Magazine article Sunset

Foodguide: Tool

Magazine article Sunset

Foodguide: Tool

Article excerpt

Of all the pans and tools for steaming foods, the one that I find most useful is a $1.49 rack I bought at a Vietnamese market. This rack (shown here with Le Creuset cookware) works best as a base for

food in containers-a plate, pan, bowl, or mold. The racks come tall

and short, wide and narrow, and with different tops. You'll find them in most large Asian food markets and in Asian hardware stores with cooking equipment.


Tackling pomegranates

Pomegranates are fun, if you know how to handle them. Two "tricks" make them a pleasure to keep in the kitchen.

The first is child's play. Gently roll a pomegranate to bruise and pop the seeds inside (without cracking the exterior), then cut a little hole through the skin. Poke a drinking straw into the fruit and start sipping.

The waxy white membrane inside tends to clog a straw, so blow it out now and then. Kids love this part.

As for cooks, they find pomegranates frustrating as well as intimidating. The juicy, edible seeds often pop when plucked out of the membrane maze, squirting bright red, staining juice on everything (including your hands). The solution: work underwater.

First, cut off the crown end of the fruit, then score the skin in segments like an orange. Immerse the pomegranate in a bowl of water and pull the fruit open. As you break the seeds free, they will tend to sink. Discard the skin and membrane and scatter the glossy seeds over fruit salads, spicy pilafs, or ice cream. Or just eat them.

A night for pasta

On pilgrimages to Santa Fe-what else can you call visits to this historically intense, graceful community-I'm always taken by the lack of contradiction between the old and the new. Buildings and houses conform to architectural guidelines, and interiors that would seem stark in more contemporary structures feel inviting. This was the environment at Cafe Escalera, which just recently closed. Few of the dishes I enjoyed there laid claim to traditional ties, but the natural, uncontrived presentations showed Santa Fe's freshest ingredients off to their advantage.

Last summer, I dined at Escalera several times with Sally, Gil, and Davidlongtime expedition partners. On one occasion, the pasta special created by chef Karla Helland caught our collective eye. It looked so light and appealing that warm evening. We usually chose a variety of dishes and shared tastes. But this time, the pasta got a unanimous vote. …

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