Monday, April 30, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Cooking Tips and Tricks

When rolling out crust, roll from the center out, very lightly, then cover with a large piece of plastic wrap – continue to roll carefully and turn crust over so that the crust is now on top of the plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top and finish rolling to desired thickness, refrigerate if necessary. With butter based crusts, the plastic helps hold the shape of the crust, eases annoying splitting of the crust, and helps keep you from adding too much flour.

Lumpy gravy of any kind is always an embarrassment. Even seasoned professionals occasionally have lumps in sauces and gravies. Simply drain the sauce or gravy through a fine sieve to remove lumps and discard them. Veteran gravy makers, like Grandmothers, will think you’re a kitchen whiz. Soups can also be drained with the addition of a coffee filter.

When emergencies strike, such as a forgotten bake sale or unexpected guests, it’s nice to be able to whip up a pie for dessert quickly. First, put pride aside, and keep some piecrust mix like Krust-ez or Pillsbury for a quick crust. Replace a bit of the water with a few tablespoons of sour cream. No one will ever know you used a packaged mix and the sour cream will add flavor as well as help to make the crust flakier.

Quick Whipping - A teaspoon of cold water added to the white of an egg causes it to whip more quickly while increasing the quantity of the egg.

Cottage cheese will remain fresher longer if you store it upside down in the refrigerator. This slows the effects of oxidation.

Brown sugar will not harden if stored in the freezer.

If you freeze wild rice it will last 3-4 months compared to a week in the refrigerator.

Regarding tomato paste, it seems a whole can of tomato paste is many times too much for some recipes. Suggestion: take a piece of waxed paper, putting it on a cookie sheet and putting teaspoonfuls of the leftover paste on the paper - another sheet on top and freeze this. When frozen just peel them off and put them in a baggie and when you need a tsp. or tbs. of paste you have it without opening a whole can and there is no waste --OR-- put small amounts in an ice tray and then just pop them out when you need them.

Always use tongs to turn meat on the grill to avoid piercing the meat. This keeps most of the wonderful juices inside the meat.

When boiling corn on the cob, add a tablespoon of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.

To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water, if it sinks then it is fresh, if it floats to the surface, throw it away.

Potatoes will take food stains off of your fingers. Just slice and rub the raw potato on your skin and rinse with water. Just the same, if you're peeling shrimp or cleaning fresh fish and you don't want the smell to remain on your hands all day, squish a few fresh strawberries between your fingers for a minute or two, then rinse with soap and water.

Brush some beaten egg white over your pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.

When marinating food keep these guidelines in mind: Certain foods like vegetables or chicken soak up marinades quicker than pork or red meat. For chicken, shrimp, fish or vegetables, 3-4 hours is usually good in the refrigerator. With pork or red meat, 6 hours works nicely, overnight works the best.

To easily remove burned food off of a skillet, add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Then set it on the stove and bring to a boil to remove the offending foods.

Spray your Tupperware with non-stick cooking spray before adding any tomato based soups or sauces and there won't be any stains.

If you store half an apple in the container where you are storing a cake, the cake will retain it's freshness longer.

Use a meat baster to squeeze your batter onto a hot griddle for perfectly shaped pancakes every time.

To prevent egg shells from cracking, add a pinch of salt to the water when hard-boiling.

To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

When a recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white 'mess' on the side of the cake.

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