When preparing asparagus, instead of snapping off the entire end of each spear, try removing the thick skin with a peeler. Lay each spear on the table, holding it below the tip, pointing toward you. Peel the bottom portion, working away from you. You'll have tender spears with little waste.
To make peeling your hard-cooked Easter eggs easier, start by tapping the eggs with a spoon or rolling them on the countertop to crack the shells. Then shock the eggs in cold water. This will loosen the membrane and make them easier to peel. The old adage "fresh eggs are for frying and older eggs are for boiling" is actually true. Very fresh egg whites tend to stick to the inner shell and tear. To test eggs' freshness, drop them gently into a bowl of cold water. The freshest ones will immediately sink on their sides, while slightly older ones will tilt or even sit upright at the bottom of the bowl. Eggs that float to the surface are past their prime and should not be eaten.
Hard-cooked eggs will keep for one week in the refrigerator in their shells, but only one day if peeled. Keep peeled eggs in a bowl of ice water for added freshness.
Fresh artichoke is a real treat but takes a little work to prepare. Follow these steps to get to the treat that lies within:
Fill a large bowl with water; add the juice of half a lemon and set aside.
Pull off the tough outer leaves and cut off the stem of each artichoke. Cut off 1" from top; with scissors, cut off 1/2" from the tip of each leaf.
Rub cut surfaces with lemon.
Separate leaves to get to the center of the choke. Pull out the purple leaves, exposing the prickly choke.
With a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the prickly choke. Drop the rest of the artichoke into the bowl of lemon water until ready to use.
It has long been thought that adding salt to dried beans at the beginning of the cooking process will make them tough. However, the latest directions indicate this to be inaccurate. It is now suggested that you salt the water before cooking to give you a slightly more tender cooked product. In addition, the salted beans actually cook a little faster and have a much fuller depth of flavor than those seasoned after cooking.