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Knife Skills Cookery Class – Chop, Slice, Dice

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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

Recipes from the class

Noodle Stir Fry

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
  • Napa cabbage, chiffonade
  • 1x red pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly
  • 1x chilli, deseeded and diced
  • Handful of sugar snaps, shredded
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • 200g of pre-cooked noodles
  • 1x lime, zest and juice
  • 1tbs of sticky teriyaki sauce
  • 1x tbsp of vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Get a wok pan on high heat, add oil and get it hot.

    Add red onion, sauté for a couple of minutes, until translucent.

    Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds.

    Next, add red pepper and mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes.

    Add sugar snaps and cabbage and cook just for a minute or so.

    Zest lime in your wok, squeeze juice it as well, followed by sticky teriyaki sauce and noodles.

    Be fast now, not to overcook your noodles.

    Finish with chopped chilli and coriander.

Lime Slaw

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 1x lime zest and juice
  • 1tsp of caster sugar
  • 3tbsp of olive oil
  • 1x handful of chopped coriander
  • ¼ red cabbage, shredded
  • ¼ white cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1x shallot, sliced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • 1tbsp of Asian mayo (optional)

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine sugar, lime zest and juice. Whisk until well combined and sugar has melted.

    Start stirring in the oil, gradually, still whisking.

    Add white and red cabbage, pinch of salt and pepper and roughly rub the marinade in.

    Add the rest of the ingredients and correct the seasoning.

    We could use a tbsp. of mayonnaise or yoghurt for a creamy version of the slaw.

Caramel Chicken or Fish

Ingredients: Serves 4

    • 2 chicken breasts, sliced or hake fillets
    • 1/2 cup / 80 g brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 400 g / 14 oz coconut milk
    • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 shallot finely sliced
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
    •  

    Garnishes (Optional):

    • 1 spring onion, sliced
    • 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
    • Coriander, chopped
    • Lime juice and zest

Method:

  1. Place sugar and water in a skillet over medium heat. Stir, then when it bubbles and the sugar is melted (it looks like caramel), add the rest of the ingredients except chicken.

    Stir, then put the chicken in.

    Adjust the heat so it is simmering energetically. Not rapidly, not a slow simmer (I use medium high heat).

    After 5 minutes, turn the chicken.

    Once sauce and chicken is brown, remove from heat.

    Place chicken on serving plates, spoon over some sauce (don’t need much, chicken is infused with flavour + sauce is strong).

    Garnish with shallots and chilli, if using. Serve with rice.

Balsamic Salsa

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 500g ripen tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped mint

Method

  1. Place oil, garlic and vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes, onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Stand for at least 10 minutes.

Vietnamese summer rolls

Ingredients: Serves 10

Dipping sauce 

  • 100ml fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 fresh red Thai chiles or 1 red jalapeño or Fresno chilli, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onion, sliced

Summer Rolls

  •  4oz bean thread noodles (cellophane or transparent noodles)
  • 10×8′-9′ rice wrappers
  • 150g Shredded beef (optional)
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • handful fresh cilantro leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped
  • handful fresh mint leaves
  • 100g daikon
  • 1x cucumber, cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • 10 small green or red lettuce leaves (baby gem)

Method:

  1. 1 Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

    2 Put noodles in a large bowl. Pour enough hot water over to cover; let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool; drain and set aside.

    3 Fill a bowl with warm water. Working with 1 rice paper round at a time, soak rice paper in water, turning occasionally, until just pliable but not limp, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a work surface. Arrange pinch of beef halves across canter of round. Top with some leaves of each herb, then daikon cucumber, and carrot. Arrange a small handful of noodles over. Place 1 lettuce leaf over, torn or folded to fit. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, then fold in ends and roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a platter. Repeat to make 10 more rolls.

We hope you enjoyed the class!

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