Kitchen hints

If you do not have time to cool your wine before serving, put two or three frozen grapes in the glass. Use white grapes for white wine and red grapes for red wine.

The following are some helpful cooking and cleaning hints to make life a little easier, food taste better and kitchen work a lot more fun.

Chilling wine — If you do not have time to cool your wine before serving, put two or three frozen grapes in the glass. Use white grapes for white wine and red grapes for red wine. They will look pretty, chill the wine and give you a treat at the bottom of the glass.

Storing herbs — Do not wash herbs until ready to use. If damp, loosely wrap them in a paper towel. Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme may keep up to two weeks refrigerated in plastic bags; fresh bay leaves can be stored longer. You can refrigerate delicate herbs such as basil, parsley, sage and cilantro with their stems or roots in a jar of water and the leaves loosely covered with a plastic bag.

Pots and pans — If there are burn marks on a pan, boil some water and a few ounces of pearl barley in the pan. Let it cool and stand overnight, then clean as usual. The stains should lift out. If you have a pan that you have burned food in, just boil a few cups of water with one cup of vinegar. This will loosen the burnt-on food so you can wipe it away.

Butter — Most professional chefs like to use unsalted butter because it is one way of controlling the salt content of a dish. When baking, many recipes for desserts and other sweet items do not call for salt — hence, using unsalted butter is the only way to be sure that no salt is added to the recipe.

Fruit extracts — Making your own citrus extracts will give you a much purer flavor. You can do this with grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges or tangerines. Peel the fruit in strips, discarding the pith. Place the strips in a jar, and cover with good-quality vodka. Close tightly, and let it stand at room temperature for two weeks, shaking daily. Discard the peels, replace with fresh peel and let the mixture stand for two more weeks. Remove the peels, and use the flavored vodka in recipes calling for extract. It will keep indefinitely.

Drying citrus peels — Before eating an orange, use a box grater to shred its peel. Put the shredded peel on a paper plate and allow it to dry for a few days. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. You can also do this with lemons, limes, tangerines and grapefruits. Use the dried peel in baking and canning recipes.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 4, August/September 2012.

 

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