Category: How To

Biscotti-Making Essentials

The techniques for making biscotti are not the easiest to master. I ended up with many a crumbled biscotto before I got right. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours baking
something only to have it turn to dust because your knife is too dull or you haven’t let the loaf cool long enough. I’ve included below a handy biscotti-making cheat sheet that will help ensure that you’re prepared before you begin baking your first batch.

Eight Biscotti-Making Essentials for Success

• Use the freshest ingredients whenever possible: fine chocolate, whole unroasted nuts, pure extracts, kosher salt, and high-quality flours.

• Roast nuts first and give them time to cool before adding to the mix.

• Calibrate your oven—temperatures and baking times should be as exact as possible.

• Test the log after the first bake: it should be firm but yield just a bit to the touch.

• Let the log cool for at least twenty minutes between the first and second baking to allow the ingredients to stabilize.

• Slice biscotti at an angle to avoid breaking the log. I’ve found a sharp serrated knife works best.

• Refresh biscotti that has softened due to high humidity or the residual moisture in dried fruit by popping it in the oven for a quick ten minutes at 300ºF. Just don’t try this with chocolate-covered cookies or you’ll have a big mess!

If you bake regularly, you’lll likely have many of the tools you’ll need to make biscotti, though there are a few special tools that will make the process easier. Before your get started, do a quick inventory of your kitchen to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

Essential Tools


• Electric mixer with a beater attachment and mixing bowl (either a handheld or an upright mixer will work)

• Food processor with a blade attachment

• Rolling mat, preferably one with a ruled edge (you can also use a ruler)

• Measuring spoons and measuring cups (both dry and liquid)

• Rubber spatula

• Cutting board(s) for chopping nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate and slicing biscotti

• Chef’s knife, serrated knife, paring knife

• 17 by 10 by 2-inch baking pan

• Small mixing bowl

• Small whisk or fork for beating the egg wash

• Small basting brush for glazing the biscotti

• Double boiler or improvised double boiler (small pan with small metal bowl that fits snugly on top) for melting chocolate

• Pot holders

Nonessential Tools (but Nice to Have)

• Bench scraper to scrape sticky dough off the mat while forming

• Nut chopper (especially if you make lots of biscotti)

• Parchment paper (you can also use lightly greased foil)

• Microwave

• Taylor 5983N Candy / Deep Fry Thermometer for tempering chocolate

How to Prepare Citrus Supremes

Do you ever get tired of peeling an orange and then scraping off the pith to get to the sweet juicy segments?  Eating a grapefruit with the segment skin on is too bitter for my taste and I always feel that
too much of the grapefruit goes to waste when you halve it and use a knife or grapefruit spoon to free the segments . That’s why I love citrus supremes. These glistening little jewels perk up any salad. Macerate the slices in a liqueur for a couple of hours for a delightful and refreshing dessert. Or just let them fall into a bowl and devour them!

Grapefruit Supremes

Take a grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime or any citrus fruit

IMG_3843Slice off one end to expose the flesh.

How To: Make Citrus Supremes

Slice off the other end.


Stand the fruit on one of the flat ends and slide the knife down the sides, top to bottom, to remove  the peel and pith.


Continue all the way around the fruit. Be sure to get all the pith, and as little of the fruit as possible. Trim any remaining pith.


Hold the fruit in your hand, over a bowl to capture the flowing juices, and slide the blade down the side of the segment separating it from it’s outer skin. Once you reach the center of the fruit, tilt the knife under the segment and lift it up and off the other side.


Repeat with each segment.


Squeeze to get all the juice.




How to Prepare Citrus Supremes


  • Grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime


  1. Slice off both ends of the fruit, exposing the flesh.
  2. Stand the fruit on one of the flat sides and draw the knife down top to bottom, removing the peel and pith. Continue all the way around the grapefruit. Trim any remaining pith.
  3. Hold the grapefruit in your hand, over a bowl to catch the flowing juices, and slide the blade down the segment to separate it from the skin. Stop at the center, tilt the knife under the segment and lift off.
  4. Continue until all the segments are removed.
  5. Squeeze the juice into a small container.


How to Trim and Cut Celery Root

Celery root is an unusual looking vegetable. It’s relatively smooth top slopes downward and turns into an octopus-looking creature with all those thick roots hanging out. Cut the roots off and give the outside a good scrub where the dirt hides in those nooks and crannies.

How to Trim and Cut

Remove the root end until there are no noticeable dirty crevices.


Then remove the top.


Stand the celery root on the broad, flat root end. Pare the skin off with a sharp knife cutting strips off from top to bottom.IMG_3722



Cut into round slices.


Cut into strips.


Turn 90 degrees and cut into cubes. For soup and mashes, smaller chunks cooks faster. For roasted vegetables, try to keep the size similar to the other vegetables you are cooking.


See the difference in size.


See our post  for Celery Root and Leek Soup.

Celery and Celery Root / Celeriac

Here a little primer on celery and celery root. Both are used in cooking and eaten raw. The celery root is a little starchier and makes a great mash.


We don’t see it or identify it’s flavor in many of the recipes that use celery, yet it’s very prominent in food we eat as an important aromatic. It’s seldom seen in its original form, however, other than on crudité platters, stuffed with cheese or chopped up in a salad. Celery is an essential ingredient in many recipes. The French use mirepoix, a combination of onions, carrots and celery (ratio of 2:1:1) as the base for sauces, soups, stews and braises. Cajun cuisine uses a variation known as the holy trinity, a combination of onion, green pepper and celery.

Celery tastes amazing. I always find myself noshing on a stalk when I’m chopping up vegetables. I particularly like the hearts and the leaves. They’re sweet and celery, in general, I find very refreshing.

How to Purchase

Celery is available year round. Look for firm, nicely ridged stalks that have a bright green color; those with dark green stalks may be bitter. The inner stalks, often sold separately as celery hearts, are more yellow-green with leafy tops. Chop them up for a salad and use them in any recipe that calls for celery.

Celery Heart

Celery Hearts

How to Store

To  store, cut off the bottom, separate the stalks and rinse thoroughly. The bottom of the stalks, outer stalks in particular, are dirty. Place in a plastic container or a plastic bag lined with paper towel and close tightly. The paper towel absorbs the excess water and keeps the celery fresh and crisp, not swimming in water, which causes premature rotting.

I have a Tuppeware crisper that I bought over 40 years ago and it keeps my celery and carrots crisp and fresh for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a search of their website doesn’t show anything even close to what I have.


Celery Root

Celery root, also known as celeriac, is available from November through April, looks like a rutabaga, only lumpy, with lots of nooks and crannies. It is not the root portion of celery; it is a separate vegetable within the same family.

My brother lives in Germany and I remember his frustration with “European” celery. He kept saying it wasn’t the same. I didn’t get it at first, then I asked him to describe it and realized it was celery root. Celery is native to Europe and celery root is preferred over celery. Quite the contrary here. He can never find “American” celery and eats a ton of it when he comes to visit.

This rutabaga has been trimmed, but the round spots had root ends sprouting out.

This rutabaga has been trimmed, but the round spots had root ends sprouting out.

How to Purchase

Look for a celery root with firm flesh and weight. These characteristics indicate freshness or good water content. Celery root has a green leafy top, similar to carrots, but you rarely see them here in the states.


How to Store

Store whole and dry in the refrigerator crisper drawer up to one week.

How to Use Celery Root

To use, cut off the top and the bottom and then pare the sides with a sharp knife. Celery root oxidizes or turns brown when exposed to oxygen. To keep the white color, place in water or toss with a little lemon juice.

Read our blog on how to cut celery root.

How to Seed and Mince Jalapeño

The jalapeño is a green chili pepper commonly used in Mexican cooking. The Scoville Scale measures the heat level of chili peppers and sauces. The jalapeño is on the low end, ranging from about 2500 to
8000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The peppers’ pungency is given in a range because one pepper’s heat may vary from another of the same species. This is due to temperature, water and soil conditions.

Compare this rating to the habanero chili at 100,000 to 350,000 SHU and you might think the jalapeño is mild, but I wouldn’t just bite into one, you are bound to feel some pain!

The high concentration of capsaisin, or heat, lies in the whitish veins, not the seeds. If you want the extra heat, leave it on, if you want to lower the heat, cut it away. Removing the vein does not eliminate the heat, it’s also in the essential oils within the pepper. Be careful when handling chilies because those essential oils transfer to your fingers and rubbing your eyes, even after washing your hands, can be a very unpleasant experience. Wear gloves if you’re particularly sensitive or cutting many peppers at once.

IMG_2503This is the vein that holds the highest concentration of capsaisin.

How to Cut and Mince and Jalapeño


Slice off the stem end of the jalapeño and cut in half lengthwise.


Slide the edge along the vein from top to bottom and then under the vein from side to side.


Slice the jalapeño lengthwise into very thin strips.


Turn the jalapeño 90 degrees and cut in a mince.





How To Make Homemade Breadcrumbs

Why bother to make homemade breadcrumbs? It’s so easy to do and you get to choose the type of bread.

Get your bread from the bakery or the specialty bread aisle in your grocery store. These breads contain flour, water, salt and yeast at a minimum. Some loaves may contain nuts, seeds, raisins, garlic and/or herbs. Choose carefully because plain breadcrumbs have a pretty long shelf life and some of these ingredients, such as raisins or garlic, don’t. Another reason to opt for plain is you don’t know what you’re going to use them for. Meatloaf will call for different seasonings than fried chicken. It’s best to season the breadcrumbs at the time of use.

I selected a country white bread with a soft crust. I added a half loaf of unused French bread with a hard crust later that day. The next morning, while quite firm, there was still some give to the bread pieces and I let them sit out another day.

The most efficient method of grinding is in a food processor. It’s quite noisy, but easy to tell when the breadcrumbs are done, the noise stops. If you don’t have a food processor, a grater will work, but it’s time consuming. Great arm workout, though!


Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices.


Turn, cut into thirds and place on a large 17 by 10 by 1-inch baking sheet. The smaller size fits in the food processor without have to break the hard bread into pieces.


Cover with parchment paper. Let sit for at least two days.


Place one-half of the bread in the base of the food processor.


Grind until the noise stops.


Pour the crumbs into an airtight container.


Repeat with the remaining bread.


How To: Make Homemade Breadcrumbs

Homemade breadcrumbs are quick and easy to make and a great way to use up unused pieces of bread.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: How To


  • 1 loaf bread


  1. Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Turn, cut into thirds and pace on a large 17 by 10 by 1-inch baking sheet.
  3. and cover with parchment paper. Let sit for at least two days.
  4. Place one-half of the dried bread in the base of the food process fitted with the blade attachment and grind until the noise stops. Pour the crumbs into an airtight container.
  5. Repeat with the remaining bread.


Avoid breads that contain nuts, seeds, raisins, garlic and/or herbs, these ingredients don’t have a long shelff life and the unseasoned breadcrumbs are best for multiple purposes.


Cook Rice Using the Absorbed Method

To cook rice using the absorbed method uses uses a specific ratio of liquid to rice and requires a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid. The heavy bottom distributes the heat evenly and prevents a scorched bottom and burned rice. The tight-fitting lid keeps in the steam, essential to infusing the rice with moisture and gelatinizing the starch.

  • Most white rice varieties cook perfectly with a ratio of two cups liquid to one cup rice.
  • Basmati rice needs one and three-quarter cups liquid to one cup of rice.
  • Brown rice uses two and one-half cups liquid to one cup rice.

Rice expands to about three times its original size and one cup raw rice makes three cups cooked rice, so select a pan according to the size of the cooked rice.

To use the absorbed method to cook rice, bring the cooking liquid (water or stock) and a pinch of kosher salt to a boil, stir in the rice, return to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, without peeking, for the specified time on the package. Because steam is a part of the cooking process, it’s important not to remove the cover until the rice is almost done, check at the minimum cooking time, about 5 minutes before it’s done. Continue cooking a few more minutes if there’s still liquid in the bottom of the pan.

To add flavor to rice cooked with the absorbed method, sauté aromatics in a little oil or butter, add herbs and/or spices and then follow the recipe.

The rice I used for this post is Carolina brown rice, a long-grain rice, which was served with lemon chicken. I made plain rice covered in the flavorful sauce from the chicken.

Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Spinach

Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Spinach

Bring water and salt to a boil.


Measure the rice.


Stir in the rice.


Return to the boil.


Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook according to package instructions.




How To: Cook Rice – Absorbed Method

Steam is an important part of the cooking process, it’s important not to remove the cover until the rice is almost done. Check the rice at the minimum cooking time. Continue cooking a few more minutes if there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Absorbed Method


  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups cooking liquid
  • pinch Kosher salt


  1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
  2. Stir in the rice.
  3. Return to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook according to package instructions.

Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method

Cooking rice using the pasta method is a fool-proof way to cook rice and you don’t need to worry about scorching or burning it or the pan. It’s an effective method to use when a recipe calls for cooked rice or you want to serve plain rice as a side.

Almost any rice variety can be cooked using this method; I’m using basmati rice today, which will go into a soup.

Be sure to stir frequently the first minute or two after adding the rice to the boiling water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cooking time can vary depending on the final use. If the cooked rice is cooked further in another recipe, opt for a shorter cooking time by two or three minutes.

This recipe yields 3 cups of cooked rice

6 cups cold water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup rice

Raw basmati rice.

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the rice and cook for the time listed on the package. Drain.

Cooking rice with the pasta method.


Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method

Here’s a fool-proof method to cook rice. Use for stir fries or any dish that has plain rice on the side. Or, sauté some minced shallots or onions, a couple of minced cloves of garlic in olive oil and the rice and peas to the onions, season and serve.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: see package instructions
  • Total Time: 6 minute
  • Yield: 3 cups
  • Category: Rice


6 cups cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup rice


Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the rice and cook for the time indicated on the package. Drain.

Keywords: cooking rice, pasta method, boiling rice


Rice Primer

Everyone is familiar with rice, but we are seeing more and more brown and multi-grain varieties on grocery shelves these days and it’s understandable if you’re confused about what they are and how to cook them. We’ve put together a rice primer to answer some of your questions.

Rice Primer

There are three varieties of rice: short grain, medium grain and long grain. Each has unique properties that result in a degree of stickiness (short- and medium-grain rice) to fluffy separate grains (long-grain rice). Use aromatics, spices, herbs and flavorful cooking liquids to make rice. Combine with meat, fish, poultry and/or vegetables to make a one-dish meal. Cook rice with milk, eggs, sugar and flavorings to make a delicious rice pudding. The possibilities are endless.

Brown vs. White Rice

Brown rice retains the bran, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and the germ. Brown rice contains some fat, which makes it more perishable than white rice. Always store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place. Not all brown rice is brown, however, there are purple, black and red varieties, all equally delicious.

White rice is washed to remove the bran and most of the germ and then polished, which removes vitamins and minerals; it is then fortified to replace those lost nutrients. Some recipes call for washing rice before cooking, but in general white rice shouldn’t be rinsed because it removes the restored nutrients. Parboiled rice has been processed to gelatinize the starch in each grain. Converted rice is further cooked for “instant-cooking” rice and has the least amount of flavor.

Brown rice is an excellent overall choice because it is a whole grain and has a complex flavor and texture.

Wild rice is a misnomer. It is a long-grain marsh grass with a nutty flavor and contrasting textures, firm outside and soft inside when cooked. It’s often included in rice blends.

Rice Varieties

There are thousands of varieties of rice within each of the grain types and the ones referenced here are commonly available, but barely scratch the surface.

Short-grain rice, also known as sticky rice, sweet rice or waxy rice, is twice as long as it is wide and glutinous. Uses include sushi, paella, puddings and rice molds. Look for Calasparra rice, Japonica rice or Chinese sweet rice.

Calasparra short-grain rice.

Calasparra short-grain rice.

Medium-grain rice is also a sticky rice, though slightly less sticky than short-grain rice and is a little less than three times as long as it is wide. Use in paella, risotto or substitute for any short-grain recipe. Look for Valencia or granza for paella, arborio, or carnaroli for risotto, Thai sticky rice or Chinese black rice.

Arborio rice.

Arborio rice.

Long-grain rice cooks up fluffy and separate and is at least three times as long as it is wide. Use in main-course dishes. Look for basmati, jasmine or Texmati®, these all have a characteristic popcorn-like aroma and taste, Carolina or Wehani® a honey-red rice or Himalayan red rice both with a nutty flavor.

Carolina long-grain brown rice.

Carolina long-grain brown rice.

Use moist-heat cooking methods to cook rice: boiling, simmering, steaming, or baking.

Here are links to posts with information on cooking various rices.

Cook Rice Using the Absorbed Method

Multi-Grain Rice Pilaf

Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method


Tips for Entertaining with Ease

I’m a list maker; always have been. I find them particularly important when entertaining. No matter how small or large the party, things easily slip through the cracks, especially once company arrives. Time passes quickly and it’s so easy to forget to preheat the oven or burn something. Holidays are particularly stressful, parties tend to be larger and there are so many other responsibilities other than cooking at that time of the year.

I use a spiral notebook to create a menu. Then a few days in advance, I start making lists of things to do by day. The example here is a small dinner party we had last year, just one couple. Notice that I put times down when things should be done. Then I set the timer to go off for each of them so I don’t have to think about when I need to go back to the kitchen. I’m much more relaxed and spend more time with my guests by using these lists and the timer.


Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres

Hummus with pita chips and celery and carrot sticks


Mini cocottes of eggplant Parmesan


Braised lamb shanks
Mashed sweet potatoes with goat cheese
Roasted herb cauliflower


Individual apple crisp with Cheddar cheese

These are my hand written notes, there is no order to them, just what needs to be done.



Braise lamb shanks
Groceries / flowers
Bake sweet potatoes
Make humus
Prep celery and carrots
Set table
Set out pots and pans
Serving dishes
Red sauce
Eggplant parm

Plate veggies, olives and chips
Reheat parm/w mozzarella
Apple crisp – cook later (serve warm)
Prep cauliflower
Defat lamb
Reheat yams
Roast cauliflower
Reheat lamb/baste 300ºF/45 min
Bake crisp

Back of the page:


Warming drawer – low

6ish take olives and humus out

6:30 plate chips


Preheat ovens

6:45 – eggplant 30 min
mozzarella a few minutes

lamb 45 min

7ish – roast cauliflower
reheat sweet pots
reheat sauce

garnish: chopped parsley

slice cheese

Baked Potato

The potato is a versatile vegetable. Bake it, fry it, sauté it, grill it, or roast it. Add herbs and spices, cheese or just salt and pepper and a potato is delicious. Here’s a little primer on potatoes and my recipe for a Baked Potato.


Types of Potatoes

Potatoes grow in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and the flesh ranges from starchy to waxy. They can be cooked using both moist and dry heat, though some types are more suitable to one than the other. Select potatoes that are firm, smooth, with no or few eyes, good color, and no blemishes. Look for similarly sized and proportioned potatoes for even baking and round or oval shape for easier peeling.

High-Starch Potatoes

Russet or Idaho Potatoes: These potatoes have a thick, brown skin and white flesh. The high-starch cells absorb more water than medium- and low-starch potatoes and separate during cooking into a crumbly or mealy texture, perfect for baked or mashed potatoes and crispy French fries. Because of this mealy texture, Russets don’t hold up well in salads.

Medium-Starch Potatoes

Waxy Potato or All-Purpose White Potato: This is the potato you see in every grocery store year round. It has a slightly lower starch content than the Russet, is good baked whole, cut into slices in a casserole or gratin or cut into steak fries or smaller chunks and roasted.

Yukon Gold; These potatoes have a golden-hued flesh, creamy texture and a natural buttery flavor, also good for baking or mashing.

Low-Starch Potatoes

There are many varieties of low-starch potatoes. They absorb less water, stay firm and have a waxier texture. They can be steamed, boiled, roasted or grilled, and are ideal for recipes where the shape of the potato is essential, such as salads.

Varieties include: red potatoes, fingerling potatoes, which resemble a plump finger with a yellow flesh and butter flavor, long white potatoes with a thick, light tan skin and firm creamy texture; or blue and purple potatoes. The latter can have a flesh color that ranges from lavender to purple, however, the color leaches out into cooking water and the cooked potatoes are not as vibrant.

New Potatoes: Anything referred to as a new potato is freshly dug, sent directly to market, and has a thin skin and waxy texture.

Creamers: Small baby potatoes, either white or red skinned, harvested prematurely at about one-inch in diameter.


Store potatoes  in a dark, dry, cool place for up to two weeks to prevent sprouting and excessive moisture loss. Potatoes are members of the nightshade family (tomatoes, bell peppers and chili peppers), and exposure to light may cause green spots to appear on the potato, an indication of the alkaloid solanine, which has a bitter taste and can be toxic in large quantities. No need to toss the entire potato, just cut away any green portions before cooking.


Peeled potatoes oxidize, or turn brown, when exposed to the air; simply keep them submerged in cold water to keep them white.

Hard water, which has a high alkali content, may cause potatoes to turn pink or yellow; to counteract, add an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar to neutralize. The recommended amount is about 1/2 teaspoon of the acid to a gallon of water.


Always scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush to remove dirt. Cut away any eyes or a crevice the brush can’t reach. Potatoes can be cooked with the skin or peeled. There are many nutrients in the skin and they’re delicious. I always eat the skin on my baked potato. Mash red potatoes with skin on. Serve potato salad with skins on. Potatoes also hold their shape better when cooked with skins on; if you want skinless potato salad, peel them after cooking.

One of the simplest ways to cook a potato is to bake it or microwave it. After washing, dry thoroughly and pierce three times with a paring knife along the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. The potato makes it’s own chimney while cooking, which may lead to messy pieces of burst potato on your appliance walls, so don’t forget to pierce it!

Baked Potato Recipe

Potatoes can be baked in the oven or cooked in the microwave. The microwave version has a soft skin. For a crisper skin, baking in the oven is optimal. Rubbing a little olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper over the potato before cooking is a way to infuse more flavor into the potato  and get a crispier skin. Or, just toss the cleaned, dried and pierced potato in the oven with nothing else.

There are many delicious toppings: melted butter, yogurt, sour cream, chives, shredded cheese or a combination of a few of these ingredients. Don’t hesitate to top your baked potato with beef or chicken taco mixture or beef stew. Let your imagination run wild!


1 medium Russet potato per person
1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Set up:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Wash, dry and pierce the potato three times along the top.


Aluminum foil for oil rubbed potatoes.


Method:Bake until a fork easily pierces the potato, approximately 60 minutes for a medium potato.


Note: To microwave, follow the above procedure, and cook until a fork easily pierces the potato. The timing will depend on the power intensity of your microwave, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.

To serve: Slit the potato lengthwise and horizontally down the center. Push the ends with your hands to crack the potato open and create a hole to fill with the topping of your choice.



Baked Potato Recipe

Potatoes can be baked in the oven or cooked in the microwave. The microwave version has a soft skin. For a crisper skin, baking in the oven is optimal. Rubbing on a little olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper (lots of pepper for me) before cooking is a way to infuse more flavor into the potato during cooking and get a crispier skin. Or, just toss the cleaned, dried and pierced potato in the oven with nothing else.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins


  • 1 medium Russet potato per person
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  2. Wash, dry and pierce the potato three times along the top.
  3. Aluminum foil for oil rubbed potatoes.
  4. Method:
  5. Bake until a fork easily pierces the potato, approximately 60 minutes for a medium potato.
  6. Note: To microwave, follow the above procedure, and cook until a fork easily pierces the potato. The timing will depend on the power intensity of your microwave.
  7. To serve: Slit the potato lengthwise and horizontally down the center. Push the ends with your hands to crack the potato open and create a hole to fill with the topping of your choice.

The Best Way to Peel and Cut an Apple

A few year ago I attended a cooking demo at the International Culinary Center in NYC featuring Jacques Pepin. You would think a group of professional cooks wouldn’t need a lesson in how to peel an apple, however, even the most basic skills can be improved upon. Whether you just want to snack on a peeled and cut apple, or use in a pie, soup, or applesauce, this technique to peel and cut an apple is simple and effective.

IMG_1130 - Version 2

Insert the tip of a sharp paring knife into the stem end of the apple and move diagonally along the top. Repeat the same procedure with the blossom (bottom) end of the apple.

IMG_1135 - Version 2

Peel away the skin with the paring knife, starting at the top.

IMG_1146 - Version 2

Turn the apple round and round to the bottom end.

IMG_1144 - Version 2

Place the apple on a cutting board vertically and cut in half.

IMG_1155 - Version 2

Remove the core from each half with a melon baller.

IMG_1159 - Version 2

If you don’t have a melon baller, a very handy little tool by the way, cut the apple in half again and slide the knife straight across just under the core.



Remove any remaining stem pieces trim with a paring knife using a “V” cut.



Transporting from the grocery store to home can bruise the apple. Just cut away and toss.


Large Pieces

To chop into large pieces, cut the apple into three slices. Turn 90 degrees and cut another three slices.

IMG_1169 - Version 2

Small Pieces

For smaller pieces, cut into as many slices that give you the size you want and then an equal number of slices after turning 90 degrees.

IMG_1171 - Version 2

Diced Apple

Place the apple, cut side on the board, place your hand on the top and slide the knife parallel to the cutting board straight through into three or four slices.

IMG_1175 - Version 2

Cut the apple into thin slices, turn 90 degrees and cut into the same number of slices.

IMG_1176 - Version 2


Sliced Apple

To slice an apple, cut vertically into slices. For a pie, I recommend about 1/2-inch wide slices.