Photo by Donna

Photo by Donna

I have two copies of Ad Hoc, signed by Thomas Keller, to give away, courtesy of Artisan (thanks, Amy!)  This is an even more valuable offer than I thought it would be because I see that Amazon is sold out until February, as are many bookstores.  More than 100,000 copies of this book have been printed, with more on the way, making Ad Hoc one of the best selling books of the season.  There’s a reason for it: it’s a fantastic book, with everything from burgers to bread pudding with leeks to cheesecake, and great discussion of cooking issues and technique from Thomas himself (who would have imagined a chef could be so uncommonly articulate on the page?!).  A few namby pambies in the media have whined that some of the recipes actually ask you to cook when you use this book (there’s a broad range of recipes, appropriate to every skill level, some simple, some labor intensive, but none that compromise).  But it’s been chosen one of the best books of the year by others. (Here’s a great series of four videos by borders; watch the one of Thomas and Ad Hoc chef de cuisine Dave Cruz making the bread pudding.)

One of the things I love about this book is the design, by David Hughes of Level in the Napa Valley.  There’s an ease and comfort to the book that makes it a pleasure to peruse.  I also love the small asides and tips throughout.  This most excellent tip on slicing chives, for instance.  I used to lay them flat on a cutting board but would often end up kind of mashing them, and often not slicing all the way through, leaving me to pick big pieces out of my fine slices.  Keller suggests folding a damp paper towel into a wide strip and rolling the chives into a bundle.  This allows you to slice cleanly through the whole bunch, keeping all their delicious oniony fragrance in the chive, not on your cutting board.  It keeps them together neatly, and results in perfectly sliced chives.


Simply leave a comment here with your favorite kitchen tip or trick.  Not technique, like, get your pan really hot before you put the meat in, but a tip like the one above.  I’ll pick randomly rather than judging them, so don’t worry if it’s not as good as others.  I’ll leave this post open and choose the winners Friday at noon eastern time via Twitter (follow me there and have a hand in the choosing).  With apologies, I can only offer these copies to addresses in the United States because of shipping costs and customs headaches.  Sorry!

I can however guarantee they’ll arrive before Xmas for two lucky people who share their kitchen tips here!  Good luck!

[Update: it should be needless to say, but only one entry per person, those who make multiple entries will be disqualified.]

[Update: the winners have been chosen!  They are Aaron Haley ( and Jason Davies!  Will you two pls email me your mailing addresses?  Thanks everyone for all these fantastic kitchen tips!  I love them!]


1,029 Wonderful responses to “Ad Hoc Cookbook Giveaway!”

  • Alf Lervåg

    Everything tastes better with bacon, and bacon tastes better if cooked long on low heat.

  • Greg Katechis

    While this is not a cooking tip in the truest sense of the word, it is a great after cooking tip. If you have any pans with white residue from boiling tap water, boil some vinegar and baking soda for 10 minutes in the pan. Voilà! Also, ketchup is a miracle worker for tarnished brass.

  • Sarah

    Use an egg slicer to slice mushrooms. Quite handy if your knife skills aren’t quite up to snuff or if you have little hands helping you in the kitchen.

    Thanks for the contest – what I great prize!

  • Sarah

    Use an egg slicer to slice mushrooms. Quite handy if your knife skills aren’t quite up to snuff or if you have little hands helping you in the kitchen.

    Thanks for the contest – what a great prize!

  • Grace Lemaster

    I keep my spices and herbs in air tight containers, well labeled, in a dedicated freezer (I have 2 fridge and one upright freezers in my home). I take out what I need and let warm to room temp before using.

  • Carl DePree

    I like to keep Olive Oil in a spray bottle, like what you would get in a hardware store for chemicals. (don’t use one that contained a chemical!).
    Works great for coating a sautee pan, vegetables or fish for grilling, or just for finishing a plate to give it that extra glisten!

  • Nancy Hom

    I tend to cook Asian foods which require lots of chopping. The cutting boards that I use tend to slip on my granite counter top (especially when the surface gets wet), so I place a kitchen towel on the counter first before placing the board down. I now have a safe cutting surface as my board won’t slip.

  • Lulu Arroyo

    To keep salt in salt shakers from going hard like a rock, add dry rice. This will keep the salt from hardening.

  • jesse

    to cut grape or cherry tomatoes, i take two lids from plastic quart containers, place tomatoes in one lid face up, then top it with the other lid face down, and slice parallel to the work surface for a quick and easy cut….

  • Leslie Watkins

    My tip: Cook because you want to, not because you have to. Cooking and sharing food with friends and family is a gift you give not only to them but to yourself!

  • Hurstel

    Don’t throw away cheese rinds. Put them in soups or dishes that have a lot of stock.

  • Annette Niemtzow

    Separate white and yolk of eggs before frying. Fry white in the fat of your choice. When white has hardened, place yolk gently on top. Cover until the yolk is the degree of doneness you prefer. Perfect fried eggs, for eating alone or in many soups for a filling lunch.

    My address is 71 West 83 Street #2R, NYC, NY 10024. Hope you like this. Annette

  • Heidi

    Meat lover’s tip:

    When cooking up chops/cutlets in the frying pan, cook until just under done, then stick in a 150/200 degree oven. Saute your veggies in the pan you cooked the meat in and they’ll soak up all the tasty juices/bits! You’ll have perfectly cooked meat & meaty/savory veggies. And the pan will be easier to clean after, too!

  • Jason R

    If you need to soften butter quickly and don’t have a microwave, simply turn on the oven and place the butter on top of the stove near the vent.

  • Jeff

    Canning jars have the same mouth size and thread to fit certain blenders. Narrow mouths fit cuisinart, and wide mouths fit kitchenaid. When I make marinades, salsas, pestos, dressings, flavored mayo’s etc. I just put the ingredients into the jar and blend. The finish sauce stays in the jar for storage, and the blade can be quickly rinsed and reused for the next sauce. Its a great way to prep for a large meal that has lots of saucy elements.

  • Jonk

    When slicing onions keep the nonflammable end of an unlit match in your mouth. It will prevent tears.

  • Hayden

    Take advantage of the freezer: freeze stock in ice cube trays and bacon on a baking sheet, then store both in separate Ziplock bags. Then you can use just what you need.

  • Rubiao

    Keep your cast iron pan in the oven while preheating and cooling, throw a little oil in there every once in a while. Yeah its seasoned, but it can always be more seasoned.

  • Mark Riccardelli

    to blanch brussel sprouts more consistently, and all the way through….freeze them instead. The freezing breaks down some of the cell walls, and doesn’t overcook any part of them. After that, just use however you would fresh (except for salads)

  • Kristie

    When I’m making stock for soup, and some of the vegetables for the finished soup need to be blanched instead of cooked until mush, I just stick my (clean) chinois into the stock as it simmers, and blanch my veggies in the simmering stock. They add to the flavor and nutrients of the stock, and are cooked perfectly when it’s time to assemble the finished soup.

    Also, I buy those big, inexpensive jugs of pre-peeled garlic at the market. Then I put them in a big zip-top bag and stick them in the freezer. When I need garlic for a preparation that just needs garlic flavor (like a braise) but isn’t dependent on the texture of fresh garlic, I just grab a couple out of the freezer, smash them, and stick them in. I hate peeling and dicing garlic.

  • Eben Atwater

    Next time you’re making chili and it’s time to thicken things up, substitute corn flour in lieu of regular for your roux – It adds a very nice subtle, nutty/tortilla flavor note.

  • Mimi

    To remove cooked on eggs from a pan, soak for a few minutes in ice cold water. The cold water breaks down the protiens in the eggs and makes them break apart.

  • Brian

    A lot of people here probably already know this one, but as a new aspiring home chef, this potato peeling trick has saved me time and cut fingers.

    Take your potatoes, and create a score line all the way around the center of each potato. Drop the scored potatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. After removing them from the boiling water, submerge them in a bowl of ice water for about 30-60 seconds. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, hold each potato with half of the scored potato in one hand, and the other half in the other hand. Using your fingers, slowly pinch and pull the potato skin apart (away from the score line), and you should be left with a perfectly peeled potato.

    Another fun tip for peeling a banana. Instead of cutting or breaking the banana peel at the stem, turn the banana around and pinch the bottom stub of the banana–the stub will separate, and you can easily remove the peel without smashing the end of the banana in your attempt to break the stem.

  • Cynthia Carlin

    I freeze extra tomato paste and pesto in ice cube trays and then pop them frozen into various soups as needed.

  • Adam

    To keep hamburgers juicy when using lower fat ground beef (eg grassfed or even buffalo), mix in some minced onions. Adds subtle flavor and a bit of extra moisture.

  • Nick

    Don’t be afraid to use your microwave as a bread box. It’s a perfect use of space for those of us in urban environments, and it’ll keep your bread, chips, etc. fresh.

  • ScottVT

    Parchment paper to line the bottom of a cake pan always drove me crazy. I know it’s important, but i hated having to stop in the middle of a flourless chocolate cake to do an arts and craft project – parchment paper, pencil, scissors, etc – while up to my elbows in melted chocolate and egg whites.

    Now i just fold a sheet of parchment into quarters. Holding the corner that was the center point of the open sheet, keep folding into a smaller and smaller wedge until it’s less than 1″ at its widest. Hold the point of your wedge over the center of the cake pan and tear along where it meets the pan’s edge. Unfold and you have a surprisingly good circle of just the right diameter. No school supplies needed!

  • Aubrey

    Always have fun when cooking. The point of creating delicious meals is to express your passion and creativity. If you are stressed or unhappy, there is no point of cooking. Take your time, take a deep breath and make it fun.
    (it will make all your dishes taste better)