Monday, February 23, 2015

Knowing Your Knife Cuts

Knowing your knife cuts is a very important skill in the kitchen.  One reason is so that your food is aesthetically and texturally pleasing, but also because it affects the cooking time on the various foods.  Having uniform size and shape helps ensure that foods cook evenly.
Below are some commonly used knife cuts along with some of which you may have never heard.

Allumette (al-yoo-met) and Julienne (joo-lee-en) – I grouped these together because they are extremely similar.  While looking up specific definitions, I found both to be described as the size of a matchstick.  Both are about 2 ½” long.  The julienne is about 1/8” thick, while the allumette is about ¼” thick.

Batonnet (bah-tow-nay) – You could describe this as a large julienne.  It’s a similar cut, but it is thick strips, about ½” by 2 ½”.

Brunoise (broon-wahz) – This refers to cutting into about 1/8” cubes.  It can be easily achieved by cutting a julienne first, and then going back and cutting it down into the tiny cubes.

Chiffonade (shif-fo-nod) – A cut used on leafy vegetables or herbs.  This is to cut into long, thin strips.  I usually do this by stacking the leaves and rolling them before cutting.

Chop – Probably the most commonly used cutting term.  Chopping is cutting into coarse pieces, about ½” cubes. 

Dice – This refers to cutting into about ¼” cubes.

Mince –This means to chop into tiny, irregular pieces.  Often herbs and seasonings like ginger or garlic are done this way.

Slice – To cut into thin, flat pieces.

(References: BHG 12th edition cookbook; Merriam Webster Dictionary; Culinary Arts article by Danilo Alfaro, Culinary Expert: Basic Knife Cuts & Shapes)

Hannah's Breakfast Rice

This dish is one of my favorites!  I got this recipe from my friend Hannah.  She has brought it to our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group brunch a few times, and when I had my second child she brought it to us for dinner one night.  It is so simple and yummy!  It is even approved by my picky eater! It's definitely one of those, "about this much," "chop and add," and "if you want to use this or you can leave it out," recipes.  Leave out the peppers if you don't like them, add more onion if you love it, add other stuff if you feel inspired! Do as I do, and make this recipe your own!

Gather Your Ingredients:

  • 1lb mild breakfast pork sausage (could use turkey or chicken if you don't like pork)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 4oz jar pimentos, diced
  • 3/4 cup instant rice, white or brown
  • 2 packets Lipton instant chicken noodle soup mix
  • 4 cups water
  • flour or corn tortillas for serving
  • salsa, sour cream, chopped tomatoes ... your favorite toppings (if desired, I don't use any)

Make It:

  1. This is a one skillet dish, so start with a large skillet with deep sides.  Brown your sausage, drain the grease, and return to skillet. 
  2. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper.  Saute until the onions begin to become translucent.
  3. Add water, rice, pimentos and soup mix to skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes or until the water is absorbed, stirring frequently. I usually let it stand for about 5 minutes after removing from the heat.
  4. Warm your tortillas shells and serve with desired toppings.