Kitchen Hints and Tips
- Use prune puree in place of butter in brownies, cakes, cookies and muffins. Use half the amount of prune puree in place of the butter called for in the recipe. Process 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) of pitted prunes with 6 tablespoons of hot water in a food processor until smooth. Prunes contain vitamin A, iron, potassium and fiber.
- To dot a casserole or pie with butter, use a coarse grater to shred cold butter over the dish.
- To cream cold butter more easily, put it in the microwave on low to medium power for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Fill a measuring cup half full of water and add enough butter to make a cup. Pour off the water and you will have exactly 1/2 cup of butter and no messy cup to wash.
- If a recipe calls for unsalted butter and you have only salted butter, remember that each 8 ounces of salted butter contains about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the salt you add to your recipe by that amount.
- Place softened butter or margarine in a pastry bag fitted with a large rosette tip, then pipe butter roses onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm. These exquisite butter roses can be served right away or frozen and stored in a plastic bag for future use.
- To soften ice cold or frozen butter quickly, grate it coarse and leave it briefly at room temperature. It will be just right for creaming in just a few minutes.
- To make pretty butter rosettes, soften the butter or margarine. Place it in a pastry bag fitted with a large rosette tube; pipe roses onto a small cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.
- When creaming butter with an electric mixer, rinse the beaters under hot water, then dry them thoroughly. This softens the butter more quickly.
- Rinse the pan in cold water before scalding milk, and it will be much easier to clean.
- Add a bit of sugar, without stirring, to milk to prevent it from scorching.
- Mix 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon white vinegar together in a measuring cup or bowl; let sit until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- If cheese dries out, grate it, melt it in a white sauce, and use it on top of vegetables, etc.
- Prevent molds from growing on cheese. Store the cheese in the refrigerator in an airtight container in which you have put a folded-up paper towel that has been saturated with white vinegar. The vinegar provides an acidic atmosphere that the molds don't like.
- Use cottage cheese as a substitute for more expensive ricotta cheese. Cottage cheese can be used in lasagna very successfully.
- Use a potato peeler to slice cheese into strips for salads.
- To keep fresh and mold-free, wrap cheese in a cloth that's been dipped in lightly salted vinegar and wrung out, then add a layer of plastic wrap.
- Put cheese in a small plastic bag with a couple cubes of sugar and keep the bag sealed. The cheese won't grow mold.
- Microwave-melted cheese makes a delicious topping for vegetables, fish, leftovers, and apple pie. Top cooked food with sliced or grated cheese. Cook on HIGH until melted. Watch carefully as the cheese softens in just seconds. For 4 ounces, cook on HIGH for 20 to 30 seconds. For 8 ounces, cook on HIGH for 30 to 45 seconds. Let stand for 3 minutes.
- Brush a little oil on your grater before using and cheese will wash right off.
- Use a potato peeler to slice cheese into strips for salads and garnishes.
- Roquefort or blue cheese will crumble perfectly for salads if kept in the freezer.
- Soften cream cheese by dropping the entire foil-wrapped package briefly into hot water.
- Cottage cheese will keep twice as long if you keep the container upside down in your refrigerator.
- Pour melted paraffin on the cut end of cheeses to keep them from molding or drying out.
- To prevent mold, store cheese in a tightly covered container with some sugar cubes.
- Store cottage cheese upside down in the refrigerator. It will remain fresher longer.
- Brush a little oil on the grater before grating, and cheese will wash off the grater easily.
- Stop cream from curdling when poured over fruits and berries by adding a pinch of baking soda to the cream first.
- Do not beat egg whites for cakes or meringue until ready to use. If allowed to stand, some of the white will return to liquid.
- Beat egg whites in a copper bowl. It will result in more volume, because the copper stabilizes the whites.
- Less fresh egg whites whip higher and hold the air better than new egg whites.
- Keep separated egg whites in a loosely covered container in the freezer as this will allow some of the fluid to evaporate and they will become stiffer when beaten.
- Freeze extra egg whites in ice cube trays and store in airtight plastic bags until you need them.
- To stabilize beaten egg whites (for souffl s, for example), add about 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar for each two egg whites.
- For greater volume when beating egg whites, start with eggs at room temperature. If you forget to take the eggs out of the refrigerator ahead of time, let them stand in a bowl of warm water a short while before using.
- Egg whites can be kept up to 1 year. Add them to a plastic container as you collect them for use in meringues, angel food cake...1 cup equals 7 or 8 egg whites. You can also re-freeze defrosted egg whites.
- When you have saved a lot of egg yolks from previous recipes, use them in place of whole eggs for baking or thickening. Just add 2 yolks for every whole egg.
- To make deviled eggs with no mess, put eggs yolks from hard boiled eggs into a plastic sandwich bag. Put in remaining deviled egg ingredients and close bag and mix. When finished, cut a small tip off corner of bag and squeeze into egg white. When finished, throw bag away. You won't have a messy bowl to clean
- To keep egg yolks fresh for several days, cover them with cold water and store in the refrigerator.
- Freeze egg yolks by stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of honey to every 6 yolks. Freeze in a small container. The yolks can be thawed and used as you would fresh yolks and they will not be sticky.
- When adding egg yolks to a hot mixture, always warm the yolks a bit with some of the hot mixture before pouring them in. If you just add the cold egg yolk to the hot mixture, you will "scramble" the egg and cause the dish to curdle.
- When taking deviled eggs to a picnic, fill them when you get there. Put the hardboiled egg whites in a container and put the filling in a small zip-type bag. When you arrive, snip one of the ends of the bag and squeeze the filling into the egg whites and garnish. No messed-up filling!
- If you are baking a cake and are an egg short, blend in a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise.
- If you should drop an egg, clean up the mess easily by covering it with a light layer of salt and letting it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The mess will wipe up beautifully.
- Eggs will separate most successfully when they are cold.
- For best results you should use Grade AA eggs. Bring them to room temperature before using; however, it's easier to separate eggs when they're cold, so if a recipe calls for separating the whites from the yolks do that first then bring them to room temperature.
- Never buy eggs that haven't been refrigerated because they are potentially hazardous to consume. Reach back in the refrigerator case to select the coldest dozen you can.
- To peel hard boiled eggs easier and quicker, just after steaming or boiling, crack shell and set in cold water immediately. This will allow cold water to permeate between shell and membrane, allowing the shell to be removed quite easily.
- Add a few drops of food color to eggs when hard boiling so that they can be easily detected in the refrigerator.
- When cooking eggs for a crowd, use the basket of your deep fat fryer to hold the eggs while you lower them into the water. After they are cooked, lift the basket of hard-cooked eggs from the water, hold the basket under cold running, water, then cool and peel.
- Poached eggs will have fewer "strings" if you swirl the water in the pan before slipping the egg in.
- A small funnel is handy for separating egg whites from yolks. Open the egg over the funnel and the white will run through and the yolk will remain.
- Fry them or poach them inside a ring made by removing the top and bottom of a tuna can. Spray the ring with nonstick cooking spray first.
- For fluffier omelets, add a pinch of cornstarch before beating.
- Keep yolks centered in eggs by stirring the water while cooking hardboiled eggs.
- Slice a tiny piece of the white from the bottom of deviled eggs before placing them on a serving platter. This will keep them from wobbling on the plate.
- To make quick-diced eggs, take your potato masher and go to work on a boiled egg.
- A great trick for peeling eggs the easy way! When they are finished boiling, turn off the heat and just let them sit in the pan with the lid on for about five minutes. Steam will build up under the shell and they will just fall away.
- You can center the yolks of hard-cooked eggs by stirring gently for 1 minute when the water begins to simmer.
- For baking, it's best to use medium to large eggs. Extra large eggs may cause cakes to fall when cooled.
- Fresh eggs are rough and chalky in appearance. Old eggs are smooth and shiny.
- To determine whether an egg is hardboiled, spin it. If it spins round and round, it is hardboiled. If it wobbles and will not spin, it is raw.
- Pierce the end of an egg with a pin, and it will not break when placed in boiling water.
- A few drops of vinegar will keep poached eggs from running all over the pan.
- Avoid beating eggs directly into any hot mixture — they'll curdle. Either cool the mixture first or add small amounts of the hot mixture to the eggs, beating well between additions. Then slowly stir the egg mixture into the hot mixture.
- To keep poached eggs intact, add enough cider vinegar so that you can just notice the change of water color. Bring the water to a gentle boil and crack each egg into a small flat dish. Gently slide the egg into the boiling water.
With a spoon immediately push the egg white toward the yolk. When the egg is firm, remove with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl with cold water.
- Eggs can be poached well in advance, kept in a container of cool water and simply warmed for 30 seconds in simmering water before serving.
- Eggs beat up fluffier when not too cold. They should be at cool room temperature for best results.
- For smoother scrambled eggs, use a cool buttered pan and cook eggs very slowly. When about done, stir in 1 tablespoon of evaporated milk or cream per serving.
- If you drop an egg on the floor, generously sprinkle salt over it and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. You can then sweep the dried egg into a dustpan.
- Boil cracked eggs in aluminum foil twisted at both ends.
- To remove shells from hardboiled eggs quickly and smoothly, drain the hot water from the cooked eggs and vigorously shake the pan so that the shells crack from colliding with the sides of the pan. Dump the eggs into a bowl of ice water and cool completely. The shells will slip right off.
- To peel an egg easily, crack the shell all over. Insert a small wet spoon just between the shell membrane and the egg, then turn with the egg. Keep the spoon wet while you go.
- A tablespoon of vinegar add to water while poaching eggs lets whites set without spreading.
- If an eggshell cracks when you boil the egg, toss a teaspoon of salt or vinegar into the water. It will keep the white from seeping out.
- When they are stuck to the carton, just wet the box and the eggs can be easily removed without cracking the shells.
- Beaten egg whites will be more stable if you add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar to each cup of egg whites (7 or 8 eggs).
- To separate white from yolks, open the egg over a small funnel. The white will run through and the yolk will remain.
- To oven-bake, wrap eggs individual in foil. Place on rack of a cold oven. Set at 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes for soft-cooked, 30 minutes for hard-cooked. Immerse eggs in cold water for several minutes. The shells will come off easily.
- If you add sugar too soon when beating egg white, or add too much at a time, the mixture won't thicken. Whip in a little sugar toward the end of beating — when whites stand in soft peaks. Add sugar a little at a time, whipping constantly.
- Hard-boil eggs and marinate them for 3 days in pickle juice.
- Stray pieces of eggshell can be picked out easily by scooping them out with an empty shell half.
- Sprinkle a pinch of flour into hot fat to prevent frying eggs from popping.
- To test for freshness, put the egg in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks, it's fresh. If it's fairly fresh, it will bob up on one end. If it's
stale, it will float.
- A hard-cooked egg will spin like a top. An uncooked egg will not spin.
- If an egg sticks to the carton, wet the carton and the egg will slip out easily.
- By adding white vinegar to the water, you can boil cracked eggs without having the white run out of the shell.
- When separating yolks from whites, and a speck of egg yolk falls into the white, lift it out with an empty eggshell half.
- Crack eggs into a small funnel. The yolk stays unbroken in the funnel while the white runs into the bowl below.
- To store unbroken egg yolks for up to 4 days, cover them with cold water and refrigerate them inside a jar.
- Use leftover shrimp, tomatoes, green vegetables, red meat, and cheese in omelets or scrambled eggs.
- For a more tender omelet, add a small amount of water instead of milk or cream.
- For fluffier omelets, add a pinch of cornstarch before beating.
- For a tender omelet, use a small amount of water instead of milk or cream. The water will retard the coagulation of the egg yolk where milk or cream tends to harden them.
- Make fake sour cream, with fewer calories, by running cottage cheese through the blender, then flavor it with chives, extracts, etc.
- When using yogurt in a heated sauce, first whisk 2 teaspoons flour into each cup of yogurt to keep it from separating.
- Make your own flavored yogurt by buying it plain, then adding crushed, drained fruit.
- Add any flavor dry gelatin powder to plain yogurt to flavor it.
- Whipped cream made ahead of time will not separate if you add 1/4 teaspoon of dissolved unflavored gelatine per each cup of cream.
- For low-cal "whipped cream," whip an egg white until it's stiff, then whip in a ripe banana, one slice at a time. Add a dash of vanilla extract for a truly thick and delicious topping.
- Chill the bowl in the freezer before whipping cream.
- Leftover whipped cream will retain its lightness, height and texture a day or more (refrigerated) if when whipping you add 1 teaspoon light corn syrup to each 1/2 pint cream. This adds almost no perceptible sweetness.
- A pinch of salt added to the cream before whipping strengthens the fat cells and makes them more elastic. This helps the cream stiffen much more quickly.