Monthly Archives: February 2013

Better Way To Cut a Pepper

There are many ways to cut a bell pepper, depending on what you’re doing with it. But I think that this one, which I learned by watching a cooking instructor, is especially elegant and efficient.

Setting the pepper on its side, she cut off a little piece from both ends. With a few knife flicks, she freed the core and removed it. Then, she made a slit from top to bottom on one side and unrolled the long strip of pepper, inside up. Laying her sharp knife horizontally on top, she ran it left to right, deftly removing each raised white section along the way. Finally, she cut nice even strips, perfect for tossing into a salad.

Souped Up Meals

I think one of the reasons why I find entertaining more daunting than some people is the fact that I refuse to resort to certain convenience fixes, most notably canned soups.

I’ve eaten brisket of beef made with Lipton’s onion soup mix and cranberry sauce and enjoyed it immensely. And I know that there are millions of households in which the Thanksgiving menu is not complete without string bean casserole made with mushroom soup and canned onion rings.

The other day a classy friend, who frequently entertains, raved about one of her favorite company fallbacks: Boneless chicken breasts layered with Swiss cheese, topped with stuffing mix, and baked in light cream of chicken soup. I bet it’s very tasty and certainly it’s quick, yet I can’t do it.

The excessive salt in these dishes is one reason why I avoid them, not just because it’s unhealthy but also because it replaces real depth of flavor. To me, serving such a dish is like giving guests Kentucky Fried Chicken instead of a perfectly roasted chicken you made yourself.

Am I just being a food snob? You tell me. And while you’re at it, please send along any fast favorites in your collection, preferably those that don’t call for canned soup.


According to a friend who raised chickens for many years, the fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel when hard-boiled. “Sufficient time has not elapsed for an air pocket to form,” she explains.

It’s also hard to whip egg whites with fresh eggs,” she tells me, so she always kept a carton of older eggs in the refrigerator when she wanted to make something like flourless chocolate cake. It requires whipped egg whites from nine eggs!