Saffron Saavy

You have a recipe that asks for saffron. It is so expensive that you don’t want to mess up the recipe.  If the recipe does not state exactly how to prep the saffron, you can do this to get it ready for use.

In a small bowl combine the saffron requested and about a tablespoon of hot water or stock that is requested in your recipe.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before adding to your recipe.

Scalding Milk

You have a recipe that asks for scalded milk.  What in the world is it asking for?  Scalding milk is an old process used to gently simmer milk just until a skin forms on the top.  This was used years ago in order to kill harmful bacteria.  Since most milk is now pasteurized scalding may not be needed, with a few exceptions.

Scalding milk for bread actually changed the chemical composition of the milk to help make your bread a bit moister.

The rest of the time that scalded milk is asked for, you can place the milk in a pan over medium heat and heat it just enough to melt butter or dissolve sugar.

Clamped Clams

You have done all of the cleaning and rinsing on your clams but you still can’t get the little guys open.  If your clams stay firmly clamped shut and you can’t get a knife inserted, throw them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.

You don’t want them to freeze, but the cold temperature will make them easier to open.

Half an Egg?

You need to cut a recipe in half.  Only problem is that it asks for 1 egg.  How in the world are you supposed to cut an egg in half?

Typically recipes are written for use of Large eggs.  A large egg typically has about 2 tablespoons of white and 1 tablespoon of yolk.

To cut the egg in “half”, break it into a bowl and mix it well so that the white and the yolk are combined well.  Measure out 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of the mixture and add to the recipe.

You can cover and refrigerate the remaining egg and use it in scrambled eggs or another recipe later.

Raising Frozen Dough

Sometimes you like to buy frozen bread dough from the grocery store, but it takes so long to thaw before you can use it.  And if you forget to take it out in the morning, it will never be ready by dinner time.  Here is a quick method for raising most frozen bread dough.

Grab a large crock pot. I have a 6 quart oblong that works great.  If you have a smaller crock pot it might require a bit more time or you might have a slightly misshapen loaf.

If you are using a loaf pan, grease the loaf pan and place the frozen dough in the pan and place in the crock pot.  Set to low and cover with the lid. Your dough should be doubled in bulk and ready for baking in about 2 hours.  Just remove the pan from your crock pot and place in preheated oven and bake according to package directions.

If you are not using a bread pan or are making rolls, grease the interior of the crock pot well.  Place some oil on your hands and generously grease the outside of your rolls or bread and place in the crockpot, leaving as much space between rolls as possible.  Cover with the lid and set to low.  Bread should be ready in about 2 hours, rolls should be ready in about an hour and a half.  Gently remove from the crock pot and place in well greased pan and pop in the oven to finish off in the oven according to package directions.

If you want to bake rolls directly in the slow cooker, this can be done in about 2 hours also.  Generously grease the inside of your slow cooker.  Place enough rolls in the bottom of your slow cooker that they cover the bottom, leaving about 1″ of space between the rolls.  Smaller crock pots can be as few as 4-5, larger crock pots can be as many as 10-12.  Cover and turn the heat onto high and let cook about 2 hours.

The tops will not be brown like if you baked in the oven, so be careful not to over cook or the bottoms can become dry and crunchy.

Crisp Crust

You made a pie and the bottom crust turned out really soggy.  It doesn’t seem to have cooked all of the way through.  When cooking a pie, the placement in the oven can make all of the difference.

If you lower the rack in the oven to it’s lowest setting before placing your pie in the oven, the heat will be concentrated on the bottom of the pie allowing the crust to cook properly.

You can also use a clear pyrex pie pan that allows you to see what is going on while it is cooking in the oven.

If you cook your pie and the bottom seems to be over done, move the rack up one notch next time and repeat until you find the sweet spot in your oven.

Complicated Clams

I admit it, I hate shelling clams.  If I need to use them in a recipe, I go out of my way to find them already shelled.  If you find yourself with a few clams that need to be shucked, here is a tip to help you do it a bit more easily.

Live clams in their shell can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.  Before you start shucking, check all of the clams and discard any that are not tightly sealed.  If there is a gap it means that the clam has died and you shouldn’t eat the meat from it.

Wash the clams thoroughly using a brush to clean off any extra sand or debris. Place your whole unopened clams into a large bowl of bucket of clean cold water.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes, or up to an hour.  When you are ready to start shucking, grab one out of the bucket and quickly insert a clam knife or butter knife into the natural split of the shell horizontally and gently twist causing the clam to open wider.

Once you have enough room to work inside the shell, cut the muscle attaching the clam meat to the shell on both sides.  Using a sharp knife you can now puncture the stomach and rinse out the contents.

Once your clams are shucked you can place in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for up to 7 days, or you can freeze them for up to 2 months.

Pepperoni Peace

You just love making pepperoni pizza and the kids chow it down. The only problem is that when you make it, you always have pools of red oil dripping down off the pizza and all over your hands and clothes.

Fortunately there is a way that you can prepare the pepperoni so that it does not drip all over.

Grab a large microwave safe platter and place a couple of pieces of paper towel on the plate. Lay out a layer of pepperoni on the towel and cover with a couple more sheets. Place another layer of pepperoni and cover. Continue until you have all the pepperoni that you will need for your recipe.

Place the plate in a microwave oven and cook for 30 seconds on high. Let the plate sit for 5 minutes or so and cook again for 30 seconds. Let the plate sit for 5 minutes and now your pepperoni is ready for use.

Once you have placed all your pepperoni simply toss the soaked towels in the trash.

Raising Yeast Bread

You need to raise your bread, but you don’t really have a warm spot that you can use right now. Here is a tip for people who have a cooking stone.

While you are making your bread, preheat your oven to 350. When you have your bread ready to rise, turn off your oven and remove the stone. Place the stone on a rack or a pad and cover with a thick towel.

Now place your pan of bread onto the stone and let rise as normal. The heat from the stone will continue to radiate to rise your bread.

Cutting Carrots

Cutting carrots is actually quite easy if you do it right.

1) Wash your carrot well and trim off any dark spots as well as any green tops.

2) To make the carrot more managable, cut the carrot into several sections. Depending on the size of your carrot will determine how many piece you will need to make. I like working with about 3 inch sections.

3) Take each section and cut it in half so that you have a flat section to lay on your cutting board.

4) Make several, usually 2 or 3 lengthwise cuts to each of your half carrot pieces.

5) Now just cut across the pieces that you cut lengthwise.

You now have a diced carrot that was quick and easy.