When working with dried chillies, the first step is usually to deseed the pods in order to temper their heat. Odds are, those seeds are then discarded, thrown out with the rest of the kitchen scraps. Those seeds, however, are full of fiery flavour, and worth saving. Instead, each time you deseed a chilli, add the seeds to a jar. They’ll add up quickly. To prepare them, toast the seeds until fragrant, then grind to a powder. Use them to add a smokey heat to your dishes, or use in lieu of chilli flakes as a seasoning. Be sparing, though, as they are pure heat.
Have you ever squeezed a plump lime, only to have a few paltry drops dribble out? Sometimes the firmness of a lemon or lime can be misleading, yielding little juice. Likewise, citrus that’s been sitting around for a while can dry out. To get more juice, microwave the fruit on high for ten seconds or so, just until it feels warm to the touch. Roll the fruit on the counter, cut, and squeeze. A fresh citrus will produce copious juice, and an older one will give up whatever it’s got.
With summer here and fresh produce in the market stalls, you’ll probably be using lots of fresh herbs. Then, if you’re like most of us, you’ll probably be throwing out lots of fresh herbs, as they always seem to spoil before you can use them all. Delicate, volatile herbs such as cilantro, mint, and basil are especially susceptible. If you’re lucky enough to get your herbs with the roots on, place them in a glass of water in the fridge, with a plastic bag overtop to keep the leaves from drying out. Change the water every day or two, and your herbs should last over a week. For herbs without roots, rinse the bunch well and shake off excess water, but keep some moisture on the leaves. Wrap the bunch in paper towels, place them in an open plastic bag, and store in your refrigerator drawer. Give the towels a spritz when they seem to dry out, and your herbs will last about a week.
The kitchen scale, simple and unnecessary it may seem, is a tool with the potential to radically improve your cooking and baking. Measuring spoons and cups have their place in the kitchen, but are inherently inaccurate due to the variety of ingredients and technique. One-hundred grams of flour always weighs one-hundred grams, but can measure anywhere from 3/4 of a cup to one cup, depending on how it is scooped, whether it is sifted, humidity, and any number of other factors. This applies equally to sugar, rice, or any other dry ingredient. Especially when baking, this can lead to major differences in measurements from scoop to scoop, and makes it very difficult to achieve consistent results. Using a scale makes getting consistent, predictable measurements fast and easy. Continue reading