Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Collection of Hints Gives Comfort to the Cook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Collection of Hints Gives Comfort to the Cook

Article excerpt

MOVE OVER, Heloise. There's competition in the kitchen. The befuddled, the inquisitive, the inept and even the competent can turn their troubles over to the "The Food Lover's Tiptionary" by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Hearst Books, $15).

This master of clever kitchen hints has assembled 4,500 things you never knew you needed to know: Use a strand of raw spaghetti to light all the candles on a birthday cake without singeing your fingers. A hunk of bread sitting in the bottom of the broiler pan will soak up grease and prevent flare-ups from scorching a steak or chop.

Kitchens are fraught with disasters waiting to happen. Herbst says her A-to-Z assemblage allows cooks to sidestep the disasters. sIt may not be the stuff to turn a fumbler into a pro, but the snippets are practical and easy.

The compendium touches on just about every aspect of cooking, starting with abalone and going right through to zucchini. In between, she's unearthed 19 things to know about doughnuts, 68 tidbits on cookies and 32 notables about garlic.

Here are some tips to whet your appetite.

***** Savvy Substitutions

To substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour, then remove 2 tablespoons.

Don't think only milk should be used to moisten powdered sugar frostings. Alternatives include strong coffee, peanut butter (with a little milk), fruit juice, jam or jelly (melted slightly), honey or maple syrup.

Substitution for 1 cup light corn syrup: 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. For 1 cup dark corn syrup: 3/4 cup light corn syrup plus 1/4 cup light molasses, or 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

If you don't have a biscuit (or round cookie) cutter, use a thin-lipped glass or an empty, clean 14- to 16-ounce can.

Old-fashioned oats and quick-cooking oats can usually be interchanged in recipes.

For a last-minute coffee filter replacement, cut a piece of extra-strength paper towel to fit your coffeemaker basket.

***** Sticky Situations

Before heating milk, rinse the pan with cold water to keep it from scorching and sticking.

Spray a grater with nonstick vegetable spray before grating foods like cheese and citrus rind and cleanup will be a snap.

If you don't like getting your hands messy when mixing meatloaf, put the ingredients in a large, zip-closure plastic bag, seal, then squish the contents together until well mixed.

It's easier to perfectly center a gelatin-based mold if you first rinse the plate it's to be turned out on with cold water.

Ham will slip out of its can more easily if you immerse it in hot water 1 to 2 minutes before opening.

Dried fruit will be easier to chop if you place it in the freezer an hour before chopping.

Lightly spray nonstick vegetable spray in whatever container you use to melt chocolate and the melted chocolate will slip right out. …

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