Many of these kitchen tricks have become habit. If for some reason I can’t use the trick, I will try to go without and inevitably (again) realize how AWESOME these little tricks are.

9 Kitchen tricks I can’t live without

1. Use a non-skid liner or wet paper towel under cutting board to keep it from sliding around

I keep a rectangle of non-skid liner (used for cabinets and drawers) in my main tool drawer because I use it any time I use a cutting board. It keeps the cutting board from sliding around. It also makes you feel more secure when you’re using a knife, thus making chopping/slicing feel more natural. Don’t have a non-skid liner? Wet a paper towel or thin kitchen towel, gently squeeze it out, and lay that it out instead. (If your cutting board is uneven or still seems to wobble or move, try two pieces of paper towel.)

I use one large rectangle of liner. Unfold it for large cutting boards or fold it in half for smaller ones.

Kitchen Tricks Non Skid Liner

2. Prep your ingredients (mise en place)

Prepping your ingredients, also known as mise en place (“put into place”), before you start cooking, is one of the best ways to ensure your recipe goes smoothly. It turns cooking into a well oiled machine  and not a panicked rush.

3. Always have a hand towel

I always have a towel on hand. Ideally, loop the hand towel on the front of your apron or even slightly tucked in your pants pocket. I usese it to pick up hot objects or to dry/wipe your hands.I can’t tell you how many extra trips I need to take to the sink to wash my fingertips when I could have just wiped it on the hand towel. It also saves you from having to dig around for pot holders if you need to quickly grab or move a pot or pan.

I recommend using shop towels as kitchen towels so you don’t mind getting them dirty or stained.

4. Always have a bench scraper

Always have a bench scraper on hand. My main tool drawer has about 10 of them in there. (That’s after I threw out the crappy ones.) The plastic ones work just as well, they’re cheap, and they’re handy to push things around or off the cutting board. After chopping up some tomatoes, the bench scraper helps me quickly move them into a mixing bowl. A quick scrape on the cutting board will get rid of the juices and seeds, saving you from having to wash the cutting board for the next thing you chop.

Kitchen Tricks Bench Scraper

5. Use a rolled-up towel to keep a mixing bowl in place

Use a rolled-up towel to keep a mixing bowl from moving around when you’re whisking or using a spatula. This frees up your other hand!

6. Don’t waste time cutting veggies

Or, for that matter, anything shaped remotely like an onion. This dicing trick will save you a couple minutes at least for anything onion-shaped (including tomatoes and cloves of garlic!) and this trick will make slicing bell peppers quick and painless.

Kitchen Trick Cutting an Onion

7. Crank the heat

Don’t be afraid to heat the frying pan to the smoking point. Temporarily disable your fire detector if you have to. They’re just there to judge you anyways. If you’re sauteing or pan searing, you want a hot hot pan. And to that note, dry off your meat/veggies/etc before throwing them in the pan. The moisture brings the pan temperature down and creates steam, preventing you from getting that crispy carmelization you want.

8. Use a mixer for anything that needs to be mashed, broken up, or shredded

I think I used a potato masher once in my life. Once. I never bothered making mashed potatoes until I learned this trick. Throw your cooked potatoes, seasoning, milk, butter, etc into your mixer with the paddle attachment (not the whisk) and paddle your way to creamy mashed potato happiness. (It’s also great for paddling cooked meat into shredded meat, i.e. pulled pork, shredded chicken, etc.)

 9. Make clean brownie/cake slices

If you cut brownie right out of the oven, the top will crack, the middle will ooze out, and your knife will be ridiculously gooey. The first cake cut is easy, then it just makes a mess of frosting. Sound familiar?

Let your brownie/cake/tart/etc cool completely then refrigerate or freeze, if possible, before cutting. Fill a tall narrow container with piping hot water (as hot as you can get), heat the whole knife blade up, quickly wipe excess water or brownie/cake bits off on a towel, and make your cut. Repeat for every cut. (Yes it sounds monotonous, but each cut is clean and because the brownie/cake/tart/etc is cold, it doesn’t crumble or get mushy.) You’ll get a perfect slice every time.

Do you have any tips or kitchen tricks you can’t live without?

9 Kitchen tricks I can’t live without

2 thoughts on “9 Kitchen tricks I can’t live without

  • February 8, 2015 at 7:49 pm
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    This is a great list. I too am a big fan of ‘mise en place’. On my list I also have:
    1. Freeze egg whites if left over from making ice cream, custard, pastry etc.
    2. If not eating a whole loaf on day one or two, freeze slices of bread ready to pop into the toaster.
    3. Freeze par-baked pizza bases / home made rolls for a speedy fresh dough bake.
    4. Cover the mixer with a towel when making buttercream to prevent icing sugar from going everywhere.
    5. To soften butter for cake making, place in a switched off oven with just the light on for about 30-45 minutes, or weigh out the butter you need, chop up and place on a plate, then fill a Pyrex bowl with boiling water, tip out the water and place the empty bowl over the top of the plate for ten minutes.
    6. If bananas are getting too overripe for your taste, peel, slice, wrap in cling film and and freeze. They can then be used to make smoothies (simply blitz with milk with a stick blender) or a quick banana ice cream (blitz in a food processor for about 5 minutes).

    Reply
    • February 9, 2015 at 4:28 am
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      Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I usually end up cutting butter up into small pieces so it will warm up to room temperature faster. We’re in Southern California so It doesn’t have to sit long!

      Reply

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