Cooking tips from the contestants from Hell's Kitchen
Make sure to sanitize and change the cutting board to prevent cross contamination.
Always use high quality cookwear. It looks better, cooks better and lasts forever.
When searing duck breasts, be sure to start in a cold pan so the fat can render slowly.
When cooking on a budget, choose a seasonal ingredient to showcase your dish. Locally grown and seasonal ingredients will add great flavor and nutrition to your dish.
Rinsing chopped red onions in cold water will help ease the sharp taste.
When boiling yellow and orange vegetables like squash and corn, add a few tablespoons of sugar to the water to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables.
When baking at a high altitude, add more flour to your cookie dough than the recipe calls for and a little bit of water or milk.
When presenting a spicy tuna roll, be sure to add wasabi.
When cutting a sushi roll, make sure you have an even five portions of sushi.
Everything in a kitchen can be used, including scraps. Grind the chain of an ahi tuna to make tuna burgers.
When soaking clams for cleaning, add some kosher salt to the cool water. This helps the clam spit out any extra sand so you don't get a gritty clam.
If you are out of pan spray or oil, put a thin layer of mayo on your fish or chicken to help prevent it from sticking to your grill. This also prevents flare-ups so you get very nice grill marks without excess burning.
Always cook bacon on a sheet pan in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Save the bacon fat for cooking later.
A quick way to steam vegetables: Put them in a gallon or quart size Ziploc bag and cut a 1/2 inch slit on the side about 1 inch from the top. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, perfect every time!
When frosting a cake, dip the spatula in warm water to smooth the icing.
Marinate frozen fish or fresh in garlic and soy sauce before grilling, baking and frying.
When making a soup, sauce, or casserole that ends up too fatty or greasy, drop in an ice cube. The ice will coagulate the fat, which you can then scoop out.
Before you chop chili peppers, rub a little vegetable oil into your hands and your skin won’t absorb the spicy oils.
When a knife is falling off your cutting board, it's always your first instinct to grab it. Never try and grab a falling knife. Just step back and let it fall to the floor.
Clean as you go. Less clean up to do after, and it's more professional if you don't look like a slob.
Often times, less is more. Always remember to K.I. S. S. Keep it simple, stupid.
Cook from your heart. Imagine every dish you cook is for the one person you love more than anyone. That's what I do. Cook to impress.
Pork chops get a bad rap for being too dry most of the time. A simple solution to this problem is to lightly brown them on both sides and finish them off in the oven for 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees. The browning will lock the juices in, creating a succulent piece of meat.
Lightly brush fish with olive oil before placing on grill or pan. When you see the bottom start to turn from translucent to a solid color, check for browning and flip. Remember, the other side will cook faster than the side you initially put down.
Don't shock pasta in water after cooking! Take the pasta out a minute or 2 early, drain the water, coat with oil and let cool on a tray. It keeps the starch inside the pasta and helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
you aren't sure how fresh your eggs are, place them in four inches of water. Eggs that stay on the bottom are fresh. If only one end tips up, the egg is less fresh and should be used soon. If it floats, it's past the fresh stage.
When aluminum pans look dull, boil some apple peels in them. This will brighten up the aluminum.
Do you love pomegranates but hate getting the seeds out? Cut the pomegranate in half and use the back of a wooden spoon to knock out the pomegranate seeds.
Add one teaspoon of lemon juice to pie dough to prevent the dough from turning grey quickly. Also substitute water with vodka for a flakier dough.
Taste as you cook to maintain proper seasoning.
To peel a perfect egg, use a pin to pierce a tiny hole at the top of the egg before boiling. The shell will peel away easily.
After touching garlic, rub your hands against stainless steel to get rid of the garlic odor.
Add chicken base to ground turkey when making turkey burgers or turkey meatloaf. It will add a deeper poultry flavor.
Save your bacon grease after frying bacon. You can use this instead of oil for sauteing veggies or meat to add some "fatty go lucky" flavor to a dish.
Substitute club soda for milk when making pancake batter. Your pancakes will be lighter and fluffier!
Adding two drops of yellow food coloring to boiling noodles will make them look more homemade.
Lemons stored in a sealed jar of water will produce twice the juice.
For a juicier hamburger, add cold water to the beef before grilling (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).
Always remove the skin of a fish filet before you cut it into the portion size you want.
Remember to take the temperature of the Wellington before you slice it.
Hot pan, cold oil, food will not stick!
When grilling fish, always make sure the grill is clean. Use an oily rag to rub the grill just before placing fish on. This will prevent it from sticking.
If you don't have a grill brush on hand, you can use a piece of balled up tin foil to clean the grill.
Never undercook halibut!
Don't be afraid to try new things. Some great dishes are made by accident!
Always remember, even after draining pasta, it's still cooking! If you are planning on mixing your pasta in sauce, this will also continue to cook it. It's important to consider this in overall preparation time, especially if you'd like the pasta al dente. Save some pasta water because it can be helpful when cooking pasta and use garlic and oil sauce, or some orecchiette with broccoli rabe and anchovies. The pasta water will help the dish not dry up and maintain flavor.
Weather has a lot to do with pizza dough, in both its consistency and flavor. It also affects how the dough rises, which in turn will affect how it cooks. If the temperature is cold outside, be sure to replace some of the recipe's cold water with lukewarm water. By doing this, you will be evening out the dough's temperature. A general rule is 3:1 (3 cold to 1 lukewarm).
Choose your ingredients wisely. Try and always use fresh, seasonal products. This will ensure your dish has maximum chance of success.
Believe in yourself and your work when creating your dish. Don't be afraid to take risks or to be experimental. Some of the greatest dishes were created by accident!
When grilling salmon, always sear it first on the flesh side and then flip to the other side. This way your salmon won't fall apart!
Make sure your pan is screaming hot before dropping your scallops in it in order to get a good sear.
When cooking pasta, make sure to salt the water. It should taste like the ocean.
Baking bacon in the oven is much safer and easier than cooking in a pan on the stove top.
Place a wet paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from sliding.
Always preheat your oven.
Always wash your hands after touching raw food!
When baking, follow the recipe. When cooking, let yourself be free.
If a sauce or soup seems flat, try adding an acid to elevate and round out the overall flavor. Don't add it to the entire batch. Pull a bit out and see what acid works best. Lemon juice, white or balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, ver jus, just to name a few.
A sprig of dill will perk up almost any soup, salad, or main dish. The feathery leaves enhance seafood sauces, salad dressings and soups. Leaves can be dried or frozen. Simply snip off some as needed.
Pour vanilla extract on a piece of cotton and place it in the back of the refrigerator to eliminate odors. It's an alternative to using a box of baking soda.
After cleaning the refrigerator, add a dash of lemon juice or extract to the rinse water for a fresh scent.
When peeling ginger, shave it off with a spoon. So much easier and less waste.
If you want to get rid of the smell of onions or garlic from your hands, soak your hands in vinegar for 10 minutes.
Always have a side towel handy. This way you can clean up any food that may be thrown at you by an angry chef.
Take time to prepare what your food looks like, as presentation is half the battle.
Cook with your senses. Listen to the sound of pan, do you need more heat or less? Smell the sauce, does it need more seasoning? Then you adjust. Be adaptable in the kitchen!
In need of buttermilk, but don't have it? Use 1 cup of plain yogurt or nearly a cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Leave the acid and milk to stand for 15 minutes before using.
Yucca root sliced and fried (yucca chips) is becoming very popular, as it is similar in appearance and taste to potato chips, except a little sweeter, and a healthier alternative.
If you would like to ripen your bananas faster, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple. Ethylene gas is emitted from the apple, which gets trapped in the bag, and speeds the ripening process of the bananas. If they ripen too fast for you to eat, simply peel, and mash up, and freeze for later use in a banana bread or fruit smoothie.
Use your fresh, local produce whenever available. This will support your area farmers and allow you to deliver the highest quality dishes to your guests or family.
When using a sharpened knife, do not allow the tip of the knife to leave your cutting surface, and make sure your hands are dry and the surface you're working on is non-slip.
Use dental floss or thread to slice hard-to-cut items like goat cheese, cookie dough, or cinnamon roll dough.
No juicer for your lemon? No worries, microwave the lemon for 10 seconds, cut in half and squeeze the lemon between a pair of tongs to get the most juice!
Greasy spill on your kitchen floor? Don’t mop it with water right away. Pour kosher salt over the spill to absorb the oil, and just sweep it up!
Line your measuring utensil in plastic wrap when measuring peanut butter or shortening. Helps prevent a sticky situation.
Quick and delicious pan sauces in 3 easy steps. One, after sauteing, deglaze the pan with your favorite wine or liqueur. Two, allow the alcohol to cook off for a bit and then add a touch (about 1 1/2 tbsp) of heavy cream. Three, allow to reduce a bit. When sauce is at desired consistency, remove from heat and swirl in a pat of butter. And never cook with wine or liqueur that you wouldn't drink.
Always use dried herbs for cooking and fresh herbs for finishing (adding at the last possible moment).
When pounding chicken, lay down plastic wrap on the cutting board, lay out the chicken, and cover with plastic wrap. Prevents raw chicken from flying around the kitchen.
Use a fork to quickly separate parsley leaves from stems. Just run the fork toward the leaves backwards.
Keep citrus fruit separate from other fruits. Citrus causes other fruits to ripen very quickly. But if you want to speed up the ripening process, throw an orange or lemon into your fruit bowl.
Need buttermilk? Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir it and voila!
Don't keep your tomatoes in the fridge! It ruins the flesh!
Start with great fresh ingredients and the rest is simple.
Let your steaks and meat rest before cutting.
Always check expiration dates.
Always use thermometers for chicken.
When using corn starch as a thickening agent, always mix it with cold water, never hot water.
If you want a perfect hard-boiled egg with a bright yellow yolk, drop it in boiling water for exactly fourteen minutes. Any longer and you will have a gray or green yolk!
Invest in a classic cast iron skillet. With the even distribution and holding of heat, they are the best metal to cook with. They're inexpensive too!
Sick of dry chicken? Brine it and be done with paper-like poultry forever. Brining is an awesome technique that is simple and so rewarding for many cuts of meat, especially those that tend to dry out easily. Trust me, brining will make you a star this holiday season.
Tomato sauce should not be cooked or prepared in aluminum pans. The tomato reacts with the metal and you get an acid taste. If this happens, add a head of celery to the sauce while you stew it and the celery will filter out the acid.
If you make a sauce, salsa, or remoulade that's too spicy, add white sugar in a small amount. This will numb the heat.
When searing meat or fish, always make sure your pan is super hot!
Always allow your meat to rest before cutting it.
Make sure to smell asparagus before purchasing. The tops should be firm and have no odor.
When shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store where the bulk of "real food" is found.
If the bottom of your pot or pan begins to burn, peel and cut an onion in half and place the cut side down deep into your dish so your food is not left with the burn smell.
Save the bones from store-bought rotisserie chicken for stock. You can make about two quarts of stock from one chicken.
Keep masking tape and a permanent marker in the kitchen to label leftovers with a brief description and date (CHX STOCK 10/6). You can also label items, such as spices, with the date they were opened.
When heating or re-heating items in the oven, line the sheet tray with loosely crumpled aluminum foil for a crispier bottom. The crumpled foil allows for better air circulation and drains off excess oil or juices.