Restaurant-Approved Tips for a Spotless Kitchen Every Night

A professional kitchen is a well-oiled machine maintained by routine. Throughout my time as a server, line cook, and barista at restaurants and cafes, I relished the solace of opening in the quiet hours before sunrise, in preparation for the unrelentin…

A professional kitchen is a well-oiled machine maintained by routine. Throughout my time as a server, line cook, and barista at restaurants and cafes, I relished the solace of opening in the quiet hours before sunrise, in preparation for the unrelenting rush. But the final guest served wasn’t the end of the day: Energized and exhausted, my team bonded as we scrubbed every surface and dish, swept up every crumb. The unhurried routine was a relaxing practice in winding down after the nonstop stress of kitchen work.

As one of thousands of restaurant workers who lost their job during the first wave of the pandemic last March, I, like many others trying to mentally escape the confines of quarantine, coped in my home kitchen. Though too much feels beyond any one person’s control these days, I’ve gained peace of mind by treating my home kitchen like a professional one. In keeping everything as cleaned and organized as I would at work—as well literally bringing in some restaurant tools to my home—I’m set up for success. You can do it too: Here's how.

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Small-Kitchen Cooking Tips from a Camper-Living Chef

When many New York City dwellers fled to smaller towns and rural areas last year, I, like many others, was skeptical of their intentions. But the journey of one of my favorite voices in the city’s food scene, Lee Kalpakis, was one that felt inspiring (…

When many New York City dwellers fled to smaller towns and rural areas last year, I, like many others, was skeptical of their intentions. But the journey of one of my favorite voices in the city’s food scene, Lee Kalpakis, was one that felt inspiring (and soothing!) to follow during this time. When the pandemic hit, Kalpakis—who has worked as a recipe developer, food stylist, culinary producer, and video host—and her partner both lost their jobs; they decided to give up their Brooklyn loft and move to the Catskills, where they both grew up. But instead of another apartment, they purchased a bare-bones 1976 Fleetwood Prowler van to refurbish. Now, they’re on their own land—much more isolated than when they had started out in 2020—but building a home all their own.

Though Kalpakis has spent most of her professional life working in restaurants (including her parents’ growing up) and large test kitchens, she’s accustomed to cooking in small spaces by nature of living in NYC apartments. Now, she's figuring out how to evolve her cooking, not just for a weekend camping trip, but for the long haul in the woods.

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Wait, This Is the Best Way to Mince Garlic?

I come from a family of garlic lovers: The kind of family that fought over the cloves of garlic tucked into sautéed greens at an Italian restaurant. The kind that gifted things like a Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook, complete with a wacky, but very real, recip…

I come from a family of garlic lovers: The kind of family that fought over the cloves of garlic tucked into sautéed greens at an Italian restaurant. The kind that gifted things like a Garlic Lovers' Cookbook, complete with a wacky, but very real, recipe for garlic ice cream (full disclosure, I have never attempted it.)

Sautéeing garlic with another allium—shallots, onions, leeks, or a combination therein—builds a strong flavor foundation for any dish. It will also make your kitchen smell incredible almost instantaneously (I’ve been dreaming of a “sautéed onion” Yankee Candle for years.) Suffice it to say that I’ve minced a lot of garlic in my day. But it wasn’t until I started professionally recipe testing that I learned the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ behind mincing garlic.

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5 Foolproof Tricks for Cooking Even Better Pasta

Pasta Social Club is a column by Meryl Feinstein, Food52’s Resident Pasta Maker, community builder, and pastaia extraordinaire. Meryl will teach us about everything from semolina to spaghetti to sauce (and all the tools you’ll need for each)—and will s…

Pasta Social Club is a column by Meryl Feinstein, Food52's Resident Pasta Maker, community builder, and pastaia extraordinaire. Meryl will teach us about everything from semolina to spaghetti to sauce (and all the tools you'll need for each)—and will show us how pasta is a great way to make great friends and have lots of fun.


A box of pasta is a beautiful thing. It has your back when there’s nothing left in the kitchen but an old tube of tomato paste and a few cloves of garlic. It’s perfect for when you’re short on time, but it’s also best friends with the Sunday sauce that’s been simmering on the stove for hours. And nothing beats that al dente bite.

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How to Store Fresh Herbs So They Last And Last

Ideally, you’d “store” fresh herbs in the garden, never snipping more than you needed. The chives on your scrambled eggs, the cilantro on your tacos, and the basil on your pizza would always be bright, fragrant, and bursting with life. Alas, the real w…

Ideally, you'd "store" fresh herbs in the garden, never snipping more than you needed. The chives on your scrambled eggs, the cilantro on your tacos, and the basil on your pizza would always be bright, fragrant, and bursting with life. Alas, the real world doesn't work that way. To avoid wasting nature's herbaceous gifts, we must use our ingenuity.

There are multiple complex factors influencing produce's longevity, and most of us don't have the means, the time, or even the inclination to precisely control for all of them. Conjuring maximum herbal freshness is therefore more art than science. Rather than recommend one approach, let's discuss the basic elements of freshness, then look at how things can go wrong so that you can respond based on what you observe in your kitchen.

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How to Soften Cream Cheese (& Bake Your Heart Out With It)

Ah, cream cheese. We know it, we love it, it’s our old standby bagel topping. But this tangy spread is so much more than a schmear. Cream cheese is a rich dairy product that makes an amazing addition to pastries, pastas, and more, adding a smooth, rich…

Ah, cream cheese. We know it, we love it, it's our old standby bagel topping. But this tangy spread is so much more than a schmear. Cream cheese is a rich dairy product that makes an amazing addition to pastries, pastas, and more, adding a smooth, rich quality to everything it touches. But it can be tricky to work with when cold: it sticks to itself, clumping together, and nobody wants lumpy frosting, am I right? For this reason, when it comes to working the stuff into recipes, especially desserts, most recipes call for softened cream cheese. Once it comes to room temperature, cream cheese can properly incorporate into a batter or emulsify a frosting.

How to Soften Cream Cheese in the Microwave

Since cream cheese has such a high fat content, it doesn’t take long to come to room temperature if the room is relatively warm. It takes about thirty minutes on the counter to soften significantly, and about an hour to fully come to room temperature (again, depending on the temperature outside and in your kitchen). But if you’re strapped for time, or have a sudden craving for cheesecake, you can cut that time down to seconds. Remove any packaging (especially foil!) and place the block of cream cheese on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 15 seconds, then poke the center of the cream cheese block to test the texture. If it’s still not your desired softness, continue microwaving in 10-second intervals, but err on the side of caution. A little firmer is better than melted, which will be hard to salvage and potentially unusable in a recipe. The cream cheese should feel soft and hold a fingerprint when pressed.

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7 Tomato Paste Substitutes for Pantry Pasta Emergencies (& More!)

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richnes…

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richness. Knead it into bread dough for a ruby-red pop, or add it to tomato sauce to make it even more tomato-y. The opportunities are endless, but this rich, sweet vermillion substance is just the kind of thing I’m constantly forgetting on my grocery runs. So if you’re staring down a recipe that calls for some paste and need a quick tomato paste substitute, we have your back.

Here are 7 tomato paste substitutes you probably have on hand:

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How to Cook Black Beans for Stews, Burritos & Dips

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s …

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s been an explosion of heirloom varieties just in the past few years as people move beyond the can. Heirloom bean producers like Rancho Gordo have spread awareness that the variety of delicious dried legumes available is nearly infinite. But when it comes to burritos, I have strong feelings. As much as I love pinto and refried beans, I think a good burrito needs black beans. They’re meaty, and almost mushroomy at the same time, and great on their own. In fact, they’re the beans I cook most often at home. And they’re much, much better when made from scratch. If you’ve always eaten your beans from a can, here’s a simple guide for how to cook black beans.


Black Beans, Explained

The common bean—the species that includes black as well as pinto, kidney, and cranberry beans—was first cultivated in southwestern Mexico around 7,000 years ago. The bean itself is a seed, consisting of an embryonic plant (which becomes the sprout), surrounded by two hard, nutrient-rich leaves called cotyledons, which are in turn encased in a hard, water-resistant seed-coat. Beans are full of nutrients, particularly starch and protein (three times as much as in wheat or rice), and also packed with flavor. Like many other seeds, dried beans are tough, and need some coaxing to transform into the tender, creamy morsels I spoon over, well, everything.

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9 Cream of Tartar Substitutes You Probably Have in the Kitchen

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of …

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of the grape: cream of tartar. The white powder is most often found in baked goods, where it serves as a stabilizer, a leavening agent, or a crystallization inhibitor (more on this later).

If you’ve just embarked on some baking endeavor only to find your jar of cream of tartar empty, there’s no cause for alarm. There are plenty of substitutions for cream of tartar, you just have to decide which purpose that sub needs to serve.

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5 Clever Tips for Decluttering the Kitchen Table

It happens as predictably as the sun rises.

In the morning, our kitchen table is as clear as a bottle of cleaning vinegar. But as the day continues, things happen—meals are made and eaten; we go and we return, emptying our pockets of keys, coins, and …

It happens as predictably as the sun rises.

In the morning, our kitchen table is as clear as a bottle of cleaning vinegar. But as the day continues, things happen—meals are made and eaten; we go and we return, emptying our pockets of keys, coins, and hand sanny each time; my daughter Mimi’s toddler things seem to materialize out of thin air—a sippy cup here, a cardboard zebra there. By dinner time, our kitchen table is covered with bits and bobs.

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