HOW TO PEEL A POMEGRANATE
Fresh pomegranate seeds (actually called “arils”) are a great winter treat but extracting them without staining clothing, rugs and people is a challenge.
To avoid the horror show, follow these steps.
Using a sharp knife, slice a 1/2-inch off of the stem end of the pomegranate. Place that cut side down on a cutting board and cut a shallow circle around the “crown” and remove.
Use a paring knife to make about five vertical cuts along the ridges on the pomegranate skin, top to bottom, through red skin, not the seeds.
Fill a large bowl with cool water and gently peel the fruit underwater so the arils sink and the membranes float. Skim the top and strain the arils and emerge unstained. And voilà—beautiful red seeds sans the mess!
HOW TO POP A CHAMPAGNE CORK
The first rule about opening any bottle of sparkling wine is to make sure it’s chilled, somewhere near 45 degrees. Opening a warm bottle of bubbly guarantees flying corks and wasted wine.
Next, always twist the bottle, NOT the cork.
Start by holding the bottle against yourself pointed away from people and peel the foil. With a kitchen towel in your hand (just in case), untwist the wire cage while keeping pressure on the cork. Holding the cork in one hand, gently twist the bottom of the bottle and pull until you hear that satisfying “pop.” Cheers!
HOW TO ROAST CHESTNUTS
You can hear Nat “King” Cole crooning the words, but actually serving chestnuts roasted over an open fire to holiday guests takes a little planning.
That open fire can be the open flame of a burner, a camp stove or your backyard grill. If you don’t have a perforated grill pan, make one by punching big holes in a recyclable aluminum pie pan. This allows the flames to directly torch the chestnuts.
To roast fresh chestnuts in an oven, cut an X shape into the round side of each nut. If you don’t do this, they explode! Place chestnuts on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven. Roast until the skins pull back from the cuts, about 15 to 25 minutes. Leave them in the oven until the insides have really softened. Wrap hot nuts in a towel in a bowl and serve. To eat, snap off the shell and peel off the papery skin. Such a simple yet festive holiday delight.