Kitchen Notebook: Tricks and Techniques

(A little sisterly advice…)


How to Boil or Blanch Broccoli (seriously)

How to Boil Tofu

How to ensure scalloped potatoes don’t stick together  

How to Cut and Peel Winter Squash (with less risk of dismemberment)

Conversion of a Liquid Starter to a Firm Starter (Sourdough)

Using Salt-Packed Anchovies

Perfect Pie Crust by Hand

Chicken Stock

Measuring Spices by Hand


Extra egg whites

To freeze:  Freeze in ice cube trays–I try for 2 cubes for every white (cube is a half ounce or one T).  Then  put in a ziploc bag in the freezer and use as necessary.  (N.B. 1/4c generally equals one large white). 

Egg whites generally keep for two weeks in the fridge too.

  • macarons (see here for inspiration:  swoon!)
  • meringues, iles flottantes
  • angel food cake (when you really have a glut–they can use as much as 12)
  • egg white souffle (see Julia Child)
  • financiers (see ours here and here)
  • buttercream icings (we talked about making it here)
  • marshmallows
  • A Dorie Greenspan cake?  (see here)
  • see David Lebovitz‘s post here for more!

Extra Egg Yolks

To freeze:  You need to stir in a bit of sugar to preserve the more delicate texture of yolks; see Rose Levy Berenbaum’s discussion here.  (I haven’t tried this as I usually find myself with extra whites rather than yolks, but you can’t argue with the author of the Cake Bible).

  • Lemon (or other citrus) curd
  • Ice cream!
  • Puddings (old-fashioned pudding, creme brulee, pots de creme, flan…)

Extra sour cream

  • Make pastry dough and freeze until later:  just three tablespoons needed for this recipe, perfect for using up those little bits.
  • Make ice cream!
  • Absolutely wonderful pancakes–follow a recipe that calls for buttermilk to get the right proportions for baking soda.  (The acid means you use baking soda instead of baking powder).
  • Make cakes!  You can’t freeze sour cream, but you can freeze a cake you make from it–if you want to…see our posts here and here for ideas.
  • Scones
  • Coffee cakes
  • Ice cream

Extra whipping cream

  • Panna cotta–really easy, just keep some gelatin on hand.  Steep flavorings in the cream to add an endless variety of flavors.  I’ve halved recipes with success to use up a cup of cream, for example.  You can also try creme caramel.
  • Pudding
  • Rice Pudding
  • Make your own butter
  • Caramel sauce.  Try this recipe or this one, for starters.
  • Caramels (as in the candy).  Here’s  a recipe we’ve loved.
  • Ice cream

Substituting for Buttermilk

  • Some baking recipes require buttermilk because of the thicker consistency and flavor.  Not many of us regularly use buttermilk and the left over almost always goes bad.  Also, it’s one of those ingredients that can sneak up on you.  “Buttermilk?  A cup?”  We learned this trick from our mom who likely learned it or at least refreshed her memory from Betty Crocker:  1TB of lemon juice or vinegar + 1 cup of milk; let stand 5 minutes.  It will get “gloppy” but that just means it’s ready.  Voila, clabbered milk!   Some folks also add 1 TB of cream of tartar.
  • You can also substitute yogurt (or even kefir) which have the same acidic profile as buttermilk, and with care you can even use sour cream.
  • Consider freezing extra buttermilk before it goes bad, if you have trouble using an entire container. 

13 thoughts on “Kitchen Notebook: Tricks and Techniques

  1. I think we had talked about this–I’m sure you have lots of “helpful hints” to share. For me it’s also a way to not be saying to myself “now, wasn’t there something I was going to do with all these [fill in the blank]”!

  2. Hi, can you tell me how long it takes to make buttermilk as you suggested? I need it tonight, so I have about 8 hours left when I start now… Is this enough?

  3. Pingback: Maple Pots de Creme (Baked Maple Custard) | Three Clever Sisters

    • You’re right, it does freeze nicely. (I used to use powdered buttermilk but why bother–you can freeze extra, or clabber your own milk, or often just use regular yogurt, which I always have plenty of since I make a batch every week).

  4. Pingback: Rhubarb-Rose Ice Cream | Three Clever Sisters

  5. I don’t think this idea fits here, but…. I make homemade pancakes on Sunday and save them for the week for the kids. I put them in the microwave for two minutes before school. To keep them from drying out, I place a small bowl of water in the microwave. This also works for leftover rice. Additionally, it makes the microwave REALLY easy to clean!!!

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