Taste test ingredients like flour, butter, chocolate and vanilla extract. These ingredients play a huge part in flavoring a baked good and not all are created equally. While many people will say price is indicative of quality, this isn’t always true. Taking the time to taste a variety of products available from different companies and at different price points will give you an idea of the varying quality in these basic ingredients. It will also let you pick out those you think have the best taste.
The secret to making jam without commercial pectin is to add lemon juice and a cut-up apple to your jam pot (and you may need to cook it a bit longer). Both fruits have naturally-occurring pectin, which serves to help solidify your jam. For example, proportions for a small small batch of strawberry jam could be: three cups of berries,1 1/2 cups sugar (or honey), juice from half a lemon and half a cut-up apple.
I learned a tip for keeping pesto bright green from a cooking class I took last fall. Blanch basil for about 30 seconds, then immediately plunge into an ice bath. Proceed with your normal pesto making. It really does work!
When baking a layered cake, bake the layers a week or two ahead of time. After baked and cooled, wrap layers individually in plastic wrap, then foil, then another layer of plastic wrap. Freeze. Defrost at room temperature, about 5 hours before icing and layering.
When making pancakes, use a scale to correctly weigh flour. Also, very gently incorporate the wet mix into the dry with a whisk until just barely combined. Since using both these techniques, I have had consistently light and fluffy pancakes.
Ditch your chemical cleaning products and pick up a handle of cheap vodka at your corner liquor store. Put it in a spray bottle diluted with a little water and go to town on anything (except for wood) in your kitchen. Vodka is naturally antibacterial and non-toxic. Caked on grime on the stove? Vodka. Scratches all over the sink? Vodka. Hot pepper oil on your hands? Vodka. It burns through everything safely. It works a lot like vinegar except it has no scent. Yay! No more chemicals in the kitchen!
Stainless steel pots and pans can take your cooking to the next level but can also leave your pans looking 100 years old after just one use. Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleaner will take your tarnished and discolored pans and make them shine like new in just one cleaning.