9 Kitchen Hacks to Get Dinner on the Table Faster
Embracing the slow food movement doesn’t have to be slow thanks to these time-saving tips.
Published Feb 28, 2017 5:00 AM
Slice a Batch of Cherry Tomatoes Quickly
If you’re getting ready to make a salad where you need a batch of halved cherry tomatoes, there’s a really simple hack to cutting them all at once. Grab two round, plastic lids and place one on the counter. Then arrange a single layer in that lid and put the other lid on top, which will hold the tomatoes in place. Slide a chef’s knife down the middle between the two lids, and in just a few seconds you’ll have a batch of sliced tomatoes instead of having to cut them all one at a time.
Don’t Make Puff Pastry from Scratch
As people get more and more into home cooking, it’s natural to want to become increasingly hands on and make as much from scratch as possible. There’s a pride in executing a dish in its entirety. Also, once you start to excel, you’ll be able to make a lot of foods better than the store-bought version. That is not the case with puff pastry. The process of making those super-thin, crumbly layers of dough is time-consuming and difficult. Even the best chefs around will use store-bought puff pastry at home, so there’s no shame in buying it when you’re making danishes, turnovers or millefeuilles.
Ask the Butcher to Spatchcock Your Chicken
This tip saves you time in two ways. One, you don’t have to dirty another cutting board and fiddle with butterflying your chicken yourself. Two, spatchcocking your bird (splitting the chicken so it lays flat while cooking) will cut down your cooking time with the added bonus of increasing the amount of crispy skin you’ll have on your roast.
Soften Butter Quickly with a Warm Glass
Whether it’s for a recipe you’re preparing or just to make it spreadable for bread, there’s an easy way to soften a stick of butter right out of the fridge. Start by filling a glass tumbler with hot water. Pour out the water and then invert it over the wrapped stick stood on end. The residual heat from the glass will envelop the butter and gently warm it enough to be soft without melting it like throwing the stick in the microwave would.
Cook Large Batches of Bacon in the Oven
If you’re hosting brunch, having enough bacon for everyone can be time consuming if you have to pan fry the slices in batches. It’s much easier to arrange the bacon on a sheet pan, throw it in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes, and not have to worry about tending to the pan as it cooks.
Peel a Whole Head of Garlic in No Time
When a recipe calls for a lot of fresh garlic, it can be a labor-intensive process to peel all of the cloves you need. But if you plan to mince the garlic anyway, you can get a little rough with the peeling and save yourself some serious time. Start by removing the cloves from the bulb, then smash them with a plate and shake them in a tupperware container. When you dump out the garlic, you’ll see the cloves have separated from their paper and you can just pluck them out and prep them for your recipe.
Use the Edge of a Glass to Skin a Mango
The mango. So delicious. So frustrating. There’s that hard fibrous core that even the best knives struggle to penetrate, then there’s the precious little fruit attached to the skin once you do dislodge it from the pit. However, there’s a really simple trick to maximize your mango yield. After separating the side from the core, position the fruit on the edge of a glass and push down, using the glass’s rim to cut the fruit from the skin.
Use No-Boil Lasagna Sheets
The layered pasta dish hailing from Bologna, Italy, is the perfect family meal that has the added bonus of making for great leftovers, as well. In the past, cooking lasagna involved having to boil and drain all the sheets of pasta before getting to the work of layering the dish. However, no-boil pasta sheets taste just as good and have a great consistency without the added step of cooking the noodles first.