A Final Step for Hard-Boiled-Egg Bliss
The proper method for hard-boiling an egg can be a divisive issue among chefs and home cooks, but whichever way you do it, there's a finishing step Pépin swears by: Once the eggs are cooked, drain the hot water out and give the pan a good shake. You can do this with the lid off; just jostle the pot from side to side, with the eggs still in it, to crack the shells all over before covering them with cold water and ice. After they've chilled completely and some of the water has slipped in between the cooked eggs and their coverings, the shells will slip right off.
The Reinvention of Old Bread
He may be a chef of international renown, yet Pépin absolutely refuses to throw away bread once it's past its prime (he jokes that it might make his own father turn over in his grave). Aside from the always delicious French toast, there are many more ways to repurpose a stale loaf—Pépin's go-tos are cubing it for croutons in salad, or turning it into crumbs to sprinkle over a gratin or soup. He even has a trick for reconstituting a whole dried-out loaf: Heat the oven to 400, pass the bread under running water for a few seconds to moisten the outside, place it directly on the oven rack and heat until it is hard and crusty on top and soft inside, about 15 minutes. Slice and eat within a few hours.
The Cheapest, Quickest, Most Uniform Slices
The egg slicer is a $4 kitchen gadget that no one seems to buy anymore—but Pépin makes the case for keeping one of these helpful tools around. Yes, they're great for speedily and evenly slicing a hard-boiled egg for salads or sandwiches; however, Pépin also uses them for much more. The gadget is ideal for turning strawberries into just the right thickness for strawberry shortcake, and you can also put it to work on mushrooms, bananas, avocados or other soft(ish) foods.
A Better Way to Prepare Asparagus
Pépin's eye toward economy extends to other foods, too—take, for example, asparagus. While we've always chopped off the bottom of the stalk, Pépin says there's no need to scrap that portion completely. Instead, he simply peels this section, to reveal the tender, perfectly edible green underneath. Here's how: Hold the asparagus stalk flat on a work surface with one hand, and with a vegetable peeler in the other, lightly slice away the lower third of the stem by simultaneously rolling the asparagus over and peeling downward toward the end of the stalk. Then trim off about a half-inch of the base and proceed with cooking.
Another Reason to Keep a Classic Convenience Food in the Pantry
Fans of Jell-O, you're in good company: Pépin loves the stuff because it's cold and light, yet satisfying, and has such an appealing texture and color. He often adds fresh berries, cream or a fruit sauce to it, and sometimes crushes cookies into the mixture. And in A Grandfather's Lessons
, he shares his and his granddaughter, Shorey's, recipe for raspberry Jell-O, which they serve with a strawberry-currant jelly sauce, berries and mint for a throwback that's as delightful as ever.
Get the recipe: Raspberry Jell-O with Strawberry Sauce and Blueberries