Simple, Quick Kitchen Tips

This undated file photo provided Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, shows a Varanus mabitang. The monitor lizard is one of the species that could soon disappear in the wild, IUCN said Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. Switzerland-based IUCN surveyed a total of 47,677 animals and plants for this year's "Red List" of endangered species and determined that 17,291 of them are threatened with extinction. (AP Photo/IUCN, Tim Laman) AP Photo/IUCN, Tim Laman

For 10 years, the editors at Cook's Illustrated magazine have given readers kitchen tips that simplify the cooking process.

Now you can find some of the best ones in a new book, "The Best Kitchen Quick Tips," a collection of over 500 tricks and tips to make you a better cook.

On The Saturday Early Show, author Chris Kimball demonstrated a few of his favorite tips.

Here are a few ideas Kimball showed us.

Knives: Determining Sharpness
A simple test can show if your knives need to be sharpened. Put your knife to the paper test. Hold a sheet of paper by one end and try slicing clean ribbons from it. If the knife snags or fails to cut the paper, it needs to be steeled or sharpened.

Hair Dryer: Creating A Lustrous Look For Cakes
Use a hair dryer on your chocolate cake to give the frosting a silky, more "lustrous" appearance.

Salad Spinner: Spinning Greens Drier
Even after you use a salad spinner, you might find yourself blotting your greens before you serve them. This tip is an all-in-one method for dried greens in no time. Combine the two steps by spinning two or three paper towels in with the greens.

Handheld Mixer: Keeping Bowls in Place
Twist a damp towel to form a nest slightly larger than the base of the bowl. Set the bowl into the nest, which will hold the bowl in place as you mix and add ingredients.

Handheld Mixer: Splatter-Free Mixing
Now that your bowl is in place, here's a way to make sure your mixer doesn't splatter the contents of the bowl all over the place. Take a piece of parchment cut larger than the size of your mixing bowl and make two holes, spaced as far apart as the beater openings on your mixer. Insert the beater stems through the holes and into the beater base. While you're mixing, the parchment will cover the bowl, preventing the contents from splattering onto the counter or walls.

Pepper Stuffer Trick: Keeping Pepper Upright
Cooks who've made stuffed bell peppers know that the peppers have an annoying tendency to topple toward disaster in the roasting pan. Instead of cooking the peppers in a baking dish or roasting pan, as specified in most recipes, place them in a tube pan. The snug fit makes the peppers sit upright. You can also place the peppers in the cups of a muffin tin. Also, place each pepper in an individual ovenproof ramekin or custard cup. This is also a great system when you want to cook only a couple of peppers, instead of a whole batch.

Chopstick Trick: Drying Wine Glasses
Set up chopsticks (the square-sided kind are best) parallel to each other and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the counter. Place the wet glasses on the chopsticks to dry. The slight elevation off the counter allows air to circulate into the glasses and speeds drying.

Brown Sugar Trick: Softening The Sweet Stuff
This is perfect when you're in a pinch and you need to use the brown sugar that is now one big solid piece in the box in your cabinet. This will only last for about 10 minutes, says Kimball. Place a cup or so of brown sugar in a glass pie plate or bowl, cover with a small piece of waxed paper, and then top with a slice of bread to provide a bit of moisture. Loosely cover the pie plate or bowl with plastic wrap and microwave until softened (about 30 seconds).
  • Rome Neal

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