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Knives and Fire II

Day 2.

We began by a “verbal quiz” – we discussed the reading of the night before.  Some had detailed notes, some even had outlines.  I answered the questions in the back of the chapters, and just remembered the rest.  The discussion was sort of free-form, but interesting and showed that most of us had done as asked.

We then discussed what we’d be reading about tonight – sanitation (a huge deal, of course) and recipe conversion.  Not the sort you’d think – not changing treif to kosher – but adjusting the size of recipes and why one would need to do so.

And then, we got our  knife kits – a black roll-up bag with a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a peeler, a honing steel, a boning knife, a serrated knife and a slicing knife (with a granton grind.)  Also, a black marker and a thermometer that hasn’t been toiveled (dipped in the ritual bath) yet, so we can’t use it.  That’s more time consuming than anything else.  These stay in school for kashrut reasons.  They’re not the best quality, for the most part, but they’re good. And usable.  And SHARP.  Today, we used the paring and the chef knives.

What did we do?  We chopped garlic – we pounded it with a pan or our fists to loosen the cloves.  We smashed each clove lightly to remove the skin.  We cleaned the peels off our boards thoroughly and then used the paring knife to remove the roots.  We then smashed the cloves with our chef knives and rocked the blades (two fingers holding the end of the blade) through them to mince them fine. 

Then we cleaned our boards and knives and chopped parsley – remove the large stems. Pile the leaves on the board and chop straight up and down for a couple of passes, until it’s less “fluffy”.  Then rock the blade until it’s very finely chopped but not a paste.

Then take the chopped parsley and wrap it in three layers of cheesecloth and *squeeze* out the liquid. The result? Light, dry parsley you can sprinkle and which will keep for a couple of days.

Next, we julienned – we julienned carrots, celery and potatoes.  You slice the celery horizontally before the final cut.  He liked my juliennes.

He then demoed a lot of different cuts – he fluted a mushroom, he showed rondelles (round carrot slices) and diagonals (done on a bias.)  He did paysonne – square off a carrot to 1/2″ sides and make 1/8″ slices, like little square tiles.  Cut lozenges (diamonds.)  Scoop out potato balls with a melon baller (parisienne.)  He rough chopped carrots, onions and celery for a mirepoix.  He showed us how to tourner (turn) carrots and potatoes – making a seven-sided football.

We chiffonaded boston lettuce (I still don’t have that motion, although I’m getting better) before we julienned the vegetables.  And then we turned carrots and potatoes.  I did better with the carrots, but okay with the potatoes, which I then cooked.

Yes.  FIRE.  I blanched my potatoes (put them in heavily salted boiling water for a couple of minutes and then shocked them in ice water) and then heated a saute pan with a little margarine – too much, actually.  I had to pour it back and start again.  Then I learned to toss the food in the saute pan – tilt the pan then pull back fast. It flips the food.  SO COOL.  When they were brown, I put in a little salt and pepper and some minced shallots and some parsley.  The shallots burned, unfortunately, but otherwise – nicely cooked, nicely seasoned.  I turned some more potatoes and did it again.  🙂

Everyone else was fluting mushrooms (he made little fish on one !), but I cooked instead.

  1. Nora Bombay
    January 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    This entire class sounds like immense amounts of fun. And work, but fun. I’m a pretty good home cook, but I just don’t have the knife skills.

  2. Casey
    January 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    You make me want to take a cooking class myself.

  3. January 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I’m going to try that parsely-chopping technique on some cilantro, see if it works there, too. I’m a little doubtful — cilantro is much less sturdy, so I don’t expect it to keep as well as parsley in any form.

  4. avram wiseman
    January 28, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    You are truly amazing. Where do you get the strength to do this awesome blog after I put you through the paces daily.
    I’m so proud of the level of proficiency that you have obtained in these few short, fast weeks.
    Thanks for being such a menchy person .
    Chef Avram Wiseman

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