Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to Mince, Dice and Chop Onions

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

The photograph below shows minced, diced and chopped onions. Minced (on the left) is the smallest cut. diced (in the middle) is a bit bigger, and chopped (on the right) which is cut, at most, into about ¼ inch chunks.

When it comes to chopping an onion or any vegetables, choose a knife that you are comfortable holding. As long as it’s sharp, it really comes down to what knife you feel you can control well.

So, let me show you how to chop an onion.

This is the root end of an onion.

Leave the root end intact. It will actually help to make cutting the onion easier.

Cut off the top of the onion (the other end.)

Peel off the outside skin (the dry, papery layer.)

Sometimes you end up removing the first layer of onion as well which is ok.

Cut the onion in half from the top end to base. Place the cut side down on the cutting board.

Always hold the onion with bent fingers while slicing and chopping. This allows you to use your knuckles as a guide against the side of the knife and not the tips of your fingers under the knife. It will feel pretty awkward at first but it’s the only safe way to hold the onion!

For chopped onions, with the knife tip pointed towards the root, slice the onion to within 1/2 inch of the base. Make about 1/4 inch parallel cuts.

Now cut perpendicular to the slices you just made.

Oh look! Chopped onions!

“Diced” onions are nothing more than onions cut into smaller pieces. For diced onions do the exact same thing, only with smaller cuts. Minced is even smaller!

If the onions need to be chopped finer you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife, otherwise the onions are going to go flying around the room.

If cutting onions makes you cry, try putting your onion in the freezer for about 20 minutes before cutting it.

Cheers!

Kathy

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How To Make Mashed Potatoes

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetables and Beans, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

I was surprised to hear one of the trainers at my gym say that he prefers instant mashed potatoes from a box rather than the real thing! I thought to myself – he needs a few tips on how to make perfect (real) mashed potatoes!

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At the grocery store, you will notice that there is an incredible variety of potatoes to choose from. There are usually signs above the potatoes that will tell you which ones are great for baking versus which ones are better for mashing. If there are no signs, just ask someone who works in the Produce section for some guidance.

To make 4-6 servings of mashed potatoes you will need approximately:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • ½ to ¾ cup of milk
  • Salt and pepper (to your taste)
  • 2-6 tablespoons of butter

You can make mashed potatoes in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: Wash the potatoes

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Step 2: Peel the potatoes

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Step 3: Cut the potatoes into 1 ½ inch chunks

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Step 4: Put the potatoes in sauce pan and cover with water

(adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the water is optional)

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Step 5: Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes

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Step 6: Drain the potatoes

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Step 7: Add milk, butter, salt and pepper

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Step 8: Start mashing!

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Keep mashing until the potatoes are creamy and lump free.  You can garnish your mashed potatoes with some chopped parsley if you like.

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Aaahhhh! Perfection


The Equipment you’ll need:

  • Sauce pan with a cover
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Knife
  • Potato masher
  • Timer
  • Colander (optional)

Tempted as you might be to try using a blender or a food processor to mash potatoes…DON’T! Believe me, years ago I tried that. You end up with a gluey, uneatable, awful mess. If you are mashing for a crowd, an electric hand mixer will work beautifully!

Here are just a few more ways to cook potatoes from startcooking.com:

Potatoes – Baked Potato with Salsa

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Potatoes – Microwave Baked

Potatoes – Microwave Baked (video)

Potatoes – Oven Baked

Potatoes – Roasted

Potatoes – Sweet Potato Casserole

Potatoes, How to Choose and Use

Enjoy!

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How To Make Caesar Salad

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Caesar Salad is a standard item on a lot of restaurant menus, but can easily be made at home. It can be an appetizer or, by adding some protein such as chicken or shrimp, can be turned into a complete meal.

(Both the origin of Caesar Salad and its original dressing ingredients are debatable, but Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and croutons are always the base of a Caesar Salad. A homemade Caesar Salad dressing historically included lemon juice, olive oil, an egg, Worcestershire sauce OR anchovies and freshly grated black pepper.)

Today, pre-made Caesar Salad dressing is readily available on the grocery store shelves.

For 2 servings of this Caesar Salad you will need:

  • 1/4 cup of pre-made Caesar salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 head of Romaine lettuce
  • 2/3 cup of croutons

Romaine Lettuce is the norm for a Caesar Salad. In general, choosing lettuce for a salad can be pretty confusing. Startcooking.com’s post on Salad Green From A to Z describes many of the more common types of greens available at most grocery stores.

Be sure to wash the Romaine lettuce and then chop or tear it into bite-size pieces.

Freshly grate Parmesan Cheese and add it to the lettuce.

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Gently toss the salad greens with the Caesar dressing and sprinkle on the shredded cheese. Then top with some croutons.

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If you like anchovies, then adding a few on top is always a tasty addition!

Salad’s ready!

Enjoy!

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