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Cooking With Bwog: How To Make Every Recipe Better

Do you want to send your recipes over the top? Dazzle your friends and family with these cooking tips!

I’ve been baking since it was dangerous for me to use the oven alone. Over the years, I’ve learned a few key tricks to make every recipe shine! Today, I am passing my secrets to you. Some may be controversial, but they work for me. Happy cooking!

  • Use a scale to weigh your ingredients instead of measuring by volume when baking. It’s more precise, it’s easier, and it makes for less dishes to clean.
  • Take cookies out of the oven before they look finished. They will continue to set once they’re out of the oven.
  • Skip the cooking spray and use softened butter and flour to grease your cake pans.
  • Grate your own Parmesan. Pre-grated Parmesan comes with a starchy powder to prevent the cheese from clumping, and it will affect your recipes.
  • Only use Parmigiano-Reggiano. 
  • Grind your own cardamom and nutmeg before using. I use a mortar and pestle for cardamom pods and a microplane for nutmeg.
  • Store cardamom pods in the refrigerator. 
  • Store active dry yeast in the refrigerator. 
  • Use free-range eggs. You can really taste the freedom.
  • Use salted butter.
  • Every recipe that calls for cinnamon comes with an implied invitation for cardamom. Just don’t add too much cardamom: start with 25% of the amount of cinnamon.
  • Every baking time is a suggestion. Set timers for your own reference, but check 5-10 minutes early and use your judgement.
  • If you’re making rolled cookies, roll them out between sheets of parchment before chilling. It’s easier and you won’t have to add any more flour to prevent sticking.
  • Listen to music that gives you ENERGY. Personally, I can’t cook unless Ezra Koenig is howling in my ears.
  • You can put edible flowers on anything and turn it into a visual masterpiece. 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil only (in savory recipes). 
  • If you need a room temperature egg fast, submerge it in warm water for 5 minutes. 
  • Set butter out the night before you want to use it. 
  • Do not eat raw cookie dough. Just kidding, I eat so much.
  • Only use kosher salt, unless the recipe specifies otherwise. The structure of the salt crystals affects how they layer on top of each other and thus the denseness of a spoonful.
  • Spread mayonnaise on the outside of your bread when making a grilled cheese to make it nice and crispy. No, you can’t taste the mayonnaise.
  • Tend to use a low flame when cooking on the stovetop. Low & slow is a great motto. Your food will be more tender and evenly cooked.
  • Add turmeric to your egg scrambles and omelets. 
  • If you’re baking something chocolatey, add some espresso powder, or replace the water in the recipe with freshly brewed coffee. 
  • Freeze leftover bread so you can make Pandemic Bread Pudding
  • Toast sesame seeds in a pan. Then put your toasted sesame seeds on everything.
  • Don’t use skim milk. You might as well use water.
  • Substitute semolina in a 1:1 ratio for some of the all-purpose flour in a recipe. It’ll make your cakes more tender and your cookies more crisp.
  • Avoid recipes with vegetable shortening and/or sweetened condensed milk. You can always substitute shortening for butter and sweeten your own evaporated milk.
  • Use a tall drinking glass to prop open piping bags when filling them.
  • Place parchment rectangles (about 5 or 6) underneath the bottom of your cake to create a barrier between the outer edge and the serving plate. When you finish frosting the cake, you can simply remove the paper, and the plate will be clean.
  • Use this cocoa powder. 
  • The best way to separate egg yolks and whites is to crack the egg into a bowl, and fish the yolk out with your fingers. Fatty yolk remains can be detrimental to egg whites you intend to whip.
  • Buy ethically sourced chocolate. Chocolate is expensive to produce, and cheaper chocolate varieties often use child labor, mistreat their workers, and contribute to deforestation. You can always check online, here’s a good source.
  • Wash then dry chickpeas thoroughly before seasoning and/or roasting. The drier, the better.

Cooking via Bwog archives

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I disagree with some of the other tips, but the one about using salted butter is absolutely wrong.

    Recipes call for unsalted butter so you can add the amount of salt you prefer instead of being subjected to the amount of salt the butter manufacturer decided to put in. Imagine making delicate butter cookies with salted butter–they’d be way too salty.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You have a great point! But you’d be surprised. I’ve baked professionally some, and my butter cookies (with salted butter) are always the first to sell out!

      1. first commenter says:

        @first commenter Fair enough! I’d be the last to dispute that salt in butter cookies really kicks them up a notch. But I find salted butter to be way too salty for that; much better to add the salt myself so I can control it.

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