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Knife Skills – Chop, Dice, Slice

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Summer Rolls

Called bánh tráng, rice paper is among the main staples in the Vietnamese kitchen and used to roll these delicious street food treats.

Ingredients 

  • 200 grams pork neck or fillet
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams rice vermicelli
  • Thai basil, mint, carrot
  • rice paper

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoon rice vermicelli
  • 1 large chilli

Method

  1. Marinade the pork and the garlic in the oil with the salt and black pepper. Rest for 30 minutes

    Either grill or oven roast until cooked through

    Thinly slice the meat ready to use.

  2. Fill a wide shallow bowl partway with water. The water temperature depends on the type of rice paper. In general, thinner rice paper requires cooler water. 
  3. After a rice paper is dipped, it takes a minute or two to fully soften and become usable. It’s ready for wrapping and rolling when it’s pliable and slightly tacky.
  4.  
  5. When wrapping with a rice paper circle, centre the filling in the bottom third. Bring the lower edge up over the filling, then fold in the two side flaps, and then roll the entire thing up.
  6.  
  7. For the dipping sauce combine all the ingredients
  8.  
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Knife skills

Whether we are a professional chef or a keen amateur home cook we need our knifes to be in good condition. There are many expensive brands on the market, but before we go out and buys these knifes, we must first feel the weight of the handle grip.

In kitchens many French culinary terms are used for different cuts of vegetables and meats. There Brunoise small dice, Mirepoix Diced etc. Having a knowledge of these actually does help, Google and discover a little more of this world of cuts.

Knifes a little more information: Kitchen Knives are an essential part of any kitchen and you will normally find a selection of knives in most kitchens and homes. Why do we have a selection of knifes in our kitchens?

The knives we have in our kitchens are all there for different reasons. We have sharp knives for chopping as well as serrated knives for cutting bread as well as knives for eating a steak with. These are only some of the different knives found within a kitchen and there are many others for many different tasks

If you cook a lot, then you will understand the importance of having access to a different selection of knives whilst cooking. These are like different tools to a carpenter. Cooks tend to have different sets and types of knives but do not always care for their knives properly.

How do I care for my knives?

If you have purchased a set of kitchen knives, then invariably it will have also come with a storage block. This block has several different great benefits. The obvious one for most is that it is a great place to store their knives. Another great benefit is that it will store your knives in such a manner that the sharp parts are hidden and therefore makes them safe. A third benefit that many people overlook is that the storage of your knife set in the block will prevent the knives from being damaged and it will protect the cutting edge for you.

How Do I Know a Good Set of Knives?

A good set of knives are made from good steel and with a full tang into the handle. The handle is also made of a suitably strong material. And because of this you will pay slightly more for them. That said the knives, if looked after properly will outlast most other cheaper versions of knives.

Care For Knives:

Other ways you can take care of your knives is by the way you wash and dry them. I recommend that you only wash your knives in mild soapy warm water and to dry immediately. If you wash your knives in the dishwasher you need to be sure to remove and thoroughly dry them prior to putting them away. If knives are not cared for properly then they may show signs of oxidising and slight surface rust. Be sure to look after your knives.

Looking After Your Knives:

Storage of knives is also very important. If you do not have the luxury of a storage block, then you need to consider how you store your knives, so they do not get damaged. If they are stored say in a drawer with other utensils, then the knifes will knock together with other items and damage the cutting edge. The best way to store knives in the instance you do not have a block is to use a magnetic knife holder which will hold your knives and keep them from getting damaged.

The Cutting Edge:

In daily use of your kitchen knives, you will over time wear away at the cutting edge. This will happen by chopping, cutting and cutting against hard surfaces. You will need to consider the minor maintenance of your knives. To prolong the life of the knives it is best to use a suitable chopping board so you can protect the cutting edge.

Knife Maintenance:

In the event that you have purchase and correctly stored your quality knife set they will still need some maintenance. The use of knives in the kitchen, over time will lead to the cutting edges becoming worn. This is a simple task to fix and repair your cutting edges. A quick run through a knife sharpener will re-apply a sharp cutting edge for you in seconds. All great chefs understand the need for a sharp knife so keep the cutting edges in good condition.

Vegetable Cuts:

  • Allumette Cut (Matchstick) – Dimension – 1/16” X 1/16” X 2′
  • Julienne Cut (Double Matchstick) – Dimension – 1/8” X 1/4” X 2”
  • Batonnet Cut (French Fry Cut)- Dimension – 1/4” X 1/4” X 2”
  • Brunoise Cut (Square Allumette) – Dimension – 1/16” X 1/16” X 1/16”
  • Macedoine Cut (Square Julienne) – Dimension – 1/8” X 1/8” X 1/8”
  • Small Dice (Squar Baton) – Dimension – 1/4” X 1/4” X 1 / 4”
  • Medium Dice – Dimension – 1/2” X 1/2” X 1/2”
  • Large Dice – Dimension – 3/4” X 3/4” X 3/4′
  • Slice – To Cut into uniform cross cuts, Example Slicing Onions
  • Chiffonade – Roll up leaves of lettuce cabbage etc. and then slice

The above are the main cuts for vegetables

Practice the best way to learn how to use a knife:

Making a fab Minestrone soup, a Pistou, or classic pot Neuf Potatoes will give you lots of practice in finding the best way to use your knife.

Crushing garlic with the blade of a knife with a little a salt, or chopping an inexpensive herb such as parsley, is another way to help you learn.

Minestrone soup Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 large celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2 litres/2 pints vegetable or chicken stock, made from a cube
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g/3½ dried spaghetti, broken into short lengths
  • ¼ head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery, season with a little salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a further three minutes.
  3. Tip in the tomatoes and stock. Cover with a lid and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Add the cabbage and cook for another 2 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add some hot water to reach your preferred consistency.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
  6.  

Pont-Neuf ‘Pommes De Terre Pont-Neuf:

These are potatoes cut in square lardon shapes, three-eighths of an inch by two inches in length

  1. Cut your potatoes into thick even chips.
  2. Heat up a tablespoon of clarified butter or half vegetable oil and butter.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook until golden, pop in oven to finish off.
  4. Ready when a knife is easily inserted.
  5. Season and serve with steak chicken or salad etc.

Happy Cooking!

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