When I need butter to be at room temperature quickly, I grate it, but for eggs I use a different technique. I fill a big bowl with warm water, then I place the eggs gently inside the bowl. The key is to make sure that the water's not too hot; you don't want the eggs to cook. Let them sit for 10 minutes in the warm water, and they should be good to go. Have you ever done this? What's your method for bringing eggs to room temperature?
Having fresh herbs on hand is essential if you're an avid home cook — or bartender! But unless you have a flourishing herb garden, it can be frustrating to purchase bunches of fresh herbs every week, only to watch them wilt and dry out in a couple days. Luckily, there are a few easy tweaks you can make to your herb storage to keep them fresher longer, allowing you to add more flair to your dishes and drinks!
- Parsley and cilantro: These delicate herbs are a lot like fresh flowers, so treat them the same way. Trim their stems as soon as you get them home, and stick them in a small glass full of water (bud vases or empty milk or cream bottles work well). Spritz them with water, cover them loosely with a plastic ziplock bag, and put them in the fridge. Every couple days, change out the water and give the stems another small trim to keep them fresh.
- Mint and basil: Follow the same steps as above, minus the plastic bag-fridge step. Mint and basil do better at room temperature; mint, in fact, is so weed-like, if you put it in front of a sunny window, it may even start to send roots down into the water and sprout new leaves.
- Rosemary, thyme, and oregano: These hardier herbs will brown and mold if kept in water. Wrap them loosely in damp paper towels and then in plastic wrap, and keep them in the crisper or in your fridge door — the warmest spot in the fridge is ideal. Swap out the paper towels for fresh ones every couple days.
Any tips to add for storing fresh herbs?
Source: Flickr User suzettesuzette
Oftentimes a recipe will call for only part of a vanilla bean. Since vanilla beans can be somewhat expensive, don't discard the extra bean. There are lots of ways you could put it to good use:
- Place the bean in an airtight container full of sugar. The vanilla will infuse the sugar and become vanilla sugar.
- Make a vanilla syrup. Add the seeds and beans to equal parts boiling sugar and water. Let steep for an hour, then pour into a bottle. Once cool, use the vanilla syrup to flavor cocktails, coffee, and soda.
- Place the bean in a small bottle and cover with 100 proof vodka, store in a cool dark place. In six months, you'll have vanilla extract.
- Make vanilla vodka or rum, by adding the bean to a store-bought bottle and letting it steep for one week.
- Scrape the seeds into a small bowl filled with salt and stir to combine. Use the vanilla salt to flavor ice cream and other desserts.
What's your favorite way of using leftover vanilla bean?
When a surprise shipment of lava fudge cupcakes arrived yesterday from Georgetown Cupcake, the first thing I noticed were the lollipop sticks in each treat. "What are those for?" I wondered aloud. Katie reassured me that they served a grand purpose: to prevent the icing top of the cupcakes from smudging against their packaging while en route.
Because I usually transport cupcakes in boxes, I'd never thought to do the same — but each dessert was flawless and untouched, even after a cross-country road trip. Brilliant! This won't set you back much, either. Fifty sticks are an affordable $2 online, and a disposable cupcake carrier is only a few bucks from a local bakery. How do you keep cupcakes smear free?
With warmer weather on the horizon, my thoughts have turned toward mint juleps, mojitos, and other drinks that require crushed ice. You don't need a fancy machine (or new refrigerator) to quickly make crushed ice at home. With a simple canvas, cotton, or linen bag (like the ones shoes sometimes come in) and heavy kitchen tool, you can have perfectly crushed ice in minutes. Here's my technique:
- Put a large handful of ice into the fabric bag and fold closed. You could use a plastic bag, but chances are, the ice shards will cut holes in the plastic, and you may end up with ice all over your counter.
- With a heavy kitchen tool (muddler, juicer, or hammer) bang the bag until the ice is crushed into small pieces.
- Use immediately in the cocktail of your choice.
Got a tip for making warm weather beverages? Share it with us below!
Lots of pizzerias serve their pies piping fresh from the oven. Instead of placing them on a hot plate, they'll set them on top of a special serving platter. But at a recent eatery, I discovered a fun and affordable way to offer a hot pan of pizza at home: on a can of tomatoes! This ensures that the table won't get burnt and that the pizza is elevated above everything else, making it the focal point of the meal.
Do you have a fabulous serving tip? Share with us below.
One of the easiest ways to cook artichokes, which are currently in season, is to steam them whole. However, instead of using water, I recommend cooking the chokes in something with a little more complexity. A mixture of chicken broth, white wine, lemons, herbs, olive oil, and garlic is my preferred method. Don't forget to season the liquid with salt and pepper before placing the artichokes inside, upside-down. These simple ingredients give the artichokes a more delicious taste and depth of flavor.
How do you cook artichokes?
- Instead of removing both rubber bands, take off the one that holds together the stems of the scallion.
- Slice off the stems and throw them away.
- Cut the onions up until the dark green part, which should still be held together by the second rubber band. Most recipes have you discard the dark greens, so toss them in the compost bin and mince the onion according to your recipe.
Since watching him do this, I've been slicing green onions following his quick technique. Do you have a chopping suggestion? Share it with us below!
I love making breakfast for my friends and family. However, it can be a pain to cook fried eggs for a group, which is why I've started broiling eggs. If you can broil eggs on top of a breakfast pizza, why not do the same with hash? Here's how it's done:
- Make a bed for the eggs to rest on. It can be pizza dough, vegetables, bread, potatoes — anything that tastes delicious with eggs.
- Crack an egg into a small bowl, then carefully nestle into the bed without breaking the yolk.
- Repeat with the number of eggs you plan on serving. Make sure none of the eggs are touching.
- Place the pan under the broiler and cook three to four minutes until the white is just set and the yellow is still runny.
Do you have a tip for cooking breakfast? Please share with us below!
If you're like me, you take groceries home from the supermarket in reusable totes. This can be problematic sometimes, because what exactly are you supposed to throw away trash and recyclables in? While I dump the garbage in a disposal bag, I've started toting my recyclables to and from the recycling bin in my building with reusable totes. Most recyclables items — egg cartons, plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, magazines, etc. — aren't soiled, so you don't even have to worry about washing the tote. It's just one more way to live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle!