Tag: 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.

 

 

 

Mise en Place

As part of our new cooking video series, I want to share an important organizational concept with you known as mise en placeMise en place simply means having everything in place.

Getting Organized

The first step in food preparation is to read the recipe through. Check to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before starting. There is nothing more frustrating than getting midway through a recipe to find you’re out of the next ingredient!

Once you know you have all the ingredients set out the tools and equipment you’ll need. Some basics are:

  • Garbage receptacle for trimmings and package wrappings
  • Bowls for holding prepped food
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Small appliances, such as a mixer blender, food processor or slow cooker
  • Hand tools, such as a peeler, whisk, wooden spoon
  • Cooking equipment, such as pots (lids) and pans, roasting pan, baking sheets, cooking racks
  • Grease or line baking/roasting pans
  • Preheat the oven
  • Sharp chef’s knife and paring knife

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 Food Preparation

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Now you’re ready to get into the nitty gritty of food prep.

  • Wash and dry produce.
  • Blanch and shock any vegetables that need precooking
  • Open canned goods and measure the amount needed if not using the full can.
  • Drain and rinse items like canned beans.
  • Peel, core and/or seed produce
  • Trim meat, poultry, fish
  • Slice, dice, mince, chop and measure

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Start Cooking

Mise en place makes you a confident cook. You know you haven’t forgotten anything and everything is at your fingertips. Follow the recipe instructions adding the ingredients as called for. Mise en place makes cooking fun and relaxing!

Watch the mise en place video here.

 

How To 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 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

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 Trim and Cut Celery Root

Celery root is an unusual looking vegetable. It’s relatively smooth top slopes downward and turns into an octopus-looking creature with all those thick roots hanging out. Cut the roots off and give the outside a good scrub where the dirt hides in those nooks and crannies.

How to Trim and Cut

Remove the root end until there are no noticeable dirty crevices.

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Then remove the top.

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Stand the celery root on the broad, flat root end. Pare the skin off with a sharp knife cutting strips off from top to bottom.IMG_3722

 

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Cut into round slices.

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Cut into strips.

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Turn 90 degrees and cut into cubes. For soup and mashes, smaller chunks cooks faster. For roasted vegetables, try to keep the size similar to the other vegetables you are cooking.

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See the difference in size.

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See our post  for Celery Root and Leek Soup.

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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The Best Way to Peel and Cut an Apple

A few year ago I attended a cooking demo at the International Culinary Center in NYC featuring Jacques Pepin. You would think a group of professional cooks wouldn’t need a lesson in how to peel an apple, however, even the most basic skills can be improved upon. Whether you just want to snack on a peeled and cut apple, or use in a pie, soup, or applesauce, this technique to peel and cut an apple is simple and effective.

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Insert the tip of a sharp paring knife into the stem end of the apple and move diagonally along the top. Repeat the same procedure with the blossom (bottom) end of the apple.

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Peel away the skin with the paring knife, starting at the top.

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Turn the apple round and round to the bottom end.

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Place the apple on a cutting board vertically and cut in half.

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Remove the core from each half with a melon baller.

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If you don’t have a melon baller, a very handy little tool by the way, cut the apple in half again and slide the knife straight across just under the core.

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Remove any remaining stem pieces trim with a paring knife using a “V” cut.

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Bruises:

Transporting from the grocery store to home can bruise the apple. Just cut away and toss.

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Large Pieces

To chop into large pieces, cut the apple into three slices. Turn 90 degrees and cut another three slices.

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Small Pieces

For smaller pieces, cut into as many slices that give you the size you want and then an equal number of slices after turning 90 degrees.

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Diced Apple

Place the apple, cut side on the board, place your hand on the top and slide the knife parallel to the cutting board straight through into three or four slices.

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Cut the apple into thin slices, turn 90 degrees and cut into the same number of slices.

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Sliced Apple

To slice an apple, cut vertically into slices. For a pie, I recommend about 1/2-inch wide slices.

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