Goodfood’s Culinary Director, Jordana Rebner is back at it with another round of pro tips to help you hone your kitchen skills and achieve the ultimate at-home cooking experience!
(In case you missed it, click here to see her first round of tips).
Safe & Effective Chopping
Before you start chopping away, it’s absolutely essential to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. Generally speaking, three knives will cover most any job around the kitchen: a full-size chef’s knife for general slicing & dicing, a small paring knife for tricky detail work and a serrated knife for more delicate veggies like tomatoes. While it may seem counterintuitive, keeping these nice & sharp will actually help keep you safe since you won’t overexert or use awkward methods to try and overcompensate for a dull blade!
While on the topic of safety, two age-old tricks will dramatically reduce any chance of a kitchen mishap. The first is to create a flat surface on vegetables that are cylindrical or round (like turnips, carrots or cucumbers). To do this, simply slice off a small portion of the round edge. You can now lay the veggie down on the flat side while you chop safely without it rolling around on you! The second trick is to always keep your fingers curled inward like a claw — away from the blade, as you grip whatever it is your chopping. Nurture these habits and you’ll increase safety while decreasing time on the cutting board.
But hey — if chopping just isn’t your thing, there’s always the Easy Prep plan!
Zesting & Juicing Citrus
Citrus delivers a one-two punch of fragrant zest and tart juice, so it’s no surprise you’ll find lots of lemons and limes in Goodfood recipes! Here are a few tips to get the most out of these flavour powerhouses:
Zesting is best done before you juice since it’s easier to work with an intact citrus fruit without juice trickling down onto your fingers. To avoid bitterness, avoid the pith (the white part just underneath the outer skin) by scraping away the zest gently. While it’s totally doable with a microplane or grater, we encourage you to be a zester investor: these terrific tools are specially designed to exclusively get the skin and they’re usually only a couple of bucks!
When it comes to juicing, you can maximize the amount of juice you get by rolling the citrus on your countertop with your palm before cutting it open. This will help loosen up the insides making it much easier to release the juice when squeezing. There’s no shortage of contraptions out there to juice citrus, but your hands are more than sufficient to get the job done. To avoid seeds falling out, gently squeeze your lemon with the open side up. The seeds will rise to the top and you can simply flick them off into your waste bin before going in for the final squeeze! Just like salt & pepper, it’s important to season to taste. Know your tolerance for tartness and add only as much as you find palatable. Any remaining juice can always be added to your glass of water for a refreshing twist!
Reducing & Facilitating Kitchen Cleanup
While it may seem plainly obvious to some and completely alien to others, it’s always good practice to start cooking in a clean kitchen. Putting in a few minutes before you start cooking will ensure your work area will be sanitary — and pots, pans & utensils will be clean and ready to use!
For the sake of clarity, we usually display our mise en place step with all ingredients separately in small bowls on our recipe cards. In reality, you can cut down on dishwashing by simply keeping each chopped ingredient in small piles right on your cutting board. When it comes time to use the ingredient, simply use your chef’s knife to scrape them off wherever they need to be!
If your garbage bin is not directly under your chopping board, consider keeping a bowl for trimmings and scraps on your countertop. This will avoid you walking back and forth to throw things in the trash — and potentially dropping them on the floor in the process!
One final tip: when you find yourself with a few seconds of downtime between steps, use them to rinse (or even hand wash) anything that’s no longer needed. If you have a dishwasher, it’s a great time to pop things in so that you can minimize cleanup after dinner — because who wouldn’t rather be baking cookies for dessert instead?
We hope these tips help you on your path to kitchen mastery, so please feel free to share them!