Monday, October 29, 2012

Helpful Hints - Food Secrets

More helpful hints from Joey Green's Kitchen Magic.  This time the topic is Food Secrets.  I found most of them very interesting and picked out some to share. But there are tons more in the book that I am not putting here. 

Aparagus - To revitalize wilted asparagus, cut an inch off the bottom of the stalk. Mix one teaspoon ReaLemon juice and two quarts of cool water. Soak the asparagus in the solution for 30 - 60 minutes.

Bacon - Before frying bacon, soak the strips in cold water for a few minutes. The bacon will curl less in the frying pan.
   Here's another bacon idea that was not in the book: cook bacon in a waffle iron and half way through cooking process, open waffle iron and reposition bacon strips to ensure uniform cooking. Close the iron and finish cooking.  Supposedly, this eliminates the problem of grease spattering all over the place.  Then cook your waffles next in the same iron, and it gives them great bacon flavoring.

Baking Powder - To make baking powder, mix 2 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and one teaspoon of Corn Starch.

Barbecue Sauce - For a fast and tasty BBQ sauce, mix Coke with Ketchup.

Berries - Chill berries in the fridge before washing them off to prevent the berries from absorbing too much water and becoming soggy.

Broccoli - Cooking a stalk of celery with broccoli prevents the broccoli from emitting strong odor.

Brown Sugar - To revived hardened Brown Sugar, empty the sugar into a plastic container and put a slice or two of white bread on top of it, put the lid on and let it sit for a couple weeks or so. The bread absorbs the moisture from the brown sugar and it will soften again.

Cabbage - To reduce the odor of cooking cabbage, add 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda to the cooking water.

German Chocolate Cake - Originated in 1957 in Texas... the recipe, that is.  The bittersweet chocolate was developed by Samuel German, in Massachusetts, in 1852. It was named German's Sweet Chocolate in honor of Samuel German, an Englishman.  It has no connection to Germany. (There are a lot of these "Strange Facts" in the book).

Cauliflower - To keep it white when cooking, add one teaspoon of sugar to the cooking water.

Cheese - To flavor and refresh a block of cheese, saturate a cloth with Wine Vinegar, wrap it around the cheese and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Cookies - To soften cookies that have lost their moistness, place the cookies and a slice of bread into a Ziploc bag. Seal it and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the cookies will be moist again.

Cranberries - Cook cranberries until they pop and then remove from the heat source. Any additional cooking makes them bitter.

Cupcakes - To frost cupcakes with ease, two minutes before removing the pan of cupcakes from the oven, place a Jet-Puffed marshmallow on top of each cupcake. The heat melts the marshmallows, creating a creamy frosting.

Eggs - To keep the yolk in the center of the egg as you are hard boiling it (like for deviled eggs), stir the eggs while they are boiling. The movement will keep the yolk centered.

Eggs - To make fluffy scrambled eggs, mix in one  teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of water for every two eggs when beating the eggs.

Egg Substitute - If you run out of eggs while baking a cake, substitute one teaspoon Baking Soda and one teaspoon White Vinegar for each egg.

French Fries - Place the cut potatoes into a bowl of ice water and refrigerate for one hour. Dry thoroughly on paper towels and fry in oil for a few minutes. Remove from the oil and carefully dry them again. Sprinkle with flour and fry again until golden brown.

Ginger - To preserve diced, fresh ginger in the fridge, peel and chop the ginger, place in a jar, top off with Vodka and seal the lid securely. It will last for a year in the fridge.

Honey - If you substitute honey for the sugar in a recipe, reduce the liquid by half. For baked goods, add 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda for each cup of honey used and reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.

Lemons and Limes - The ones with the smoothest skin and the smallest points at each end contain more juice and provide the best flavor.

Mushrooms - To prevent mushrooms from shriveling and turning brown while sauteeing, add one teaspoon realLemon Juice for each quarter pound of butter. The juice will help keep the mushrooms white and firm.

Oil - To reduce the amount of cooking oil absorbed by fried food, add one tablespoon white vinegar to the frying pan before heating the oil.

Onion - If you intend to only use half an onion, after cutting the onion in half, rub the open face of the leftover half with butter to preserve it longer.

Oranges - If you cover an unpeeled orange with boiling hot water for five minutes, when you peel the orange no white fibers from the peel with adhere to the pulp.

Pancakes - To make them fluffier, substitute the liquid called for in your recipe with with club soda.  (note: I have done this and it does make a better, lighter, fluffier pancake).

Peaches - To get them to ripen faster, put them in a cardboard box and cover the fruit with a few sheets of newspaper then seal the box closed. The newsprint keeps the ethylene gas emitted by the peaches close to the fruit causing the peaches to ripen.  Do the same thing for Pears.

Pepper - To prevent the holes in your pepper shaker from getting clogged, add a few whole black peppercorns to the shaker. They absorb the excess moisture and give the crushed pepper a fresher flavor.

Pie Crust - To make a flakier crust, substitute sour cream for the liquid in the recipe.

Pineapple - Never use fresh pineapple in your gelatin desserts.  The enzyme bromelain breaks down the protein in the gelatin preventing it from setting. You can used canned pineapple, which, since it has been cooked, the enzyme has been deactivated.

Roast - When cooking a roast, do not add salt until the meat is nearly cooked. Salt extracts the juices from the meat, making it moist and tasty, but if you salt the roast too early, the heat from the oven will dry out those juices.... making it dry.

Salad - To prevent it from getting soggy in the salad serving bowl, place a saucer upside down in the bottom of the bowl before you put the salad in. Excess water or dressing drains down the sides of the saucer and your salad isn't sitting in it!

Sausage links - To prevent them from curling up in the frying pan, link a few together with toothpicks and when you're done cooking them, take the toothpicks back out before serving.

Sweet Potato - To easily peel it, boil it and then submerge it in cold water. Give the potato a slight twist of your hand and the skin falls right off.

Syrup - Mix one cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add one teaspoon of Imitation Maple flavoring.

Tomatoes - To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a brown paper bag, close the bag and leave it in a dark place at room temperature for several days.  (Note: I do this every year at the end of garden season and it works great!). If you want them to ripen faster, stick an apple or banana in there with the tomatoes. The ethylene gas from the apple or banana with hasten the ripening.

Turkey - To prevent the white meat from drying out when roasting a turkey, place the bird breast side down in the pan and turn it breast side up for the last hour of roasting only.

Vegetables - To help veggies retain their vitamin content and make green veggies stay green, add a little ReaLemon juice to the cooking liquid to make the solution slightly acidic.

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