Knife Skills 101
One of my Christmas gifts this year from Mr. J was a knife skills class. I mentioned chiffonading in my last post so I wanted to talk a little more about it and general knife skills. The technique called chiffonade is one we briefly touched on in class. You take your herb leaves and roll them up and make chops with your knife along the roll. It leaves you with very small ribbons to incorporate in your recipe.
This is my knife:
It’s a Wusthof Chef’s Knife, and I use it every day. Mr. J got it for me for our anniversary last year. I love this thing. It’s due for a sharpening soon. It’s very important to use a sharp knife and always keep your fingers tucked away while cutting. To keep your fingers out of the way, make a cup or “C” shape with your hand. I use my nails to grip what I’m cutting and to stabilize everything. The instructor taught us to keep our elbows in and rock the knife back and forth, basically leaving the tip of the knife on the board. The fast chopping that you see chefs on TV doing takes LOTS of practice, and you’re in no hurry to lose a finger tip!
In class, we made chicken and shrimp fajitas, salsa fresca, and crudites to serve with dip. Our recipe packet also came with a guide to make chicken stock. We broke down a half chicken, something I’d never done before. It was interesting to see what we pay extra for in the grocery and how easy it is to do yourself. We chopped lots of veggies: celery, carrots, onions, jalapenos, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, etc.
This dip was very tasty. Here’s the recipe:
1-10 oz. can of Mexican-style tomatoes
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 t chili powder
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed (about 1/2 of a bunch)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t lime zest
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Cover, chill, and enjoy!
This is my arsenal. The top left is the honing rod. It helps to smooth out the edges of the knife, but it does not sharpen it. Top right is another chef’s knife. Middle left is a great bread knife. Middle right is kitchen shears (also great for chiffonade-style cutting). Bottom left is where my favorite chef’s knife lives. Bottom right is a small paring knife. There are 6 steak knifes all along the bottom. These work great as well.