Knife Skills – The Basics [video lesson]

knife anatomy

I've interviewed dozens of home cooks and hands down (pun intended), the most valuable thing a home cook can do is to get a decent chef's knife and learn how to use it. Below, you'll find a quick video lesson. After that, you'll find basics on buying and caring for a chef's knife. A good knife is a worthwhile investment. If you buy a quality one and take care of it, you will have it for a lifetime and will easily pay … [Read more...]

Vinaigrette Basics [video lesson]

Balsamic vinaigrette

Do you have so many bottles of vinaigrette and in your fridge, that when you open the door it sounds like wind chimes? Vinaigrette is one of the first things that any home cook should master for a couple of reasons. One, it's expensive to buy and tends to be loaded with ingredients. I did a survey of eight popular brands of "Italian-style" vinaigrette. They averaged 17 ingredients. The basic recipe below has six.  Most … [Read more...]

Protected: Recipe Testing Tips

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Firehouse Challenge: Stuffing

Two stuffings

Next up came stuffing. Arguably, this has the most "active" time of any of the traditional side dishes. There's chopping and sauteing involved. I made this dish twice, once manually cutting up the vegetables as a home cook's pace and a second time using a food processor which dramatically cut the prep time. Otherwise, it's just a matter of cutting up bread and letting it go stale or toasting it  in an oven.  In the photo … [Read more...]

“Minestrone” Soup like My Mother’s

Minestrone

Recipe by Kathleen Flinn In my first book, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, this recipe was known as "Potage 'Minestrone' a la Ma Mere," since all the recipes had French names. This is neither French, nor strictly speaking, even minestrone. Instead, it served as a catch-all flexible soup recipe into which my mother could leverage the various leftovers from our dinner table. With five kids on a Michigan farm, my … [Read more...]

Shepherd’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling

Shepards Pie with lentils

Recipe by Kim O'Donnel My family has shifted to mostly vegetarian in the past couple of years. This has meant something new for us: meatless holiday dinners.  The key to this recipe is a great technique: braising lentils in red wine. This step adds a certain "meatiness" to the dish. Since I first made this dish, I now routinely braise lentils in wine for other dishes, too. Last year, we had the extended family for dinner … [Read more...]