81 Ways to Be a Better Chef
Whether you have trouble boiling water or are a foodie who loves spending time behind the stove, these tips and tricks will make cooks of all levels better at their game. Here are a few dozen of our faves.
[Photo: Charles Masters]
47. Fresh spears
Store fresh asparagus spears in the fridge, standing in a bit of water. When you’re ready to cook them, don’t use a knife to trim the ends. Instead, grab the base of the stem and snap it off. The stem will naturally break right above the point where the flesh of the plant becomes too tough to eat.
48. Sandwich toppers
For faster caramelized onions or mushrooms, nuke diced chunks of either veggie to help them soften and then finish them off in the skillet.
49. Avoid bitterness
Never chop onions in a food processor or run your knife over them many times. Overcutting leads to bitterness.
50. Sprinke sea salt
Sprinkle vegetables with a bit of sea salt before grilling. The salt draws out moisture and helpsthem to caramelize.
51. Slice right
Cutting onions lengthwise, with the grain of the plant, ensures the slices hold up better during cooking. Slice an onion crosswise, with the grain, and it will break down more while cooking.
52. Tater tricks
To kick-start a baked potato, prick it a few times with a fork, nuke for three to four minutes, and then move to a 425° oven for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.
53. Guac basics
To store half an avocado without it turning brown, refrigerate flesh side down in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice.
54. DIY peppers
Rather than sautéing peppers or roasting them in the oven, use a hand torch to blacken them. It’s a quick and easy way to add texture and flavor to the skins.
55. Herb overload?
Freeze the excess. Chop them up, put in an ice-cube tray, and top with a bit of olive oil or chicken broth. Toss the frozen herb cubes into dishes for a burst of fresh flavor.
56. Stock up on kale
You can bake it with a mist of olive oil and sea salt when that salty craving hits, throw it in your morning blueberry smoothie for a “first-thing” antioxidant punch, swap it for cabbage in your favorite slaw, or just shred a bunch to add some healthy crunch to your salads.
57. Rip, don’t cut
Remove the tough stems on lettuce, chard, and greens by simply ripping the leaves off the stem instead of slicing.
58. Roasting potatoes?
Try parboiling them first to cut the cooking time in half. Just boil them until they start to soften, drain, toss with a bit of olive oil and herbs, and finish off under the broiler.
59. Fresh again
Bring the crunch back to old carrots, celery, or radishes by soaking them in a bowl of ice water with a slice of raw potato.