Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to: Strawberries

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

Strawberries, once just a summertime treat, are now available year round. Especially tasty are the locally grown ones that are now showing up at farmers’ markets.

Always choose strawberries that are plump, firm and glossy.

Wash them just before using them.

I always wash my supermarket strawberries, in a colander, under a gentle spray of running water. Or you can swish the strawberries around in a bowl with cool tap water.

(Actually my old friend Roger never washed strawberries. He felt it washed away the flavor. But then again he lived in the south of France and only bought them from the local farmer who grew them organically.)

Once washed, spread the strawberries out on a clean dish towel to dry.

To “hull” a strawberry means to remove the green leafy top and the tiny stalk. If you plan on hulling tons of strawberries, you may want to buy a strawberry huller. But a small paring knife works very well for hulling a quart or two.

Start by grasping the green top…

…and just trim out that tiny stem.

Or you could just slice off the whole top with a small paring knife.

Just pulling off the green leafy top (as shown below) is NOT enough. You need to remove that tiny bit of white, hard stem as well.

To store strawberries, place them in a single layer in a moisture-proof plastic container that has a tight fitting lid.

Lay a paper towel on top of the strawberries and then put the lid on the container. When you put them in the refrigerator, store them with the lid side down in the refrigerator.

Stored this way they should stay fresh for at least 2-3 days.

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Recipes to die for:

Strawberries dipped in Chocolate from startcooking.com

Strawberries Romanoff –Strawberries soaked in orange juice/curacao/cointreau and served with Whipped Cream

Strawberry Short Cake – a classic that everybody loves!

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Pasta Sauce – Italian Turkey Sausage

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

Italian turkey sausage is great in this tasty sauce! It has a lower fat content then regular sausage; consequently it’s a bit healthier.

If you like a bit of sausage in your lasagna, this sauce recipe is perfect!

To make this sauce you will need:

It’s a really good habit to get all your ingredients prepared before you turn on the stove. It makes the cooking process go much more smoothly.

That means you need to:

  1. Chop the onion
  2. Mince the garlic
  3. Chop the parsley
  4. Remove the casings (that’s the really thin skin) from the sausage
  5. Open the cans of tomatoes and tomato paste
  6. Measure the spices

Now we are ready to start cooking!

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet or frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent.

“Until translucent” is a typical term used to describe cooking onions. Raw onions are fairly opaque. As you start to cook them, they slowly reach a point where they become almost see-through. They have not turned brown, and are not supposed to for this recipe.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, or until you can smell the garlic cooking.

Add the sausage to the onions and garlic. I like to use a combination of both hot and sweet sausage. We need to cook it over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. This is just like browning ground beef.

Because this Italian turkey sausage has a lower fat content then regular Italian sausage, there will be very little fat to drain off. (If I were using regular sausage, I would definitely drain off the fat before adding the remaining ingredients.)

Now add the remaining ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Simmer the sauce, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has thickened.

This turns into a really thick sauce which is great over any pasta. Enjoy!

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Cooking Green Beans

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

Green beans are one of those vegetables that are available year round at the grocery store. Make sure you buy ones that have a nice bright color and are free of blemishes.

With just a sprinkle of salt and two minutes in the microwave, you’ve got a fresh vegetable for dinner. Given they cook so quickly, make only enough for what you are going to eat for dinner tonight.

About 24 (four inch long) green beans will be enough for two servings.

The first thing you have to do is “top and tail” the beans. That’s the official term used to nip the tips off each end of the beans.

You can line them up and with a knife cut the ends off. As long as the beans are young and fresh, they should not be stringy. If they are stringy you will need to nip the ends off, one at a time, with your fingers. This same technique is used when making snow peas as well.

Sort of drag the tip off, pulling any of the stringy bit off as you go.

Rinse the beans in a colander.

Put them in a microwave safe dish. Add about 2 Tablespoons of water.

Cover the beans with plastic wrap leaving a small corner open.

If you seal them completely, the plastic wrap will almost shrink-wrap itself to the beans. This makes it a lot harder to remove the plastic wrap and much more likely you will get burned by the trapped steam.

Some people serve green beans with lashings of butter, or with almonds. I prefer them just with salt and sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cheers!

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