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

 

 

www.type2delicious.com

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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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Super Califragalistic Cauliflower!

Rick and I went to Birba, an excellent restaurant in Palm Springs. It’s a popular place with all outside tables and beautiful lighting, especially enjoyable on a warm night. We loved all the food, but were especially blown away by the cauliflower. It was served whole; twice cooked; boiled first and then baked with cheese. It’s actually quite simple to make and is a wow dish to serve your friends and family as a side dish; (true confession–we usually make one and eat it all ourselves).

I’ve tried to reproduce the dish we had at Birba, but have made my own variation, with more of an Indian spice flavor. You can use other spice combinations that you like, such as Italian seasoning, dill or basil. The main thing is the first steam or boil the vegetable whole, then add seasoning in an olive oil base, grate cheese on top and bake. Looks very elegant and tastes delicious!

Whole Cauliflower with topping of smoked paprika

Cauliflower with smoky paprika

Whole Cauliflower topped with grated cheese

Cauliflower topped with grated cheese

Baked whole cauliflower, topped with melted cheese

Baked cauliflower, ready to be served

 

Twice Cooked Cauliflower (serves 2-3, depending on size of cauliflower) 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Cauliflower (or make two to serve four or more)
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp. capers
  • Smoked Paprika
  • 1/3 cup grated aged goat or cow gouda, or Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt-free seasoning, pepper; or 1tsp. salt–your choice
  • TO DO: (Preheat oven to 400 degrees before baking) 

1. Wash and core cauliflower, but leave whole.

2. Boil cauliflower with approx. 3 inches of water, in a 4-6 quart oven proof pot, such as Calphalon, or Corning ware, until still firm, 10-12 minutes (test with knife)

3. Whisk all spice ingredients and capers in olive oil, except for Smoked Paprika.

4. Pour olive oil mixture over cauliflower, getting into crevices. (You can do this in advance–marinate the cauliflower by pouring the mixing over it and letting it sit for an hour or so before baking.)

5. Sprinkle paprika, and grate cheese on top.

6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until brown and cheese is melted.

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: Persimmon and Endive salad; (can be made with pears, orange/tangerine pieces or even strawberries, depending on the season).

Enjoy!

www.type2delicious.com

Hearty Lentil and Veggie Soup

Lentil Veggie Soup process

Here’s the recipe as promised:

When the weather is turning colder we like a hearty, healthy soup chock full of fresh vegetables. It’s easy to make and very satisfying as the evenings get cooler and we like to prepare soups and stews for comfort and warmth. And I like to make a sufficient quantity so we have leftovers; (this freezes well too).

If you have veggies from your summer garden such as zucchinis and tomatoes, this is a great way to use them.

It is a thick soup; almost like a stew. You can, of course, thin it with additional broth, but we enjoy the texture and heartiness of it as is.

Recently, however, I made this soup with red lentils from a company called “Preger” and found that the lentils never got totally tender, even with repeated cooking. First time for one hour, then, as I had made a large batch, we had leftovers, and cooked them for 1/2 the next time, then 45 minutes. Still not tender! I did add cumin, and allspice, and the flavor was very good, but still disappointing. Have any of you, dear readers, had this experience?

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6 or 2-3 with leftovers)

  • 1lb. Dried Lentils, any kind; (rinsed and any bad ones removed- no advance soaking necessary)
  • 1-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion -chopped
  • 2-4 carrots (depending on size), washed, chopped or diced
  • 2-3 zucchinis-chopped
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes in juice ( plus 3-4 fresh diced tomatoes)
  • 2-4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 32 oz/quart low sodium chicken stock (or more, depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1-2 Bay leaves
  • salt free seasoning (or 1 tsp salt if you like), pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp.fresh herbs or 1tsp. Dried; thyme, oregano, marjoram (you probably know that dried herbs are much stronger tasting- also best to crumble or crush before adding)
  • Paprika or smoked Paprika
  • (Optional) 2-3 fully cooked, smoked chicken sausages, chopped into 1/2 “rounds

TO DO: in a 6 quart Dutch oven or other large pot:

  1. Sauté onions til soft (medium to medium high heat depending on your stove, on stove top) in 1-2 Tbsp. oil (4-5 minutes); add carrots -sauté another 4-5 minutes; add zucchinis, sauté additional 2-3 minutes. Add another 1Tbsp.oil if needed.
  2. Add garlic; sauté another 2 minutes
  3. Add rinsed lentils, Bay leaves and seasonings to pot
  4. Add broth, tomatoes and wine; stir
  5. Bring to low boil- then reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes-1 hr. Til lentils and carrots are tender
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs
  7. optional: add cooked sliced sausage before final cooking; and grate cheese on top of each bowl

For a delicious meal serve with whole grain toast and a green salad with your favorite vinaigrette, (for a suggestion see ).

Enjoy!

www.type2delicious.com

Sautéed Squash with Secret Sauce

A variety of squashes and onion

A variety of squashes and onion ready for sautéing

It’s starting to be fall in Santa Cruz – there’s a chill in the air, although we’re still enjoying the last of Indian summer. (Actually, September/October is our real summer- June, July and August are usually foggy and cool here by the ocean); except this summer which was unusually warm— say global warming anyone?

A mix of squash, onion and ketchup sautéed in pan

Delicious sautéed squash and onion dish

Sautéed squashes and onion with ketchup

German Secret Sauce

Which brings me to this recipe for your remaining summer zucchini/squash harvest – plus what’s still available at farmer’ markets. You can use any type of soft skinned winter squashes just as well. This family favorite is a great side dish for roast chicken, broiled fish or almost anything you serve.

I first enjoyed this recipe when I was visiting my mom’s cousin Erica in LA in the eighties. My mom and her cousins Hans and Erica were born in Germany- escaped here during the war. Erica was an excellent cook. This dish surprised me as I had no idea that the “sauce” was nothing but ketchup, and that ketchup is a mainstay of  German cooking!

This is a very easy to make dish with a rich, satisfying taste. It always comes out delicious. You can use any combination of squash and onions you like.  I make it for company and let them guess what is in the sauce- so far no one has figured it out!  But now you know!

German Squash with Secret Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 5-7 squashes- your choice (I like to vary the colors- using yellows and greens)
  • 1 large onion plus 1-2 cippolini onions if you like
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Salt-free seasoning, pepper; or use salt if you can
  • Fresh chopped herbs- thyme or marjoram are my favorites for this

TO DO: (serves 3-4 or 2 with leftovers)

1. Chop onions into 1/2 “ pieces

2. Chop squashes in approximately 1/2 pieces also- they can be sliced but the way Erica made it they were chopped

3. Heat oil on med high heat in large sauté pan; add onions and sauté until just brown- 5-6 minutes

4. Add squashes to pan, and spices; sauté 3-4 more minutes uncovered- cover for about 5 more minutes til tender

5. Add 1/2 cup ketchup—sauté another 2-3 minutes; taste and add more if you like

That’s it! I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how rich tasting this is! Thanks Erica!

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!

www.type2delicious.com

Hearty Lentil and Veggie Soup

Lentil Veggie Soup process

Here’s the recipe as promised:

When the weather is turning to fall we like a hearty, healthy soup chock full of fresh vegetables. It’s easy to make and very satisfying as the evenings get cooler. And I like to make a sufficient quantity so we have leftovers; (this freezes well too).

If you have veggies from your summer garden such as zucchinis and tomatoes, this is a great way to use them.

It is a thick soup; almost like a stew. You can, of course, thin it with additional broth, but we enjoy the texture and heartiness of it as is.

Recently I made this soup with red lentils from a company called “Preger” and found that the lentils never got totally tender, even with repeated cooking. First time for one hour, then, as I had made a large batch, we had leftovers, and cooked them for 1/2 the next time, then 45 minutes. Still not tender! I did add cumin, and allspice, and the flavor was very good, but still disappointing. Have any of you, dear readers, had this experience?

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6 or 2-3 with leftovers)

  • 1lb. Dried Lentils, any kind; (rinsed and any bad ones removed- no advance soaking necessary)
  • 1-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion -chopped
  • 2-4 carrots (depending on size), washed, chopped or diced
  • 2-3 zucchinis-chopped
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes in juice ( plus 3-4 fresh diced tomatoes)
  • 2-4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 32 oz/quart low sodium chicken stock (or more, depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1-2 Bay leaves
  • salt free seasoning (or 1 tsp salt if you like), pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp.fresh herbs or 1tsp. Dried; thyme, oregano, marjoram (you probably know that dried herbs are much stronger tasting- also best to crumble or crush before adding)
  • Paprika or smoked Paprika

TO DO: in a 6 quart Dutch oven or other large pot:

  1. Sauté onions til soft (medium to medium high heat depending on your stove, on stove top) in 1-2 Tbsp. oil (4-5 minutes); add carrots -sauté another 4-5 minutes; add zucchinis, sauté additional 2-3 minutes. Add another 1Tbsp.oil if needed.
  2. Add garlic; sauté another 2 minutes
  3. Add rinsed lentils, Bay leaves and seasonings to pot
  4. Add broth, tomatoes and wine; stir
  5. Bring to low boil- then reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes-1 hr. Til lentils and carrots are tender
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs
  7. optional: add cooked sliced sausage before final cooking; and grate cheese on top of each bowl

For a delicious meal serve with whole grain toast and a green salad with your favorite vinaigrette, (for a suggestion see ).

Enjoy!

www.type2delicious.com

Hearty Lentil Veggie Soup

Lentils, tomatoes, onion, on cutting board to be made into Lentil soup

Lentil Veggie Soup process

 

Lentil Veggie Soup -recipe to come

Hope you don’t mind, but before  I share this recipe I want to express something that has become even more clear to me; the difficulty it can be for folks who had totally different lifestyle and eating habits to make healthy choices–and how impactful that can be.

What prompted this are two people I met in different circumstances. Rick and I were shopping for olive oils at a World Market store, and a guy started asking us about our choices, and that he was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and was “trying to reduce sugars”– he had no idea about carbs – just that “sugar is bad.” He was buying two large cans of high carb snack foods (no sugar though), to substitute for sugary snacks. Actually I couldn’t help but suggest he try this blog (and especially read “The Journey” post).

The second incident was a woman who came to our house to pick up bottles we were giving away (we’re in process of stuff reducing)–she was thrilled as now she had containers for her own salad dressing, sauces, and such non-processed foods she was making for the first time in her life. She was so excited as this was a huge change for her!

It hit me strongly that these folks are representative of a large group of our population- who grew up with lots of processed foods and are used to eating one way, and are now faced with changing their diets- and what a major deal it is. I know this theoretically, of course, but it was reinforced!

Made me realize even more how lucky some of us are to have grown up mainly eating in a healthy way, with an emphasis on fresh foods; (although my son went through a fish stick and tater tot phase–I’m not a total purist (<*).

Makes me even more motivated to show that delicious, healthy eating and cooking is not difficult, not expensive, (cheaper that buying most processed foods, such as bottled salad dressings), and fun to do!

Stay tuned soon for the Lentil Veggie Soup recipe!

 

 

 

 

www.type2delicious.com