Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kristin's Kitchen Tip of the Week

Okay, so maybe "of the week" is a little misleading, since I don't actually post a kitchen tip every week.  Or even every month.  Or, uh, even every year.  In fact, it's possible the only kitchen tip I have ever posted was this one about how to cut corn kernels off the cob without creating a blizzard of corn kernels in your kitchen.


On to the tip!

Next time you make mashed potatoes or polenta, throw a whole, peeled garlic clove in with the boiling water.  You can mash it right into the potatoes and leave it in the polenta when everything is cooked.  It doesn't make them taste like garlic really, just . . . good.  Flavorful.  I've been doing this with mashed potatoes for awhile, but just tried it with polenta last night.  It's really, really good.

And that should take care of my kitchen wisdom for the next three years.

Any good cooking tricks to share, duckies?  Fire away.


Anonymous said...

I thought your tip(although technically I guess it was Mil's, but you passed it along) about putting the butter in the pan when you pop popcorn was great. I also add the salt.....and I can't remember if that was part of your tip or not.
I put some of the flavored coffee creamer in my hot chocolate to make it different flavors. Hazelnut, french vanilla and so forth.
Heat your cast iron skillet with the bacon grease in it (I always save bacon grease to flavor green beans , potatoes or make milk gravy) then turn it off, add potatoes , turn the heat back on and they won't stick. Beth

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Let homemade french fries chill in salt water for 30 minutes prior to oven baking them and they will turn out crispier (make sure to pat dry!)

Anonymous said...

Cutting corn off the cob is quick and efficient if you use a mandolin - not too messy either! Ruth

Joan @ Debt of Gratitude said...

This will change your life. Granted, it's so much trouble, you'll only do it once, but it will change your life for one glorious day.

Next time you make mashed potatoes, steam them (rather than boil them). And YES, throw in the whole peeled garlic clove. Be sure to peel the potatoes. (I'm lazy and usually don't.)

Then heat two cups of cream and 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan until simmering. When potatoes are soft, mash with the butter/cream mixture. Alternately, you can use a ricer (my preference).

Then -- this is the IMPORTANT part. Push the mashed potatoes through a fine chinois (sieve). This takes some work and you have to do it in small batches, but the process of putting your mashed potatoes through a chinois creates magic. MAGIC, I tell you!

Then the potatoes can be served, or set aside until needed. If set aside, reheat in a double boiler with a little butter on top.

I know -- you think on a day-to-day basis, you would never go to this much trouble for mashed potatoes. But if you ever do it just once, you will wonder why nobody ever told you THIS is how you make mashed potatoes. By the way, the trick came from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at home who said this is how all the best restaurants make mashed potatoes and never tell anyone.

Joan @ Debt of Gratitude said...

Okay, because I'm convinced you'll want to try this and I didn't explain very well -- when you put the mashed potatoes through the chinois, put about a cup of them into the sieve. Then use a rubber spatula to press them through the sieve and into a bowl under the sieve. You have to really work the mashed potato mixture to get it through the sieve. Be patient and keep pushing, in small batches, until all your potatoes have been pushed through. You will be rewarded with the lightest, smoothest, creamiest potatoes ever.

Anonymous said...

Joan....how long beforehand can you do this? Like the day before or a few days and serve them daily , heating up the portion you want to serve each time you serve?

FinnyKnits said...

I will use your tip and offer you one in exchange:

When you make chicken stock for soup (rather than just for cooking), toss at least one whole large parsnip in with the other vegetables.

When everything's done simmering and your stock's ready, strain it out with the other vegetables.

It takes chicken soup to a whole new fabulous level.

Joan @ Debt of Gratitude said...

I've never tried to reheat them more than an hour or two later, but I'm certain they would keep refrigerated for days.

Another really yummy option is to drop them by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and put them in a hot oven (425 degrees) and reheat until the peaks are really charred.