I can’t tell you how many times I have burnt fried chicken or overcooked a caramel and not realized that my candy/deep fry thermometer was to blame. If only I had absorbed enough sixth grade science class to remember how ridiculously easy it is to check to see if had been accurate from the get-go! Simply place your candy/deep fry thermometer in a small pot of water and crank up the heat; the temperature should read 212°F (100°C) as it begins to boil. If yours does not, you can either take into account the few degrees it may run hot or cold when you cook, or return it.
If I could ice every cake in whipped cream, I would. But, because it is whipped with air alone, it doesn’t stay thick over many hours. One way to keep it stable is to dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, cool it to room temperature and drizzle it into your whipping cream when it is halfway thickened. Then, whip it a little longer than usual — until it holds medium-firm peaks.
Homemade whipped cream leaves the canned, and god forbid, bucket stuff in the dust (being actually whipped and cream), and takes less than five minutes to make. The trick: a cold bowl, clean beaters, and a ratio of about 1 cup of heavy or whipping cream to 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, beaten until it holds soft peaks. Start low, so you don’t splash yourself when it is still liquid. Add a splash of flavoring (vanilla, almond or a liqueur) at the end for extra awesomeness.
Flash freezing — the process of spacing items out on a tray, freezing them until they are firm and then storing them in more space-efficient freezer bags — is the single most revolutionizing concept I have adapted into my cooking repertoire, because it allows us to freeze uncooked dumplings, gnocchi, biscuits, scones and even scooped cookies without them become one doughy mass.
Have a lot of egg whites or yolks leftover from a recipe but don’t know how many? A good approximation to keep in mind is that 1 large egg yields about 1 tablespoon of yolk plus 2 tablespoons of white. This has come particularly in handy when I have halved a recipe that called for an odd number of eggs — I simply beat one egg and measured out 1.5 tablespoons.