Basic Steps In Preparing Vegetables

Carlile’s Definitions/Instructions.

Never before has our cornucopia overflowed with vegetables and grains in such a profusion of colors, textures, and varieties. Thanks to improved methods of transportation and storage, cooks today have a glorious abundance to choose from, regardless of season.

Let our recipes celebrate this magnificent bounty.

We will explain & show you everything you need to know to prepare vegetables, grains, and legumes. The techniques are simple, but fundamental: how to trim and shape any vegetable to preserve its flavor, cook it evenly, and enhance its appearance; and how to turn raw grains and beans into savory dishes. You will use these skills over and over again in all you’re cooking. Nothing is more elementary than an understanding of the differences between cubing, dicing, and chopping, for example, or how to cut foods into julienne strips or on the bias. Each technique is clearly demonstrated and described, so you can prepare any recipe with confidence.

.

A large 6- or 8-in (15- or 20-cm) chopping knife and a small 3- to 4-in (7.5- to 10-cm) paring knife are essential tools for vegetable preparation. A chef’s knife with a wide, slightly curving blade is a kitchen workhorse: Use it for chopping, slicing, and mincing, and to transfer cut pieces from work surface to cooking pot (its broad side serves as a scoop). A paring knife is like an extension of your hand -- just the right size for peeling, removing bruised areas, or slicing small shapes. Although a substantial investment, quality knives will last a lifetime with good care. A good knife not only eases preparation, but is a form of insurance against kitchen accidents because it is easily sharpened and holds an edge longer. Sharp-bladed implements do their job with little effort; a dull blade can slip and cut you rather than the food. To prolong the life of any knife, always cut on a resilient surface likewood or plastic; hard surfaces dull the edge. A vegetable peeler is another indispensable tool. Buy one that will hold its edge (stainless steel is best) and feels comfortable in the hand.

1: Paring

.

Use a sharp paring knife for thick-skinned vegetables like potatoes and turnips. Slice off the stem end, and then cut off skin in spirals (some flesh will be attached).

 

.

2: Chopping Onions

.

Halve an onion from root to stem, and then peel. Place one half, cut-side down, on a work surface. Make a series of horizontal cuts parallel to the surface, almost to the root end. Then make vertical cuts from top to bottom. Finally, slice across, as shown, to create pieces.

 

.

3: Slicing

.

To prevent the vegetable -- in this case, celery -- from slipping as you cut it; anchor it firmly to the work surface with your fingers. With a sharp knife, slice across with a swift, clean cut. Move your fingers back for the next cut or push the vegetable forward to keep the slices even. When slicing rounded vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, halve them horizontally first so that one side is flat.

 

.

4: Bias Cutting

.

Place trimmed pieces, here asparagus spears, on the work surface. Place a sharp chef’s knife on the vegetable so that it slants away from you at an angle. Slice through, and then continue at regular intervals. The first piece will have an irregular shape. Bias-cut vegetables are often used in stir-frying.

 

.

5: Peeling Garlic

.

Lay the widest part of the flat side of a chef’s knife (near the handle) on the unpeeled clove of garlic. Pound the blade lightly with your fist to smash open the clove. Remove any peel and any bruised parts or green sprouting cores.

 

.

6: Mincing Garlic

.

Peel the clove (see step 5). With a chef’s knife, and using a rocking motion of the blade, chop the clove until minced. If necessary, stop and push the garlic pieces into a pile when needed.

 

.

7: Cubing or Chopping

.

Make a series of lengthwise slices of the desired thickness. Stack the slices and make vertical cuts all the way through, of the same thickness as the first. Create cubes by cutting across perpendicularly into uniform squares. If desired, continue to chop into smaller pieces.

 

.

8: Dicing

.

Cut lengthwise slices, as for cubing, but spaced closer together. Stack the slices and make vertical cuts spaced the same as the first. Create dice by cutting across perpendicularly.

 

.

9: Cutting into Julienne Strips

.

Cut the vegetable into slices about 2-in (5 cm) long and 1/4- to 1/2-in (6 to 12 mm) thick. Stack the slices and cut lengthwise again to make thin, match like sticks. Anchor the food, here a carrot, with your fingers.

 

.

 

10: Trimming Stems

.

Use a sharp paring knife to trim away stems from vegetables such as mushrooms or artichokes. Trim the stems flush with the bottom of the vegetable or the underside of the mushroom cap; save for another use if appropriate.

 

.

11: Coring Peppers

.

Cut between the shoulders of a pepper (capsicum) with a sharp paring knife, from ridge to ridge. You will create approximately 4 pieces, plus the central core with stem and seeds.

 

.

12: Trimming Peppers

.

Trim away any thick inner ribs with a paring knife. Each section is now clean and ready for further preparation, such as cutting into julienne strips, dicing, or chopping.

 

.

13: Handling Chilies

.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a chili in half. Cut away the ribs, seeds, and stem. Protect your hands with gloves or a plastic bag to avoid the volatile oils that could burn your skin or eyes.

 

.

 

14: Peeling

.

Use a vegetable peeler for thin-skinned vegetables like carrots, parsnips, radishes, asparagus, and potatoes. Trim away the leafy tops and root ends, if any. Scrub the vegetables well, then peel off the skin with long, steady strokes.

 

 

Home Welcome Restaurant History Philosophy
Menu Pricing Policy Merchandising Recipes Reservations
Links Cooking Classes Employment Map Contact Us