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.
In perhaps my most persnickety tip yet, did you know that when a recipe calls for a drop, pinch or dash of an ingredient, this can be translated into an actual measurement? 60 drops yields one teaspoon, 1 dash is equal to 1/16 of a teaspoon and 1 pinch is 1/8 of a teaspoon. Now, try to get your head around the fact that someone, somewhere actually took the time to measure these things out.
Cream is labeled illogically, with names and not numbers representing milk fat within. This ought to help sort them out: half-and-half (equal parts milk and cream) has 10.5 to 18 percent milk fat; light cream (a.k.a. table cream) ranges from 18 to 30 percent, but is most often actually 20 percent; whipping cream (a.k.a. light whipping cream) has 30 to 36 percent; and heavy cream (ironically, better for whipped cream than “whipping” cream, though both work) has 36 to 40 percent. Double cream (not widely available in the U.S.) has 42 percent. Oh, and it is awesome.