A jar of hazelnut chocolate butter, like Nutella or Nocciolata, is always scrape-worthy, even if there's next to nothing left. But no matter what tool you use, be it a spoon, spatula, or index finger, bits of precious, chocolatey nut butter are sure to remain glued to the sides. Instead of resigning the jar to the bin, make hot chocolate instead.
It's frustrating when a jar lid is exceptionally hard to remove. I always hear my father's voice say, "pretend you're on a desert island and that's all you have to eat." After a childhood of that, I've figured out a no-fail trick for opening difficult jars. The secret ingredient? A spoon. Here's what you do:
- Hold the spoon in one hand and the jar firmly in the other.
- Nestle the spoon in the crack between the lid and the glass. Push up and back. You want to break the seal.
- Press up with the spoon to loosen the lid. If the seal does not break, rotate the jar and repeat, pressing up and back with the spoon until you hear a pop.
- Let go of the spoon and twist the lid off. It will come of smoothly and easily.
How do you deal with frustrating lids? What's your trick to remove them?
Juicing citrus doesn't have to be an exercise in frustration, provided you have the right tool and the accompanying know-how. When working with a few lemons or limes, a citrus press ($16) is the way to go. Not only does it use leverage to eke out every last drop of juice, but it also strains out the seeds and minimizes your fingertips' exposure to citric acid.
Here's the important part: while it may seem counterintuitive, you should always insert a halved lemon or lime cut-side-down when working with a citrus press. If you use the same gadget with a lemon or lime cut-side-up it'll be harder to close, will squirt juice all over the place, and won't be as efficient. Press the handles together firmly until the tool has extracted all the juice. It's that simple.
When looking to round out a meal come brunch, lunch, or dinnertime, I stick to a simple motto: put an egg on it (not to be confused with "put a bird on it" . . . ). While fried and scrambled are nice, I hold a special place in my heart for the oozing yolks of a perfectly poached egg, but until now I hadn't thought of them as portable. It turns out, with an ingenious kitchen hack, these luscious eggs can become a protein-packed part of the brown-bag lunch rotation. Keep reading to find out the simple secret.
Picnics, brunches, and tea parties call for tea sandwiches, but those delicate bites tend to dry out in a flash. What's the solution? Dampen a paper towel, wring out any excess water, and cover the tops of the sandwiches before you store them in an airtight container and pop them into the fridge. The damp paper towel will keep the bread hydrated plus it acts as a protective barrier from the air. Keeping the tea sandwiches wrapped until the second you plan to serve or eat them will also prevent them from drying out.
When working with cocktails that could use a boost of citrus flavor, this often means adding a twist, wheel, or wedge, but it's high time we put citrus cutouts on the go-to list. Not only are they adorable, but they also suffuse drinks with a punch of aromatic oils.
We learned just how impressive yet easy this garnish is to make, thanks to an SF Chefs cocktail mixers seminar. The trick? Have a set of aspic cutters ($12) at the ready. Remove a swath of citrus rind using a vegetable peeler, stamp out shapes with the cutters, add a few to a cocktail glass, then ooh and aah at your handiwork as you enjoy your drink.
Traditionally, homemade ravioli is a dish that's neither fast nor easy to prepare, but with a little ingenuity, it can be — relatively speaking. Instead of laboring over mixing and then rolling out pasta dough — a worthy weekend project, to be sure — swap out store-bought wonton wrappers
. (Look for them by the tofu.) While not an exact match to pasta dough, these pliant, eggy squares are a solid stand-in and can be filled, shaped, and cooked with ease.
To shape a ravioli, simply dollop a bit of your favorite filling, such as pumpkin or goat cheese and lemon in the center of a wrapper, brush the edges of the dough with egg wash, top with a second wrapper, and seal, pressing out any air bubbles. Repeat until the filling is used up, then cook as usual.
Cooking pasta to al dente perfection is as simple as following the cook time printed on a box of pasta, right? Not so much — it often results in pasta that's sad and overcooked. Next time you cook pasta, rather than following the printed cook time to a T, use it as a rough guideline. Set your kitchen timer for a few minutes less than the suggested time; once the timer buzzes, start tasting until it's cooked just so. The first couple pieces you try will likely be a bit undercooked, but it's a better fate than mushy noodles. The pasta is done when you can bite into it and it's no longer chalky and doesn't stick to your teeth, but still retains a slightly firm texture in the center.
Have you ever made your own burger patties and thrown them on the grill, only to discover later that there's a major discrepancy with the bun-to-burger ratio? If your burger engulfs your bun — or, more likely, your bun engulfs the burger, then we've got a handy tip for you. For a burger that perfectly fills the bottom bun, here's the simplest way to avoid that pitfall.
Before my nose fully reached the countertop, my grandmother would show me how to fry up a piece of bacon just to render the bacon fat for my favorite lady pea recipe. After all, the Southern attitude is of the "who needs spices or herbs when bacon's flavor will saturate and perfect just about any dish?" mentality. I've maintained that perspective in my kitchen today, and urge you to do the same. If you've been prone to toss out the liquid gold after frying up a few pieces of bacon, for goodness' sake, stop! Let me show you how to handle, store, and use bacon grease.