Cook’s Exchange: 5 Key Cooking Tips

Readers share their top tips for recipes, substitutions, food prep and more.


FLAT FREEZER STORAGE
To efficiently store frozen single-serve portions of soft foods and sauces, pour the food into resealable plastic bags and line up the bags in a rectangular cake pan. Make the contents of the bags as level as possible before freezing. Once frozen, the portions are uniformly shaped and easy to stack and store. - Jennifer Waller, Santa Fe, NM

SIMMERING TIP
It can be difficult to get a flame low enough for simmering on a gas stove. One solution is to place a cast iron skillet on the burner and set the pot you want to simmer in the skillet. The cast iron heats evenly, provides a solid surface and lowers the flame’s temperature just enough to keep your food from sticking or burning. - Lori Dammann, Standish, CA

CONSTANT GARLIC
To keep roasted garlic on hand, roast four or five heads all at once. Squeeze and mash the roasted garlic into a paste, and use a melon baller or spoon to scoop small balls of the garlic paste onto a cookie sheet. Freeze the garlic until it’s solid, then package it in a freezer bag. Whenever you want to add the flavor of roasted garlic to a recipe, grab a couple cubes from the freezer. The garlic thaws in minutes. - Elizabeth Chezem, Harrisburg, NC

RECIPE INSPIRATION
I hate to cut up or soil my food magazines, so when I find a recipe I want to try, I scan and print it. I file the magazine and put the scanned recipe in a box in my kitchen. Whenever I’m wondering what to make, I open the box and find something new and interesting. - Sunny Fishkind, Bethpage, NY


KEEP IT STEADY
When cutting something round or slippery like an onion, potato or apple, use corn-on-the-corn holders to secure it. Stick the holder’s pins into the unruly food to steady it while you cut. If you’re cutting onions, this also keeps your fingers from getting stinky! - Robert Kennedy, Hackensack, MN


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