How To Sauté

Sautéing is a cooking technique for browning meat in a little bit of oil or a combination of oil and butter. When referring to meat I mean steak, lamb, pork, veal, chicken or fish. This technique is good for a piece of meat up to 3/4-inch thick.


Rinse the pan (iron skillet if not making a sauce otherwise stainless steel).
Dry over high heat.
Turn the heat to medium.
Add a small amount of oil or a combination of oil and butter.
Usually the meat is lightly coated in flour, salt and pepper. Salmon, swordfish, tuna, and steak would be four exceptions; no flour is needed.
I like to tap off the excess flour.
Lower the meat into the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Once nicely browned, turn and then sauté on the other side.
If you have a thin piece of fish you might only sauté on the second side for a few seconds lest the fish be overcooked. Just go for that mahogany brown on one side when you are dealing with a thin piece of fish.
If the pan is smoking, turn down the heat.
If you do not hear anything (a good sizzling sound) then turn up the heat.

Tips for Sautéing Success

  • To avoid sticking, heat the pan before you add the oil.
  • The meat must be dry in order to achieve the desired crusty brown and to avoid sticking.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan because the meat will steam instead of sauté.
  • For a gluten-free option, I coat in water chestnut powder instead of flour.
  • Be mindful of the pan drippings as you don’t want them to get too dark if you are making a sauce.

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf © Karen Lee 2013

Last night I made dinner for three of my classmates from the Rudolf Steiner  School. They were in town for our reunion.



Red Kidney Beans with Garlic Rosemary Oil

Mixed Grain Baguette from Orwashers  Bakery (I bought it at Citeralla)

Grey Sole Meunière

A Sauté of Asparagus an Shitake Mushrooms

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf



For the rice dish, I was looking in my pantry with all the different grains I have.

I wanted to make a simple rice pilaf, but with a different twist.

I decided to try combining short grain brown rice with red rice.

Lynn Rubin, a dear friend and one of my once a month regular students, had brought me some red rice when vacationing in the Camargue region in the south of France.

It turned out beautifully and I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Rice Recipe

1 cup short grain rice

¼ cup red rice

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup diced leeks or onions

¾ teaspoon salt

A pinch of cayenne

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 cups stock ( chicken, turkey, or vegetable)  heated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or scallions


Wash and drain the brown and red rice.

Put the rice in a bowl, cover it with cold water, swish it around with your hand.  Particles of dirt will float to the top, then pour them  off.  Drain in a strainer.

Place the stock in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

In a 2-3 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting cover, (my favorite pot in which to cook rice is Le Creuset, which is cast iron coated with enamel) heat the pot for one minute over a high flame.  Add the olive oil, turn the flame to low  and then add the leeks.  Sauté for 2 minutes .

Add the salt , cayenne, and turmeric.

Turn the flame to medium high and add the washed, drained grains.

Using a wooden spoon stir to coat the rice with the oil for about 2 minutes.

Add the heated stock, bring to a boil, stir cover and turn the flame to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes take a peek , you may need to raise the flame slightly.

The rice is done when you see ” fish eyes” or steam holes, the stock has been completely absorbed into the rice, and the grains are cooked through.

Turn off the heat and let the rice ” relax” for 15 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions.

The rice will stay warm for up to one hour.

Store left over rice in the frig for up to 5 days.

You can buy red rice at Fair Way and Whole Foods.

Try to catch a sale if you are interested in buying a Le Creuset pot. Sometimes department stores run a sale when the company is discontining the color.

Store turmeric in the refrigerator to maximize the scent.

If using a commerical stock, omit the salt in the recipe.

Chopsticks and Their Many Uses

I love to eat with chopsticks, but additionally …students are amazed to see me use chopsticks to accomplish so many tasks in the kitchen. Some are listed below.

Chopsticks are great for….

Stirring (hold 4 together) instead of using a wooden spoon.

Using as a swivel stick and cocktail mixer for making a Mojito and other cocktails.

Peeling ginger, leveling off dry spices in a measuring spoon, and leveling off  measuring cups when baking … all with the square end of the chopstick.

Making a “Chinese Wooden Whisk” (holding a bunch together) for mixing anything from eggs, to a mustard sauce, to dry ingredients for a cake.

Pulling the roasting pan toward you in the oven when there are no handles.

Re-stirring a slurry (or binder) just before adding to a sauce to thicken it.

Removing an olive or caper from a tall narrow jar.

Tasting a sauce  instead of using a spoon.  So little adheres to the surface of the chopstick, so you save calories. Because it is wood, it cools off immediately and you never burn your mouth.

Tasting a rice pilaf to test if the rice is done.

Inserting between the oven door and the oven when you want the oven to be ajar

Cleaning hard to reach places. I dampen a paper towel, spray it with a house hold cleaner, then wrap it around a chopstick and go right to the spot.

Creating a make shift rack when roasting a chicken by assembling 4 chopsticks in a square pattern on the bottom of the pan.

Chopsticks can entertain children as well by …

Teaching children eye hand coordination.  Just lifting cheerio’s and other cereals with chopsticks is fun for young kids.

Playing improvisational games. Guess what I am   doing?

Conducting an orchestra, fencing, playing a flute, harmonica, violin, trumpet.

Teaching letters and shapes.

Make the letter T or W or E or F. Make a square or a triangle

The possibilities are endless!!!

I buy 12 pairs of bamboo chopsticks for just $1.00 at Kam Man 200 Canal Street, NYC. Sometimes I find them at Gracious Homes. But remember, buy the bamboo, not the plastic.



Basic Equipment for Kitchen

These are some basic items that I have found to be useful in the kitchen. For those of you just starting out, this is a great list to refer to when setting up a kitchen.  I will start by suggesting the knives I use most frequently, followed by pots/pans/skillets and finish with miscellaneous items I frequently use. For those of you in New York City you can find many of these items at Zabar’s, 2nd Floor. For those of you not in New York City, I recommend searching on Amazon or JB Prince or visiting your local culinary or department stores.


Cooking requires preparation and to allow preparations go smoothly it’s important to have sharp knives. These are the knives that I use in my kitchen and they are good quality and inexpensive. A good place to buy the knives is at Zabar’s, 2nd floor. This is a less expensive option than the internet, but some can be found at your local department and culinary stores.

Victorinox Serrated Paring/Utility Knife 4 ½  inches – I use this knife all the time for cutting fruit and other small cutting jobs. I buy a new one every year because you cannot sharpen serrated knives.

Victorinox Straight Edge Paring Knife or WUSTHOF Silverpoint Straight Edge Paring Knife 3 1/4 inches – This knife is excellent for garnishes, peeling fruit and other small jobs.

Victorinox Santoku Knife 7 inches or Higher End Santoku 7 inch blade with or without granton (ridges) – These knives are great for cutting all vegetables.

Victorinox 10 1/4 inch Wavy Edge Bread Knife with Fibrox Handle –  It is important to have a bread knife for safety reasons and to preserve the sharpness of your other knives.

Dexter Curved Chinese Cleaver w/ Walnut Handle Stainfree High Carbon –  This knife is good for mincing vegetables and herbs, cutting poultry raw or cooked, and slicing raw meat.

Mino Sharp Knife Sharpener 440GB –  There are a lot of different choices for knife sharpeners, but I like the basic one with two slots for sharpening knives.


I like to use stainless steel, iron and enamel. I never use tephlon. Aluminum is a last choice. For the stainless steel pots I recommend Sitram (French), AllClad (American), Paderno (Italian). For the enamel pots I like LeCreuset. And for the iron skillets I like Wagner or Lodge. Here is a list of essential pots, pans and skillets. Sometimes they have starter sets on sale in different culinary shops and department stores. If not here is a a good startup list of pots and pans I recommend:

7-8 inch Fry Pan

10 inch Fry or Sauté Pan

14 inch Fry or Sauté Pan

Small Rondeau Sitram Pot – This is a round pot with 4 inch sides, handles and a cover

4 to 6 Quart Stock Pot (which can double as a pasta pot)

1 ½  Quart and a 3-4 Quart Stainless Steel Sauce Pans

Iron Skillet – a small one (6 1/4 inches) for roasting nuts and small amounts of vegetables. I use this constantly. And then a 10 or 12 inch skillet for sautéing meat, poultry and fish.

14 Inch Oval Steel Fish Skillet – The size and shape allow for greater ease when cooking fish. I highly recommend if you sauté or pan roast fish frequently. There are two weights, get the heavier one.

5 Quart LeCreuset Oval or Round – This is perfect for rice and braising meat.


I acquired these items either through Amazon or Zabar’s, 2nd Floor.

Kuhn Rikon Vegetable Peeler –  This is sharp and fast.

Amco Stainless Steel Bowls: A variety of different sizes (at least 4 to 6) would be good for multipurpose in the kitchen. A much better choice than glass.

6 ½  Inch Chinese Wire Strainer or a French Spider – I use these for fishing out pasta or vegetables from boiling water. Or for lifting fried foods out of fat.

Stainless Steel Tongs

Krups Electric Coffee Mill – For grinding spices

Rubber Spatula – Find a flexible one, like Rubbermaid

14 Inch Flat Bottom Rolled Steel Single Wood Handle Wok – Amazon is the best place to find this item or

Wok Spatula

Wooden Spoons

Flexible Metal Slotted Spatula with Wood Handle

Solid Metal Spatula – I recommend 2 sizes, one small and large

Offset Metal Spatula – I recommend 2 sizes, one small and large if you are into baking.

Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons

Stainless Steel Graduated Measuring Cups

Pyrex Measuring Cup

Bottle Opener (Church Key)

Pastry Brush – I really like Ateco brand. But a small paint brush from a hardware store works well too.

Can Opener – Swing A Way is the only brand I use.

Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop

VacuVin – For resealing wine

2 Half Size Sheet Pans

Parchment Paper – This is used for cooking fish and lining sheet pans to cut down on the use of butter when baking cookies.

Cheese Cloth – I use this for straining and making dumplings.

Bamboo Chopsticks – I will discuss in my next blog the importance of Bamboo Chopsticks. Please stay tuned.



Pan Roasted Strip Steak

Pan roasting is a wonderful restaurant technique that easily can be applied to a home kitchen. It produces a crusty exterior and a moist interior. Pan roasting is a good technique to use with a thick piece of animal protein. Veal chop, pork chop, a cut piece of chicken with or without the bone, a thick fish fillet. An iron skillet is essential.


  • Pick out a well-marbled steak. Prime aged is a first choice.
  • Prime is a second choice.  Sometimes you can also find a good Choice steak if it is well marbled.
  • Marbling is the key (that’s the white streaks of fat running through the steak).
  • Heat the pan before you add the oil.
  • Once the steak is in the pan, don’t move it until it builds a crust.
  • Let the steak rest before slicing.

Pan Roasted Strip Steak

Serving Size: 2 or more servings depending on how many side dish


  • One strip steak, 1 to 1¼ pounds, about 1¼ to 1½ inches thick
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed slightly, cut in half, green stem removed
  • 2 generous sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Take the steak out of the wrapping and wipe down with a damp paper towel.
  2. If time permits, place the steak on a plate, place in the frig and let it air out for 12 to 24 hours without a cover.
  3. Rub down the steak with a teaspoon of olive oil on each side. Then season on both sides with salt, pepper. Rub the steak down with the crushed garlic and then lay the rosemary sprigs on top of the steak. Let marinate a few hours if time permits.
  4. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees
  5. Heat a 10-inch iron skillet over high heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining oil and circulate it by tilting the pan.
  7. Place the steak in the center of the skillet. Don’t move it.
  8. Turn the heat to medium or medium high and let it establish a crust (3-4 minutes).
  9. While the steak is sautéing add the garlic and rosemary. As soon as the garlic and rosemary turn brown, place them on top of steak.
  10. Before turning the steak, use chopsticks or a pair of tongs to remove the rosemary and garlic to a plate.
  11. Turn steak and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Place the garlic and rosemary again on top of the steak.
  12. When the steak is brown and crusty place it in the oven for another 2-4 minutes.
  13. Remove skillet with steak from oven then place the steak on a wood board and let it rest 4 minutes before slicing.

I like to use an instant read thermometer. Immediately after removing the steak insert the thermometer into the steak side ways:

  • 120 for rare
  • 125 for medium rare
  • 130 for medium
  • 140 for medium well
  • 150 for well done

Stocking Stuffer: Instant Read Thermometer

My instant read thermometer is in constant use.  I start every morning with boiling and cooling my water for green tea.  Just under 180 degrees for green tea.  I prefer the one made by Taylor. You take the meat’s temperature when it comes out of the oven.  Never leave the thermometer in the oven.  It is sold in many stores and available online.  Gracious Homes has the Taylor. Cost is around $12.00.

For Meat, i.e. beef, pork or lamb

  • 120 to 125 rare
  • 135 to 140 medium
  • 150 for medium well
  • 160 for well done

For Chicken

  • 170 to 175

Always let meat and poultry rest for 3 to 4 minutes before slicing.  It makes it more tender.

Stocking Stuffer: Chef’s Knife

The Japenese version of the French Chef’s knife is called Santoku.  It is great for  dicing, and slicing, even slicing cooked meat such as a roast turkey or broiled steak.  For chopping or mincing I use a heavier knife I will write about another time.   The blade is made of high carbon no-stain steel. “Carefully wrapped, it is a great stocking stuffer.”

I love to recommend the Santoku 7-inch from Victorinox (SKU 41529, Fibrox handle; Forschner, NSF).  I buy it at Zabars on the second floor for around $35.00.  You can also get it online at various websites.


  • Always wash your knife by hand.
  • Dry and put knife away after use.
  • Never let knife soak in water.
  • Never put in the dishwasher.