Originally created 11/27/02

Small portions



Fowl Tip

If your turkey squeezes your side dishes and desserts out of the oven, consider a Hamilton Beach roaster oven. The 120-volt appliance is small enough to sit on the kitchen counter and large enough to cook a 23-pound turkey. It also can bake, steam and slow-cook. And at $115.50, it is more affordable than a second oven.

The roaster oven is available at nextdaygourmet.com.

No dud spuds

Chances are your holiday menu includes potatoes in one form or another. The Idaho Potato Commission offers this advice in selecting and preparing your spuds:

  • Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured skin that has no cuts, bruises or discoloration.
  • Store potatoes in a cool, dry place, but never in the refrigerator.
  • Don't wash spuds until just before you use them.
  • Never wrap potatoes in foil while baking - this steams the potato.
  • For more information, visit idahopotato.com.

    Cutting up

    To help make food handling safer and easier, Saran has introduced disposable, absorbent cutting sheets. These plastic sheets reduce the chance of cross-contamination during food preparation.

    The top of the sheet is sturdy enough to resist knife cuts. The middle layer is absorbent to soak up juices from raw meats and poultry. The bottom layer helps prevent juices from overflowing onto kitchen work surfaces.

    The sheets are available from supermarkets and mass merchandisers for a suggested retail price of $2.99 for a pack of 20.

    When to salt

    One of the most common instructions in a recipe is "season to taste" - adding salt and pepper to bring out the flavors. Assertive seasoning is one of the things that separate chefs from home cooks. Proper seasoning acts like the lighting in a well-designed room; if they aren't up all the way, you can't appreciate the details of the decor.

    Peeling pistachios

    To have beautiful green pistachio for fillings or toppings, remove the brown coating from the shelled nuts. If you peel them individually, it's a tedious task. A more efficient way is to either boil or toast them in the oven for a few minutes first. Then spread the nuts out on half of a large kitchen towel, and fold it over to cover the nuts. With open palms, rub the towel so the nuts move between the fabric and their papery skins slip off.

    Fine fennel

    Tossed with vinaigrette, thinly sliced fennel, the anise-tasting bulb, makes a wonderful salad. Slicing by hand can be tricky and the results a little clunky. Using a hand-held mandolin makes the task effortless and produces paper-thin slices. Cut the fennel in half through the core and slide the cut side over the blade of the mandolin. Put the slices in salted ice water for 15 minutes or so, and they bend and curl into beautiful natural shapes.