Went to the Sur La Table knife class last night and it was fun. Longer than I expected, but that was good. I felt I got my money’s worth.
The teacher was Ed McCain who has his own cooking blog. He was a lot of fun as a teacher, and branched out from just knives to tell us about other kitchen gear as well.
He’s not real hip on Rachel Ray, but gave Alton a thumbs up, saying Good Eats was the best show on the Food Network.
I had read most of what we learned, from holding the knife to julienne cutting, but there is a big difference between reading and see it in action and actually getting to practice while someone who knows what they are doing is there. I guess if we could just learn by watching we’d all be Bruce Lee in no time.
What did we do?
We diced an onion. We julienned an onion. My cuts were too big, but I think I can do better next time. Now I just need a good recipe for a South Beach French Onion Soup.
I know the onion was first, but I’m not sure about the order of the rest of the things.
We cut carrots on the bias. This turned out to be pretty easy as long as you got the angle right. Ed says doing this gives you more cooking surface, which means more flavor. It also just looks better. After we had the bias cuts, we stacked two or three on top of each other and cut them into slices, which looked nice. I had a little trouble with them sliding in the middle of my cuts. Sliding while you are cutting is bad.
By the way there were two people cut during the class. I wasn’t either one. Also they used Krenshaw Shun 8″ Chef’s knifes for the class. I took my own knife.
We did a batonnet cut of a potato. Again my cuts were to big, and my potato had a bad spot inside that cause about half of it not to be used in the french fries they made out of them.
There was a break where most of the class ended up gathered around the knife case while Ed told us about first knives and then mandolins and then other general gear.
Back in class we cut up a tomato. I forget the name of this cut, but you basically cut the tomato into wedges. Then you take a wedge, hold it skin side down and cut parallel to the board from the tip to the stem of the tomato, removing all the meat and seeds from the center of the tomato.
Then we sliced the tomato into julienne strips, and turned them and diced. We ended up with little tomato dices for use in a brusheta(spelling?).
We also chopped parsley. Not much new hear, except Ed said we were only suppose to cut the parsley twice. First you bunch it up and feed it to a rocking blade, making very thin slices. Then you hold the front of the knife on the table and chop through with the rest of the blade.
Garlic was smashed under the blade and then mushed on the cutting board with a little salt to act as an abrasive. This turned out surprisingly sticky. Of course smacking a clove of garlic with garlic smasher or using a garlic press produce better results. Seeing what the final product was suppose to look like, I now understand how garlic can be used where the big chunks I’ve ended up with seem strange.
Almost forgot, before the presentation of the garlic Ed had Beverly demonstrate the garlic peeler. This thing is the most awesome cooking gadget ever. I use a lot more garlic now that I have it because it makes skinning it much easier.
The last cut we learned was a chiffonade. Normally you do this with basel, but we used spinach leaves. I think I did this one best because I was starting to get the hang of cutting thin.
As a round up, Ed swears by silicon bakeware. Some people on the good eats forum have had real trouble with this stuff. I’m not baking right now anyway.
He says a silicon baster is better than a paint brush, and way easier to clean. I may get one of these in the near future because my brush is a pain.
I would recommend the class to anyone who wants to learn how to use a knife like a chef would.