Don’t pour your too-salty soup, stew, or sauce down the drain fix it by trying these clever tricks instead.
Here’s a familiar scenario: You’re making a batch of homemade chicken soup for dinner. The recipe calls for two teaspoons of salt but all of a sudden, the salt shaker gets away from you. You realize you’ve added way more than the recipe actually needs. Crossing your fingers no one will notice, you give the soup a taste.
Yuck. Too salty.
No! You don’t have to throw in the towel just yet. Luckily, there’s more than one way to fix a batch of too-salty soup, chili, chowder, stew, pasta sauce, and more. However, some methods work better than others and some don’t really work at all. Below, find several ways you may have heard for fixing over-salted food, and which ones work the best.
Increase the amount of non-salty ingredients.
This solution is labor-intensive, but it’s also the most effective way to diminish an overly salty flavor from a dish. By increasing the quantity of your main non-salty ingredients, the concentration or flavor of the salt will diminish.
So you’re making a creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup, increasing the number of carrots and ginger should help tame all of that saltiness. However, keep in mind that you’re basically re-making the entire dish again, which is a bit of work.
Add salt-free stock or water.
If you’re dealing with a salty soup or sauce, adding salt-free stock or water is the quickest way to fix it. Make sure to choose an appropriately flavored stock (i.e. don’t use beef stock in a chicken soup) so you don’t completely alter the recipe.
Or, if it is a chunky soup, drain and discard about half of the salty broth, leaving the vegetables and meat. Replace the discarded broth with new stock or water. Additionally, you can further decrease the concentration of salt by adding more vegetables and/or meat to your doctored soup.
Mask the saltiness with an acidic or sweet ingredient.
Depending on how oversalted the dish actually is, you may be able to use other strong flavors to bring down the perception of the saltiness. Adding an acidic or sweet ingredient may help downplay the saltiness, but you’ll likely create a completely new dish in the process. Here are a few ideas:
Acidic: Lemon, vinegar, lemon or lime zest, tomatoes
Sweet: Fruit, carrots, honey, sugar
If you have the time and flexibility, this experiment is worth a try, but bear mind that it may or may not save you from tossing the entire thing.
Add a whole potato—or not.
Sorry when you want to fix a dish that’s too salty, adding a potato just won’t do the trick. Believe what you want, but potatoes are not magical‚ and certainly not capable of selectively sucking the salt out of your soup.
In his wonderful book on food science, What Einstein Told His Cook, Robert Wolke actually proves scientifically that adding a potato does not alter the concentration of salt in the water. (Give it a read it to find out exactly how he does it!) So save your precious potatoes and make the Perfect Baked Potato or these Silky-Smooth Mashed Potatoes instead.
There are definitely cooking “rules”. But there are lots of things that were drilled into me in school and later in restaurants that I still swear by to this day, and use in my kitchen at home.
The time, money, and commitment of culinary school aren’t worth it for everyone, but there are certain culinary school tips and techniques that anyone can put into practice at home without spending a single day in (or dime on!) a white chef’s coat. Here are the most useful things I learned.
1. Sharpen your knives.
The first thing we did in culinary school was learning how to chop carrots and onions. The second thing? Learn how to properly sharpen a knife. It’s important to realize that a sharp knife makes chopping so much faster and easier. (Plus, you don’t need to use as much force when your knife is sharp, which means it’s safer, too.) Plenty of kitchen specialty stores, like Sur La Table, will sharpen your knives for a reasonable price — so it’s worth bringing them in when they’re getting dull.
2. Use the right peeler for the job.
If peeling vegetables feels like it takes forever, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong peeler. My advice? Throw away the rusty swivel one that’s been sitting in your drawer for years and order a three-pack of these Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peelers. They’re a culinary school favorite for a reason: The Y-shape makes them more comfortable to handle, and a sharp peeler makes food prep way easier. They’re also cheap enough so that when one gets dull, you can switch it out for a new one.
3. Embrace the practice of mise en place.
The French term translates to “putting in place,” and it refers to getting all of your ingredients out, measured, and prepped before you start cooking. This is how restaurant kitchens get food out so quickly and efficiently. And while you don’t need to be quite so exacting at home, it’s much easier to follow a recipe when your ingredients are all ready to go in advance.
4. Dry meat and fish with paper towels before you cook it for extra-crispy skin.
In fact, you should be drying meat and fish with paper towels before you cook it no matter what. For skin to crisp, you need to get rid of as much moisture as possible — because moisture and steam kill any chance of crisping and browning. This will also prevent the meat and skin from sticking to the pan as it cooks, which is the absolute worst.
5. Don’t default to always cranking up the heat.
Even if you want food in a hurry, ramping up the heat to high isn’t always the best way. Slowly sautéing aromatics like onions, shallots, or garlic in oil over medium-low heat will bring out more flavor and will keep them from burning and getting bitter. Cooking meat or veggies over medium heat will give them time to cook all the way through without burning on the outside. Simmering soups or braises instead of boiling them will cook the ingredients and meld the flavors without making meat tough, or breaking veggies apart.
6. Put some thought into how you cut your vegetables.
Those fancy vegetable cuts you see in nice restaurants? There’s a reasoning behind them besides just looking impressive. Smaller cuts will cook quicker than big ones, so using a mix of both can vary the texture of a dish. And veggies cut on a diagonal will be al dente on the thicker end and soft on the thinner end, which can make them more satisfying to eat.
7. Give yourself enough space to prep, even in cramped kitchens.
Space is tight in restaurant kitchens especially. Give yourself enough space by clearing the countertop of everything you’re not using appliances, flower vases, mail you put down and forgot about before you start.
8. Clean as you go.
You’ve heard this before, but a clean station is so much easier to work in. Wipe down your cutting board after you finish prepping each ingredient. Put pots, pans, and utensils in the sink or dishwasher as soon as you’re done using them. And wash your hands often.
9. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Food can’t caramelize or brown in a crowded pan. A handful of sliced mushrooms cooked in a hot pan with a layer of oil will come out brown, crisp, and deeply flavored. A whole pint of sliced mushrooms cooked in the same pan and the same oil will come out pale, gray, soggy, and far less flavorful. Same goes for roasted vegetables on a sheet pan, or browned meat in a cast iron skillet. Piling ingredients on top of each other create moisture that gets trapped which means your food will steam instead of crisping or browning.
10. Get yourself a bench scraper.
I often see beginner cooks use their knife to scrape whatever they’ve finished chopping across their cutting board and into a bowl. Don’t do that! Not only is it a bit dangerous, but it’ll also quickly dull your blade. Instead, invest in a $4 bench scraper and use it to scoop up food scraps and transfer things from your cutting board to pots and pans.
11. Know your fats — and what each can (and can’t) do.
Butter is delicious, and we used a lot of it at my French-based culinary school. But butter can’t stand up to high heat since the milk solids in it (which make it delicious) can burn. All oils aren’t created equal, either. Neutral oils, like canola or vegetable oil, don’t add any flavor but are perfect for high-heat methods like roasting, frying, and pan-searing because they can stand up to high temperatures without burning. Flavorful oils like high-quality olive oil, avocado oil, and pumpkin seed oil are less suited for high heat and are better used in salad dressings, or for finishing dishes once they’re cooked.
12. Baste fish to keep it moist as it cooks.
Basting pan-seared fish is one fancy trick I swear by. When your fish is almost cooked, add a big pat of butter to the pan and let it melt. Turn the heat down and gently spoon the melted butter over the fish. The hot butter will cook the top of the fish without drying it out, and it’ll add a ton of flavor.
13. Never toss leftover bones or veggie scraps.
When it comes to making stock, leftover bones and scraps are kitchen gold. You can make chicken stock with nothing but bones if you want. You can also make beef stock with beef bones, fish stock with fish bones and scraps, and so on. Not only is it cheaper than buying stock, but it’s also often tastier, and lets you cut down on waste. These days, I collect bones and vegetable scraps in a sealed gallon bag in my freezer, then make a few quarts of stock every time the bag fills up. You should, too!
14. When in doubt, add salt.
You know you like salt, but did you ever stop to think about why? Salt brings out the flavor, which means well-salted food tastes more like itself than under-salted food. To really maximize all the flavors in a recipe, season with a bit of salt every time you add a new ingredient.
15. And if you added too much salt? Add acid.
If something tastes too rich or heavy, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can liven it up. Acid also cuts through salt, so if you’ve accidentally over-salted something just a little bit (which, to be honest, happens often in culinary school), you can usually save it by adding acid.
Your turn! What’s your most useful all-purpose tip for the kitchen?
Here is an article from Cooking Light about the Renegade Romaine.
Americans are being told to avoid romaine lettuce at all costs for the second time this year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new outbreak of E. coli associated with the leafy green in 11 different states. Earlier this spring, it took federal investigators upwards of six months to track down where a similar outbreak, which claimed the lives of five individuals and sickened more than 200. This latest announcement by the CDC, coming Thanksgiving week, is a blanket ban on all forms of the lettuce, and details have yet to emerge beyond the fact that it has caused 30 plus individuals to fall ill.
Currently, the CDC is advising that any romaine is disposed of or avoided, regardless of when or where it was harvested. Many of you seemed prepared to do so—Cooking Light readers shared their frustrations in the comments section of a Facebook post yesterday, with many expressing that they had already consumed romaine recently.
Stay up to date on what healthy means now.
CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again
Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns.
With federal investigators unable to pinpoint an exact source of the outbreak yet, the risk of E. coli poisoning—and the chance of developing HUS, a rare form of kidney failure associated with a toxin in this viral E. coli strain—is particularly troublesome to many shoppers.
Some retailers have previously gone to great lengths to remove tainted romaine lettuce from their shelves, but romaine lettuce is a ubiquitous ingredient and can be found in many ready-to-eat products. In the coming weeks, as investigators work to discover what is causing illnesses in what’s sure to be more than just 11 states, taking the time to thoroughly check your meals for romaine could help you stay safe.
If you’re dining out, be sure to ask your server about any use of romaine in the food’s preparation (even if it’s not evident) and if the establishment has updated their menus. Pour over any ingredient list on pre-made or frozen food products to ensure that romaine isn’t a concern. And when you’re in the supermarket, check these eight products for romaine lettuce to be sure that all are safe for consumption:
1) Salad Bars
You may be anxious to visit a salad bar, and for good reason—E. coli bacteria can transfer on contact, so take good care when eating from any salad bar in the coming days. On the off chance that your supermarket has yet to dispose of romaine, do not buy ingredients in proximity to romaine, and remember that self-serve utensils can easily become cross contaminated. This is a good time to make romaine-free salads at home.
2) Bagged Salad Mixes
The CDC was careful to include this in their bulletin: bagged mixes like Fresh Express’ “American” blend contains chopped romaine, which could be contaminated with E. coli.
3) Ready-to-Eat Salads
Many supermarkets, as well as fast-casual chains and other food retailers, sell pre-made salads that have been massed produced in the last month. Double check the ingredient list before enjoying pre-made salads, even if you can’t see romaine in the container upon first glance.
4) Ready-to-Eat Sandwiches and Wraps
Lettuce is in nearly all pre-made sandwiches, and so it goes without saying to check these before buying. Lettuce wraps, as well as tortilla-based wraps, are of concern.
5) Grain Bowls and Noodle Bowls
Retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a full selection of ready-to-eat entreés in their deli selections, including noodle bowls and grain bowls that contain lettuce.
6) Green Juice and Blended Beverages
You should take time to inspect all smoothies and blended beverages for romaine—while V8 juice contains an ambiguous “lettuce” callout on the ingredient list, some ready-to-drink beverages—especially green juices—contain romaine alongside servings of kale and spinach. This might also be a good time to make blended green juice at home, where you can swap romaine for other hearty greens.
This is rarer than other items on this list, but blended, chilled soups, including items like packaged gazpacho, could contain romaine lettuce.
8) Refrigerated and Frozen Prepared Entreés and Appetizers
Romaine may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind in the frozen section, but it could be of concern in prepared foods that are available for purchase in your supermarket. Take the time to double check the ingredient list, and when in doubt, ask an employee for help.
I was recently asked to write an article on why you should hire a professional interior designer. Hope you enjoy the article.
“The Devil is in the Detail”. Ever heard that phrase and wondered exactly what it meant? In short, something may seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected. HGTV design shows are a great example of this, as they make it all seem so simple, but what you don’t see are the people behind the scenes making everything happen and making it look simple and easy. They are the ones that know all the details. Designing a space looks so simple till you actually start designing it. Making a space look beautiful and actually be functional are one in the same and two very different things.
A qualified interior designer will listen carefully to what you hope to accomplish in a space and will work with you to get the look you want, in the budget you want, and, in the end, it will function how you wanted it to all along. Designers do this every day, so they have “great resources”. Even the term is now archaic. I used to tell my interior design college students to pull together your million-dollar Rolodex. Now It would be your “Million Dollar Contact List”, but you get the idea; designers have a lot more resources than you do. They have worked for a long time to pull together an extensive network that gets the job done for you in the best way possible.
Oh no, but interior designers charge you for their time. Let’s see, do you complain about paying your lawyer, accountant, doctor or even your gardener? They all help to make your life easier and simpler. They are knowledgeable and in the long run, save you time and money. Using a professional interior designer does exactly the same thing. You tell them what you like, and they find just the perfect finishes and people to get the job done. You might have paid a little money, but you have not been running all over trying to find sources for what you need to be done.
The internet is fabulous for finding new and interesting products, but you have not seen or touched them so you might be in for a surprise when they actually arrive. Your designer has worked with the materials and fabricator and knows how to get them at a better price. They will save you money in the long run. There is no promise that a mistake will “never” be made, but the chances become slimmer with the experience of the designer.
People get caught up in trends. Designers will help you access what trends are classic and will be around for a long time versus the here today and gone tomorrow ones. They will help you have a chic space that will look wonderful for a long time. They will share with you what can work in your environment and what may not. In other words, put the polka dots where the polka dots look good, and that might be in a closet. Don’t get me wrong, I love polka dots, just not in my living room.
Professional interior designers work with you to have a solid plan of action and know how to get it done in an efficient manner. They can bridge the gap that may come up with you and your architect or builder if you are building a new home or remodeling an older home. They know the language and can work to get everything in the right place. It is not just furniture, but the lighting and so much more, even down to proper outlet placement. They can see the space in different creative eyes and bring it all together, so it works for you. They know that you are the one going to live there, so it should work for you more than for your builder and/or architect. Interior designers work with you to give you a home that meets your criteria, looks wonderful and at the same time functions exactly as you hope it would.
Interior Design is an interesting form of art. Some say that interior designers have to phycologists in addition to being designers. Part of what makes the best designer is the ability to listen and really hear what the client wants even when the client may not truly know what they want. It is the magic of taking an education in the principles of design, the history of design styles both historical and modern and pulling everything together seamlessly to create your perfect environment. Designing a beautiful living space takes skill and vision is so much more difficult than many people think.
How many times in your life have you gone into a space that was either overcrowded with furniture, all the furniture was matchy-matchy, or the space just did not feel inviting? If you could not figure out what to do in that space, then going forward you should hire a qualified interior designer.
by Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley ASID. IIDA. NCIDQ certified. NKBA
These images of our favorite kitchen island ideas are sure to stir up design inspiration with fun, functional features around seating, storage, and more.
Kitchen islands are critical components in any kitchen. A multipurpose surface, they allow prep work, cooking, eating, working, and entertaining. For that reason, they’re also one of the most requested features in homes, both in purchases and renovations, but kitchen islands can vary tremendously in size and style, and aren’t right for every home.
If you’re considering a new kitchen or renovation, it’s important to think about how you envision using the island, given other factors that might be at play in the kitchen. For example, a kitchen island typically requires about 36″ between the edge of the island and the edge of the countertop, so an island is unlikely to work well in a very long, narrow kitchen. If you’re planning on having multiple people working in the kitchen at once, then 42″ to 48″ should be your goal. This also goes for spaces around appliances like a sink, stove, or dishwasher, so if you’d like to integrate a sink into the island, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
In terms of the width of an island, that also depends on how you’re planning on using it, and what utilities you may want to incorporate. A typical countertop is 24″ deep, and this goes for a basic kitchen island with no seating as well. However, if you’re incorporating appliances like a cooktop into the island, you should add a minimum of 8″ to this depth; most designers usually assume about 36″ to 42″ in depth for an island, but this can vary based on the size of the kitchen and planned use. In terms of length, the average size of a kitchen island is about 3’ by 6.5’, but this can always vary.
Here are lots of ideas with just photos! Have fun looking and getting ideas.
If your dream kitchen incorporates an island, and you’re worried you just don’t have room, think of other options, like a mobile island on castor wheels that can be moved about the space, or an island that’s only 18″ deep and a bit shorter than most.
Still not sure what exactly you’re looking for in your own kitchen island, or looking for ideas and inspiration? Read on to see 60 stylish kitchens with islands, each addressing the needs and spaces of each home—everything from wheels to sinks, and cooktops to book storage. We’ll take a look at islands that demonstrate these ideas:
My artist friends are often talking about this, so when I found this article on Artists on Art, I thought I should post it.
Is cadmium paint toxic? Cadmium-based colors have been around for many years but tend to be among the most often in question. Artist and instructor Dan Schultz has researched this; here, he shares what he found regarding the toxicity of cadmium in artist paints.
Is Cadmium Paint Toxic?
By Dan Schultz
Cadmium is found naturally in the earth’s crust but is a relatively rare metal. (Which may explain the high price tag on cadmium paint colors!) Cadmium often couples with other elements in a variety of compounds. Some of these are are extremely toxic and dissolve easily in water, making them dangerous to humans. It is also dangerous if inhaled in its dust or powder form. Some of the earliest cases of cadmium poisoning were reported in Belgium in 1858. Workers had inhaled cadmium dust as a result of polishing silver with cadmium carbonate. This kind of exposure can cause severe respiratory distress, emphysema, and even death.
Pigment manufacturing became big business in the nineteenth century, not only for artists but also for industrial and printing applications. When the powerful, intense cadmium colors were developed, ranging from yellows to oranges to reds, artists eagerly added them to their palettes.*
Since then, artists have become increasingly aware of the importance of studio safety. Paint manufacturers recommended that you don’t eat, drink or smoke while painting in order to avoid ingesting potentially harmful substances from paints, solvents, etc. But what about skin exposure? Given what we now know, should we wear gloves and masks while we paint with cadmium colors?
When I visited the M. Graham & Co. factory in 2015, I asked specifically about the toxicity of cadmium colors. They told me that by law, paint manufacturers are allowed to make cadmium colors only a few specified days each year because of the dangers associated with cadmium dust. Proper respiratory equipment is required during production to avoid inhalation of the powdered cadmium pigment.
However, during the paint-making process the pigment is fused with sulfides and coated in the particular medium’s binder (oil, acrylic, gouache or watercolor). This process renders the cadmium insoluble in water, and therefore the human body. We can’t absorb it. So no gloves are necessary. And cadmium paints don’t give off any dust or fumes, so no worries about inhalation either.** I’ve just recently spoken again with a paint manufacturer who said that the paint-making process makes cadmium colors safe in oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolor.
With that said, you DO need to use extra caution if you’re sanding dry cadmium paint or spray-applying. If that’s you, make sure you wear a NIOSH dust respirator to eliminate the chance of inhaling cadmium particles. (Or any other harmful particles / dust.) The same advice applies if you work at all with dry cadmium or other pigments. (For example, if you like to make your own paint.)
Also, please avoid pouring your dirty brush-cleaning water or solvent down the drain or onto the ground. This can introduce heavy metals like cadmium into the watershed, possibly creating problems downstream. It’s recommended that you soak up your dirty water / dirty solvent with paper towels then throw them away in your studio trash.
I am taking a painting class at the Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island on Tuesday and enjoy the camaraderie of other artists and learning to paint small. We paint from small photographs on to 8 x 10 inch or 9 x 12-inch canvases. This was my painting from the first day of class.
The teacher David Marty asked us to do a homework assignment, and I just finished mine.
This another 8 x 10-inch painting. I find it interesting as I usually do paint in a much larger format, but am finding this satisfying for some reason.
Normally I paint abstracts in larger formats. The one below is 36″ x 24″ and as you can see, it is very different from my smaller ones.
This one is 30 x 48 inches with black, gray, and gold leaf interspersed in other colors. I was looking at in the studio and think it is the perfect Halloween painting. Look at the “evil” eye of the predator on the right side of the painting. This guy is watching you, and it was totally an accident.
Just thought I would share something other than food art and interior design. I am doing a 3 x 5-foot commission right now and love the big scale of it.
I love making and eating soup when the weather turns cold. Every year I just keep trying new ones. When I am at the grocery store, I just look at all the different ingredients, grab a few and always find a recipe online that works. It is kind of a fun challenge.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter ( I only had peanut butter with nuts, but just put it in the blender with the soup and it was great)
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
1 large Roma (plum) tomato, seeded and diced (I only had cherry, so chopped fine and deseeded by wiping with a paper towel)
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and lime zest. Set aside in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add sweet potatoes, and chicken stock. Season with cumin, chili flakes, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or regular blender. If using a countertop blender, puree in small batches, filling the blender just a bit past halfway to avoid spillage. Whisk peanut butter into the soup, (I added in the blender) and heat through. Stir in lime juice, and salt.
Ladle into warm bowls, and top with a dollop of the reserved sour cream, a few pieces of diced tomato, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Serve with a salad or nice piece of French Bread and it is a lunch or dinner for kings. Oh, and don’t forget to add a nice glass of wine.