How to Cut & Peel Food
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Enjoying: Animal Cookie Cutters from IKEA
This is just a note to say that we are enjoying these cookie cutters. We blogged speculatively about them in our roundup of maybe-good-things from IKEA’s new catalog and then we picked them up on our last trip. They’re not essential or terribly important, but they are rather delightful.As you can probably see, these aren’t the most sturdy or expensively-built cookie cutters. They’re simple stainless steel and need to be washed and dried carefully.
Jun 4, 2009
How Would You Julienne Scallions?
If you receive Sara Kate’s weekly Kitchn Email (quick, sign up here!) then today you’re in for a treat. She’s sharing the Korean grilled ribs we had a couple nights ago at an Apartment Therapy editors’ retreat. They were delicious and totally addictive. But the side dish we prepared to go with them was nearly as good: a simple salad with lettuce, Asian pear, and julienned scallions.
May 21, 2009
Tip: Slice Asparagus in the Food Processor
Why, exactly? Well, we have a few good reasons…After reading this article in The New York Times, we started paying more attention to how much of our asparagus was ending up in the trash as snapped-off stalks. Often half the asparagus was lost when we snapped it.But in the article, Harold McGee makes the point that the tougher fibers at the end of the stalk aren’t noticeable if the stalk is sliced very, very thin. You could do this with a knife, but a food processor is eons faster.
May 15, 2009
How to Separate an Egg
We just read a tip at Saveur’s website and learned something new. No, not about separating an egg in your hands, although that’s a good one, too. There’s something else…Saveur claims eggs will separate more easily when they are cold, not room temperature. We occasionally do have trouble getting that last bit of white film away from the yolk.
Mar 5, 2009
Knife Skills: The Claw
We briefly mentioned this technique in our round-up of knife skills lessons last week, and today we wanted to spend a little more time with it. The “claw” is all about being safe with knives and preventing any kitchen misadventures. Here’s how it’s done!Perhaps obviously, this technique is called “the claw” for the shape your hand should be making while you do it!
Feb 9, 2009
Tip: Core Brussels Sprouts With a Vegetable Peeler
Brussels sprouts were a new crush for us this year. Those delicious little green balls are in season through most of the winter, and we’re looking forward to trying some of your recommendations for good recipes.There’s one thing, though, that we’re not looking forward to, and that’s the seemingly inordinate amount of handling required by these miniature cabbage. Here’s one tip we found to help speed that up.
Jan 28, 2009
Quick Tip: How to Peel Garlic by Hand
For years, we’ve gotten the skins off garlic by smashing the clove with the flat of our knives, but we recently learned a gentler technique. This one involves “pinching” the skin off using your bare hands…Hold the garlic clove between your thumb and the knuckles of your first finger with the flatter edge of the clove facing you. Pinch your thumb and first finger together, bending the top and bottom of the garlic clove together.
Jan 26, 2009
Basic Techniques: How to Trim the Fat Off Meat
Like many of you, we’ve been recently buying more whole cuts of meat to use in braises and to stretch our food dollar a little further. These often come with a fair amount of fat and gristle still attached, which can make the final dish unpleasantly greasy if left on. Here’s how to get rid of as much of that fat as possible!Note: There are images of raw meat after the jump.As always when working with meat, use a sharp knife.
Jan 14, 2009
How To Peel Squash: An Easier Way
Many dishes, including one of my favorite pastas require roasted cubes of squash, so I can’t just cut the squash in half and roast it. It has to be peeled and cubed. Up until very recently, when confronted with a butternut squash waiting to be peeled, I would sigh and pull out the sharpest peeler I had. I would cut the squash in half, lay the cut side down, and painstakingly peel it like a cucumber. This would take a long time, and it was invariably tiring and tedious.
Dec 16, 2008
Use Pie Dough Cut-Outs to Top Pies
One of our favorite pies in last month’s great Best Pie Bakeoff was Deb’s Cherry Berry Pie, and this was partly because of her creative use of pie dough cut-outs to create a top crust.We like doing this too; in fact, we look forward to making our fancy shapes at the end of filling our pie crust! It’s the fun part. Deb’s pie, pre-baking.Deb’s pie, after baking.Here are a few tips for making pie cut-outs.• Make sure your dough is well chilled.
Dec 10, 2008
How To Cut Carrots into Flowers
Carrot coins? Yawn. Matchsticks? Too much work! Next time you’re making a stew or miso soup or gingered carrots, take a few minutes and make carrot flowers. It’s simple, not too much extra work and the pay-off is big. Carrot flowers add a sweet, graphic visual to your dish and are an effort that is always appreciated. Step-by-step instructions below the jump.
Nov 17, 2008
How Do You Slice an Apple?
We’re not going to claim there’s a right way and a wrong way. But we’re all slicing a lot of apples these days (and will be for months), so we’re wondering how our method compares to yours. See step-by-step photos, below…First we slice it in half, then into quarters.Then, to get out the core, we slice diagonally along the inside of each quarter.
Nov 11, 2008
Quick Tip: How to Keep Your Cutting Board from Slipping
Trying to use a cutting board that slips against the counter with every motion of your knife is not only annoying, it’s dangerous! Don’t worry – this is one kitchen grievance that’s easy to solve.The easiest and cheapest way to keep your cutting board from slipping is to put a damp paper towel or damp kitchen cloth under your cutting board. This creates friction between your board and the counter to keep things from slipping.
Oct 20, 2008
Quick Tip: Chop Chocolate with a Serrated Knife
Chopping chocolate for things like brownies and fudge was always one of our least favorite kitchen tasks. That is, until a pastry chef friend suggested we try using a serrated bread knife!Chocolate is naturally quite brittle and will fragment under pressure. The grooved “teeth” on a serrated knife are like many tiny wedges pushing into the chocolate and getting it to fragment in several places at once.
Sep 22, 2008
Tip From Gourmet: Crush Tomatoes With a Box Grater
There’s a great little video over at Gourmet’s website. Food editor Ian Knauer turns fresh tomatoes into crushed tomatoes with one simple tool: a box grater. Perfect for adapting those recipes that call for canned tomatoes (that you know would taste better with fresh ones). Get a link to the video, below… The important step is to get rid of the tomato skins, and we assumed, before watching the video, that Knauer would flash boil the tomatoes, then peel them.
Aug 28, 2008
Knife Skills: Keeping Your Knife Sharp
Once you’ve gone to all the trouble of sharpening your knife, the next step is keeping that way! This is easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Here’s how…As you use your knife, the sharp edge will gradually start to curl under. When you sharpen your knife on a steel, you’re actually just straightening the edge back out again. (This is as opposed to sharpening your knife on a whetstone, where metal is being removed to form a sharper edge.
Aug 25, 2008
Technique: How To Remove the Skins from Nuts
In our post last week on Dried Fig and Nut bars, we mentioned needing to remove the skins from the hazelnuts we were using. If left on, these skins can discolor your baked goods or make them taste bitter.These days you can find most nuts with their skins already removed. If not, it’s simple enough to do yourself. And there are actually two ways to choose from!Method #1: ToastingHeat your oven to 400-degrees.Spread the nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer.
May 19, 2008
Knife Skills: How to Hold Your Knife
When it comes right down to it, the best way to hold your chef’s knife is the way that feels the most comfortable to you.But if you’re looking for a little more control and speed in your cutting, here’s how!With your thumb and first finger, pinch the blade of your knife where it runs into the handle.Alternatively, you can wrap all four fingers around the handle with your thumb touching the heel of the blade.
May 16, 2008
Skeptical Shopper: Born Free Hard Boiled Peeled Eggs
Our first reaction to seeing this bag of ready-to-eat, hard-boiled eggs in the grocery store was along the lines of, “That’s ridiculous.” In fact, that’s exactly what our husband said when we put them in our basket.Why did we buy them when we are perfectly capable of hard-boiling our own? Because to give you a full report, we needed to slice and taste a few. Could this new convenience product have a place in our kitchen?The short answer is no.
Apr 11, 2008
How to Peel Garlic Quickly and Easily
I encounter a lot of chefs that don’t know how to peel garlic and end up doing it the long, hard way. Other chefs use packaged peeled garlic. Personally, I prefer to buy my garlic fresh at the Farmer’s Market and peel them myself. I think it’s more economical and sustainable this way – the garlic comes direct from the farmer without any plastic packaging, and has less carbon footprint because the garlic wasn’t processed by machines and then shipped to supermarkets.
Mar 6, 2008
Five Tips to Cut Onions Without Tears
You’ve probably heard dozens of old wives’ tales and pseudo-scientific advice for cutting onions without tears. Two of the most ludicrous are holding burning matches in your mouth while you chop, a fire hazard to say the least, and chewing on a raw onion, which merely adds more onion close to your mucus membranes. Most of these homespun ideas just aren’t very effective, but we’ve got five tips which are.
Mar 4, 2008
How To: Cut a Pumpkin
Mallets, moving cars, and great heights have all figured in suggestions of how to split open a pumpkin. We’ve been tempted to hurl ours off the balcony, but patience and a good chef’s knife should do the trick in the end. See step-by-step photos below… NOTE: We really only recommend this for small pie pumpkins that can easily be steadied with one hand. Anything over 3 or 4 pounds – use a saw or screwdriver and mallet. 1. Start with a small pie pumpkin.
Oct 10, 2007
Good Question: Can I Recycle or Fix Up Old Knives?
How can I dispose of old kitchen knives?  I bought a set of knives a couple of years ago and they have since dulled and rusted.  I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to just throw them in the garbage.  I would normally try to make do with them, but I received a better set of knives as a gift recently and kind of wanted to clear out my kitchen drawer.
Jul 11, 2007
Technique: Roasting Peeled Garlic
Today is National Garlic Day and we can’t let it go by without another garlic tip! We’ve already talked about our unabashed love of pre-peeled garlic. We realized recently that we could roast these jumbo peeled cloves just like a regular papered head, and we’ve found this to be a great and easy way to use up extra garlic. After the garlic is roasted, we like to mash it with the oil to mix into fillings, or leave the cloves whole to be rubbed on toasts or bread with soft cheese.
Apr 19, 2007