Category: Knife Skills

How to Slice Vegetables

sliced onions

Watch our latest video on How to Slice Vegetables. It may seem pretty straight forward, but we include a couple of tips for different shapes, including a  unique one for a crudité platter. Try our recipe for Scallion Parsley Humus!

See our Knife Skills Master Playlist here.

crudite platter celery

Cutting celery and carrots is exactly what you’d think. Slice across into the thickness you want. Carrots can be sliced as whole or half coins. Learn how to make an interesting shape for larger chunks of carrot in a stew that are just a wee bit fancy!

credit carrots

How to Slice Video

How to Dice

Many recipes call for dicing vegetables. Any slow cooke sauce or soup starts with  mirepoix, a combination of diced onions, celery, and carrots (ratio 2:1:1) as the foundation of the flavor base.Let us show you how to dice vegetables.

How to Dice an Onion

Common sizes are ¼-inch and ½-inch dice. Take the onion and slice a thin piece off the root end to get rid of the dirt and dried roots.

Removing a thin slice from the root end.

Cut the top off, stand the onion on the flat end and slice in half. Remove the skin and place the cut side flat on the cutting board. Place the heel of your chef’s knife against the top of the onion ¼- or ½-inch from the board and pull the knife back almost to the root end. Leave this small amount uncut to keep the onion intact. Repeat until you get to the top of the onion.

One-half-inch layers.

Turn the onion toward you with the root at the back. Make the same size slits across the onion without cutting through the root.

One-half-inch cuts across the top - keeping the root end intact.

Be sure to tuck your fingers under yourknuckles and keep your knuckles forward when slicing. The side of the knife runs into knuckles and your fingers are safely tucked away from the sharp blade.

Tuck your finger under and knuckles forward for safety.

Turn the onion back to it’s original position make same size slices.

Final cut down the onion in 1:2-inch slices.

Here’s a shot of a 1/4-inch dice (background) and 1/2-inch dice (front).

1:4-inch dice in background, 1:2-inch dice in front.

How to Dice Celery

Take a celery stalk and cut in half if very long for easier handling. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and each half into 1/2-inch sticks or 1/4-inch sticks.

Cut the celery lengthwise in half and each half in half for a 1:4-inch dice.

Turn the stalks and slice into a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch dice.

Dicing celery.

How to Dice Carrots

Carrots have an odd shape, very large at the top tapering to a narrow end. Depending on the length and diameter of the carrot cut in half or in thirds. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place the flat side down and cut into 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch slices.

Slice the carrot in half then in half again and once more for a 1:4-inch dice.

Now cut each slice into 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch pieces. Lay these sticks side by side and cut across into a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch dice.

One-quarter inch dice.

Watch the How to Dice video here.

 

How to Mince

Many recipes, such as dips and sauces, require very small pieces of uniformly cut food called a mince.

The primary reason for this small size is to infuse flavor. The more cuts made in a food more flavor cells are exposed. Quick cooking techniques, such as a panfrying or cooking in a wok, benefit from mincing vegetables, especially aromatics like garlic, shallot or chili peppers, to maximize flavor.

Try our recipe for Guacamole, which uses minced garlic, red onions and jalapeño.

Watch the How to Mince Video.

 

 

 

Keep your Knife Sharp

Manual knife sharpener and knife steel

Keep your knife sharp to work smart in the kitchen! We constantly bang our knives on cutting boards made of all kinds of material, wood, plastic, granite. That constant banging dulls even the sharpest blade and the hardest metal over time.

A simple and inexpensive manual knife sharpener keeps your blade honed to a fine sharp edge when used regularly. A few swipes across a steel smooths the edge after sharpening and in between knife tasks.

Once a year I send my knives out for professional sharpening. Those first few weeks, we have to be very careful handling them – they are honed to a very fine edge and little nicks on hands are a common occurrence!

I have quite a few knives from Cutco and use their knife sharpener with great results. These are moderately priced, well made knives that are dishwasher safe.

Use a 45 degree angle and run your knife from the top to the bottom of a knife steel sharpener to smooth the edge of a just sharpened knife or between knife tasks.

A sharp knife is a safe knife. A dull knife requires more pressure to cut through food and that pressure is likely to cause a slip of the knife and make a nick or a cut in your hand.

Watch our Sharp Knife video here.

 

How to Choose the Right Knife

Carbon Steel Knife

The most important tool for any cook is a knife. How to choose the right knife requires some background information. There are so many brands, styles and types to choose from it can be overwhelming.

There are different types of steel to choose from: carbon steel, carbon stainless steel and stainless steel. Which is best for maintaining a sharp edge the longest? Which is easiest to clean?

Should your knife have a full tang, a half tang or a rat-tail tang?

What length of blade is appropriate for you?

How does the handle feel?

How’s the weight/heft of the knife?

What brand should I choose? There are so many brands and styles. The Japanese have made huge inroads into the American marketplace, which only complicates the decision-making process.

I recommend the Cutco brand to my students. This is an excellent, high-quality knife that is moderately priced. They also sharpen their brand knives for free. You pay shipping both ways. For me this a bargain; I have two full sets (one was kept at NYU when I was teaching) and steak knives. The shipping is $14.o0 for around 30 or so knives.

Chef's Knife

Are there basic knives that every cook should have? Absolutely.

The knives below are a 10-inch chef’s knife, a bread knife (serrated edge is best especially for crusty breads) and a utilitarian paring knife for small tasks.

Carbon Stainless Steel

These are all important factors to decide on when selecting a knife.

Check out our playlist on YouTube for a complete lesson in knives and knife skills.

Watch the How to Choose a Knife video here and get the answers to all the above questions.

 

For additional information see a comprehensive review of knives on review.com.

 

How to Prepare Citrus Supremes

Do you ever get tired of peeling an orange and then scraping off the pith to get to the sweet juicy segments?  Eating a grapefruit with the segment skin on is too bitter for my taste and I always feel that
too much of the grapefruit goes to waste when you halve it and use a knife or grapefruit spoon to free the segments . That’s why I love citrus supremes. These glistening little jewels perk up any salad. Macerate the slices in a liqueur for a couple of hours for a delightful and refreshing dessert. Or just let them fall into a bowl and devour them!

Grapefruit Supremes

Take a grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime or any citrus fruit

IMG_3843Slice off one end to expose the flesh.

How To: Make Citrus Supremes

Slice off the other end.

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Stand the fruit on one of the flat ends and slide the knife down the sides, top to bottom, to remove  the peel and pith.

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Continue all the way around the fruit. Be sure to get all the pith, and as little of the fruit as possible. Trim any remaining pith.

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Hold the fruit in your hand, over a bowl to capture the flowing juices, and slide the blade down the side of the segment separating it from it’s outer skin. Once you reach the center of the fruit, tilt the knife under the segment and lift it up and off the other side.

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Repeat with each segment.

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Squeeze to get all the juice.

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Print

How to Prepare Citrus Supremes

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • Grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime

Instructions

  1. Slice off both ends of the fruit, exposing the flesh.
  2. Stand the fruit on one of the flat sides and draw the knife down top to bottom, removing the peel and pith. Continue all the way around the grapefruit. Trim any remaining pith.
  3. Hold the grapefruit in your hand, over a bowl to catch the flowing juices, and slide the blade down the segment to separate it from the skin. Stop at the center, tilt the knife under the segment and lift off.
  4. Continue until all the segments are removed.
  5. Squeeze the juice into a small container.

 

How to Seed and Mince Jalapeño

The jalapeño is a green chili pepper commonly used in Mexican cooking. The Scoville Scale measures the heat level of chili peppers and sauces. The jalapeño is on the low end, ranging from about 2500 to
8000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The peppers’ pungency is given in a range because one pepper’s heat may vary from another of the same species. This is due to temperature, water and soil conditions.

Compare this rating to the habanero chili at 100,000 to 350,000 SHU and you might think the jalapeño is mild, but I wouldn’t just bite into one, you are bound to feel some pain!

The high concentration of capsaisin, or heat, lies in the whitish veins, not the seeds. If you want the extra heat, leave it on, if you want to lower the heat, cut it away. Removing the vein does not eliminate the heat, it’s also in the essential oils within the pepper. Be careful when handling chilies because those essential oils transfer to your fingers and rubbing your eyes, even after washing your hands, can be a very unpleasant experience. Wear gloves if you’re particularly sensitive or cutting many peppers at once.

IMG_2503This is the vein that holds the highest concentration of capsaisin.

How to Cut and Mince and Jalapeño

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Slice off the stem end of the jalapeño and cut in half lengthwise.

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Slide the edge along the vein from top to bottom and then under the vein from side to side.

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Slice the jalapeño lengthwise into very thin strips.

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Turn the jalapeño 90 degrees and cut in a mince.

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How To Peel a Butternut Squash

 

Butternut squash is a versatile ingredient. Peel, seed and cut into slices or cubes and boil for a quick and easy mashed side dish. Add a little salt and pepper. Here’s a primer on how to peel a butternut squash. Don’t be intimated by the tough skin; a good, sharp vegetable peeler does the job.

Look for a squash with the stem end still attached and one that is firm and weighty. The outer skin is tough and inedible, but provides a protective coat that allows the squash to be stored in cool, dry spots for weeks, and as a side benefit, it becomes sweeter with storage time. The pear-shaped squash is solid through the neck and the bulbous portion contains a pocket of seeds, which are edible after cleaning and roasting, similar to pumpkin seeds. The flesh color is a vibrant golden yellow, rich in carotene, vitamins A and C and the squash is high in fiber.

Use peeled, cubed butternut squash in soups, added to stews or tossed with other cut up vegetables, such as red potatoes, shallots, Brussels sprouts, and/or turnips. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and a herb blend such as herbs de Provence, and roast at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Timing varies depending on size of cubed vegetables.

See other posts on butternut squash: Roasted Butternut Squash, Curried Butternut Squash Soup, and Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken, Rice and Spinach.

Step by Step Instructions on Peeling a Butternut Squash

Wash the Squash

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Wash and dry the squash, then cut off the top and bottom. Notice the moisture beads on the bottom of the squash; it makes the squash a little slippery

Peel the SquashIMG_0670

Lay the squash on its side. Peel the bulb first, using the neck to hold onto to prevent slipping. Peel the bottom skin off by cutting away the rim with a vegetable peeler. Keep going around and around until you get to the neck.

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Peel the neck in long, straight lines and then go over the whole squash to remove any green lines. The squash should be bright yellow; if not you have not peeled enough away. Use a paper towel to hold the bulb if it’s too slippery.

Slice the Squash in Half Lengthwise

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Stand the squash up on its wide bottom and with a sharp chef’s knife slice the squash in half lengthwise.

Remove the seeds

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Lie the squash flat with the cut side up and use a soup spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Small Pieces for Boiling and Puréeing

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Flip the squash over onto the cut side. Thinly slice crosswise into approximately 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices.

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Then cut lengthwise into similar-sized cubes.

Larger Pieces for Roasting

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Slice crosswise into one-inch slices.

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Then cut each slice three or four times to get similar-sized pieces.

 

 

 

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How To: Peel a Butternut Squash

Follow these step-by-step instructions to peel and seed a butternut squash.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 squash
  • Category: Knife Skills

Ingredients

  • 1 two and one-half pound butternut squash

Instructions

Wash and dry the squash, then cut off the top and bottom. Notice the moisture beads on the bottom of the squash? That’s why we’ll start by removing the bottom skin first; holding onto the neck with the skin intact is less slippery.

Lay the squash on its side, hold it by the neck and peel the bottom skin off by cutting away the rim with a vegetable peeler. Keep going around and around until you get to the neck.

Peel the neck in long, straight lines and then go over the whole squash to remove any green lines. The squash should be bright yellow; if not you have not peeled enough away. Use a paper towel to hold the bulb if it’s too slippery.

Stand the squash up on its wide bottom and with a sharp chef’s knife slice the squash in half lengthwise.

Lie the squash flat with the cut side up and use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds.

Cut small pieces for boiling and puréeing: Flip the squash over onto the cut side. Thinly slice crosswise into approximately 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices. Then cut lengthwise into similar-sized cubes.

Cut larger pieces for roasting: Slice crosswise into one-inch slices. Then cut each slice three or four times to get similar-sized pieces.

Notes

Use peeled, cubed butternut squash in soups, added to stews or tossed with other cut up vegetables, such as red potatoes, shallots, Brussels sprouts, and/or turnips. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and a herb blend such as herbs de Provence, and roast at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Timing varies depending on size of cubed vegetables.