Originally created 04/03/02

Small portions

Cooking tips

The following are some tips and techniques for cooks from Food Network Kitchens:

  • Rolling-pin care: Don't put wooden rolling pins in a sink of soapy water or they will warp. The best way to clean a wooden pin is to scrape off residual flour with a pastry scrape or butter knife and wipe it off with a damp cloth.
  • Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms, also called oak, Chinese or Black Forest mushrooms, are excellent roasted or in soups, stir-fries or sautes. They have chocolate-brown tops and fibrous woody stems, meaty texture and a pleasant woody taste. Shiitakes are available both dried and fresh.
  • Nut oils: Intensely flavorful oils pressed from nuts should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them from becoming rancid.
  • Garlic for health

    Hippocrates prescribed garlic for everything from tumors to heart trouble, and the ancient Chinese used it to cure respiratory infections.

    These days garlic is said to do everything from promoting healthy hearts and circulation to preventing the common cold. A substance in the herb is said to lubricate blood platelets and keep them from clumping. Scientists think garlic's sulfur compound, allicin, may play a large role in cancer prevention.

    Choose garlic that is crisp and firm - no soft, yellow cloves with sprouts. If you don't want to chew raw cloves, boost the amount of garlic in your diet through garlic-rich recipes.

    Spring pot pies

    How about a spring pot pie in a flaky puff pastry, teeming with colorful seasonal veggies, kissed with herbs, scallions, and kale leaves and refined with a dollop of heavy cream, making it a little bit naughty? Make the pies small as inventive side dishes and you are sure to free yourself from the shackles of winter.

    To find this divine concoction, visit www.foodandwine.com and type "spring vegetable potpies" in the search box in the upper right corner. Note the recommendation for the wine to serve with your creation.

    Meanwhile, sign up for the magazine's free weekly newsletter. It contains coupons, recipes, holiday menus and updates.

    The editors will keep you busy for weeks browsing recipes, visiting with great American chefs and learning about wines.

    Strawberry season

    Don't waste a second of strawberry time. Keep these points in mind as you choose, store and eat your rosy fruit.

  • Choose strawberries that have been picked fully ripened.
  • Serving berries at room temperature heightens naturally sweet flavor.
  • Look for plump berries with a natural shine, bright-red color and fresh, green caps.
  • Store them loosely covered and unwashed in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.
  • Kitchen clean-up

    When April showers blow along, everyone may well end up hanging out in the kitchen - and if it's clean and organized it will be that much easier to cook up a tasty dish to keep the troops happy till the clouds pass by.

  • Make sure all your knives are sharp
  • Check to see a full range of necessary cutlery and utensils is still in place. Check appliance cords for possible cuts or fraying, and replace when necessary.
  • Check all expiration and "best used by" dates on items in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Throw out those past their prime.
  • Help prevent accidents by checking for loose handles on pots and pans.
  • While checking out the pantry and cabinets, roll out new shelf liners.
  • Start an herb garden on your windowsill.

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