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Kitchen Shrink

How do you buy and prepare Octopus?

  Grilled Octopus is a favorite on menus all across the country but people tell me that they are afraid to try to prepare it at home. I thought that would be a great topic for my show and my latest book so I enlisted the help of Dave Pasternack,…

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What is the easiest way to roast peppers?

There are a number of ways to roast peppers; all are easy. I have used roasted red peppers in all of my books and here are the instructions include to help readers make them: If you have a gas stove, turn on one burner to a low flame for every four peppers you want…

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What is Farro and how do you cook it?

I’ve been getting questions about farro ever since we cooked it in Season 2, Episode 211. This delicious, nutty, crunchy grain is now appearing on restaurant menus all over the country and is finally pretty easy to find in supermarkets as well. Farro can be any of three ancient species…

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What is the best way to melt chocolate?

One of the most frequent questions that come in to the Kitchen Shrink is, “How can I melt chocolate without the risk of it scorching or suddenly getting firm.” Chocolate is very sensitive to heat and it is best to melt it slowly. I like to melt it in the…

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Onions and Garlic: What does a medium onion or a medium garlic clove measure when chopped?

Linda recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask, “when a recipe calls for a medium onion, chopped, or a clove of garlic, chopped, what do they measure in standard measuring cups and spoons?” What a good question! Not everyone’s idea of medium is the same. When I wrote my second…

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Rice: How do you cook rice?

I just got an e-mail from Brent asking, “How long do you cook rice?” I thought I would just send him a link to my recipe for cooking rice and discovered that although I recommend serving my Simple Boiled Rice with several entrees, the recipe wasn’t up on the site.…

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Turkey: Where can I learn how to carve a turkey?

One of the questions I frequently get at this time of year is, “Where can I find out how to carve a turkey?” I have lots of information on the site about cooking and serving turkey (you’ll find it at turkey) and decided that carving the bird was the missing…

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Rice Vinegar: What is the difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar?

Angelia recently e-mailed the Kitchenshrink to ask, “What is the difference, if any, between rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar?” There really isn’t much difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar and they can certainly be used interchangeably in a recipe. To make rice vinegar, rice is fermented until it…

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Shallots and Onions: Can they be interchanged?

Recently Patricia asked the Kitchen Shrink, “what is the difference in shallots or onions , etc. can they be interchanged?” There are many varieties of both shallots and onions within the species Allium cepa. They vary in appearance in that shallots grow in clusters attached at the bottom and each…

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Packing Safely: How Can I Safely Pack and Carry a Picnic?

Now that summer picnic season is in full swing, I have had several requests for information on safely packing and carrying foods. Whether you are driving miles to a park or the beach or going next door for supper on the deck, the heat is on and you need to…

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Equipment: All about my bench scraper

Each time I use my special extra-large bench scraper on the show I get many e-mails from viewers who would like to have one. My search for a source was unsuccessful until I found out that I was looking for it by the wrong name. So here’s the scoop. My giant…

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Pancetta: What is Pancetta and how do you cook it?

Marvin e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that he had enjoyed scallops with pancetta at a restaurant and wondered what pancetta is, how you cook it, and where to buy it. Although pancetta is often called Italian bacon, it is somewhat different from American bacon in that it is made only from pork…

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Cranberry Sauce: How do you make homemade cranberry sauce?

A viewer e-mailed me that he had recently had homemade fresh cranberry sauce at a holiday dinner and loved it. He added that he hadn’t known that it was something you could make at home and wondered how to do it. Homemade cranberry sauce is actually a very simple recipe. It is…

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Desserts: Here’s One of my Favorite Desserts

I received an e-mail from Frances asking, “What is your all-time favorite dessert? How do you make it?”  Well, I don’t really have a favorite dessert, but I am rather fond of the Butterscotch Pudding Cake served with coffee ice cream found on page 341 of Sara Moulton’s Family Dinners.…

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Desserts: Here's One of my Favorite Desserts

I received an e-mail from Frances asking, “What is your all-time favorite dessert? How do you make it?”  Well, I don’t really have a favorite dessert, but I am rather fond of the Butterscotch Pudding Cake served with coffee ice cream found on page 341 of Sara Moulton’s Family Dinners.…

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Kale: What are some good ways to cook kale?

As fall approaches it is definitely time to take a new look at kale. Kale has become one of the latest cruciferous vegetables to rebrand as a versatile ingredient in almost any recipe you can think of. Also known as borecole, this cousin of cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts has…

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Fruit: Selecting and handling early summer fruit

Freshly picked apricots are the first “stone” fruit of summer. Shortly after they appear on the market, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and then plums arrive. Prompted by the warmth of the early summer sun each ripens in its own time. Fruits have different ripening agendas, some stop ripening when they are…

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Buttermilk: Can you freeze buttermilk?

Gloria recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask if she could freeze leftover buttermilk, thaw and use some, and refreeze the remainder. While buttermilk producers suggest that you not freeze buttermilk for best flavor and texture, when wasting it is the only other option, I suggest that you go ahead…

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Wedding Cakes: Tips for making a wedding cake from a favorite recipe.

I recently got an e-mail from Joan saying, “Our family loves your gingerbread recipe. In fact, my daughter is getting married and I will be making your recipe as their cake.  There will be 150 people.  Any tips for making this quantity?” When I make this recipe for a crowd,…

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Chicken Soup: How can I get more flavor in my chicken soup?

I recently got an e-mail from David who said “I am making chicken soup for my picky eaters, and . . . . the soup has little chicken flavor and no yellow color. . . . how can I get more chicken flavor and a pleasing yellow color in my…

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Maple Syrup: What is Grade B Maple Syrup?

Marilyn e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that she has a recipe that calls for Grade B Maple Syrup and wonders if she can substitute Grade A Maple Syrup as her supermarkets don’t have Grade B. Most maple recipes these days do call for Grade B Maple Syrup because this (usually late-season)…

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Tapioca Starch: How do you use tapioca starch?

I just received an e-mail asking me about using tapioca starch to thicken soups and desserts. Tapioca, manioc, or cassava starch is a fine white powder produced from the cassava root, which is grown in Central and South America, Florida, the Caribbean Islands, and temperate climates around the world. While…

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Eggs: Is there an easy way to peel a hard-cooked egg?

I recently got an e-mail from Sandy asking if there is an easy way to peel an egg. She said, “I lose most of the egg when I do it.” Well, actually it has more to do with selecting the egg than peeling it. Very fresh eggs never peel well…

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Cookie Dough: Are all cookie doughs freezer friendly?

Liisa recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask “are all cookie doughs freezer friendly?” What a good question. It is so convenient to have already prepared cookie dough in the freezer so you can have freshly baked cookies on the table at a moment’s notice. All butter cookie doughs freeze…

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