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Kitchen Trick – Treating Lettuce

In Kitchen Tricks On January 14, 2014 0 Comments

I’m sure many of you worry, as I do, about bacteria in salads and/or lettuce leaves.

Many years ago, my mother-in-law, Esperanza, was watching me prepare a salad (I don’t think anyone likes to be “watched” by their mother-in-law – lol!).

Just as I was about to transfer the rinsed and spun-dry lettuce into a salad bowl, I heard the words, “Nancy, after you’ve washed lettuce 3 to 5 times, let it sit in cold water with a little distilled vinegar for about 5 minutes. This will kill any bacteria that has stuck to the leaves.”

Although this wonderful matriarch and loving woman has passed many years ago, every time I prepare a salad, I still hear those words. Of course, I heed the advice. Here’s the trick:

Recipe for Treating Lettuce

1 head lettuce (any type), cut into strips or chopped and washed 3 to 5 times, until water runs clear
1/4 cup distilled vinegar

1. Place the cut and washed lettuce pieces in a salad spinner or a bowl.

2. Completely cover the lettuce with cold water.

3. Stir in 1/4 cup distilled vinegar.

4. Let the lettuce sit in water/vinegar mixture for 5 minutes.

5. Drain the lettuce and spin dry.

6. Use the lettuce as directed in recipe.

Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real

Homemade Baking Powder

In Kitchen Tricks On December 20, 2013 0 Comments

“Omg, I’m in the middle of holiday baking and just ran out of baking powder! I can’t run out to the supermarket right now. What do I do?”

If you run out of baking powder, just make your own. And, you can also rest assured that it’s aluminum-free.

Here’s a recipe for homemade baking powder. It’ll help alleviate some of the holiday stress.


1/4 cup cream of tartar

2 tablespoons baking soda

1. Stir 1/4 cup cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons baking soda through a fine strainer.

2. Repeat the above instruction two more times.

3. Store baking powder in an airtight container at room temperature (I prefer a glass jar with a cover or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid).

4. Use this baking powder in the same manner as a commercial baking powder.

Note: Homemade Baking Powder may clump, so be sure to resift it before using.

This recipe for baking powder can be made up to 4 weeks ahead.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real




Kitchen Trick – How to Julienne Veggies

In Kitchen Tricks On May 20, 2010 0 Comments

Hand Method:

If julienning a long vegetable such as a carrot or a zucchini, begin by cutting off and discarding tips. Cut the veggie into thirds or fourths. Each piece should be about 2 to 3 inches long.

Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Then, cut each half lengthwise once more (you now have fourths). Repeat with remaining veggie pieces. Keep cutting each piece lengthwise until the julienned veggies measure 2 to 3 inches long by 1/4 to 1/8-inch wide.

If julienning root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, fennel, etc. simply peel the vegetables, cut in half lengthwise and proceed as directed in above paragraph.

Mandolin Method:

You can buy a vegetable/fruit mandolin slicer at some supermarkets, Target, Walmart and cooks’ stores such as Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. This kitchen gadget has different cutting attachments.

Use the attachment that has blades that are spaced approximately 1/4 to 1/2-inch apart.

Text © 2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Kitchen Trick – Oops, I forgot to bring the butter to room temperature!

In Kitchen Tricks On May 17, 2010 0 Comments

If you don’t have a microwave to soften the butter, just cut it into 1/2-inch thick squares and, using a fork, cream the butter with the sugar.

The friction of breaking up the butter with the fork will warm it up and soften it in no time.

Text ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Kitchen Trick – Reading a Recipe

In Kitchen Tricks On April 28, 2010 0 Comments

Always read a recipe completely before diving into it. As you read the recipe, it will become virtual reality. For example, if reading, “Take one stick of butter at room temperature and mix it with 1/2 cup of sugar,” imagine the mixture in a bowl, turning into a cream …

Later on, when really mixing the two ingredients, it won’t feel so unfamiliar because you already played it out in your mind.

Text ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real