One of the most common mistakes in the kitchen? Not having a sharp-enough knife. Don’t wait until an accident occurs to find out if your blade is dull. Put your knife to the test: Hold a sheet of paper by one end and try slicing clean ribbons from it. If the knife snags or fails to cut the paper, it needs to be steeled or sharpened.
During holiday baking marathons, cooks—like you!—may find themselves with a shortage of cooling racks for cookies and the like. If you’re in a bind, place four dinner knives on a countertop, alternating the direction of the blades and spacing them more than an inch apart. The knives will provide a stable, elevated surface.
As anyone who has plunged into an unexpectedly tepid plate of reheated leftovers can attest, judging the interior temperature of rewarmed foods such as lasagna or a casserole can be difficult. To avoid that rude awakening, before taking the casserole out the oven, poke the center with the blade of a butter knife and leave it in place for 15 to 30 seconds. Remove the knife, and then touch the side of the blade very gently to the back of your hand. If the metal is hot, so, too, is the center of the casserole.
When prepping dishes in spaces other than your own kitchen, you may need to carry a knife on the go. If you don’t have a protective knife sheath, it’s easy to make your own carrier. Slip your chef’s knife into a roll of paper towels, which is wide enough to accommodate an 8- or 10-inch knife snugly (plus, the paper towels will most likely come in handy). Another option is to cut a slit in a thick piece of corrugated cardboard and slip the knife into the opening.