1. Make sure all ingredients in your grilled cheese are at room temp before cooking.
Butter your bread with softened butter so it’s easier to spread on the bread before cooking. Then use room-temperature cheese because it’ll melt more evenly and you won’t run into the problem of burning your bread. It’s pretty simple, but here’s a beautifully detailed argument for using room-temperature cheese and butter to make the perfect grilled cheese.
3. Upgrade your coffee by adding a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon.
Add a pinch of salt and some cinnamon to your coffee grounds before brewing. The salt will cut the bitterness and bring out flavor whereas the cinnamon will straight-up change your life.
4. Always cook in stock instead of water to improve flavor and richness.
Also opt for low-sodium stock, since this allows you to control the flavor more easily. Learn how to cook the perfect quinoa with stock here.
5. Choose Kosher salt or sea salt over table salt.
The main difference between kosher salt and sea salt is size: Kosher is less processed and therefore has bigger crystals. For a wicked flavor in your meats, use sea salt because the large crystals improve texture and taste. However, for most cases, kosher salt works best because it’s flakier than table salt, which makes it easier to control. Plus, it’s much cheaper than sea salt.
7. Tenderize your meat using the velveting method, which involves egg whites and cornstarch.
Coating meat slices in cornstarch and egg whites gives them a really silky texture that’s never too tough or too dry. By preserving the moisture on the outside of the meat, they keep the temperature down and reduce your chances of burning or over-cooking the meat. You can also add rice vinegar or rice wine to bring out extra flavor. Instructions here.
8. To bake the perfect cake without a recipe, make the weight of the sugar equal to the flour, and the eggs equal to the fat.
10. Add a spoonful of peanut butter or mustard to round out the flavors in sauces and stew-like dishes.
11. Make basted eggs: the easier, just-as-delicious version of poached eggs.
Basted eggs are like steamed fried eggs. You cook them by cracking them into the pan as if you’re going to fry them, but instead, you add some water, cover the pan, and you end up with perfectly runny and scrumptious eggs. View all the steps here.
14. When browning (or searing) meat, pat it dry, salt, and never overcrowd the pan.
The most important trick here is to take your time: You need to wait to really let the caramelization take place. Also make sure your pan is hot, and use either a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet. See complete steps here.
15. Pour a little vodka into your pie dough to make your crust extra flaky.
Vodka is 60% water, 40% ethanol, so you can add more liquid to help you work with the dough since water toughens the dough. Most of the alcohol gets cooked off, so your pie won’t taste like vodka, but it will be so flaky and so tender you’ll cry (maybe die). If you’re feeling adventurous, try using other alcohols for specific kinds of pie, like brandy for pumpkin pie. Here’s a recipe for a regular vodka-infused pie crust.
16. To make buttery and flaky pastries, use cold ingredients.
Not only should you use cold butter, but also cold flour and cold sugar to prevent the butter from melting before going into the oven. Make sure to use cold water as well, since this inhibits gluten development (which hardens the dough). Here’s a great breakdown and also recipe for the perfect pastry dough.
17. Add some cornstarch to your scrambled eggs to make them extra creamy and fluffy.
The best part of adding this ingredient is that it’ll only take 15 seconds for your eggs to finish cooking. The cornstarch is the magical component that protects the eggs from overcooking and turning rubbery. See the full recipe here.
18. Thicken your chili easily with crushed tortilla chips or masa flour.
Masa harina is the same thing as corn flour. For a traditional chili recipe, mix in the flour with beer before adding it to the chili. Instructions here.
19. To get a really crisp cut of meat, try these steps: salt, rinse, dry, and sear on high heat.
The heavier salting, rinsing, and drying all help remove the moisture from the outer surface of the meat, which makes the crust insanely crunchy. You should also use kosher salt so the meat doesn’t absorb too much salt. Here’s a full breakdown of how you should salt your steaks to make them so high-class everybody will think you went filet mignon on them.
20. When making iced tea, you can reduce the bitterness by adding a pinch of baking soda.
The baking soda neutralizes the tannin in the tea. Check out a recipe for sweet tea here.
21. You can also use baking soda to tenderize meat.
Baking soda raises the alkalinity of the meat, making it more resistant to stiffening while cooking. However, because it leaves a strong taste, you need to more careful with how much and how long you use it. If you’re only using baking soda, don’t marinate for longer than 15 minutes. Or, you can add lemon or lime juice to offset the taste of baking soda.
22. Keep your knives sharp by cleaning and storing them correctly.
It’s also better to use a wooden cutting board, because this does the least damage to the knife’s edge. You should clean your knives by hand-washing them. Never throw them in the dishwasher and don’t soak them for a long period of time. As for storing them, you should keep them in a wood block, which prevents them from dulling.
23. Match the temperature of your plates to the temperature of your food.
Have you ever made hot food for a lot of people only to have it cool immediately after serving it? Warming or cooling your dinnerware definitely upgrades the eating experience. And while you don’t have to do it every time, it’s a nice touch when you have guests over. Warm up your plates by putting them in the oven at 200 degrees for 5 minutes and cool them by placing them in the fridge for 20 minutes or less.