Posts Tagged ‘How To’

How to Roast and Peel Peppers


Ready for broiling

Roasting peppers seems easy.  Until you have half the skin stuck to your fingers like wet paper and the other half still on the pepper, stubbornly refusing to separate.  If you’re dealing with that specific frustration, you may have forgotten one important step.

Broiled pasilla peppers

Let’s start at the beginning. To get a good char, you can do one of two things.  You can place your peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil, drizzle them with olive oil and place them under the broiler, turning once until brown on all sides. Takes about 15 minutes.  You can also drizzle with olive oil and turn directly over a gas flame until all sides are blackened and your peppers look like they do above. However you choose to roast, you’re now ready for the special step.

It comes down to foil.  Place your hot, charred peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with foil.  If you broiled your peppers, use the same foil that you used to line your baking sheet. Cover tightly and let steam until the peppers cool, at least 30 minutes.

Steaming creates little pockets of air between the burnt skin and pepper flesh.  No need to tug or tear to separate skin from sweet, soft pepper.

All you have to do is rip the skin and your peppers will peel easily.  I warn you- it’s as addictive as peeling easy-to-peel nail polish.

I’m stuffing these spicy pasilla peppers with grilled corn and pepper jack cheese and serving them with roasted salsa and sour cream.  I’ll slice any leftovers for spicing up avocado toast. How will you eat yours?

xx Sarah

How To Bake a Potato



A nasty little stomach bug knocked me down this past week and now that I’m up and eating again, the only food I can stomach is a crispy baked potato.  I top it with a blend of olive oil and greek yogurt then sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and lots of chives.  It’s my come-back-to-life meal.

Steakhouse Baked Potato

Makes 1

1 russet potato

1 teaspoon olive oil

salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub the potato under cold running water to remove any dirt.  Pierce several times with a fork or knife. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt all over.  This extra step guarantees a crispy skin.

When your oven reaches temperature, place your potato directly on the rack. No foil needed! Bake until the skin is crispy and the insides soft and fluffy, about 1 hour 25 minutes.  Top as desire.

If you love a baked potato, check out this great party idea.

Tell me, what’s your favorite get better food?

xx Sarah

How To Make Crepes for a Crowd


homemade crepes

We were invited to a brunch where the hostess made crêpe after crêpe in a 20-year old cast iron pan while we sipped juice from her orange tree and snuck spoonfuls of nutella.  Her crêpes were perfectly round and an even, buttery brown.  We all acted like it was no big deal but inside I was panicking.

stacked crepes

The nonchalance, the fruit tree, the ability to flip lacy pancakes while chatting!  All things I lack.  I follow these recipes, make the crepes ahead- they’re easier to flip than pancakes-  and stack them between parchment paper for rolling and reheating.

Crepe with sweet cheese and blueberry sauce

There you have it.  The secret to making crêpes for a crowd.  Start early and have plenty of parchment on hand.  Sure, no one will be blown away by your epic coolness, but no one will get cranky hungry and double dip in the nutella jar either.

Stuff, roll and reheat in a warm oven or microwave. Freeze leftover crepes for up to a month.


How to Hard Boil an Egg


There are two schools of egg lovers: those who like a soft yolk and those who want theirs cooked to a yellow chalk.  Only one of those schools-the soft yolk one- counts in my book.  Though it sounds counter-intuitive, soft yolk lovers can enjoy a hard-boiled egg.  They just have to learn the 9-minute method of preparation so that their egg retains a little of the undercooked velvet of a real yolk.  The secret is cold water.  Here’s how:

Fill a medium pot with cool water until your eggs are just covered.

Bring water to a gentle boil.  Immediately cover your pot and remove it from the heat.

Set your timer for 9 minutes and let the eggs steam, covered and off the heat, for exactly that long.

While your eggs steam, prepare your ice bath.  Start with ice.

Then add cold water.

When your 9 minutes are up, immediately transfer the eggs to your ice bath.  The cold water shocks the eggs, halting the cooking process and preserving your slightly soft yolk.

The ice bath does one more magical thing.  It separates the shell from the albumen, that thin, clingy membrane that refuses to pick a side when you try to separate egg from shell.  You can blame the albumen for all those times you’ve taken off chunks of white with your peel and ending up with a sad, pockmarked egg.

After its ice-water dip, your peel will slip off easily and in large pieces.  Congrats, you’ve freed your alabaster prize from its jealous, jagged shell.

How pretty are those yolks?  Farmer’s market eggs are the way to go when possible.  You won’t find that color anywhere else.  Or if you do, let us know!

Find our favorite ways to use hard-boiled eggs here, here and here.


How To Eat a Pomegranate


How to cut a pomegranate

When pomegranates came into my life they demanded a ritualistic kind of love affair.  I planted myself at the kitchen table each morning with half a pomegranate in my latte bowl and dedicated myself to digging out the seeds one by one, stopping occasionally to watch the snow fall.  It was all very meditative.  By the time I finished my hands resembled Lady Macbeth’s worst nightmare.  A sign, I thought, that I had done something meaningful with my morning.

how to eat a pomegranate

Pomegranates are intimidating.  They’re thick-skinned and leathery and no matter how gently you treat them there’s going to be blood. Now that I don’t have the student’s luxury to spend half a morning de-seeding my breakfast, I use the water method which is quick, stain-free and still gives me a thrill of accomplishment.

how to cut a pomegranate

Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally.

How to eat a pomegranate

Submerge it in a deep bowl of water and gently pull the sections apart, separating seeds from pith.

Pomegranate seeds and pit

Once released, the seeds will sink and the pith will float.  Simply scoop the pith out of the water.

How to open a pomegranate

Drain your juicy, pith-free seeds and enjoy.


Thanksgiving Timeline Week 3




If you’ve been following our timeline, you’re probably feeling verrrry accomplished right about now.  Week three is going to be a breeze for you.  Here’s what needs doing:

Third Week of November

1. Wash towels and sheets for guests as well as kitchen towels to reserve for the Big Cook.

2. Stock up on essentials: paper towels and toilet paper, Q-tips, cotton balls, advil, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc.

3. Buy your pantry and freezer items and cross ‘em off the list.

4. Set up your non-perishable table décor items (pumpkins, candles, etc.).

5. If you’re making homemade stock, make and freeze now.

6. Test any new Thanksgiving recipes while there’s still time to revert back to the classics.

There’s a pumpkin meringue pie trial run in our very immediate future.


Thanksgiving Timeline



This is the time of years when our sarcasm kicks up. Everything we read suggests that hosting a 6-course Thanksgiving Martha-style is as easy as (pumpkin) pie. But creating an elaborate feast that nourishes family and friends is not a simple thing, particularly when each guest carries with them their own personal holiday bible. Since we make elaborate meals everyday for a living we can attest that it takes planning and work! But like anything that takes work, it can be a fantastically fun and empowering experience. A privilege. And it can be a whole lot easier if you start now. Just follow our timeline for a stress-free turkey day.

First Week of November

If you get through these steps this week, the week of will be a joy.

1. Collect your recipe and table décor inspirations and pin them to a board above your desk or in your kitchen. Decide what you want to make and what you want to delegate and start delegating. Print or copy all recipes and place them in a folder to have on-hand during cooking.

2. Enlist your littlest helpers. If kids are coming, ask them now if you’d like them to make something special for the table. Sarah’s family still whips out laminated place mats her now-adult sister made for each person in their family. You won’t believe how sweet and chic they look on a table set with her mother’s best.

3. Make a detailed shopping list organized by store and by store section, e.g. produce, pantry, meat, bakery, wine, etc. You will be so happy you took the time to do this now when you have the time to relax with a glass of wine two nights before T-Day! Include ingredients for a green salad and a loaf of good bread. You’ll see why in the second week.

4. Make a timeline. Decide what dishes can be made ahead (e.g. cranberries and salad dressing can be made 2 days ahead and most desserts can be made the day before) and work backwards from dinner according to how long each dish will take. Pin timeline to your inspiration board.

5. Take inventory. Make sure you have enough pots, pans, baking dishes and platters to prepare your meal and plate it. Count your plates and glasses. Now is also a great time to iron those holiday napkins and tablecloths and make sure you have enough candles to make your table glow all night.

6. Order your bird. Plan on 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person.

Second Week of November

1. Make and freeze your pie crusts. Cross those ingredients off your grocery list!

2. Make and freeze a good quantity of good soup. If you’re hosting the big day, chances are you have friends staying over the night before. You’ll be busy cleaning, prepping and catching up and you’ll be hungry. Surprise them (and yourself) with a light and healthy homemade dinner. All you’ll need is that bread and salad you already put on your shopping list.

3. Buy wine, liquor and sparkling water. Cross them off the list! Feels good, right?

4. Pick a table look from your inspiration board and buy supplies. Add necessary flowers and other perishables to your master shopping list.

5. Stock your pantry with good nuts, crackers, popcorn and buy a few hard cheeses and jarred olives. Now you have easy appetizers and nibbles for house guests. Cross ‘em off the list.

What special steps are you adding?


How to: Organize your Spice Rack


We are moving into a new BIG kitchen at work! Finally everything will have a place and there will be a place for everything. This makes my organizational heart sing.


Spice Rack Organization

While at home I don’t alphabetize my spice rack, at work it is a must.


Spice Rack

Our spices are placed on plastic risers in one cabinet. Each bottle is labeled with the name of the spice just below the cap for easy viewing. Fun with label maker time.


Spice Rack


The bottom row isn’t labeled because you can see the names of the spices on the bottles. It’s not as neat as I would like but it is a functional system. You just have to put them back in the right place to maintain the order. Seems obvious but with 5 cooks using these all day, we reorganize them a lot.




How to: Banh Mi Sandwich Buffet


I mentioned that we served a Banh Mi Sandwich buffet at Anjali’s bridal shower last month but I didn’t share any pictures of the buffet itself. A DIY sandwich buffet is a unique and easy way to feed a large crowd. Take some help from your local Vietnamese restaurant and order the baguettes and the meat from the restaurant to cut down on your cooking duties.

Banh Mi Buffet

Set up your table in a way that guests start with the baguettes and then move from filling to filling to layer up their sandwiches as they please.


Vietnamese baguettes from Xoia in Echo Park are extra crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. We cut them onto sandwich sized portions and then horizontally down the middle so they were ready to fill.

Sriracha and Garlic "Aoili"

I made roasted garlic “aioli” by slow roasting a head of garlic and then pureeing it into Vegenaise with a splash of lemon. I made Sriracha “aioli” by mixing Sriracha chili sauce and lime juice into Vegenaise. I used Vegenaise because it tastes good and I wanted to make sure to accommodate any vegan shower guests.

Sandwich Proteins

After the aoili’s were spread onto baguettes, the guests chose between sliced tofu, roast beef in lemongrass broth (from Xoia) or pickled shrimp to top their sandwiches. All proteins were served cold or at room temperature (much easier on the hostesses.)

Banh Mi toppings

Next guests topped their sandwiches with shredded carrots, long matchsticks of cucumber and whole stems of crisp cilantro.

Banh Mi Shrimp Sandwich

An artfully arranged shrimp sandwich on a Bambu plate. The sandwiches were delicious and satisfying, custom built to satisfy everyone’s tastes and dietary needs. All the plates returned empty. Success.




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