Over the years, I have learned from writing cookbooks and teaching cooking classes that recipe instructions for how to cut up ingredients can be confusing, especially to novice cooks not familiar with the lexicon of cooking words. For instance, one person might understand “coarsely chopped” as half–inch pieces, whereas another might imagine really huge chunks (easier to get through the task that way.) Then there’s “julienne,” “finely chopped” “thinly shredded,” and so on. Here’s a pictorial way to describe the words and take the guesswork out of how to proceed with the recipe instructions.
Starting on the top row left, there are:
– thinly shredded cabbage, cut to yield long, thin pieces, as for cole slaw. The term also can apply to basil, lettuce, or meats.
– carrot ribbons, which have been scraped off the carrot with a vegetable peeler. Parsnips, daikon, and zucchini can also be ribboned to use fresh in a salad composition or deep fry to crispness for snacking. Continue reading “Chopping Finesse”
In July through September the okra displays at produce and farmers’ markets attract a veritable study in a cross section of peoples that make up America and its cooking: Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asians and Asian Indians, Greeks, Turkish, African Americans, Latinos, Middle Easterners, all precisely selecting the size pods desired for their dish: tiny ones for … Continue reading Okra: from Africa to My Microwave, and an Okra Succotash for All Tables
I used to drink coffee in the morning; loved my cup of java to jump start the day. Then not too long ago, I got an intestinal disturbance which kept me from having that, or much of anything else for several days. When the bout was over, I found I couldn’t easily tolerate coffee anymore. … Continue reading Miso for a Morning Drink
Fennel, a native of the Mediterranean, wended its way north, east, and west, establishing itself in the landscapes and gardens of temperate climates around the world. So hardy is it, it is sometimes considered an invasive weed when it proliferates into expansive stands to the detriment of other plants that might have wanted to share … Continue reading Splendiferous Fennel, and a Broccoli Recipe
After a brief romance with pressure cooking in the 1940s and 1950s, American cooks basically shelved the whistling pot that seemed to threaten “exploding” at any moment. And sometimes it did; stories of split pea soup or some such spewing to the ceiling when the cooker was overfilled or overheated are legendary in the annals … Continue reading Touting the Pressure Cooker: Risotto
Strawberries and rhubarb are as fine a culinary pairing as there is. Like tomatoes with basil or chocolate with cherries, each delightful on its own, together they are serendipitous. I like the word serendipity because it describes a good surprise discovered or revealed on the way to another place, an “aha” that comes as a … Continue reading Strawberry Rhubarb Jam=Spring Serendipity
My latest cookbook, Sausage: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Homemade Sausage (Ten Speed Press, April, 2010), is hot off the press and available in bookstores and online. It includes 75 do-able recipes, no casing required! With flavors from around the world, the recipes showcase sausage as an easy focus for a meal, morning, noon, … Continue reading Sausage: the Cookbook
In a moment of extreme enthusiasm one May I planted two Thompson seedless grape vines in my backyard in Oakland, California. That was because stuffed grape leaves, from my Armenian heritage, are a true comfort food for me, right up there with mac and cheese and homemade tacos from my mother’s Southwest side of the … Continue reading The Grape Vine: Tendril to Wood
The glory of citrus, besides its heady, alluring fragrance and many, many kitchen uses, is that it shows up in winter, just when a burst of something fresh and aromatic is needed to dispel the gloominess of an overcast day. That’s when I catch a break in the weather to forage, in an urban way, … Continue reading Gleaning Citrus, with Two Recipes