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Friday, February 26, 2010

Small dice, large dice, pont neuf, oh my!

For any of you culinary people out there, you know that my title for this post refers to slicing and dicing - specially named cuts in the culinary world.  Last night we practiced small dice, medium dice, brunois, pont neuf, batonnet, and julienne cuts on onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes.  Pictures of all of these cuts can be found here.  they really are beautiful when you get them right... which will take me LOTS of practice!

We also learned about the chiffonade cut. This cut is typicaly done with basil. This cut required rolling the leaves like a cigar then making thinly sliced cuts along the length of the "cigar" resulting in thin shreds that look pretty and can be used as a garnish, in soups and sauces, etc.  I've actually done this cut before but I just love it and wanted to share. Here is a great "step by step" for doing the chiffonade cut if you want to try it at home.  You can try this cut on any leafy herbs (basil and mint!) and lettuces.

We carmelized onions to be used in an egg, spicy sausage and carmelized onion scramble (dinner!), and made a delicious, garlicy pesto by hand, using a mortar and pestle.  We made deep fried potatoes and used the pesto to make a flavored mayonnaise for dipping those fries.  All in all, another somewhat unhealthy night of cooking but great skills were learned.  I learned the importance of holding your knife and your fingers in such a way when slicing that minimizes the chances of cutting yourself.  Also, just how difficult it is to make a "perfect" slice or cut. 

Our basil pesto recipe is as follows:

1/8 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 T shredded parmesan cheese
1 T pignoli (pine) nuts
1 T olive oil
1-2 T basil (chiffonade)

In a mortar, put salt and garlic and pound until garlic looks wet.  Add nuts and pound until paste-like.  Add basil and pound until basil has been chopped up fine.  Add cheese and pound in until mixed.  Finally stir in olive oil until well mixed. 

You can make larger batches of this recipe to use on bruschetta, pasta, on chicken, salmon, turkey sandwiches, etc.  This is a universal saiuce and can be used in many ways.  You can also substitute walnuts instead of pignoli nuts if you prefer.

Chow for now! :)

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