Vinaigrette Basics [video lesson]

Do you have so many bottles of vinaigrette 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 people … [Read more...]

How to Avoid Wasting Food

Comedian John Oliver took to task the issue of food waste on an episode of This Week Tonight. Seemingly overnight, it's become a burning issue. Finally. I dedicated an entire chapter of my 2011 book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, to the issue of food waste. Here's an excerpt from "Waste Not, Want Not," courtesy Viking/Penguin Random House: "Even as they bemoan food prices, American consumers are generally unaware … [Read more...]

Cooking in Parchment (video lesson)

Cooking en papillote (French for “parchment”) is a wildly overlooked method of cooking in America. It’s an easy method for a quick weeknight dinner that’s also elegant enough for guests. The smell that escapes when the package is reason enough to try it. This works well for salmon and mild-flavored white fish such as snapper, cod and so on. The best part? No dishes. Just throw the paper away. To assure thorough cooking, … [Read more...]

Knife Skills – The Basics [video lesson]

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...]

Recipe: Blueberry Jam Like My Grandpa Charles’

"Who are you?" Mike asked me last week.  "What are you talking about?" I replied. He waved his hand over the counter and dozens of jars of canned jams, jellies and preserves. "Have you become your grandmother? You're  canning like a maniac." "No, I am not becoming my grandmother," I sniffed indignantly. "You read the book. This is all about my grandfather."  Until this summer, as an adult, I made jam exactly twice, … [Read more...]

Fish: Buying Basics

Story by Kathleen Flinn A couple years ago, I attended a screening event of the beautiful, fascinating and depressing documentary The End of the Line. The film illustrates the message and research found in the book of the same name written by British journalist Charles Clover. The tag line says it all: “Imagine a World Without Fish.” The End of the Line is the first film to document the devastating effects of … [Read more...]

Recipe: Rosemary-Thyme-Lemon Oil

Adapted from a story by editor Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking, this infused oil can be added to roasted vegetables before cooking or to steamed vegetables afterward. It provides a lovely complement to roasted beets, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Yields enough for about one to two pounds of roasted vegetables.  Zest of 1 large lemon, removed in … [Read more...]

Recipe: How to Make Vegetable Stock

Despite the name of this recipe, there’s actually not such a thing as vegetable stock. By definition, stock is made from simmering bones in water. No bones? Then it’s broth. So, let us commence with vegetable broth. In my own kitchen, I collect and save the trimmings from the likes of carrots, celery, onions, the green tops from leeks and spring onions, stems from herbs and the skins from onions and garlic. If I am … [Read more...]