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Kitchen Shrink

Food Safety:Food Safety Help

All through the year I get many questions about safely entertaining. While cooking ahead and buffet serving is a traditional way of serving large groups, it is essential that food safety guidelines are followed. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-674-6854) is available from 10 to 4 on weekdays  to…

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Aprons: My Aprons and Chefs Jackets

After the peppermill question, one of the most frequent queries I get in my e-mail is, “Where can I find the beautiful aprons you wear on Sara’s Secrets.” With the holidays only a week away, those e-mails are coming in so I thought I would make it easy for those…

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Sausage: What is Chouriço?

I recently got an e-mail from Cecilia who wondered why Jasper White  was using Spanish chorizo in his Portuguese Cataplana (you can find his recipe at Cataplana) and thought perhaps he was using the Portuguese sausage linguica. I immediately forwarded her question to my friend and cookbook author, Jean Anderson…

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Recipes: How to find the recipes from my show.

Hunting for the recipes from my TV show, Sara’s Weeknight Meals? I still get lots of e-mails asking for the recipes from my show and wanted to let you know that they are all right on this site 24/7. Just select “Shows” in the menu under the title at the…

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Clams: How do you store and clean clams?

Bob e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to find out how to store and clean shellfish such as clams before cooking. It is best to purchase clams just before cooking them so there should be little storage to worry about. Clams are purchased alive and must be kept alive. If you do…

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Cookbook: How to Write Your Own Family Cookbook

Several weeks ago Susan e-mailed me to ask how to get a cookbook published. This is a question that I get frequently and here is how I answered her. “I don’t know what to tell you. Publishing cookbooks the traditional way is a dying template. If you are the hottest…

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Tripe: How do you cook tripe?

Last week Randy asked me this about tripe,  “I see this all of the time in the grocery store and I have to be honest, while it sort of scares me, it also fascinates me. Is there a way to cook this so that is actually tastes good? Is it…

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Tomatoes: What is the best way to store fresh tomatoes?

Molly e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that she had just harvested a lot of tomatoes from her garden and wondered what is the best way store them until she can use or process them. Freshly picked tomatoes should be stored in a single layer, stem-side up, in a fairly cool location…

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Sweetener: What is Simple Syrup and How Do You Make It?

Terri recently e-mailed me to ask “What is Simple Syrup and how do you use it?” My favorite recipe for lemonade immediately came to mind (You’ll find it in Sara Moulton Cooks at Home.) and here is my answer. Simple syrup is an old-fashioned secret for sweetening things such as…

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Herbs and Spices: What are the basic herbs and spices I should have on hand?

This week I got an e-mail from Rich saying, “My brother inherited Grandpa and Grandma’s house. He cooks, but they had no spices in the house. What are the basics he should have in his kitchen for simple, but exciting meals? I would greatly appreciate your comments!” I have often…

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Salad Dressing: Can you give me an easy all-purpose salad dressing?

The Kitchen Shrink has gotten several requests for a good homemade salad dressing recently, so it seems like a good time to remind you of my favorite vinaigrette. My refrigerator is never without it. It is good on any basic savory salad and can be varied by changing the oil…

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Meat: How Can I Thinly Slice Raw Meat?

Steve e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask if there was a trick for thinly slicing raw meats for stir fry. As I mention in my recipe for Japanese Beef Fondue, the best way to thinly slice meat without a fancy slicing machine is to partially freeze the meat so it…

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Burgers: How can I keep burgers from plumping in the center?

Whenever I demonstrate one of my burger recipes, someone asks if there is a way to keep burgers from plumping in the center and becoming smaller in diameter as they cook. My favorite trick to solve this problem is to create an indentation in the center when I shape the…

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Buttermilk: What is buttermilk?

Rachel e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask, “What is in buttermilk?” She said she had purchased some for a recipe and was surprised to find that, despite its name, buttermilk is low in fat. These days, most buttermilk is pasteurized low-fat milk to which lactic acid bacteria have been added…

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Melons: How can I select a good melon in the market?

In the middle of the summer a lot of e-mails arrive in my Kitchen Shrink inbox asking the same question, “is there a secret to finding a melon that is sweet and flavorful.” While that’s not so easy in the winter when melons come from far away as it is now that they are coming…

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Shrimp: How can I cook shrimp so they will stay tender?

Terri e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask for help in cooking shrimp. She said that no matter how she cooks them, her shrimp seem tough. Whether you deep fry, sauté, stir-fry, steam or boil shrimp, they cook to tender, juicy perfection very, very quickly and then overcook. Shrimp should be cooked just…

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Olives: Substituting Ripe Olives

Jerry e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that he couldn’t find the Kalamata olives called for in a recipe he wanted to try and wondered if you can substitute canned California ripe olives for Kalamata olives in a recipe? Canned California ripe olives and oil-cured European ripe olives are really very different…

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Eggs: Can I substitute another size egg for large eggs in a recipe?

Marilee e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that she always buys jumbo eggs and wondered if it is all right to use them when a recipe calls for large eggs. Most recipes call for large eggs because that is the size that is purchased most often in American supermarkets. If you are…

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Broccoli: What can you do with broccoli stems?

Sandy e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that she hated to throw away the stems from fresh broccoli and wondered what she could use them for. Broccoli stems are just as delicious as the tops and can be used in either raw or cooked dishes. You should trim off the bottom 3/4-…

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Parmigiano-Reggiano: How can I tell that I am buying real Parmigiano-Reggiano?

Mary e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that she would like to try Parmigiano-Reggiano but found the cheese department of her market confusing and wasn’t sure how she could tell she was getting the right cheese. There are several hard cheeses on the market that are similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano in color but…

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Eggs: How long can I keep hard-cooked eggs?

Each year just after the spring holidays the Kitchen Shrink gets e-mails asking about storing hard-cooked eggs. According to the American Egg Board’s Eggcyclopedia, hard-cooked eggs should be cooled and refrigerated as soon as they have been cooked. Store them in their shells and use them within one week.

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Cakes: If your lemon bread sinks in the middle, what went wrong?

I am pleased to address an email I received from Joanne Cambell: “I have a lemon bread recipe which was given to me from a family friend. Every time I make the recipe it sinks in the middle. Do you have any suggestions as to what I might be doing…

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