Need More Everyday Cooking Tips? Here Are 23 Of Our Favorites
Essentials we've learned from KS over the years
This article is part of “The Community Issue”, our celebration of what brings us together: Food. We’ll be giving you recipes that you asked for, highlighting some amazing recipes that you’ve shared, exploring what we’ve learned from each other here at KS, and so much more! Join us as we connect with each other through food this month and check out this link for an overview of all our latest stories and recipes from the issue. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes, extra community content, and more!
We never stop learning, and with cooking, as with many pursuits in life, we often learn by looking to the people around us. I am a *far* better cook three years on from joining Kitchen Stories and it's entirely because of the people on my team—through seeing how others get inspired (and sharing these references around), perfecting recipes together (and then seeing you master them at home), to watching and learning their techniques (thanks for all the impromptu knife workshops Christian!) or the way they use ingredients (I’ll never forget the carrot juice, ras el hanout, and coriander seed dressing from Hanna’s carrot salad recipe).
The Kitchen Stories community is made up of all of us—both our team behind the recipes and you at home bringing them into your everyday life (and uploading your own!) Every recipe and every article—from inception to publication—sparks so much conversation and provide endless possibilities for learning something new.
Here are 23 everyday cooking tips and favorite recipes from the Kitchen Stories team, and you, our community—that we’ve learned from each other!
1.How to fix your chopping board in place
Mengting, Founder and CEO: “The tiniest thing I didn’t know before starting KS: The importance of securing your cutting board with a wet paper towel.”
Safety first! Keeping your cutting board stable, so it doesn’t rock all over the place while you’re cutting, makes knife work both easier and safer. It’s easy to do so, just lay a damp paper towel, thin kitchen cloth, or a non-stick mat underneath your cutting board. Here’s how!
2. We keep learning from the comments section
Lisa, Senior Food Editor: “Recipes can always be refined and there are always new aspects that you haven’t noticed before, especially when you make a dish several times. I also love studying the comments (like in this recipe!), which always motivates me to take a closer look and make adjustments. It’s fun to let our app, together with the community, become an ever-growing fount of cooking knowledge!”
To that, I have to agree—a recent comment by community member Maja, who swapped lime juice for yuzu juice in my smashed roasted potato with cilantro pesto recipe has me thinking of all the different ways to incorporate the fragrant Japanese citrus in my cooking...
3. How to get the crispiest pan-fried chicken skin
Andreas, Community Manager: “Even when you consider yourself a good cook, there’s always something to learn, especially when it comes to small, but super important details. Hanna showed me how to get a nice crunchy skin when pan-frying chicken thighs by starting with a cold, instead of a preheated, pan. Now, I use this technique regularly when I cook chicken, duck breasts, or salmon and it always turns out perfect!”
Try the technique out in Andreas’ Japanese-inspired chicken tarragon recipe, which had everyone in our test kitchen drooling.
4. Learning how to work with an unexpected ingredient or combination
Luise, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager: “Before I started at KS, I didn't know how to cook and wasn't confident in the kitchen. I didn't think food had any special worth and I didn't like a lot of things, even though I’d never even tried them. Now I cook with KS recipes every day because they give me confidence that I’ll be able to make any recipe work, too. I have learned how diverse food can be and that it’s worthwhile to venture off your usual path to try something new! My highlight so far was when Hanna served us vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil poured over the top during a lunch break. I am still totally fascinated by this delicious combo!”
Food Editor Lisa-Kristin is also thankful Hanna for helping her “discover her love” for tonka beans—the popular vanilla replacement with notes of almond and cherry. Try it out for yourself with this Tonka bean and espresso panna cotta.
5. How to stay sharp in the kitchen with these knife tricks
Xueci, Food Editor: “Always keep your knives sharp—you have a bigger chance of hurting yourself with a dull knife! Also, slice the bottom off a round object so it doesn't slip and makes cutting easier! See it demonstrated here with a pomelo.” It’s true! Dull knives slip around and risk nicking you where a sharp knife handled properly cuts clean through. Here’s how to keep those knives safely sharp.
To make sure you stay sharp, take note of this tip from another fellow Food Editor, Lisa-Kristin: “I'm forever stressing to everyone around me to keep their kitchen knives out of the dishwasher because it dull them really quickly, so always wash your knives by hand.”
Patrick, Senior Video Editor: “I’ve learned how to handle a knife properly, and in particular how to cut more efficiently and reduce the time—sadly I’m only speaking about food, not video here. When I cook with friends I am now the designated slicer and chopper, so we now manage to eat the same day we start cooking.”
And one thing that seemed to be a feat for many (Mengting, Founder and CEO; Kirsten, Team Lead for Cross-Channel Communications; Artur, Senior Video Editor) was learning how to properly cut a bell pepper, one of nature’s beautifully complex forms. “Apparently, I had never done it properly before,” says Mengting.
Here’s how to cut a bell pepper properly. Practice your technique on these recipes:
— Crunchy bell pepper oven fries with aioli
— Grilled flank steak with bell pepper relish
— Muhammara (Middle Easter walnut and roasted bell pepper dip)
6. Stop! Don’t wash those mushrooms!
Xueci, Food Editor: “Someone—it’s got to be Christian or Hanna—told me that it's not necessary to wash mushrooms, in fact it’s better not wash them.” I can concur here, as during my childhood, I often had the job of rubbing off any dirt using a kitchen towel—thanks mother! To top up your mushroom knowledge, read this article: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Mushrooms.
7. Knowing your bread flour from your 00 flour, and your sour cream from your crème fraîche
Mengting, Founder and CEO: “When it comes to flour and cream products, I *still* don’t know the differences by heart, so I ALWAYS go back to reference these two handy articles: Every Type of Flour Explained and From Crème Fraîche to Sour Cream: Dairy Decoded!”
8. How to fake it till you make it with ingredient substitutions
When Xueci and I were testing an upcoming fried chicken recipe in the test kitchen, we were out of buttermilk. However, we were saved by a hack I remembered reading in a Nigella book years ago. Buttermilk is not an ingredient I tend to have on hand (whereas yogurt and milk, I do) so I almost exclusively use this substitute when I recipe calls for buttermilk: Mix ⅔ yogurt with ⅓ milk and voila—the perfect substitute. I’ve used it in cake recipes and fried chicken and am happy to have shared the knowledge with Xueci, who nudged me to include it here and point you in the direction of this helpful article, too: Common Ingredient Substitutions to Rescue Your Recipe.
9. You can make *a lot* with 5 ingredients
Devan, Managing Editor: “When I first started working at Kitchen Stories we wanted to create a new recipe format for dinners made up of only 5-ingredients (and desserts with just 3!). It seemed like a challenge that we could tackle, but also one that would sort of eventually dry up; honestly how many things can you really make with just 5 ingredients? What we learned though, and continue to learn with this ongoing recipe format, is that there are SO many things you can make with this limited number of ingredients. As a recipe developer, it's also been a fun framework that helps you think more efficiently about how to build flavor and create a satisfying meal; the idea is that you break down an idea into key ingredients and in turn, whoever makes the recipe can be flexible and add to it or make small adjustments for something different, but, hopefully, what remains is an equally delicious and easy dinner.
Here are my favorite 5 ingredient dinners (so far):
— 5-ingredient creamy tomato and basil pasta
— 5-ingredient toasted green goddess and tuna salad sandwich
— 5-ingredient lemony chickpea and tahini tagliatelle”
10. Stop, MARINATE, and listen (*sincerest apologies, Vanilla Ice!)
Community member Joel learned a thing or two about building up flavorful proteins from Devan’s Steak and chicken fajita recipe (*plus* the payoff of homemade salsa). Never, ever skip marinating, as even a little time goes a long way with this integral, infusing step. Learn how to marinate in this video here or if you’d like to turn to marinating’s sibling, brining, catch the video technique here to learn how to wet or dry brine meat.
For more ways to head to Flavortown, see this article on all the ways to make grill-worthy marinades and rubs, or try these recipes:
— Marinated fried chicken with wasabi potato salad— Spicy coconut marinated shrimp
— Roasted salmon with marinated daikon salad...because yes, your veg loves a marinade, too!
11. How to cook pasta perfectly
Xueci, Food Editor: “I’ve learned how to cook pasta according to Ruby’s article on the matter. Now, I also always have anchovies and capers in my pantry which makes it easy to whip up a very minimal, but satisfying pasta whenever I want.”
Pushing the point of the community—a large bulk of my pasta knowledge (don’t throw out the pasta water—it’s the base of your sauce and always, always mix your sauce and pasta before serving so it becomes a unified dish) comes from my best friend’s mom, as you can read for yourself: How to cook pasta like an Italian.
12. Sausage meat = seasoned ground meat on a flavor uptick
Jost, Editorial Assistant: “After almost two years at Kitchen Stories, it's hard for me to bundle up all my newfound knowledge! For a quick weekday lunch, I can't get enough of Hanna's pasta with broccoli and Italian sausage. It’s easy, quick, and incredibly flavorful! I especially love the trick of removing the sausage meat from the casing and using it as a kind of instantly-perfectly-seasoned ground meat. Combined with fresh lemon, the dish is so delicious and fresh.”
13. How to make the perfect “bowl” so leftovers shine
Ania, Team Lead Partner Operations: “When I used to prep salads or veggie bowls using leftovers, I always just threw ingredients together. It mostly worked but sometimes I was missing flavors, but couldn’t put my finger on what or why. I’ve learned from Hanna that consistency and different textures, (and even colors) are super important here! So now, I always check if I have enough textures (from soft to crunchy, from fresh to chewy etc.) and I often also look at the palette: sometimes I choose as many colors as possible and sometimes I will just stick to one. This makes my leftover meals much more unified and much more tasty!”
For some signature Hanna salads try: The antipasto salad, Summer salad with grilled peaches and zucchini, and Cobb salad
And, if you have a copy of our cookbook “Anyone Can Cook”—you’ll find a whole chapter with all the tricks to build your own perfect salad bowl, but if not (yet!) check out how to up your salad dressing game.
14. You can make pretty much anything meatless and delicious
I love Devan’s recipe for meatless meatballs (judging by the amount of likes, you do too!) and was wowed by Hanna’s vegan seitan schnitzel—both are proof that there are endless ways to get creative in the kitchen when it comes to varying your proteins. I also recommend reading Lisa’s guide to making all your favorite chicken recipes meatless; I learned a thing or two, and hope you do, too!
If you need ideas fast, this article has 27 meatless dinner ideas!
15. There’s such a thing as vegan scrambled eggs, and my, they’re good!
I was seriously impressed by this vegan scrambled egg recipe by erstwhile Food Editor Julia—particularly the way she used black salt (aka kala namak) to add what can only be described as eggy depth to the crumbled tofu. An utter delight to eat in the morning, but a protein that could equally appear atop rice or noodles.
16. How to speed up a dough rising time
Before we had fancy ovens that come with handy dough proofing settings, I learnt some great dough corner-cutting from Christian to speed up the rising time: Preheat your oven on its lowest setting (ie. 120°F or 50°C or under), then turn it off, place your dough in a bowl with a damp cloth over the top, and leave it to rise in the tropical warmth of the oven.
17...and memorize the only (pizza) dough you’ll ever knead to know!
Jost, Editorial Assistant: “Whether it's a Neapolitan-style pizza night with friends or a wonderfully bubbling sheet pizza for lunch with the family. Lisa's tips, tricks and recipes for homemade pizza dough have given me countless wonderful hours and will continue to do so in the future!”
18. How to grow *more* scallions from your store-bought bunch
I learned this trick from my fellow Food Editor Xueci, who learned it in turn from our ex-designer Ivette (thanks for the photo!). In her scallion-celebration article, she advises: “Just chop off the green part and put the root-end in a transparent bottle with some water on your window sill.”
While on this topic, you should head over to her hit recipe for scallion oil noodles.
19. Bone in chicken: How to break down a whole bird and free chicken thighs
Learning how to work with, and break down a whole bird can be quite liberating—in an effort to be both kinder to the planet and more ethical (it’s a journey!), every once in a while, I favor buying a single, organic, free-range chicken, rather than bits and pieces and putting the entire thing to use. Christian gave me a demo of how to break down the whole chicken in the test kitchen (remember that super-sharp knife), and you can usefully watch this video to see how to do it yourself at home.
Another technique that comes in really handy if you can’t find boneless chicken thighs (a cut of meat we love for its flavor), is how to debone whole chicken legs. The method (which you can watch here), comes endorsed by our Community Manager Andreas: “I have deboned many, many chicken thighs in the last three years. It’s something that no one really shows you, but it’s simple once you know.” One last tip from Andreas? “If you pull the whole thing apart and pound that down, you have a perfectly-sized, great-tasting schnitzel.”
20. ….and get the most out of a poultry purchase
I’m sure you’ve read it before—don’t throw away the chicken carcass or any errant chicken bones! It’s true. I’ve gotten in the habit whacking these bits into a stock pot with whatever aromatics (garlic, onion, leeks, black pepper) and stock vegetables (carrots, celery, celeriac—keep offcuts in a freezer bag so you’re always stock-ready) and let it simmer away, ready to later be used in soups, risottos, and more. Here is our basic stock recipe, or you can roast the carcass first to help create an even richer stock, a tip I learned while researching the bone broth trend a little while back (my findings: bone broth = a rich stock + you can read the tips here.)
For a complete, zero waste chicken recipe, try this roasted chicken with lemon, parsley and caper sauce!
21. You! Can! Grill! Salad!
Alert, alert—your favorite, crunchy Romaine salad chars on the outside while keeping it’s juicy crunch within, it’s a trick that wowed community member Dumbo who called the newfound skill a flavor explosion. We agree! Try it out in this recipe!
22. There are MANY ways to make the perfect cup of coffee at home
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder! Since we all love reading about the lives of others, I’m a big fan of Lisa’s investigative work into the coffee-brewing habits of our team from the quick and easy routine to more elaborate sequences. Read the article here—it’s a real lesson in individuality.
23. Peelers are not just for peeling vegetable skin
From Hanna and Christian I’ve learned that vegetable peelers are a multi-purpose tool! The two of them often use the simple tool to fancy effect, create shavings out of whole carrots like in this carrot salad recipe or asparagus in this pizza recipe or daintily shave cheese onto finished dishes like Lisa’s risotto.
What have you learned on Kitchen Stories or from your nearest and dearest? Get chatting in the comments!
Published on May 10, 2021