The French call them trucs, from the word “bluff”—little kitchen “tricks” that make life simple, easier, safer, faster . . . better.
The modern-day MacGyvers in our kitchens call them hacks, to go along with all the other valuable shortcuts that help us get through the day.
To freshen day-old baguettes or other crusty bread, run the loaf briefly under water and heat until dry and crisp in a 300-degree oven, about 5-10 minutes
When roasting foods such as vegetables, preheat oiled, empty baking sheets or roasting pans in the oven first, so the ingredients sear immediately when they’re added to the pan. This also minimizes the need to flip the ingredients
For crispier roasted potatoes, brine the cut spuds overnight to remove some of the starch
Did You Know? 66% of operators responding to a recent survey reveal that they do use or are thinking of using speed scratch products (defined as partially prepared products such as soup bases, precut vegetables, cake mixes, etc., that reduce time and labor by requiring less prep than making a menu item completely from scratch).
To thicken sauces on the fly, make a quick buerre manié, with equal parts flour and softened butter, rubbing it together with fingertips or fork to form a smooth paste. This can be rolled into balls to thicken an average-size portion, and can be refrigerated or frozen for future use
Use Minor’s® Culinary Cream to bind and stabilize sauces and other recipes that would otherwise specify dairy; the product can also increase steamtable hold times by up to four hours without breaking
To husk and peel corn, place whole unpeeled ears on the racks of a 400-degree oven, cook 30 minutes. Husk and silk will slide off, and kernels will be perfectly tender
Need a dark roux for gumbo or stew? Make it in the oven: Whisk equal parts canola oil and flour in an ovenproof dish or pot, and bake uncovered, to the desired degree of brownness. No stirring necessary
Grate or process cheese for a sauce without added mess or waste by freezing it for 30 minutes first
Delicious cheese sauce is a cinch with Chef-mate® ¡Que Bueno!® White Queso Sauce, and so is luxurious Alfredo when you start with Stouffer’s® Alfredo Sauce or Alfredo Parmigiana, which are now certified as gluten free
For shortcut polenta without using instant, pour boiling water over the cornmeal and allow to soak at least 8 or as many as 12 hours as it returns to room temperature
For quicker housemade whipped cream, use powdered instead of granulated sugar; the small amount of cornstarch in the sugar acts as a stabilizer so that you can whip the cream ahead of time without fear of it deflating or getting watery. Whip the cream first, until soft peaks form, then add the powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. per cup of cream
Remove seeds from vegetables such as squash and pumpkin with an ice cream scoop
Halve a bunch of grape or cherry tomatoes by sandwiching them between two plastic container lids and cutting through them horizontally along the “guides"
Defat stocks, stews, and sauces by wrapping a few ice cubes in cheesecloth or a paper towel and skimming them along the surface of the liquid; once the fat solidifies, remove it with a spoon or the edge of a plate
Peel a large batch of hardboiled eggs for egg salad or other chopped application by shaking them vigorously in a lidded container
Clean knobby ginger with the edge of a spoon, or cut off the knobs and use them in stock or other applications where they don’t have to be peeled, just scrubbed
Substitute Libby’s® 100% Pure Pumpkin for some of the fat and/or liquid in baked goods to add flavor and make the recipe more healthy