Test Kitchen tips: Quick thinking in the kitchen

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No matter how hard you try, you can never be prepared for everything that might go on in a kitchen. And when something takes you by surprise, you have to think quickly.

We’ve compiled a few random quick tips that might help you out if you find yourself in a bind. Please feel free to share your tips with us in the comments below. We’d love to learn more!


  • Need to cover a pot or pan fast but can’t find the lid? Use a baking sheet or cookie pan (the ‘lid of choice’ in most restaurant kitchens).
  • Can’t find a potholder? Grab a kitchen towel, and fold it once or twice to protect you before grabbing that roasting pan out of the kitchen.
  • Messed up and got the plate a little dirty while you were plating dinner for the party? Keep a little acidulated water (water with a little lemon juice) on hand; it will clean up dirt and sauce spills so your plates keep their spot-free shine.
  • Need to skim droplets of fat from the top of your soup or gravy? Gently dab the spots with a paper towel; it will soak them up.
  • Burn your stew on the stove? Don’t stir it or try to scrap the burnt stuff off the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour the stew into a new pan, leaving the burnt stew (and most of the burned flavor) behind.
  • Are your dinner rolls limp? Revive them in a warm oven.
  • Need to reheat something in the microwave fast? Cover it with a damp paper towel -- the towel will help to keep the food from drying out as it reheats.
  • Oversalt your soup or stew? Dropping a peeled potato can help to soak up excess salt.
  • Toast nuts before adding them to a baking recipe or salad -- the toasting will bring out the oils, deepening the flavor of the nuts.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at


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-- Noelle Carter and Susan Silverberg