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101 Tips and Techniques for Cooking like a Chef – 11-20

Have you ever wondered why it is that when you make a meal, following the recipe exactly, you still can’t make it look like the accompanying photograph? The answer is pretty simple. Professional chefs use little tricks to make food more appealing. Luckily anyone can master the tricks of the trade with a little practice.  Here are some that you might want to try tonight.

101 Tips and Techniques for Cooking like a Chef – 11-20

11. Peel garlic easily. Peeling garlic can be frustrating unless you know this little tip that the pros use. Lay a clove flat on a hard surface and then pressing down hard on it with the flat side of a large knife. Once you’ve pressed hard enough you’ll hear a “pop” that tells you the peel has separated. Even with this trick your fingers will undoubtedly smell like garlic. Get rid of that odor by washing them well with salt.

12. Repair cracked eggs. If you have an egg that cracks while boiling, just add a capful of vinegar to the water and watch as the eggshell seals itself. Unfortunately though, if the whites have begun to ooze out this trick won’t work.

13. Make sure the oil is hot before frying foods. Although they’re not the healthiest option, fried foods sure do taste good. The key to perfect frying is to get the oil hot before you put the food in. (Not so hot that it is smoking though – be careful!) If you don’t get the oil hot, your food will absorb too much oil and taste greasy. To test whether the oil is hot enough for frying, throw in a drop of water or even a small piece of what you’re cooking. If it bubbles rapidly then you know it’s ready.

14. Get the right temperature for deep frying.  Does your oil always seem to be the wrong temperature? A simple way to find out if your oil is hot enough is to use a bread cube.  If the bread browns in a minute, the oil is between 350 and 365 degrees, 40 seconds – 365 and 382 degrees, 20 seconds – 382 and 390 degrees. Or, if you have one, you can use a thermometer. Just be sure that it is a metal thermometer designed for deep fryers.

15. A substitution for eggs. Need an egg for a recipe but you’re all out? You can substitute two tablespoons of real mayonnaise for a large egg in any recipe. Be sure not to use whipped salad dressing though unless you want the extra salt that it contains.

16. Interesting uses for apples. You may have heard before that it’s best to keep apples stored separately from other fruits and vegetables because they give off gases that speed up ripening. Well those same gases are actually useful for some things. An apple wedge in the bag will soften clumped brown sugar over night.  It will also keep your potatoes from sprouting.

17. Remove the fat from soups. Remove the fat from homemade soups by tossing in four ice cubes.  The fat will congeal around the ice, which can then be removed. This will cool the soup, so you may need to reheat after completing the process.

18. Serve a perfect punch. When serving punch it is usually left on a buffet table for everyone to help themselves to. So it’s important to keep it cold. However, instead of ice, which will dilute the punch, freeze some of the punch itself beforehand and use that.

19. Stop pre-made sandwiches from going soggy. To prevent lunchtime sandwiches from becoming soggy, spread both pieces of bread to the edges with butter, mustard or mayonnaise. Then wrap the sandwich in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Or is possible, assemble the sandwich just before eating. Just pack the bread and filling separately.

20. Always marinate foods in a glass or ceramic dish. Most marinades contain an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, vinegar or wine that can react with metal and cause off-flavors in your food. To save on cleanup, try marinating your fish or meat in a large plastic bag with a zip closure. Set the bag on a plate or in a shallow bowl and refrigerate, turning the bowl occasionally to distribute the marinade.

Cooking is a great experience when you know how to make the process simpler, and how to get your guests excited about your cooking. Take some time to practice these tricks and you will be extremely pleased with the results of your efforts.

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