For a flaky, all-butter pie crust, refrain from overworking the butter into the flour. Butter should be edamame-sized or pea-sized at smallest before rolling out dough. For more pie crust tips, check out Pie Crust 101.
Any barista will tell you that one key to a great pour over or french press is the “bloom”. Grind your coffee fresh, and when you put it in the press or the Chemex or cone dripper, pour just enough hot water over the grounds to get them completely wet and then let it sit for about 30-45 seconds. Freshly roasted and ground coffee will release the carbon dioxide and other gasses that tend to hinder extraction of coffee goodness into your cup. You’ll see the coffee grounds start to rise like bread. After the 30 seconds go ahead and finish pouring.
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.
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!