Chopping Finesse

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.

The chopping block

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”


Okra: from Africa to My Microwave, and an Okra Succotash for All Tables

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

Sausage: the Cookbook

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