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Chives handy in salads, sauces and vegetables

The tulips have pushed their way through the soil and are in full bloom, the flowering crab trees are blossoming and the Bradford pear is a sea of white — spring is unfolding around us.

I made my first cutting of chives a few days ago, and since then, they have already grown an inch or so. Chives are my first herb of the season and are very easy to grow. They come back year after year, the clump gets thicker and they require little attention.

I like to add them to salads, sauces and vegetables; and when I don't cut them often enough, they produce beautiful purple flowers that make a gorgeous garnish. I love chives; I think I will plant some more this spring.

I have enjoyed hearing from many of you; now let's take a look at some questions.

When I saute a piece of meat or chicken, it sticks to the bottom of the pan and it is impossible to turn it. Obviously, it looks awful and does not taste great. Why does this happen?

You probably are trying to turn the meat or chicken before it has had time to cook enough to crust over the bottom. However, it is important to add food to a properly heated pan to prevent sticking and scorching.

You need to start with a heavy saute pan; allow the oil to become hot before adding the food. The oil will shimmer and spread out in the pan; add the food carefully to avoid splattering. Allow the meat, chicken or fish to cook on the bottom and crust over before turning it. Once the crust forms, it will release on its own and be easy to flip.

How do you remove the skin from a pepper? I have seen pictures of peppers being held over a gas flame until the skin is charred, but I cannot do that as I have an electric cook top. Is there another way to remove the skin?

If you do not have a gas flame, there are a couple of other ways. You can use an outdoor grill to roast peppers, turning the peppers as needed so they char evenly. But I often use the oven broiler. Here's how: Place the top oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the broiler element and turn on the broiler. Line a sheet pan with foil; core the peppers and split them open so they will lay flat in the pan, skin side up. Slide the pan with peppers under the preheated broiler.

Broil peppers 4 to 8 minutes, depending upon your oven. Watch carefully and rotate the pan as needed. The skin will char and turn black. When that happens, remove peppers from the oven and transfer them to a zip-lock bag and seal it so they will steam.

When cool, start with the charred area and peel off the skin for beautiful roasted peppers.

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