Top 10 Tips for Cloning Recipes

To help ensure that all goes well, here are some quick words of advice on how to use my recipes and books to get the best results from your cloning experience:

1. Read the entire recipe through before you start cooking. There's been many a time I didn't familiarize myself with a recipe first, only to discover halfway through that I wouldn't be able to finish, since I didn't have the right equipment or ingredients. You will need to know if you'll be using the barbecue, so you can refill the propane that ran out last Saturday. You will want to know that you need an eight-inch springform pan before you start the cheesecake. Read ahead and minimize the surprises.

2. Read the "tidbits" section at the end of any recipe that has one. That section may offer some helpful advice or recipe variations you might want to try.

3. Know the yield before you start. I've designed several of the recipes, especially sandwiches, to yield only enough for one serving, but those recipes can be easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled to serve more.

4. For the recipes that require egg whites, I've found that one of the easiest ways to separate the white from the yolk is to crack the egg with one hand into the other hand cupped over a small bowl. The egg whites will run out between your fingers, and you will be holding just the egg the yolk in your hand. You can also use a small funnel. Just crack the egg into the funnel, and the egg white will run through, leaving the yolk. Use a container other than the bowl you will be beating the white in. You don't want to risk ruining all the whites if some yolk should fall through.

5. Identify parts of the recipes that can be used for other dishes. Many of the recipes include dips, dressings, and sauces, which are great stand-alone recipes to use in another dish you may create.

6. When making anything with chocolate, you can intensify the flavor by adding some vanilla to the recipe. This is what I've done with recipes for chocolate icings.

7. When baking, allow at least 15 minutes for your oven to preheat. This is especially important if you do not have an indicator light that tells you when your oven is ready.

8. When it comes to hamburgers, thinner is better. But just how do we get our patties thin like the big boys, and still make them easy to cook without breaking? We freeze 'em, folks. Plan ahead. Hours, even days, before you expect to make your hamburgers, pat the patties out onto wax paper on a cookie sheet with a diameter slightly larger than the buns you are using, and about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (with consistent thickness from center to edge). Thickness depends on the burger: If you're making a small hamburger like the one at McDonald's, which is only about 1/8 ounce, make the patties 1/8 inch thick. If you're going for the Quarter Pounder, make your patty 1/4 inch thick -- never more than that. Lay wax paper over the top of your patties and put them in the freezer. When your patties are completely frozen, it's time to cook. You can cook them straight out of the freezer on a hot grill or frying pan for three to seven minutes per side, without worrying about thorough cooking. And the patties will flip easily without falling apart.

9. If you're baking cookies, you can very easily make them all uniform in size by rolling the dough into a tube with the diameter you need, then slicing it with a very sharp knife.

10. Every once in a while, you should check your oven thermostat with an oven thermometer. I did and found out that my oven was off by twenty-five degrees. That's normal. It can be off by twenty-five degrees in either direction, but if it's any more than that, you should make adjustments when cooking, and get it fixed.

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