Recently in Pantry Basics
Friday, September 14, 2012

how to prepare fresh tomatoes for tomato sauce

how to prep your tomatoes for a sauce

I don’t know whether to rejoice that it’s September or to cry. On the one hand, it’s my favorite month. I don’t know what to get excited about the most: Apples! Sweaters! Bourbon! Things generously scented with cinnamon!

On the other hand, I’m frenetic as I try to get to the greenmarket every few days so that I can preserve whatever produce there’s left to savor. I carry my weight in plums and other remaining stone fruit, and try to eat it all before it goes bad. A few peaches may or may not have been unceremoniously tossed out – but let’s not blame anyone. But what concerns me now more than anything is tomatoes.

Continue reading how to prepare fresh tomatoes for tomato sauce.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

how to keep your radishes crisp for over a week

Making radishes last all week

Every week when I go to the market, I pick up a bunch of radishes, among other things. I can’t get enough of them in the summer, and yes, I realize that this blog is named for a radish so it’s no surprise that I am awash in these guys come spring and summer. I love to just bite into them and dip them in soft butter flaked with fleur de sel; I love to generously slice them to my favorite summer salad; I’m a huge fan of the butter-herb-radish crostini – I’ll talk about it next week.

But radishes are great on day one and then are so so, and by the end of the week, they’re soft and have lost their crunch. There’s almost an unpleasant leathery chewiness to them that’s just not appealing.

So how to keep radishes from losing their bite and crunch all week? I believe I’ve found a solution.

Continue reading how to keep your radishes crisp for over a week.

Friday, June 8, 2012

cold brewed iced coffee

Morning fuel

Most of my friends go out every day to buy their coffee. They complain of tiny kitchens and not enough counter space to house a coffee maker, and maybe even a grinder (if you’re one of those virtuous souls and have the deepest respect for the beans.) It’s too much, they say, the effort for a decent cup of coffee is too great. Easier to just walk across the street to your nearest cafe (and New York has no shortage of those, including the ubiquitous Starbucks) and have a trained barista make you a coffee, an espresso, a latte, an Americano, a cortado whatever your heart desires.

And it’s true: Our New York kitchens are smaller than most people’s bathrooms, or even, to be more precise, half of their bathrooms. And yet a lot of us, dealt this paltry hand, still make breakfasts, and lunches, and dinners. We throw parties and we host brunches. We ask a group of friends to come together and then pass the h’ors d’oeuvres around. And somehow everything and everyone fits, and even though we complain of our lack of space, we cannot seem to quit the city. We want to go, and yet we don’t budge. And even the most kitchen obsessed in us, will make even go as far as make bagels at home, but we’ll go out for coffee.

Continue reading cold brewed iced coffee.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

honey syrup – or how to make good use of that last bit of honey

Honey syrup or how to not waste that last bit of honey at the bottom of the jar

I always struggle with the honey at the bottom of the jar. Perhaps, the best solution is to just get a spoon with a handle long enough to scrape the bottom of the jar, but then I find that I wind up covered in honey and sticking to everything. Or I find that everything sticks to me, like that time, when I was walking around my neighborhood with a receipt stuck to my hip, but that’s a story for another time.

I’ve decided that my favorite way to get to that last bit of honey is to make a honey simple syrup. I could say that cocktail weather is upon us, but if you ask me, it’s always cocktail weather in my book. And just about anywhere you can use regular simple syrup, a honey simple syrup should work just fine.

Just add the same amount of hot water as you have honey, screw the lid back on, and vigorously shake the jar. Voila – honey simple syrup, which you can refrigerate and use as a sweetener to tea, lemonade, or cocktails.

I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you what I used it in!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

what to do with beet greens

Beet greens, that misunderstood green

Poor beet greens. They get so little love. Or probably more realistically, they are misunderstood. Most of the time, they go straight from the grocery bag to the trash bag.

But beet greens are so much more than just leafy tops of beets. They come with such great potential that they give their famed roots a run for their money.

Continue reading what to do with beet greens.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

homemade matzo meal

Homemade matzo meal

Perhaps this is to be filed under the “obvious” category, but still, I feel the need to post this. The other day, I was wandering around my local supermarket looking for something – what I can’t remember anymore. There were two ladies talking behind me, and one lamented that she’s been all over this neighborhood trying to find matzo meal, but no one had it. What was she to do this weekend, come Passover?

Normally, I don’t eavesdrop on others’ conversations, and in the rare case I do, I certainly don’t walk over and give them advice. But in this case, I felt that it would be wrong not to say something.

“Sorry to butt in,” I said, “but your problems are easily solved if you have a food processor.”

The ladies were listening.

“Well, you just stick some pieces of matzo in your food processor and pulverize them until you get them finely ground. Sort of like making your own breadcrumbs.”

“Are you serious,” one of the ladies was incredulous, “that’s all that matzo meal is? You’ve just solved a huge problem for me!”

And with that, she grabbed a few boxes of matzo and headed towards the check-out.

This made me think that perhaps it’s not a widely known fact that matzo meal is simply ground up matzo – a breadcrumbs substitute over the holiday.

So, if you find yourself in need of matzo meal and only boxes of matzo lying around, just grind them up – and voila! Matzo meal in mere seconds.

Continue reading homemade matzo meal.

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