Tips & Tricks

On Greens, and How to Keep Them Fresh

Fresh Herbs

I’ve come across many versions of this tip over the years. Keeping one’s greens fresh and happy seems to be the culinary equivalent of keeping one’s skin young: it’s a losing battle, but everyone hopes to find the magic technique.

Wash, don’t wash (we’re talking about greens again now; we’ll address personal hygiene another time), wrap in plastic, cloth, or a paper bag, keep on the counter or refrigerate, and even this one: put the herbs upright in a glass of water and place on a shelf or in the door of your fridge. (That gave my French-sized refrigerator a good laugh.)

I’ve experimented with those ideas to varying degrees of success — mostly on the lower end of the scale — and after throwing out enough wilted herbs to start a compost heap, I’ve finally found the M.O. that works for me, so I thought I’d share.

When I get back from the greenmarket on Saturday mornings, I put my purchases away, sit down for a cup of coffee, then get to work.

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Cheese Course

Cheese Platter

I have a new piece appearing today on NPR’s weekly Kitchen Window column: this one is all about putting together a cheese platter, how to serve it and what to enjoy it with.

And on the picture above, you will recognize — from left to right — an ash-coated goat cheese from the Deux-Sèvres, a Pont-l’Evêque from Normandy, and a Perail des Cabasses, a sheep’s milk cheese from Aveyron.

(Previous contributions to Kitchen Window:
- Fresh Herb Muffins
- Cherry Soup with Hazelnut Rosemary Tuiles
- Artichoke and Goat Cheese Mille-feuille,
- Asparagus Confit with Almonds and Rosemary,
- Chocolate and Candied Ginger Tartlets.)

How to Open Scallop Shells

Coquilles St-Jacques

Perk-to-being-friends-with-a-chef #326 : he will teach you how to open scallops!

This in turn allows you to jump the line at the fish stall, because the people in front of you need to have their scallops opened and cleaned (ha!), but you ask politely if you can just buy yours and go. And you know it’s just a figment of your imagination, but you like to think that they, as the fish guy, look at you in awe and think “wow, this girl opens her own scallops!”.

And here’s how you do it: hold the scallop shell horizontally in your left hand, flat side up, round edge facing you. Insert the end of a round-tipped knife in the opening to the right of the shell, and work the knife towards you, rotating it on itself to open the two halves just enough for you to slip the meaty tip of your left thumb in the gap, and maintain it open.

This is when you start to feel how very much alive the scallop is, as it struggles with all its might to keep that trapdoor shut. Thankfully you are the mightiest of the two, this is what we call an ecosystem.

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