Looking to make your life easier in the kitchen? Look no further: Italian chef and TODAY contributor Giada De Laurentiis can help. She shares five simple tricks that'll have you cooking like a pro in no time.
1. Shaving chocolate
Bring a block of chocolate to room temperature or heat the top gently with a hair dryer. (Don't melt the top.) Hold a paring knife at a 45-degree angle against the chocolate and scrape toward you, anchoring the block of chocolate with your other hand. Then pick up the shavings with a toothpick and place on frosted cake or cupcake. (The heat of your fingers will melt the shavings, so be sure to use a toothpick.)
2. Slicing cheese
Slicing goat cheese: A knife quickly becomes covered with the soft cheese, making it difficult to cut clean slices. Instead, try sliding an 18-inch piece of dental floss under the goat cheese log. Cross the ends of the floss above the cheese and then pull the floss through the cheese to make slices. Move the floss and cut again to make slices of the desired thickness. Make sure the cheese is cold.
Shaving Parmesan cheese: To achieve paper-thin slices of Parmesan, which looks great on salads, run a vegetable peeler over a block of Parmesan. Use a light touch for thin shavings.
3. Buttering corn
Using a knife to butter an ear of corn can be messy and frustrating as the melting butter slides off the knife. So instead, spread a thick layer of butter on a piece of bread. Hold the bread in one hand and roll the hot ear of corn over the buttered bread, evenly coating the corn with butter.
4. Keeping equipment in place
Bowls: Many recipes call for adding wet and dry ingredients alternately for even blending. Here's how you secure the bowl so you can hold a mixer in one hand and add ingredients with the other: Twist a damp cloth to form a nest slightly larger than the bowl. Set the bowl in the nest, which will hold the bowl in place as you mix and add ingredients.
Cutting boards: I've seen so many people try to cut on a cutting board that slides all over the counter, which is frustrating and can be dangerous. So try putting a damp sheet of paper towel on the counter, then put the cutting board on top. The damp paper towel holds the board in place and can be used to wipe down the counter. When you're done, throw it away.
5. Hand washing
After you work with pungent ingredients such as garlic, onions or fish, try using lemon juice to help wash away odors. If that doesn't work, try washing your hands with a couple tablespoons of mouthwash. Any inexpensive brand will do.