The pro being someone by the name of Martha, not me. God knows I’m always slicing and dicing and I’m very lucky to have never chopped off my fingers before now. I’ve been scolded about not following the correct guidelines (maybe being left handed has something to do with it) so how about going by these simple rules.
The most important being:
Always use a sharp chef’s knife, and tuck under the fingertips (oops) holding the food to keep them from getting nicked.
For julienne or very small dice, begin by slicing a vegetable very thinly lengthwise. To make julienne, stack several thin slices on top of each other, and slice them into matchsticks; to dice, gather the matchsticks together and chop them into equal pieces.
“Chiffonade” refers to very thin strips of lettuce or herbs, like these basil leaves. Stack several leaves, with the largest on the bottom. Roll them up, and thinly slice them from one end of the roll to the other.
The best way to chop an onion is to start by cutting it in half from top to bottom; then place the cut halves, flat side down, on a work surface, and slice off the stem ends. Remove the skin, and make vertical cuts lengthwise without cutting through the root end, which holds the onion together as you work. Make a few horizontal cuts from the cut edge toward the root end, then chop across the onion to make cubes.
I’m one of those people who have kitchen helpers. Unfortunately I don’t have a kitchen staff, but products to help make the process of cooking easier. Things like a food processor with all the attachments which I rarely use because then you have to clean the darn thing, a Starfrit Mandoline to help slice, julienne, grate and shred but it’s messy so I used it like once. I have an avocado slicer but the avocado usually gets stuck in it, a melon-baller but I rarely buy melons and when I do I forget that I have one. Then there’s the George Foreman grill which makes great grilled cheese sandwiches that I used a couple of times before becoming too lazy to take it out and so I end up using a cast iron (flipping the bread and pressing it flat with a spatula – but you don’t get the grill marks). Forget about the waffle maker (this is the most useless gift by the way) because the mix spills out of the sides all over the counter, and the Jack Lalanne juicer makes nice juice but the pulp (which is the best thing for you) separates from the juice. That recipe book that tells you how to use the pulp? Believe me, I tried using the pulp in muffins, etc. It might be good for you but it certainly does nothing to improve the taste. The slow cooker can be a great helper when you can get it together to figure out what you want to put in it and No, you can’t just throw anything in it and expect dinner in 8 hours. Now they come with a faster time slot, but isn’t the idea to s l o o w w w l y cook your dinner?
So that leaves: my vitamix which I mostly use to make amazing smoothies and it’s super easy to clean, a hand held mixer (now why is it I do not have a real kitchen aid mixer to help speed up baking?? – Oh, I don’t have any more room on the counter that’s why), a toaster (the best thing for making toast if you have one with wide enough slots – it’s one of the best inventions of all time), a microwave (for warming up leftovers), an electric braun masher (best mashed potatoes), and a variety of easy hand held gadgets to help peel and grate (I love my Ikea graters) and scoop ice cream with.
What about you? Which of your kitchen appliances/doodads do you tend to use the most?
Source: every great chef and Martha Stewart Living (for guidelines & photos)