Knife Skills! A Class on Using Chef’s Knives Properly

Man and woman using chefs’ knives

Knife Skills! How to use knives properly

Learning how to improve my Knife Skills is one of the best things I have done as a cook.

Learning to properly use knives, especially chef’s knives, is a skill that every cook can use. I just returned from a long trip to Italy and France (plus a few stops in the Western Mediterranean). I’ll report on some of the places and foods in subsequent posts, but I thought this would be a good return info post as it’s a topic that’s so useful for all cooks.

The class was held at a local kitchen store in Santa Cruz, Toque Blanche, http://www.mytoque.com, a comprehensive source of all kinds of kitchen items, including a very good stock of knives, with a full range of types and brands. They also professionally sharpen knives for a reasonable fee.

5 Main “Never Do” Points

You may know these but they’re a good reminder:

1. Never put chef’s knives in the dishwasher; (most chef’s knives have wooden handles and the blades can be damaged).

2. Never use the blade to scoop anything off a cutting board- use the back of the knife.

3. Never use a chef’s knife on plastic or glass boards (they dull the blades). Composition/wood boards are best.

4. Never chop bones with a chef’s knife —it can chip the blade; (use a cleaver instead).

5. Never leave chef’s knives in a wet sink- some blades may rust. Wash and dry your knives after use.

Sharpening vs. Honing

Honing: This confused me for a long time. Actually, honing is the action using a honing stick or wand that is recommended every time you use a chef’s knife; just 2 or 3 slides on each side of the blade at approximately 15 degree angle will reform the metal. (I used to do this at a more extreme angle but have learned that is not correct). Some honing sticks have a guide that shows or guides the proper angle.

Sharpening: Sharpening is only necessary once or twice yearly. It is a process of grinding the blade and thus takes off some of the metal. It can be done with commercial sharpening equipment you can buy, or by professional knife sharpeners.

There are many types of chef’s knives, including stamped (blade is cut from a piece of metal and stamped out); forged, (made from a single bar of metal, heated and then pounded into shape- typically heavier and more sturdy then stamped knives, and has a wider lip, called a bolster, on the end of the blade where it meets the handle), Japanese knives (including Santoku, Gyuto), which have a different shape than Western chef’s knives. Chef’s knives range in length too, typically from 8” to 11”. My brother gave me the 11” ( Wusthof, a good brand made in Germany), which intimidated me at first but now I appreciate the length as I know better how to use it’s leverage for chopping.

Another important tip is to hold a knife by the bolster- and make sure you “claw” your other hand as you chop.

Holding a knife near the bolster

Properly holding a chef’s knife by the bolster ( the wide part between the handle and the blade)

 

 

This is just an overview of best knife practices- and that’s the main thing- practice!

Enjoy til next time!

Knife skills class- people using knives

Knife skills class- people learning to use knives properly

 

 

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New Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken and vegetables cooking in delicious tomato sauce

Chicken and vegetables cooking in delicious tomato sauce

cooking the vegetable and chicken in the sauce

cooking the vegetables and chicken in the sauce

The weather has been very cold and dreary even here in Santa Cruz; (although nothing as cold and dreary as in the MidWest and East Coast)–I am very sorry for those who’ve experienced such cruel temperatures and conditions. When an old friend we hadn’t seen for a few years told us that he was coming for a visit I was looking forward to sharing a meal with him. I know he has a reputation as a “foodie”–someone who knows and enjoys good food. He has a pretty sophisticated palette, but also appreciates good home cooking. I wanted to make something delicious and very tasty, “comfort food” for this weather, as well as a recipe that can be made in advance so I can spend as much time as possible with our friend. This Chicken Cacciatore fits the bill!  Not only is it very delicious and satisfying, it can be made in advance. This recipe even makes enough sauce to freeze for future use. What’s new about this Chicken Cacciatore is the addition of extra vegetables, including zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms as well, of course, the traditional tomatoes, onions and garlic.

Be the way, after dinner, our friend told his wife (who was unable to come) that it was so delicious and asked for this recipe. Now you, too, can please your  family and foodie friends!

 

New Chicken Cacciatore

 

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 3-4 lb. chicken, cut up, or 3-4 whole legs (cut apart drumsticks and thighs)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced in 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced in 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (I usually use Cremini but have a new find–Pompioni, an Italian type I sometimes get from my organic market)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, cut up and juice reserved
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine or water (I use only the wine–but up to you of course)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or Xylitol)
  • Hot cooked pasta
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
    • TO DO:
    • Dust chicken with flour. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown chicken on all sides in oil and butter over medium-high heat. Remove chicken to platter.
    • In the same skillet, cook and stir the onion, carrots, zucchini and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, herbs, garlic and sugar/Xylitol.
    • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
    • Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
      Freeze option: Cool chicken mixture. Freeze in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight.
    • Heat through slowly in a covered skillet until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165°, stirring occasionally.
    • Or just freeze the excess sauce to use for future delicious meals–also good with pork chops or sausages.
      • Serve with whole grain pasta, grated cheese and a green salad, with a vinagrette dressing, as I often recommend. (Check out the delicious salads on my blog; such as the link here:
        • ENJOY!
          • Nutrition Facts: 4-1/2 ounce-weight: 517 calories, 25g fat (8g saturated fat), 112mg cholesterol, 790mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate (13g sugars, 6g fiber), 39g protein.

 

 

 

New Avocado Toast

Type2 Delicious

Avocado Toast topped with Fried Egg Avocado Toast topped with Fried Egg

Avocado toast is the latest rage-it’s being offered on menus in almost every cafe and  bakery I’ve been to lately. Actually, it’s so easy to prepare at home. No reason to pay a lot for this simple dish! As you probably know, avocados are a healthy food choice; here’s some of the reasons Why Avocados are a healthy food choice.

Avocado toast is even more delicious topped with a fried egg; more protein and a great breakfast, especially with some fruit to complete the meal. We like citrus, especially the little tangerines that we find now at farmers’ markets. Here’s my recipe for this avocado treat.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 1 medium size avocado
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 1tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 slices cheese- we use goat Gouda slices (Trader Joe’s sells pre-sliced Dutch goat Gouda that we like))
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 slices whole grain…

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German Tangy and Sweet Red Cabbage

Bowl of Red Cabbage made with sugar and vinegar on a mosaic table

My Grandma’s Sweet and Tangy Red Cabbage (Rote Kraut)

After going to Nevada City to join Rick’s daughter and boyfriend and his family, we had Thanksgiving 2 at our house with my son Alex, his girlfriend Shannon, and my son-in-law’s parents. (My son-in-law is in the Navy, stationed in Japan, with my daughter and our two grandkids).

We had a lot of fun and one of the highlights was making authentic German red cabbage. Actually, it was my son’s request–but as I was limited in time and space, I asked him to bring the chopped cabbage. He did and I was happy to make the recipe. It’s very easy. The trick for the best results is to use no water, just red wine and red vinegar for the liquid. Also it does take a few hours to cook to the right tenderness and flavor, but is just as good if made in advance and reheated. In fact, that’s my favorite method.

When I have had red cabbage at most German-type restaurants I find it too sweet. The way my Grandma made it it is on the tangy side, with just a hint of sweetness, from the apples and sugar, (in this case, Xylitol. ( If you’ve been following my blog, you know that’s my preferred sweetener for low carb sweetening.) It’s such a great way to enjoy a dish that’s not often served, that is low carb, low calorie, and is full of flavor, fiber, and nutrition *.

 

Dining table with my son and his girlfriend at the end

Thanksgiving2–my son and his GF at our table

GERMAN TANGY AND SWEET RED CABBAGE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 red cabbage (size–your choice) this recipe is for about a 1-2 lb, cabbage
  • 1-2 apples,  sweet/tart, such as Pink Lady, or Pippin, cored and chopped (I do peel them, but leave some peel on)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (the butter gives a smoothness to the result)
  • 1 cup dry red wine (use more if the cabbage is drying out)
  • 1/2 cup good quality red wine vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp. Xylitol –to taste
  • Salt or Salt free seasoning–to taste

TO DO: (serves 4-6 as a side dish or 2 with leftovers)

1. Remove cabbage outer leaves and inner core; chop cabbage into approx. 2 “ pieces

2. Core and peel apples, and chop into approximately 1/2″ pieces

3. Add all ingredients into a Dutch oven or 4 qt. pot.

4. Cook on stovetop for approx. 3-4 hours, tasting for sweet/tangy balance and tenderness

That’s it!

Serve as a side dish; and, as we usually have, a crisp green salad with a tart, lemony vinaigrette–see previous Salad posts for the vinaigrette recipe: https://wordpress.com/post/type2delicious.com/1075

Enjoy!

*https://www.livestrong.com/article/272966-red-cabbage-nutrition-information/

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Roasted Winter Vegetables

 

raw-ingredients-roasted-winter-vegetables

Raw ingredients – lots of good stuff!

diabetes-friendly-roasted-winter-vegetables

Ready to enjoy!

I’m reposting this as I’ll be out of town for much of the rest of this month- and it’s one of my favorite recipes for this season!

So good, pretty and easy! Take a mix of colored raw winter vegetables; your choice; (I’m sharing our latest mix- but almost any root veggies that you like will be fine for this).

I like to include vegetables that aren’t so common such as white turnips, parsnips and kohlrabi, as well as the old standards like carrots, onions and beets. Sometimes I also add fennel and delicata squash.

I made a large mix of these  last year for our Christmas Eve family dinner – it was the highlight of the meal; (even though we had also had roast turkey, leg of lamb, sweet potatoes, green beans and salad)!

A non-holiday suggestion is serve with roast chicken and the always good green salad– so delicious and healthy!

Roasted Winter Vegetables

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch each of red and yellow beets (save the greens for a future dish- recipe to come)
  • 3-5 white turnips
  • 1 bunch Kohlrabi
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 large red onion
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt-free seasoning and pepper to taste

TO DO:

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Scrub all vegetable; cutting off ends and any bad spots. Only peel Kohlrabi; other veggies are cooked unpeeled.

3. Cut beets, kohlrabi, turnips and onions in 1/2. Cut carrots and parsnips in 1/2 lengthwise. Mix in a bowl with olive oil and seasonings.

4. Lay all cut veggies on one layer (each piece touching the pan) face down on oiled baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes until tender.

5. You can then turn off the oven and let vegetables roast on their own for at least another 1/2 hour — they become carmelized and sweet- melt in the mouth!

7. Add more seasonings and salt if you like.

8. Serve with gusto!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

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IT’S DRIED PERSIMMON TIME!

Delicious Dried Persimmons

It’s definitely fall here in Santa Cruz- although it’s the start of winter in much of the country. Here we don’t get the glorious fall colors of my native Ohio, but we do get gloriously colored fall produce, like the Persimmons. You probably know there are at least two common varieties of this fruit—Fuyu, which can be eaten right away, and Hiyachi, which need to be completely ripe and mushy before eating or cooking in most ways (otherwise they are very astringent, due to their tannin content). However, there’s a great way to use either of these persimmon varieties, especially when not quite ripe- dried persimmons!  That’s the beauty of drying persimmons—it’s actually better when they’re firm. And the astringency somehow goes away.

It’s quite easy—just slice them, put the slices on cookie racks, bake slowly, and Voila—A yummy and healthy snack! Rick also discovered that the dried fruit can be added to hot tea- another delicious way to enjoy them.

INGREDIENTS/Supplies

Persimmons- any variety, especially when still firm; (one tip- drying persimmons takes a lot more than you think- they do dry up!)

Spray oil (your choice- I use TJ’s spray canola oil)

Baking racks- such as for cooling cookies

Cookie baking pans (optional)–you can put the baking racks on top of the cookie sheets/pans if you like, or add the baking racks directly on your standard oven racks.

TO DO ( preheat oven to 180-200 degrees F

1. Cut off stems and Slice persimmons approx. 1/4” thick

2. Spray baking racks lightly with oil

3. Lay persimmon slices on racks so that each slice is touching the rack

4. Bake for 1 1/2 —2hrs. , check if no longer sticky. If they are, bake for another 1/2 hr. (another method is to bake in 100 degree oven overnight- I discovered this by accident as the oven was still hot and I’d left the racks in overnight. I’ve had success with both methods).

Enjoy!

Sliced fresh persimmons on a green cutting surface

Sliced Fresh Persimmons

Sliced fresh persimmons on baking rack

Sliced fresh persimmons on baking rack

Rick eating a dried persimmon and holdin a tea cup with one in the tea

Rick enjoying the results

Cup of tea with dried persimmons in it

A  cup of tea with persimmons in it.

 

Health Benefits of Persimmons

 

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End of Summer Veggie Salad with Carrots, Avocado & Corn

Salad with Heirloom tomatoes, Avocado, Corn and Sautéed Carrots

Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Avocado, Corn and Sautéed Carrots

I’m still in the summer time mood as the weather is still lovely here; high 70’s, warm breezes, and blue blue skies. It makes me crave a salad using produce from my local Farmers’ Market. Stone fruits are on their way out, to my deep regret, but we still get Heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn, plus excellent avocados, a staple in our household. I also had leftover carrots that Rick had sautéed, with some herbs and a bit of cayenne pepper mix. Putting the cool tastes of the tomatoes, lettuce and avocado and the spice of the carrots tossed with a lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette resulted in a satisfying combo of sweet, tang with a bit of heat.

What is good about this recipe is it’s flexibility–you can use many kinds of produce in the salad, including leftover veggies, such as sautéed carrots, corn, or if you have grilled eggplant, squash, zucchini, or other grilled or cooked veggies, refrigerate; or marinate them in a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then refrigerate, and mix with your favorite greens such as butter lettuce, arugula, romaine or spinach. Add chopped avocado, red onion, fresh herbs and your favorite dressing (mine is a simple blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar with a squeeze or more of lemon), and your salad is ready.

If you want a heartier dish for lunch, add leftover cooked chicken or salmon, or canned tuna, and you’ve got a great meal. Serve with whole grain crackers or toast and you, your family and guests will be well satisfied!

 

INGREDIENTS (serves 2-3)

  • Lettuce– (I used butter and red leaf)
  • 1-2 Heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small or 1/2 large avocado–chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels (I used 1/2 of a leftover corn on the cob)
  • leftover cooked or grilled veggies–sliced carrots, in this case
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1/3-1/2 C. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon (if this is too lemony for you, reduce the amount. I love lemon!)
  • Wisk dressing ingredients together.
  • Let greens sit in refrigerator for at least 15 min before serving–without dressing. *
  • Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, chopped red onion, nuts etc. (your choice!)

* Tip: you can put oil on salad and then refrigerate, but not vinegar or lemon juice as these will cause the greens to wilt. After taking greens out of the fridge, add the dressing. Toss greens with dressing, then add veggies and garnishes–so the they don’t all sink to the bottom as they are heavier than the greens.  Also retain some of the dressing and pour over the top to serve.

Enjoy!

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