Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Saffron

I’m sitting here wondering if I should tell you about the wonderful travel stories I have that involve saffron; traversing through Morocco, Spain and Italy?  But that would force me to going through piles of pictures, that I in turn would need to scan and tidy up a bit, then thread them into a visual story.  Perhaps another day…


Today I’ll share the best way to bring the flavor, scent and color out of a saffron thread. It is your Tuesday Tip.

Place your measured saffron threads into a small bowl.  Take very warm water (not boiling) and pour over to just cover.  Let stand for up to 15 minutes.  Now you may use the “saffron water” and threads for your recipe.  It can be in addition to or as a substitute for water, stock, extract, wine etc….

If you would like to learn more check out Wikipedia’s information about the flower, saffron crocus, from which this enticing “thread” comes from. 

Bonus Tip: For the Love of Thanksgiving

Lessons in Technique

The first time I saw this video I laughed so hard I cried.  See, I know Mary Risley and have had the distinct pleasure of taking one of her classes at her cooking school in San Francisco; “How to Teach a Cooking Class”.  What I learned from her has been invaluable to my success as a culinary instructor.  And the recipes I took from that class years ago I still use.  They are that good! 

I called Tante Marie’s yesterday to get permission from Mary to use this video on my Tuesday Tip.  And she said yes!  So, here’s Mary sharing how to keep it real in the kitchen during the Thanksgiving holiday.  This is your bonus Wednesday Tip. 

Thank you Mary! 

Tuesday Tip: How to Roast a Butternut Squash & Brussel Sprouts

Happy Thanksgiving week!  I’m giving thanks for a wonderful life, a great husband, a close and kind family (which I get to visit with this holiday), my sweet dog Jacques & my friendships. 

I thought I’d bring you a recipe for your Tuesday Tip.  I love roasted vegetables during the Fall and Winter.  They just scream cool crisp days and chilled winter evenings. 

But really the best thing about a roasted vegetable is that you can make it ahead of time for your holiday dinners.  In fact, I’ve been known to make several different types of roasted vegetables the night before, store in the fridge, then bring them to room temperature and serve.  How’s them apples? 

The second best thing about serving a roasted vegetable is that you can serve it at room temperature.  It’s a fail safe on both “best things”; not too mention time saving.  Oh, yeah! 


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1” pieces
3C brussel sprouts, stem trimmed, large brussels cut in half
1C extra virgin olive oil
1Tbsp salt
3tsp fresh ground pepper


Pre-heat oven 350°

Place butternut squash on one sheet pan.  Place brussel sprouts on another sheet pan. Gently drizzle half of the olive oil over butternut squash and half of the seasoning (salt & pepper). Repeat  process for brussel sprouts.  Mix thoroughly so that all vegetable pieces are surrounded by olive oil and seasoning. Take both sheet pans and place them in the oven on the top and center shelves.  Roast for up to 40 minutes (checking doneness at 10 minute intervals) or until you are able to stick a skewer through the vegetables; they should be soft all the way through.  Serve immediately.  Or store in a tightly lidded container in the fridge. 

Yields up to 12 side servings.

Note:  You can store vegetables up to 4 days in the fridge. This recipe’s technique can be used for most vegetables.

Tuesday Tip: A Perfectly Roasted Tomato

Tomato season is so over here in Central Texas. But boy oh boy do I have a craving. And the truth is you can buy tomatoes at your grocer that are actually quite good - even out of season. Buying tomatoes out of season may be blasphemous to some of my colleagues. And I understand but sometimes you must satisfy that craving. So here’s how I do it.


This is actually a technique I’ve been teaching to students for years. The basic standard is, “If you buy out of season, in this case tomatoes,  you’ll get the best flavor by roasting them”.  And you get the best flavor by roasting because it brings out the sugars which in turn caramelize leaving you with a sweet harmony of flavor that’s irresistible.  Ready for a perfectly roasted tomato? 


5 medium Roma tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2C of dried or fresh basil (if using fresh tear gently into small pieces)
2Tbls of extra virgin olive oil
3tsp of salt (I use kosher)
1 1/2tsp of fresh ground pepper
Pre-heat oven 300F


Clean tomatoes, pat dry, remove stem and slice lengthwise into 4 even pieces.

Take sliced tomatoes and place them on a parchment papered sheet pan. Be sure to use a pan that has a lip around each edge so that the tomato juices to not drip when cooking.

Drizzle olive oil over each tomato slice. Sprinkle basil, salt & pepper over all the tomato slices.  Make sure each tomato slice has a little bit of every ingredient.  Place tomatoes into pre-heated oven on the middle rack. 


Roast for up to 1.5 hours or until the tomatoes begin to carmelize (see the “browning” in the picture). 

Check your tomatoes every 15 minutes.  You can take them further than I did.  It’s really a preference.  Take the tomatoes out of the oven.  Let them cool.

Serve with any salad or by themselves.  At my house I can’t keep them around at all.  However, refrigerated they will keep well up to 1 week.

Enjoy this weeks Tuesday Tip: a perfectly roasted tomato!

Tuesday Tip: Fat — To Have or Have Not?

And that’s a good question, right?  In one of my restaurant jobs I used to cook a pork tenderloin (or more) a day.  Since we butchered in-house we were able to keep as much fat on the tenderloin as we could.  It was really cool. Not only to butcher but also have the opportunity to choose the amount of natural fat we wanted to cook with.  The resounding philosophy being “fat=flavor”.  And it’s true!  In all the years I’ve been cooking and teaching I’ve always adhered to that philosophy. And with eating moderately it’s worked for me.  That said my metabolism has changed as I’ve matured. So what do I do?  I still cook with fat but then I remove it.  Therefore, keeping the flavor and removing the added fat and high caloric content. 

Last week I made pork butt in a crock pot.  I didn’t trim the meat.  Consequently there was a fair amount of fat when said and done.  Here’s what I did:

After the meat had cooked I let it cool to room temperature.  I then placed it (covered & in the same crock it cooked in) into the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning I took the crock out of the refrigerator.  Took the lid off the crock.  With a large spoon or spatula skimmed the layer of fat that had congealed while in the refrigerator.  As you can see in this picture the fat layer is white.  Place the fat in another container (for later use) or dispose it. 

And that’s your Tuesday Tip.  One easy way to keep flavor while removing fat (from any protein) after it has been cooked.  It’s just my way of getting around the question of “to have or have not”!