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Learn from the pros.
Pro chefs don't waste any produce. Herb stems, like parsley and cilantro, can actually be used in many different ways. Add them to slow-simmering stews and soups while cooking to infuse more flavor. (Just make sure to take them out before serving.) You can also use them to infuse oils and vinegars or purée them and add them to butter.
French chef Daniel Boulud's number one tip for home cooks is to finish your dish "with a splash of acidity". It's just as important as salt — but it's often forgotten. Try using lemon juice, lime juice, or even a bit of vinegar as a last step to round out pastas, stews, stir-fries, or grilled meats and fishes.
“Most people put too much salt in the beginning and too much in the end of cooking. If you put a little bit throughout the entire process it’s going to be so much better,” chef Jamie Bissonnette told BuzzFeed. He also recommends sprinkling salt from up high so it distributes as evenly as possible.
Chef and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson recommends frying your chicken once, taking it out and letting it rest for about 10 minutes, then frying it a second time for three minutes. The end product, he says, will be gloriously crispy.
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"I always have unrefined muscovado sugar on hand," says Edd Kimber, cookbook author and winner of The Great British Bake Off.
"You could use regular brown sugar, but this type adds so much more flavor and turns everything up to an 11," he told BuzzFeed. "It makes the best chocolate chip cookies, it adds a ton of depth to chocolate cake, and it makes the best butterscotch sauce. Basically, if the recipe calls for brown sugar, unrefined muscovado sugar makes it so much more flavorful."
"I always use fish sauce when grilling — pouring it all over my meats on an open fire," says Kristopher Edelen, chef and owner of HOTPANnyc. "It not only helps caramelize things beautifully, but the flavor is extraordinary, too."
It might sound weird at first — but Alton Brown swears by this trick. He says it helps "take the bitterness out of your brew."
In his cookbook Appetites, Anthony Bourdain recommends stockpiling stock in the freezer — and using it to boost soups, stews, and risottos. Freeze the stock in muffin trays so it's already portioned, or use ice cube trays for smaller doses when you just need a splash of liquid to finish a dish.
Fresh herbs can go bad so quickly that you're often left throwing away a ton of it. To avoid this waste, chef Alex Guarnaschelli has a solution: She heats up the honey in a pan until it's bubbling and then adds the herbs in and lets them steep in there a few days. Drizzle that herbed honey on cheeses, toasts, or tomatoes — or use it in a vinaigrette or a marinade.
This is Alton Brown's tip and although it might sound crazy, mayo is just eggs and oil — so it makes sense. Chef Michael Cimarusti also recommends using mayo to coat your fish fillets before throwing them onto the grill. It'll prevent the fish from sticking and promote browning.
"This way, by the time the centers of the potatoes are cooked, the outside won't be falling apart," explains Gordon Ramsay.
To avoid hurting yourself while chopping, it's crucial to ensure your cutting board won't move around. To do that, Jamie Oliver recommends placing a wet tea towel (or a wet paper towel) underneath the board to stabilize it.
British chef Heston Blumenthal recommends scrambling your eggs in a double boiler for slow, gentle cooking. All you have to do is pour beaten eggs into a heatproof bowl, place it over a pot of simmering water (making sure the water doesn't actually touch the bowl), and stir regularly until your eggs are ready. This process does take a while but it's a sure-fire way to avoid overcooking.
Rinsing your rice with cold water before you cook it helps get rid of excess starch. "That stops the rice from becoming clumpy in the pan and allows it to become really light and fluffy once it's cooked," explains Gordon Ramsay.
That's according to chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern. You can toast any nut or seed in a pan and use them to top salads, soups, stir-fry, toasts, and dips. It's a low-effort step that'll add restaurant-quality flavor and texture to your dishes.
Poaching eggs can be tricky, especially if your eggs aren't extra fresh. To make the whole process a little easier, Julia Child recommends boiling the eggs in their shell for 8 to 10 seconds before poaching. "This will often firm up the white just enough so it will hold its shape around the yolk when the egg is broken into the water," she says. Once you've done that, you can poach the eggs the traditional way, cracking them in a bowl and placing them in simmering water spiked with vinegar.
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