakes: The best and lightest pancakes are made from buttermilk and baking soda which together create air bubbles that are trapped by the gluten in the flour. If you do not have butter milk then use 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice plus 1 cup milk which will make 1 cup of buttermilk substitute. Buttermilk gives baked goods a moist texture and tangy flavor, while those made with sweet milk are milder in flavor.

Oatmeal: Do not add milk until the end; otherwise, it will curdle and throw off the texture of the cereal (not to mention its flavor).

Scrambled Eggs: Add a little cream cheese. Cream cheese melts, it does not melt into a liquid; it melts down to the consistency of sour cream, which adds a velvety smoothness and makes delicious scrambled eggs.

Cornbread: The best cornbread is not in the batter, it’s in the process. The hotter the cast-iron pan is before you pour in the batter, the crispier the crust will be.

Muffins: Do not over beat the batter. Leave it a little lumpy. Resist the impulse to beat it smooth.

Fish: Remove fish from refrigerator and let it get to room temperature before cooking it. Do the same for Meats.

How to Poach Fish: (Heat is the enemy.) Bring whatever the poaching liquid is to a simmer, then taking it off the heat, and put the fish in. “You’ll get lovely moist meat.” The fish should never be on the heat.

Microwave re-heating: Never heat leftovers on high as it will continue to overcook. Use either 10% or 20% and in rare cases 30% power. Yes it takes longer but it will reheat to taste more like it did when fresh cooked at day one.

Garlic: The way to peel a clove of garlic is to place it on your chopping board and give it a smack or two with the flat side of your big knife then peel it. Smash garlic cloves inside a zip lock plastic bag. This way, your cutting board won't smell.

Peel garlic and place in a zip lock bag, pour in plenty of olive oil to coat it well, place bag in freezer and it will last for many months. Take out cloves you need and return bag to freezer.

Marinade Tip: When marinating meats, freeze any marinade left over and reuse the next time you are marinating or place in a saucepan and reduce to make a wonderful sauce to pour over your meat.

Wash and save a few empty foam egg containers and use for making ice cubes or freeze leftover sauces from previous meals. These cubes can be reheated in a saute pan when you need a quick sauce.

When handling meats and oils, wet your hands first, you’ll find your hands are easier to clean afterwards.

Wrap a washed and dried brick in aluminum foil and place on top of grilled sandwiches for faster, more even browning.

When carrying a piece of cut plastic- wrap across the room, place against your chest and hold it in place with your chin, to prevent clinging.

Add a touch of garlic powder to tuna fish salad.

For an unusual and elegant bowl of tomato soup, add one or two drops of vanilla extract.

When transferring a liquid from one container to another, always pour from high.

Never add oil to pasta water, if you do the sauce will run off to the sides and bottom of the pasta.

A quick Alfredo sauce can be made by combining heavy cream with grated Parmesan cheese and/or Romano cheese, a pinch of salt and white pepper then stir and heat until it melts and thickens.

When making potato salad, cool the cut, boiled potatoes in the freezer.

To remove the skin from a tomato, submerge the tomato into boiling water for 15- 20 seconds.

Remove all of the meat flesh from an avocado by running a teaspoon between the flesh and the shell.

Store apples in a crisper drawer in the refrigerator to retain quality. Store your potatoes away from your onions.

Making Cream Gravy: Use drippings and oils from pan-frying sausage, bacon, chicken or pork chops. The basic proportions are 1/4 cup drippings to 1/4 cup flour to 2 cups milk.

Don’t forget an ingredient? Measure your ingredients before you start the recipe.

Try Ricotta Cheese on toast with a bit of honey. (They do in Italy.)

Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.

After working with garlic and onions, rub your hands with vinegar before washing them. It will remove the odor.

When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the hot oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for several seconds before releasing it. This will stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.

When making meatballs or meatloaf  taste it before you cook it by making a little patty and fry it in a pan like a mini hamburger. Taste that and adjust the seasoning as needed.

When cooking cauliflower, add a bit of milk to the water with salt to keep the cauliflower a bright white.

When grinding your beef for burgers, grind in some bacon.

The best garlic has firm tissue like skin and should not be bruised, sprouted, soft or shriveled.

Is the oil is hot enough for frying? Stick a wooden skewer or spoon in the oil and if it bubbles from around the wood, it’s ready.

Ask the butcher or the fishmonger to see the products up close to smell for freshness. Fish should never smell fishy. Meat should have faint or no smell. Poke the flesh, it should bounce back.