Need some kitchen tips and shortcuts that really work? Want to know a few recipe substitutions to use in a pinch? Over the past few months I have been collecting ideas and came up with this list.
A crumpled ball of foil can be used to polish a stainless steel sink. Scrub the sink with the foil and water and the oxidation comes off. Finish by washing with soapy water.
A sheet of aluminum foil with very hot water and a tablespoon (15 mL) of baking soda cleans silver cutlery in a snap. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the sink. Fill with very hot water and mix in the baking soda. Lay cutlery on the foil without touching each other. Remove and rinse when the tarnish disappears. This is much faster than polishing with paste.
Baking pan substitutions
Note: baking time may need adjustment. Deeper pans may need longer baking time.
A 10-inch x 3 1/2-inch (25 cm x 9 cm) Bundt pan = two 8-inch x 2-inch (20 cm x 5 cm) rounds
A standard 12-cup muffin tin = one 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch (21.5 cm x 11.5 cm) loaf or one 9-inch x 1 1/2-inch (23 cm x 4 cm) round or one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan
One 10-inch x 2-inch (25 cm x 5 cm) round = one 9-inch (23 cm) square pan
One 9-inch x 2-inch (23 cm x 5 cm) round = two 8-inch x 1 1/2-inch (20 cm x 4 cm) rounds or one 10-inch x 15-inch (25 cm x 38 cm) jelly roll or one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan
Make your own by adding one tablespoon (15 mL) of molasses to one cup (250 mL) of white sugar. Use an electric mixer on low speed or a food processor to incorporate. Adjust the shade of the sugar by adding more or less molasses.
Make light brown sugar by mixing half dark brown sugar with half white sugar. Using dark brown when the recipe calls for light brown sugar will give too much molasses flavour.
Soften brown sugar by placing in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with several layers of damp paper towel. Microwave for 45 seconds on medium-low heat. Break up lumps with a fork. Flip and repeat as many times as necessary.
Clarify a stock
The easiest way to produce a crystal clear chicken or beef stock is to first freeze it. Then place the block of frozen stock in a fine sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth. Place over a bowl and thaw in the refrigerator. A gelatinous blob will remain after all the liquid has melted into the bowl. This blob will catch all the impurities and discard it.
Shredded coconut is dry? Lay it on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 F (175 C) oven for added flavour. Use to garnish iced cakes or in baking.
Select a can of coconut milk by shaking it. You do not want one with a lot of watery liquid. Choose one that is more solid.
You don’t have a double boiler and need one. Place a metal or glass mixing bowl over a saucepan containing water. Heat to a gentle simmer. Use the bowl as the upper pot.
Use a cut corner from an envelope as a funnel to fill salt and pepper shakers. Snip the tip so it fits the shaker opening.
A cut corner of envelope is also a handy page marker for a cookbook.
For a cake flour substitute place two level tablespoons (30 mL) of cornstarch in a one-cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour. Sift or whisk to blend evenly.
Self-rising flour can be made by placing one and a half teaspoons (8 mL) of baking powder and a half teaspoon (3 mL) of salt in a one-cup (250 mL) dry measure. Fill with all purpose flour. Whisk to blend evenly.
You need softened butter and all the butter is cold and hard? Grate it and it will quickly soften.
Mozzarella is easier to grate if it is frozen first.
Use a fine grater rather than painstakingly mincing garlic and ginger. Grate it directly into the salad or dish.
How many cups in a pound (450 g)
All purpose flour = 4 cups (1 L)
Cake flour = 4 3/4 cups (1100 mL)
Granulated sugar = 2 1/4 cups (530 mL)
Icing sugar = 3 1/2 cups (820 mL)
Honey = 1 1/3 cups (315 mL)
Cheese = 4 cups grated or shredded (1L)
Potatoes = 2 1/2 cups cooked or 3-4 potatoes (625 mL)
Dried navy beans = 2 1/3 cups uncooked, 8 cooked (550 mL)
Dried kidney beans = 2 2/3 cups uncooked, 7 cooked (630 mL)
Lentils = 2 1/3 cups uncooked, 8 cooked (550 mL)
Corn meal = 3 cups (750 mL)
Rice = 2 1/8 cups (50 mL)
Jar with lid
Great for mixing up cornstarch or flour with cold water to use as a sauce or gravy thickener.
Measure all ingredients for salad dressing into jar and shake to mix.
An empty and clean large plastic ketchup bottle works well as a pancake dispenser. If you don’t use all the batter at one time it can be stored in the same container.
Lemons and citrus
Before squeezing warm the lemons or oranges to room temperature and roll under your palm on the countertop. If necessary, microwave the fruit for 10 seconds before juicing. Warming the fruit and breaking the inner membranes will bring out more juice from the fruit.
Clean your microwave easily by placing a dish of lemon juice in it. Microwave for two to three minutes and it will clean easily.
Freeze extra lemons by cutting in wedges and placing in a sealed freezer bag. Take out as needed.
Take out the extra rack from your oven before preheating. It can be used as a cooling rack on your countertop.
Toast grains like quinoa or barley in a dry pan before cooking to bring out their nutty flavour.
Toast whole or ground spices in a dry pan before using to intensify their flavours. This works especially well if spices are old.
Fresh ginger is easily peeled by rubbing with the edge of a spoon.
Use a spoon to get under the shell when peeling hard boiled eggs.
Peel a kiwi fruit by cutting off both ends. Then carefully slide a spoon under the skin and push it around the fruit while holding it in your hand. The kiwi should slide out whole.
Add a raw potato to a soup or stew to absorb excess salt. Discard potato.
Vegan and Allergy Substitutions
For butter use margarine, olive oil or any vegetable oil
Whole eggs in baking can be substituted in chewy baked goods like brownies with one ripe banana for every egg in the recipe. One tablespoon (15 mL) of applesauce can replace an egg in most recipes.
Substitute buttermilk with soymilk soured with a teaspoon (5 mL) of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
Sweetened condensed milk is best substituted with coconut milk.