Chef's Secrets to make life easier in the kitchen

Here are a few of my tips I have learned over the decades of cooking in a professional kitchen. One of the greatest lessons one can learn in the kitchen is how to work organized and efficient. I have spent my career teaching staff and students how to work smarter, not harder. When we owned the restaurant, we wrote that mantra on the walk-in door so we could see it every day as a reminder to be more mindful of our intentions of the day. As I continue to log hours behind the stove, I still learn lessons and I hope I never stop. Cooking is a journey, never a destination. Here are some random thoughts about cooking smarter for you to think about when you are in the kitchen.

  • While cooking cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, avoid odors by adding a slice of bread. It will pour off with the water.

  • Let bread dough rise in a plastic bag, it can be punched down and kneaded without drying out.

  • Egg whites warmed to room temperature before beating will yield greater volume.

  • For the fullest flavors in salad dressings, mix the seasoning with vinegar before adding the oil. Oil coats herbs and traps the flavors.

  • Season Cole slaw, deviled eggs, salad dressings with leftover pickled jalapeno juice.

  • When a small amount of lemon juice is needed, don’t cut the lemon, just pierce with a skewer and squeeze. Refrigerate lemon after finished.

  • Add Maple Syrup to pancake batter for extra flavor.

  • Correct excess amount of salt in cooking with a pinch of sugar. For soups or stews, drop a raw, peeled potato for five minutes and remove.

  • To prevent scratching or damaging pans put paper towels in-between them when storing.

  • To crisp celery, radishes, carrots, and other water-loving vegetables place in a pan of ice water. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

  • To soften cold butter, slice thinly into a warm bowl or if frozen, grate onto plastic wrap.

  • To dispose easily of bacon grease, form a piece of aluminum foil around a cereal bowl and pour the grease in and let cool. Toss the foil when grease is solid.

  • First in, first out. Write the date on everything you put in the freezer so older items can be used first.

  • A slice of lemon or lime in a bottle of green olives in brine will add a fresh citrus flavor.

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