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Photo Taken By imsovegan
|~ To blanch (cook) vegetables, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add vegetables and cook until tender-crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to a bowl of ice water to cool.
~ Revive limp celery by trimming the ends and sticking the stalks in a jar of cold water. Place the jar in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until the stalks are crisp.
~ Trim the woody ends off fresh asparagus then arrange in a tall vase or glass with a little water in the bottom. Loosely tent with a plastic bag and refrigerate until needed, refreshing the water every couple of days.
~ To clean leeks, cut them as instructed in the recipe, then place in a bowl of cold water and swish around until the sand falls to the bottom of the bowl. Drain carefully; rinse again to remove any traces of grit.
~ Quick-thaw frozen spinach by placing it in a colander and running cool water over it until thawed. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible before using in recipes.
~ Peeling cucumbers is simple. Just use a standard vegetable peeler to remove some or all of the green skin. You can also use the tines of a fork to make decorative "stripes" down the length of the cucumber.
~ When tomato season is in full swing and you can't use tomatoes up fast enough, freeze them whole in re-sealable plastic freezer bags. Pop a few frozen tomatoes into a pot of soup or sauce and simmer, breaking up with a spoon as they thaw.
~ Ripen hard avocados or green tomatoes by placing in a paper bag with an apple. The apple emits a gas that helps speed ripening.
~ Freeze extra tomato paste in a small re-sealable plastic bag, pressing the paste flat before freezing. When a recipe calls for a little paste, just break off a chunk from the frozen block and refreeze the remainder for later.
~ When making guacamole, use a potato ricer to mash the ripe avocados. If you don't have one, mash the avocados in a bowl with a hand-held pastry blender.
~ Soft-skinned vegetables, like tomatoes and eggplant, are easier to slice with a serrated bread knife. The serrations on the knife grab the slick skin much better than a chef's knife.
~ Arrange stuffed bell peppers in a Bundt or tube pan for baking. They'll stay upright and won't tip over as easily.
~ When cutting corn off the cob, it's easiest to do it on a rimmed baking sheet. That way, the corn kernels aren't as apt to fly all over the work surface.
~ Cook sweet corn by placing shucked ears in a large pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and remove from heat. The corn will be cooked in a few minutes and will hold in the hot water for about an hour.
~ Before baking whole russet potatoes, rub them with oil, then bake directly on the rack of the oven, not on a pan. This makes the skin super-crisp.
~ Potatoes will cook faster if they're quartered or cut into cubes before boiling. So they cook at about the same rate, cut them into similar sized pieces.
~ Mash potatoes up to two hours ahead of time and keep warm in a slow cooker set at low heat. Just before serving, stir in a little milk or butter. This makes coordinating big dinners, like Thanksgiving, a lot easier.
~ To prepare hard winter squashes, first use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin, then very carefully cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and trim any remaining skin with a paring knife before cutting into chunks.
~ Use a soft brush or lightly damp paper towel to clean mushrooms. Rinsing is okay too but be prepared to use the mushrooms right away they'll mold if stored wet.
~ Store mushrooms in a paper sack, not the plastic-wrapped Styrofoam containers they're sold in. They'll last longer if allowed to "breathe" in the paper bag.
~ Plastic clamshell containers that strawberries are sold in are also perfect for storing fresh mushrooms air circulates around them and keeps them fresh longer.
~ Roast mushroom caps before stuffing to prevent them from turning soggy. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and roast, cavity side up, at 400° F. for 10 minutes. Turn the caps over and roast another 5 minutes before stuffing.