Test Kitchen Secrets Revealed
Step 1: Save bacon drippings by pouring it through a fine strainer directly into an ice cube tray. Freeze.
Step 2: Once they’re frozen, remove the cubes of bacon drippings and place them in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Store in the freezer, and use the cubes whenever you need a flavor boost.
Step 1: Roll the dumpling dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness. Using a ruler as a guideline, cut the dough into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut the strips into 1-inch squares.
Step 2: Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into the boiling chicken-and-broth mixture, stirring gently. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 25 to 30 minutes or until dumplings are tender.
Recipe: Classic Chicken and Dumplings
Decorate like a pro—without a pastry bag. Spoon your favorite homemade frosting or purchased ready-to-use variety into a zip-top plastic freezer bag. (Do not seal bag.) Snip a hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe desired shapes or letters onto brownies, cakes, or cupcakes. For best results, we recommend practicing a few shapes on wax paper to find the perfect one and to get a feel for working with the bag and frosting.
Reducing sauce—Boiling to evaporate liquid ingredients to thicken sauce and concentrate flavor. Look for the sauce to coat a spoon. Measure only if a specific amount is given. For example: reduce mixture to 1⁄2 cup.
Mounting the sauce—Adding cold butter to add a creamy consistency and richness to the sauce. Make sure to pull the skillet off the burner. Left on, the butter melts too quickly, fat and whey separate, and the sauce is oily rather than creamy.
Photo: Piccata Sauce
Caramelizing sugar is less tricky when a small amount of water is added to help dissolve the sugar. Water also acts as a thermostat to slow the rapid heating of the sugar, decreasing the chance of burning. Check out these tips.
- Take steps to prevent crystallization or a grainy texture. Use a recipe that calls for a small amount of corn syrup only stir as the recipe directs (not too often).
- Use the correct pan size. Caramelizing sugar will bubble up as it cooks. Use a pan that feels heavy for its size and is light in color.
- Seriously, it’s hot! Use oven mitts, and go slowly when moving the pan or pouring the hot sugar mixture from the pan. Do not taste!
- Keep an eye on color. In seconds the sugar can go from perfect dark amber to overdone. Start over if the sugar burns.
Ever wondered how you could get smooth, lump-free, and creamy mashed potatoes? The secret is the potato ricer—think garlic press, but bigger. This kitchen utensil presses potatoes into small, uniform, rice-size pieces. And as if this weren’t enough of a reason, we have one more. With most potato ricers, you can skip the step of peeling potatoes; the ricer does the job for you.
Bent icing knives come in many lengths and widths; find the one that is most comfortable for you to use. Shorter knives work better for smaller cakes, while longer knives will help you ice larger cakes.
OXO Good Grips Bent Icing Knife: from Bed Bath & Beyond ($9.99), bedbathandbeyond.com
Deliver a perfect dusting of powdered sugar to your favorite dessert with a tea infuser. They’re inexpensive and make decorating a snap.
For perfectly smooth and lump-free grits, pour grits in a steady, slow stream while whisking constantly.