Slicing and Dicing is Delicious!

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Onions 5-11I took my Knife Skills class some 16 years ago in UCLA Extension’s  Professional Cooking program.  It was the best class I have ever taken.  Why you ask?  Because learning to use a knife properly cut my cooking time to 1/3 of the time.  Once I learned to slice and dice properly, I had the freedom to create everything in a FLASH.  It was very liberating.  So…I was thrilled Wednesday night to share my Knife Skills with 16 other students in our Knife Skills Class at Holy Nativity’s Community Hall in Westchester.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Since there were 17 of us dicing onions, it made sense to make French Onion Soup and Caramelized Onion Focaccia Bread.

Dorit, Gerry and Karen with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Bread

Dorit, Gerry and Karen with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Bread

Potatoes are perfect for practicing knife skills, so we peeled and sliced sweet potatoes for our Baked Sweet Potato Fries!  We used two different seasonings in addition to olive oil and baked them at 450°.  One was fresh garlic, thyme and Italian parsley.  The other included chili powder, salt and pepper inspired by the Spicy Root vegetable oven fries recipe from food blogger, What Would Cathy Eat?

Carol, Marisusan, Rochelle and Cathy

Carol, Marisusan, Rochelle and Cathy

Chopping Onions

Chopping Onions


To round out our menu and practice boning a fish , we made Grilled Trout Amandine.  We steamed Steelhead Trout in foil on the grill, following my demo on how to skin a piece of salmon with a boning knife.  The fire on the grill was out of control, so this team won the award of the night for getting the eight trout off the grill in one piece.  One didn’t quite make it!  Oh well! This was soon gobbled up by our cleanup guy’s dog, Ichiban minus the bones which Mike removed.

Ashley making Pineapple-Mango Salsa

We served the Steelhead Trout with the Pineapple-Mango Salsa, made by our two younger chefs, Ashley and Hannah, who enjoyed practicing their chopping techniques in the Pampered Chef food chopper, which is great for kids who want to help in the kitchen.  I demonstrated how to seed and mince a chili and mince herbs for this dish with your chef’s knife.

We turned to a zester tool to learn how to zest citrus like lemons and limes to make our classic and refreshing dessert, Lemon –Lime Bars.  The key is…use only the yellow or green colored part of the fruit – never the white pith, which is bitter.

Knife Skills Class May 4, 2011

Knife Skills Class May 4, 2011

By the end of the evening, everyone learned that the 6-10″ Chef’s Knife is the must have kitchen tool for every Chef!

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