Marcus has covered food for Newsday since 1998.
What's the best method for cooking bacon?
I've never been completely happy with cooking bacon in a skillet on top of the stove for the simple reason that all of my skillets are round, and the shape of a half-dozen strips of bacon lined up is decidedly rectangular. Not to mention bacon grease spattering all over the place and the fact that the strips always curl up. Over the years, I've heard folks extol the virtues of cooking bacon in the oven, but I recently came across a website, baconmethod.com, that promises "perfect, crispy bacon every time."
Truly, this couldn't be easier:
Line a pan with bacon. Put the pan onto the middle rack of a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 400 degrees. In 20 minutes or so, your bacon will be perfectly cooked, and your kitchen will be perfectly clean. Serve.
I'm a convert.
I found that half a 16-ounce package of bacon fit perfectly onto a 13-by-18-inch baking sheet (called a "half-sheet" or "jelly roll" pan). Lining the pan with parchment paper made it easier to remove the bacon from the pan. And rotating the pan after 10 minutes ensured evenly cooked bacon. When the bacon was done, I used tongs to transfer the strips to a paper-towel-lined platter, and I used another paper towel to blot them of excess grease. They were crisp but not burned, flat and straight as soldiers.
Baconmethod.com seems to be a quasi-charitable affair. It offers links for purchasing recommended pans (a 15-by-10-inch Pyrex baking dish and a Nordic Ware sheet pan) and other accessories from amazon.com. The only e-commerce items that benefit the site's owners are mugs, T-shirts and magnets bearing the motto "COLD OVEN. MIDDLE RACK. 400°F. 20 m." So, I'll just say, "Thank you."
What's the best method for separating a lot of eggs?
Ever since I saw the film "The Hours," I've been separating eggs the way Meryl Streep did -- cracking the egg and then pouring it through my fingers so the white drips into the bowl and I'm left with the yolk in the palm of my hand. Hands do a better job of separating eggs than any store-bought contraption. "The Hours" method is great for one or two eggs. But I recently learned this tip from a pastry-chef friend who had to separate 72 eggs for a series of cakes she was making:
Crack each egg into a little dish and, assuming you haven't broken the yolk, transfer it to a large bowl. (If you broke the eggs directly into the large bowl, you'd risk "contaminating" the whole bowl with each egg cracked.) When the bowl contains all the eggs, use your hands to gently lift out the yolks all at once and place them gently into another bowl.