kitchen tips

10 Must-Have Pantry Ingredients

A question that is often asked of cooks, food writers and people whose lives revolve around their kitchens: what is your favorite ingredient? My answer is pretty much always a combo of two, olive oil and salt.  But that is just the beginning.  Here are some of the everyday pantry staples that make cooking a pleasure, food delicious, and weeknight meals easy.  Plus some ideas for how to put them to good use. 1. Olive Oil, Pure and/or Extra Virgin Olive Oil In a perfect world, you’ll have both kinds on hand, more if you are interested in a variety …

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Getting All of the Citrus Zest

How nice it would be to never lose another flavorful shred of citrus zest to the grater holes? Oranges, lemons, limes – you can loose so much zest in those little grater nubs, especially if you are using a box grater.  Use this simple trick and you won’t lost but a tiny bit.  Snce I use citrus zest in a TON of recipes, this trick has come in handy quite a bit. Remember, once you get down below the bright yellow for lemons, green for limes, and orange for….well, you know: STOP.  the white pith beneath the zest is quite …

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Freezing Leftover Tomato Paste

Okay, one of my biggest pet peeves is opening up a can of tomato paste, because a recipe calls for 2 or 3 tablespoons, and then trying to figure out what to do with the rest….before it goes bad. How many times have you discovered that little an of half used tomato paste, loosely covered with a crinkly piece of aluminum foil, shoved into the back of your fridge, with a delicate layer of mold on the top? Clearly this has happened to me a lot. But instead of tossing this bummer of a partially used ingredient into the trash, …

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Getting Honey Out of a Measuring Cup

At last, lose that sinking feeling when reading “measure a 1/2 cup of honey…” Anything sticky is just plain hard to measure.  You pour it into the cup, then you pour it into your bowl or pot, and a thick coating is always left inside the measuring cup, drip drip dripping, but never fully getting out of the cup. The answer is easy, as you’ll see in the video.  This trick works with honey, maple syrup, molasses, sorghum, any thick sticky liquid.  It also works with teaspoons and tablespoons, not just cups. Now, onto recipes that call for these wonderful …

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Peeling Ginger With a Spoon

Have fun with ginger’s bumps and knobs by trading a paring knife in for a thin teaspoon. And there’s more good news – even little kids can help with this.  If you give a willing child a knob of ginger and a teaspoon you will give them something to keep them busy for quite a chunk of time, and allow them to feel like a great kitchen helper as well (see Note at the end). I cook with fresh ginger all the time, both in savory and sweet dishes.  I just love the burst of slightly spicy, bold flavor.  It’s …

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Cutting Avocado Neatly

Sometimes you need prettier pieces of avocado—here’s the best way to cube it. Avocado is one of my favorite foods, and I’m far from alone.  Cute little neat chunks make a dish look extra special.  (Obviously this isn’t of particular interest if you are making guacamole or another type of avocado dip like Avocado Pesto Dip or Creamy Avocado Dip or a sauce, like the one for Mexican Pizza with Avocado Crema. But it is of interest if you want nice unmushy cubes.  Like, for instance if you are making these dishes: Chili Rubbed Flank Steak with Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad Salmon, Arugula, and …

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