Category: Tools

Safely Blend Hot Ingredients

Blender Safety

Use these tips on how to safely blend hot ingredients to prevent an accidental splash of hot liquid in the face and chest.

  • Barely fill the blender halfway up the container. The blending action creates volume and the hot liquid oozes out the sides.
  • Make sure there is an even amount of liquid and solids in the container to blend smoothly.
  • Remove the smaller cap from the top and cover it with a kitchen towel folded in quarters or a thick oven mitt and be sure to hold the cloth or mitt over the hole with your hand. The steam creates pressure and pops the top off the blender and the hot liquid smacks you in the face.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll have a smooth puree and no accidents!

Try our: Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Watch the video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients here.

Mise en Place

As part of our new cooking video series, I want to share an important organizational concept with you known as mise en placeMise en place simply means having everything in place.

Getting Organized

The first step in food preparation is to read the recipe through. Check to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before starting. There is nothing more frustrating than getting midway through a recipe to find you’re out of the next ingredient!

Once you know you have all the ingredients set out the tools and equipment you’ll need. Some basics are:

  • Garbage receptacle for trimmings and package wrappings
  • Bowls for holding prepped food
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Small appliances, such as a mixer blender, food processor or slow cooker
  • Hand tools, such as a peeler, whisk, wooden spoon
  • Cooking equipment, such as pots (lids) and pans, roasting pan, baking sheets, cooking racks
  • Grease or line baking/roasting pans
  • Preheat the oven
  • Sharp chef’s knife and paring knife


 Food Preparation


Now you’re ready to get into the nitty gritty of food prep.

  • Wash and dry produce.
  • Blanch and shock any vegetables that need precooking
  • Open canned goods and measure the amount needed if not using the full can.
  • Drain and rinse items like canned beans.
  • Peel, core and/or seed produce
  • Trim meat, poultry, fish
  • Slice, dice, mince, chop and measure


Start Cooking

Mise en place makes you a confident cook. You know you haven’t forgotten anything and everything is at your fingertips. Follow the recipe instructions adding the ingredients as called for. Mise en place makes cooking fun and relaxing!

Watch the mise en place video here.


My Favorite Cooking Utensils (Plus a Few Oddballs)

Cleaning out and rearranging the kitchen cupboards, I realize how much “stuff” I have and how much of that stuff is favorite cooking utensils.

Just about every cook I know has a special affection for his or her knives, which are the most essential part of any kitchen toolkit. There are so few recipes that don’t require cutting, chopping, or slicing something.


I have a bit of a knife fetish myself. I have a ten-inch Wüsthof chef’s knife, a ten-inch Henckels chef’s knife, and an eight-inch carbon steel Sabatier chef’s knife that I went through culinary school with. Yes, the Sabatier does rust and requires a little more care, but it also sharpens easily, which was important in school.

Sabatier Chef Knife

8-inch Sabatier Chef Knife

I also have two exquisite handmade Misono knives, eight-inches and a six-inches, that my husband brought back from a business trip to Japan. I purchased a set of Cutco knives in the 90s and then another set when I started teaching at NYU’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health – my work knives. I also have my father’s carbon steel butcher knife from when he briefly apprenticed to become a butcher.

Starting with a great set of knives is crucial, but care is just as important. Cutting with a dull knife is dangerous because you apply more pressure which increases the chance you’ll slip and cut yourself. I use the Cutco knife sharpener regularly and finish with a few swipes on a knife sharpener steel to smooth the edge.

All you really need to own to achieve most cutting chores are a good chef’s knife, a serrated edged knife, good for slicing crusty breads, biscotti and thin tomato slices, and a 3- or 4-inch paring knife for small jobs like deveining shrimp or removing strawberry hulls.

Catch Knives

Catch 8-inch Chef’s Knife. Serrated Slicing Knife and Paring Knife

Every year I have them professionally sharpened. Cutco sharpens their knives free of charge—you just pay shipping. The non-Cutco knives, I send to a local knife sharpener with excellent turn-around service.

Sharpening Steel & Cutco Knife Sharpener

Sharpening Steel & Cutco Knife Sharpener

Measuring Tools

Good measuring devices are also a big must-have, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time recipe testing and baking. I used to work with glass Pyrex tools for liquid measurement, but after a friend of mine found a glass shard in her cake, it inspired me to switch to plastic. I use a measuring cup with slanted sides so I don’t have to crouch down to make sure I’m getting an accurate measurement. For dry measurements, I have innumerable beautiful metal cups in any measurement you can imagine, including 2/3 cup and 1/8 cup. And don’t even get me started on measuring spoons—I have an entire  drawer slot full of them!

My small tools drawer - and yes, I have many occasions to use multiples!

My small tools drawer – and yes, I have many occasions to use multiples!

Other Tools

Beyond the basics, I have a digital scale that I love for making meatballs and dinner rolls (it might sound particular, but I want them to cook evenly). And I love my meat pounder for chicken (I pound it out to avoid dry, overcooked ends) and for pork tenderloin, which I occasionally slice up and pound into cutlets. And I don’t know what I’d do without my All-Clad stainless steel cookware, which heats evenly and cleans up beautifully.

I’ve received some curious implements over the years as gifts: a pineapple peeler, an egg separator (which always seemed more complicated to use than the old-fashioned method – my hands or the egg shells), and a sprayer you can insert into citrus. I confess, I’ve never found myself needing a “spritz” of lemon or orange juice for a recipe!

Then there are those quirky implements that have had strange staying power. Back when I was a teenager, Tupperware parties were huge. I once received a freebie Tupperware orange peeler, which scores the orange with one end and slips under the peel and removes it in one clean section with the other. A very useful tool.

And I  know you can’t find a Tupperware celery keeper like the one I have; they don’t make it anymore, unfortunately. It holds celery (and carrots) above the water, keeping it fresh and making it easier to store. I’ve had both of these pieces for at least forty years, and as long as they last, they’ll get a place in my kitchen.

Tupperware Celery Keeper

Tupperware Celery Keeper

What are some of your prized kitchen tools?