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Archive for January, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Filling A Pepper Mill

We didn’t heed our own device when refilling the pepper mill yesterday. The result: peppercorns all over the counter and floor.

There’s a better way to do it:

Fill a small plastic bag or even a paper envelope with the peppercorns. Snip off a corner. You’ll be able to better aim the peppercorns into the mill.

  • Now that you’ve mastered filling the pepper mill, master all the different types of peppercorns.
  • Pepper is not related to bell peppers or hot chile peppers. The term “pepper” was applied to the Chile by New World explorers, who related the hot and spicy flavor of chiles to the peppercorn they knew. Learn more about chile “peppers.”

Keep ‘em in the peppermill, not on the
counter. Photo courtesy SXC.

Find more tips like this in the handy book, Tips Cooks Love.


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COOKING VIDEO: Baked Chicken Wings For The Super Bowl


Want to serve fresh, hot chicken wings at your Super Bowl party?

In this video, the chef demonstrates how easy it is to bake chicken wings and offers options for two different sauces: one based on Peruvian peri-peri sauce, the other on Thai sriracha sauce.



Now, you don’t have to wing it.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Zest A Lemon, Lime Or Grapefruit

After you juice a grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange or other citrus, do you throw it away?

If so, you’re tossing out a delicious ingredient: the zest.

Zest is the outermost part of the rind/peel/skin. Before you juice the citrus, remove the zest for use in other recipes. Scraping or cutting it from the skin is known as zesting.

  • Add zest to your recipes: in baking, casseroles, marinades, rice, salad dressings, sauces, soups, stir frys and stews.
  • Perk up uncooked foods: from green salads and tuna/seafood salads to yogurt (plain and fruit-flavored).
  • Steep it with tea. A piece of lemon peel is traditionally served with espresso, so you can add some lemon zest in your coffee, if you drink it without milk (the acid in the fruit curdles milk).
  • Dry the zest for cooking and baking. Set it on paper towels or wax paper overnight; then store it in a recycled spice bottle. Save empty spice bottles so you can store different types of peel.

    Zesting a lime. Zest got its name from the “zestiness” it adds to food. Photo by Villy Fink Isaksen Wikimedia.

  • Make gremolata, a flavorful condiment of fresh lemon zest, minced garlic and chopped parsley. Here’s the recipe. Gremolata adds so much flavor, you can reduce the salt.
  • Make lemon butter: a compound butter that can be used atop grilled fish, shellfish and vegetables; on canapés; creating maitre d’hotel sauce and other uses.
  • Make zesty ice cubes. Keep a “lemon ice cube tray,” adding some zest to each compartment. As the ice melts, it adds flavor to cocktails, iced tea, soda and (of course) lemonade/limeade.
  • Add zest to sorbet. Along with the fruit’s juice, it will add intensity of flavor plus texture and eye appeal. Or, sprinkle store-bought sorbet with strips of zest.
    The fresher the zest, the more aromatic and flavorful; so don’t let it wane in the fridge.


    Be sure to wash and dry the fruit well before zesting. If you can, buy organic or unwaxed citrus.

    While some people use a paring knife, it’s much easier to use a zester (which creates julienne strips) or a zester grater like a Microplane, or the fine side of a box grater.

    First decide how you’re going to use your zest: grated or strips. If the zest will be used for flavor and then removed (marinades, steeping in tea) it doesn’t make a difference. For garnish/eye appeal, use a regular zester. To dissolve into recipes (vinaigrette, sorbet) use a zester grater. We love our Cuisipro box grater.

    If you’re going to buy a zester, get a combination zester-stripper, which also creates strips of peel for cocktails or garnish.

    What are your favorite uses for lemon zest?


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Peel A Grapefruit Or Orange With Ease

    If you enjoy grapefruit regularly, treat
    yourself to this snazzy double grapefruit knife.
    Photo courtesy RSVP.

    Grapefruit and oranges are excellent snacks and ingredients. We love to add them to green salads and light sauces for fish and seafood. And we have a passion for grapefruit sorbet and granita.

    But grapefruit can be difficult to peel and pith (the pith is the white membrane).

    Whether you don’t like to eat it or you don’t want pith marring the look of your fruit salad, here are tricks to peeling and pithing.

    • Boil the grapefruit for 5 minutes. The pith will come away with the peel. Run the grapefruit under cold water if it’s too hot to peel.
    • Similarly, if the grapefruit is too difficult to peel, pour boiling water over it and let it stand for 5 minutes.
    • If you’ve already peeled the grapefruit and can’t easily remove the pith with a serrated grapefruit knife, dip the grapefruit in hot water for two minutes and try again.
    By the way, the pith is good for you. It contains pectin, a soluble fiber that has the potential to lower LDL cholesterol, improve insulin resistance and aid the gastrointestinal tract. Pith also contains bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    And you thought you were eating grapefruit for the flesh (which contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, plus lots of potassium)!

    This tip is courtesy How To Repair Food, a handy little book.


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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Custom Chocolate Bars

    Customized chocolate bars are a fun and inexpensive way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with friends and family (plus teachers, doctors, hairdressers and anyone else on your list).

    Made by hand to your precise specifications, you can show your chocolatier skills by creating a signature chocolate bar for Valentine’s Day 2011.

    Or, make each bar with a special touch for the recipient: milk chocolate, almonds and fleur de sel sea salt for Dad; dried cherries and cranberries in dark chocolate for Mom (the “antioxidant bar”).

    Depending on how many toppings you add, the bars cost from $5.00 to $10.00.

    Special toppings for Valentine’s Day include pink chocolate drops, strawberry and raspberry bits, marzipan roses, smiley hearts, mini hearts, candied lilacs and rose petals, and banners that say “My Valentine” and “I Love You.”

    You’re the chocolatier: Design your
    ideal chocolate bars. Photo courtesy

    The only catch: You’ve got to order by the end of Monday, January 31 to get your chocolate bars in advance of Valentine’s Day.

    You’ve got the weekend: Start designing!


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