August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Breakfast Basics was one of the classes in our recent Feed Your Family Right series.  We covered what it takes to build a healthy breakfast and try out a few recipes for delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare ways to start the day.  Here’s a sneak peek at what we discussed about oatmeal, including some ideas for fast and easy prep!

Oatmeal is a great way to start your day.  Filling and warm, it can really keep you going through your morning.  Studies have shown that beta-glucan, the soluble fiber in oats, can help to lower LDL cholesterol and to slow down digestion time, helping with glucose control.  The insoluble fiber in the oats fills you up and reduces hunger cravings for hours after eating. Oatmeal is inexpensive and gluten free (those with celiac – make sure that your package says so), and can be the perfect blank canvas for your favorite fruits and flavorings.

Do you love homemade oatmeal but lack the time in the morning to make it fresh every day? Don’t reach for a packet of the sugary stuff, try our two hints for advance preparation and enjoy a warming bowl in as little as two minutes.

  • If you have a favorite oatmeal recipe or brand already, make a large batch and freeze in individual containers.  Take one out of the freezer and place into the fridge before you go to bed, and then zap it in the microwave in the morning for about 90 seconds at high power.  Stir to make sure that the oatmeal is fully heated and then top as desired.
  • Don’t want to even wash a pot?  Try overnight soaked oatmeal instead.  Place equal amounts by volume of old-fashioned oats and your liquid of choice (water, milk, or a milk replacer such as almond or coconut milk) into a container with a lid, stir to combine, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, scoop out your serving into a bowl, heat for 60 to 90 seconds, and serve with your choice of toppings.

Ingredients for today’s batch of overnight oatmeal – equal volumes of old fashioned rolled oats and almond milk.
Want some ideas for topping your oatmeal?  Think fruit, nuts, and seeds and try to stay away from a lot of sugary sweet toppings.  Chopped fresh fruit or a spoonful of sugar free or low sugar fruit preserves add sweetness, as would a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  Go easy when using dried fruits as their sugars are pretty concentrated.  Toasted chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and nutty flax seeds or hemp hearts all make great additions and up the ante with heart healthy unsaturated fats, omega 3’s and protein.  Try swirling in a bit of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt for a creamier alternative, or even your favorite nut butter.  Turn your soaked oats into muesli by adding some apple juice to the soaking liquid and then stirring in plain yogurt and chopped apples before serving.


August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

One of the most important tools in any kitchen is a good knife.  A chef’s knife and a paring knife are all that you really need to efficiently and effectively prepare any dish – plus maybe a good serrated bread knife.  When choosing a knife, look for one that is made of stainless or carbon steel and that has a sturdy handle.  It is also important to make sure that the knife is the right size for the cook.  Most adults can work effectively with an eight-inch chef’s knife, but six-inch and twelve-inch options are available for those with smaller or larger hands.

A good knife should have some heft to it.  Remember that much of what makes a knife an effective tool is not just its sharpness (we’ll get to that in a minute) but also the power that it provides.  A knife is a lever and a wedge (remember high school physics?) and a heavier blade closer to the user’s hand will help to deliver more power.  As for that blade, keep it sharp with regular honing and semi-frequent sharpening by a professional with a whetstone or grinder.  A sharp knife is a safer knife.  Which would you rather have – a clean cut that can be easily sutured or a jagged one?  Before you purchase a knife, test it for balance to be sure that the weight of the steel is evenly distributed.  Hold out your palm face up with the middle three fingers out.  Rest the juncture of the handle and the wide part of the blade on your fingers and let the knife come to balance.  A well-balanced knife will lay still and not tilt to one side or the other.

A good knife is an investment that can last a long time.

Most good quality, basic knives cost around $75 dollars but with proper care can last for many, many years.  One of the first knives I purchased for culinary class nearly twenty years ago is a little narrower from years of sharpening, but still handles great.  If you are considering purchasing a knife for your own kitchen or as a gift, keep an eye out for Henckels’ annual factory sales in Westchester and Manhattan in the fall.  It’s a great way to get a good deal on a high-quality knife.


A good knife can help to make a cook more efficient, but only if used properly.  The first class in our Back to Basics series is Knife Skills for a good reason.  Once you get to know the proper way to handle a knife you will work faster and more efficiently and no longer feel daunted by a recipe that calls for lots of chopping!  Get in touch with us to schedule your knife skills class or buy a gift certificate for your friend or loved one to learn how to use their new knife.