Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Kitchen Tips, Part I

Bar Keepers Friend will safely clean your stainless cookwares from anything that gets stuck on it. All kitchens should have it.

When reheating meats, place them in a deep baking dish, cover loosely with foil or a loose lid, and reheat in the oven at 225oF for 45 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and then resear in a hot pan quickly, if you want to recrisp the outside (such as steaks or chicken skin). This method reduces the drying out.

The following knives are essential: chef’s 6” knife, a 4” paring knife, and a bread knife. You’ll use these 99% of the time. Everything else is fluff.

If you want more fluffy knives: a cleaver, a 10” carving knife, a 10” long knife. These will complement your three basics for special jobs.

If you can’t cut through a tomato skin without mauling the tomato your knife isn’t sharp. Fix that soon.

The following pots and pans are essential: 5-6” non-stick skillet, 10 - 12” skillet, 10 - 12” non-stick skillet, 2 quart pot, 4 quart pot, and a 6 quart pot.

Additional pots and pans: a 12” cast iron skillet, 5 quart Dutch oven, 4 - 5 quart sauté with lid.

Everyone should have a copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and “The Silver Spoon” (the Italian "Joy of Cooking”). From these two books you can make anything.

A fish spatula will be your favorite – and soon to be only – spatula. Get a plastic and metal one.

Kitchen gadgets for the most part are useless. I have a bunch but the one I use most often is a garlic press. They're fun the first few times but you wind up spending more time cleaning them than actual use.

Making your own ice cream is well worth the effort.

When hosting a dinner party, praise your spouse before, during, and after the party if they’re doing everything but the cooking. Your cooking won’t mean shit without that back end support.

If you 1) follow the directions and 2) use some additional common sense you can fry a turkey in your backyard and not burn your house down.

Be wary of impressing new guests with a uber-gourmet meal on the first visit to your home if you don’t know them. They may feel intimidated and not invite you to yours. Of course, this is an excellent way to have that invitation not extended either….

Never blanch spinach in boiling water. Instead, boil about 4 quarts of lightly salted water and then pour over the spinach in a colander. Run cold water over the spinach to cool, if necessary.

If you get garlic wet it’s easier to peel. If a recipe calls for garlic, double it. However, I wouldn’t do this for recipes entitled “Chicken With 40 Garlic Cloves.”

Always use fresh ground pepper.

Cooking and drinking go hand-in-hand. If you burn yourself - or your house down - cut your consumption by about 25%.


  1. Very happy to hear that Judy gives you "back end support". I assume you return the favor?

  2. The best way to peel garlic is to smash it with the flat of a broad knife. The peel will slide right off. You might need to slice off the stem side first.
    Garlic presses suck. The just fill up with uncleanable gunk. The best way to press garlic is, again, with the flat of a knife.
    1) Smash
    2) Peel
    3) Smash some more
    4) If that doesn't cut it for you then cut it up.
    Wetting it helps too.

  3. Good one - I also do that myself. And I do think that a press is very handy if you're making a quick aioli; using freshly pressed garlic makes the process quicker and cleaner (you don't need a mortar and pestle).