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25 Cooking Hacks to Cook Like a Pro

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You don't have to spend years in restaurant kitchens to cook like a chef. With a few effective techniques and tricks in your repertoire (aka... cooking hacks), you'll create better meals, save time and have less cleanup every time you cook.

25 Cooking Hacks:

25 Simple Cooking Hacks
  1. Crisp and refresh chopped vegetables and fresh herbs by keeping them in ice water for one hour. Water loss makes veggies go limp, a phenomenon exacerbated by dry refrigerator air. Turgor pressure, or the pressure of intracellular water in plants, enables water uptake in herbs and veggies and re-crisps them.
  2. Rub your fingers on stainless steel to remove the smell of garlic and onions. Simply rub your dry fingers on a stainless-steel sink or pan lid. Stainless-steel molecules attract the sulfuric compounds that are responsible for the acrid aroma of onions and garlic, pulling them from your fingers on contact.
  3. Degrease soup with ice cubes. Drop a few ice cubes in a pot of soup or stock, wait for the fat to congeal on top and lift it off with a spoon.
  4. Keep guacamole fresh with water. Pour about 1/4 inch of water on top of the guacamole. Cover the container and store it in the fridge. Pour the water off before serving.
  5. Stir Wondra all-purpose flour into soups and sauces near the end of cooking to thicken without lumps. Wondra flour is precooked and ground to a fine powder, so it dissolves on contact with hot liquids.
  6. Use wet fingers to retrieve pieces of eggshell from cracked eggs. The viscosity of egg whites, or albumen, prevents dry fingers from grasping pieces of errant shell. You can also use half a cracked egg shell to scoop out the pieces.
  7. Make foolproof hollandaise sauce in a blender. Blend the yolks, paprika and lemon juice at low speed and drizzle in hot butter. Use low heat to melt the butter.
  8. Cut soft foods with unflavored dental floss. This works with foods like cheese and cake.
  9. Keep herbs fresh in ice cube trays. Chop bunches of fresh herbs, mix them with olive oil and pour into ice cube trays. Slide the trays into a large freezer bag and store the herbs up to six months in the freezer.
  10. Squeeze lemons with tongs. This technique proves useful when you have a cut on your fingers or hands.
  11. Store ice cream in a freezer bag to keep it soft. The freezer bag prevents the ice cream from losing moisture.
  12. Turn a gas grill into a smoker with aluminum foil. Wrap about a half cup of wood chips in a packet made from aluminum foil and slice holes in it. Lay the packet on the grill's gas burners and start cooking when you see smoke.
  13. Use a rasp grater for garlic and ginger. Rasp graters create feathery flakes of garlic and ginger; you'll never inadvertently bite into a hunk of ginger or garlic again.
  14. Scoop ice cream with a hot spoon or scoop. Bring a pot of water to a boil and dip the spoon or scoop in it just before scooping the ice cream. For particularly hard ice cream, use a chef's knife to slice it instead of scooping.
  15. Place expensive foods at the end of the buffet table to make them last longer. Guests will fill their plates with side items and have less room for meats. This is standard procedure at nearly every restaurant and hotel buffet.
  16. Remove fresh corn kernels from the cob with a Bundt pan. Set the cob upright in the hole in the center of the pan and slide the back of a chef's knife down the kernels, which fall into the pan.
  17. Marinate uncooked seafood in milk to eliminate "fishy smell." Trimethylamine, the substance responsible for the characteristic smell of seafood, binds with milk proteins.
  18. Rinse onions to take their edge off. Rinse cut onions whenever you want a milder taste, such as when making uncooked preparations like salad.
  19. Pick and chop fresh herbs at the last minute. Always chop and, if possible, pick herbs just before you need them for the best aroma.
  20. Let braised foods sit overnight to enrich the flavor. This "cold marinade" technique allows the flavors to develop and mesh with each other.
  21. Grill small foods on a cooling rack. Set an oiled cooling rack on the grill and place small foods, such as diced vegetables, on the rack to cook without falling through.
  22. Use a fine-mesh sieve instead of a saute pan to cook delicate seafood, such as scallops and calamari, on the grill. Wear a grill glove or oven mitt to prevent burns when practicing this technique.
  23. Grate brown sugar using a fine grater if it dries out. Stuck with a block of brown sugar? Grate it. Better yet, store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying.
  24. Chill onions in the freezer for 15 minutes to minimize tears. The tear-inducing aromas return full force after 10 minutes at room temperature, giving you just enough time to cut without crying.
  25. Boil nuts in a half-gallon of water and one tablespoon of baking soda to remove their skins. The skins readily slip off the nuts after boiling them for three minutes and rinsing them under cold water.

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