Cooking Basics Posts

Mise en place, basic techniques and ingredients.

How to Cut a Mango

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

How to Cut a Mango

The first time I brought home a ripe, juicy mango, I made a horrible mess of it. No one had clued me in to the unfortunate truth… unlike an apple, or a pear, which make themselves quite obvious, you kind of have to know how to cut a mango before you start. It’s got a huge pit, and the skin doesn’t come off easily without destroying the fruit. It’s actually very simple, but, like surgery, you sort of need to see how things are done before you start going all crazy with a knife.

How to Cut a Mango


Kitchen Tricks: Plastic Squeeze Bottles

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Kitchen Tricks: Plastic Squeeze Bottles

Every once in a while, a simple and easy idea comes along that makes a huge improvement in your cooking. For me, this was one of the big ones. I’ve been using squeeze bottles for years now (they are probably OLD news to many of you), so I’m actually surprised I haven’t extolled the virtues of them here on the blog yet. Yes, they are awesome. Yes, if you haven’t yet converted to using these cheap and effective tools, you probably should.

Kitchen Tricks: Plastic Squeeze Bottles


Techniques: Stir Frying

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Techniques: Stir Frying

Stir fried food is healthy and awesome, but people sometimes sweat the technique. It’s sort of ironic because this ancient method of tossing some veggies or protein in a hot pan was practically invented for simple, quick cooking. With these three basics in mind, a perfect stir fry is a very do-able thing.

Techniques: Stir Frying


Techniques: Searing Meat

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Techniques: Searing Meat

The perfect pan-sear can seem elusive; that caramelized, crisp-brown texture can be hard to repeat without the right know-how. A great sear is not black, definitely not gray, but a deep, rich brown color. The meat releases from the pan (even a non-non-stick pan – is that a word?) easily and naturally, and gets a lot of really great flavor and texture from the heat. Here’s how to do it right every time.

Techniques: Searing Meat


How to Make Crepes

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

How to Make Crepes

Making a reasonably good crepe at home is not only possible, it’s not even all that difficult. You’ll just need a skillet with shallow sides, basic ingredients, and some patience when you inevitably screw them up once in a while.

When we came back from the farmer’s market a few days ago with a box of the reddest, ripest strawberries we had seen for months, I knew crepes were going on the menu. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to post about how to make your own crepes at home.

How to Make Crepes


Properly Maintain Your Knives

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Properly Maintain Your Knives

Your knife will be your closest co-worker as a cook. Treat it with care and respect, and it will serve you well. Treat it badly, and it will turn on you.

I believe it was Anthony Bourdain who gave that comforting and gentle advice to new cooks; “If you are incapable of demonstrating pride in your tools, you are incapable as well of making food you can be proud of.” And that, when you do cut your finger wide open with a dull knife that has slipped, you will richly deserve it.

Properly Maintain Your Knives


Making Artisanal Bread

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Making Artisanal Bread

Warning!  This post contains material that may be harmful to the gluten-free.

Bread.  It’s the chewy, crusty, essence of life – an ancient and timeless staple.  When we make bread, it puts some part of us in touch with those countless generations that came before us. After all, entire civilizations have been fed by and built upon bread.

What I like about this bread recipe is the simple, rustic preparation.  It just feels, smells and tastes so natural.  It’s also easy and satisfying to make, requiring just a cast-iron pot, a few basic ingredients, and an oven.

Making Artisanal Bread



“Understand, when you eat meat, that something did die. You have an obligation to value it - not just the sirloin but also all those wonderful tough little bits.”
~ Anthony Bourdain