21. For an easy weeknight meal, save and freeze leftover sauces from previous meals in ice cube trays. The cubes can be reheated in a sauté pan when you need a quick sauce.
David Burke Townhouse, New York City
The 100 Greatest Cooking Tips of All Time. [Via]
Frozen marinara cubes are also great in a bloody mary.
@stuffisthings (If some brave soul is actually going to try this, could you also test whether frozen milk cubes produce an acceptable iced coffee? Thaaanks.)
@stuffisthings If you make your own sauce with canned tomatoes: most recipes have you drain the tomatoes and ditch the liquid, but that remaining liquid is also great in a bloody mary.
@stuffisthings I can not speak to frozen milk, but I will say that frozen coffee cubes are the absolute best for ice coffee - no watering down!
Also I am pro putting mint leaves in ice for like an ice tea and/or more adult beverage, but then they melt and get green stuff in your teeth.
@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Yes, I love making mint cubes! I also make lemon and lime cubes for those really hot days in summer, they are damned good in a Diet Coke or a G&T.
@Emmanuelle Cunt I make ice cubes that are half water/half leftover stock and give them to my dog in the summer when it's really hot.
I do that too! A friend warned me not to let the dog munch down too many though -- her dog once ate a tray of beef ice cubes really quickly and yakked up a gallon of boullion.
@stuffisthings I'm pretty sure freezing milk makes it go all curdley and gross. Also some of these tips are BLOWING MY MIND.
@stuffisthings. I once made a failed batch of dulce de leche (wasn't thick enough for the dessert it was going on top of) so I froze the whole batch as ice cube and these cubes were, in fact, fanTAStic in coffee. Proceed with abandon!
um how much sauce does he think you need? unless he has ginormous industrial ice cube trays... I just use a jar of ready-made sauce and saute some crushed garlic, mushrooms and a handful of diced frozen veg while the pasta is cooking.
Same with stir fry except soy sauce instead of jar sauce and ramen or rice instead of pasta.
Believe me, I know from fast cooking!
@iceberg Yeah, and I don't really see the making of the sauces as being the time-consuming aspect of cooking. Chopping things and waiting for things to get cooked takes awhile, but I generally improvise sauces as I go along and they don't take a whole lot of effort. For stiry-frys, a few squirts of Sriracha here, a dash of soy sauce and vinegar there, maybe a pinch of sugar, no big whoop. And for pasta, I just saute a bunch of garlic and onions and peppers and stuff, add some tomatoes and a bunch of seasonings, toss in a ladle's worth of Newman's Own to round it out, and BOOM, it's sauce.
@werewolfbarmitzvah True. I usually do it the other way around, like, make a huge batch of brown rice and then eat it with various sauces and vegetables throughout the week. Sauces are the fun part of cooking!
@Emmanuelle Cunt I'd say the exception is homemade Pesto? I love it, but it means breaking out the food processor. Since I don't have a dishwasher, cleaning that sucker is a peril-fraught pain in the ass. So, if I make Pesto, I make a LOT of it, and freeze for later use.
ETA - hah, I didn't even see your pesto comment below. Great minds!
@Ophelia Yeah I really only do homemade pesto at the end of the arugula season (I make it with about 2/3 arugula and 1/3 basil), and then again in the fall before my basil dies off, so that definitely gets frozen.
@iceberg - it's not just sauce tomat!!! You can do this with SO MANY SAUCES. Basically anything non-emulsion-y (no cream sauces!) and thickened w/ arrowroot, not flour.. My dream is to take a week off of work, and spend it making veal demi, moles, yakitori, sweet bean, ginger scallion, salsa rojas, chimichurris, harrisa, bordelais ahhhhhhh i love sauce-making so fucking much.
Anyhow, if you have a shitload of icecubes of little individual sauces, your life becomes this wonderland where all you have to do is broil, grill, bake, whatever up a piece of chicken breast, melt your sauce in a pan, chop up the chicken breast, toss it in the sauce, and mix that into a salad, with veggies to match the tone of your sauce. You get to have what feels like endless variety, but still live healthy and without too much effort (other than a week of hardcore saucemaking, but thats where I come in ;) )
@iceberg I don't think it's necessarily that sauces are difficult to make, but I know that since I generally only cook for myself, this is just more convenient because now I can use sauce when I want and not just when I'm looking for ways to use a big leftover batch of it.
@leon.saintjean *call me
It's all fun and games until an ice tray of demi-glace goes into a pitcher of sangria!
@l'esprit de l'escalier Happened to me with pesto and a whiskey sour. Unpleasant...
"You will see that a "simple meal" actually has more than 40 steps. If even 10 of those steps require 10 minutes each and another 10 of those steps take 5 minutes each, you're going to need two and a half hours of prep time."
Can I include "move pet out of way" as a step?
@anachronistique Only if it is steps 1, 4, 7, 12, 15, 22, 30, 37, and 41.
@anachronistique I have to insert "Detach screaming toddler from leg" in between each step of a recipe in order to estimate the real time it'll take me.
I have to hold the toddler in one arm while cooking, explaining every step.
@atipofthehat I let her sit on the counter now that I'm reasonably certain she won't go straight for the knives. She's actually really good at peeling garlic.
@anachronistique Don't forget to write "Cross off previous step" before each step, too.
Yeah, I've been an adult for a decade now, and you know when I bought my first ice cube tray? Three months ago. Putting something other than water in it is clearly years away for me.
@Daisy Razor Wait, but...how did you chill your cocktails before??
@Jinxie 1) Lived next to a bar 2) Usually had a bag of ice from parties that we could carve a hunk off of 3) Put cocktail on back porch for awhile 4) Just drank it warm.
...I am not a classy drinker.
I condone freezing it. The rest of it is madness. Of course, we feed four people three meals out of one batch of sauce. I don't think the world has enough ice cube trays for us. Also, our new fridge makes ice, so we don't have ice cube trays anymore.
@camanda Also, this list. There is some good advice in there, but a lot of it is either superfluous or just plain overthinking things, I think. Then again, I will never make fish or eggplant or mashed potatoes, because ew, so I might be biased on the "superfluous" count.
I don't typically do this with sauce, but if I have leftover stock, I'll freeze it in ice cube trays, and then use it to thin out a sauce, or get some liquid in a pan of chicken, etc.
Also, don't STORE the cubes in the tray, just wait until they're frozen and stick them in a ziploc bag or a tupperware. Otherwise, you wind up with a bunch of unusable ice-cube trays taking up space in the freezer.
@Ophelia Yeah I would only do this with stock or homemade pesto, because in those cases, 1 or 2 cubes actually equals a large enough portion to work with.
For other sauces (or lentil based side dishes) a heavy-duty Ziploc is a better portion size, and easier to store.
Like, pour it right from the jar into the ice cube tray, right?
Additional freezer tip: pre-slice lemons/limes and freeze them for gin and tonics! No need to worry if you have lemons around when you fancy a gin, extra ice power, etc.
(gins and tonics? gins and tonic? what is the plural, please? Mm gins...)
@moosette This is the best idea ever. I served my dad a lemon-less g&t last weekend (because the only lemon we had was growing green fuzz) and he was genuinely horrified. Do they come out of the freezer in a decent state of repair?
@moosette that's a good one! (gin and tonics, I think!)
@spanglepants Yes, the cells don't burst or anything like with fruits like strawberries. Once it's defrosted in the drink you can't really tell the difference!
@moosette Ace! Thank-you.
@moosette I keep meaning to do this, and freezing zest (is that crazy?) and lemon & lime juice in cubes, because my need for them is sporadic but intense when the time comes, and I hate buying 3 limes when a bag of them costs the same.
@moosette Adding a slice or three of cucumber (fresh or frozen) to your G&Ts will take them to the next level.
In the summer I make tzatziki all the time, which involves squeezing the juice out of a lot of cucumbers. I freeze it and use the cubes in just about any citrus drink, whether or not they involve vodka or gin. Amazingly refreshing.
@sony_b Cucumber is especially good with Hendrick's gin! But I like the cucumber cube tip. It feels like there could be a good product name in there somewhere - cucubes? cubumbers?
@moosette cucubes works for me. :)
So? This guy is saying I can make a meal of ONE ice cube sized hunk of sauce? Whaaat?
@Curiouser and curiouser I think the idea is that it's faster to defrost and use, say, 5 ice cube sized chunks of sauce than a ziploc baggie o'sauce (especially if you're only cooking for one). Just toss it in the pan and let it melt, I guess?
Flat frozen ziplocs in sandwich or quart size are better than ice cube trays. Saves space and MOAR sauce.
Also, ice cube trays are the worst. It's bad enough when the ice for a cocktail skitters across the counter and/or on to the floor, but something as precious as stock or homemade vodka sauce? Not a chance.
@Party Falcon Exactly, ziplocs!
@Party Falcon I'm just going to have to admit to rinsing off cubes that fall on the floor and using them anyway.
@Ophelia At least you rinse. As long as there's no visible gross, it just goes in the drink. Booze is antiseptic, yes?
(Seriously, get rid of your Party Falcon, she is revolting.)
@Party Falcon No visible gunk = your floors must be cleaner than mine. I'd drink that drink!
@Party Falcon You are correct. If you're making your drinks correctly, they'd better have the strength to kill whatever's on your floor.
@Party Falcon My dad freezes stock in those pint containers you get from the deli or takeout soup and then pops them into food storage bags. Works brilliantly.
@Party Falcon Yeah freezing things flat in ziplocs pretty much changed my life.
@Party Falcon Ziplocs work well when you're freezing large batches with the knowledge that you'll use it when feeding larger groups of people. When just cooking for one, though, there's almost always too much sauce in a ziploc (quart or larger) or not enough (snack size). I'm curious to try the ice cube thing since it sounds like it supports smaller/more flexible portions. I'd much rather have cube of my Sicilian grandpa's spaghetti sauce skitter across the floor than half a gallon-sized ziploc go bad in my fridge because I just can't get through it fast enough!
@@serenityfound Well the brilliant bit of ziplocs is that you can fill them up with however much you think you'll use in a serving (certainly more than an ice cube) and just squeeze the air our. Sandwich size bags works fine for anything over about half a cup.
And it's not sitting exposed to freezer funk while it solidifies.
That would require a flat surface in my freezer on which to freeze things. The bags of frozen veggies and boxes of veggie corn dogs from Trader Joe's make that tricky business.
@Dancersize Coooookie sheet. On top of the piles! Once everything's all nice and frozen, take it out and stuff the flats in every crack and crevice!
@Dancersize Or just take a box of frozen whatever and lay it flat on top of the bags of stuff. Then lay the ziploc bags of sauce on top of the box and let them freeze flat. Then proceed as Party Falcon suggests and stuff 'em in. It really maximizes your freezer space.
OK this tip is actually good:
27. Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin.
Author of My New Orleans
Because I literally never bother to read recipes all the way through. I usually end up taking them as suggestions and/or calling my roommates to get them to bring me ingredients I didn't realize were going to actually be important to the dish.
@Emmanuelle Cunt I always end up yelling "Wait, this has to simmer for HOW LONG?!"
@Emmanuelle Cunt Ugh my husband doesn't use recipes but his version of this is to start cooking without checking he has all the needed ingredients and then berating me for not making sure we had them on hand (I do the food shopping)
@Sarah H. "Dinner will be ready in...hm. Oh god. Hey, you want to just order Chinese?"
@iceberg Ummmm what? I'd be like, "Improvise, motherfucker"
@Emmanuelle Cunt Seriously, with an added, "And you have to eat whatever monstrosity you come up with while I get takeout."
@Emmanuelle Cunt I don't like using recipes either...which is why I don't really like baking. If it's something totally out of my comfort zone, I'll use the recipe as a guide the first time.
22. When making meatballs or meatloaf, you need to know how the mixture tastes before you cook it. Make a little patty and fry it in a pan like a mini hamburger. Then you can taste it and adjust the seasoning.
112 Eatery, Minneapolis
Or, take a page out of my Babcia's book and taste hunks of raw ground beef and pork as you go! I never knew she did this until I asked her to show me her golumpki technique. Never again will I request this dish.
@Megoon Babcia! Polish grandmothers FTW!
@Megoon When I used to make meatballs, I do admit the idea crossed my mind, but I always ended up frying it in a pan to make sure it was well-seasoned.
@ms. alex I LOVE frying up a little patty! It's like a mini-hamburger just for me. I suggested this to Babcia (even just microwaving it) and she waved me off in low mutters (@liznieve Babcias, amirite?). I guess if she lived through WW2 AND Communist Poland, she gets to make her own rules, but still, trichinosis don't care if you once lived on stolen bread.
@Megoon Awww...we called my Polish grandma Buscia. Her kitchen was always a cornucopia of delights like pickled herring, blood sausage, beef tongue, and chicken necks.
@chevyvan Haha yes. Goooooo tripe!
101. Add vague sciencey terms like "caramelizes the sugars" or "proteins" to your cooking tip to make it sound more authoritative.
Well, cooking is science. No duh. I guess they could say, "Apply fire until your food looks browner," but that doesn't make it sound very tasty.
One I've never heard:
55. To cook a steak, I always start by cooking it on its side, where there is a rim of fat on its narrow edge. I render it down so there's good, flavorful fat in the pan for the rest of the cooking.
Adour and Benoit, New York City
I usually go with the tried and true:
Steak, room-temperature, well-seasoned. Screaming hot pan, no oil, not nonstick. Cook side one until browned enough to loosen itself from pan. Flip, lower heat and cook until desired temp. (Which, if you're the kind of person I know you are, will be a perfect medium rare. No poking with a thermometer! When gently pressed with one talon, it should feel like your palm under your thumb when holding your first and middle talons together.) Let rest on warm platter, re-season heavily and top with a pat of butter.
But dude's suggestion basically takes the dry sear out of the equation. Does it mess with the yummy Maillard browning? Or does it just provide more flavor without burning? Any time I've messed with my dry pan formula, the meat ends up a little steamed, not steakhouse-like at all. But the rim of fat is kind of useless and gross, so if this will help render it AND provide flavor? Inquiring Party Birds want to know!
@Party Falcon I've never done it but I'd guess that unless you're using a steak with super think rim of fat you wouldn't end up with any more fat in the pan than with well seasoned cast iron.
@Party Falcon I don't generally pan fry steak but I have a cast iron grill on part of my stovetop. A friend of mine who is the former head chef of a serious steak house here in Chicago just showed me that trick and I have to admit it works pretty well on my grill. The other trick he showed me was to essentially give a long sear on both sides to give the grill marks and finish the meat off in the oven which worked wonderfully and prevented over cooking. BTW. this was done with a NY Strip which makes sense. You dont want to do a fat side grill with a ribeye obviously.
@Party Falcon Is home-cooking a steak really that easy? I've been too afraid to do it myself, so anytime either of us wants a steak we just go out to dinner. (Also because if it really is that easy and my boyfriend catches on, we will eat steak every night and that is a terrible idea.)
@Party Falcon. I use this classic method for cooking a (fucking) steak: http://www.theawl.com/2009/11/how-to-cook-a-fucking-steak. It's a good way to go.
My favorite thing: buy a whole ton of peeled whole garlic cloves (or peel them yourself, but I like using the pre-peeled ones), put them in a loaf pan, and pour enough olive oil into the pan to just cover the tops. Roast it uncovered in the oven at like 350-400 until the cloves are soft enough to easily smush with a fork (takes maybe an hour or so?). Seal the cloves and oil into a canning jar and store in the fridge.
The cloves will be so soft that you can just spread them on toast/whatever else like butter whenever you want some garlic on something, or easily mash them up with a fork to use in a recipe that calls for garlic. And, almost as good, you've also now got a ton of garlic-infused oil in the jar as well! (It will solidify in the fridge, but I just use a spoon to scoop some out and toss it into a pan when I'm cooking - you can also take it out of the fridge for a couple minutes and it'll turn back to liquid).
It will keep for a really long time in theory, but to be on the safe side you should try to use it within a week or two.
@Leon Tchotchke Oooh I love roast garlic. Can't say I've ever considered buying ready-peeled cloves, though I can imagine if you're going to roast a load of them, the peeling would get pretty tedious.
The tips from these comments are way more useful than most of the tips on that link.
@Leon Tchotchke The problem with this plan is that I would be completely unable to keep from eating the entire pan of roasted garlic right out of the oven.
@anachronistique The other potential problem, if you can call it that, is that your house will smell like garlic for like two days. Personally, I view it as a bonus.
@spanglepants "How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than Ten Seconds": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c
@purefog :-O A-mazin. Now I need two bowls that fit together.
@Leon Tchotchke Any real home smells like garlic and onions sauteed in olive oil.
@anachronistique with a note of baking bread and lavender oil. At least, that's how my house smells most of the time and it is fantastic.
@spanglepants Estate sales are a good source. I found that my copper bowl fits adequately with one of my stainless bowls to do the trick. It really works, too.
@purefog I tried to do that trick a few weeks ago and when I initially smashed the garlic it turned out that it was all dried out and moldy inside and a huge cloud of black mold went all over and I've been too terrified to try since. Obviously these two things are unrelated, but there you go.
@Leon Tchotchke That is extremely traumatizing, I don't blame you. Bad garlic is so upsetting.
@Leon Tchotchke If you want to use fresh garlic for your roast garlicstravaganza, you can just slice the bottom of an entire head (no peeling necessary). When you're done roasting, just pull off the skin from the top—it will all stick together, and you're left with an archipelago of garlic cloves in a beautiful sea of garlicky olive oil. This is very easy to eat all in one sitting, though—warning—the aroma of roasted garlic will come out of your pores for a day and a half.
@miss buenos aires Roasted garlic smells great; I see no problem with that.
@Verity I know, right? That is why I laugh at my husband when he makes it sound like a bad thing.
102. Just do whatever, it'll be fine.
Those are mostly pretty meh, though I wish I had known #98 yesterday. #92 is still the best way I've found to dice an onion. Use a sharp, skinny knife; and the horizontal cut parallel to the cutting board is not for the drunk, inattentive or faint of heart.
"After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor."
"60. Don't go to the store with a shopping list. Go to the store, see what ingredients look good and then make your list."
Cool tip brah. I'll ditch my list and ensure I only get the tampons, mustard, olives, wine, rice vinegar, taco shells, flour, cottage cheese, frozen spinach, half and half, dental floss, Diet Coke, sweet vermouth, canola oil, cumin, eggs, and Nerds Ropes that look good and are at their peak of freshness.
@Exene You can do something genius with those items, I'm sure.
@Exene Yeah, this is a terrible suggestion. Writing down what recipes I'm going to make and what ingredients I need for said recipes ensures that I will actually be able to cook meals instead of staring at the can of chestnut puree in the cupboard and trying to decide if I can make dinner with it. It's not like I don't allow for flexibility, like if asparagus is on sale.
@figwiggin That 'tip' only works if you're a never-from-a-recipe cook. And seeing how these were aimed at your average home cook? Not so useful there, Alex.
AND it doesn't take into account that most shoppers aren't, you know, just popping by the farmer's market on the way to the local butcher. Sure, if that's you, I can TOTALLY see picking up what looks amazing/in season/just cut. However at the average MegaGrocer where average people shop, quality is going to be the same-ish, regardless. Sales are what's going to drive shopping lists.
@Exene Man, I need a list or I forget what I need and wind up not buying enough! I can't just go into the store and be like, "Oh, this looks good, and this looks good, I know exactly what I make with this"
@Exene Yeah, that method always ends with me getting baked, going to the store and buying crap like ground beef, pineapple and frozen pizzas or something. Also, I feel like it's not too hard to know what vegetables are in season at a given time and just plan to buy that anyway?
Oh good lord. If my mother in law ever reads tip 99 ("if you think you have added enough salt, double it."), I will never be able to eat at her house again.
@spanglepants Same with my grandpa. That man salts his fast food.
@ms. alex Gahhhh my dad does that. He salts McDonalds french fries. WITH MORE THAN ONE PACKET. I do not know how he is still alive, and not shriveled into a tiny raisin. So gross.
@spanglepants Yeah, I thought this was a terrible tip for the "average" cook. Most people seem to have the opposite problem.
@bowtiesarecool mcdonalds french fries are perfection i do not comprehend why anybody would see the need to change them
Also, they overlooked the #1 greatest cooking tip ever, the Gordon Ramsay scrambled egg:
I saw this on the 'Pin not too long ago and will never EVER go back to the old scrambled egg paradigm. I showed my boyfriend, and a week later, he sat me down, looked into my eyes, and was like, "Thank you."
(Hairpin 4ever. Source of best tips.)
@Exene He used the word "sexy" to describe how the chives affected the eggs. That is all.
@Exene I like Alton Brown's method...which I think it basically the same idea, but for people who don't want a lot of other stuff in their scrambled eggs. Low heat, constant stirring. As soon as the eggs start to curdle: high heat, constant stirring, get it on the plate while it's still a little runny.
I really dig that vegetable roasting tip...but most of these kinda suck.
I've posted this before, but that was back when the 'Pin had about six commenters, so it'll be new to many. Lining a rectangular roasting pan with foil without tearing it when you push it down into the corners: First, invert the pan on the counter, then apply the foil to the OUTSIDE of the pan. Remove foil, flip pan, drop pre-shaped foil into pan, adjust. Vwah-lah. (Free bonus tip: Save butter wrapping wax-paper in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. When you need to grease a pan, take one out, apply it to pan. See? Cooking tipz is E-Z.)
@purefog You just blew my damn mind.
@chevyvan That's so funny; the last time I posted that the first response I got was "Mind: blown." Kinda the same reaction I had when I came upon the tip myself for the first time.
Anybody reading this: how do you grill? Like, seriously. I've never done it before, my stepdad is (stereotypically) The Grill Dude at my parents' house and it's just something I never learned. But we have a tiny grill, and I would like to grill everything this summer because grilled food is delicious! But I just stand there, staring at it and wondering, "How." (We also have a smoker that I bought from a thrift store like a year ago and have yet to use, so if someone wants to teach me how to use that too, that's bonus points. And you can come to my house and we can smoke and grill 'til we can't smoke and grill no mo'.)
@figwiggin I am buying a Weber (charcoal) grill this weekend and I am excited. I don't really know any special tricks, but I've done it before and it's not that big a deal. Apply lighter fluid to the charcoal and light a match. Cover until it gets real hot. Start easy: burgers, hot dogs, or bratwurst that has been boiled in beer and onions. You can't really mess those things up: hard to under-cook a burger, and the brats are already cooked. You just put them on top of the grill until they're browned on the outside (and leave burgers on a little longer if you like them more well-done). Don't poke holes in them while they're cooking. Cover, but check pretty frequently. Save the ribs and steaks for later...
@chevyvan Oh, and I should add that your stepdad would probably love nothing more than you asking for grilling advice. Dudes love that shit.
@chevyvan. You can generally skip the lighter fluid if you use a chimney starter, found at most hardware/home stores for about $12: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/chimney.html
@meaux Yes, my boyfriend was telling me about those!
@figwiggin Watch any show on Food Network June and August. They will. not. shut. up. about. grilling. (as a non-patio-having apartment dweller, I just watch pathetically whimpering as Bobby Flay whips around three very high-end grilling units on a massive roofdeck on Boy Meets Grill. Someday...)
One of my faves: To dislodge the pit from a halved avocado; gently but firmly chop into the exposed pit until the blade is stuck and then just turn the knife as you hold the avocado still, it's very satisfying how easy and cleanly that darn slippery pit pops out. Works best if you use a knife with some weight to it, like a chef's knife. Also, I've recently started truing my knives every other day with a steel, which I used to think was only for dorks, but have to admit that knife maintenance has made my life much much much easier, and safer.
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