You, people!! Such great tips and techniques! I didn’t doubt you had it in you, but I was blown away by the sheer depth and breadth of the different tips everyone had to offer. I loved, loved, reading all of them – thank you all so much for sharing it with all of us here. I’m collating the highlights below, in case you aren’t into reading all 262 comments.
The winner, Julie, was commenter 174. Julie, can you please email me your full contact info (my email is on the About page), and I will have the America’s Test Kitchen folks send you the book right away.
And now, some of the tips highlighted here. Sorry if I didn’t mention your tip – there were so many great ones and I just tried to get a general gist here.
Freeze butter for pie dough or biscuits and grate it on a hand-grater into the dough directly.
Room temperature for all baking ingredients, except pie, which you want to keep as cold as possible. I go as far as freezing my work-bowl.
Many of you swear by onion goggles, also by your food processor. One reader said if she can’t make it without a food processor, she won’t bother with the recipe.
Freeze stock, leftover wine, pesto, herbs in olive oil, etc in ice cube trays; then move to a bag.
If you take a head of garlic and place it into a metal bowl and put another bowl on top of it so that the rims are together (forming a kind of ball) and you shake this vigorously for a few minutes, you will completely separate AND peel the skins off of the garlic cloves.
If you mince raw garlic too early, the flavor becomes more and more acrid: so don’t chop garlic that you are going to use raw in a recipe too far in advance.
Clean EVERYTHING with baking soda and vinegar.
Pat dry your protein before cooking. Also, brining can do wonders. And finally, when you cook your meat, let it rest a bit before cutting into it.
Many of you said, that it’s essential to read the recipe thoroughly to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
Make your own buttermilk by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk.
Bake cake layers at reduced temperature to prevent doming.
Add vodka to pie dough (thanks, ATK!) and doughnuts.
Don’t rinse those mushrooms – wipe them, instead, with a kitchen towel.
Soak, refrigerate, or freeze onions to reduce the sting. I’ve tried the first two methods, but am worried freezing might change texture.
Bacon: some of you preferred to make it in the oven, while others swore by the stovetop method.
Adding gelatin to meatloaf makes it more moist.
Use dental floss to cut through dough, instead of a knife.
If you can freeze it for later, make a double, triple, or quadruple batch. Smart!
Freeze ginger before grating it, which will be less messy. Plus it keeps forever.
Use a microplane to grate your garlic instead of mincing it.
Save old spice jars to make vinaigrette! [love that tip, i use it all the time.]
Grow green onions just by immersing onion roots in some water.
Puree some white beans into soup to get a creamy texture without the fat and calories of actual cream.
Use cornstarch instead of flour on the meat for a nice crust once browned.
Parchment paper can save you a lot of time in clean up. Also make baking easier.
Don’t be afraid to add heat, acid, spice, salt, or fat to your food as a finishing touch – it will make everything taste better.
The mise en place is your friend.
Place a towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from sliding around.
Roll your citrus before juicing.
Peel ginger using a spoon.
Use an empty squeeze bottle for pancake batter. Also great for making differently-shaped pancakes for kids.
Test the doneness of cakes and quick breads by using a piece of dry spaghetti.
Add a splash of vinegar when hard-boiling eggs. Makes it easier to peel the eggs.
And last but not least — any dish is as good as its ingredients. Well said.