How to Roast and Peel Peppers:
Preheat the oven to 380F (195C). Cut 3 medium size peppers into quarters. Remove the seeds and white membranes. Line a roasting pan with baking paper and place the cut peppers in it, skin side up. Roast for 30 minutes. Transfer into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature. The skin will peel easily. Use in any recipe, or keep, tossed with olive oil, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to a week.
How to prepare homemade oven-dried cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 200F (100C), cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt and place in the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the tomatoes are dried but still a bit moist. Keep in a loosely covered container and use within 7-10 days. Since Cherry tomatoes are available year round, I don’t see the point in making a huge amount. However, if you end up with more than you can use in a short time, place the dried tomatoes in a jar, add olive oil to cover and cover tightly. Keep in a cool dark place for 1-2 months.
Here are a few “before and after” photos:
How to peel tomatoes: with a sharp knife, cut an X on each tomato and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for about 1 minute. Drain, let cool a bit and easily remove the skin. Cut each tomato into quarters. Remove the centers with the seeds and place in a small sieve. Squeeze and keep the juice. Discard skins and centers. Cut into medium size cubes.
How to make Brown Butter: melt 1 stick (115 grams) butter in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once large bubbles start to appear, lower the heat to medium-low. Don’t mix. When the color turns brown, take off the heat and let stand at room temperature, so that the milk solids will sink to the bottom. Carefully pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl, trying to keep the solids in the pot as much as possible. Let cool a bit and strain again. If all went well, you now have ½ cup of nicely browned clarified butter and your kitchen smells like roasted nuts. Keep at room temperature if you plan to use it immediately. Otherwise, pour into a jar, close with a lid and keep in the fridge for up to a month.
How to make homemade caramel sauce: place 1 cup of sugar in a medium size pot over medium-high heat. The sugar will gradually become lumpy, but then it will start to dissolve and the color will change to amber. Lower the heat to medium-low and carefully (it will splatter, so it’s best to use gloves) add 1 cup heavy cream. Take off the heat for a few seconds, until the bubbles disappear. Place back on the heat and cook, mixing carefully, for 2-3 minutes, to a smooth, dark amber color sauce. Strain through a fine strainer into a measuring jug. You will end up with 1¼ cups of caramel sauce.
How to extract pomegranate seeds quickly and easily
Cut the pomegranate in half. Hold one half; cut side down, over a bowl. With a wooden spoon, tap hard on the skin. The seeds will soon start to pop out through your fingers into the bowl. Rotate the pomegranate half in your hand, and keep on tapping, until most of the seeds are in the bowl.
How to peel and devein shrimps – and make shrimp stock:
To devein: Peel the shrimps and keep the shells. Place a shrimp on a cutting board, back side up. With a sharp, small knife, cut carefully through the back, to reveal the dark “vein”. With the tip of the knife, lift the thick part of the vein, and then pull it carefully with your fingers. Wash well and dry on paper towels.
To make the stock: In a medium size pot, combine the shells from the above shrimps with 1 celery stick, roughly cut, ½ carrot, peeled, roughly cut, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp peppercorns, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. You should end up with about 1 cup stock.
How to clean and keep greens and fresh herbs:
Place the herbs in a large bowl, fill with water and let the herbs float. Swivel a bit, so that the dirt will sink to the bottom. Take out the herbs. Drain the water left in the bowl, and wash it. Repeat the process to make sure there is no dirt left. Place washed herbs in a lettuce spinner and dry thoroughly. Wrap with paper towels and place in a plastic bag. Seal and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
How to keep and cook fresh Asparagus:
When buying fresh asparagus, place them standing in a jar with water, and place it in the fridge. This will keep them nice and fresh until you use them. To prepare the asparagus for cooking: Place them on a cutting board and cut off about 1 inch of the ends. With a vegetable peeler, peel half the length of the stems. To cook – place in a large pot, flat. Add 1 tsp salt and a very small amount of water. Cover the pot and steam on high heat for about 2 minutes. Drain and serve.
How to peel and cut fresh pineapple:
With a serrated knife, cut off the bottom and top of the pineapple. Place the pineapple standing on its base. With the knife moving downwards, with a slight curved angle, cut off a strip of the peel. Try to take off as much of the “eyes” as you can, but without cutting too much of the flesh. Turn the pineapple and remove the rest of the peel in the same manner. If necessary, clean any “eyes” that are left with a small sharp knife.
If you want to end up with pineapple rings, slice the pineapple and cut off the center with a cookie cutter.
For wedges: cut into quarters, remove the core and cut into smaller wedges.