I've always praised butternut squash for its mild sweetness and versatility — but I was surprised when so many of you said you'd never prepared one before or find it hard to work with. Since it'd be a bummer to miss out on this Fall vegetable at home (unless you're willing to pony up $400 for an automated butternut squash peeler!), I thought I'd help you out with instructions on how to prep it yourself. Here's a step-by-step lesson.
If you've never heard of a chinois, it's a cone-shaped strainer that's often seen in professional kitchens and used for a multitude of purposes. While household strainers are more commonly round-shaped (better suited for straining pasta, sifting powdered sugar or flour, and the like), the conical chinois is more functional for extracting the liquids out of meats, vegetables, and fruits. Want a case for adding the chinois to your home kitchen? Here, we offer five foods that work well with the chinois.
- Stock: Make your stocks clear and fiber-free by straining out the bones and vegetable pieces. The cone shape helps trap everything, so bones don't go flying into the strained stock.
- Pureed soups and sauces: Leave behind even the most minute fibrous material after blending soups and sauces into a puree.
- Gravy: Trap small particles from pan gravies, so you are left with a silky, thick finishing sauce.
- Custard: Strain custard bases prior to cooling or freezing them to get rid of any eggy bits that could ruin the otherwise smooth texture.
- Pureed fruit and jam: Remove skin, seeds, and fiber from pureed fruit and jams to achieve an even consistency.
For a functional, home-friendly version of a chinois, I like the Williams Sonoma Chinois Strainer, Pestle, and Stand ($100). The chinois fits securely on a stand, giving you a hands-free effect as pouring hot liquids into the strainer becomes a painless, mess-free process, plus it's tall enough to fit a medium-sized bowl underneath to catch the strained liquid. The wooden pestle is carved to match the conical shape of the chinois, so you can press every last drop out of the vegetables, fruit, or other food. Tell us: do you have a chinois at home, and if so, what do you use it for?
I'm starting to get psyched for the big game, so this weekend I scheduled a buffalo wing practice run. This time around, I skipped the grocery aisle in favor of some quality time with my local butcher. Rather than waiting for him to break down the wings, I asked the butcher to show me how to cut up the chicken wings myself. As it turns out, breaking down whole chicken wings isn't all that challenging! Learn how to prep them when you keep reading.
When I was developing my recipe for buffalo chicken mac and cheese, I headed to the local butcher to buy chicken cutlets. The butcher said he didn't have any on hand, but could make some for me on the spot. But when I stood there watching him, I couldn't believe how easy it was! I vowed to share the painless process with you. For step-by-step instructions, keep reading.
Having fresh herbs on hand is essential if you're an avid home cook — or bartender! But unless you have a flourishing herb garden, it can be frustrating to purchase bunches of fresh herbs every week, only to watch them wilt and dry out in a couple days. Luckily, there are a few easy tweaks you can make to your herb storage to keep them fresher longer, allowing you to add more flair to your dishes and drinks!
- Parsley and cilantro: These delicate herbs are a lot like fresh flowers, so treat them the same way. Trim their stems as soon as you get them home, and stick them in a small glass full of water (bud vases or empty milk or cream bottles work well). Spritz them with water, cover them loosely with a plastic ziplock bag, and put them in the fridge. Every couple days, change out the water and give the stems another small trim to keep them fresh.
- Mint and basil: Follow the same steps as above, minus the plastic bag-fridge step. Mint and basil do better at room temperature; mint, in fact, is so weed-like, if you put it in front of a sunny window, it may even start to send roots down into the water and sprout new leaves.
- Rosemary, thyme, and oregano: These hardier herbs will brown and mold if kept in water. Wrap them loosely in damp paper towels and then in plastic wrap, and keep them in the crisper or in your fridge door — the warmest spot in the fridge is ideal. Swap out the paper towels for fresh ones every couple days.
Any tips to add for storing fresh herbs?
Source: Flickr User suzettesuzette