The battle for most versatile kitchen supply has a few formidable contenders.
There's aluminum foil, that malleable metal liner that can be shaped into just about anything. There's plastic wrap, that thin clingy substance that can either be a godsend or the bane of your existence. There's wax paper, that slippery wrap that works just as well for cleaning as it does for cooking.
And then there's the front-runner: parchment paper.
Parchment paper is grease- and moisture-resistant, and can be used for just about anything in the kitchen. Unlike its wax paper cousin, parchment paper is safe to go in the oven and other hot surfaces—a baker's dream come true.
1. As a liner for cookie sheets and baking dishes
Save yourself the misery of a baked-on cookie or crumbling cake by lining your pans with nonstick parchment paper. Everything from caramel apples to raspberry oat bars will easily release from the pan.
Bonus tip: Small squares of parchment paper can sub in for baking cups in a pinch.
2. Make quick, DIY pastry bags
Hardcore bakers out there, this one's for you. To quickly and efficiently pipe frosting onto a dessert, make a super fast pastry bag out of parchment paper. Just roll it into a cone and tape the outer layer in place.
3. Use it as a disposable cooling rack
Baking up a whole mess of holiday cookies? You probably don't have enough wire racks to cool all of those batches. Instead, just throw down some parchment paper on your countertop for an easy, disposable alternative.
4. Prevent leftovers from sticking together
Keep slices of lasagna or casserole separate by adding a layer of parchment paper in between each layer of food. It makes reheating leftovers for dinner tomorrow a snap!
5. Bake a quick, yet elegant, dinner en papillote
This French method of cooking literally translates to "in parchment." Simply place chicken, fish, or vegetables into a folded paper pouch with some herbs and seasonings, and bake in the oven. The pouch keeps all the moisture and flavor inside—and makes cleanup a cinch.
6. Fold it into DIY toaster bags
All you need is some parchment paper and a toaster to make a deliciously melty grilled cheese. Make a tight-fitting rectangular bag for an uncooked grilled cheese or panini, and toast it in a conventional toaster. This works best with a wide-mouthed toaster or toaster oven. Be sure to carefully observe your sandwich while it toasts, too, as there's always a potential risk of fire.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont