Monday, January 20, 2020

Hints, tips and tricks for food and the kitchen

I've learned a lot of basic hints, tips and tricks when it comes to cooking foods, as well as presenting my foods. 

And I thought I'd devote a post on here to sharing them.

Why am I sharing them now?  Because of the chicken I made the other day, I wanted to share how I do it. In fact, I like to make them like this and keep some in the freezer so I can pull them out and use them in a recipe as needed.
Poached Chicken

I was poaching some chicken breasts and realized that the method I use is probably not a very common one, but it makes the most amazing, tender chicken, perfect for a chicken salad.   Poaching chicken breasts can make for a very tough, dry protein or if you time it right, it can also give you a nice moist meat. Personally, I think it gets tough.    But if you do it this way, you actually get a very silky, tender, moist meat.  And it is perfectly safe to eat as well.   It is important that the chicken breasts used are all about the same thickness. I'll use a meat mallet to pound them out a touch, just so they're even.
Bring about 4 cups of well seasoned water to a boil.  Salt the water, use chicken broth, aromatics, it's all good.  If you've added onions, or garlic to the water, let them cook about 5 minutes, you want to get some flavor into the water. You can flavor it however you want, I used some Herb Ox unsalted chicken bouillon in this.   Get it to a nice rolling boil.  Place your chicken breasts into the water, cover and turn down the heat to minimum, let cook a couple of minutes like that, then turn off the heat and walk away.
Chicken poaching in stock
You don't have to do it quickly, just walk away.  Don't lift the lid, just to check, just ignore it for 30-45 minutes or so.  Then you can come back and pick the chicken out of the water.  It will be perfectly cooked, moist, tender and flavored.  I actually could have left this another few minutes in the broth, but it was cooked, all the way.  I used them in Jambalaya and they cooked even further there.
Poached chicken
The mouth feel in a chicken salad is divine.
You can let the chicken cool in the water, although I generally don't.  I like to get it cooled off quickly so I put it in the fridge.  The poaching water I keep. I'll use it to cook rice or potatoes or just add it to my stock stash in the freezer.  It's a good starter for any kind of stock.  Just strain it and use it.

I have several cutting boards, well, they're actually plastic sheet cutting boards which go through my dishwasher to help clean and disinfect them.  However, because they're light weight, they tend to slip and walk around when I'm cutting something on them.  So I dampen a piece of paper towel and spread it under the cutting board.  When I'm done with cutting whatever, I use that piece of damp towel to wipe off the board before washing it. If you're using a larger board, you can dampen a kitchen cloth and place underneath as well.  This helps to keep the board from moving around on you and hopefully helps to keep you from cutting yourself as well.  I used to do this with the really heavy cutting boards when I cooked at the senior center to keep them from skittering (love that word) around on the table.

I love to bake.  I make a lot of cakes but also love making sugar cookies.   Rolling out the cookies is fun, but if you're too generous with the flour on the counter to keep the cookies from sticking, you can end up with a cookie that looks good, but doesn't taste that great because of the additional flour you rolled into the dough. 
I was watching Alton Brown one day when he was showing how he gets lovely, light crisp sugar cookies.   He used a sprinkle of confectioner sugar, no flour, just the sugar to keep the dough from sticking.  So I tried it, and it was amazing.  And it's the only way I do sugar cookies now.  They're light, crisp and taste amazing.  Just use your favorite Sugar Cookie recipe or you can use my recipe.
Sugar Cookies

I like to keep a pot of chives going, luckily for me I can grow them year round, and I use them on a regular basis to, not only add flavor but also to decorate savory dishes. It's amazing how often just a sprinkle of green on top of a dish adds so much to its visual appeal.

Speaking of which, I made an omelette this morning and while I was making it, realized I had another quick hint.  Actually, two or three hints.   Adding a teaspoon of water to the egg/s, as you're whisking them together,  not only makes for a lighter omelette, it also helps to keep it fluffier when cooking.  When I flip the omelette, and add whatever fillings I want, I also dribble a teaspoon or so of water around the edges of the omelette, put the lid on and let the steam help melt the cheese if I'm using cheese, and why wouldn't you?  Ham, cheese and mushroom omelettes are the best.
It also keeps the bottom from browning too much.  And here's where I added the chives.

One of my favorites ideas is to keep some Gremolata in the freezer.  I use it,  not only on fish, but it can be used on chicken or anything you want notes of green, lemon and garlic on. 
I freeze it in these little lidded shot glasses. 
In fact I keep a package of them on hand now for a lot of things. Not for shots, cause I don't do those, but I've found they're perfect for freezing just a couple of tablespoons of various flavorings.  I keep frozen, chopped parsley in some, I use it for some of my spicy pepper mixtures, and of course for the Gremolata as well.  I measure out lemon juice and lemon zest so I can use them in cakes or cooking.
Yes, I know you can freeze herbs in olive oil, but sometimes I don't want oil in a particular dish, and the herbs I freeze like this can be sprinkled over top of a dish to accent it.

And my final hint, which was an OOPS on my part.   I dropped an egg on the floor, and had to clean it up. This was actually the second egg I'd dropped in the past couple of days. sigh. Those little suckers jump when you least expect it.

The first egg I dropped, I grabbed some paper towels to pick it up with, and ended up with slimy egg white all over the place, and used more towels to clean it up.  So when that little egg jumped to its Humpty Dumpty end today, I remembered a great hint.
I grabbed my container of kosher flake salt out of the pantry and dumped some on top of the splattered egg.  I used a little more than necessary, but, it worked great anyway.  Let the salt sit on top of the egg for a couple of minutes and then just use your dustpan and a little brush and you can sweep it right up and deposit it in garbage.

Just a few hints, I'll share more at a later date.   But in the meantime, I need to go wash the floor, sigh.

All recipes and their respective images are either original or adapted and credited, and are all the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking © 2011-2020, with all rights reserved thereof.

Check out my cookbooks on Amazon.  All are available as paperbacks or as e-book. 
 Simple Shrimp Recipes - 25 + Appetizer, Entree and Dipping Sauces.
 Nibbles and Bites - A Compilation of Appetizers, Canapes and Finger Foods
  Hygge - Danish Food and Recipes 
Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.


  1. Good tips - I'll try your poaching method. Cheers

    1. Let me know how it goes. I've found that the thinner the chicken breasts are the better for this. In fact, I'll cut them into cutlets a lot of the time.


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