I am taking a painting class at the Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island on Tuesday and enjoy the camaraderie of other artists and learning to paint small. We paint from small photographs on to 8 x 10 inch or 9 x 12-inch canvases. This was my painting from the first day of class.
The teacher David Marty asked us to do a homework assignment, and I just finished mine.
This another 8 x 10-inch painting. I find it interesting as I usually do paint in a much larger format, but am finding this satisfying for some reason.
Normally I paint abstracts in larger formats. The one below is 36″ x 24″ and as you can see, it is very different from my smaller ones.
This one is 30 x 48 inches with black, gray, and gold leaf interspersed in other colors. I was looking at in the studio and think it is the perfect Halloween painting. Look at the “evil” eye of the predator on the right side of the painting. This guy is watching you, and it was totally an accident.
Just thought I would share something other than food art and interior design. I am doing a 3 x 5-foot commission right now and love the big scale of it.
I love making and eating soup when the weather turns cold. Every year I just keep trying new ones. When I am at the grocery store, I just look at all the different ingredients, grab a few and always find a recipe online that works. It is kind of a fun challenge.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter ( I only had peanut butter with nuts, but just put it in the blender with the soup and it was great)
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
1 large Roma (plum) tomato, seeded and diced (I only had cherry, so chopped fine and deseeded by wiping with a paper towel)
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and lime zest. Set aside in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add sweet potatoes, and chicken stock. Season with cumin, chili flakes, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or regular blender. If using a countertop blender, puree in small batches, filling the blender just a bit past halfway to avoid spillage. Whisk peanut butter into the soup, (I added in the blender) and heat through. Stir in lime juice, and salt.
Ladle into warm bowls, and top with a dollop of the reserved sour cream, a few pieces of diced tomato, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Serve with a salad or nice piece of French Bread and it is a lunch or dinner for kings. Oh, and don’t forget to add a nice glass of wine.
Made these the other night. They are basically German Hamburgers, or as my youngest son used to say: “Hammaburgers”.
So when I made them, I had lots of left-over hamburger filling. I added some potatoes and mushroom, covered with grated potatoes a good amount of cheddar cheese, threw in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and had a second dinner.
Well, that was all fine and good, but there was still left over, so I put it in a pot, added chicken stock, half & half and there is the third dinner. None of them taste the same. How about three cheap dinners.
Prepare dough: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in sugar, margarine, egg, salt and 1/2 of the flour. Beat until smooth; add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Place in oiled bowl. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, OR let it rise for 1 hour.
In a large heavy skillet, brown meat. Add onion, cabbage, salt and simmer 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
Punch down dough and divide into 20 pieces. Spread each piece of dough out on an un-floured surface and fill with approximately 2 tablespoons filling. fold dough over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve.
I have made this several times and several different ways, but find this the easiest and yummiest. I make two sponge cakes and cut them to 7″ X 7″ squares. I used a paper cutter to make the shape in paper and then cut the cake easily to the right size. This one is cut already. I use the left-over edges to make two mini tiramisus for the family if this is going to a party. Not as pretty, but still tastes yummy.
This is basically the recipe from the Best British Baking Show. I tried America’s Test Kitchen and did not think it tasted as good or was as pretty.
For the sponge
softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar (baker’s sugar)
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy
3 x 250g/9oz tubs full-fat mascarpone cheese
300ml/10½fl oz double cream ( you can use 36% heavy cream)
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (confectioner’s sugar)
65g/2¼oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated
For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 35x25cm/14x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment. BE SURE TO MAKE TWO AND ONE COULD BE CHOCOLATE
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix. THIS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE QUALITY OF YOUR SPONGE CAKE
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface. I JUST USE A SPATULA TO MAKE IT EVEN.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.
When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.
Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge. Discard the sponge trimmings (or keep for cake pops or a sneaky single-serving trifle). OR TWO MINI TIRAMISU
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one-third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge.
Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F.
Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C/88F or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.
Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.
Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder before turning out onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 T (Be sure to save out the one T to add to the dried fruit)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg ( I always use fresh ground)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins ( I had about 3/4 cup of dried fig and apricot from another recipe, so added those to make a cup)
1 cup chopped pecans ( I only had 3/4 cup of pecans, so toasted some walnuts and added them)
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans (or you can use baking spray) and line with parchment paper if desired (I didn’t and it came out just fine but with a more delicate cake or if I’m not just making it for myself, I usually do).
Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for about two minutes until light yellow in color. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and whisk together. Add to mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just incorporated. The batter will be pretty thick at this point. Toss raisins and pecans with remaining one tablespoon of flour. Fold raisins, pecans, carrots, and pineapple into batter until well distributed. Divide batter evenly among pans and bake about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans about ten minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
1 package cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat), at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 T milk
1 pound powdered sugar
Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed about three minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and first three tablespoons of milk and mix on low to incorporate. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on low until incorporated. Increase speed and whip about two minutes, adding additional milk if necessary to reach desired consistency. When cakes are completely cool, spread about 1/4 of the frosting on top of the first layer, spread evenly, top with 2nd layer, add another 1/4 of the frosting and top with remaining layer. Add a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth working out with a spatula to the edges and down the sides of the cake.
Recently on a trip to Leavenworth, we had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant named Sulla Vito. They served Brussell Sprouts with dried figs. It was amazing!
Here is a recipe I found that sounds similar:
8 ounces Pancetta (small dice)
2 pounds Brussels Sprouts (stems trimmed)
1/4 cup finely chopped Onion
2 cups Dried Figs
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
4 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar (or more to taste)
Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until the onion begins to color and the pancetta is medium-crisp.
Meanwhile, slice the sprouts as thinly as possible. Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 cup water to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender—adding more water as needed until tenderness is achieved—about 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, and adjust seasoning. Serve.
It’s hard to beat a simple sheet pan of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts; it’s a fall and winter side dish that goes with basically everything. And while roasted Brussels sprouts are great served plain and simple — with just olive oil, salt, and pepper — sometimes it’s fun to play around. Start with a basic recipe like this one and add a little bit of this and that from your pantry to give this wholesome side dish an upgrade. Here’s how to do it.
1. Finish with lemon and lots of Parm.
Sometimes the simplest upgrade can feel the fanciest. Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with a big squeeze of lemon juice and lots of grated Parmesan cheese to channel your inner Ina.
2. Toss in something crunchy.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are already nice and crispy, but adding extra crunch is never a bad idea. Finish them with whatever nut or seed you have on hand (toast them first) like pepitas, sliced almonds, pistachios, or chopped walnuts.
3. Bathe them in a balsamic glaze.
Tangy balsamic vinegar is arguably the best match for earthy Brussels sprouts. Toss them in a splash or two right after you take them out of the oven so they soak up the flavor.
4. Make them spicy.
Add a little heat if that’s your thing. Toss the sprouts in a bit of Asian chili-garlic sauce or sambal oelek along with olive oil, salt, and pepper to give them a fiery slant.
5. Just add bacon.
When in doubt, reach for bacon. Its fat will latch onto the sprouts as they roast and make them restaurant-worthy. Plus, it’s a sure way to win over those who usually turn their nose up at the vegetable.
6. Embrace honey mustard.
Honey mustard works well with pretty much everything, including Brussels sprouts. Honey’s sweetness tames the sprouts’ inherent bitterness, while mustard adds tang.
7. Pile them on a plate filled with something creamy.
Here’s the move: Spread a thin-ish layer of ricotta or plain Greek yogurt on a serving platter. Once the Brussels sprouts are roasted, pile them onto said plate. Then with each scoop of the sprouts, you’ll get some creamy richness. Plus, it makes for a fancy presentation.
8. Roast them with sausage to turn them into dinner.
Might as well make a sheet pan dinner if you already have a sheet pan of sprouts roasting in the oven! Toss some precooked sausage on the sheet pan to warm and crisp up at the same time.
9. Dig around your spice drawer.
There’s plenty to play around with in your spice drawer alone. Along with salt and pepper, sprinkle the sprouts with ground cumin or smoked paprika, or go for a spice blend like curry powder, garam masala, or za’atar.
10. Add little fish sauce.
Fish sauce might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about what to use to upgrade Brussels sprouts, but trust us on this one. Add a splash or two when you’re tossing the sprouts in olive oil; it will give them a Thai-inspired, umami richness that’s both surprising and wonderful.
Peer into your butcher’s case or roam the frigid aisles of Costco’s meat section, and you’ll encounter a whole world of confusing steak cuts. That doesn’t mean you should let all these admittedly confounding varieties get the best of you. We’re breaking down the differences between seven of our favorite steaks, including how to cook each of them to juicy perfection. With a little practice, we guarantee you’ll be showing up your favorite steakhouse.
① Filet Mignon
A staple of white-tablecloth steakhouses across the country, this tender muscle does barely, if any, of the heavy lifting on the cow, resulting in a soft, buttery texture that gives way in the mere presence of a steak knife. However, this cut is also nearly devoid of any fat, meaning the mild flavor has less of the lip-smacking juiciness meat eaters crave.
Can be Known As: filet de boeuf, tender steak, beef tenderloin, tenderloin steak.
When to Order: The classic Valentine’s Day offering, filets are perfect for diners who are a) more concerned with tenderness rather than flavor and b) have money to spare. Filets are also well suited for anyone on a diet who just really needs a steak.
How to Cook it: It’s versatile enough to be cooked via whichever method you prefer, from pan-roasting to grilling. There’s no fat to compensate for overcooking, so sous vide is a safe bet if you need extra security.
② Rib Eye
One of the most prized cuts of all, the rib eye comes boneless or with the rib bone still attached, in which case it’s frequently known as a cowboy steak. And while the bone might make it harder to navigate your knife and fork, gnawing on gristle and crispy fat is undoubtedly the best part of the steak-eating experience. Speaking of which, it’s that abundance of fat, both marbled within the meat and surrounding the edges via the white fat cap that makes rib eyes so intense and beefy in flavor. They’re not as meltingly soft as filets, but ribeyes have just enough of a chew to remind you why your experience as a vegan didn’t last.
Also Known As: cowboy steak, tomahawk steak, Spencer steak, Delmonico steak.
When to Order: If you’re a carnivore who wants the best beef-eating experience possible, and has a supply of Lipitor on hand.
How to Cook It: Rib eyes are equally at home over charcoal flames, in a cast-iron pan or under a screaming broiler. The high-fat content means, yes, you can get away with cooking them somewhat past medium without the meat turning into a chewy football.
③ New York Strip
It might not be as tender as it’s posh cousin (the filet) or as sumptuous as the always-fatty ribeye, but the New York strip is a solid jack-of-all-trades. A bit more chew and a little less marbling mean it’s less expensive so you won’t be picking your jaw up from the floor when it comes time to pay, making this the perfect midweek dinner for when you need a pick-me-up.
Also Known As: shell steak, Kansas City steak, sirloin steak.
When to Order: This is the all-around, crowd-pleasing steak star made specifically for Goldilocks in terms of flavor, tenderness, and price.
How to Cook It: Just like a ribeye, strip steaks are happy any way you cook them. Just be warned that some can run a little lean, making them less resilient to overcooking.
A porterhouse is simply a New York strip and delicate filet mignon separated by a T-shaped bone, hence another nickname, the mighty T-bone. This is the one time we suggest putting away the cast iron as meat shrinks as it cooks, meaning when seared, a porterhouse’s surface fails to make contact with the pan as the bone begins to jut out. And since the filet side is more prone to overcooking, it can be a challenge getting the entirety of the steak to finish at the same time.
Also Known As: T-bone steak.
When to Order: If you’re an experienced steak expert or part of a couple who doesn’t like to compromise (no judgment), or if you’re exceptionally hungry and prefer to spend your paycheck on steak versus rent.
How to Cook It: Grilling or broiling is your best bet. Just make sure the tenderloin side of the porterhouse is exposed to less heat, so it doesn’t overcook before the strip is finished.
Formerly the butcher’s hidden gem, the once-humble hanger has exploded in popularity over the years. It might not be as affordable as it used to be, but the cut, taken from the front of the cow’s belly, is still a bargain considering it’s astonishingly savory flavor and relative tenderness. When taken right off the cow, hangers tend to be covered in a blanket of tough sinew and silver skin, though most butchers will sell it already trimmed.
Also Known As: onglet, butcher’s steak, hanging tender.
When to Order: If you’re looking for maximum payoff with little effort; or a carnivore who prefers to spend only half their paycheck on steak.
How to Cook It: A loose, soft texture makes hanger steak perfect for soaking up sticky marinades and dry rubs. Keep in mind there’s a sweet spot when it comes to cooking this cut: Too rare, and it remains unpleasantly toothsome; too overdone, and it will dry out just like any other steak.
Long, hardworking muscle fibers make flank steak relatively tough to chew on when improperly prepared. After cooking to medium rare, be sure to slice the meat thinly against the grain. (On the plus side, it’s easy to get a large number of servings from this square cut, making it perfect fodder for a summer buffet.)
Also Known As: London broil.
When to Order: Because of the flank steak’s low quality in terms of texture, you’d be wise to skip ordering this one in a restaurant.
How to Cook It: As long as it doesn’t go past medium rare, flank steak is happy whichever way you cook it. It’s one of the few “steak” cuts that do well when braised.
⑦ Skirt Steak
The go-to choice when it comes to carne asada and fajitas, this flavorful, well-marbled cut is just as savory and succulent as a ribeye, while remaining one of the cheapest cuts behind the counter (at least, for now). You can bolster the naturally beefy flavor with a quick marinade, but the most important thing is to cook skirt steak as fast as possible and cut it thinly against the grain.
Also Known As: fajita meat, Philadelphia steak.
When to Order: Like flank steak, skirt steak is best cooked at home (and not ordered when out) if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck or just happen to be throwing a fajita party.
How to Cook It: These steaks are naturally thin, so blistering heat is required to make sure the outside is charred before the interior becomes overcooked.
Many home cooks may not realize the simple, but potentially dangerous mistakes they’re making with raw chicken. If not handled correctly, you may set yourself and your family up for some seriously sad tummy troubles.
These are 10 potential mistakes even experienced home cooks make with raw chicken.
Storing chicken improperly
The tiny drawing of a turkey on your refrigerator shelf may seem like a helpful hint for picking where you should store your cellophane-wrapped packages of poultry. That’s not always the best indicator.
Chicken juices tend to leak and drip from packages, which means if it’s stored on a shelf above ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables, you could contaminate a great deal of the food in your fridge.
Solution: Place chicken packages on a plate or in a casserole dish, and store them on the bottom shelf or in the bottom drawer of your fridge. The plate will capture any juices that leak, protecting everything else you have stored.
We don’t mean to go all food safety police here, but this is one of the most dangerous and most common mistakes you can make with your raw chicken. At room temperature, the bacteria in these birds can quickly multiply. Salmonella is especially prolific at these warmer temps. If you leave the chicken out too long such as you might when you’re thawing it for tonight’s dinner you could set up camp for bacteria that will result in foodborne illness (i.e. food poisoning).
Solution: Don’t put the frozen chicken on the counter or in the sink to thaw. While the center of the chicken is ice cold, the outer portions will be too warm to stop bacterial growth. Instead, thaw the chicken in your fridge up to two days ahead of when you plan to cook with it. That will give the chicken’s thickest parts plenty of time to de-ice while keeping the outside portions chilled and more importantly, safe.
Not letting chicken warm up a bit
After the last raw chicken mistake, this may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out: You don’t want to leave the chicken out too long (remember, food poisoning), but you also don’t want to cook it straight from the fridge.
Leaving the chicken out at room temperature for 15 minutes will make the chicken cook more evenly, helping you avoid a brown outside with a raw, undercooked inside.
Solution: When you’re gathering all of the ingredients for dinner, go ahead and take the chicken (in the plate or dish where it’s stored) out of the fridge. Let it sit for no more than 15 minutes.
Rinsing chicken before you cook it
If you give your birds a bath before you bake them, it’s time to stop. Raw chicken doesn’t need to be and should not be rinsed before cooking. You may think you’re rinsing away bacteria—salmonella is a big concern with chicken—but you may actually just be spreading it. In fact, research suggests you may splash bacteria as far as three feet from your sink when you rinse poultry.
Solution: Skip the bath. Cook chicken directly from the package, and you’ll cut down on possible contamination around your kitchen.
Not drying your chicken
Didn’t we just tell you not to wash chicken? We did. But you should definitely dry your chicken before you cook it.
That’s because fluids from processing and packaging chicken are often washed in a saline solution to keep it looking moist when on the shelf can make your chicken soggy when you put it right into the pan. A dry bird gets more beautiful browning and a wonderfully crisp sear.
Solution: Before you put the chicken in the pan or on the grill, give it a quick dab with paper towels. Better yet, let the chicken air-dry in the refrigerator for a few hours. To do this, you’ll place the chicken on a tray or platter and leave it, uncovered, in your fridge. The air will wick away moisture from the skin of the chicken, leaving it nice and dry for crisp searing. (Dry brining is a popular technique for getting really crispy turkey skin at Thanksgiving.)
Marinating your chicken the wrong way
Marinating is a great technique for adding flavor with minimal effort. You need only combine your chicken pieces with your homemade marinade and let it rest for several hours before it’s time to cook it.
However, you’re making a big mistake if you leave your chicken on the counter to marinate while you prepare all the other components for your meal. You could set yourself up for a foodborne illness.
Solution: Once you have your marinade, pour it into a zip-top bag or container that closes. (A lidded container is fine as long as the lid won’t fly off.) Then, add your chicken. Toss gently to coat the chicken in the marinade, and immediately put it back into the fridge. Toss or flip the chicken a few more times to get all pieces of chicken evenly coated.
When you’re finished with the marinade, throw the bag right into the trash or empty it from the container down the sink. Marinade that has come into contact with raw chicken is not reusable, even if you boil it. It’s just too risky. Instead, save some of your marinade before you combine it with the chicken, and use it for a last-second brushing before serving.
The raw chicken comes into contact with other foods
If space is at a premium in your petite kitchen, you may be tempted to reuse surfaces (i.e. cutting boards) to keep from dirtying up extra dishes. Don’t do it.
Chop raw chicken on a separate prep board from other ingredients you might be slicing or mincing for your meal. If you chop kale on the same board you sliced chicken, you could cross-contaminate the leafy greens with juices from the bird. That’s possible even if you wipe the board down with a sanitizing towel. Bacteria are just too difficult to eliminate without a high-temperature wash, like that of a dishwasher.
Reusing kitchen tools without washing
If you use the same tongs to flip raw chicken as you do to toss the side salad you’ve prepared, you may be cross contaminating your raw ingredients with the bacteria from your raw chicken. This increases your risk for foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.
Solution: You need to set aside all utensils that come into contact with raw meat, and don’t use them for other foods. Then, you should wash them thoroughly after each use so as to prevent the spread of poultry juices.
Not washing your hands after handling raw chicken
Your hands are the most useful tool you have in your kitchen. They’re also the most likely to spread bacteria.
Indeed, you may easily cross-contaminate your entire kitchen if you use your dirty hands to handle chicken, turn on a sink, grab a fork from the drawer, and open the refrigerator. Each surface you come into contact with may now harbor potentially deadly bacteria.
Solution: Take extra care to notice what and where you touch after handling raw chicken. Better yet, “save” one hand for non-chicken related tasks. As soon as you’ve flipped the chicken or put it in the bag for marinating, use your non-chicken hand to turn on the faucet at the sink and pump some soap. Wash your hands thoroughly, and dry with a clean towel. Don’t use a towel you’ve used to wipe down surfaces around your kitchen, or you could pick up any bacteria the towel is hiding.
Ripping skin off the meat with your hands
If you’ve tried tugging chicken skin off breasts, thighs, or drumsticks before cooking them, you know how slippery those pieces can be. One stuck-on piece of sinew and your main course may be sent flying into the floor.
It’s also smart to leave the skin on cuts like thighs and drumsticks because the fat can infuse the meat with flavor during the cooking process. You can just remove the skin before serving.
Solution: Give your grippers a rest and use a paring knife instead. The short knives are easy to grip and quickly cut away at the tough tissue. They can also be easier to handle, which reduces the risk of losing any precious meat during the trimming process.
From spicy to sweet, these are the peppers that flavor dishes around the world.
All types of peppers are part of the genus Capsicum, which includes hot varieties, known as chile peppers, and sweet varieties, such as the bell pepper. Up until the arrival of Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the New World, peppers grew only in Latin America. Along with corn, tomatoes, and beans, the Europeans brought back some of the peppers and on their travels introduced the plant to the rest of the world, where it took off like wildfire.
Truly international in their appeal, peppers have become integral to cuisines across the world, from Mexico to Thailand, the Congo to India, and from Hungary to Tunisia. If you are unable to find fresh or dried chiles in your local grocery store, try an online source like Amazon, Happy Quail Farms, Despaña, La Tienda, or Zocalito.
The heat of a pepper is measured using Scoville units: The scale ranges from 0 (as in bell peppers) all the way to 3,000,000 (as in the spiciest chile in the world, the Pepper X). Most dried chiles you will encounter fall somewhere in the middle but can still be pretty hot! The Scoville scale is a good base for knowing how hot your chiles are but know that the heat can vary according to climate and vegetation. The relatively mild poblano weighs in at about 1,500 Scoville heat units (SHU), while the super-hot habañero packs a whopping 250,000 SHUs (or more).
If you want the flavor without the mouth-scorching fire, remove the seeds and interior ribs from a chile before cooking it. It’s a good idea to have dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, on hand, they contain casein, which helps neutralize capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their heat. And remember: Always protect your skin by wearing gloves and never touch your eyes when handling hot peppers.
Discover 20 popular types of peppers and how to cook with them.
1. Bell Pepper
Alternate Names: Green pepper, red pepper, sweet bell pepper, capsicum
Characteristics: Relatively large in size, the bell-shaped pepper in its immature state is green with a slightly bitter flavor. As it matures, it turns bright red and becomes sweeter. You can find yellow, orange, white, pink, and even purple varieties. With their high water content, bell peppers will add moisture to any dish. They’re great for adding color.
Scoville heat units: 0
2. Poblano Pepper
Alternate Name: Ancho
Characteristics: Somewhat large and heart-shaped, the poblano is common in Mexican dishes such as chiles rellenos. Are poblano peppers spicy? Yes, but only mildly spicy. At maturity, the poblano turns dark red-brown and can be dried, at which point it’s referred to as an ancho or mulato. Anchos have a rich, raisin-like sweetness. The high yield of flesh to skin makes anchos great for sauces.
Scoville heat units: 1,000 to 2,000
3. Anaheim Pepper
Alternate Names: California green chile, Chile Verde, New Mexican chile
Characteristics: This long pepper is relatively mild and very versatile. When mature, the Anaheim turns deep red and are referred to a chile Colorado or California red chile. Anaheims are popular in salsas and dishes from the American Southwest.
Scoville heat units: 500 to 2,500
4. Serrano Pepper
Characteristics: Just a couple of inches long, with a tapered end, this small pepper packs quite a bit of heat. Beware: The smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. When ripe, serranos are red or yellowish orange—they can be cooked in both their ripe and unripe states. Serranos are common in Mexican and Thai cooking.
Scoville heat units: 6,000 to 23,000
5. Habañero Pepper
Characteristics: Small and bulbous, this chile, in the same family as the Scotch bonnet, is one of the hottest on the Scoville scale. If you can get past the heat, habañeros have a fruity flavor. They’re popular on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and in the Caribbean, where they’re used to make hot sauces.
Scoville heat units: 150,000 to 350,000
6. Cayenne Pepper
Alternate Names: Finger chile, Ginnie pepper, and bird pepper
Characteristics: Slender and tapered, this chile is probably most familiar in its dried, ground form—the powder known as cayenne pepper. Ground cayenne pepper is the main ingredient in the chili powder that flavors Tex-Mex dishes such as chili con carne. It’s one of the spiciest types of peppers!
Scoville heat units: 30,000 to 50,000
7. Rocoto Pepper
Alternate names: Ají rocoto, hairy pepper, and locoto
Characteristics: This South American pepper looks like a miniature bell pepper, and, like a bell pepper, can come in shades of orange, yellow and red. The hottest rocotos are typically yellow, but red rocotos are the most common. Inside, the pepper has unique black seeds. It’s sometimes referred to as the hairy pepper thanks to its furry leaves. Rocoto has a crisp and fruity flavor, and are commonly used in salsa.
Scoville heat units: 100,000 to 250,000
8. Piri Piri
Alternate Names: Peri Peri, African bird’s-eye pepper and African red devil pepper
Characteristics: When Portuguese sailors made a port of call in what’s now South Africa and Mozambique, they brought ashore little chile peppers called bird’s eyes, or peri-peri in Swahili. The name came to refer to the piquant sauce made from these chiles, as well as to the Portuguese-African method of cooking prawns, chicken, or anything else in this sauce. Nando’s bottled version is a mainstay for those who don’t want to make it from scratch. Though it’s a relatively small pepper, growing only one to two inches, it packs quite a punch.
Scoville Heat Units: 50,000 to 175,000
9. Mirasol Chili
Alternate Names: Guajillo
Characteristics: Bright red and pointed upward, these peppers grow toward the sun, which is why they were given the name mirasol (which means “looking at the sun” in Spanish). In their dried form, they are called guajillo. Guajillos are fruity, tangy, and mildly acidic, and are a common ingredient in traditional al pastor. They are one of the main chilis used in mole sauce.
Scoville Heat Units: 2,500 to 5,000
10. Tabasco Pepper
Characteristics: Best known for the sauce that has its name, this pepper grows throughout the world. At maturity, the pepper measures one to two inches and is bright red. To create the famous Tabasco sauce, the pepper is smashed and combined with salt and vinegar, which tempers the pepper’s heat (the Scoville rating of Tabasco sauce is 2,500 to 5,000, a mere fraction of its rating as a pepper.
Scoville heat units: 30,000 to 60,000
11. Jalapeño Pepper
Alternate Names: Chipotle
Scoville heat units: 3,500 to 8,000
Characteristics: This Mexican pepper is typically plucked from the vine while still green. If allowed to ripen more, they will turn red and take on a slightly fruity flavored. Jalapeños are a tasty ingredient commonly used to in salsa and sauces. When dried, a jalapeño is called a chipotle. Smoke-dried chipotles come in two varieties: Meco (mellow) and moritas (spicier). Smoky, woodsy, and spicy, chipotles are the perfect ingredient for salsas, sauces, escabeche, and adobo.
12. Cherry Pepper
Alternate names: Pimiento and pimento
Characteristics: This lovely pepper is sweet on the outside and the inside. Bright red and shaped like a heart, this large pepper barely registers on the Scoville scale but makes up for its lack of spice with a sweet, succulent flavor. You’ll commonly find cherry peppers chopped and stuffed into green olives, in pimento loaves and pimento cheese.
Scoville heat units: 500
Alternate Names: Pasilla and chile negro
Characteristics: Black and wrinkly, chilacas boast a prune-like flavor with a hint a hint of licorice. “Chilaca” is an Aztec term meaning old or gray-haired, which is fitting given the pepper’s wrinkly appearance. When dried, the chilaca is called a pasilla or chile negro, and is toasted or soaked and blended into sauces, often combined with fruit.
Scoville heat units: 1,500 to 2,500
14. Banana Pepper
Alternate Names: Yellow wax pepper and banana chili
Characteristics: This mild yet tangy pepper adds a kick to pizza or sandwiches. This pepper usually takes on a bright yellow hue as it ripens, but occasionally grows to be red, orange or green instead.
Scoville heat units: 0–500
Alternate Names: Little beak pepper
Characteristics: This mild, sweet pepper hails from northern Spain and features a smokey, tart flavor that’s ideal for sandwiches and sauces, and thrives as a compliment to meat and cheese. You’ll often find them jarred in your grocer’s gourmet section. As they mature, they grow from green to red. They measure three to four inches long and are slightly curved at the end, resembling a little beak.
Scoville heat units: 500 to 1,000
Characteristics: Harvested while still green, these thin-walled peppers can be pan-seared and eaten on their own. They can be added to pizza or to flavor dishes. The riper the shishito, the spicier the pepper.
Scoville heat units: 50 to 200
17. Basque Fryer
Alternate Names: Doux long des Landes, doux de Landes, and piment basque
Characteristics: Located on the border of France and Spain, the Basque region boasts six official types of peppers. The most popular type is the Basque Fryer pepper, known as the doux de Landes, meaning “sweet from Landes.” (Landes is located in southwest France). As the name suggests, the pepper is sweet. The Basque fryer is can be eaten raw, roasted or sautéed.
Scoville heat units: 0
18. Scotch Bonnet
Alternate Names: Bonney peppers, ball of fire peppers, cachucha and Caribbean red peppers
Characteristics: This spicy pepper is called a scotch bonnet thanks to its resemblance to the caps men wear in Scotland (Tam o’ shanter hats, to be precise). It’s the hottest pepper in the Caribbean and used to flavor all sorts of island dishes, including jerk chicken. Though the pepper is most often spicy, you will occasionally find a sweet variety, called cachucha.
Scoville heat units: 80,000–400,000
19. Padrón Peppers
Characteristics: Padrón peppers are typically sweet and mild, but occasionally, this pepper packs quite a bit of spice. The eponymous pepper grows in Padrón in northwestern Spain and is often served, fried, as a tapa. They can be served grilled.
Scoville heat units: 500 – 2,500
20. Ghost Pepper
Alternate names: Bhut Naga Jolokia, bhut jolokia, Naga Jolokia, ghost chili, U-morok, ghost Jolokia and red naga
Characteristics: Sometimes called Bhut Naga Jolokia (bhut means ghost, naga means snake, and Jolokia is chile), the name alone sounds daunting. This chile has a venomous bite! The ghost pepper hails from Northeastern India and is cultivated in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. So how hot is this hair-raiser? With more than 1 million Scoville units, it’s approximately half as hot as the pepper spray used by law enforcement but 100 times hotter than a jalapeño. One of the hottest (edible) peppers in the world, ghost peppers are used sparingly in chutney and curry.
Scoville heat units: 1,000,000+
No matter what pepper you choose, you’ll reap powerful health benefits thanks to peppers’ unique nutritional profiles. Not only are peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, they’re rich in folate and potassium, low in sodium, low in carbohydrates, and high in minerals. Because they contain capsaicin, they have been studied for their ability to stimulate circulation and as a way to medicate arthritis.