Don't let the fancy names or the impressive chopping speed of master chefs intimidate you when it comes to learning basic knife skills. With a little practice, cutting techniques are rather simple and easy to perfect. Knowing how to properly cut fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit will make recipes and preparation easier, while taking your dishes to the next level in terms of aesthetics and texture. For mastering everything from mincing garlic to cutting a chiffonade, turn to these six step-by-step tutorials.
Over the weekend, I went to make a dish that involved tarragon-infused olive oil. I had some in the cupboard, but couldn't remember the last time I used it. A quick glance at the date shocked me; it had expired in 2009! At that very moment, I decided to check the dates on the items in the cupboard. It was surprising how many oils and sauces had expired — all of the ones in the picture! It was also an eye-opener; several things, like pomegranate molasses and Sherry vinegar, said "refrigerate after opening," in small print I had never noticed before. Now, the next time I open an obscure bottle, I'm going to make note of the expiration date and be sure it doesn't require refrigeration.
When was the last time you cleaned out your pantry?
Along with Spring onions, leeks have been all over the farmers markets. Although they're in season year-round here in California, lately they've been too fresh-looking to pass up. Like scallions, these alliums are long stems of bundled leaf sheaths, but they have a much milder, mellower flavor, making them a favorite even amongst the onion-averse. For more ideas about choosing, caring for, and consuming them, keep on reading.
One of my favorite weeknight meals is roasted chicken with kale and potatoes. To prepare it, I have a simple way of removing the tough stems from Tuscan or dinosaur kale. Fold each leaf in half with the vein side out, then trim alongside the stem from top to bottom. I discovered this tip after cooking batches of kale, but I wish I'd known it when I was first starting out; then, I painstakingly traced the stem out of each leaf! What's your favorite way to prep kale?
The folks at Cook's Illustrated really know their way around a kitchen. Not only do they have great recipes and fantastic ideas, but they've got an assortment of kitchen tips too. In fact they've got 834 of them and lucky for us they've put them in their book 834 Kitchen Quick Tips. The tips are laid out alphabetically and cover everything from almond paste (how to soften) to zucchini (how to seed). The hints inside (like spraying your knife with nonstick cooking spray before chopping sticky dried fruit) are quite clever and a book like this will be a great reference in your kitchen. I personally found the tips fun to read, and think it's going to become the gift I give at housewarmings!