You’re finally ready to embrace the lifestyle changes that come with cooking your own food. It will be healthier, save you money in the long run, and who knows— maybe you’ll actually enjoy it. So you bring back a nice haul from the farmer’s market, dump all those ingredients on the counter… and realize you have no idea what you’re doing.
Looks like it’s another night for delivery.
For a lot of people, cooking is such a daunting task because they don’t really know where to start. But it’s a bit weird, because we can figure out how to turn on a stove or follow the directions on the back of the package. And once it’s in the oven, we’re generally in good enough shape to go about our business and retrieve it when finished. So in a way, it’s the prep of it all that frustrates us. It takes too long to chop, dice, and peel. If we’re clumsy, we’re prone to nicking our fingers. None of this sounds “fun” in any capacity. Lucky for those of us with an aversion to the culinary arts, The New York Times has released a guide for basic knife skills. It makes prep a breeze.
In the guide, you’ll learn to do everything from a basic rough chop to a brunoise. Techniques like chiffonade and julienne are also covered, giving even the most basic of our dishes a sense of elegance. I felt it was worth sharing because most can open up their computer or tablet and practice each of the techniques with fresh produce. Grabbing a few potatoes, stalks of celery, tomatoes, and some herbs like basil or parsley can be easily done for under ten bucks! Just cut along and practice often.
The guide does include some instruction how how to assemble the right assortment of knives. There are three to really keep on hand: a chef’s knife (for pretty much everything), a utility or paring knife (for coring and cutting smaller items like mushrooms), and a large serrated knife (for those thick slices of bread or tomato). It’s suggested that you find inexpensive yet reliable brands of the latter two. Since they can’t be sharpened, you should just replace them once they become dull. But chef’s knives? You want durability and longevity— something you can work with for ages when it is given the proper care. There are plenty of very good chef knives for the beginning cook out there. Get a feel for it, then treat yourself to an upgrade.