Chef and cookbook author Sara Moulton says she’s always learning new kitchen techniques and loves to share them, which is one reason she published her new cookbook, “Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better” (Oxmoor House, 2016). Here are five great tips from the book:
▪ Make quick work of prepping artichoke hearts by removing the outer leaves as you might peel an apple. Lay the artichoke on a cutting board. Cut down and around, following the curve of the vegetable, until you reach the light-green interior. Cut across the top of the artichoke to remove the purplish inner leaves. Use a paring knife to cut around and remove the base of leaves from the stem. (And use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough green skin from that stem, because it’s just as tender and edible as the heart.) Cut the remaining artichoke in half, making it easy to scrape out the center fibers.
▪ For stress-free pizza dough prep, coat the work surface lightly with olive oil. The dough will stick to the surface and keep its width and breadth as you roll it out.
▪ Using the whack of a knife to catch and remove the pit of a handheld avocado can result in an emergency room visit. Instead, place the avocado on its side on a cutting board. With the knife parallel to the board, make a horizontal cut through to the pit as you rotate the fruit. With the knife perpendicular to the board, cut the top side of the avocado from stem to bottom, then turn it and repeat on the far side. You’ll have three sections that release easily and one that allows the pit to be plucked off.
▪ Deveining shrimp can be done quickly via a two-step assembly-line process. First: Line peeled, raw shrimp on a cutting board, then make a cut down the back of each one. Next: Hold each shrimp under a slight stream of running tap water; the veins will slip out.
▪ When you have a lot of small tomatoes to cut, corral them between the plastic lids of two deli containers (six to eight at a time). Press the palm of one hand on top, then use a sharp chef’s knife to make a horizontal slice through all the tomatoes simultaneously.