Feb 1

Preparing seafood dishes, is simple as long as you have the freshest and best ingredients to work with. Below are a few easy steps to help look for and prepare some common frutti di mare, or fruit of the sea.

HINT 1 Squid. What to look for: Squid should have bright, white flesh and greyish skin. They should smell vaguely like the ocean but not fishy at all. How to prepare them: In a strainer under cold water, peel off the skin and discard. Clean by removing all the organs, the ink sac, and the bony beak. Chop the body into rings (unless you are stuffing it), keeping the tentacles intact. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until tender.

HINT 2 Octopus. What to look for: Medium-sized octopus, about 2 to 3 lb., are easiest to work with. Make sure they have no fishy smell. How to prepare them: Add the whole octopus to a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour until tender. Turn off the heat, but leave it in the water for 10 minutes. This makes the skin easier to remove.

HINT 3 Mussels and Clams. What to look for: Discard mollusks with broken shells. If you find open shells, tap them together. If they close, they’re fine; if they pop open again, discard them. Mollusks should smell fresh and not fishy. Mediterranean mussels and Manila or littleneck clams work best in these dishes. How to prepare them: Scrub to remove grit. Mussels need to be debearded—grab the fibrous beard and pull it off.

HINT 4 Scallops. What to look for: Avoid scallops with a fishy smell. Color can range from beige to creamy pink. Be aware that bright white scallops may have been soaked in water to increase their weight and their price. How to prepare them: Remove the tough muscle strip and cook scallops briefly (1 to 2 minutes per side) until they are opaque.

HINT 5 Shrimp. What to look for: Shrimp naturally range in color from grey to slightly reddish. Avoid shrimp that smell fishy. How to prepare them: Remove from heat when they become opaque, anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes.

 

Mar 2

Knowing how to chop onions is an essential skill for many recipes. It may seem simple, but professional chefs have some helpfultips for making neat, evenly sized pieces. The easy “how to” instructions below will make prepping for a dish even quicker. A sharpknife also helps!

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1. Remove the base: Slice off athin, even layer from the top of the bulb(opposite the root). There’s no need topeel the onion first.

 

2. Slice in 1⁄2: Place the onionupright, resting on its freshly cut base,and cut it in 1⁄2. Peel off the skin and theonion’s thick outer layer.

 

3. Horizontal slice: Hold each 1⁄2cut-side down, and slice through hori-zontally almost to the base. Leave baseintact so the onion’s layers stay together.

 

4. Vertical slice: Cut downwardthrough the sliced onion to create”matchsticks” that are still attached tothe base.

 

5. Final chop: Cut all the waythrough the pre-sliced onion to makeevenly sized pieces for frying, sautéingor tossing in salads. Discard the base.

 

 

 

 

Dec 29

The Christmas holiday and New Year celebrations tend to be associated with drinking bubbly, or spumante wine, such as Champagne, Prosecco, Asti Spumante, and even Lambrusco. Below we have a few tricks to help you through the season.

1. Placing your room-temperature bubbly in a bucket filled with a lot of ice water (at least 2 trays of ice) will help to cool down the wine faster than placing it in the freezer.

2. For a safer and easier bottle opening, place a dish towel or napkin over the neck and bottle cork, after the foil has been removed, and slowly pull it out by twisting it gently. Always point the bottle away from your guests and yourself!

3. It is best to use a tall Champagne flute with a tapered mouth for Champagne or Prosecco because it creates a slow and controlled release of the bubbles.

4. To pour the sparkling wine, start by filling the glasses with only an inch of wine, wait for the foam to settle, then top off the glass to between 2⁄3 and 3⁄4 full, or tilt the glass at a slight angle while pouring. This helps to protect the bubbles.

5. It is best to store your sparkling wine on its side, in order to protect the cork from drying out. Also, once a bottle is open, seal it with a specially designed Champagne stopper to help save some of the fizz.

Oct 28

The holiday season is filled with many family gatherings or meals entertaining friends. Whether you are the host or the guest,below are some helpful hints for carving your turkeys or other poultry roasts with ease.

1. Remove the bird from the oven and set aside to rest,uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the juices to set-tle, keeps the skin from getting soggy and firms up the meat sothat it is easier to slice.

2. Using a sharp knife, slice into the skin where the legmeets the breast. Pull gently on the drumstick until you find thejoint. Cut through to separate the leg from the body. Repeat onthe other side.

3. Pull the wing away from the body and slice into thebreast 1 inch deeper than the wing’s base. Continue cuttinguntil you detach the wing. Repeat with the remaining wing.

4. Loosen the wishbone with a knife. Grasp it at the basewith your fingers and pull it out. This will give you full accessto the breast meat.

5. Hold the knife parallel to the breastbone (lengthwise)to slice the white meat. Secure the bird with your hand, or usea carving fork to protect your fingers.

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