Tips & Techniques for Onlinechef featured recipes:

Chiffonade Basil:

1. Pluck basil leaves from their stems and stack on top of each other.

2. Roll the leaves from top to bottom into a "cigar".

3. While holding the basil "cigar", make thin slices across the rolled leaves, making sure to cut all the way through the leaves.

4. Lift and drop slices to seperate the slices.

To Char-Grill Peppers:

1. If you have a gas range, place peppers directly on the burner.

2. Using a tongs, turn the peppers after the skin has blistered and turned black.

3. If you are using a charcoal or gas grill, place peppers on the grates of the grill.

4. Using a tongs, turn the peppers after the skin has blistered and turned black.

5. After peppers are entirely blackened, place in a stainless steel bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

6. Condensation will form on the top of the plastic, producing steam. As the peppers cool in the bowl, the steam will seperate the skins from the pepper.

7. When the peppers are cool enough to touch, gently remove the skins, tops, and seeds from the peppers. Do not put peppers under running water, as this dilutes their charcoal taste.

8. Slice into strips to use in recipe.

To Strip Leaves Off Herbs:

1. Hold the stem in your hand.

2. Gently run your fingers from top to bottom, taking care not to include the stem in the leaves.

3. Some stalks are stronger, and therefore easier, to de-stem. Just be gentle and patient.

To Salt Eggplant to Remove Bitterness:

1. Cut off the bud end of the eggplant.

2. Stand the eggplant on the cut end and using a small paring knife, slice away the purple skin, using long even strokes.

3. After removing the skin, slice eggplant into rounds.

4. Slice each round into strips and slice each strip into cubes.

5. Place the cubes into a colander and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

6. Allow the eggplant to sit in a sink to drain for 30 minutes.

7. Wash off the salt and pat dry with a paper towel. The eggplant is now ready to be cooked.

Mincing Hot Chilis (for spicey curried crab bisque):

When mincing any hot chilis, wear close-fitting surgical gloves or rubber dishwashing gloves. This will keep the capsicum juices from harming you. Remember to remove both the seeds and the membranes if you want less "hot" in your dish.

Caramelized Sugar (for Creme Brulee):

Hint: Sugar can be caramelized in two ways. Place the ramekins under the broiler, watch carefully until just lightly browned. Or caramelize sugar the way pastry chefs prefer. Light a standard blow torch and lightly wave over top of the ramekins until the sugar darkens and the top appears glazed.

Cream (for Creme Brulee):

If you can find a product called "manufacturing cream", use that instead of heavy cream. Manufacturing cream contains 33% butterfat (as opposed to heavy cream which contains 31% butterfat) and makes a richer custard. This is what restaurants most commonly use in their creme brulee's.