Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a cooking class on knife skills. It was both informative and fun. I was hoping to come back with all kinds of tips to share on my blog but realized that with knives it's much easier to share by demonstration. Here are just a few tidbits:
1) When chopping vegetables, (we practiced with carrots, celery, and onions) you must take a thin slice off of one side of the veggie in order to create a flat, stable surface to work with.
2) Keep your knives sharp. A dull blade is more dangerous since you are using more force meaning you are more likely to slip. Using the store-bought knife sharpeners will only ruin the metal on your knives. If you use a whetstone instead, your knives will last a lot longer.
3) You should never hear a "thud" sound when chopping something. You need to find the spot that you want to cut from and work your knife down and through it. You shouldn't hear much of a sound if you are doing it correctly.
4) When dicing veggies like carrots and celery, you start with a long, skinny Batonnet cut and then line up what you've got. You can then start dicing down the line from there.
5) For chopping and dicing, a Chef's Knife is preferable.
6) You can easily de-bone a chicken using a boning knife. Chickens are actually very easy to take apart alleviating the need to spend more money by purchasing the parts separately.
7) Your hand should form a claw on the item you are cutting as to both hold your item in place and not to chop off any fingers! You will move your "claw" back accordingly as you keep cutting. Watch out for something really important...your thumb!
We learned other things like how to properly season and taste a dish you are cooking. I liked the way they did the classes here. They start you off with a drink and appetizers to prompt the mingling and then you separate into groups and each work with a chef who will make sure you are using proper technique. The end result will be a dish that you get to eat at the end.
If you are interested in taking cooking classes, you might like the one that I went to, Bradford's On Bishop. I happened to get an awesome deal on the class through Living Social a site that sends you daily deals. Sign up, I've gotten all kinds of cool stuff through them!
And of course, the recipe for what we made...Yum and perfect for those of you suffering through the spring allergies like me.
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
2 quarts roasted chicken stock (recipe below)
1 chicken breast
1 bunch celery small dice
2 yellow onion small dice
3 large carrots small dice
flat noodles (optional)
1 T thyme fresh chopped
1 head garlic
2 T vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325F, and cut top of garlic head off. Put on small square aluminum foil. Drizzle with a little oil and wrap garlic into a "pouch" with the foil, put into oven to roast. Bring water in a pot to boil, add a pinch of salt and cook noodles to al dente. Strain and run cold water over noodles to stop cooking. While water is coming to a boil, in your soup pot turn to medium high heat and add veg. oil. Once hot, add your chopped vegetables and a pinch of salt. Sautee for 20 minutes or until vegetables have gotten a good golden brown color. Add your chicken stock and simmer. Once garlic is roasted, push from bottom to pop garlic out of skin. Rough chop and add to soup. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, season and add to soup to poach. Add noodles and fresh thyme. Season to taste.
Roasted Chicken Stock
Bones from 3 chickens
2 large onion
1 bunch celery
4 large carrots
2 stems thyme leaves
Roast chicken bones until golden brown, pour off all fat that has been rendered out. Place in stockpot and cover with cool water. Turn on Med high heat and bring up to low simmer. While the water is coming up, proteins will coagulate on top, skim these off. Let go for an hour or two, always skimming. Add vegetables and herbs in the last hour. Turn heat off, strain and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating.