Kitchen Tips - December 2008

  • To make slicing a crusty loaf of bread easier, cut slices of bread about 3/4 of the way down to the bottom crust before crisping the loaf in the oven. Because the loaf is still intact, it is easy to transfer to a serving basket, and the slices can be torn apart at the table.
  • Hard-as-a-rock brown sugar can be difficult to bring back to its original soft consistency, but grating it on a Microplane grater is a quick, easy way to accomplish this.
  • Speaking of Microplane graters, if it is used upside down, it contains the grated zest or cheese, making it easier to judge the amount and is less messy.
  • If you need to peel more than one clove of garlic, zap them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. Once the cloves cool for a minute or two, it's really easy to slip off the skins.
  • To make cleaning a mesh strainer easier, line the bottom with a paper towel, then pour the liquid onto the paper. Once the liquid filters through, discard the solids along with the towels. This method keeps the strainer fairly clean, plus the stock seems less cloudy.
  • A drugstore razor works great for peeling delicate vegetables like baby carrots because they waste less.
  • If you forget to soften butter for cookie or other baking recipes, simply place the cold butter in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then pulse until it's soft enough to use.

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