Now that know the best way to sharpen your knives (see previous post for the Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener)…here is the best and cheapest way to keep them sharp. Every time you put an unprotected knife in a drawer you run the risk of ruining the edge. It just takes a little bump to bend or roll the delicate edge of a sharp knife, and although honing with a good sharpening steel is something you should be doing, as it will straighten out the blade’s edge, it doesn’t actually sharpen the knife. Over time the knife will start to dull, until one beautiful summer day while you’re futilely attempting to slice a tomato for a BLT, the knife slips off the fruit (yes, the tomato is a fruit…look it up) and lops off your entire thumb (ok…that’s a little dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point here). Of course, you can buy knife guards, but it’s exceptionally easy to make them at home. All you do is take some cardboard (the thin kind from a gift box works best, but any cardboard will do), cut a long strip that’s the length of the knife’s blade and a little more then twice as wide as the blade, fold it in half length-wise to fit the knife, and just staple evenly down the open edge. Slip this on whenever you store your knives, and they’ll stay sharp no matter how much they rattle around in that overstuffed drawer.
Don’t you just hate it when you open a package of bacon and it’s hard to separate the strips? I admit, it’s not a problem as dire as global warming or the economy, but at least there’s any easy remedy for this annoying situation. Just roll the package of bacon into a tight cylinder shape before opening it, and the bacon strips will be easy to separate. And don’t forget to use the classic Cast Iron Bacon Press when cooking…it helps the bacon cook evenly and actually prevents it from curling up…it’s great for BLTs.
After you’ve grated your block of Parmesan right down to the hard rind, don’t you dare throw it out. Place it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. Next time you make stew, soup or spaghetti sauce, just toss in a big chunk of rind as it’s cooking, and that great intense, salty unique Parmesan flavor will infuse the sauce…just don’t forget to remove it before serving! If you do forget, please click here immediately.
A sharp, well balanced knife that feels good in your hand is a pleasure to work with and makes cooking that much more enjoyable…when the right knife is used properly, it really makes you feel very “cheffy”. I’ve already posted how to sharpen knives and keep them sharp, and the amazing chart below (which I totally copied from Kitchen Kapers) really helps you figure out exactly what knife to use (or buy) for the job at hand.
There is need to go crazy buying knifes. I recommend starting out with a good quality 8″ chef’s knife (the workhorse and the most important tool in your kitchen, imho), a 3″ paring knife, 5″ Tomato/Utility Knife, a 10″ serrated bread knife and a honing (sharpening) steel. Just make sure you store them properly (I love my magnetic knife holder) and you should be ready to tackle any kitchen cutting job with ease.
|Style of Knife||Shape of Knife||Ideal Job for Knife|
|2 3/4″ Peeling Knife||For peeling of all round vegetables – potatoes, onions, etc.|
|3″, 4″ Paring Knifes||For paring, peeling and slicing small fruits and vegetables.|
|5″ Tomato/Utility Knife (Serrated)||For tomatoes, salami, croissants.|
|5 1/2″ Boning Knife||For separating meat from bone, cooked and uncooked. The smaller the size of the meat (or bone) the more flexible the blade should be and vice versa.|
|5″, 6″ Utility Knives||As the name indicates, for many, but not for all cutting jobs. Peeling, slicing, chopping, carving.|
|8″, 10″ Carving/Slicing Knives||For carving medium sized roasts and fowl, cutting large vegetables, fruit.|
|6″, 8″, 10″ Chef’s Knives||For chopping and dicing. The knife handle is rocked up and down with one hand while the fingers on the other hand rest slightly on the back of the blade, towards the tip.|
|8″ Bread Knife (Serrated)||For cutting bread or any other food of soft substance with a tough skin or crust.|
|5″, 7″ Santoku Knives||For slicing and chopping. Hollow edge allows air between blade and item being cut for extra thin cutting. Unique edge must be sharpened by professional.|
|Cleaver||For chopping through joints or bones.|
|10″ Sharpening Steel||For sharpening the knives. A sharp knife will provide maximum safety. Use the sharpening steel regularly, preferably every other time the knife is used.|
Love this video tip…Saveur‘s Executive Food Editor Todd Coleman demonstrates an amazing trick for peeling an entire head of garlic in less than 10 seconds…so simple!
Today’s tip is simple…just put Sriracha sauce on everything you eat to make it better. Of course, you have to like heat, but this condiment is so hot right now (see what I did there?) because it puts a kick (and a ton of flavor) into anything you use it on. It’s available just about everywhere and you can even make it yourself…here is a great recipe from Food52. And, if you need some ideas, here are 100 Sriracha recipes from the folks at EndlessSimmer, 25 more from BonAppetit and one for delicious Sriracha Cilantro Scallion Deviled Eggs from The Garden of Eating…that should keep you busy for awhile!
If you chill cheese before grating or shredding, you’ll get much better results. Place hard cheeses in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes and soft cheeses for 20-30 minutes before grating. You should also use a great grater, like the OXO Good Grip, and make sure you always give it a quick spritz with cooking spray (like Pam) so the cheese glides easily and doesn’t stick. This chilling technique also really works well when slicing chicken or any kind of meat for a stir-fry.
The best way to keep bread is at room temperature. After 2-3 days, you should wrap the bread well, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. Never store any bread in the refrigerator, because the cold temperature (38º-40º) accelerates the crystallization of the starches, causing the bread to stale much faster. When I bake a bread, as soon as it cools completely, I cut it, freeze half immediately and keep the other half cut-side down on a cutting board covered with a clean cloth. When that’s consumed, I take out the frozen half, defrost it at room temperature or wrap it in foil and bake in a 450º oven for 10 minutes and it tastes just as good as the day it was baked.
Awhile back I wrote about how important it is to have a great scale, like the OXO Good Grips Scale, and to weigh ingredients for consistent results. As you’ve probably experienced, Americans seldom give weights in recipes, but in the UK, they almost always do. Well, over at Lifehacker, someone named Jesseg came up with an amazingly simple, yet inciteful, idea…when looking for recipes, search using google.co.uk, rather than google.com and the recipes you find will almost always have weights…just make sure you remember to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, or your stuff may never get done!
I use tomato paste quite often in recipes to thicken up and give great flavor to pasta sauces, chili and soups, but seldom (and by seldom, I mean never) need an entire can at once. Simple solution…take an approx. 8″ square piece of plastic wrap, drop a 1 tablespoon dollop in the center and fold up the sides and twist closed. Stick these in a freezer bag and place in the toaster (just kidding…in the freezer), and, in the future, when a recipe calls for tomato paste, unwrap what you need (each one weighs about 1/2 oz.) and drop them in…it works great and there’s no waste. And, since they look like little hearts, they also make a somewhat disgusting Valentine’s Day gift.