Epicurean group
To make cooking Chef Rey's delicious recipes even easier, we've provided these professional tips for home cooks. Enjoy creating in the kitchen!

Epicurean Tip: It’s the Pits!
There are three ways to pit a cherry. Most often, I use a sharp paring knife to cut the cherry in half and then remove the seed. This keeps the cherry more aesthetic in appearance, which is important in some presentations. When presentation is not a concern – say for compotes, stewed fruit or pie – I use the garlic-crushing method. I lay the cherry on my cutting board, place the widest part of my French knife on it and smash down with my free hand. Lastly, there is always the cherry pitter. This can be purchased at all cooking supply stores. It is efficient and leaves the cherry intact for presentation.
Port Poached Otto Farm Cherries with Brioche and Clover Dairy Crème - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: The Pot Thickens
I prefer to use potato starch or arrowroot to thicken sauces, like the glaze for the poached cherries. I bring the liquid to a boil while I mix the thickener with cold liquid (water, wine, stock, marinade, etc.) Once the boiling stops, I stir in the thickener, raise the heat and whisk until it comes back to a boil. This technique prevents lumping.
Port Poached Otto Farm Cherries with Brioche and Clover Dairy Crème - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Experimenting with Heat
There are many varieties of chilies from all over the world. For this recipe I used authentic Kashmiri chilies from a specialty Indian food grocery. They are good but I also love the subtle heat of the dried Chile de Arbol when a recipe calls for dried chilies. My tip for you: experiment with dried chilies from China, South America, Mexico, until you find ones you like.
Curried Route 1 Farms Organic Winter Root Vegetable Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Tamarind Prep
To remove the seeds and fibers from tamarind pulp start with a cup of pulp and one cup of boiling hot water. Place the pulp in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Remove the pulp with a slotted spoon and place in a fine strainer. Use your fingers or a spatula to mash and push the pulp through the strainer. You can use the paste immediately or cover and refrigerate for later use.
Curried Route 1 Farms Organic Winter Root Vegetable Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: It’s a (Great) Grind!
A mortar and pestle is the traditional way to grind spice blends into pastes and powders. It is time consuming, but extracts more of the natural oils and flavors from the spice blend. An electric blender can be a short cut. If you have the time, use the mortar and pestle. They are made from many different materials; lava stone, ceramic, marble, wood. I prefer a ceramic mortar with a long-handled pestle to give me more leverage while grinding.
Curried Route 1 Farms Organic Winter Root Vegetable Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Determining Sauce Thickness
A chef that I worked for taught me to dip the back of a spoon into your sauce. Hold it up and blow on it; a “rose” will be created. The definition and length of time the “rose” stays on the spoon indicates the thickness of the sauce. If the sauce runs off the spoon or your breath does not create a “rose,” it needs to reduce more.
Tamarind-Glazed Stemple Creek Ranch Beef Short Ribs - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Panettone Molds
You can find classic paper panettone molds online or in a gourmet cook’s shop.
Panettone - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Use a Pencil Cut for Maximum Flavor
I like to use a "pencil cut" to prepare mirepoix for stock or vegetables for puréed soups. This cut creates a vegetable that is not only more even in size but, with more surface area exposed, it's also more flavorful. Use a pencil cut for long vegetables like carrots and parsnips. Here's how: First peel the vegetable. Holding the vegetable in one hand with the tip on the cutting board, cut on an angle, as if you were sharpening a pencil. Rotate the vegetable a quarter turn and make another cut. Continue to the end.
Capay Organics Parsnip and Apple Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: A Sweet Spoonful of Piloncillo
Piloncillo is unrefined Mexican sugar. It tastes similar to brown sugar mixed with molasses, even though it has no molasses. If you cannot find Piloncillo you can substitute 1 cup of dark brown sugar and add 1 tablespoon of molasses.
Persimmon and Cowgirl Creamery Goat Cheese Tart - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: A Trick for Pitting Stone Fruit
Pitting stone fruit can be tricky. First, cut along the seam of the fruit all the way around, using a serrated knife. Then, gently twist the two halves and pull apart. You should be able to pull the pit out from the fruit half. If not, lay the half with the pit on the cutting board, pit side down and with your paring knife, carefully cut wedges of fruit around the pit.

If the fruit is too ripe to twist the two halves apart, similarly, you can use your paring knife to cut wedges of fruit from around the pit.
Marchini Ranch Stone Fruit with Toasted Almonds - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Keep Cream from Boiling Over
with this Simple "Tip"

To stop cream from boiling out of your sauce pan when reducing for a cream sauce, turn off the heat and place the tip of your finger in the foam. The temperature change will make the foam subside. If you don't think your finger can "take the heat", simply blow gently into the foam when you take it off the heat. Remember not to put it at the same heat level once it's back on the stove top. Start at a lower heat and work up to the proper simmer temperature for an even reduction.
Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Ancho Chile Cream - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Removing Corn Silk
Here are my favorite ways to remove silk from a fresh ear of corn:
1. If I shuck it completely, I run the cob over the stove flame to singe it off.
2. If I do not remove the shuck completely, as in this recipe, I use a stiff vegetable brush, brushing lightly to remove the silk. A hard bristle toothbrush will also accomplish the task - but I like my veggie brush!
Grilled Corn with Adobo Butter - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: A Cool Whipping Trick
Start by placing your bowl and utensils in the refrigerator. When you are ready to whip, take them out and dry off the bowl and utensils. Remove the cream just before you whip. The cold affects the fat bubble that forms during whipping. The colder the cream and the tools, the fluffier the cream will get and the longer it will maintain its finished texture.
Strauss Family Yogurt Soup with Grilled Ramps - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: This Mandoline Is Tuned to "Be Sharp"
There is a wide variety of mandoline slicers on the market for home or commercial use. It is an invaluable tool and produces thin, even slices. Some come with different blades for julienne, baton or wavy cut (you can make waffle slices with the wavy cut, first go in one direction while slicing then rotate slightly to get a criss-cross cut). These tools are extremely sharp and must be used with the holder provided or a "cut glove" to prevent injury.
Coke Farms Dandelion Greens with Spring Radishes - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Do the Twist!
For a savory spark of flavor, cut a quarter-inch slice from the center of the lemon out through the peel. Grab the cut ends and twist in opposite directions. A twist imparts flavors from the fruit and the peel of the lemon.
Pan-Seared Pacific Cod with Tomato Confit - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Salted or Unsalted? That is the Question!
Most chefs prefer salted butter for savory preparations and unsalted butter for baking and sweet preparations. Here's why: When preparing savory food and using salted butter, note that there is 1/3 teaspoon of salt to each 1/2 cup butter - the proverbial "pinch." Baking is a much more exacting food science. By using unsalted butter, it lets the baker control the amount of salt in the mix.
Watsonville Strawberry Dream Cake - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: A Good Turnout
To turn the cake out of the pan, run a paring knife carefully around the edge of the pan to separate it from the cake. Place the cooling rack over the cake pan. Using oven mitts, slide the cake pan off the table onto your hand. Place your other hand on the rack directly over the cake. Invert the pan and place the rack back on the table. Tap the bottom of the cake pan and lift the pan from the cake.
Watsonville Strawberry Dream Cake - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: The Exquisite Flavor of Truffles
Black and white truffles are imported from France and Italy. Oregon is now producing white truffles. Truffles should be firm. There is no need to peel the truffle, just brush it carefully with a coarse pastry brush before slicing it over the soup.
Coke Farms Potato and Celery Root Soup with Truffles - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Ginger Juice Kicks Up the Flavor!
Fresh ginger juice kicks up the flavor of this dressing. To make ginger juice, wash the fresh ginger root and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Place in a blender and add water until just covered. Puree until smooth. Pour into a fine strainer set over non-reactive container. Press all juice from the pulp. Repeat this procedure, using the same liquid, 2 more times. After the last time, strain through cheesecloth and squeeze the juice from the pulp into a glass container. The juice can be used for tea, dressings or marinades.
Curly Endive and Escarole Salad with Fresh Ginger - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Reserve That Duck Fat!
Reserve that duck fat! It's delicious for cooking potatoes as a side dish or to season stocks and sauces.
Duck Breast with Mandarin Orange Gastrique - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Room-temperature Citrus Gives More Juice
Room temperature citrus will yield more juice than refrigerated. Roll fruit around under your palm on a hard surface, applying slight pressure, before cutting in half and juicing.
Duck Breast with Mandarin Orange Gastrique - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Dried Beans - Two Ways to Eliminate the Gas
1. In a nonreactive container, cover dry beans with cold water at a ratio
of 2:1. They can be left on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight, depending on the weather. Drain all water and cook in fresh water.
2. Place beans in a pot with cold water at a ratio of 2:1. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit on the stove for 1 hour. Drain the water and refill with fresh water to cook.
Organic Cranberry Bean Soup with Saffron - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Don't Stir the Beans!
Never stir beans while cooking. Agitation with a spoon will cause the skins to separate from the bean. These skins will settle to the bottom and may burn before the beans are cooked. Let the action of a "soft boil" or "slow rolling boil" work to keep the beans stirred.
Organic Cranberry Bean Soup with Saffron - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: No Zester? No Problem!
In a pinch, you can use a vegetable peeler to carefully skin the citrus fruit, being careful not to include the bitter white pith beneath the skin. You can then julienne and chop the peel.
Coke Farms Spicy Broccoli - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Light Your (Grill) Fire!
Avoid using lighter fluid to start your coals; it could add an unwanted taste to anything you grill. Better options:
1. Use a Chimney. This tool takes some practice, but once you figure how many sheets of old newspaper it takes to get your charcoals started, it is very efficient.
2. Use an electric starter. Several types are available - one type uses an electronically heated coil that you place in your grill and cover with charcoal. Another type, which resembles a hair drier, uses electronically heated coils and a fan that blows an airstream heated to 1256 degrees Fahrenheit to fire up your coals. Another similar lighter incorporates batteries and butane to create a 2600 degree Fahrenheit airstream.
3. Use a propane starter. Smoker-cooker gurus are using propane fire starters that can deliver 3000 degree Fahrenheit flames to get their coals going. This tool is for those who just can't wait to start grilling or smoking!
Grill-Roasted Tara Firma Farms Pork Shoulder with Chimichurri, Fresh Corn and Polenta Cakes and Sautéed Baby Squash - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Toasting Nuts and Seeds
Here are two techniques to toast nuts and seeds:
1. The most convenient way to toast any nut or seed is to preheat the oven to 375, spread the nuts on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Check them every 5 minutes, stirring each time for an even toast. Remove them from the oven when they reach desired toast and transfer them immediately to another container.
2. They may also be toasted in a preheated, dry, sauté pan. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add the nuts. Start to stir, toss and sauté the nuts immediately. When they become golden and fragrant, transfer them immediately to another container to stop the cooking.
Important Note: If you leave the nuts in the hot pan, the oils in the nut will continue to conduct heat and can scorch the nut. When the nuts or seeds are toasted, transfer them immediately to another container to stop the cooking.
Crepes with Watsonville Olallieberry Compote, Burnt Honey and Toasted Almonds - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Keeping Mint Pesto Green
Want mint pesto that's bright green? Just add a couple of ice cubes while pureeing the leaves to keep the mixture cool.
Grilled Marin Sun Farms Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto, Fregola and Asparagus and Leek Sauté - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Got Garlic Sensitivity?
Many stomachs are sensitive to the effects of chopped garlic, even when cooked. Here are some techniques to help temper garlic sensitivity:
1. Use fewer cloves. Garlic has a strong flavor. Sometimes just one or two cloves can add the flavor you want and help those with a mild sensitivity.
2. Remove the cloves. Try sautéing, then removing, crushed cloves in olive oil, for sauces or soups. The flavor will subtly infuse the oil and other vegetables that are cooked in it.
3. Try "Elephant" Garlic. While Elephant Garlic is not a true garlic but rather, a member of the leek family, its flavor is similar to garlic. Some people find that it is more palatable in dishes where garlic is prepared raw.
Grilled Marin Sun Farms Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto, Fregola and Asparagus and Leek Sauté - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: What in the World is Fregola?
Fregola is a type of toasted pasta from Sardenia, similar to but slightly larger than Israeli couscous, with a delicious nutty flavor. If you cannot find Fregola in your store, substitute couscous or orzo.
Fregola Pilaf - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Simplest Simple Syrup
The simple syrup used for granité has many different versions. The "simplest" is to use equal parts sugar and water. Variations derive from individual tastes; adjust your syrup to your taste.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Granité - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Immersion Blender
An immersion blender, also called a stick or wand blender, is an inexpensive and handy kitchen tool used to blend ingredients in the pot or container in which they are being prepared. Easy to use, they make quick work of purées and sauces.
Coke Farms Butternut Squash and Apple Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Suprême Cut
A suprême cut removes peel and pith from citrus fruit. First, slice a little off the top and bottom of the fruit. Trim away the skin and pith, starting at the top and following the curve of the fruit downwards. Cut away all of the skin and the white pith cleanly, avoid also taking the fruit. Trim any pith that you missed. Cut into each side of the segment, next to its connecting membrane, and remove fruit segment. Collect segments and juice in a bowl.
Ratto Ranch Endive and Blood Orange Salad with a Creamy Citrus Vinaigrette - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Save the Oyster!
Oysters are the two small pieces of meat located near the duck (or chicken) thigh. The meat has a firm texture and some regard the oyster to be the most flavorful and tender part of the bird. In the French language, this part of the bird is called sot-l'y-laisse which translates to "the fool leaves it there." Save the oyster!
Crisp Roast '38 North' Duck with Sonoma Port Glaze, Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root, Braised Capay Farms Organic Dinosaur Kale -
See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Why Brine?
Brining gives meat a firmer consistency and seasons the meat to the bone. Salt causes the protein in meat to unwind as if exposed to heat or alcohol. When the protein unwinds they tangle together again to form a matrix that traps moisture, resulting in a moist, juicy product. Sugar in the brine has little effect on the texture but adds flavor and promotes browning. Aromatics added to the brine also have no effect, but add flavor to the meat.
Grilled Llano Seco Pork Tenderloin with Fennel Apple Chutney - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Rinsing Quinoa
If quinoa is not described as “pre-washed” when purchased, you must rinse it thoroughly before cooking. It contains naturally occurring saponin, which protects the seed in nature. If consumed it can have some uncomfortable side effects. To rinse well, place it in a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve. Rinse and drain 2 to 3 times, changing the cheesecloth after each time. Let drain thoroughly before cooking.
Red Quinoa Pilaf - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Cooling Hot Liquids
To cool hot liquids rapidly, pour from one saucepan to another of equal size. Continue this until liquid is at room temperature. Then, pour into a large casserole to expose more surface area, wrap tightly to keep a skin from forming on the surface, and refrigerate until the temperature is less than 40 degrees.
Boigiatto Ranch Green Bean Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Easy Asparagus Prep
Here's an easy technique to find the point where the fibrous end of an asparagus begins. Hold the asparagus at about a third of the distance from each end with the thumb and forefingers of each hand. Place slow, constant, upward pressure with your thumbs and downward pressure with your forefingers. The spear will snap at the weakest point between the tender and fibrous part. Cut, or break, the remaining spears to this length. The fibrous ends may be used for soup or vegetable stock.
Shaved Summer Vegetables - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Avoid the Burn!
When adding room temperature or cold items to hot oil, use tongs to place the bottom edge of the item into the pan and carefully, but quickly, lower the item in the direction away from you. The chef who taught me this tip used to say, "Burn the back of the stove - not yourself, or the person working next to you!"
California Halibut - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Bias Cut
A bias cut exposes more surface area of the vegetable, and therefore results in a shorter cooking time. In addition to speeding preparation, a bias cut creates a more elegant presentation than a typical straight cut.
White Asparagus Soup - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Chefs Prefer Copper
A special copper pot is designed for preparing sabayon. Equipped with a handle for ease of use, its deep, bowl-like shape facilitates whipping. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat, and results in an even heat distribution while cooking the sabayon over a pot of simmering water.
Poached Rhubarb with Lemon Sabayon - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Poaching
Poaching is a great technique for cooking chicken breasts for soups and other recipes. It leaves the meat tender and, because it doesn't require fat to cook, is low in calories. We like to use chicken stock for our poaching liquid, although water and wine will work as well. Poaching can also be used for fish, however, note that fish require a much shorter cooking time.
Organic Chicken Soup with Escarole - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Julienned Vegetables
Julienne is an attractive way to prepare vegetables for a special meal. Also called a "matchstick" cut, a julienne is 1/8 x 1/8 x 2-3 inches in length. To prepare a julienne, trim the ends and sides of the vegetable to make a rectangular shape, then make uniform-size cuts at 1/8 inch intervals. Trim the julienne to the desired length and compost the remaining small ends, or use them for stock.
Organic Winter Greens - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Corn "Milk" - Don't Throw Away Flavor!
After removing the kernels from the cob, scrape the cob with the back of your knife to remove the corn's "milk" and add it to the kernels for extra flavor.
Creamy Polenta with Feta - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Use a Wooden Paddle for Easy Stirring
When preparing polenta, we recommend using a wooden spatula or paddle for ease in scraping the sides and bottom of the pot.
Creamy Polenta with Feta - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Preparing Butternut Squash
Cutting and peeling raw butternut squash can be difficult. Be sure to start with a sharp French (chef's) knife. Cut off the ends and then cut the squash half where the thin end meets with the bulb of the squash. If you meet with resistance, use a thick towel folded over the back of the knife to apply slow, even pressure with the palm of your hand. Peel with a knife or sharp peeler, in downward strokes, then cut the pieces in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Dice the flesh into 1-inch cubes for roasting.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions and Sage - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Toasted Squash Seeds
For a tasty snack, toast the seeds from butternut squash. Heat oven to 275°. Wash the seeds in a bowl of water to remove seed fiber. Drain the seeds and remove any remaining bits of flesh or fiber. Spread on a cotton dishtowel and allow to dry. Place seeds in a bowl, add olive oil to lightly coat, and salt. Place seeds in one layer on a cookie sheet and toast in warmed oven until seeds brown, about 10 minutes, checking doneness by taste.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions and Sage - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Zesting Citrus
We recommend a microplane zester for zesting lemon and other citrus fruits. If you do not have this handy kitchen tool, use a grater or peeler, but take care not to remove the bitter pith - the white part of the peel with the skin.
Ginger Pear Crisp - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: French-cut
To French-cut a rack of lamb, a butcher removes the meat, fat and membranes that connect the individual rib bones. If you are interested in learning this technique, there are many fine knife skills and butchering classes offered in the Bay Area, or you can watch an online educational video. Remember to always start with a sharp knife!
Rack of Lamb - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Blanching
Blanching is a technique used to partially cook vegetables. To blanch, add cut vegetables to a pot of boiling salted water. Most vegetables will cook within 2 to 5 minutes; taste often to see when the vegetable is done to your liking. To stop the cooking process, "shock" the vegetables by immediately plunging them into a bowl filled with ice and water. Drain.
Romano Beans - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Homemade Chicken Stock
It's easy to make your own chicken stock - and it tastes so much better than supermarket stock! The next time you roast a chicken, save the bones. Take a large pot, add the bones and filtered water to cover, along with several pinches of salt, some roughly cut onions and carrots and a handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for several hours.
Remove pot from heat and discard bones and vegetables. Strain stock through a colander into a large bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. Skim off the fat that will have accumulated on the surface, then strain the stock through a fine mesh into containers and freeze.
Orzo "Risotto" - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Non-reactive Pans
Non-reactive cookware will not react to acid ingredients, such as citrus. When a recipe calls for a non-reactive pot, pan or bowl, use stainless steel, clay, enamel, glass, or plastic.
Mixed Berry and Rhubarb Fool - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Savory Stocks
To enrich a stock, use vegetable trimmings - such as rinsed pea shells, parsley stems and celery tops. Save and freeze Parmesan cheese rinds and add them to the stock.
Spring Vegetables in Broth - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Al Dente
Al dente is an Italian phrase that translates as "to the tooth." Al dente means to cook something - pasta, vegetables, etc. - firm to the bite.
Spring Vegetables in Broth - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Taming Raw Onions
Some stomachs are sensitive to the "bite" of raw onions. Tame them by soaking the slices in a bowl of cool water for a few minutes. Squeeze the water from the onions and replace in fresh water. Repeat two to three times. Drain, and dry onions with a clean cloth.
Red Butter Lettuce with Microgreens - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: No Pie Weights? No Problem!
Unless you are a professional baker, you probably don't have pie weights in your kitchen. For an inexpensive and readily accessible substitute, use lentils, rice or beans. After baking the crust, remove your "pie weights" and store them in a plastic zip-lock bag for reuse.
Strawberry and Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie - See the recipe »


Epicurean Tip: Deglazing
To deglaze a pan, add liquid and scrape bottom of pan until pan is clean and scrapings are incorporated into liquid.
Shallot Marmalade - See the recipe »

















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415.895.2800
Enjoying time in the kitchen with family and friends is a great way to strengthen ties and encourage a healthy lifestyle. ”
Chef Rey Hernandez,
Co-founder and
Vice President,
Epicurean Group