Use an Onion to Make Assembling Skewers and Kebabs Easier (and Safer)

Skewers and kebabs are easy to make, and assembling them isn’t hard, but anyone who’s poked themselves on a skewer knows it can still suck. Luckily, all you need to speed up the process (and make it safer) is an onion—one you may be using anyway.

Source: Use an Onion to Make Assembling Skewers and Kebabs Easier (and Safer)

I’ve been using Alton Brown’s method – the episode of Good Eats is on Netflix.

Hold the veggie/meat with one hand on a surface (like a cutting board), then push the skewer in with your other hand parallel to the surface. Also, instead of having alternating items on each skewer, which looks pretty, I made my skewers of each ingredient, which came in very handy to move whole skewers around my grill on and off heat as they needed. Much less over cooked X and underdone Y.

Make a Creamy, Fiber-Packed Pasta Sauce Out of Beans

I have a passion for beans, which developed back when I used to cook for the Tuscan chef Cesare Casella. The Tuscans are famous for their beans (they’re sometimes called the mangiafagioli—bean eaters—in Italy), and Cesare is no exception. When I worked for him, he’d import thousands of pounds of beans every year from Italy, and I learned plenty of tricks from him on how to use them.

One of those tricks was this simple pasta with a sauce made from puréed beans, which I’ve made with chickpeas here. It couldn’t be easier to make: You simply sauté some garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, add some cooked beans along with some of their cooking water, then purée it to make a smooth, creamy sauce. Add a handful of whole cooked beans for some texture, and you’re basically done.

Source: How to Turn Beans Into a Creamy Vegan Pasta Sauce

Mashed beans pretty much all work the same. If you are having issues with lentils, you’re probably forgetting to ditch the lentil husks.

Upgrade a Batch of Chili With Cinnamon, Cocoa, or Even Coffee

Chili is personal, and you have your favorite recipe. I respect that. I’m not here to argue with your one true chili love.

But I would bet that there are some ways that you could make your tried-and-true recipe even better. I’m just talking about little things to add extra flavor here or give some richness there—small tweaks that, when tallied up, amount to a more fantastic chili.

Source: 10 Ways to Make Your Favorite Chili Recipe Even Better

Some will think cinnamon in chili is an abomination. And I like cinnamon. In ice cream. On apples. In chewing gum. But in chili?  It’s worth an experiment – cinnamon can do some interesting things in more savory dishes.

The Secret to Amazing Tomato-Based Sauce: Roasting It In the Oven

It starts the usual way sauces do—sauté onion and garlic, add some chile flakes, then booze, then tomatoes, but then it swerves off course. Here’s the secret to its success: You take this perfectly adequate sauce and roast it in the oven for an hour and a half.

Source: A Genius Technique for the Best Vodka Pasta (And Better Marinara, Too)

I sometimes start my sauce by caramelizing my tomato paste in olive oil over the heat, then deglazing that with about 1/4 bottle of red wine. The sweet caramelized tomato paste/wine combo makes things really punchy in the end, even through a long simmer.

Make Almost Any Boring Protein Into a Delicious Meal by “Piccata-ing” it

A whole bunch of us grew up eating chicken piccata at Italian-American restaurants with our parents, or at least I did, preceded by an entire serving of fried calamari, and breadsticks too. I’d eat every last little swipe of sauce, excited at how it made the back of my tongue water, at how smooth it felt, at how it draped itself over long strips of pasta. It’s a thrilling sauce. Even more thrilling is the fact that you can use it on any protein that goes well with lemon and wine. (Even tofu and chickpeas!)

Source: How to Piccata Anything

This would work with a number of standard chicken dishes, just apply the sauce to whatever other meat you’re eating, even hot dogs and hamburgers.

Grow Fresh Green Onions Any Time of Year In a Plastic Bottle

How nice would it be to just be able to pluck fresh green onions from the soil whenever you need them? Nothing beats fresh onions for your salads, dips or soup. But how can you ensure a supply of fresh onions at hand all the time?

Source: Growing Onions Vertically on the Windowsill

For those that remember it, it’s like a chia pet… but is actually useful.

You can make things easier by just putting the roots of the onions you bought in a shallow glass of water:

They’ll grow back in about a week as long as you change the water every couple days. The disadvantage is they don’t last in the long run.

One-Pan Pasta Is Easy to Make, Filling, and Requires Next to No Cleanup

I was skeptical until I read this charming background story on Food52–apparently it comes from a legit chef in Puglia by way of two super fun women who worked for Martha and were having a great night out.

The Late Night in Puglia That Gave Us Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta (+ 7 New Ones)

Pickled Onions Are the Perfect DIY Gift for the Cocktail Lover in Your Life

Fancy cocktail accouterments make for fantastic gifts, and these pickled pearl onions are great in a Gibson (or atop chicken liver mousse).

Source: Pickled Onions Are the Perfect DIY Gift for the Cocktail Lover in Your Life

Despite the classic cocktail boom, Gibsons still aren’t terribly popular. And cocktail onions aren’t particularly well loved either.  Just as an example: In most of the bars, a jar of cocktail onions (and a small one at that) typically lasts more than a year. And those bars are making a  lot of more of any given drink than anyone is at home.

Unless you know some one who likes a Gibson, or pickled onions in general, I’d say its a risky choice. You’d be better off pickling a variety of produce with a broader use, or with a specific cocktail in mind. Pickled green beans, peppers, and asparagus always go well in a Bloody Mary. Candied citrus peel (or other fruit really) are surprisingly useful in cocktails. The syrup can be used as a cocktail ingredient, and the peel itself is a really flavorful garnish. Candied or liquor soak cherries are a huge improvement on store bought maraschino cherries (which are the devil). Pickled onions could definitely have a place in a package of home made standard cocktail garnishes. A sort of “I am stocking your bar” sort of gift. But on their own, very few people are chomping a the bit for a better cocktail onion.