RECIPES FOR ITALIAN COOKING
HANDY TIPS FOR THE KITCHEN
You can buy frozen chopped onion or green peppers for a quick recipe shortcut, or since
they freeze so well, chop a whole bunch at once and freeze them in single servings.
When making many meatballs a fast and simple way is to shape the meat mixture into a log and cut off slices. The slices roll easily into balls. Another option is to pat the meat into a square and cut it into cubes which again easily roll into meatballs of uniform size.
Stop tomato stains on your Tupperware by using with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces.
Strawberries will stay fresher when kept in a colander in the refrigerator. Don't wash until just before using.
Freeze ripe bananas for later use. First peel, and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer bags.
Corn on the cob will be simple to shuck if you wash them with cold water, place in a plastic bag and freeze for an hour or so before shucking.
Freeze lemon peel. Use when a recipe calls for fresh lemon rind.
Whole lemons will yield much more juice if stored in a tightly sealed jar of water in the refrigerator.
Dissolve 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in a little bit of water and beat it into whipping cream to keep it from turning watery.
Grind up or dice leftover roast beef, stew meat, etc. Add to scrambled eggs along with cubed leftover potatoes for an easy breakfast.
Make your own "instant" oatmeal by running regular oatmeal in a blender. Blending makes the oatmeal the same as "instant."
For great baking results, keep an oven thermometer in the oven and use it. Oven temperatures regularly vary up to 75 degrees, so this can be a crucial factor.
For a low fat/low calorie dessert, make sandwiches out of graham crackers and non or low fat frozen yogurt. Prepare a platter in advance, hide them in the freezer and surprise the family ... they'll never know it's healthy!
Dip a new broom in hot salt water before using. This will toughen the bristles and make it last longer.
Create your own colored sugar by placing granulated sugar in a plastic bag. Add a few drops of your favorite food coloring and shake to blend. Pour out into a plate and let dry, then use.
Use greased muffin tins as molds when baking stuffed peppers.
When baking and you need to "cut in" the butter, an easy way is to keep the sticks of butter in the freezer. When needed, use a cheese grater to grate the butter into fine pieces.
Try using raw spaghetti instead of toothpicks when securing stuffed chicken breasts and meats. It works great and it's edible!
To get snowy white potatoes, add a teaspoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice to the boiling water.
Making noodles is easy by adding an egg to a package of pie crust mix. Mix; roll out, cut, and let dry.
For a different flavor and less fat, use chicken stock instead of butter or milk when whipping up mashed potatoes.
Keep a small plastic bag in your can of vegetable shortening. When it comes time to grease a pan, just slip your hand in the bag, scoop out what you need and spread it on the pan.
Fresh ginger will last longer by storing it in a pot of sand.
When making potato salad, add the dressing to warm potatoes for the best flavor. Once cooled, the potatoes will not absorb the dressing as well.
Dried out coconut can be revitalized by sprinkling with milk and letting it stand for about ten minutes.
Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice inside your Jack O'Lantern to give the air a spice aroma!
Sprinkling French toast with sesame seeds prior to cooking provides a crunchy taste.
Don't have a roasting pan? Make a rack out of vegetables like celery, carrots and onion and place your chicken, turkey or roast on top.
The excess fat drips away from the meat and your pan drippings will be more flavorful.
Slide a strand of unwaxed dental floss--one end wrapped around the forefingers of each hand--under fresh cookies to unstick them from a cookie sheet. Floss also makes a clean cut through a cake for layering. No more crumbly edges!
For extra smooth, well-mixed oil and vinegar salad dressing: Combine all ingredients in a screw top jar, add an ice cube and shake - then discard what's left of the ice cube.*
Use a 1-1/2 inch natural bristle paintbrush dipped in melted margarine or oil to grease muffin tins, cookie sheets or cake and bread pans. It's much faster than using a skimpy pastry brush.
If you put onions in the freezer 15 minutes before you chop them, you'll reduce the spray of vaporized onion oils - which means your eyes won't tear when you cut the onions.
To prevent cream whipped ahead of time from separating, add one quarter teaspoon of gelatin to each cup of cream during whipping.
A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before the pan scorches or burns.
When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won't stick to your knife or cutting board.
If your cake recipe calls for nuts, heat them first in the oven, then dust with flour before adding to the batter to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pan.
Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won't boil over if you rub the inside of the pot with vegetable oil.
Brown gravy in a hurry with a bit of instant coffee straight from the jar... no bitter taste, either.
To hasten the cooking of foods in a double boiler, add salt to the water in the outer boiler.
No "curly" bacon for breakfast when you dip it into cold water before frying.
A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove every strand of corn silk.
Fresh eggs' shells are rough and chalky; old eggs are smooth and shiny.
When working with dough, don't flour your hands; coat them with olive oil to prevent sticking.
Use a gentle touch when shaping ground beef patties. Overhandling will result in a firm, compact texture after cooking. Don't press or flatten with spatula during cooking.
Never heat pesto sauce - the basil will turn black and taste bitter.
Butter pie pastry scraps: sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake like cookies.
When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before cutting. If that doesn't do the trick, try applying a bit of cooking spray to the edge.
Rescue stale or soggy chips and crackers: Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the chips or crackers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then seal in a plastic bag or container.
The best way to store fresh celery is to wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator--it will keep for weeks.
Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get before squeezing.
A Perfect Pastry Crust? In your favorite recipe, substitute a 4:1 ratio of lard / butter.
To make your own corn meal mix: combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for up to 6 months.
It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry -- sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.
Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds and the skins slip right off.
To slice meat into thin strips, as for Chinese dishes - partially freeze and it will slice easily.
A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast - the bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast quicker.
For a juicer hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).
To keep cauliflower white while cooking - add a little milk to the water.
Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.
Buy mushrooms before they "open." When stems and caps are attached snugly, mushrooms are truly fresh.
Lettuce keeps better if you store in refrigerator without washing first so that the leaves are dry. Wash the day you are going to use.
Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads. Use wooden, glass or china.
Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.
To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.
If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a no-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
Add a little lemon and lime to tuna to add zest and flavor to tuna sandwiches.
Use cucumbers soaked in vinegar and pepper in sandwich instead of tomatoes.
Use mustard instead of mayo to cut the fat and add a tang.
Instead of the water your recipe calls for, try juices, bouillon, or water you've cooked vegetables in.
Instead of milk, try buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. It can add a whole new flavor and improve nutrition.
Steak Sauce With A Kick: Deglaze your frying pan (after searing your New York steaks) with brandy. Add two tablespoons of butter, a little white wine and a splash of Grand Marnier. Serve over steaks - you'll never use steak sauce again.&
When browning ground meat, brown several pounds and drain. Divide evenly in freezer containers and freeze. Unthaw in microwave for quick fixing next time.
Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so! Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle in partnership with a friend and split the contents. You'll each benefit from fresh spices.
Sunlight doesn't ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.
Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits produce during ripening.
Marshmallows won't dry out when frozen.
Poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them. The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.
For fluffier, whiter rice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of water. To add extra flavor and nutrition to rice, cook it in liquid reserved from cooking vegetables.
Cheese won't harden if you butter the exposed edges before storing.
Sausage patties rolled in flour before frying won't crack open during cooking.
Two drops of yellow food coloring added to boiling noodles will make them look homemade.
When separating eggs, break them into a funnel. The whites will go through leaving the yolk intact in the funnel.
Fresh fish freeze well in a milk carton filled with water.
Make your own celery flakes. Just cut and wash the leaves from the celery stalks; place them in the oven on low heat or in the hot sun until thoroughly dry. Crumble and store in an air-tight container.
When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness. Check to see that the fruit is heavy in weight and that the spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.
When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette down the side of the bowl, not directly on the greens, for a more evenly dressed salad.
For the perfect boiled egg, cover eggs with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 8-9 minutes.
Drain the water and place the eggs in ice water to cool to stop the cooking process.
When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.
When cooking any kind of strawberry dessert, add a splash of aged Balsamic vinegar to the recipe to enhance the flavor of the strawberries.
For fresh flavor in orange juice add the juice of one lemon.
Tenderize pot roast or stewing meat by using two cups of hot tea as a cooking liquid.
When making roux for a recipe, make extra and keep in the refrigerator for future use.
Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help even the meat so it cooks evenly.
To remove egg shells from a batter, use the remaining shell to attract the piece.
Chilled cookie dough cooks better than room temperature dough.
If an egg is accidentally dropped on the floor, sprinkle it heavily with salt for easy clean up.
For Safety's sake: Clams, mussels and oysters should not be eaten if their shells remain closed after cooking.
Fresh seafood should be eaten within three days of purchase.
Check the accuracy of your meat thermometer by submerging several inches of the wand into boiling water. It should register 212F.
Never waste money on "cooking" sherry. It's salted. Always buy the wines you cook with as carefully as you buy the wines you drink.
Wine corks contain tannin. Drop one into a pot of stew to tenderize the meat.
Always start with cold tap water when cooking. It has fewer mineral deposits than hot water.
A solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 quart warm water will remove most "off" odors from plastic storage containers. Simply give them a thorough dip in the soda solution, rinse with fresh water, and dry.
Save all kinds of leftover bread, bagels, baguettes, sandwich loaves, rolls, crackers, biscuits, and buzz to very fine crumbs in the food processor. Freeze in self-sealing plastic bags and use for stuffing and toppings.
To keep milk past it's expiration date add salt. A pinch of salt in a gallon will do it. The salt slows the rate of bacteria growth.
When broiling at home (i.e. using an oven that has a broil setting), be sure to leave the door open a little bit, otherwise your oven will contain too much heat and your food will overcook.
To hull strawberries, use a sturdy plastic straw. Push it up through the bottom of the strawberry and through the top. It does a great job quickly and neatly. The berries look excellent if you want to leave them whole.
At your next party, chill your canned and bottled beverages by putting in top load washer and covering with ice. After you have removed all the drinks just spin out the water.
A high quality egg slicer makes easy work of slicing mushrooms for sauces or salads; it will also slice strawberries and peeled kiwi fruits perfectly.
To make deviled eggs with no mess put eggs yolks from hard boiled eggs in a plastic sandwich bag. Add remaining ingredients, close bag and mix. When finished cut small tip off corner of bag and squeeze into hollowed egg white, then simply throw away the bag.
Core apples easily by cutting them in half, then scooping out the core with a melon baller.
Remove cooking odors by simmering a solution of vinegar and water on the stove. The vinegar will absorb the odor.
Make giant ice cubes for the punch bowl by filling muffin tins instead of conventional ice trays. Run hot water on the bottom to loosen when frozen.
A batter made with baking soda should be put into the oven as soon as possible after baking as the leavening actioning starts to take effect immediately upon contact with liquids.
Test baking soda for freshness by pouring 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice over the baking soda. If it doesn't actively bubble, it's too old to be effective.
If you have a recipe that uses just egg whites, you can refrigerate the yolks for later use by storing them, unbroken, in a small bowl, covered with cold water for up to two days.
To tame the heat in hot peppers, remove the seeds (which carry a lot of heat). You can also soak the peppers in sugar water for about an hour to put out even more of the fire (especially helpful when making stuffed peppers). Use 2 cups water to 2 tablespoons sugar.
Save money on chocolate! Shop the after holiday sales (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Halloween, etc.) when seasonal candies are often marked down by 50% or more.
Brought to you as a public service from the ISA!