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Thumb_142_How to slice a zucchini

Thumb_142_How to slice a zucchini

Here are three common ways to slice a zucchini. The type of cut you use will vary depending on the size zucchini you have. A half-round from a medium zucchini and a full-round from a small one might be about the same size. Once you have this technique down, you can vary the cuts as you need to. Here, we happen to be prepping a medium zucchini (though we think the small ones usually taste best).For longer-cooking dishes like ragouts, braises, and stews, you can cut the zucchini into rounds of any thickness. The longer the cooking, the thicker the slices. For full rounds, cut off the top and very bottom of the zucchini, then slice crosswise.For quicker-cooking dishes, and when you want bite-size pieces, cut the zucchini into half or quarter-rounds. After cutting off the top and bottom, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Some zucchini are curved, making it difficult to make two even-sized halves. When deciding where to make the cut,  rotate the whole zucchini until it looks straight, then slice.To finish the half rounds, slice the zucchini crosswise. For dishes where the zucchini plays a starring role, cut the rounds on the bias (at an angle).To make quarter-rounds, cut the lengthwise halves in half again lengthwise.Then slice the quarters crosswise to make quarter-rounds of any thickness. Like with whole and half-rounds, you can cut these on the bias for the sake of appearance.

Thumb_garlic minceHow to mince garlic

Thumb_garlic minceHow to mince garlic

When you want a dish to have quintessential garlic flavor that permeates each bite, mince it. You can mince with a knife, or a garlic press. Either way, you need to free the individual cloves. To do that, press down on the head with the heel of your palm. Apply firm, even pressure so the cloves don't fly all over the place. To peel an individual clove, cut of the hard stem end where the clove attached to the bulb. Either stop the cut just short of the skin on the other side and peel the skin around to remove it, or make the cut all the way through and squeeze out the clove. The older the clove, the easier the skin releases. You can also peel it by setting the side of your knife blade on the clove and pressing down until you feel the skin release, though not hard enough to pulverize it, or the skin will get mixed in with the garlic. To mince with a knife, smash the peeled clove with the side of the knife. Then just run your knife back and forth across the smashed clove, chopping as you go until it's as fine as you like. If you don't want individual little pieces of garlic and have a press, just put the whole peeled clove (or cloves, if you can fit them) in the press and squeeze. Use your knife to trim away any clinging garlic.

Thumb_532196796_81d2cd6b6cHow to slice basil

Thumb_532196796_81d2cd6b6cHow to slice basil

You can leave basil leaves whole and add them to salads and hot dishes toward the end of cooking, tear them into pieces for more capricious basil flavor, or thinly slice them. To avoid bruising the basil, slide a sharp knife down and across the basil with a deliberate, smooth stroke. A clean cut will darken the leaves less than a pounding cut. To slice basil, first stack the leaves together. You can either roll them up like a cigar and slice through them to make a chiffonade, or just slice away at them as they are.

Thumb_279203142_f25ac15fd5Do I need a digital instant-read meat thermometer?

Thumb_279203142_f25ac15fd5Do I need a digital instant-read meat thermometer?

For $10-25, you'll have the most foolproof way to ensure that the meat you cook is done to how you (and the people you're feeding) like it. It's simply the most reliable way to get meat right. Here are the temperatures to aim for. If you're going to let the meat rest before serving it (which is a good idea), take it out 3F (single pieces of meat) to 5F (roasts and whole birds) cooler than the temps listed below: Pork slightly pink: 150F Poultry (chicken, turkey, cornish hen) 160F Beef rare: 125F-130F medium-rare: 130F-135F medium: 135F-150F Lamb rare: 125F medium-rare: 130F medium: 135F Duck Whole duck: 170F in the thigh Breasts: rare: 130F medium-rare: 135F medium: 140F Sausages and ground meat: 170F Note that trichinosis (which used to be danger with under-cooked pork) is killed at 137F. Salmonella is killed at 160F. If you're worried about salmonella, cook everything to 160F.