How To Core a Tomato

Tomatoes are the base of some of our favorite dishes: spicy salsas, sweet marinara sauces, and summery Caprese salads. Pretty much nothing beats a perfectly in season summer tomato, but even in the winter we’ll search out vine-ripened and cherry tomatoes to get our fix.

sweet summer tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are delicate enough to be eaten whole, but larger tomato varieties, like beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, have a fibrous core at the top of the tomato that should be removed before using it in a recipe. It won’t hurt you, but it has an unpleasant woody texture. This core can be tough to remove with a regular kitchen knife, but a paring knife is the perfect tool for the job.

Remove the core from a tomato

Step 1: Choose a Ripe Tomato

Let’s not waste our efforts on sub-par fruits (yes, it’s a fruit). Ripe tomatoes are easier to work with and will have a sweeter flavor. Look for a tomato that is plump and firm to the touch, but not too hard.

Step 2: Cut Off the Stem

If the stem is still attached, pull it away or remove it with a knife. Hold the tomato steady with one hand and use the paring knife to cut around the stem, making a small circular cut. Then, gently lift the stem off the tomato and discard it.

Step 3: Make a Small Incision

Holding the paring knife by the back of the blade, make a small incision at the top of the tomato where the stem was removed. Be careful not to cut too deep, as you only want to cut through the skin and not the flesh of the tomato.

Step 4: Remove the Core

Once you have made the incision, insert the tip of the paring knife into the tomato and gently twist it to create a small hole. Then, insert the knife a little deeper and twist it again. Continue this process, working your way around the core of the tomato, until you have removed the entire top part of the core.

Watch our chef demonstrate this technique below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more cooking videos.

How to Carve a Whole Roasted Chicken

So, you roasted your chicken. Nicely done! It came out perfectly—crispy skin and juicy meat. But now you want to chop it up into edible pieces that you can elegantly serve to guests. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds! All you need to carve a whole chicken is a knife, a cutting board, and that chicken.

Watch our test kitchen chef demonstrate his technique below.

How to carve a whole chicken

Step 1: Gather your tools and set up your workspace.

Before you start cutting, make sure you have the right tools for the job. You’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of kitchen shears to help with cutting through bones.

Step 2: Remove the legs.

Start by removing the legs of the chicken. Hold onto the leg and pull it away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint with your knife or kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3: Remove the wings.

Next, remove the wings. Pull the wing away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint with your knife or kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side.

Step 4: Separate the drumstick from the thigh.

To separate the drumstick from the thigh, locate the joint and cut through it with your knife or kitchen shears.

Step 5: Cut the breast in half.

Place the chicken breast-side up on the cutting board. Use your knife to cut down the center of the breastbone. Cut through the rib bones to separate the two halves of the breast.

Step 6: Remove the backbone.

Flip the chicken over so the back is facing up. Use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard or save for making stock.

Step 7: Cut the breast into smaller pieces.

Cut each half of the breast into two smaller pieces by cutting through the middle of each half.

Step 8: Cut the thighs in half.

Cut each thigh in half by cutting through the middle of the meat.

Now you have successfully cut up a whole chicken! Don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect on the first try— it takes practice to get the hang of it. With this knowledge, you can now use different parts of the chicken for various recipes, such as roasted chicken, fried chicken, chicken soup, and more. So go ahead and experiment with your new skills and enjoy your homemade chicken dishes.

Like watching cooking videos? Subscribe to our channel on YouTube!

How to Cook with Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a herb that has been used in Southeast Asian cuisine for centuries. The plant is native to Thailand, Vietnam, and India and has a citrusy aroma that adds a refreshing flavor to rice or noodle dishes. Learn how to cook with lemongrass and bring this beautiful flavor to your kitchen.

How to cut lemongrass:

The tough outer leaves of lemongrass are inedible, so they need to be removed. To cut lemongrass, you’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Start by trimming off the root end of the stalk, leaving about 2 inches of the bulbous base intact.
  2. Cut off the top portion of the lemongrass, about 2-3 inches from the tip of the stalk.
  3. Remove the tough outer layers of the lemongrass by gently peeling them away with your fingers or a knife until you reach the softer, pale-yellow interior layers.
  4. Once you’ve peeled away the tough outer layers, you can slice the lemongrass into thin rounds or chop it into small pieces for use in recipes.

How to cook with lemongrass

Lemongrass is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some common ways to use it in your cooking:

  1. Infuse it in soups and broths: Add sliced lemongrass to your chicken or vegetable broth to add a citrusy flavor to your soups and stews.
  2. Use it in marinades and dressings: Lemongrass can be combined with other ingredients like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to create a flavorful marinade for meats or a zesty dressing for salads.
  3. Add it to curries and stir-fries: Lemongrass pairs well with coconut milk, curry paste, and vegetables in Thai and Vietnamese curries. You can also use it in stir-fries with meats or tofu.
  4. Brew it into tea: Lemongrass tea is a popular beverage in Southeast Asia and is said to have a calming effect on the body. To make lemongrass tea, steep sliced lemongrass in hot water for several minutes.

Knowing how to properly cut lemongrass and incorporating it into your cooking can elevate your meals and introduce new flavors to your palate.

Try some of our favorite recipes with lemongrass

Coconut-Poached Tofu with Lemongrass and Red Curry

This rich, lightly spicy soup, combines lemongrass and red curry to create a flavorful broth.

lemongrass tofu stew

Lemongrass & Ginger Turkey Burgers

These turkey burgers use two traditional Asian aromatics, ginger and lemongrass, to create a patty with a bright and citrusy flavor profile.

burgers with lemongrass

Chilled Lemongrass Beef & Noodles with Marinated Carrots & Cucumber

This summer-friendly cold noodle dish highlights bright, citrusy lemongrass, cooked alongside tender beef and mixed with springy lo mein noodles and crisp veggies.

chilled noodles with lemongrass

Find more recipes like these in the Blue Apron cookbook.

Diced Sweet Potatoes: Tips & Recipes

Cut down prep time in the kitchen by finessing your knife skills. Once you’ve mastered chopping onionsgarlic, and carrots, it’s time to learn how to dice a sweet potato.

Chopping sweet potatoes can be tricky. First of all: sweet potatoes are quite hard when raw, and it can take a little force to get a knife through them. This means you should be extra careful to keep your fingers out of the way.

The second obstacle is that sweet potatoes are rounded. When they’re whole, they have a tendency to roll around on the cutting board. When dicing a sweet potato, the first step is to create a flat surface to work with. To do this, first use a Chef’s knife to remove the pointed ends. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin if you choose, but they’re completely edible. Once the ends are gone, lay the sweet potato on the counter and cut into long planks. Once you’ve created planks, lie them flat on a cutting board. Cut each of these new planks into one inch wide sticks, the shape of a large sweet potato fry. To finish off the dice, align sticks so that you can chop several at once and work the knife through to form a rough dice.

Video: how to medium dice a sweet potato quickly

Not that you know how to dice a sweet potato, try some of our favorite recipes.

Recipes with diced sweet potato

Hot Honey Chicken with Curried Sweet Potato Salad

To accompany our irresistibly spicy-sweet chicken, we’re whipping up a bold side of sweet potatoes tossed with vibrant yellow curry paste and currants.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili with Avocado & Cotija Cheese

The combo of sweet potatoes, carrots, and black beans add plenty of hearty, creamy texture to this vegetarian chili—which gets its spicy, smoky flavor from fiery chipotle paste.

Hot Honey Brussels Sprout & Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Pickled Shallot & Walnuts

A vegetarian grain bowls with a base of hearty barley is served with a bevy of toppings: roasted sweet potato and brussels sprouts (finished with hot honey), tender kale, pickled shallot, crunchy walnuts, and a dollop of creamy yogurt to bring it all together.

Hungry for more? Find recipes like these in the Blue Apron cookbook.

What to Do If You Can’t Find Turkey & Other Thanksgiving Swaps

Every year people rush to the grocery store before Thanksgiving. The problem is that most of us are searching for the same ingredients. If you’re late to the game, the store could be out of Brussels sprouts or cranberry sauce. This might be a setback, but not even a Turkey shortage will stop us from celebrating. Chef Lili Dagan is here to help you work through any missing ingredient emergencies. We planned an alternative Thanksgiving menu that’s packed with flavor and full of seasonal produce. 

An Alternative Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted cabbage with warm pancetta vinaigrette

If Brussels sprouts are in short supply, this roasted cabbage dish is a great solution. Cabbage is readily available all year round, and it’s from the same family as Brussels sprouts. Once this head of cabbage is roasted and covered with a savory pancetta dressing, you might not even be able to tell the difference. 

Baked beets with hazelnuts and goat cheese

Green beans are in season in the spring, so Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily the best time to find these legumes. Instead of turning to canned beans, try switching to seasonal beets. These delicious baked beets bring sweet and tart flavors to your holiday table. 

Fresh and roasted citrus relish

Thanksgiving is the cranberry’s time to shine. If your store is out of fresh cranberries (or canned cranberry sauce), you can create a sweet and bitter relish using seasonal citrus. This dish combines roasted and citrus to create a complex, tart jam that would be delicious on a turkey sandwich. 

Beef tenderloin with sherry-dijon pan sauce

No alternative Thanksgiving menu would be complete without the protein. If Turkey is out of stock this year, opt for a flavorful beef tenderloin. This dish is faster and easier to prepare than a whole turkey, but will still make for a show-stopping centerpiece.

Looking for more tips from Chef Lili? Check out our guide to making pantry pastas, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

How to Pit Olives

Olives add a salty complexity to salads, flatbreads, and cheeseboards. These fruits are native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and are an essential part of many traditional recipes from those regions. After harvesting, they’re packed in a salty brine that gives them their characteristic kick. Olives grow on trees, and have a hard stone-like pit. Pits are fine for a cheeseboard or snacking situation, but it’s best to remove them if you’re incorporating olives into a recipe. You don’t want to be happily chomping through a pizza only to crack down on a hard pit. Ouch! 

Pitted vs. Unpitted olives 

The main difference here is obvious: pitted olives come with the pit already removed. Removing the pit breaks down the structure of the olive a little bit. In the jar, these olives will continue to break down and absorb flavors from the brine. Pitted olives tend to be slightly mushier and slightly saltier than their pit-containing counterparts. They’ll still have plenty of flavor, but for the best olive experience, we recommend buying them whole. Working with whole olives is easy. Just remove the pit before you move on with your recipe. The easiest way to do this is to apply a little bit of force. 

How to pit olives 

Lay the olives on a cutting board. Working one at a time, place the flat side of a chef’s knife on the olive and smack it firmly with the heel of your hand. This will crush the olive. After it’s crushed, you should be able to pull the pit right out. Set the pits aside, and proceed with your recipe, either by chopping or leaving the crushed olives whole. Watch our chef demonstrate this technique in the video below. 

Recipes we love with olives 

Oregano Chicken & Olive Pan Sauce with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onion & Spinach

chicken with pitted olives

Oregano chicken gets a lift from a bright, zesty pan sauce of olives, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, and sweet date syrup.

Greek Chicken with Olive Tapenade & Creamy Orzo

feta chicken and orzo

This chicken gets its exciting Greek flavor from a coating of dried oregano and a topping of tapenade—a briny, punchy paste made with niçoise olives. For a simple, flavorful side, we’re tossing orzo with roasted Brussels sprouts and Feta cheese.

Orange-Olive Chicken Thighs & Couscous with Vegetables, Feta & Dates

chicken and cous cous and olives

In this dish, you’ll marinate chicken thighs in a zesty combination of our shawarma spice blend, olives, and fresh orange juice, before roasting them in the oven. You’ll serve it alongside sweet peppers, tangy feta, and mint––all over a bed of harissa couscous studded with plump medjool dates for pops of sweetness.

Feta & Olive Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce

feta olive pizza

Crisp, golden brown crust is layered with a classic, lightly spicy red sauce and creamy mozzarella. It’s the perfect base for a marinated topping of briny olives, crumbly feta, and piquante peppers, which garnishes the pizza after baking—adding tangy bursts of flavor in every bite.

Greek Panzanella Salad with Feta & Olives

greek salad

This vibrant Greek salad features classic ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and tangy feta—mixed with crunchy homemade croutons, fresh arugula, and a simple oregano dressing.

Learn How to Make Glaze at Home

hot honey glazed chicken
Hot Honey Butter-Glazed Chicken

Some of your favorite restaurant and takeout dishes are finished with a sticky cooked sauce, also known as a glaze. Replicating these dishes at home doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn how to make two basic glazes, then take these recipes and mix and match them with your favorite ingredients.

A glaze is basically just a cooked sauce. It can be used on vegetables or proteins. The important thing is that it has a sweet element, like honey or sugar. As the glaze cooks down this sweet element caramelizes, gets sticky, and forms a beautiful glossy coat on whatever you’re cooking. This can be accomplished by baking or heating in a frying pan, depending on your desired results. Cooking in a pan creates a smooth, glossy sauce. Baking yields a sticky coating and bring in tons of caramelized flavor.

how to make glazed meatloaf
Hoisin-Glazed Meatloaf

We use this technique in Blue Apron recipes all the time. Two of our favorites are this Asian-inspired hoisin glaze, seen here on a pork meatloaf, and a sweet and spicy hot honey glaze, which we love to spoon over chicken.

Watch the video below to see Chef Lili Dagan demonstrate these recipes, and pick up a few tips for making them at home. After you’ve perfected the process, it’s time to get creative. You can pair these sauces with any protein or vegetable that you enjoy eating.

If you loved this video, check out our guide to making better pantry pasta.

How to Make a Perfect Steak

Making yourself a steak? That’s self-care. There’s something so satisfying about creating a golden brown sear on a beautiful piece of meat. If you learn how to make a perfect steak, you’ll always be able to create a meal for at-home dates, special occasions, or occasions where you’re simply very hungry. Follow our tips for the best results.

how to make a perfect steak

How to make a steak at home

Bring the meat to room temperature

To achieve a golden brown exterior without overcooking the interior, you want to cook the meat quickly. If you start out with cold meat it has to warm up before it begins to caramelize.

Heat up the pan

You want your steak to start sizzling as soon as it hits the pan. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the steak will steam instead of searing. Any moisture lingering in the pan will prevent browning.

make a perfect steak in a pan

Season both sides

Adding salt and pepper to both sides of the steak adds flavor and helps create a golden brown crust.

Feel for texture

Sear the steak on both sides for several minutes. The exact timing will depend on the thickness of your cut, but you’ll be able to tell when the steak is done by feel. Press on the steak with the tip of a finger (be careful not to burn yourself!) It should feel firm to the touch, but still slightly springy.

Let it rest

Letting meat rest preserves moisture. A few minutes on the cutting board will give the juices time to redistribute themselves. That way they won’t all run out when the steak is sliced. This is a perfect time to use the browned fond to create a pan sauce.

Slice against the grain

For the best texture, slice meat against the muscle the grain. Once the meat is cooked, you should be able to see the lines of the muscle fibers running across it. Slice perpendicular to these lines to create tender pieces of steak that will fall apart in your mouth.

Once your steak is sliced, pour a glass of wine and enjoy. If you liked the video, subscribe to our channel.

How-To: Truss A Chicken or Cornish Game Hen

A roast chicken or Cornish game hen is a simple, delicious dinner. Every cook should have her favorite method for roasting a whole bird memorized. Next time you’re preparing a poultry feast, try our method for easy trussing, no butcher’s twine required.

What is trussing?

Trussing is a method of tying up a chicken into a neat little package. Typically it’s done using butcher’s twine. A chef uses twine to tie the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird. Trussing a chicken can improve the appearance of the roasted bird, and can help it cook more evenly.

Why do chefs truss chickens (and Cornish game hens)? 

One of the challenges of roasting a chicken is ensuring that it cooks evenly. When a chicken is lying flat on a tray, the wings and legs tend to fall away from the bird. These small pieces of sections are exposed to more air, and will cook more quickly than the rest of the bird. Trying the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird can help the chicken cook more evenly and prevent the tips of the wings from burning. A trussed chicken also looks neat and pretty when presented whole. 

Do I need to truss a chicken (or Cornish game hen)? 

Trussing a chicken or Cornish game hen isn’t strictly mandatory, but with the no method we use, it’s so easy that there’s no reason not to.

What do I do if I don’t have butcher twine?

I’m glad you asked! Watch the video above to see our chef demonstrate a method for trussing a chicken with no twine. 

How to truss a chicken with no twine 

Using a knife, locate the extra skin flap around the cavity of the bird. Using scissors or a knife, make a small incision in the skin flap. Use your finger to widen the hole. Repeat on the other side of the cavity. 

After both incisions have been made, take hold of one of the drumsticks. Pull it across the body of the chicken and tuck the end of the drumstick through the hole that you created. Repeat with the other drumstick so that the legs are crossed and tucked closely against the bird.

Finally, take hold of the wings of the bird. Push them up and back, as though the chicken were stretching its arms over its head. Push the tips of the wings behind the bird and tuck them into place. This will keep the meat from drying out. 

trussed roasted chicken

Now that you’ve mastered this technique, try our recipe for simple roast chicken.

How To Poach Pears

A poached pear is a pear that has been cooked in a gently simmering liquid. Poached pears can be eaten on their own, or incorporated into dessert or dinner. This is a classic dish to serve in the fall and winter, when most pears are at their best. 

Pick your poaching liquid 

The poaching liquid is the liquid in which the pear is simmered. Depending on what liquid you choose, you can use this to add flavor to your pear. Pears can be poached in wine, or in water that has been spiked with flavorings like spices, honey, or liqueur. 

Prepare the pear

Pear skin has tannins, which could impart a bitter flavor if left on during poaching. To prep your pear for poaching, peel the skin of the pear away with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cut the pear in half vertically and remove the seeds with a melon baller or small spoon. 

Watch carefully 

During poaching, the pear should be mostly submerged in liquid. If too much liquid boils away, you’ll need to add more. The pear is done when it is soft and a knife can easily pierce all the way through. Depending on the size of the pear, this could take 16 to 18 minutes. After the fruit is tender all the way through, allow it to cool in the poaching liquid if time allows. 

Watch a Blue Apron chef demonstrate our favorite method for poaching pears below.

Now that you’ve learned the basics, try this recipe for Poached Pear & Crispy Goat Cheese Salad with Escarole & Walnuts. For this recipe, we flavor our poaching liquid with verjus, honey, juniper berries, mustard seeds and tarragon stems. The result is a slightly sweet fruit with plenty of warm spice. It’s a perfect complement to tanging goat cheese and crisp lettuce. 

Learn more about types of pears here.

How-To: Cut an Apple into Matchsticks

A matchstick cut is a lot what it sounds like–it refers slicing your produce into thin rectangular sticks. It’s often referred to as a julienne cut. Matchsticked apples can be a great addition to a salad, or a fun crunchy topping for a savory dish. The cut may look delicate, but if you know how to do it, it’s not challenging at all. Watch the video below to learn how to cut an apple into matchsticks.

To cut an apple into matchsticks, start by removing the core. With the apple standing upright, make four straight slices to separate each side of the apple from the core. You should end up with four slices of apple, and one rectangular portion containing the core. Discard the core and work with one apple portion at a time.

To form matchsticks, lay the apple portion cut side down on a board. Make vertical cuts from top to bottom to form thin slices all the way across the apple.

Keeping these slices lined up and stand them on their side to form a stack. One side of the stack should be straight, and the other will be the natural round shape of the apple. Start at the flat edge of this stack and make thin cuts all the way across to form thin stick-shaped slices.

Now that you know how to cut apples into matchsticks, try some of our favorite apple recipes.

Recipes with Matchsticked Apples

Pork Chops with Pan Sauce & Apple-Kohlrabi Slaw

 Bright apple, tangy lime, and creamy sesame tahini make a flavorful complement to a seared pork chop.

Center-Cut Pork Chops with Pan Sauce & Apple-Kohlrabi Slaw

Roast Pork with Green Apple & Endive Salad

A crisp apple, mint and raw endive side salad and a garnish of aromatic fennel pollen complete this well-balanced feast.

Roast Pork & Braised Endive with Green Apple & Endive Salad

Sweet Potato & Fontina Pizza with Apple, Celeriac & Arugula Salad

Pair this hearty fall pizza with a seasonal salad topped with matchsticked apples.

How to cut an apple into matchsticks for a salad

Chicken Schnitzel with Watercress, Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad

Thinly pounded chicken cutlets paired with a refreshing salad of baby red beets, watercress and tart apple make a delicious dinner.

Chicken Schnitzel with Watercress, Matchstick Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad

Find more easy how-to videos on Blue Apron’s YouTube channel.

How-To: Small Dice an Onion

Onions belong in pretty much every dinner. We’ll small dice an onion wether we’re making sandwiches, lettuce wraps, or grain bowls. Dicing an onion isn’t difficult, but knowing the proper technique will make it even easier. Follow these steps to master this essential kitchen skill, and watch the video above to see how our chefs do it.

Steps to small dice an onion

Trim the onion ends

With your chef’s knife, slice the top and bottom end off of the onion. Don’t throw these pieces out! You can save onion scraps for homemade stock.

Peel the outer layer

Use your hands to peel away the papery, outermost leaves of the onion. These can go in the trash or compost bin. They tend to hang on to a bit of dirt, and don’t have that much flavor for stock.

dice an onion

Halve through the ends

Stand the onion on one of the newly created flat ends. Use your chef’s knife to slice down the center. Use a sharp knife to avoid bruising the onion.

Make parallel cuts

Place the onion half cut side down on your work surface. Working end to end, cut 2-3 slices almost all of the way through the onion. Stop about 3/4 of the way through, this will help keep the onion together during the following steps. You should be working parallel to your cutting board.

Make long slices

Next, use your knife to make lengthwise cuts, from root end to stem end, all the way through the onion. The distance between your cuts will determine the width of your onion dice.

Cut across

Finally, cut crosswise through the onion. Keep the onion together are you slice by holding it with the tips of your fingers curled back. That way, you can use your knuckles as a guide for the knife, and keep your finger tips out of the way.