Leeks may look (and taste) lovely, but all it takes is one bite of tragically sandy potato leek soup to realize that there's a surprising amount of gritty soil lurking between their many layers. Over the years we've tried a few methods to deal with this unglamorous task — some more successful than others — and have since then settled on a quick and dirty method that'll help you speed through meal prep. Keep reading for our step-by-step tutorial.
Before you start chopping up a storm in the kitchen, make sure you've got basic knife skills in place. Not sure how to make those fancy French cuts — rondelle, julienne, brunoise, we're looking at you — a reality? Watch our primer on basic knife techniques, and you'll be a master before you know it.
Oysters can be daunting to eat and prepare, but at their freshest, their sweet-saline taste is worth the effort. Scott Garrett, executive chef at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica, CA, gives us the lowdown on selection, storing, shucking, and — the best part — eating. Watch this tutorial and never be daunted by oysters again.
Arguably the sharpest (and most dangerous) knife on the block, the serrated knife tears through crusty bread like it's no big thing (and thumbs too, as I unfortunately learned in culinary school). But despite my love-hate relationship with the serrated knife, there's no denying its toothy blade has many functions. Besides the obvious cutting of bread, here are three more ways to utilize the serrated knife.
- To cut through dough: When making cinnamon rolls or other delicate doughy treats, the serrated knife slices through the dough without squishing, pulling, or tearing it.
- To slice watery vegetables and fruits: The watery, fragile interiors of tomatoes and melons can turn into a puddle if not sliced with a serrated knife.
- To layer cake: Most layered cakes are not baked in thin sheets, but rather they are carefully cut in half using a serrated knife, like in these layered petit fours.
In what other kitchen tasks has your serrated knife proved to be useful?
Unless you're working with asparagus that's freshly harvested from the garden — and sometimes even then — one must discard the woody, slightly dried out ends for enticingly tender results. The problem is knowing how much to discard in order to waste as little of the oft-pricey vegetable as possible. Conventional wisdom will have you bend each stalk till it snaps, as they're more flexible in their tender parts, but this can become tedious fast. Instead, snap two stalks out of the bundle, line up the remaining asparagus with their tips flush, and cut through with a sharp knife between the snapping point of the two. If your stalks are particularly thick, take a few passes with a vegetable peeler on the ends, otherwise you're good to go whether the asparagus will be blanched, roasted, ribboned, or steamed.
When you first step into the kitchen and prepare a dish you love for the first time, things can be a little overwhelming; often the last thing you want to do is translate what a technique actually means as you're knee deep in the kitchen. I get it: there are some French cooking methods and terms that scared me so much when I started cooking that I let go of the dream of creating a certain recipe and moved on to something that felt more accessible.
Truth is, fancy words aside, you'll be surprised how many of these techniques are actually fairly simple concepts once you get a little confidence in the kitchen. Like most things we're afraid of, it's never as bad when you tackle the problem head on and figure out what you need to succeed.
So don't sweat the technique right away; once you get into the swing of these, you'll feel like a kitchen queen. Get acquainted with these French terms and techniques, and they'll soon seem like no kitchen biggie.
Did you make a resolution to pick up a few new culinary tricks this year? If so, the first place to start isn't necessarily a cookbook full of complicated recipes. Rather, learn basic cooking techniques and knife skills first; all the recipes that follow are guaranteed to be much easier. To help you out, we've got a series, Know Your Techniques, wherein we introduce you to important culinary know-how. Keep reading for a few suggestions to get you on your way to culinary excellence.
Don't let the fancy names or the impressive chopping speed of master chefs intimidate you when it comes to learning basic knife skills. With a little practice, cutting techniques are rather simple and easy to perfect. Knowing how to properly cut fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit will make recipes and preparation easier, while taking your dishes to the next level in terms of aesthetics and texture. For mastering everything from mincing garlic to cutting a chiffonade, turn to these six step-by-step tutorials.
A picture says a thousand words, and in 2012, we discovered that the best way to show prepping and cooking skills is through step-by-step instructionals. Whether you've always wanted to learn how to peel fava beans, cut through a tough squash, braid challah bread, or break down a turkey, keep clicking to learn 17 new skills in the kitchen.