It’s a funny thing how you can go along cooking for years and years and then suddenly learn a new trick or discover a new tool, and everything changes. Here are five new (to me, anyway) discoveries that have totally revolutionized life in my kitchen.
Do use a whole onion in stock
For ages and ages, no matter what I did, my stock would always turn out grey and murky. No matter if I boiled it or didn’t boil it, used fresh chicken or cooked, it always had the unappealing tinge of dishwater. And then I made the Grandma Style Chicken Noodle Soup from Deb Perelman’s fantastic Smitten Kitchen cookbook and doink! Revelation smacked me in the head. Use the whole onion, skin included, and the broth turns a lovely golden colour, while the skin somehow clarifies it. Even better, you don’t have to peel the onion.
Don’t fry your bacon
Instead, bake it. You will have crisp, perfectly flat bacon with almost no effort, and no mess to clean up after. Just preheat the oven to 400°F, line a baking sheet with foil, spread the bacon out neatly and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. You might have to turn it once. If your kitchen is like mine, you might want to disable the smoke detector while you’re cooking it; just be sure to turn it back on afterward. When you’re done, let the bacon fat congeal on the foil then toss – it’s wasteful, true, but at least you won’t be clogging your sink with grease.
Do flatten your chicken
All these I’ve been roasting chicken the old-fashioned way, I never knew how much easier it is to roast it flattened. Spatchcocking or butterflying the bird—which means snipping out the backbone and spreading it flat—gives you perfectly roasted meat throughout and a crispy skin, all in about an hour or so. Go here for the recipe.
Don’t forget the parchment paper
If you’re not using parchment paper, you’re doing it wrong. Not only does it prevent your cookies, cakes and squares from sticking to the baking pan, it makes cleanup a snap. Plus it conducts heat better than silicone lines, which to me always make cookies a bit softer and less golden than I like.
Do weigh your ingredients
This one, I admit, is a work in progress, since so many North American recipes are still measured in cups and spoons. But weighing things is not only more accurate, it’s also easier, thanks to the new generation of digital scales. These have a “tare” function that allows you to reset to zero when you put an empty container on the scale. Instead of scooping and dumping and having to wash a bunch of tools, you can just add the ingredients as needed to the bowl you’re mixing them in. Mind blown.