From the kitchen of Chef Tse: Basic kitchen safety

We’re living in some pretty challenging times. But right now, we have an incredible opportunity – cooking from home! Some people might be excited to finally get to try some new recipes while others may be terrified. But just think, when have we ever had so much time on our hands to cook a flavorful, healthy meal for our families?

Since we’re all trying to stay safe, let’s talk about safety and sanitation in your home kitchen. Here are my favorite tips:

Cleaning and sanitizing

Most home cooks clean their kitchens, but did you know you should be sanitizing it as well? One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illnesses is cleaning first (getting rid of dirt and grease) and then sanitizing (getting rid of microbes). Start by wiping down the counters and cooking surfaces with a dish soap solution. Follow with a layer of water and then sanitize with an antimicrobial spray – I like mixing bleach and water (mix 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water).

Prepare raw meat last

To avoid cross-contamination, prep all your fresh fruits and vegetable first. Then your dairy. Then your eggs. Once you’re finished, move on to raw meat and poultry. Wash all cutting boards and utensils thoroughly afterward and let air dry or run through the dishwasher.

Keep cold food cold

When we keep potentially hazardous foods such as eggs, cheese, chicken or milk at room temperature, bacteria can begin to multiply. Avoid pulling items out of the refrigerator that you’re preparing until you need them. Or if you prep items in advance, put them back in the refrigerator. This gives you an extra layer of protection against foodborne illnesses.

Microwave your sponges

Ever stop to think about how many microbes are on your sponges? Trust me, they’re dirtier than you think! A simple way to sanitize them is to wet them thoroughly with water and pop them into the microwave for 4 minutes. Let them cool before handling. I like to do this twice a week.

Wash your hands

This goes without saying, right? Not only does washing your hands help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it also gets rid of foodborne bacteria and viruses. When I taught culinary school, hand washing for at least 20 seconds was non-negotiable. Use warm water, above 100 degrees, and soap. Sing happy birthday to yourself – or anyone else around you – twice.

As more and more states are trying to open up, I advise you to be cautious. Please respect the guidelines set forth by your local governments. Even though we all want to return to normal, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Happy, healthy and safe cooking!


Confetti Vegetable Salad with Fusili

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

Make this salad with whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. You can also substitute the fusili with any other fun-shaped pasta. If you make this the night before, the flavors have a chance to marry and become more harmonious. It also works great for a picnic.

Serves 6

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into brunoise*

2 medium zucchini, cut into brunoise

2 medium red peppers, cut into brunoise

1 clove garlic, minced

5 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into brunoise

16 basil leaves, chopped

2 cups dried fusili pasta

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the fusili until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until cold and serve with your favorite main course.

* Cooks note: Brunoise is a cutting method to create small squares. Start by cutting your vegetables into 3-inch lengths. Slice your pieces lengthwise into slices that are about 1/4 inch thick. Now cut your slices lengthwise to create long strips. Turn the strips 90 degrees and slice the strips into squares. It’s important to cut the vegetables as evenly as possible.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 219; Total fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 15mg; Carbohydrate: 30g; Total dietary fiber: 3g; Protein: 11g


Asparagus with Hollandaise and Lemon Vinaigrette

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

Serves 8


3 bunches asparagus, about 3 pounds, ends trimmed



2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper



2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup clarified butter

Freshly squeezed lemon juice


For asparagus:

Tie together asparagus bundles securely with string. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and blanch until tender; about 4 to 7 minutes depending on size. Remove bundles from water and plunge into ice bath. Once cool, remove string and dry asparagus on paper towels.

For vinaigrette:

Whisk together lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Whisk in oil and herbs.

For hollandaise:

Whisk together eggs and water a medium stainless steel bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water on medium heat. Continue whisking until mixture becomes thick, foamy and light, about 7 minutes. Whisk should leave tracks in the bottom of the bowl when mixture is fully cooked. If mixture sticks to sides of the bowl, do not scrape off or sauce will be lumpy. Remove bowl from heat and slowly whisk in clarified butter. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

To serve, divide asparagus among plates. Spoon hollandaise over one side of asparagus and vinaigrette over other. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 117; total fat: 9g; cholesterol: 64mg; sodium (not including additional seasoning): 7mg; carbohydrate: 7g; total dietary fiber: 4g; protein: 5g


Caramelized Lemon Chicken with Broccoli and Spinach

From the kitchen of Chef Tse

Serves 2

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 8 ounces, cut in half

1 lemon, well washed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

2 sprigs thyme plus 1 teaspoon leaves

2 cups broccoli florets

4 cups baby spinach


Season chicken with salt if desired. Cut lemon in half. Juice one half and cut remaining half in thin slices.

Heat a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and when hot, add garlic, thyme sprigs and chili flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and sear until colored, about 2 minutes. Add lemons, turn chicken over and sear on the second side.

Push chicken to the side of pan and add broccoli and lemon juice. Season with salt if desired. Sauté chicken and broccoli until chicken is cooked through and broccoli is tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. If the pan gets dry during cooking, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

Remove chicken and broccoli from pan. Discard thyme sprigs. Add remaining teaspoon olive oil, spinach and thyme leaves. Toss and cook just until spinach wilts, about 1 minute.

Add spinach to chicken and broccoli. Toss and serve.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 254; total fat: 11g; cholesterol: 65mg; sodium (not including additional seasoning): 147mg; carbohydrate: 12g; total dietary fiber: 5g; protein: 30g


About Chef Tse

After 12 years in marketing and sales, Tse shed her corporate responsibilities and headed to France. There she studied both cuisine and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, finishing first in both disciplines. After graduation, she turned her sights on Parisian kitchens, completing a grueling internship at Le Restaurant Guy Savoy, a three Michelin-star restaurant. She then studied pastry at the internationally famous Pierre Hermé making macarons, cakes, and composed desserts.

When she returned to the U.S., Tse was a regular guest KATU Channel 2’s AM Northwest cooking seasonal ingredients with the hosts. Tse also became the Healthy Cooking Ambassador for Regence BlueCross BlueShield teaching cooking classes, filming videos, doing demos and creating recipes. She joined the Providence team in 2016, overseeing the operations at three cafes at Saint Vincent Hospital. Tse has also spent seven years teaching students at all three Portland culinary schools: The Art Institute of Portland's International Culinary Program, Le Cordon Bleu and Oregon Culinary Institute. She is now a Culinary Consultant for Sysco Portland where she helps restaurants with menu design, recipe development and staff training.

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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