24 kitchen tips that are really worth knowing

Mediteranean Pasta Chickpea Salad

Over at Serious Eats, Kenji Alt – their Chief Creative Officer who writes The Food Lab column – has posted 24 Essential Kitchen Tricks and Tips. We were once colleagues at Cook’s Illustrated, and, having watched Kenji in action, it’s not surprising that all of these are well-worth knowing and merit a look. Here are two that were new to us to get you started:

11. Buy Pre-Peeled Garlic

I might get a lot of hate for this one, but truth be told, I use pre-peeled garlic almost exclusively. I find peeling garlic form a whole head to be a bit of a pain in the butt and usually can’t be bothered. The pre-peeled stuff, so long as you buy it fresh, will last for weeks in the refrigerator and despite what some snooty chefs may tell you, it tastes just fine. In fact, I challenge anyone to taste identical dishes made in a triangle test with pre-peeled and whole head garlic and identify the odd one out. Seriously.

21. Use Mozzarella or Feta Liquid as the Base for Pasta Sauce

Here’s one from Serious Eats Overlord Ed:

‘I discovered a great kitchen shortcut the other night on the Vineyard: using the water some feta cheese comes in as the base of a cheesy sauce for pasta. You pour the water in from the container into the same pot you used to make the pasta while it’s still hot, put in little pieces of cheese (I used feta and goat), and presto, you’ve got a winner of a pasta sauce. Adding a few raw in-season cherry tomato halves and/or some fresh corn kernels shaved off the cob to the cheese sauce and you’ve got something seriously delicious.”‘

And to use this latter tip to not throw away the cheese liquid – and show off our new video filter feature – here’s a recipe for Mediteranean pasta, chickpea, and fennel salad with creamy feta-dill dressing from the blog Three Many Cooks by Pam Anderson. And enjoy the last weekend before the season changes!





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  • sir_ken_g  on  August 30, 2013

    We use both whole unpeeled garlic but also jars of not only peeled but chopped garlic.
    If raw garlic is a feature of the recipe we use whole. If it going to be cooked then the prepared works just fine – it's also much cheaper.

  • ellabee  on  August 31, 2013

    That really is a useful list; in the last five years or so I've adopted almost every one except the pre-peeled garlic (don't find peeling garlic a chore, and like to know my garlic is local) and the cheese-brine-as-sauce-base, which I'll try out the next time I get some good fresh mozza or burrata.

  • Avocet  on  August 31, 2013

    I bought pre-peeled garlic for awhile, but then I learned that (at least what is available in my area) is all imported from China. That makes me concerned about sanitation or chemical contamination. The garlic is most likely peeled after having been soaked in water for a few hours, and I can't help wondering that there may be preservatives or disinfectants or other stuff we don't want to consume. If you have a large amount of garlic to peel, it's easy enough to put the cloves in some water and let them soak for a couple of hours. The skin slips right off then.

  • wester  on  September 1, 2013

    That's a nice list. I will try peeling ginger with a spoon sometime, and freezing things as flat as possible seems a very good idea too.
    As for containers with matching lids: the Ikea Jämka series is great for this too.

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